Texas Population and Traffic

File:FEMA - 15803 - Photograph by Ed Edahl taken on 09-21-2005 in Texas.jpg

Credit: Wikipedia

You can see it. You can feel it. You can experience it. Just get on a road many places in Texas. Any day. Almost any time. Bumper to bumper. Parking lot. Delays. Wasted time. Frustration.

Those are words describing what most people living in Texas know firsthand, especially folks in the “Texas Triangle” — the megaregion with Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio as its vertices, including Austin about 80 miles north of San Antonio and 180 miles south of Dallas.

That region is projected to have 35 million residents by 2050—75% of the Texas population. Residents can readily attest to the rapid growth, visibly apparent nearly everywhere.

Recent information published by Wells Fargo Economics Group says that of the 50 largest metro areas in the United States, none has grown faster since 2010 on a percentage basis than Austin, whose population is up an astounding 25.5%. Texas dominates the rankings with Houston and San Antonio filling out the top five along with Orlando and Raleigh. Dallas-Fort Worth ranks sixth over this time period, with its population rising a mere 16.9%.

The Austin-Round Rock metropolitan area, home to the state capital and the University of Texas, continues to attract a steady stream of business and tech investment as well as large numbers of migrants. Years of red-hot growth have driven housing prices sharply higher and raised concerns over congestion and gentrification.

Higher home prices and increased congestion have pushed growth out into surrounding cities, making Austin suburbs such as Pflugerville, Georgetown, Cedar Park, and San Marcos some of the fastest growing cities in the country.

The 7.5 million Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex has 11 counties and numerous cities. In addition to Dallas and Fort Worth, it has four cities between 200,000 and 500,000 residents (Arlington, Garland, Irving, and Plano), and eight more with over 100,000 residents (Carrollton, Denton, Frisco, Grand Prairie, Lewisville, McKinney, Mesquite, and Richardson).

In light of this rapid growth, accompanied by the growing pains cited above, I’m inclined to discourage from doing so anyone considering a move to Texas. Yet I know that attitude is largely selfish, for Terry and I are among the native and longtime residents of our beloved state who wistfully recall the days when living in Austin was much more enjoyable than it is today.

When I think that way I’m reminded of King David’s words in 1 Chron. 29:15: “We are here for only a moment, visitors and strangers in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace.”

I just hope there’s no traffic in heaven!

Houston, Do We Have a Problem?

Houston Skyline 2Although this week’s Perspectives article title “Ebola” was released this morning, I feel the necessity of adding this article on the same day. Unless moved to do otherwise, I intend for this second installment today to take the place of next week’s article. But stay tuned. Who knows?

The first I heard about Houston’s problem was yesterday morning in a number of emails from folks I know and love. They brought to my attention the news that “The city of Houston has issued subpoenas demanding a group of pastors turn over any sermons dealing with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly lesbian mayor. And those ministers who fail to comply could be held in contempt of court.” (Source of that quote: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/10/14/city-houston-demands-pastors-turn-over-sermons/)

Today I learned that “Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott sent a letter to Mayor Parker asking that she withdraw the subpoenas “immediately.” (Source of that quote: http://pjmedia.com/tatler/2014/10/16/houstons-mayor-backtracks-on-church-subpoenas-tosses-her-own-lawyers-under-the-bus/)

Interestingly, the city’s attorney says: ““I’m just doing my job. I don’t have any issues with these pastors. What I’m doing is defending a lawsuit that was brought against us.” See more on this matter at: http://www.tpnn.com/2014/10/15/pastors-to-mayor-dont-mess-with-texas-pulpits/

Here are my non-legal but hopefully common sense observations and perspectives:

  • Out of context, for sermons written and delivered by Christian pastors in America to be subpoenaed by any governmental authority smells like a violation of the First Amendment of the U. S. Constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of speech.
  • The context of this particular incident seems to be the response of a city attorney to a lawsuit filed against the city of Houston dealing with homosexuality and other gender identity issues recently addressed by the city’s new non-discrimination ordinance (which sounds absurd) and involves a number of pastors who allegedly used their pulpits and other communication vehicles to speak and lobby against the ordinance and those responsible for its adoption.
  • Putting the best construction on everything, which is very difficult to do in an emotionally charged matter like this one, the city attorney who represents the defendant in this lawsuit would appear to have the right to gather evidence to support the city’s defense during a time of discovery. If that’s the only purpose for the subpoenas, what’s the problem?
  • However, if the intention of the city of Houston is to sensor or take legal action against any pastor or other private citizen for what that citizen writes, preaches or otherwise communicates, that would be quite problematic and undoubtedly unconstitutional.
  • My own personal and ecclesiastical perspective is that I have no problem showing the world everything I write, preach or otherwise communicate. That’s simply because I take great care to be as sure as possible that the things I write are true, accurate, responsible and helpful. If the pastors in Houston follow that same principle, why would they have any problem with providing everything the subpoenas are requesting?
  • Finally, I love the idea that civil authorities would actually care about what a clergyman in the 21st century is preaching! And if I as a preacher am doing the job I’m called to do, those civil authorities would get from my sermons a meaningful dose of the severity of God’s law and judgment, along with an unmistakably clear witness to the precious truth of the love and forgiveness of a gracious God whose Son Jesus paid the price for humanity’s sinfulness by his innocent death and miraculous resurrection.

The apostle Peter says: “Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” (1 Pet. 3:13-17)

And I say: “Houston, what’s the problem?”