DONALD TRUMP, PLEASE ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS

It is a time honored practice to ask politicians questions, and then have them ignore the question and move onto their talking points. Skilled politicians can do that and make you think they answered your question and that they care. Neither Mr. Trump nor Secretary Clinton have that skillset. Whenever they are asked questions, it is painfully obvious they don’t want to answer it, don’t care about it, and would prefer to move to their pre-planned talking points.

djt_headshot_v21

If I were allowed, however, the chance to ask Mr. Trump some questions, and I would be guaranteed that he would have to answer them, these are the questions I would start with. I have posted similar questions for Hillary Clinton on a separate (click here) blog post.

  1. Many people are bothered by the fact you haven’t released your tax returns. You say it is because you are being audited. It has been reported, and you admitted in the last debate, that you have claimed exemption to refrain from paying federal income taxes. Would you tell us, then, approximately how much money or what percentage of your income, you’ve given to charity for the past five years? For the sake of clarity, your Foundation doesn’t count because it is not a recognized charity.
  2. Your slogan is “Make America Great Again.” When, in your opinion, did America stop being great? Please be as specific as possible, and what would be the first sign that greatness has returned?
  3. You have said it might be a good idea for The United States to leave NATO because some of the member nations do you not pay their fair share. If indeed you are serious about that sentiment, do you think the United States should be a “pay for play” military corporation that works for the highest bidder?
  4. Earlier in your life you were pro-choice, then when you decided to run for President you became pro-life. You’ve also said positive things about Planned Parenthood. Many pro-life people would like to cut the funding for Planned Parenthood because of its strong advocacy for abortion. How do you reconcile the two thoughts–and more to the point, would you share your real position on abortion, and maybe why you decided to become pro-life.
  5. In your early campaign rhetoric, trade and immigration were your primary policy issues, including the building of a wall on the border with Mexico and a ban on Muslim’s coming into the country. These authoritarian policies combined with your positive comments about dictators like Saddam Hussein and Vladimir Putin worry many people that you favor a “Strong Man” approach to governance. What can you say to people to reassure them that a President Trump would honor the democratic traditions of dissent, free press, free speech, and the freedom to assemble? Can you give examples of people who have disagreed with you that you didn’t threaten to silence or file a lawsuit?

Of course, I have other questions for Mr. Trump, not the least of which are about Trump University, Trump Airlines, his love affair with Playboy Magazine, his thoughts on Jesus I think are important because he has courted the Christian community so strongly, and I’d also like to know what he plans on doing with North Korea. Nevertheless, these questions are where I would start.

FAITH AND SCIENCE

I did NOT watch the ballyhooed Ken Ham/Bill Nye debate yesterday.  The reason is I know all the arguments already, on both sides, and find that arguing about things like this to be silly.  People on the pro-creation side will claim victory and send out Twitter quotes and people on the pro-science side will do the same, each attempting to make the other one look stupid or silly.  I do not think it is reasonable of science to attack spirituality and I do not think it is reasonable for people of faith to attack science.

I DID NOT WATCH THEM ARGUE
I DID NOT WATCH THEM ARGUE

So here are some Greenbean perspectives on the issue.

1.  The Bible is not a science book.  In fact, to attempt to twist the Bible into a science book is to minimize its meaning and alter its message.  For example, the point of Genesis is not to tell us how God did anything.  The point of Genesis is to inspire us with awe at the wonder of all that God has done.

2.  God has revealed himself in the universe, and he has given human beings the ability to study, learn and discover.  Therefore, when we learn, study, and discover anything about the universe we are learning about God, and God is bigger than our theological constructs and our limited worldview.  To study the universe (at its largest or smallest expressions) is a noble and worthy goal.

3.  Even though  there are clearly moments when science can be evil (atomic weapons, poisons, human experimentation (i.e. during the holocaust)) in the end science is good and beneficial to the world and for humans.

4.  Even though there are clearly moments when religious faith can be evil (jihad, crusades, power abuses and manipulation) in the end faith is good and beneficial to the world and for humans.

5.  When scientific data describes things that the Bible or faith does not (i.e. evolution, age of the world, etc…) the response of people of faith should not be “No, you’re wrong,” but instead it should be, “Wow, that is interesting.  I wonder what else we might discover if we keep looking.”  Truth is truth, and as people of faith we are called to pursue all truth regardless of its origin, and facts are truth.  To ignore facts is to deviate from truth.  Embracing truth will inform our faith and help us appropriate a knowledge of Christ that is deeper and richer than what we had before.

6.  Science cannot explain everything.  As wonderful as it is, there are aspects of humanity and creation that are mystery.  Love, behavior, emotion, desire, life and and even self-awareness itself are beyond the ability of science to fully comprehend.  Science can describe these and inform our understanding of the processes (such as neuroscience and psychology) but it cannot give us insight into the biggest question of all.  Why?

7.  People of faith and people of science need each other in order to provide balance to the human experience.  In the absence of science superstition and magic replace reason and logic and this is no good for anyone.  In the absence of faith people become fatalistic and materialistic, and this is no good for anyone.  Both results in violence and ignorance.  History teaches us that when superstition reigns people die (witch hunts, human sacrifice, holy wars, etc…) and society is stunted.  This is the worldview of Islamic terrorists.  Contemporary culture teaches us that when people believe and live as if human beings are only animals with no spiritual connections or consequences that they kill and abuse wantonly, and psychopathic behavior erupts.  An example of this is the phenomena of school shootings.

8.  Arguing solves nothing.  I believe in apologetics–defending the faith and offering answers to questions–but not in an environment that is clearly more for show and sport than for spiritual advancement.  Solid apologetics are done everyday by pastors, teachers, academics, and anyone who takes the time to be informed on issues and then who speaks with love and compassion, not with ‘gotchas.’  All debating does is drive the wedge ever so much deeper into an already frighteningly divided society.

9.  Literature, art, music and coffee shops are the best places to have these discussions.  It is one of the reasons I write about the dark side of science (The Deep Cove stories), about the traumas of faith (The Land Begins to Heal, the Haunting of Pastor Butch Gregory and other Short Stories) and why there is so much pain in the world (yet untitled unpublished novel).

So these are some of my perspectives.  I’d love to hear some of yours, so long as we keep it all civil.

Image from npr.org

THE DEBATE AND OTHER RANDOM THINGS

Let me apologize.  This is not a coherent post with one theme.  Instead, it is three unrelated topics that are on my mind this morning.

BINDERS FULL OF GANGBANGING INTERRUPTIONS

THING ONE:  I had a meeting at church last night and as soon as I got home I popped popcorn and clicked my recording of the debate.  My youngest daughter and I watched it with much enthusiasm.  Her interest comes from her recent decision to join the debate club at school.  People keep reporting this morning that President Obama won the debate but I don’t think so.  To me it looked like a tit-for-tat draw scenario.  Each one had good moments but each one also had bad moments.  I think Obama is more likeable, but Romney still seems more coherent.  I think the reason people are saying Obama won is that he so underperformed last time that it was dramatically different than the first debate.  My feeling though, is that the ship had already left the port and that Romney’s dominant performance in the first debate established that this race is going to be squeaky close right down to the hanging chad finish line.

THING TWO:  We can file this one under the “I’m becoming a grumpy old man” but I’ve got to address a problem.  I don’t care what my iPad or the hours of operation say at the grocery store there is NO SUCH THING AS 12AM or 12PM.  It is either 12 noon or 12 midnight.  Period.  End of discussion.  12 is the meridian, and it can’t be ante or post if it is on it!

COFFEE DRINKER?

THING THREE:  Yesterday I dropped by my local Starbucks to buy a gift card for a friend who did me and my church a favor and I saw a man who brought a bird into the coffee shop.  A bird.  It was not caged and it was on his arm, in his coat pocket, and on his shoulder.  The bird was a green parakeet.  In the Starbucks.  Is it Pirate Week and I missed it?  I just can’t believe it.  Who would take a pet bird to get coffee?  Why?  What sort of thought process did that guy go through?  Unbelievable.

REPUBLICAN DEBATE ADVICE–NOT THAT ANYONE ASKED FOR IT

Back in the days, the dark ages, when I was active on MySpace—that’s been a long time now, I commented on my MySpace blog frequently during the election cycle of 2008.  I had great fun analyzing the debates, the elections, and the media coverage.  I haven’t done that yet on this blog because the election cycle hasn’t really gotten under way much.  But tonight I tuned in for a few moments (not the whole thing, but a few moments) to the Republican Debate.  I thought I would offer some advice to the candidates.

(DISCLAIMER—PASTOR GREENBEAN IN NO WAYENDORSES ANY CANDIDATE OR POLITICAL PARTY.  HE IS FAR TOO CYNICAL ABOUT POLITICS.  FOR HIM WATCHING POLITICS IS LIKE WATCHING A SPORTING EVENT.  PASTOR GREENBEAN BELIEVES ONLY JESUS CAN CHANGE THE WORLD.)  notice I talk about myself in the third person…that’s called escapism because I wish I was big-time enough to have an editor to write those disclaimers for me.

Now, before I get to the advice, a note on coverage.  CNN did not do a very good job with this one.  So, now for the advice.

  • 1.  Diversity would be a good thing in the candidates.  The field is dominated by graying white guys.  Herman Cain has an outside shot, Bachmann looked like a dear in headlights (not to mention she received very few questions . . . hum?) but we need some real diversity here.  How about someone speaking a little Spanish or maybe two or three other ladies?  It looked like a group of Baptist preachers.
  • 2.  The mainstream-type candidates had better watch out because Ron Paul is fired up.  He got huge applause.  Of the group he is probably the only one I would like to go have lunch with.  True, he is running, I think, for the election cycle of 1912, not 2012 but at least he is exciting.
  • 3.  The ones in the race ought to gang up on Newt Gingrich and get him out.  As long as he is around, he will suck up all the usable oxygen.  I don’t mean to sound divisive, but he really can’t win but he will deflect time away from someone who might be able to (like Pawlenty or a Romney, or maybe Cain).
  • 4.  The GOP needs to stop talking about “Obamacare” in completely reactionary tones.  It is okay not to like it, but it sounds denigrating to use that type of language.  By using the GOP candidates do not separate themselves at all from the talk-show talking head crowd.  Be elegant in your argument—hire some wordsmiths and speechwriters for crying-out-loud.
  • 5.  We voters like to vote for something, not against something.  The overall feeling that we saw tonight was negative and not positive.  It was the positive “change” motif that got President Obama elected and the GOP candidate that wins the nomination and perhaps have a shot at being president (a slim shot, I add) will have to find something positive too.
  • 6.  Someone (apologies to Bachmann) should grow a beard.  I guarantee the candidate that grows a full beard will have a gigantic bump in the polls.  Many of us bearded men would become single-issue voters in favor of the fellowship of the facial follicle.

Okay, that’s enough advice for now.  I wish there were also a Democrat race like last time.  Democrats are far more fun.  Watching Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama was always fun for me.  Tonight’s debate was so boring I turned it off to go get some work done.  Work!  I chose work instead of listening to them, and I like debates.

 

************Update************It appears I misjudged the performance of Bachmann.  The post-debate media critique seems to think she did very well.  I didn’t see that part of the debate; but maybe she’ll make it interesting.  I hope so.