Friday, July 13, 2007


I heard on NPR the other day the reading of the Statue of Liberty inscription. I had never heard the whole thing before, but it is truly beautiful.

What happened to this belief? Surely we do not treat our Exiles as well as this inscription says.

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Saturday, May 19, 2007

War and Focus on the Family

I woke up the other day listening to James Dobson and his Focus on the Family radio broadcast. The broadcast for the week was about "defending our nation". His guests told stories of World War II, and he gave his little speech about how defending our nation is so important, etc., etc.

Ironically I had just read Micah the night before...

"With what shall I come before the LORD and bow down before the exalted God? Shall I come before him with burnt offering, with calves a year old? Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I offer my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God".

So instead of getting mad, or being unsure about my political position, I was confident in God. Whoever believes in war needs to carefully read the bible.

But then it made me think, isn't Focus on the Family supposed to be about the Family?

What, exactly, about war is "Family Friendly"?

Is it the war crimes? The months that families are separated while loved ones are in active duty? The killing of civilians? The mental illness that plagues so many soldiers? Killing another human?

Can anyone tell me what makes war Family Friendly?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Second letter to Dr. Dobson

Well, I received a response from Dr. Dobson's correspondence assistant regarding my first letter about global warming. I won't type out her response, but you'll get the gist of it from my own response to her.

As a warning, I'm not so sure that I fully believe everything I wrote below (especially about scientists), but I'm more trying to write "to his level", so to speak. I don't know if that's immoral, but we'll see if it works.

Susan M. Wells

Correspondence Assistant

Focus on the Family

Colorado Springs, CO 80995

20 April 2007

Dear Ms. Wells:

Thank you for your response on behalf of Dr. Dobson regarding global warming. I appreciate you taking the time to personally respond. If you will, I ask that you please address a few more questions regarding Dr. Dobson’s view on global warming.

In the Focus on the Family Statement on the Environment, the author writes: “From a secular environmentalist point of view, which excludes God, the highest aim is to understand nature itself. How we treat nature, then, depends strictly on our own, relative ethics and preferences”.

I assume that this statement is referring to the great numbers of atheistic/agnostic scientists – perhaps we could even call them “mainstream” scientists. Certainly this is true, that vast numbers of scientists (though certainly not all) aim for science above morality, and their own morality is that which they extract from the scientific discoveries that they have personally uncovered. I agree that moral relativism is, at best, universally unhelpful, and at worst is an extremely dangerous “slippery slope”.

I am concerned, then, that Dr. Dobson feels that the NAE should “leave the debate [of global warming] in the hands of scientists, rather than ministry leaders”. Why would we, as responsible, moral Christians want to leave the responsibility for the consequences of global warming in the hands of moral relativists?

I am particularly concerned because the Focus on the Family statement on the environment proclaims that “authority [over the environment] involves not a lessening of accountability, but an increase”. As Christians, why would we want to defer the debate to a nonbeliever? Should we not be held more accountable than the unbeliever?

The statement on the environment also proposes: “Scripture repudiates any view that exalts creation above the Creator or trivializes human suffering. Though we oppose greed, covetousness and environmental ‘gluttony,’ basic human welfare – at home and abroad – must be preeminent in all environmental proposals”.

I agree. But in his position regarding global warming, Dr. Dobson seems to have prioritized one type of life (the “preborn”) over another (the millions potentially affected by global warming).

It is abundantly clear that global warming has the potential to cause famine, drought, disease, and natural disasters. Whether by human or natural causes, this fact of global warming is not disputed. It is also clear that, by the nature of global economics and distribution of resources, that the world’s poorest countries will be the most negatively affected.

I do not know how to convey with words the potential for unbelievable suffering due to thirst and hunger. So I repeat the question I asked in the first letter: Is it worth it to do nothing?

It seems that Dr. Dobson is separating the environmental component of global warming from the human component. I am asking him to reconsider his position based on the human aspect. The root of Christian environmentalism should be the concern for human life, which includes all humans: the now-living, the unborn, and the very distant unborn who will exist many generations from today.

Whereas Dr. Dobson is concerned that this nation “spends billions for pure air and water” rather than devote its resources to the preborn, I see the pure air and water as a legitimate investment in human life. Imagine the millions of tiny, developing humans who may acquire deformities or become unable to mature in the womb (and subsequently die) because of toxic heavy metals, pesticides and other pollutants had this country not enacted laws against such pollutants. I have not listed any examples, but I assure you, the data are there to support my claim.

The bible says “Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself?” (1 Cor. 6:15). Also “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him; for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple” (1 Cor 3:16-17). My final question to Dr. Dobson: How are you to reconcile your statement on global warming with the above mentioned verses?

Thank you for taking the time to respond to my letter. I do ask that you present a copy of this letter, along with my original statement, to Dr. Dobson himself.


Erika Westerlind

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Have you seen this?

Have you seen this? Google Earth and the Holocaust Memorial Museum have launched an interactive map so that everyone can see the extent of the destruction in Darfur.

If you haven't already, e-mail your representatives and the president to tell them to DO SOMETHING about Darfur.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

My letter to Dr. Dobson

Dr. James C. Dobson, PhD

Focus on the Family

Colorado Springs, CO 80995

12 March 2007

Dear Dr. Dobson,

I have heard that you co-sponsored the letter to the National Association of Evangelicals regarding global warming. I am writing to encourage you to change your position about global warming.

It is true that we cannot be completely sure that the warming of the earth is due to human activity. But, Mr. Dobson, is it worth the risk to do nothing? Did God create nature for humans to have irresponsible dominion over it? Did not God create the earth and call it “good”? Perhaps if we do something (reduce carbon emissions, lower fossil fuel use, etc.) we will have an effect; perhaps not. Is it worth it, though, to do nothing?

I ask you to consider the welfare of the planet, including the people who inhabit it. As a Christian, can I stand by and do nothing to change my impact on the earth, while I so clearly see pictures in the newspaper of Ethiopians starving from drought-induced famine?

Mr. Dobson, the letter to the N.A.E. cites concern that evangelicals would lose their focus in evangelism and the sanctity of life. Is not all life sacred, including but not limited to the unborn? Isn’t the thirsty person suffering from drought equally important in the eyes of God?

Mr. Dobson, I in no way wish to discourage the Christian role of evangelism. But for the millions of people who may die from floods, drought and famine associated with the warming of the earth, there will be no chance to learn about Christ. You cannot evangelize to a person who is dead.


Erika Westerlind

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Sunday, February 11, 2007

A song...

I really wanted to purchase a cheap music recording program for my computer to record a few of the songs I have been writing and post them to this blog...but the recording software didn't work properly on my mac. So I am going to write the lyrics to one of my songs here...

His name was Sugar, a beggar, on the corner with a window for a face
He stood by a lamp and I swear I could see his shadow shivering in place
He took me by surprise
I could hear him speaking right in side my mind

You make me feel so low, so low.

She stepped off the curb, a pretty politician known for leftist views
She always did her best to alter legislation, to consider the lesser few
She took me by surprise
She took one look and passed him by

You make me feel so low, so low

He marched down the street, a solid polished preacher, with rings on both his hands
He studied the sign and I thought he would have compassion, this righteous holy man
He took me by surprise
He shook his head and said goodbye

You make me feel so low, so low

I sat on a bench with my bag and my hands were shaking as I slid out of view
And Sugar walked over just as my needle was pushing a puncture for a wound
He took me by surprise
He held my hand as I started to cry

You make me feel so low, so low

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Many layers of responsibility

I was thinking the other day about justice as I was listening to right-wing Christian talk radio. I was angry because Christian radio doesn't seem to solve anything, they just point fingers at "liberals". They attack liberals for believing in abortions, saving the environment (which strangely many Christians associate with being pro-choice!), being "soft on crime", being homosexual or supporting homosexuals, and anti-American (i.e., anti-war). It made me so angry listening to these "Christians" spread their message of irritation, or loathing to thousands or millions of listeners.

I'm not sure where the reconciling message of Christ is in these broadcasts. Where in the bible does it say to cast blame on another? Where does it say to look to someone else for the source of the problem before you look to yourself? Please, someone, tell me!!

I can only muster up a splash of optimism from these radio broadcasts: I believe that these broadcasters truly recognize that there is sin and injustice in the world. I believe that their reaction to witnessing sin is to point the spotlight somewhere, hoping that illuminating a segment of society will somehow resolve some issues.

They aren't entirely incorrect; the only real problem is that pointing the finger of blame to someone else rejects the idea of a crucified Jesus. The cross of Christ requires us to recognize the effect of our own sin in the world, and anything we do to shift the attention elsewhere is really blasphemy. When I kneel before the cross, I better be prepared to deal with my own sin!

Listening to that broadcast made me think of the different aspects to deal with when wanting to pursue social justice. Here is what I came up with

1. Compassion and kindness toward others, including a complete respect of the other's dignity.
2. Personal responsibility in our daily actions, and an awareness that what we do affects others. (In my notes in my journal I wrote: this is where not buying things made-in-China comes in)
3. Convincing/teaching others about their impact and motivating others to practice ethical living.
4. Lobbying for legislative changes that address the cause of these problems.

I realize that we cannot be effective without practicing all four of these aspects. For example, living a socially responsible life by riding to work on a recycled scrap-metal bicycle and eating a 100% organic vegan diet really means nothing if you ignore your neighbor just because he drives a Hummer. Is that justice? How can we address the issues of poverty or hate if we do not have compassion on our neighbor?

Likewise, we cannot lobby for legislation without first convincing others of their ethical duties. Also, we cannot lobby for legislation if we, ourselves, are contributing to the problem! Legislation that does not reflect the opinions of the majority will be ineffective (even if it is morally correct).

Compassion alone is not enough, either. Compassion and kindness is wonderful, but without actions of justice it will only perpetuate the status-quo.