Russell and Duenes

Archive for March 2010

People will most definitely come!

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With Major League Baseball’s Opening Day set for next Monday, I reflect again on perhaps the greatest soliloquy in movie history. Watch it here.

Without fail I weep every time I hear, “Hey Dad, wanna have a catch?” “I’d like that.”



Written by Michael Duenes

March 30, 2010 at 5:10 am

Sorry, Republicans, but you were “AWOL”

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Have Republicans even cared? Then where in the wide world have they been on health care the the last  eight years?

The Social Democrats charge Republicans with being only the party of “no” on health care. They say Republicans have only been interested in preserving the status quo and deriding and derailing any attempts by others to reform our broken health care system. Is this a fair charge?

I certainly think the Dems are wrong in saying the Republicans have no ideas of their own, but I think they are quite right in their contention that the Republicans and conservatives have only seemed to truly care about making improvements when the status quo is being threatened by Democrats. Sure, the Republicans have had proposals on the table since last summer, but what about the eight years before that, when they held the presidency and both houses of Congress? Where were all the vaunted “free-market solutions” then? Where were all of their ideas about Health Savings Accounts, interstate competition, tort reform, severing the connection between health insurance and employment, insurance reform, and subsidies for the poor? Why did we not hear diddly about GOP health care reform during the Bush years? As Patrick Ruffini rightly points out: “The left has had a far greater number of health care analysts devising grand plans for the eventual takeover. And they have invested more political capital in this issue than any other. It should surprise no one that the conservative effort in this space has been paltry in comparison. We just haven’t had as many people thinking about health care, and we didn’t actively move legislation on it when we were in power.”

My guess is that Republican hearts have just not been in it. Sure, they obstruct and fight now, but I think a lot of people get the sense that they simply don’t care to make changes on this issue, and so all of their heated rhetoric about deficits and costs is stone cold. And I agree. I think conservatives have by far the best ideas about true health care reform, and I think some political party ought to make a serious run at enacting them. But that party has not been the Republicans, and I’m not counting on them doing much about it in the future. It’s rather pathetic to hear all of the conservative talk show darlings get into a lather about health care when I bet they hardly gave it a mention during the Bush Administration. The real problem is that all of this gets reduced to politics, and thus, true interest in people lacking health care gets subsumed in gamesmanship.


Written by Michael Duenes

March 30, 2010 at 2:49 am

Your Fear of Death, Stonewall Jackson and The Health Care Mandate

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General Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson famously said: “My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me…That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.”   Jackson may have had his finger on the pulse of what is truly wrong with Americans and the current Health Care debate.  I will be the first to admit that I feel strongly that all people, in America and the rest of the world, should have equal access to health care.  But in America, particularly, we often frame a discussion about health care as we do so much in our culture: a debate over ideology versus a mandate for moral action.  Americans are so wrought with self-importance that we fail to see how truly evil it is to argue over whether or not people should have access to doctors, hospitals and medicine. We are so enraptured in our own fears of what “big government” will do or what money might be taken out of our pockets to aid someone else, not because we have a true objection to the good health and well being of others, but rather a fear of what will happen to us.  We fear death.  We fear the notion of not having cancer treatments, or heart procedures.  We fear a world without vaccines and blood pressure checks.  We want to hoard it for ourselves and control it so we never lose that control. Thomas Jackson reaches out from the grave and is choking us with the one arm he had at his death. His other arm was ripped off of his body by a bow saw during an amputation.  He didn’t have an anesthesiologist and low co-payments: he only had a towel to clinch his teeth on for pain relief.  Maybe your worries about universal health care are really worries about your own self-preservation.  Do you feel as safe without health care as you do with it?  Has God not fixed the time for your death?  Democrats and Republicans both need to answer this.  The world needs to answer this.  Then we won’t be quarreling about when “it” may overtake us and we may all be equally brave—and right.


Written by Michael Duenes

March 29, 2010 at 2:15 am

Let’s all just shut up about it and preach the gospel!

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In my previous post about the lies involved by the Social Democrats in the passage of health care, I don’t think I mentioned the word “robbery,” as one of my commentors did. So at this point it’s a red herring. I would be willing to argue the point, but it nowhere appears in my post or my argument.

My opposition to government-run health care is one that many seem to miss, namely, that I don’t believe it will make things more equal for poor Americans. I’m no longer willing to accept the ideas of people who want to make public policy based on “good intentions.” What really irks me is the reductionism by those who imply that our only two options on health care are a) have government take over (“reform”) health care so that “poor Americans can have equal access” or b) stay with the cold-hearted, careless, selfish keeping of the status quo that excludes people from health care. This is the way the Democrats constantly portrayed the issue, and it is and out-and-out lie and should be rejected by all thoughtful people. I can no longer say that “it seems never to occur to some that people like me want everyone to have access to health care just as much as the statists, but I think that free-market policies are the best way to achieve that.” It does occur to them, but they want to get their way, and admission of my alternative view (and that of millions of others) is simply not convenient to their purposes. So they lie about the options. I take my lessons from history. Americans wanted to solve the housing crisis by subsidizing housing and enacting rent-control, and what did we get? Housing shortages. We will get the same thing from government-run health care.

And how would it be “pro-life” for us to support government-sponsored funding of abortion, which this bill will surely do?

To the issue of Republican lies: Politicians who lie about military operations and why we’re engaging in them deserve just as strong, if not even stronger condemnation. So no one is holding one party to a “higher standard.” What has grown tiresome to me is the moral equivocation that comes up every time a proper argument is made. It goes like this: “Democrats lie about healthcare. Oh yeah? Well Republicans lie about the military. Oh yeah, well we all lie about everything. Oh well, I guess let’s all just shut up about it since we’re all equally liars.” How about we use our minds properly and discuss lies about health care when they come up and then discuss lies about military intervention when they come up? I wasn’t blogging when Bush was president. But I certainly think that the lies, distortions and stonewalling that characterized his administration were brazen and inexcusable as well.

I don’t really know what we can do on the federal level to change our politics. My colleague and I actually discuss this issue quite a bit, and hopefully will be able to write something intelligent about it in the future.  Unfortunately, so much power has been drained from local politics and gone to federal and state politics that it is hard to make changes. The problems are systemic. I would say that what has to happen, and what I’m attempting to make happen, is that we must begin at the familial and local level, with my own family, with education and in our churches, to help people think once again from a biblical standpoint about government and what its purposes are. Then we can have people who will be engaging and voting with much more wisdom and discernment. This is why I think truly Christian education is so important and why I advocate for it so strongly.

What would be needed to actually change our political system would be widespread repentance in the church, starting with me and mine, so that we turn from our idolatry of having “democracy,” elections, the government and government-sponsored education as our saviors, have more faithfulness in the allocation of our material resources, begin the establishment of biblical education and a return to living as though Jesus is Lord of everything, including politics, economics, education and public policy. That would be the place to start.

But let me try to be as honest as possible. When I think about this, I realize that my own involvement in Christian community falls woefully short. I don’t believe I am in a position communally to see these changes happen on a sufficient level. That’s the big hurdle, in my view. I don’t think I’m alone. How do we become people who are living in Christian community as the Bible holds out to us such that we can become an agent cultural transformation, in the power and grace of Christ? That’s a conversation worth having, and I think we would agree on that.


Written by Michael Duenes

March 28, 2010 at 6:14 pm

I want to make love to you!

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“I want to play tennis with you. I want to have coffee with you. I want to go to the movies with you. I want to make love to you…I want to have children with you.”

Which one do we think doesn’t belong in the group?

From a great piece (“Mad About Babies“) in this month’s Salvo Magazine, Jennifer Fulwiler makes a point I’ve made before, namely, that if we pull apart the “babies and bonding” purpose within the sex act through contraception, we will inevitably have abortion. She writes,

In every society, there are two critical lists: acceptable conditions for having a baby, and acceptable conditions for having sex. From time immemorial, the one thing that almost every society had in common was that their two lists matched up. It was only with the widespread acceptance of contraception in the middle of the 20th century, creating an upheaval in the public psyche in which sex and babies no longer went hand-in-hand, that the two lists began to diverge. And now, in 21st-century America, they look something like this:

Conditions under which it is acceptable to have sex:

  • -If you’re in a stable relationship
  • -If you feel emotionally ready
  • -If you’re free of sexually transmitted diseases
  • -If you have access to contraception

Conditions under which it is acceptable to have a baby:

  • -If you can afford it
  • -If you’ve finished your education
  • -If you feel emotionally ready to parent a child
  • -If your partner would make a good parent
  • -If you’re ready for all the lifestyle changes that would be involved with parenthood

As long as those two lists do not match, we will live in a culture where abortion is common and where women are at war with their own bodies.

It is worth noting that second list is the unspoken one in many marriages. Being mature and ready enough to marry someone is no longer thought to be synonymous with being mature and ready enough to have children with them.The implications that follow from this and that have been visited upon our society are untold.


Written by Michael Duenes

March 27, 2010 at 3:29 am