Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Struck Down, But Not Destroyed
Finished Reading: 12.2011
A successful Major League Baseball pitcher in the 1980's, Frank Pastore tells of his ascent to glorious riches and fame with the Cincinnati Reds and his subsequent identity failure following an accident involving a baseball and his right elbow. The dreams that defined his life were shattered in less than a second. Picking up the pieces, he finds out who he really is. He no longer can define himself solely as a baseball player. Pastore gives his life to Jesus and begins a new journey driven by faith in someone greater than himself. Baseball is now just along for the ride. As the years go by, Christianity is nothing like he thought it would be and his new identity in Christ brings difficulties and challenges, but grace as well.
As a baseball story, Frank Pastore's is not unique. Many players get injured and end their careers just as they think they're getting to where they want to be. Many make the big leagues after a difficult childhood and struggle with their new found fame and the excess of money that is the payoff. Pastore does a great job describing his life before and after the pitching mound.
Though very well written and engaging, and quite humorous throughout, I did not enjoy the censored language. "F---!" for example. If you don't want to publish curse words, that's fine (this is published by Focus On The Family, so I would expect nothing else), but I would prefer a more imaginative approach to the words that are used. Use a creative word that you can publish, rather than censoring the dirty mouths of baseball players with dashed lines.
Monday, January 2, 2012
50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom
Finished Reading: 12.2011
Ron Paul is the cure for apathetic non-partisan Independents. I appreciate that this collection of issues identifies many different topics which are now served on the table of American politics. Unfortunately, some of these topics had been swept under the table only to be rediscovered here. Listed in alphabetical order, Ron Paul succinctly states his opinion on each and moves on to the next in a sort of primer for fidgety open minds.
A few of these issues are the standard talking points that were boring in the last election cycle, and are still boring this time around because the Democrats and Republicans never really come to any new conclusions: Abortion, education, gun control, and taxes. And more! Other topics are specifically Ron Paulisms, those topics that no one else dares talk about but which Congressman Paul likes to frequently remind us about as issues that need to be discussed rather than blindly accepted: Austrian Economics, Empire, Foreign Aid, and Monetary Policy.
Maintaining Libertarian principles throughout, Ron Paul defends Liberty from the point of view that the rights of the individual are foremost and the government, whatever its form, has no right to take away those individual rights. Since governments should stay out of most issues, they should also leave their opinions and their money out of most issues. "...Governments have nothing to pass out, since they produce nothing. Anytime government provides a benefit, it must first steal it from someone else who is producing it, thus violating the rights of the individual."
Essentially, denying the rights of one person to help another person is decreasing the freedom of both. The first person has lost his freedom to choose who to help, and the second person has possibly lost his freedom to rise above the monopoly provided by a certain type of help. "Foreign aid can best be described as taking money from the poor in a rich country and giving it to the rich and powerful in a poor country."
Progressives would of course disagree because they, "hold that any law or regulation that is created in the name of something like civil rights is in itself the very essence of those rights," according to Paul Krugman in this article by William L. Anderson. Whereas Libertarians desire fewer laws so that individuals can make their own choices, including poor choices, progressives desire more laws so that no one is allowed to make a poor choice - which could bring us all down. Ron Paul and other Libertarians offer that our national inclination towards legislating everything needs reconsideration. Anderson quotes Frederic Bastiat as saying, "Socialism, like the ancient ideas from which it springs, confuses the distinction between government and society. As a result of this, every time we object to a thing being done by government, the socialists conclude that we object to its being done at all."
My agreement with Ron Paul's ideas is fairly universal, but of course we can't agree on everything so I enjoyed this book. There are a few of these issues that I find to be secondary at best and are not worth an argument over whether or not they are true, but provide food for thought. Mainstream Republicans should consider whether their undying party allegiance should entertain some healthy deviations and give Congressman Paul another look. He draws support from Democrats, Republicans, Independents, and a wide range of preconceived notions that make for strange bedfellows.