Monday, September 29, 2008

Are We Picking on the Little Kid?

The most frustrating and patience-testing trials are those with new lawyers. Inexperienced trial lawyers. (We all had to try our first case. And most of us look back, cringing, and shove that memory as far out of our mind as possible.)

Since they do not know any better, they perform three errors:

1) First they object to every proposed exhibit. You would think, after it has taken me 20 minutes just to introduce 10 letters, and on each one the other side objects, and on each one I establish a foundation, and on each one the judge lets it in—by the 11th letter you think they would get it. Nope.

Me: I move for the admission of Plaintiff’s Exhibit 11.
Them: Objection!
Judge, clerk, court reporter, jury and court officer—Sigh…

2) Because they don’t know where to stand, sit, walk, etc. they unwittingly mimic the more experienced attorney. If the other attorney uses the podium to ask questions--they use the podium to ask questions. If the attorney uses PowerPoint (c)—they try to figure out PowerPoint (c).

A prosecutor told me of a case where the defendant represented himself. The prosecutor noted this mimicking, and whenever the prosecutor stood; the defendant stood. Where the prosecutor walked; the defendant walked. The prosecutor was also aware the defendant had significant body odor. For the closing argument, the prosecutor stood 2 feet in front of the jury box. Sure enough—the defendant did as well! The prosecutor said you could see the front row rearing back, attempting to avoid the smell.

3) Throughout this bumbling, they treat this trial as if it was the Scopes Monkey Trial, the Dover Case, the Murder case against O.J. Simpson and the McDonald’s coffee case all wrapped up in one. When one witness is sufficient—they bring twelve. When one question would do—they ask questions for an hour. Incompetently. Frustratingly. Infuriatingly to the judge and opposing counsel.

What is most surprising about this--is how often they win! There is a sympathetic factor. To many juries, it seems that mean ol’ judge is picking on them for not allowing in this certain exhibit. (An exhibit an experienced trial lawyer would NEVER try to introduce, since it was clearly barred by the Rules of Evidence.)

The experienced lawyer seems too polished. Too certain. Too dismissive of the bumbling, stumbling young person.

One has to learn how to delicately demonstrate the other side is wrong, without offending the sensibilities of the jury.

I wonder how Senator Biden will be able to do this in his debate with Governor Palin.

We have now seen the interviews of Governor Palin. She is terrible. There is no other word. Read the transcripts of her response to the bail-out and explain what she was talking about. She continues to defend the fact she is Governor of a State close to Russia as giving her qualifications for making foreign policy!

Governor Palin appeals to the “average U.S. citizen”—because that is exactly what she is: an average citizen. She is the “someday even you can be President.” She is the ideal we think of in the Hollywood, “Gosh, I’m going to make a difference in this world” and goes from housewife to Vice-President in 1 hour and 45 minutes. Disney (c) has repeated the theme so many times from so many demographics, I think the only thing left is making an iguana the President within the requisite time frame!

As Americans we have an interesting sympathy with the underdog. With the concept of some unheard of boy walking on to the football team without an invitation or scholarship, and becoming the Heisman Trophy Winner. When I was working at a restaurant, the new waiters and waitresses had to wear a big ribbon with the word “TRAINEE” on their name-tag. They loved that ribbon. Because they could get away with more mistakes and got much larger tips. Customers had sympathy, because they were a “TRAINEE.” Once that tag came off it was, “Waiter, where is my food and be snappy about it!”

(Curiously, one place we do NOT grant such charity is for referees at weekend soccer games. Believe me I know! Our organization can’t get people to referee because of the parent’s catcalls upon a mistaken call. [Which will happen—referees are human.] Try telling a group of soccer parents, “Cut me a break, I am training at refereeing” and they would burn you in effigy. At least you hope in effigy…)

I am eagerly looking forward to the Vice-Presidential Nominee Debate to see how Senator Biden handles this phenomenon. How can he point out the sheer stupidity of responses made by Gov. Palin, without looking like he is picking on the little guy? How can he debate and discuss without appearing mocking and rude? How can he get around the sympathy factor?

If it was me (and no one is coming to me for campaign advice) I would get the elephant out of the room immediately. The first baffling answer she gave, I would state something like this:

“That answer did not make any sense. Look, Governor Palin should be commended for her rising political career. But this is a national position that requires knowledge and specific resolutions. Not talking points. Not broad, incomprehensible statements.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Was Timothy and Titus the same person?

If you are the type to skip ahead to the conclusion; I will save you the trouble. I think the hypothesis they were two different people solves more questions than the hypothesis they were the same. Still an interesting discussion without a clear cut definitive.

We have all had internet interactions where the other side says, “I will get back to you on this” and never does. I fear, in this regard, I am the guilty party. The biggest problem I have faced is how to present it in reasonably readable fashion, and to come to any sort of conclusion. Instead you are about to get more of a mish-mash, rather than a cohesive wholly-thought out argument. Make you own conclusions.

How did the question even come up? Some time ago (February) I wrote a blog on Why I Don’t Trust Acts. After a bit of debate it scrolled off the radar (as blog entries do) until a much later comment by Richard Fellows. If you link on Mr. Fellows’ site, you will see a number of arguments—one argument being that Titus and Timothy are the same person; Paul changed Titus’ name to Timothy.

I have yet to figure out how Titus and Timothy being the same person affects the historicity of Acts or lack thereof. I was unclear as to how their being the same would resolve some unperceived conflict. If anyone could explain how—I would appreciate it.

One problem is attempting to resolve the chronology of Paul, in relation to his sending Titus/Timothy and their returning to him. Using the letters, we come up with one chronology and using Acts we come up with a completely different and less workable chronology. You may be interested in the Chronological Comparisons of Paul’s letters to book of Acts.

I did not use Acts, since its historical accuracy is in question. Nor did I use the Pastorals, as these were not written by Paul. So, using the genuine Pauline Letters we have the following verses with Timotheos:

1 Thess 1:1: “Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

1 Thess. 3:2: “And sent Timotheus, our brother, and minister of God, and our fellowlabourer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you, and to comfort you concerning your faith:”

1 Thess. 3:6: “But now when Timotheus came from you unto us, and brought us good tidings of your faith and charity, and that ye have good remembrance of us always, desiring greatly to see us, as we also to see you:”

1 Cor. 4:17: “For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.”

1 Cor. 16:10: “Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.”

2 Cor. 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, unto the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints which are in all Achaia:”

Rom. 16:21 “Timotheus my workfellow, and Lucius, and Jason, and Sosipater, my kinsmen, salute you.”

Php 1:1: “Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:”

Php. 2:19:” But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timotheus shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state.”

Philemon 1:1; “Paul, a prisoner of Jesus Christ, and Timothy our brother, unto Philemon our dearly beloved, and fellowlabourer,”

And the following verses for Titos:

2 Cor. 2:13, “I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.”

2 Cor. 7:6-7“Nevertheless God, that comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus; And not by his coming only, but by the consolation wherewith he was comforted in you, when he told us your earnest desire, your mourning, your fervent mind toward me; so that I rejoiced the more.”

2 Cor. 7:13-14: “Therefore we were comforted in your comfort: yea, and exceedingly the more joyed we for the joy of Titus, because his spirit was refreshed by you all. For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth.”

2 Cor. 8:6: “Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.”

2 Cor. 8:16-17: “But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.

2 Cor. 8:23: “Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.”

2 Cor. 12:18: I desired Titus, and with him I sent a brother. Did Titus make a gain of you? walked we not in the same spirit? walked we not in the same steps?”

Gal. 2:1-3: Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.”

You may notice that Titus and Timothy are never specifically referred to in such a way to affirmatively declare them as separate people. We do not have a verse, “Timothy and I sent Titus to you.” If we take the books in order of writing:

1 Thessalonians: Timothy only.
1 Corinthians: Timothy only.
2 Corinthians: One mention of Timothy, then multiple of Titus.
Galatians: Titus only (referring back to 17 years post-conversion, around 50 C.E. perhaps)
Romans: Timothy only.
Philippians: Timothy only.
Philemon: Timothy only.

This does put Titus in the earlier years of Paul and the reason Galatians uses “Titus” is that was his name they were familiar with when Paul establishes this church. (Note: Acts leaves Titus completely out of the trip to Jerusalem.)

The argument regarding the one book that mentions both—2 Corinthians—is that Paul was making a point by referring to Titus’ old name, as more familiar to the Corinthians. Yet then why not use it in the first instance of 2 Cor. 1:1?

While the books of 1 & 2 Timothy and Titus (commonly referred to as “the Pastorals”) were not written by Paul, the fact the author(s) used two different names would indicate two different people. (Albeit, if all three Pastorals were written by the same person, this raised the question as to why they would have used two names?)

Very little is known of what happened to Timothy or Titus. According to legend, Timothy became the Bishop of Ephesus, until martyred at the age of 80 or so. Titus became the Archbishop of Crete, living to the age of 90. If one holds the legends as true, it would have to be two different people. If one holds the legends to be…well…legends, then it could possibly be one.

If they were two different people, it answers the following questions:

1) Why were both mentioned in 2 Corinthians?
2) Why are separate Pastoral books named after them?
3) Why are there different legends as to their legacy and death?

However, the answers are not as weighty as we may think.

In response to the first question, Paul also refers to “Cephas” and “Peter” in Galatians. Assuming they were the same person, he does write two different names for the same person in one letter.

In response to the second question, we can note that 1 Peter and 2 Peter were both named after Peter, yet were not written by the same person. Assigning a name to a book was a choice—not necessarily a designation as to the actual authorship. If Titus and Timothy were the same person, an author could have chosen to use the preceding name for one book, and a later name for another. Assuming one author.

And multiple legends could arise from one person. Consider poor Bartholomew who, as various legends have it, was crucified or beheaded or flayed alive or we don’t know what happened to him.

We do have instances of claimed different names for one person. Saul/Paul. Silas/Silvanus. Peter/Cephas. Many apologetical defenses for claims of inerrancy against contradictory names is that the person had two names.

So I leave it to you.

Was Timothy and Titus the same person?
Does it matter?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Religious Suppression

I have been having a discussion about the Secularization of America Here. (I know—I have been working on a blog entry. This has been more entertaining.)

Question: Do you think Christianity is being suppressed in the marketplace of ideas in America?

I have been arguing that Christianity seems to be prolific in America—in the election process (Rick Warren; Sarah Palin), in the airwaves, and in the general populace. My friend, Ten Minas Ministries, seems to think Christians are being hindered from expressing their beliefs.

What do you think?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Keep your eye on the Methodology

Anyone discussing with me knows I harp on and on about methodology. Here is a great example as to why. Senator McCain was interviewed and said:

McCain: Of course, I think, overall, she's by far the best candidate. And, again, being governor with an 80 percent approval rating of America's largest state, I think, is a very significant plus.

Do you see the switch in methodology there? (Hint: Was Governor Palin approved by acreage?)

Thursday, September 11, 2008

September 11, 2001 – September 11, 2008

“Are you better off now?” The election battle cry of President Reagan in 1980, asking the American populace whether they were in a better position than when President Carter began his presidency. President Clinton revived the same idiom against President Bush (the first one.)

The question I ask, seven years later—“Are you better off?”

Obviously, the problem comes in what it means to be “better”? We often hear tales (and perhaps even lived them) where a newly married couple struggles financially to afford a tiny apartment, one barely-working car and a newborn on the way. Striving together, they struggle through and become financially independent. Yet what happens? They become worried and depressed over the rise and fall of their stock portfolio; over the new addition to the house; over who has to work how many hours to afford both Lexus automobiles. They see less of each other in their 4,500 square foot house than they did in their 900 square foot apartment.

Are they “better”? Financially—yes. Emotionally, mentally and as a family—no. Many would secretly sigh and look back with longing to the days they struggled financially, because the emotional teamwork was more satisfying than heated leather seats.

So now we are seven years later. Are you better off?

Certainly we have improvements in security. After the tragedy, we recognize the security holes in airports and have taken firm steps to patch those holes. It would be harder for a terrorist to replicate 9/11 today than it was seven years ago. This brought terrorism sharply into focus for Americans, making it a reality in our own country rather than something one read about in the papers happening to other people in other countries, speaking other languages.

But I also see our nation as having become a nation of fear. After a computer glitch caused delays in air travel, the first statement released was, “This is NOT a terrorist attack.” As if the first fear we had was “another 9/11.” We have an incomprehensible chart of colors; allegedly warning us to the level of possible terrorist activity (anyone know what color we currently are?) and the media immediately screams headlines when the color changes due to a “possible credible terrorist threat.”

We won’t publish books due to fear over terrorist response. We won’t publish cartoons because of fear over terrorist response. We slog our way through Afghanistan with no real purpose, no real objective—all on the fear that if we were not there Osama bin Laden would re-appear. We entered an unjustified war, based on faulty information. Why? Because we were afraid.

Our current presidential election process permeates with speeches and questions as to which candidate provides better national security. “Who do you want to answer the phone at 3 a.m.?” We fear what that phone call would be.

There are benefits to fear. Your body starts to produce adrenaline. Your senses become keenly aware. You become proactive as to looking for danger, rather than re-active. It is the difference between walking down a dark street in an unfamiliar neighborhood and walking to your car at your local grocery store at 2 in the afternoon.

After a while, though, we become numb to fear. The adrenaline stops. We are afraid, but we don’t know how to act, or how to respond. We become lethargically uneasy. Rather than being sharp and focused, we cower—from what or who we don’t even know.

Today, seven years later, it is time for the Phoenix to rise from the ashes. It is time to stand up and say, “Yes, I am justifiably afraid of terrorist attacks; but I am not going to let that cower me. I am not going to cringe in fear every time someone mentions 9/11. I am not going to allow my government, my legislators and my president trample my freedoms, lie to me, and ignore the Constitution of the United States.”

We have let the government decimate the rights we hold so dear, out of a groveling fear. Listen in to my telephone calls? Well…O.K. as long as it might catch terrorists. Lie about going to war? Well…O.K. as long as it kills terrorists. Let American soldiers die and die and die. Well…O.K. ‘cause we haven’t had any terrorist attacks since 9/11.

Enough! We must no longer allow our government to use the excuse of our fear of 9/11 to torture prisoners. To deny them habeas corpus. To stop reading them their rights.

We must channel our fear to react positively. Put in place safeguards to prevent terrorist attacks—yes. But not to the point of losing what freedoms we had prior to 9/11. Not to the point of becoming terrorists ourselves. Seven years later, the terrorists of 9/11 have gained a far greater outcome than they could ever imagine. They have brought the American Giant to its knees in fear, in concert with a government run amok.

Today we honor the victims of 9/11. We remember proudly the firefighters, police, dock workers and citizens who attempted to save as many lives as they could on that day. Some dying for their efforts so others could live. We recall our own horror and fear on that day—the surreal understanding terrorism had struck the homeland of America.

Rather than limply move along through another year with cringing fear, we must embrace our fear and say, “Never again.” We will oppose terrorism and protect our citizenry, but we will not forego our freedoms either. We will not succumb to the terrorist’s tools of fear and intimidation by allowing our own government to use those same tools to run rough-shod over our rights. We will demonstrate to the world that America can be a place of both freedom and security. That it is not an “either/or” proposition.

We will not allow our government to enact laws simply because the statute’s prologue claims it might stop another 9/11. We will not continue to live in fear of both our government and the terrorists. It is time they live in fear of us.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sounds of Silence

Ezra Klien wrote an outstanding piece on the press’s involvement in the American election process.

We have heard the phrase, “If you say it enough times, even a lie will become true.” He talks of the opposite phenomena—if you don’t say it enough, it must not be important. In his own words:

It's sort of like a TV show: If Friends had had an episode where Ross and Rachel hooked up, but never mentioned it again, that would've been weird, but their tryst wouldn't have been a big part of the story. Since they mentioned it all the time, and came back to it, and fit future events into that context, it was a big story. Similarly, if the press reports something and never mentions it again, the public knows to forget it. It's not important. If they mention it constantly -- "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it" -- they know it is important.

I fear the same thing happening with the nomination of Gov. Palin. She makes a speech. Numerous falsehoods are pointed out—including the Bridge to Nowhere turn-about. We subsequently discover she implicitly embraces censorship, that she replaces competent employees with loyal followers and as a Mayor sent a city that had 0$ in debt to $22 Million in debt. She has an agenda, and nothing said will sway her from it. (In that respect, she is, indeed, a PTA Mom.)

And what happens when this is pointed out? Cries of “Stop picking on me!” “Not fair!”

“Be silent.”

Because if the press is silent—it is like it never happened. Right?

No, it is NOT time to “move on.” It is time Gov. Palin address these very issues head-on. I wish the interviewers would ask and ask and ask the same questions, “Why did you say you were against the Bridge to Nowhere when you were initially for it?” “Why did your city go into debt?” “Why did you ask a librarian if she would censor books, and why, after the Librarian said ‘No.’—you attempted to terminate her?” “Why did you charge a per diem rate when living at home?” “What happened to that jet—did you sell it for a loss?” “What happened to the chef—is she still employed?”

Sadly, we have come to rely on bloggers to make more noise than the press will.

h/t to James Elliott

Monday, September 08, 2008

Abortion with Exceptions

In the debate on abortion, the oft-heard phrase resounds, “I am against abortion except in the cases of rape, incest or life of the mother.” Over and over, “…rape, incest, life of mother.” “…rape, incest, life of mother.” These are the trifecta of exceptions to abortion.

In fact, Cindy McCain recently noted in an interview how she and Senator McCain parted ways with Gov. Palin on this very issue. The McCains believe abortion is acceptable for rape and incest whereas Gov. Palin gives no exception for rape and incest. (For this blog entry I will not address “life of the mother” and focus on the other two exceptions.)

I am curious as to how those who oppose abortion can be consistent in their method and allow these two exceptions? If you have had any interaction with me at all, you know I focus on methodology, methodology, and methodology. If you are presenting me with a claim that certain objects exhibit a trait (such as some writings are inspired by a god, or some objects are designed by an intelligent designer, or some event occurred in history) I will pester you persistently over and over as to what method you used to make those designations to differentiate from other similar writings, objects or events.

What method is used to come up with these two exceptions and ONLY these two? See, the traditional argument against abortion is that the conceived fetus is a human. And as such, is entitled to greater protection when compared to other considerations. Whereas the pro-abortion crowd points out the conceived fetus is a reproductive choice; emphasizing on the pregnant female’s situation. (And yes, I know using “fetus” instead of “baby” is a loaded term in this debate as well.)

And so we end up with both sides talking past each other; each focusing on a different emphasis. The anti-abortion group, while sympathetic to the female, firmly stands on the sanctity of human life holding precedence over the financial, social or environmental status of the mother. The anti-abortion company, while sympathetic to the potential for the fetus to develop to full human rights, indicates the fetus is part of the female’s body, and it is her choice what to do with her body.

Yet all of a sudden, the anti-abortionists, in creating these exceptions, do focus the female’s situation over the sanctity of life. A 17-year-old gets pregnant with her 17-year-old boyfriend? Sad, but she must have the baby. Simply because the circumstances of their sex were not ideal, this does not justify killing a human. Or so goes the argument. But wait—if he forced himself on her--then it is perfectly acceptable to kill the same human?

Why the change? We still have (according to the anti-abortionist) a human. We still have a set of 17-year-old parents. Because the form of insemination included sex in one instance, and rape in another—this justifies allowing the killing of a human?

Certainly we all agree rape is immoral. Question: is consensual sex between 13-year-olds immoral? It is illegal. In fact, consensual sex between a 16-year-old boy and his 15-year-old, 363-day-right-before-her-birthday, was statutory rape in Michigan. Does this exception mean if she gets pregnant on the day before her birthday she can get an abortion, but if she gets pregnant one day later, she cannot?

Why does one day create a difference? Especially if we are talking about a human life?

And incest is even odder. First of all, if it is forced incest, it would fall under “rape” and not need a separate exception. In order to qualify, we must be talking about consensual incest. The single largest concern is the health issue—mixing too familiar genes creating deformities in the child.

Yet in other deformities, which are known, abortion is not allowed. Here it is only a possibility—and it becomes acceptable? If you are pregnant with a Down’s Syndrome baby—according to this argument, you may not get an abortion. Unless you had sex with your first cousin. Then—same consent, same sex, same baby—it becomes acceptable.

Why does one day make a difference? Why does the blood relationship make a difference? Further, “incest” is a tricky word. In Michigan, there is no crime of incest—we are only prohibited from marrying certain relations—including our first cousin. But in other states, (Such as Alaska one can marry their first cousin.

Where do we find the definition of “incest” whereby one knows it qualifies as an exception to the prohibition on abortion? Is it first cousin? Second Cousin? 13th Cousin? Where do we find the distinct definition of statutory rape? (The age of consent changes state-by-state in America, and county-by-country as well.)

What has happened is that these words, “What about rape and incest?” have become political hot potatoes. They have become a catch-phrase to the point no one even thinks about the implications. How much consensual incest is occurring where abortions are an issue?

Because the anti-abortionist finds it uncomfortable to be placed in the situation of saying, “A woman, under the awful circumstances of a rape, must give birth to the rapists’ child,” vacillate and capitulate there are at least some circumstances in which the human life is no longer sacrosanct, and can be morally terminated. Incest just sounds bad, too, and has been tacked on to “rape” so many times, it has become a mantra—“except in cases of rape and incest.”

While I abhor Gov. Palin for other reasons; her belief abortion is never allowed, including situations of rape and incest is far more consistent. Once “special circumstances” allow an exception, we introduce the question—“what method do you use to determine special circumstances?”

Rape is a horrible situation. But so is having a baby at age 14 with a father whose greatest ambition at the moment is to make the Junior Varsity basketball team. So is having a baby when there is no enough food to feed the rest of the family. So is having a crack baby. Arguably, all of these situations are worse than two cousins having sex. Yet that, too, is apparently an exception.

The question that should be asked the McCains (but never will be) is this—“what method did you use to come up with rape and incest to be the only two exceptions to abortion?”

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Pavlov’s People

We know the experiment of Pavlov, when he rang a bell every time he fed a dog. Eventually he could make the dog salivate by ringing the bell—demonstrating animals can be trained to respond to stimulus.

We obtained a puppy this summer, and are in the perpetual process of training it to go to the bathroom outside. We hung a cowbell on the sliding glass door, so when Bailey (the dog) “rings the bell” we know to let it out.

Our home peals to the sound of:

“Clank, Clank!”
”Let the Dog out! Let the Dog out!”

The other day, my cat strolled by the bell, gave it a swat, “Clank!” and then looked at me as if to say, “Are you going to let me out, now?”

Apparently my animals believe our training is coming along nicely…

The irony is not lost on me as to how well we respond to the “ringing of the bell.” Pavlov’s dog would be proud.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Once They’re Married, It is not Polite to Count Months

Yesterday the Republican Vice-Presidential Candidate, Governor Palin, announced her 17-year-old daughter is five months pregnant.

First of all, this should never be used as criticism as to the Palins’ parenting skills. Being a parent myself, observing other parents and interacting with many others demonstrates that no matter what you do, sometimes your children do things you wish they hadn’t. It is part of the maturing process.

You can be the strictest parent, with tight control over their time, friends, and locations. They can still get in trouble. (We sure did.) You can be a parent who wants to be a friend, and imposes no rules whatsoever. They can still get in trouble. And—in the same range—each set of parents could have wonderful kids who never ever do anything wrong at all.

Until we can legally bring back iron chastity belts—regardless of your parenting skills—your child can become a parent.

Should the Palins have done something different? A pretty stupid question at this point. If they didn’t want their daughter to become pregnant, obviously they should have done something different. At the least, chain her to the radiator on a certain day. (I’m kidding….sorta.) As parents we all look back with perfect hindsight, smacking ourselves on the forehead, exclaiming, “I should have….” That is easy. The harder question is what to do in the future.

I do not know Governor Palin’s position on sex education. From what little positional statements I could find, as well as her background—it would not surprise me if she was a strong supporter of abstinence education. If so, I would hope she re-evaluates this position and recognizes abstinence-only education is not effective. Certainly we hope our children are abstinent; but we also hope to never be put in a nursing home. 50% of you reading this blog will be. Hope and reality are two very different creatures.

What pained me, upon reading the press release, was the “assurance” that this 17-year-old girl was going to marry the father of the child. As if to say, “Don’t worry, everybody. The marriage will legitimize this whole thing. What seems to be a minor bit of a spot right now will be washed clean by the sanctity of marriage and we can all breathe easy.”

Bristol Palin is 17.


Who were YOU dating at 17? 11th or 12th Grade in High School for Americans. Think back to him/her. Would you like to be married to them?

Oddly enough, I knew my wife when we were 17. And I would have liked to date her. Yet part of my maturing process involved dating others who were not like her, sorta like her, and had various qualities, in order to learn who it was that I yearned for. As the silly saying goes, “You have to date a lot of frogs to get your prince.”

There is some truth in that. We learn through the process as to what we can live with; and what we can’t. While I ended up marrying a woman I would have dated at 17; I seriously question whether we would still be married if we had married at 17.

Bristol Palin dated Levi (the name of the father) for a period of time, I suppose. We don’t know many details about him. She liked him. Liked him enough to have sex with him. But did she really want to marry him?

Now we will never know, because the pregnancy has “forced” the issue.

See, this happened often enough in the Christian community we lived in. Guy and girl date awhile. Decide to get married. Married the next month. Seven months later God delivers a miracle 8 ½ pound “preemie” baby. It happened enough, my friend made up the saying that is the title of this blog entry—“Once they’re married, it is not polite to count months.”

What is it about being married that makes a bit of difference? Why do they think having a marriage certificate before a birth certificate somehow makes it “better”? (Cough, Cough—not to bring up a troubling topic in the middle of this, but if “human life” begins at conception and not at birth—why treat birth so special?) If you think about it—it is almost amusing the race to “beat the clock.”

Resulting in couples marrying in hospitals hours before the birth, so they can legitimately declare, “This child was not born out of wedlock.” What a difference 12 hours can make!

I don’t fault the Palins’ parenting skills because they have a 17-year-old daughter with a world famous pregnancy. That could happen to any parent. What I do question is where they go from here? Nothing has been said about Bristol marrying Levi prior to the birth. (Although I’ll bet they do.) However, we all know the pressure Bristol is under to marry this guy.

I wish the Palins would tell Bristol, “Look. The two of you have a child. That is a big responsibility, and we will work through this as best we can. But you are 17. There is no law requiring the two of you to get married. We can wait. If you want to get married after one year, after two years—we can consider it.” I wish they would take that social, familial and most importantly spiritual pressure off Bristol and rather force another bad decision on top of the first, let Bristol make her own decision.

Yes, I know there are anecdotes of people marrying at 17 after becoming pregnant, and staying married for 96 years. And anecdotes of people being forced to marry for the same reasons and divorcing within 4. The point is—can’t we learn from that? Let Bristol choose to marry free from the constraints of have to marry?

My greatest concern of the parenting skills of the Palins is not what happened before. It is what will happen later.