Hallelujah, Happy Easter

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Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, walked on Earth, teaching and healing and demonstrating for all of us the essence of Love.

And for this, He was captured, tortured and murdered in the most gruesome fashion imaginable. He was made to suffer more than any person before or since. It was the greatest crime in the history of humanity; the created slaughtered the Creator, and He offered no resistance. But this tragedy led to the ultimate triumph: He rose from the dead, conquered sin and opened up the gates of Heaven.

Before He ascended, He entrusted the Truth of human salvation to a small band of poor, simple, ordinary men. He told them to travel throughout the land and preach the Gospel. He promised them persecution, suffering, and death, and they received it. He also promised them eternal salvation and happiness, and they received it.

The Christians, the converts to Christ, met and worshipped in caves and basements. They were sought and murdered; a reality they embraced when they accepted His Word. Yet, in the face of incredible odds, in less than 300 years they peacefully conquered the most powerful empire on Earth. That feat alone is enough to convert anyone who considers it with an honest mind and an open heart.

No religion has accomplished what Christianity has accomplished. No ideology. No school of thought. No idea, no government, no political system. Nobody else, nothing else has ever lit the world on fire like the Gospel.

Soon, Christ’s message would make it to every corner of the world, and it would be the driving force of civilization for two thousand years. Christians would go where nobody else would go, and serve those who nobody else would serve, and win souls that nobody else could win.

Christianity is diversity. It speaks to all kinds of people, and fits into the totality of the human experience. It isn’t broad like a sitcom is broad, but it isn’t narrow like an alley or a political party is narrow. It’s deep, it’s universal. It meets us where we are, and lifts us to a better place.

We Christians are soldiers in a cosmic struggle, and the war is still raging. Many have died in the flesh, or much worse, in the spirit.

Governments and kingdoms of men have tried to exterminate the Truth, but all have failed. Christianity is a religion of peace and love, but it’s also a warrior’s faith. It isn’t a blanket to hide under, it’s a battle flag to march under. It doesn’t hide us from the pain and suffering that this world has to offer — it commands us to endure it, confront it, and find the beauty in it all.

Easter reminds us that there is an end to the suffering and a purpose in the pain. Jesus Christ rose from the dead. He triumphed over evil. And He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead.

This is what I believe, and I am not ashamed.

Hallelujah. Amen.

Happy Easter, everyone.

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This woman exercised her right to abort her infants, and now she’s being unjustly persecuted

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Someone get this printed on a t-shirt:

“Free Megan Huntsman!”

Slap it on a bumper sticker. Start the campaign.

Megan Huntsman — every bit the same sort of feminist hero as Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards or Abortion Martyr George Tiller – is being persecuted. Prosecuted and persecuted before our very eyes (in the year 2014!) all for allegedly making a choice. A difficult choice, mind you. An alleged choice that she must have grappled with torturously.

She considered her options and, in the end, came to the conclusion that she wasn’t ready to be a mother. So she terminated her post-birth fetuses — six of them — and put them in boxes in her garage, according to the charges.

Police say that Ms. Huntsman has admitted to conducting this medical procedure, and why shouldn’t she admit to it? Why shouldn’t she have the freedom to make decisions about her life and her body, and why shouldn’t society herald her bravery in doing so?

Now, it’s true that I am a man and so I have no right to form an opinion on whether a fetus ought to be suffocated, either in its pre or post-birth stage of development. We know that one cannot reach an objective conclusion unless one is emotionally tied to the issue at hand, which is why, according to the dictates of jurisprudence, every jury is stacked with people who’ve been personally victimized by whatever type of crime the defendant stands accused.

Be that as it may, I am also a modern, progressive, American (in the year 2014, for God’s sake!) and so I have dutifully formulated my ideology through the passive absorption of popular culture. This process can only bring one to the inescapable realization that the worth of a fetus, or “human being” as right wing propagandists and biologists might call it, really depends on the feelings of the unwilling host, or “mother” as rabid Republican loons might refer to her.

Melissa Harris-Perry said as much a few months ago, confidently declaring that life begins when the woman feels like it. Cecile Richards has, for her part, insisted that the issue of life is irrelevant to the matter entirely, and Obama famously professed that, although he has taken a position on abortion, the job of formulating a theory that would justify that position is really quite above his pay grade.

So if the definition of ‘life’ hinges on the mother’s emotional willingness to call it life, and if the whole subject is irrelevant and impossible to quantify anyway, then who are you to tell Megan Hunstman that her post-birth fetuses were ‘people’ and had ‘human rights’?

You can’t. We can’t. And it is a travesty of justice that the criminal courts would even try. Look, it’s not the 1950s; it’s 2014! Time to move out of the Stone Age. Only a Neanderthal would think that the God given right to an abortion somehow ends at the moment of natural birth.

We’ve drawn this line in the sand, but the line is arbitrary. Indeed, whatever argument you make for abortion can easily be made by Ms. Hunstman.

Let’s go down the list:

Pregnancy is an incredible burden on a woman; who are we to tell her what to do with her own body?

This is the most trusty and commonly cited reason to support abortion, and the argument is important because it clearly defines the fetus as an extension of a woman’s body, or else negates the rights of the fetus by using its dependence on the woman’s body against it.

If the fetus is a part of the mother’s body, why should it not be considered as such once it is born? If it was literally a body part, then that is its nature, and if that is its nature, then how could its nature change upon birth? My thumb, my arm, my bladder, these are all pieces and parts of me. If I were to have one removed, would I suddenly lose jurisdiction over it? Surely, my thumb has no legal rights, no protections outside of the laws that protect me — the person to whom my thumb is a mere member. If I chopped off my thumb and threw it in the garbage, could I be accused of ‘murder’?

But if the fetus is a person, or a human, or at least some entity distinct from the mother, then, our argument goes, its DEPENDENCE on the mother’s body means that it cannot claim any rights which would supersede her own.

Alright, so what of a post-birth fetus? Is it now somehow able to exist independent of the woman? Of course not. In fact, it becomes all the more demanding. It needs not only its mother’s body, but almost all of her time, her energy, her money, everything. A pre-birth fetus ONLY needs a woman’s body, a post-birth fetus needs her body AND everything else. So how does the post-birth fetus get off the hook? It makes no sense.

Sure, a woman can find other people to fill those roles, and she can buy formula rather than breastfeed, but SHE is still LEGALLY REQUIRED to go out and seek those replacements, which is not only a hassle, and possibly financially cumbersome, but emotionally taxing. Who are we to FORCE her to do that? If the technology existed for a woman to transfer her pre-birth fetus from her uterus to someone else’s, or to a machine of some sort, I can’t imagine that any self respecting pro-choice feminist would throw up her hands and say, “Alright, no more abortion – now all women who don’t want their fetuses need to undergo a fetal transfer!”

Obviously abortion rights would still be protected even if pregnant women had an option in between giving birth and having an abortion. To relent would be to tolerate yet another imposition on women, brought upon by a paternalistic society dominated by white male Christians.

Yes, Utah is a Safe Haven state, which means a baby can be abandoned at a hospital, no questions asked. But, again, that is only one way to deal with a post-birth fetus. Who are we to say it is the RIGHT way? And who are we to hoist that opinion onto anyone, least of all a woman in the midst of such a difficult moment in her life?

A fetus isn’t fully developed, so it isn’t a person.

Tying ‘personhood’ to physical development — where would the abortion rights movement be without this essential argument? A fetus, remember, is only a clump of cells. It can’t even breathe through its lungs or use an iPhone yet. What about a post-birth fetus? Sure, it has attained a few more developmental milestones, but it’s far from fully developed. A fetus doesn’t become rational and reasonable until it’s about 93 or 94 months old. Scientists believe the brain itself isn’t finished forming until it hits about 309 months of development.

The point is this: if the abortion rights camp rejects, as it should, the inane idea that this mysterious entity with its own DNA and genetic makeup should be considered a person at conception — or, in other words, at the moment in which its unique DNA and genetic makeup come into existence – and if we reject the idea that it should be considered a person at any other random gestational point thereafter, why should we automatically concede the matter once the fetus emerges from the birth canal? If a lack of physical development makes the creature/body part/whatever-it-is undeserving of personhood, then we must see that logic all the way through.

Full physical development — i.e. personhood — does not occur, for most fetuses, until they are 26 or 27 years old. And then physical deterioration immediately begins, but we can have the forced euthanasia debate some other time. If incomplete physical development contributes in any way, shape, or form to our pro-abortion position, then we have universally tied development to human rights. We have said that, to some degree, the fullness of our rights rests on the fullness of our physiological formation. Think of the glorious implications if we only possessed the courage to apply this reasoning consistently!

Don’t like abortion? Don’t have one.

In other words, butt out. None of your business. It doesn’t concern you. Ms. Hunstman could say all of these things, and I’m sure she has.  Anyone who has ever done anything to any other person could also say this to every person to whom he or she didn’t do it. This means we really shouldn’t have an opinion about almost everything that’s happening, has happened, or will happen — including, for instance, the Holocaust and the Manson killings — as the vast majority of the world’s events will not directly and immediately impact us in any obvious way. Once we’ve more roundly adopted this slogan, we will be free from much of the onerousness of having a moral compass, because we will have defined ‘morality’ as simply ‘a distaste for that which inconveniences oneself.’

Women will have abortions anyway, we need to make sure they are done safely.

The appeal to inevitability. Well, as long as there are women who wish to have pre-birth abortions, there will also be women who wish to have post-birth abortions. The only question is whether they will be able to do them in a safe and sterile environment. Infanticide has been around for as long as abortion — probably longer. No law against it will ever stop it from happening.

Without abortion, there will be a lot of unwanted children, who Republicans will refuse to provide with food stamps and welfare.

In my research, to be honest, I’ve yet to find very many Republicans who categorically oppose welfare. This appears to be more of a Libertarian position, but don’t tell that to the progressive college kids who fancy themselves Libertarian because they like drugs and booze.

In any case, as we have established, once a fetus is ‘unwanted,’ it will be destined to a pointless life of misery and sadness. Why should we, as a society, only have the opportunity to alleviate them of that burden while they are in the womb? If they are unwanted in the womb, they will be unwanted out of it. This was a point on which Margaret Sanger — the founder of Planned Parenthood — was very clear. Those who might be a drain on society must be exterminated.

It’s unfortunate that Ms. Sanger was photographed at KKK rallies and such, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss her ideas. Her ideas are the cornerstone of the abortion rights movement, after all.

It’s clear what must be done: free Megan Hunstman. If we aren’t disgusted by terminating a fetus in the womb (and we shouldn’t be — in the year 2014, for goodness sake!) then why are we pretending to be disgusted by the termination of a thing merely moments after it, according to popular notions, stops being a fetus? How could one be a right and the other reprehensible, when the acts are the same, the motivations are the same, and the results are the same?

I’ve even seen pro-choice people wonder aloud about why she didn’t “just go get an abortion.” How absurd is that? So if she had gone to some building and asked some man to do it for her, it would be fine, but instead she waits a few days and does it herself and now she’s suddenly Satan Incarnate? She terminated them seconds after they emerged from her body, and so she’s a serial killer, but if she’d killed them as they emerged, she’d be a role model for the pro-choice cause? This is insanity.

Why are we selling ourselves short? The ideology of abortion allows for so much more, yet we limit ourselves because — why? Because we fear the Christians? This is understandable — those monsters regularly resort to militant tactics, like sign-holding and prayer — but we shouldn’t let them bully us around. If Ms. Huntsman is charged with anything, it should be for practicing medicine without a license. But, really, she’s guilt of nothing more than being an empowered woman.

What a shameful lack of conviction my pro-choice brothers and sisters have demonstrated. Come, let us take our beliefs to their logical conclusions, and then toast to the Land of Freedom and Peace we will have finally forged for ourselves!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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If there is a competition over who’s busiest and most important, I lose. Here is my concession speech.

Alright, I won’t rehash what I wrote yesterday.

I entered into the octagon and found myself in a Parenting Death Match. The “who has it harder, whose job is tougher, who’s busier, who’s more important, who sleeps less, eats less, has less downtime, and less fun” competition. The “whose life is more miserable, because a miserable life is more important and compelling than a joyous one” contest.

That thing where we see who can beat their chest and play their violin the loudest.

That thing. That thing where we argue about whether dads have it tougher than moms, or moms have it tougher than dads, or Stay at Home moms have it tougher than working moms, or parents have it tougher than non-parents, or I have it tougher than you, or he than her, or her than him, or my dog than your dog, etc, etc, and so forth.

Honest to God, I only wanted to suggest that we all have our struggles, and nobody can measure the struggle of another or proclaim theirs to be The Greatest Struggle or The Toughest Existence. Harmony – especially between husbands and wives – is the answer. That’s what I wanted to say. That’s what I wanted you to take from it.

But maybe I didn’t communicate that message well. Or maybe people purposely twisted my words. Or maybe a combination of both. Maybe I shouldn’t have tied the message to a commentary about a greeting card commercial, because the message was relevant regardless of any commercial.

Maybe.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter now.

I’m putting all of that aside. What I want to do is cede defeat. I’m going to declare myself a loser of a game that I’m not sure I ever wanted to play. I’ve written about parenting many times, and every time I end up in this battle, so it’s my fault.

Here’s the truth: I can’t speak for any other parent, mom or dad, but I can tell you that my life is not the most challenging, the most important, the most hectic, the busiest, the most demanding, or the most tiring. My life is somewhere in the middle, I imagine. My life, my parenting, is likely in the realm of mediocrity.

I’m sharing this with you because I’m tired of the contest, of the competitive suffering, of the need we feel to portray our lives in a way that somehow makes other lives pale in the spotlight we’ve shone on ourselves.

So let me tell you about being a parent. This isn’t the universal story of Being a Parent, but the small little story of Matt Walsh Being a Parent.

Here is what comes to mind:

I think first of the joy.

You don’t hear about the joy of parenting very often. It’s like we take it as an insult if someone accuses us of enjoying ourselves. But I do feel a great joy. I don’t know that it’s The Greatest Joy Anyone Has Ever Felt, but it’s my greatest joy. It probably isn’t The Greatest Anyone Has Ever Felt, because our ability to experience true joy depends on our ability to fight off our selfishness and insecurities, and enter into something bigger than ourselves. I am too weak and selfish to enter Joy with the fullness that a better man or woman might — parent or non-parent – so my Joy is fainter, but it’s mine, and it’s real.

I can’t describe it exactly. It’s something beyond happiness. Happiness, for me, is a nice afternoon. Football on a Sunday. A cookout. Music. Bacon cheeseburgers.

Joy is in the same waters, but deeper. It’s my wife, my daughter, my son. It’s the wholeness that I find with them. The completion. The newness of it, the familiarity of it, the love, the hope, the excitement. The realization that I am where I belong, and whatever brought me to this point was worth the price, and wherever we’re going is worth the trouble. That’s Joy, to me. That’s parenting.

Joy is this picture of my daughter:

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And this of my son:

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That’s joy. Whatever hardships they might bring into my life, it could never be so hard as to rob me of it, unless I allow myself to be robbed of it.

I know there are people living and feeling none of these things. Feeling isolated and alone, like their existence is futile and random. These people — whoever they are, and whatever they ‘do for a living’ — have a tougher life than me, and the basic job of existing is harder for them.

I think of the sacrifice.

I don’t believe that I’ve made The Most Sacrifices Anyone Has Ever Made For Anything, and certainly plenty of soldiers and firefighters have given more for their cause than I have for mine.

I’ve sacrificed some free time, some money, some space in my house, though I was only wasting those things before, so the net loss is minimal. I’ve given up sleep and relaxation, though not completely, or anywhere near completely. I’m sure plenty of people without kids sleep less and relax less than I do. I don’t think my ability to sleep and relax reflects one way or another on my worthiness as a human being or a parent. Maybe some parents hardly sleep at all, for years at a time, and maybe some never relax at all, for decades on end, but that hasn’t been my experience so far.

I’ve sacrificed some peace of mind, but, to be honest, I’ve never had very much of that anyway.  I don’t know that I worry more now, but I do worry more about other people — my wife and kids — and so I think I’ve actually improved in the worrying department.

I’d believe it if you told me that you don’t have kids yet you have more worries than me. You could be a cancer patient, for all I know. You could live in a third world country. You could have a dying parent. You could be homeless or starving. You could live a normal life on the surface, but be plagued with doubt and anxiety beneath it.

I think of the physical and emotional toll.

Parenting can be a physical strain. It’s a bigger strain for my wife – who bore the pregnancy, birthed the twins, and now spends more time carrying them around throughout the day — but it can be exhausting for me, too.

I’m quite sure there are people who have more demanded of them physically. I’ve never worked as a brick layer, or a roofer, or a commercial fisherman, or a farmer, but I’d bet they’re more worn and weary than I am at the end of the day. Sure, their jobs ‘end,’ but the physical intensity of working a construction site in July is far beyond anything I’ve personally gone through as a parent.

The emotion that this work, the work of parenting, brings out of me can be confusing and conflicting. There are high highs and low lows, but the highs are higher than the lows are low, if that makes any sense at all. In the end, I am a human, and so I experience emotions on a spectrum. If I want to rise to the peaks of Joy that parenting offers me, I have to accept the risk that I’ll sometimes fall into the valleys of misery which exist in the same plane as the joys.

As for the misery of it, I don’t think I’ve been More Miserable Than Anyone, parent or non-parent. I certainly hope I haven’t, and hope that I never am. I know a man who used to work forensics in the inner city. He saw things I couldn’t fathom, experienced a misery I can’t understand, and all without, really, any of the fun and happiness of parenting. Just bleak and grey, death and murder. I don’t know that he was a parent at this point in his life, but he surely suffered more than I have, personally.

I think of the responsibilities.

I feel the profound weight of responsibility, more than I have at any other point in my life. I doubt that I have The Most Responsibilities In The World, and if you told me that you aren’t a parent but you have more responsibilities, I’d believe you. You could be a surgeon or a Head of State, for all I know. You could be a general, trusted with the lives of many men on the field of battle.

I don’t know where I rank on the list, but it doesn’t matter. My responsibilities are mine, they’ve been given to me, so they are everything. I know my wife feels the weight in an enormous way, though in a different way. She is with the kids every day, all day, most of the time. I’m not, but I know that I have to provide for my family. I know that it falls on me to keep a roof over their heads and clothes on their back. I know that if I fail, I will drag my children and my wife down with me, and that fact is very present in my mind, all of the time.

When I’m not working to earn a living for us, I’m helping around the house. Cleaning dishes, changing diapers, whatever needs to be done. I’m sure I do more than some dads, but less than others. I could be better, more helpful, and I know that.

All of these things, for me, are secondary. The greatest responsibility, the heaviest burden that I carry, that my wife carries, is the duty to help our children be virtuous and godly. We’re merely laying the groundwork now, and I suppose that foundation won’t be tested until our kids reach the age of reason and start choosing to do right for the sake of what is right, or wrong for the sake of their own selfishness.

I know that my job and my wife’s job, more than anything, above everything, more important than paying the bills or teaching them the ABC’s, is to put them on a path towards heaven. God gave them to me — to us — and said, “Here, now bring them Home.” If we can feed them organic food and get them involved in a lot of healthy outdoor activities along the way, great. But none of that matters – it’s all for nothing – if we fail in our First Duty.

The only time I will speak for other parents is now, to say that all parents who love their children want them to be virtuous, because that is the nature of love. I can also say that there is no greater responsibility in the universe than this — when the fate of another human being’s soul is entrusted to you, at least to some degree.

This is parenting to me.

This is me, the parent.

It’s a very middling tale, I realize. When the awards are given to the busiest, the most stressed, the happiest, the saddest, the most important, the most perfect, the most responsible, my name will not be called. I’m sure of this, so sure that I haven’t even written an acceptance speech.

Take this as my white flag. No need to email me anymore to defend your title of Most Active and Most Essential. You win. I can’t compete.

I don’t want to anymore. I don’t think we should. I don’t think it’s healthy. I don’t think it matters.

Ours lives are to be lived, not endlessly compared and ranked against the projected lives of those around us.

At least that’s how it seems to this average guy.

 

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Motherhood isn’t tougher than fatherhood, but maybe we should all stop competing

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I have to admit upfront that I have developed an immunity to ‘tearjerker’ viral ads. You see, I fell into a vat of Hallmark Cards and maple syrup when I was a child, and emerged from that scarring incident completely impervious to the sugary, contrived sentimentality of clever marketing campaigns.

I’m constantly greeted by people posting videos on Facebook, promising that, if I just watch to the end, I’ll ‘be a wreck’ because it’s the ‘saddest/sweetest thing’ I’ll have ‘EVER seen, EVER.’  Usually I skim right past, but sometimes I’ll click the link like the sucker that I am, and yet again confirm that I am incapable of shedding a tear over a commercial for sponges or minivans.

All of this emoting also damages everyone’s credibility. Honestly, I don’t know how to take someone who posts a status about how they just returned from a funeral and it was the saddest experience of their life, when I saw them write the same thing about a dish detergent advertisement three days ago.

In any event, I am in the minority, so the emotional manipulation will continue. Here’s the latest example: a greeting card company posted a fake job listing online. They then ‘interviewed’ several candidates for what they billed as ‘the toughest job in the world.’ The blogs that reposted the video promised a ‘surprise’ ending, but I guessed the surprise within 3 seconds of hitting play: the ‘toughest job in the world’ is motherhood, and these unemployed applicants, while not in line for any actual paying gig, were offered a great lesson about the importance of moms.

Never mind the cruelty of tricking desperate job seekers (so desperate that they apparently applied for a job that sounds like indentured servitude) into thinking that they were in line for a position, only to pull the rug out, all in the name of ‘sending a message’ —  and without even offering a useful parting gift, like a gas card or a can of beans or something.

Also never mind how the fake interviewer and the fake listing describe this position:

-Must be willing to stand “ALL of the time.”

-Must work 135 hours or more a week.

-No breaks.

-No rest.

-No sleep.

-Can’t eat, except when your ‘associate’ (your child, get it?) says you can.

I have twins. I’m a parent. Parenting is hard, my wife would agree. But we aren’t up and going 20 HOURS A DAY EVERY WEEK, ALL YEAR. Come on, already. We sleep. We both sleep. We have time to ourselves. We watched a movie last Friday. This past weekend, we had a cookout, twice. We had fun. You know what? The kids ADDED to the fun. We actually like having them around, if you can believe it. Parenting isn’t quite the miserable slog that some parents love to paint it.

I used to work two jobs – overnights at a radio station and evenings at a fast food place – I got much less sleep in those days than I do now. Even more recently, I’d get up at 330 AM and get to work at 4 AM. I was more tired then, much more tired.

Standing “all of the time”? NO rest at all? NO sleep at all? Who are we supposed to be parenting here? A chimpanzee on speed? If parenting literally required you to be up and going all the time, every day, with no breaks, little food, and no sleep – you’d be dead. Every parent in the world would be dead. What you’re describing here are the conditions of a North Korean prison camp, not a home in the American suburbs.

Not to mention, if your children dictate your schedule to that extent, you’re doing something wrong. Oh, they can be demanding, for sure. But my mother had six kids and I’m pretty sure she still ate on occasion. She also had time alone with my dad. They were organized. They knew how to put us in our place and prevent us from completely commandeering the household.

OK, now put the ad aside, never mind the ad. It’s only relevant in so far as it reveals a troubling attitude; an attitude that makes these sorts of commercials so effective; an attitude that portrays parenting as the most torturous endeavor anyone could possibly attempt.

I’m all for being real with people, but all we accomplish is making otherwise fine young men and women utterly petrified of starting a family. They constantly hear that you’ll never sleep, your life is over, and you’ll never have fun again, unless you learn to define ‘fun’ as ‘poopy diapers and bankruptcy.’ And then we wonder why birthrates are plummeting?

But worse even than the weird ‘competitive suffering’ pastime that is both uniquely American and very prevalent in (though by no means exclusive to) parenting circles, is the increasingly noticeable habit of diminishing the role of fatherhood in all of this.

It’s no secret that pop culture and advertisers have long taken to portraying men, and especially husbands and fathers, as bumbling nincompoops, incapable of changing a diaper or microwaving a bag of popcorn without burning the house down. The real trouble is that, I think, many people endorse this kind of message unintentionally.

Remember, the greeting card ad declared MOTHERHOOD to be the ‘toughest job,’ even though it described (with great hyperbole) the duties of parents in general. Yes, it’s a Mother’s Day commercial, but we all know that not a single company would ever conceive of making a Father’s Day commercial proclaiming specifically fatherhood to be ‘the toughest job’ in the world, and if they did, many of the folks who loved this ad would hate that one.

It’s not like calling motherhood THE toughest job in the world only vaguely insinuates that it’s tougher than fatherhood — it screams it. So, when I noticed all of these married women reposting the ad, and accompanying it with their own caption, reiterating that their job is THE toughest, I couldn’t help but wonder how their husbands factor into that equation.

I’m not out to say that being a dad is ‘harder’ than being a mom. I’m saying that they are different, and ingrained in those differences are challenges and hardships that the other could only faintly understand. I say faintly because much of what makes a thing hard — especially an enormous, all encompassing thing like parenting — rests on how you, the individual, processes it. Hard, when it comes to mothering and fathering, is less a matter of physical exhaustion, and more a matter of the emotional, mental, and spiritual weight that comes with such a profound and serious responsibility.

If I were to say that my ‘job as a parent’ is ‘harder’ than my wife’s, I would be claiming to carry a heavier burden on my heart and in my head. But how dare I say such a thing? How would I have the right? How could a statement like that have any chance of helping a marriage at all? What is it designed to do, other than hoist guilt and inferiority onto your spouse?

I would never say it, and I would never think it. My wife, I’m certain, wouldn’t either. She has verbalized that she knows it can’t be easy to shoulder the responsibility of providing for a family. And I have told her that I know it isn’t easy to be so constantly immersed in the daily task of caring for two young children.

And we both know that our greatest task as parents — above educating our children, above feeding them, above changing their diapers, above clothing them, even above keeping them safe — is to help them become virtuous, and to bring them closer to God.

This is the ultimate duty of a parent, and it is NOT easy. My kids are babies, but this is the single, solitary aspect of parenthood that weighs on me more than anything. This is my cross. This is my wife’s cross. We carry our own, each of us, but we carry them together as much as we can. All I want for my children is for them to be good. I know they will experience unhappiness, I know they will suffer, I know they will hurt, I know they will die – God willing they will die long after I’m buried in the ground. But I pray that Julia becomes a good woman, a virtuous woman, and Luke grows into a good man, a virtuous man.

This is my task. This is my wife’s task. This is why it’s important for a child to have both a mother and a father, and why those roles are meaningful. It’s got nothing to do with who vacuums the carpet or who makes dinner, it has everything to do with the unique ways in which a woman and a man can demonstrate virtue, and in demonstrating it, instill it. Any parent — mom or dad, but hopefully both — who takes this on, has taken on a tough job. In some ways, yes, perhaps the toughest. Certainly not more physically demanding than working in a coal mine, and definitely not nearly as dangerous as being a Marine Corps sniper in Afghanistan, and not more exhausting than being a surgeon or even a waitress working a double on a Friday night, and not more troubling than being a mortician or a forensics expert.

But, save the religious life, there’s only one job where you are directly responsible for the state of another human being’s soul — parenting. For that reason, and ONLY that reason, parenting has a claim to the ‘toughest’ title. But, really, there is no title. And anyone worried about it probably needs help being virtuous themselves.

Of course, some women are single moms, and all of this really does land at their feet. But some men are single fathers, or fathers in marriages with women who act in ways that would earn men the title of ‘deadbeat dads.’ We can’t say that about women, only men, but that doesn’t mean the behavior that earns the label is somehow gender specific.

One day maybe we’ll realize that parenting is designed, biologically, physically, and spiritually, to be work — not a job at all, really — that is best accomplished through the harmony of husband and wife. When we elevate one above the other, or dismiss the role of one for the sake of the other, we bring chaos into that natural harmony.

But, then again, this is all a message that won’t necessarily help anyone sell greeting cards or hand soap, so what’s the point?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Three things that all of you serfs and peasants shouldn’t say on Tax Day

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I recently took to Twitter to vent my righteous rage at the proliferation of list articles.
You know, list articles: the crutch used by many a lazy blogger who’d rather write in short, choppy, numbered sentences instead of full paragraphs, because full paragraphs necessitate the formation of full thoughts, which only come to those who write because they actually have something to say.

The worst brand of list article has to be the “things you shouldn’t say to ____ ” spiels you see pop up on your newsfeed 12 times a day. Just Google the phrase “things you shouldn’t say” and you’ll find a million such articles, informing you that there are, for instance, 10 things you shouldn’t say to a person in a wheelchair, 7 things you shouldn’t say to someone with anxiety, 16 things you shouldn’t say to a guy who can’t grow a beard, and, obviously, many different lists explaining many things you shouldn’t say to women or minorities, or especially minority women in wheelchairs who have anxiety about the fact that they can’t grow beards.

Interesting note: the bartender community has taken a special liking to the “list phrases that other people are now prohibited from uttering in my presence” craze. Search “things you shouldn’t say to bartenders” and you’ll find dozens of entries, including a Buzzfeed post (of course) that ranks 61 things you shouldn’t say to this surprisingly sensitive group of emotional snowflakes.

In other words, don’t speak to bartenders at all. They’ve had enough of human speech altogether.

Now, I begin with this lengthy setup in an attempt to confront my apparent contradiction head on. I hate list articles, but here I am with a list article. A “things you shouldn’t say” list article, no less. Does this make me a hypocrite? Perhaps, except that I fully admit to my laziness in this particular instance. I’ve written over 400 posts and only formatted them into convenient list-structure, I think, twice (including this one). I’m entitled to a pass, right?

Fine. Maybe not.

But I do feel OK telling you things you shouldn’t say, because I’m not telling you to stop saying them TO ME for my own benefit, but rather stop saying them in general, for your benefit, and for the sake of truth, justice, and the American Way.

So, in honor of Tax Day, I’ve written a list of three things you shouldn’t say as you enjoy the cheer and merriment of this joyous American holiday:

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1. “I’m paying my taxes.”

“My” implies ownership. It communicates a certain level of inherent, natural responsibility toward the subject. So it makes sense for me to refer to “my bill” at Applebee’s or “my credit card debt”. They are both the result of a contractual agreement I personally entered into and accepted. Even if the spinach dip was overpriced, and even if Visa is kicking me up and down the sidewalk with interest and penalties, I still knowingly and willingly consented to assuming the financial cost in return for a good or service. I own it. It’s mine. It’s nobody else’s. In fact, it’s important for me to stipulate my Applebee’s bill from your Applebee’s bill because we entered into different agreements for different products. I’m certainly not on the hook for your bill, especially because I’m drinking ice water while you’re over there chugging margaritas like it’s Cinco de Mayo.

Your tax bill is different than your bar tab or the money you owe Netflix. You didn’t agree to this. You have absolutely no control over it.

You might say that taxes have always been like that and always will be, and you’re right. But, in modern times, with a government that spends 3.5 trillion dollars a year — making it the most expensive bureaucracy that’s existed anywhere on the planet ever in history — the gap between taxation and the ‘public good’ has never been more vast. It’s kind of hard to whisper even the faintest suggestion that our government limits itself to expenditures necessary to fulfill only its lawful and constitutional obligations, when it spends, in a single year, almost as much money as physically exists on the planet.

Did you catch that? If you wanted to outspend the government next year, you’d have to first steal every single physical dollar and coin that exists on Earth, and you still might not have enough.

And, since the government spends even what it doesn’t have, we have accrued a debt so enormous that the numbers cannot be understood by the human mind. Any notion of taxation with representation has been completely buried under this pile of debt so inconceivably massive that it could touch the moon (literally).

Politicians take your money and use it for whatever they like, and whatever they like almost always involves gaining power and influence. Again, you’ll tell me that politicians have always used taxes for this purpose, and you’re right, but they’ve never been able to steal this much, and they’ve never been so proficient in stealing it (while, in every other area, so utterly lacking in proficiency).

Your money will be taken and allocated to fund abortion clinics, and foreign governments, and entitlements, and studies to determine whether cocaine makes Japanese quail horny, or if Chinese prostitutes can be taught to drink responsibly, or how to best teach the benefits of genital washing in the third world. When you say that you owe this amount, you are saying that you are personally indebted to Planned Parenthood, and the government of Uganda, and every individual on every welfare program, and every study about lustful quail. Or else you are saying that a politician’s power to tax is absolute and unlimited, and their saying that you have this debt is enough to make that debt into some kind of existential reality.

The point is that this debt belongs to the powers that created it. They will take from you, but you do not owe it. There is no “social contract”. We are churning out generations of Americans born into a bankruptcy they did not cause, created to pay for things they did not buy, to benefit people they’ll never meet. Entire generations emerging into the world with a giant ‘IOU’ branded on their foreheads; emblazoned there because the Americans that came before them lacked the courage and discipline to stop the government gravy train in its tracks.

These are not your taxes. They will come from your pockets and out of the mouths of your children, but you do not owe them.

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2. “I’m paying my taxes today.”

“Today”. You’re paying taxes “today”, you say? Well, that’s true. But the statement seems to imply that you don’t pay taxes every other day.

Oh, but you do.

You pay taxes today, but that does not make today unique.

If you’ll allow it, I would like to take you on a tour of your average day. This is what it looks like, whether we call it “Tax Day” or not:

You wake up.

You get out of bed and flip on a light. And you are taxed. You stumble into the bathroom and use the toilet. And you are taxed when you flush, and again when you turn on the shower, and again when you go to the faucet to brush your teeth (unless you’re one of those “brush my teeth in the shower” deviants). You put on clothing, which were taxed when you bought them. You slip on your taxed socks and tie your taxed shoes. You go downstairs. You use your taxed coffee machine. You pay a tax on the electricity. You grab a frozen breakfast burrito, which you paid taxes on, and stick it in the microwave, which you paid taxes on, and turned on the microwave using that taxed electricity again. You decide to check out the morning news while you enjoy your gourmet meal. Good thing you’ve got that taxed TV and that taxed digital cable. OK, quit stalling. Time to get to work. You grab your taxed cell phone and call your boss to tell him you’re running late. You paid about a dozen different taxes on that phone call. You leave your house, which is perpetually taxed, and get into your car, which was taxed. You drive down the street, burning that oh-so-taxed gasoline. Maybe you pass through a toll, maybe you’re stopped along the way and charged 128 dollars for not wearing a seatbelt. Maybe you get flashed by a red light camera. Maybe you have to park in a metered spot. Tax. Tax. Tax. Tax.

You haven’t even made it to your job yet, and the government’s fleeced you for a bucket of cash. Then you punch the clock at work and that’s where the real taxing begins.

See, in America, “the Land of the Free,” we pay taxes on everything we buy and everything we use; we pay taxes on where we live and what we eat; we pay taxes when we drive down the road or stay in the house; we pay taxes on whatever we sell, whatever we earn, and whatever we save. We pay taxes to live and we pay taxes to die. Some people live in states without a sales tax, but they still pay taxes when they buy things, because there are so many taxes and fees embedded into the price of any good or service.

Our Founding Fathers would rather wage an armed revolt against the world’s greatest superpower than pay a tax on their Snapple; we, on the other hand, would rather pay taxes on literally every conceivable facet of our existence, than be accused of “extremism” for questioning the government’s alleged absolute power to levy taxes on everything, all the time, without any discernible limitations.

My, how times have changed.

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3. “I just filed my taxes and I’m getting 400 dollars from the federal government!”

Please don’t celebrate the tax return you’re “getting”.

You aren’t getting anything. That’s your money. The government took it, held onto it for a year, and now they’re returning it without interest. If some guy at work stole a hundred bucks from your wallet and then, after you tracked him down and harassed him about it, he gave you back a small portion of it, would you run through the halls jumping for joy? Would you thank him for returning your own money? Or would you smack him upside the head and tell him to give you back the rest with interest, or you’ll break his kneecaps with a tire iron?

OK maybe you wouldn’t go all Al Capone on his sorry behind (I mean, I did just catch you drinking a fruity cocktail at Applebee’s) but I think you’d respect yourself enough to not act like he just did you a favor by returning some of the cash he jacked from your wallet.

Now, imagine that your friend took your money, or even that he borrowed it, but he told you that he would not return it until you completed a stack of paperwork and submitted it to him on a deadline determined by him, the debtor? And what if he boasted that any failures on your end to check the appropriate box or dot the appropriate ‘i’ would result in him refusing to give you back your own money, and it may even mean that you have to pay him more?

That’s the withholding system in a nut shell, a system signed into law by FDR, designed to alleviate the burden of tax collecting from the shoulders of tax collectors, and place it instead on individuals and business owners. It gives the government the ability to acquire an interest-free loan from millions of American citizens. But don’t worry: it’s totally necessary. If everyone had to physically cut a check for the actual amount of ‘their’ tax debt — like we self-employed folks must do — there would be riots in the streets.

As it stands, Daddy Government simply slips into your wallet, takes a chunk of your paycheck, very nicely and painlessly, and then, a year later, gives you a smaller chunk back. Hooray! The populace goes from certain revolt to literally thanking Uncle Sam for the pleasure of having a portion of their own earning returned, sans the interest it could have accrued sitting in a savings account.

And that’s America in the year 2014.

Happy Tax Day, fellow serfs.

******

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And Twitter.

*****

UPDATE: CarolBeth Hawn on Facebook reminds me that my list of taxes you pay in the morning was woefully in complete:

You forgot to mention that the milk (taxed) you put into your coffee (taxed) had the following tax-line: Farmer (income tax) has land (property tax) on which he grazes his cows (tax on grass seed, tax on fertilizer spread by tractor, tax to buy tractor, which was also taxed in its production, tax on gas for tractor, tax on replacement tires and parts for tractor, which were also taxed in production), the  cows were raised from calves produced on farm (capital gains) and visited by vet (tax on products, vet is also taxed ad nauseum) from semen purchased from an exchange (taxed), which are raised and milked in a milk shed or barn (more property tax) using equipment purchased (taxed, both on purchase and on production) and bottled (more equipment taxed on purchase and in production), sold to Meadow Gold (taxed ad nauseum), trucked to the grocery store in a refrigerated truck (taxed, taxed, taxed, gas tax), sold to store (sale is taxed, store is taxed ad nauseum) where it sits in big, taxed refrigerators, until you go to the store (gas tax, tax on vehicle) and purchase the milk (taxed) for your coffee (taxed). This is, of course, an abbreviated list. We’d need a flow chart to do it justice. The amazing thing isn’t that things cost so much, it is that they cost so LITTLE, being taxed on every level as they are!

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Here’s what happened to that money I asked you to give

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A quick note to the readers of this blog who, a few months ago, donated around 17,000 dollars to help my brother and the others on his mission trip provide medicine and clean water to a poor town in Guatemala.

He returned a couple of weeks back, and asked if I would post a thank you note and update on my blog, so that you could see the fruits of your charity.

I told him I’d post it, but he’d have to pay a 200 dollar fee.

That was a joke.

The fee is 300.

In all seriousness, I get some satisfaction out of knowing that something tangible and real has come from this little blog of mine. Rather, it came from you, but I’m happy to be a facilitator of the exchange.

Here’s Joe’s letter:

Dear friends,

Thank you once again for your generous contributions to my mission trip. Everything went according to plan (for the most part). On March 8 we left for Guatemala and arrived back at Christendom the following Sunday, March 16. We were lead by our Pastor, Father Planty, and another Christendom staff member Josh Peterson. We worked with the Missionary Sisters of the Poor Jesus in the small Guatemalan town of El Progresso and a Canadian relief organization, the Doppenbergs.

The majority of our work consisted in working in a remote Guatemalan town digging a trench one mile long to connect this town with their water supply. Working alongside the Guatemalan men, women and even children we finished the ditch by Saturday. The days were long and exhausting but very rewarding. We dug on mountain sides with inclines of nearly 70 degrees and at time had to dig and pick ax through straight rock. In one 30 minute stretch three pick axes were broken due to the rock formations. In the meantime, Father Planty administered to the sick Guatemalans who, in the remote villages, rarely receive spiritual care. And with the money donated the Sisters were able to buy and administer medical supplies to hundreds of children through a series of day clinics set up in the villages. After digging the trench, laying the pipe, creating a ditch 10 feet deep for the 10,000 gallon tank and covering the pipe the project was completed on the last day.

This project, which includes a water filtration system, all made possible by your contributions, will have a direct and immediate impact on the lives of all the people in this village. Now a clean and reliable source of water exists for a entire town, due in large part to your charity.

It was truly one of the most amazing and fulfilling experiences of my life, and a week I will never forget. If not for your donations, we would not have been able to provide these essential services. Most importantly, above all else, we were able to share Christ’s love with our brothers and sisters in Guatemala. Again, thank you for your help, and God bless.

Sincerely,

Joe Walsh

I’m told they also had the funds to conduct an alpaca grooming seminar, which will hopefully aid in my quest to rid the Earth of the scourge of unkempt alpacas.

In any case, thank you all for your kindness. It’s easy to just sort of skim right by a blog post where some guy is trying to get you to give money to poor people. You don’t gain anything from clicking the Paypal link and sending a few dollars (or more than a few). But you gave, anyway.

Thank you.

And thanks for reading.

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I don’t respect the president or his office, and neither should you

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Of all the flaccid refrains constantly shrieked by the hordes of Statist sycophants, the worst is probably this:

“Even if you don’t respect Obama, you should still respect the office!”

Respect ‘the office,’ they say.

Definition of respect: to hold in esteem or honor.

Synonyms for respect: deference, awe, reverence.

As you might imagine, I was recently reacquainted with the rather sickening idea that I have a duty to show reverence for a political office, when I wrote a post last week where I merely called the president a liar. Indeed, anytime you criticize the president with an intent more serious than playfully teasing him for picking the wrong team in his March Madness bracket – anytime you attack authority, particularly presidential authority, particularly THIS president’s authority — the ‘respect the office’ propagators will come streaming in, fingers-a-wagging and heads-a-shaking.

‘Respect the office,’ they gush. Noticeably, the folks most concerned with respecting Obama’s office weren’t to be heard from during that certain eight year period where Bush was daily cut down as anything from Hitler Incarnate

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to a barely literate monkey

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to the subject for a slapstick Comedy Central sitcom.

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But the hypocrisy of Obama’s Minions should be put aside for the moment.

If I only engaged their points when they demonstrate a willingness to apply their position evenly and equally, I’d never be able to engage them at all (which would probably be best for all involved).  We know that the left wingers who ask that we respect the office have a tendency to define the phrase differently depending on its occupant. If the man in the office is Obama, ‘respect’ means ‘total and absolute acceptance of everything done and said by anyone in the Executive Branch.’ Whereas, when the man in the office is a Republican, ‘respect’ means ‘call him a Hitler monkey and burn him in effigy while chanting voodoo curses against him and his progeny.’

The contrast between the two might be nuanced, but you can detect it if you look closely.

In any case, Republican or Democrat, Hitler or Secular Messiah, is there anything to be said for this ‘respect the office’ notion?

I don’t think so, but then, the whole concept confuses me. Honestly, I don’t even know what ‘respecting the office’ means in the context of our constitutional republic, where our politicians are supposed to be public servants, and where they don’t do anything to earn the office other than spend a lot of money on political ads.

I know what it means to honor and respect your parents just because they’re your parents. I know what it means for a child to respect his teacher just because she’s his teacher. I know, and have written about, what it means for a woman to respect her husband because he is her husband, and a man to respect his wife because she is his wife. But, as far as I can tell, the responsibility to respect the ‘office’ of a politician falls squarely on the shoulders of the politician who holds it. And, even in that case, his job isn’t to respect the office, so much as to live up to the expectations of the voters who awarded him the position — and, far more important than the feelings of the voters, to uphold the law.

The ‘office’ is, after all, just an office. It isn’t some detached entity that exists on its own somewhere in the dimensions of time and space, and will live on even without being physically occupied.

The office is also not a divine birthright. This is not a monarchy. They are not royalty. Why should I respect the ‘office of the presidency’ anymore than I should respect the office of a plumber or a secretary? If a plumber or a secretary lied all the time, I’d call them a liar.

It’s true that we shouldn’t hurl racial slurs and dishonest ad hominem insults at the president — regardless of who he is — but that isn’t because of his office. That’s just because he’s a person, and we shouldn’t do that to any person. It’s not the dignity of any office that we have a responsibility to uphold, but the dignity of a human being.

Coincidentally, the dignity of the human being is the precise sort of dignity that this president desecrates when he promotes infanticide and wishes ‘God’s blessings’ on a room full of wealthy abortionists, or when he brutally murders hundreds of women and children via drone attacks and then brags that he’s “really good at killing people,” or when he arms terrorists and drug cartels without a thought as to the innocent lives that will be lost as a result.

It’s a sad state of affairs, indeed. We’ve reached a point where a wide swath of the country finds itself more concerned with respect for a political office than for life itself.

Of course, I’m sure there are some people who vehemently disagree with Obama, yet would sing in the ‘respect the office’ choir, and would consistently apply the principle to all presidents, regardless of affiliation. I respect that. I actually respect it. I  respect it because I honor it, and I honor it because it is a conviction born of integrity and pure intention. A politician’s job, on the other hand, is born of mere necessity, and I feel indifference towards it, until I’m given a reason to feel disgust or admiration (usually it’s the former, obviously).

These people aren’t necessarily in the Statist horde I mentioned above, but they’ve unwittingly aligned themselves with that mob, and so I’d urge them to reconsider.

The Bible tells us to submit to governing authority, and that such authority comes from God (Romans 13). But nobody in America thinks that this requires us to lie before the Powers that Be like dogs, and follow them blindly into our own slavery. If they did interpret that passage in that way, I imagine they’d already have returned to the British Motherland and said ‘sorry, my bad,’ over that whole unfortunate Revolution misunderstanding.

Besides, here in America, the governing authority is the Constitution. The Constitution — a set of laws, rooted in respect for life and liberty, planted in the soil of Natural Law and watered, as Jefferson said, with the blood of tyrants. The Constitution is our authority. The Constitution is the law. In this nation, the law does not rest with one man, or any collection of men.

In this nation, we prostrate ourselves to no one, other than the Lord.

Let our president bow to royalty if he so desires, but, as free people, that is not our warrant.

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Respecting the office, when considered by someone other than a progressive hypocrite, seems well and fine. But I’m afraid that, in application, it makes it difficult for us to hold for our politicians that one feeling that the preservation of Liberty surely requires: skepticism.

Here in the United States, where the power allegedly resides with the people, the one thing that a political office automatically earns from its constituents is a healthy apprehension. The one thing, above everything, that we MUST do with political authority is question it. On this point, you really can’t have your American Pie and eat it too. It’s one or the other. Either our duty as watchful citizens is to doubt our politicians and their offices, or it is to respect them. One protects liberty, the other destroys it.

For a man who respects his wife, or a woman who respects her husband, or a child who respects his mother, it is understood that their apprehensions should be tamed by their respect for the other — respect that isn’t earned, but owed. The loving husband and the dutiful child give their wives and their parents, respectively, the benefit of the doubt.

A citizen, on the other hand, unless he or she is a total fool, knows that politicians should be given the benefit of the doubt about as often as it’s given to sex offenders or kleptomaniacs (especially considering the fact that our presidents have sometimes fallen under all three categories, *cough* Bill Clinton).

There’s a logistical problem with respecting the office, too. Namely, the Office of the Presidency as prescribed in the constitution is one thing, while the Office of the Presidency as currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is quite another. If I was at all inclined to respect the office, I could only consider respecting the former, as the former has Constitutional authority, and the Constitution is the law, and a just and righteous law is the Providence of God. But I run into the technical difficult that the former no longer exists, and hasn’t, arguably, since the conclusion of the Civil War.

The Office of the Presidency now possesses powers that stretch far beyond anything ever lawfully granted it, and it wields an authority that has accumulated over the decades through the illegal conquests of power hungry politicians.

When you respect the Office of the Presidency, you are either respecting the president himself, or you’re respecting this bloated perversion of a political station, one that has been used to murder and oppress.

Respect? If anything, the office should be hated. Hated until some respectable person is elected by respectable voters to convert the monstrosity back to the limited, yet important, post that our Founders established.

For now, don’t worry about respecting any office.

If you have to worry about something, worry about the federal agents in Nevada surrounding a cattle ranch and arresting protestors because his cows supposedly inconvenienced a few endangered turtles.

Worry about the bureaucrats who kidnapped a child in Massachusetts because her parents disagreed with a psychiatric diagnosis.

Worry about the IRS official who targeted Obama’s political opponents, or the Attorney General who perjured himself in front of Congress.

Worry about our liberties. Respect that. Respect our liberty. The politicians don’t need your respect, and they haven’t earned it.

****

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