Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Basic Human Rights in the Baghdad Surge

I enjoy reading firsthand reports from Iraq, since it appears that the MSM only tells us the bad things that are happening in a few areas of the country. In the process, I found some interesting quotes from a reporter covering the surge in Baghdad, Michal J. Totten's Middle East Journal which is covered regularly on had some interesting things to say about the right to keep and bear arms - in the middle of an insurgency:
Not everything they do is humanitarian work, unless you consider counter-terrorism humanitarian work. In my view, you should. Few Westerners think of personal security as a human right, but if you show up in Baghdad I’ll bet you will. Personal security may, in fact, be the most important human right. Without it the others mean little. People aren’t free if they have to hide in their homes from death squads and car bombs.
This goes contrary to everything gun control advocates would tell us. They assume that the authorities are capable of and responsible for protecting the rest of us 24/7. The simple truth is they are not capable (ask your local police department their average response times for your area), and not responsible (per the Supreme Court). If you want to be safe, you have to take responsibility for your own protection. Like the Iraqis, we aren't free if we have to hide behind locked doors and alarm systems and pray that the bad guys go find some other house to terrorize.

This responsibility, however, is not without risk. The 82nd Airborne squad leader questioned an old man who, a few nights earlier from his rooftop, had "locked and loaded" on the patrol, thinking they were insurgents.
“It’s okay,” said the lieutenant. “You don’t need to be sorry. You have the right to defend yourself and your home. Just be sure if you have to shoot someone that you know who you’re shooting at. Thank you for your help, and I am sorry for waking you up.”
Even in a war torn country like Iraq, possibly especially in a place like Iraq, self-defense is considered a basic human right. With our relatively safe lives in the West, we take that for granted. Some even consider it unnecessary, but our Second Amendment freedom continues to be the right that guarantees all others.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Our New Church

After several weeks of church-hunting, and 5 or 6 churches, we have decided to attend Vanguard Church, which is just a short drive from our apartment and new house. Part of their vision for ministry, from their website is very compelling:
Vanguard Church endeavors to be on the cutting edge of reaching the population who has given up on church and God. The people of Vanguard are attempting to do new things in a REAL and refreshing way as we go into the frontlines of battle to rescue those in spiritual, emotional, and physical need.
For those of you who remember San Antonio Metro with Todd Phillips, this church has the same feel. The music has a little more edge than your typical "contemporary" service. The pastor goes verse by verse and makes it very practical (he's a DTS grad, after all). The church has a very strong Great Commission vision, a focus on building community and reaching the lost through relationships, and a set of aggressive ministry goals. They drew us in with their friendliness and a free cup of hot chai tea (free for first-time visitors).

We had a meeting with Scott, the small groups pastor today. We found out that the church is, as we hoped, a "ministry to postmoderns" rather than a "postmodern ministry." He said that he recommends people read The Universe Next Door by James Sire (who also wrote a good book on my shelf called Scripture Twisting: Twenty Ways The Cults Misread the Bible). Some of the good things about postmoderns are that they understand that theology is done in community, the importance of relationships, and the power of narrative, or stories. The major weakness of postmodernism is when it makes relativism an absolute, and Truth becomes some variation of "it's true for you, but not necessarily for me." Vanguard appears to be a ministry that emphasizes the good parts of postmodernism while rejecting the bad. In the midst of it, they reach those who would not feel comfortable or even welcome in the most well-meaning average church. They're not afraid to make waves, like when they used Harry Potter as an outreach tool. (Scott said they have several families still in the church who were brought in when their kids attended the outreach.)

We're looking forward to joining a church that keeps us from being too comfortable, that challenges us to grow and to take ministry to a new level. God has been teaching me in the last couple of years that I don't dream big enough. I can't wait to see what big things He has in store for us at Vanguard.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Front Sight Training Links

My good friend Keith told me about this great offer from Front Sight to receive some first-rate firearms training. Here is a list of links about them.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Welcome to Odegard Online!

I tried blogging once before. I made one post, then life got in the way and it was forgotten. I think the problem was I tried to be too narrow, too serious, rather than just to post whatever I happened to be thinking about that day.

We have a family blog, which is by invitation only for those we know in real life. If you are interested in family news, let me know and I'll consider sending you an invitation. This blog, on the other hand, will remain public. I think open conversation is healthy and challenging. Faith does not grow if it is not exercised. Our brains atrophy if we do not expose ourselves to new and opposing ideas. Even like-minded people can challenge us to go deeper and explore untested avenues of thought.

So, here it is. Let's pray that this one does not suffer the same fate as the last one!

- Jeff