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6 Times Stephen Colbert Got Serious About Faith

I don’t know if I could love this anymore than I do… I think that an article like this can serve as a good reminder that nobody deserves a claim to faith over anyone else, as Mr. Colbert would likely be assumed to be an enemy of the Christian population. I don’t think that he is, and I don’t think that he we find himself to be either.

 

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6 Times Stephen Colbert Got Serious About Faith

When Colbert dares to get real, he’s surprisingly passionate about his beliefs.

 

Next year, when David Letterman signs off as host of The Late Show for the last time, Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert will take over, positioning himself as the new face of CBS late night.

Though he’s made a name for himself by creating an over-the-top persona satirizing the hyper-conservative on The Colbert Report, the real Stephen Colbert—the one headed to CBS—is very different from the character he’s created. When he’s not in front of the camera, Colbert is frequently teaching Sunday school, attending mass or spending time with his family, who are all devout Catholics. Here are six times the funnyman got serious about one of his favorite topics: faith.

The Time He Talked about Faith and Tragedy with The New York Times

Back in 2012, The New York Times profiled Colbert, who reveal details about the man behind the persona.

At one point in the interview, Colbert talked about the experience of losing both his father and two brothers in a plane crash when he was just 8 years old. Colbert said it was the example of his mother’s faith that has helped him process the tragedy: “She taught me to be grateful for my life regardless of what that entailed, and that’s directly related to the image of Christ on the Cross and the example of sacrifice that He gave us. What she taught me is that the deliverance God offers you from pain is not no pain—it’s that the pain is actually a gift. What’s the option? God doesn’t really give you another choice.”

 

The Time He Explained Hell on NPR

When Colbert was a guest on NPR’s Fresh Air, host Terry Gross asked how Stephen Colbert—the real, religious father, not the persona—explained complicated issues like God and hell to his own children. And though not all Christians may agree with his personal interpretation of what hell looks like, his thoughtful response is a reflection of someone who has genuinely wrestled with big ideas surrounding faith: “I think the answer, ‘God is love’ is pretty good for a child. Because children understand love … My son asked me one day, ‘Dad, what’s hell?’ … So, I said, ‘Well, if God is love, then hell is the absence of God’s love. And, can you imagine how great it is to be loved? Can you imagine how great it is to be loved fully? To be loved totally? To be loved, you know, beyond your ability to imagine? And imagine if you knew that was a possibility, and then that was taken from you, and you knew that you would never be loved. Well that’s hell—to be alone, and know what you’ve lost.’”

The Time He Embarrassed a Guy that Suggested God Caused Evil

Poor Philip Zimbardo. When the Stanford professor appeared on The Colbert Report in 2008 to promote his book The Lucifer Effect, he clearly didn’t know what he was in for. Despite a jab at Dr. Zimbardo’s villainous facial hair, the interview—which focused on a behavioral experiment that the book is based on—started out civil enough. Then at the 3:30 mark (warning, the video contains a bleeped-out explicit word), things take a dramatic turn when the discussion turns to the origins of evil in the Garden of Eden. When Zimbardo suggested that, “Had [God] not created hell, then evil would not exist,” Colbert broke character and snapped, breaking into an impromptu theology lesson. “Evil exists because of the disobedience of Satan. God gave Satan, and the angels, and man free will. Satan used his free will and abused it by not obeying authority. Hell was created by Satan’s disobedience to God, and his purposeful removal from God’s love—which is what hell is. Removing yourself from God’s love. You send yourself to hell. God does not send you there.”

The Time He Argued for Christ’s Divinity

Stephen Colbert is not a fan of Bart Ehrman. The religious scholar came on The Colbert Report to promote his book Jesus, Interrupted which questions the credibility of the Gospel and the divinity of Christ Himself. It got brutal. For nearly 7 minutes, Colbert deftly explained seeming contradictions in the New Testament, showed how Scripture supports Christ’s divinity and intellectually embarrassed the scholar in Zimbardo fashion. You can watch the entire exchange here.

The Time He Discussed the Importance of Humor in Faith

In 2012, Stephen Colbert took part in an event called “The Cardinal and Colbert: Humor, Joy and the Spiritual Life” at Fordham University. Moderated by Rev. James Martin—Jesuit and priest and author—the event featured a light-hearted, but intelligent conversation about faith and humor between Colbert and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York.

“If Jesus doesn’t have a sense of humor, I am in huge trouble,” Colbert joked at the event. Though the two discussed a variety of issues, the one thing Colbert made clear was the genuine love he has for the Body of Christ and being a part of the Church: “Are there flaws in the Church? Absolutely. But is there great beauty in the Church? Absolutely … The real reason I remain a Catholic is what the Church gives me, which is love.”

The Time He Used the Bible to Advocate for Immigration Reform at Congress

Though much of his testimony before Congress—advocating for immigration reform and farm workers—was played for poignant laughs (“Like most members of Congress, I haven’t read [the bill]”), Colbert also used a another strategy to get his message across—quoting Scripture.

After talking about how he spent one day as a farm worker (making him an expert, of course), Colbert got serious about his motivations. “I like talking about people who don’t have any power, and this seems like [some] of the least powerful people in the United States are migrant workers who come and do our work, but don’t have any rights as a result. And yet we still invite them to come here and at the same time ask them to leave. And that’s an interesting contradiction to me. And, you know, ‘whatsoever you do for the least of my brothers,’ and these seem like the least of our brothers right now …. Migrant workers suffer and have no rights.”

Read more at http://www.relevantmagazine.com/culture/6-times-stephen-colbert-got-serious-about-faith#ubP5caTTYJi58Bgc.99

White House explains why Obama didn’t say “under God” in Gettysburg Address

Today I was having lunch with my dad, who recently changed jobs and is now able to come home at the noon hour, and we were discussing business and current events. My father asked me if I had heard about the newest “stink” in the White House over the President omitting “Under God” from his recitation of the Gettysburg Address, and I said no. We talked about what might possibly be going on, so I told him I’d look it up. My dad is a rather reasonable man, and he recognized that while he isn’t the biggest fan of the Presidents that even taking a breath makes some people mad at the President.

So with a little help from Google and a quick read this wasn’t a quick mystery to solve. It appears that the President was handed an originally copy of the speech by renowned documentarian Ken Burns, as White House Press Secretary Jay Carney clarified. The phrase “Under God” seems to have been added later by President Lincoln in the middle of giving the speech. So if there is any blame to really delve out here, it seems that it might need to be aimed towards mister Burns, and I’m sure that he would be willing to have that conversation (he is a very professional and thorough arbiter or history).

The one tidbit that I would like to add to this conversation however is that it seems that the President’s harshest critics might be missing one piece of the puzzle in regards to their constant war with President Obama. Barack Obama was elected President of the United States 2 times – and he was the first man to be re-elected with more than fifty percent of the vote since Dwight D. Eisenhower (and yes, that was in the 1950’s…). The majority of the American people identify in some way with this man, and being on such a hair-trigger to condemn anything that he does isn’t seeming to help their credibility with the average voter, or non-voter (seeing as how non-voters tend to lean for the Democratic Party). If they want to truly revamp their party they need to consider a new path when it comes to dealing with this President. He hasn’t been as warm and friendly as some presidents of the past (i.e.: Bill Clinton), but that is also the case for his behavior with his own party. His personality is not really a partisan issue, just ask the Democrats in Congress.

*This is not an analysis of his governing abilities.

I’ve included the article from CBS News addressing the omission of “Under God” from the speech, and the White House reaction. I think for those of you reading this who are highly skeptical of President Obama you might want to consider what your best strategy moving forward might be in regards to rebuking him, as the game plan for the GOP thus far has not been successful.

White House explains why Obama didn’t say “under God” in Gettysburg Address

AP PHOTO/CHARLES DHARAPAK

President Obama irked some conservatives with his recitation of the Gettysburg Address, which he read aloud as part of a project celebrating the 150th anniversary of famous Lincoln speech. For the project, spearheaded by documentarian Ken Burns, a number of politicians and other high-profile people recorded themselves reading the Gettysburg Address. Some conservatives took offense to the president’s reading. “Lincoln added ‘Under God’ as he was looking out over battlefield. why would Obama remove?” Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on Twitter.

Conservative Christian leader Bryan Fischer added “Obama’s omission of ‘under God’ is more evidence of his anti-Christian bigotry. He honors Islam but disrespects Christianity.” White House spokesman Jay Carney on Tuesday gave a simple explanation for the reading. “He read the version of the address that Ken Burns provided,” he said, noting that Burns is a “noted Civil War scholar.” Specifically, Carney said that Burns gave Mr. Obama the “Nicolay copy” of the Gettysburg Address — the first draft of the speech, named after John Nicolay, the White House staffer who preserved it.

© 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Obama Administration Says President Can Use Lethal Force Against Americans on US Soil

Oh boy, drones are getting to be a big part of our national conversation, and this is a big development to a lot of people. Who would’ve thought that a Democratic President would’ve been explaining to an enraged Republican Senator that they have the authority to kill Americans on U.S. soil?… Not me, but I do know that in our ever complicated world this is just going to be a part of it – things are not simple… I have mixed feelings about President Obama having that authority, but I feel even more uncomfortable that this precedence could hand this authority to someone else who I might have even more caution towards in regards to defense.

I’ve blogged about this before, and I think it would be wise to keep up with this story.

1. TED Talk about militarism and technology – Malcolm Gladwell “The Strange Tale of the Norden Bombsight

2. Police Departments ordering potential drone usage – Maddow on Domestic Drones

3. Rachel Maddow Slamming President Obama’s policy on Drones – Maddow on Secrecy on Drone Legality

 

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Obama Administration Says President Can Use Lethal Force Against Americans on US Soil

—By Adam Serwer

| Tue Mar. 5, 2013 12:55 PM PST

Yes, the president does have the authority to use military force against American citizens on US soil—but only in “an extraordinary circumstance,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a letter to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) on Tuesday.

“The US Attorney General’s refusal to rule out the possibility of drone strikes on American citizens and on American soil is more than frightening,” Paul said Tuesday. “It is an affront the constitutional due process rights of all Americans.”

Last month, Paul threatened to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan, Obama’s pick to head the CIA, “until he answers the question of whether or not the president can kill American citizens through the drone strike program on US soil.” Tuesday, Brennan told Paul that “the agency I have been nominated to lead does not conduct lethal operations inside the United States—nor does it have any authority to do so.” Brennan said that the Justice Department would answer Paul’s question about whether Americans could be targeted for lethal strikes on US soil.

Holder’s answer was more detailed, however, stating that under certain circumstances, the president would have the authority to order lethal attacks on American citizens. The two possible examples of such “extraordinary” circumstances were the attack on Pearl Harbor and the 9/11 terrorist attacks. An American president ordering the use of lethal military force inside the United States is “entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront,” Holder wrote. Here’s the bulk of the letter:

As members of this administration have previously indicated, the US government has not carried out drone strikes in the United States and has no intention of doing so. As a policy matter moreover, we reject the use of military force where well-established law enforcement authorities in this country provide the best means for incapacitating a terrorist threat. We have a long history of using the criminal justice system to incapacitate individuals located in our country who pose a threat to the United States and its interests abroad. Hundreds of individuals have been arrested and convicted of terrorism-related offenses in our federal courts.

The question you have posed is therefore entirely hypothetical, unlikely to occur, and one we hope no president will ever have to confront. It is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the Constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the President to authorize the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States. For example, the president could conceivably have no choice but to authorize the military to use such force if necessary to protect the homeland in the circumstances like a catastrophic attack like the ones suffered on December 7, 1941, and September 11, 2001.

The letter concludes, “were such an emergency to arise, I would examine the particular facts and circumstances before advising the president of the scope of his authority.”

In a Google+ Hangout last month, President Obama refused to say directly if he had the authority to use lethal force against US citizens. As Mother Jones reported at the time, the reason the president was being so coy is that the answer was likely yes. Now we know that’s exactly what was happening. “Any use of drone strikes or other premeditated lethal force inside the United States would raise grave legal and ethical concerns,” says Raha Wala, an attorney with Human Rights First. “There should be equal concern about using force overseas.”

This post has been edited to include Paul’s statement and the final line of Holder’s letter.

President John Doe – A Fictional Tale of A Real Recovery

WARNING: RANT AHEAD (feel free to skip ahead to the article below)

Having grown up in Oklahoma I have always heard that Ronald Reagan was simple the best president of the past 150 years, but I have rarely heard much of an explanation as to why beyond tax cuts, and that he beat communism. I think that the explanation that I’ve gotten about Reagan has often been overly simplified. Over the past couple of years I have discovered that I do respect and love Reagan as a person (a lot) but that we did have some disagreements (which is ok) and that he seems to be inaccurately portrayed by some conservatives. President Reagan did fight against and many ways dismantled communism, and I think that’s great. But the side that I never heard about growing up includes facts like: he raised taxes (after lowering them), left a failing war (in Lebanon), wanted to get rid of all nuclear arms (although he had a funny way of showing it), and gave amnesty to illegal immigrants (although he intended for this to be a one time thing). I have heard a lot of conservatives claim Reagan and then say things that would not fit with his political philosophy. I don’t mean to hurt feelings, but I truly would like to better understand where a lot of this rhetoric comes from… I love Reagan for being a principled man, even though his policies seemed to have hurt many people in the lower tax brackets. However, I think that he actually believed that the markets would eventually help them.

My most current problem with all I this is the complete joke of a campaign against President Obama. It seems like people are constantly inventing some caricature of him that isn’t actually real… I am open to the idea that the recovery could’ve been better dealt with, but I also think that it would make sense that the more natural rate of growth for a recovering economy like ours should maybe look like ours (key point being that Reagan’s economy was essentially subsidized by tax cuts and borrowing foreign money, and yes tax cuts in the end are another form of government spending if they aren’t offset by something that would have otherwise been paid for going away…).

I respect a lot of conservative thinkers, and I often think that they might be right about how things would most efficiently work, but the conversation about our president has just become so blatantly dishonest (even just by the omission of specific facts) that I find myself compelled to ask why this is happening. One example of a conservative who I usually agree with is David Brooks (New York Times) as he will regularly talk about how he disagrees with the president, but that this disagreement is philosophical and not just because he is Dumb, or anything like that. It is ok to have different philosophies and approaches to the world. You do no have to agree with Obama Philisophically but I am so tired of hearing the B.S. If you don’t like automobile company bail outs bring it up and explain why, there is plenty to discuss. If you are against the government trying to help college students with their loans by making the cheaper and forgiving a portion of them with certain stipulations because we just can’t afford it (or you simply think that it’s picking winners and losers) that is a fine argument to have – but please don’t be confused about the philosophical debate and you being on the side of good and them being on the side of evil… For goodness sakes, Republicans were the ones who originally proposed the idea of a mandate on health insurance in the 1990’s, and now it is the worst thing that has ever happened to them. Mitt Romney wrote an opinion editorial in 2009 suggesting that the country have this mandate, and now he is pretending that this never happened and that President Obama is a jerk for actually doing it. I only bring up Governor Romney to say that he is supposed to be the opposite, but history doesn’t seem to show that to be true. I don’t think it’s too difficult to make the connection that he is afraid of the same backlash that he has seen go after Obama (and these are the same people who he is hoping to get votes from). I actually think that Romney seems like a nice guy in the middle of a very tough fight. I disagree with him a lot, but I agree with him from time to time. If you really think that the other side from you is actually evil I beg that you would really try to approach them with an open heart and sympathize if at all possible as to why they have certain opinions.

I love debating people about their world views, and it doesn’t hurt my feelings because I do not lose respect for someone else because they are being honest with me about how they feel – if anything that makes me respect them more (even if I might think that they are being irrational). I’ve rambled on enough, I just want to challenge a lot of my conservative friends to open up your hearts and minds to what other people think/believe and why. If you feel like this does not apply to you then awesome, I’d love to talk to you about these things, but make sure that you aren’t so sure that you are open-minded that you are actually closed off to the idea that you aren’t completely open-minded. Ok I’m done, enjoy the article.

-Grady

Obama vs. Reagan: A tale of two recoveries

Obama vs. Reagan: A tale of two recoveriesWill President Obama get a second term? Reagan did.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — Faced with a strong jobs report Friday, Republicans tried out a new rhetorical message: This isn’t a disaster, but Ronald Reagan could have done better.

“It didn’t have to be this way,” said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington. “There is a different approach that we could’ve taken. President Reagan took a very different approach.”

On the other side of the aisle, Democrats have been careful not to compare the recovery to anything like Reagan’s fabled “Morning in America.”

Alan Krueger, chairman of the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers, said that while the jobs report “provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to heal,” it is “important not to read too much into any one monthly report.”

So the parties are in agreement: The recovery of today is not like the recovery of 1983 and 1984.

And that’s true.

“The Reagan recovery had one of the fastest rates of growth we ever saw,” said Barry Bosworth, an economist at the Brookings Institution. “If anything it was too strong. It was spectacular.”

Just take a look at the numbers:

The economy grew at 4.5% in 1983, with a few quarters of growth north of 8%. In 2011, meanwhile, the economy grew just 1.7%.

In just one month — September 1983 — the economy added more than a million jobs. For the full year, the economy added almost 3.5 million jobs, a trend that continued into 1984, an election year in which Reagan captured 49 states in a landslide victory.

Obama can claim job growth of 1.8 million in 2011. A welcome comeback, but still tepid by comparison.

Looking ahead to 2012, Obama could replicate the 243,000 jobs created in January over each of the next 11 months and still not approach Reagan’s total for 1984 of 3.9 million.

They’re hiring! 25 companies with openings

Reagan had an advantage over Obama: The recession of the early 1980s was caused by runaway inflation, which the Federal Reserve countered by hiking interest rates. When inflation dropped, the Fed lowered rates and a massive economic boom resulted.

“The monetary policy run by [Fed chairman] Paul Volcker was extremely successful,” said Rudolph Penner, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office. “When inflation went away, that laid the groundwork for a very rapid recovery.”

The major causes of the recession that started in December 2007 were a banking crisis and housing bubble that exploded during President George W. Bush’s final months in office. Plus, interest rates were already low heading into the recession.

The damage to the economy was not easy to fix in the short-run, said Greg Valliere, chief political strategist at the Potomac Research Group.

“We nearly fell off a cliff, and people have short memories. I think the threat to the country was far greater in 2008 than in the early 80s, which was a garden variety recession.”

Another difference: With comparatively small debt loads, Reagan was able to push through a 23% across-the-board cut of individual income tax rates.

With revenue lower today, a tax cut of that magnitude is, according to Bosworth, something “we can’t really afford anymore.”

Obama entered the presidency with substantial budget deficitsand an economy contracting at a rate of 6.7%.

And both Bosworth and Penner agree that the stimulus package Obama did end up with could have been much better.

“The stimulus was poorly designed and didn’t get the bang for the buck we could have gotten,” Penner said.

Still, it is possible to draw comparisons between the two recoveries within the context of the election cycle.

Just consider the good news in Friday’s report: The unemployment rate dropped to 8.3%, the lowest it has been since February 2009, after peaking at 10% in October 2009.

Beyond that, the private sector added jobs for the 23rd straight month.

At this point in Reagan’s first term, the unemployment rate was 8%, down from a peak of 10.8%. He ultimately was elected when unemployment was 7.2%.

Obama battles job crisis: 3 years…and counting

“The pattern here in 2012 looks a little like 1984 in that the economy is beginning to accelerate and the unemployment rate is starting to come down,” Valliere said. “I think we can get to a little under 8% by Election Day.”

Some political scientists say a more useful predictor of electoral success is the general trend and how Americans feel about the economy.

“You can start at quite a high level of unemployment,” Penner said. “But so long as things are improving around the election, that improves the incumbent’s chances considerably.”

But the White House has a long way to go to convince most Americans.

According to an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll conducted late last month, only 45% of Americans approve of the way Obama is handling the economy, while 50% disapprove.

And a few stumbling blocks — the Eurozone debt crisis and domestic housing market — are still lurking.

“Obama’s had a couple of good months, but keep in mind this has happened a few times over the last couple years,” Bosworth said. “I think people are getting too excited.” To top of page

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