Russell and Duenes

Archive for March 2009

Neither poverty nor riches

with one comment

“Show me my life’s end, O Lord, and what is the number of my days. Let me know how fleeting my life is…Man is a mere phantom as he goes about to and fro. He bustles about, but only in vain; he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it…You, LORD, rebuke and discipline men for their sin; you consume their wealth like a moth; each man is but a breath.” – King David

“It slips away, and all your money won’t another minute buy.” – Kansas

In my conversations and writings over the last six months, I’ve been rather outspoken in my opposition to many of the economic decisions being made by our government. I don’t recant any of my views on these decisions, but meditating on King David’s words about the transience of life and the futility of wealth have shown me my own need for repentance and confidence in God’s provision, which in my case, is very abundant. I started thinking about some things for which I should be entirely grateful:

My job – a strong education – an intelligent mind – good health – health insurance – a spacious, clean apartment – a warm bed – warm showers – clean drinking water – indoor plumbing – plenteous and satisfying meals – nice clothes – a computer, two cars (one with air conditioning) – nice vacations – fantastic weather and geography in the Bay Area – a beautiful, talented, enjoyable, and virtuous wife – an adorable and healthy son, with another child on the way – a younger brother and two sisters – parents still happily married after 44 years – countless loyal friends.

But even these are fleeting and not to be compared to the “incomparably great riches” I have in Christ, such as:

Every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places – adoption into God’s family – God as my father – Jesus as my brother – the Holy Spirit as my divine helper – redemption from the curse of sin and death – the Holy Spirit’s transforming power to help me lead a righteous life – answers to prayer – countless spiritual brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers – God’s promises to work all things together for my good – peace with God – the peace of Christ ruling in my heart – an abundance of grace – God’s continual presence with and in me – the hope of eternal life in God’s kingdom with eyes to see God’s glory and a heart to worship and enjoy him forever.

These are tremendous blessings, and even with them I still want to advocate good economic policies; but perhaps my notion of “good” in these matters needs changing. What is a “good economic policy” and why would I think it so? Is it merely one that allows our standard of living to keep increasing, or should it be one that creates maximum conditions for justice, righteousness and humility before God? Do I want to see God honored and trusted in our current economic situation? Am I primarily motivated by how economic policies affect people spiritually? Do I desire economic conditions that will cause me and others to live in greater dependence on God with greater gratitude toward Him? Am I learning to be content in every circumstance? I want to remember that, no matter how poorly or well the economy is doing, my life is like a fleeting vapor, and my wealth will cannot provide me with the glad satisfaction that comes from loving Christ. I want to have the heart of St. Paul when he said, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Then my joy will be made full.



Written by Michael Duenes

March 31, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Posted in Duenes, Economics, Theology

the genuineness of grunge

with 3 comments

Product Details

 Pearl Jam just released the remastered version of its original album (cd) Ten.  This album, originally released in 1991, was one of the first albums I had ever heard with a strong sense of “genuineness.”  It boiled down to the growling, honest and sometimes problematically edgy (e.g. an F-word on occasion) words and vocals of Eddie Vedder.  Pearl Jam’s Ten was released in roughly the same time period when my friends and I would hang around day after day and night after night having, what we would call, “double-taping parties.”  We would take all of the music we could get our hands on and sit around double taping eveyone’s stuff.  Though illegal, this was our attempt at being part of a genuine movement: Grunge.  We didn’t really vocalize that we were part of this movement, but everything about “double taping parties” screamed Grunge.  We were craving something “real” and we found it in this music.

Genuineness was so interconnected with the Grunge movement of the early 1990s.  Grunge put forth a rather pure message: take me as I am. There is a real sense of urgency in this message. There are countless people today who are disengaged from our world simply because they are not taken as they are.  Now, there are true philosophic problems with taking someone as they are with no accountabilty for their own actions, accountability that needs to exist.  But often times people are expected to meet the requirements of others based mainly on the other person’s feelings, mood shifts and a true weakness of self.  This is where we can learn a lesson from the Grunge movement.  Honesty is not always genuine, but it is where true genuiness begins. 

I was totally disheartened when expensive clothing boutiques in the early 1990s began selling flannel shirts for over $100 to cash in on Grunge.  This fully cheapened the genuineness of Grunge, but at the same time really shows something about society: we want the real thing and we are willing to take a knock off if it makes us feel as if we are getting it.  I certainly have moved past a lot of my “Grungeness.”  But there is a remnant of this movement  that I do connect with today.  Part of the ideology of Grunge music drives me spiritually: I don’t want a knock-off god, but the real One, and I want to be part of a movement that is genuine and not full of silly $100 fakes. 



Written by Michael Duenes

March 29, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Posted in Music, Reflections, Russell

Oh no you don’t!…Oh yes I do!

with 2 comments

My wife and I were at a marital seminar this morning, and the speaker mentioned this sketch by Monty Python. Thought you’d find it humorous, too.


Written by Michael Duenes

March 28, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Posted in Duenes, Reflections

“morning-after” pill…another view

with 2 comments

Assuming that the “morning-after” pill results in the “death of a child” assumes that people believe a fertilized egg that is not yet implanted in the uterus is already a child. Not all agree with that premise. Without such an assumption, the effect of the pill is not an abortion. The “morning-after” pill only works to prevent a pregnancy. Once the egg is implanted, it is not affected by this pill. So, it would not cause the loss of an actual pregnancy. It only works if the egg has not yet attached itself to the uterine wall. One should keep in mind that many of the women who may contemplate taking this pill (including 11 and 12 year old girls) are rape victims who do not wish to get pregnant with their rapist’s child. Many rapes go unreported. That means, not going to a doctor. You cannot get a prescription without going to a doctor. While that doesn’t seem like a predicament to some, to a rape victim who doesn’t want to see a doctor, it is a definite predicament.

If people are really concerned about the impact of the “morning-after” pill, they would make a much more persuasive argument if they discussed the danger and pain it poses to the women who take it. It can cause thrombosis in the brain, eyes, and heart. Even without the risk of death, it is widely known that side effects include intense pain in the abdominal area. If a woman is already hurting from a rape, this could increase her traumatic experience. Taking the pill can also result in kidney failure. These are the points we should be making. They are compassionate, not judgmental.

I agree that it is not right for those who act irresponsibly to have this available as a “convenience” to prevent a pregnancy. 12 year olds should not be having sex. But I think that Mr. Duenes is over-simplifying this issue. He is not telling the whole story simply by claiming it’s a terrible thing and shouldn’t be allowed. 1 in 4 women in Los Angeles might not think it’s so terrible.

~ A guest post by Tyra Styles

Written by Michael Duenes

March 28, 2009 at 8:36 pm

Posted in Bioethics

Making “investments!”

leave a comment »

Just keep reminding yourself of what the Obama Administration is doing:

“Investing, Investing, INVESTING!”

Not spending; but investing. Not borrowing; but saving. Repeat twice daily. Oh, and repeat to yourself George Costanza’s words of wisdom, too: “It’s not a lie if you believe it!”


Written by Michael Duenes

March 26, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Posted in Duenes, Economics