Casinos are still illegal, aren’t they?

Somehow, Fort Wayne seems to have elected a mayor who is aggressively pro-gambling.

If you missed it, Mayor Tom Henry told Indiana’s NewsCenter on the first day in office that he wants the plans for a new Fort Wayne casino in place by this summer:

The topic of gambling has crossed the mind of Henry at the start of his administration.

Concerning the idea for a new casino at Buck Lake in Steuben County, Henry wants to push to have that re-located in Fort Wayne, and he will try and lay the groundwork for such a change through the spring and summer months.

Wow. That was quick, Mr. Henry. Did he campaign on this issue, or is this a surprise to everyone else, too?

Plenty of local people have discussed a Fort Wayne casino — WOWO’s Pat White never tires of trotting it out — and everyone interested is lining up on either the pro or con side. Of course, it’s actually illegal right now, but everyone seems to treat that fact as something of almost no consequence.

I believe we too easily change or add laws without understanding history. Here’s what I propose as a basic rule for changing rules:

Do not change a law, rule or procedure until you understand why it was enacted in the first place.

That’s pretty simple, but how often is it done?

Why did Indiana make gambling illegal in the first place? What has changed since then? Economics? Organized crime? Our morality? Our desperation? Our care for the poor? Unless Fort Wayne understands the answers to these questions and can intelligently interact with them, we have no right to even talk about overturning a gambling ban.

Photo by John Wardell on Flickr

It’s time for Christians to get over it and celebrate Halloween already

This is a repost from my own blog at www.jonswerens.com.

Soon after my wife and I became Christians, the first holiday out the window was Halloween. It was obviously devilish, and we wanted our children to have nothing to do with it.

Back in the ’80s and early ’90s, Satanism scaremongers like the now-discredited Mike Warnke saw nothing but evil in the celebration of Halloween. American Christians, steeped in the belief that the end times were upon us, were all too eager to believe the worst about any subject.

As my wife and I grew to understand more fully the sovereignty of God, our views on Halloween relaxed. But we were never completely comfortable with the idea.

Until a few years ago, when one well-written article dismantled all manner of faulty prejudices.

You must read the whole article. For one thing, it’s short. Well, kinda short. For another, it’s rare to find someone with this opinion of what is so commonly believed to be a Satanic holiday co-opted by the church. The truth may very well be the opposite:

(M)any articles in books, magazines, and encyclopedias are written by secular humanists or even the pop-pagans of the so-called “New Age” movement. … These people actively suppress the Christian associations of historic customs, and try to magnify the pagan associations. They do this to try and make paganism acceptable and to downplay Christianity. Thus, Halloween, Christmas, Easter, etc., are said to have pagan origins. Not true.

Oddly, some fundamentalists have been influenced by these slanted views of history. These fundamentalists do not accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of Western history, American history, and science, but sometimes they do accept the humanist and pagan rewriting of the origins of Halloween and Christmas, the Christmas tree, etc. We can hope that in time these brethren will reexamine these matters as well. We ought not to let the pagans do our thinking for us.

Read the entire article here.

Now, if you still have serious moral reservations about Halloween, then don’t you dare celebrate it. As the Bible says, if you think it’s a sin, then to you, it is a sin.

But if all you’ve had is some sort of vague unease, then you can relax. Halloween is one of the few holidays left that are natural times to get to know your neighbors. Pass out candy (full-size Hershey bars — no apples or tracts, please) and talk to the wandering kids and their parents. Be friendly and be real.

On October 31st, the world is quite literally at your doorstep.

BONUS: Carve your own online pumpkin.

Tearing apart the patchwork quilt of society

In their latest newsletter (PDF), my friends at AB417 lay a smackdown on the Internet:

There is no such thing as a cyber community. At best, there already exists a community that perhaps can be enhanced through an online connection. The problem is not the intranet (sic), but a society that sees it fit to spend time in a den in front of a box watching people that they have never met instead of having coffee with a neighbor.

And then they ask the question:

Is this due to design or demand?

My answer is: The design has fulfilled our demand.

Families and communities alike are patchwork quilts — collages of people knitted together not by choice or common interests, but by the happenstance of blood or proximity. The mix of people we happen to find in our homes and towns is where we can find our greatest opportunity for love and friendship, and also hatred and hard feelings.

When Jesus was asked, “Who is my neighbor?” the simple answer was whoever happens to be nearby. But neighbors can sometimes be unlovable. If you have a neighbor who is not easy to love, the old solution — in fact, the only one short of calling the police — was for you to look to your heart and seek a new attitude. Now, thanks to our modern mindset and wealth, you can instead look to your wallet and seek a new neighborhood.

Trying to flee from, instead of deal with, people in our families and communities has led to innumerable social problems. Exclusive suburbs, adultery, 80-hour work weeks, school busing and the generation gap, although not morally equivalent, all try to rearrange our natural living arrangements into something that allows us to avoid certain uncomfortable people or situations. They’re all attempts to tear apart the fabric of our patchwork quilts and rearrange our individual swatch with other swatches that we think we’ll prefer.

And then the Internet steps into this environment. It is no wonder that “social” Web sites such as Facebook and MySpace are so popular. They say they are “social,” but what they really do is drive a wedge between where you are and who you are.

So we cannot simply blame the Internet for our social situation. It has merely accelerated the splintering of American society that has been happening — and that we’ve wanted to happen — for decades.

Photo by Thant Zin Myint on Flickr

AB417’s essay is on the continuation page.

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