Tuesday, March 31, 2009

A Radical's Call to Faith

Radicals, of all kinds, understand themselves as "special emmisaries" of one sort or another. They believe that they have "special revelation" that supercedes all other kinds of knowledge. These people are not rational, as they believe that faith is the "lone" and "sole" reason for life itself. They believe that they "know God" in some mystical experiential way or in some "specially revealed text". These people are malinformed and are not open to any "different" information. Their "world" is already determined by their "world", so any "evidence" that contradicts their "understanding" is dismissed. Their very identity is tied up into their "world". These have no "self", as "self" has not developed beyond the dependent stage of a child.

This is Not saying that people of faith are all "wackos" or not mature people. No, the ones I am identifying are those that have an unhealthy need to understand their "world" as "absolute" and imposing upon others. People of faith can be reasonable and rational, while understanding that how they understand their "world" is a "fill in the gap" way of formulating things that are beyond our ability to really "know". It is mystery.

These radicals are filled with fear of everything from what they think, and read, to what they wear. These are superstitous people. They fear imposing and imminent danger if they do not "cross" their t's and dot their i's. They live in a very narrow and dark place, where ghosts and goblins exist and might any moment take their life.

I find that radicals are determined to "prove" their loyalty by sacrifice and service of many kinds. They believe that this proves something to God, others and themselves. They fear that they might not have faith, so they become obsessive and defensive about their faith. Challenging such people only leads them to personally attack their "assailant", or plan for 'revenge".

These radicals not only seek to "prove" faith but they are also competitive. They long for the accolades of honor for their faithful service and will kill themselves in carrying out heroic attempts at attaining "top dog" status. They truly believe Hebrews, when it says to run the race, as if only one will win. They want to win at all costs.

Although I have reservations, if not outright abhorrence, in some regards to these radicals, at least they are willing to be consistent to their commitments, and ideals. For this, they can be applauded. I just don't think that being so OCD is healthy.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Problems for the West

The West has developed their own "selfhood", but some think that this is at the expense of society and the larger world, as we are individualists. So, in seeking for equality in a limited world, many have sought to develop policy on the environment, or natural resources or, become concerned over poverty around the world. While the envioronment and natural resources, as well as poverty are all "noble causes", they are limited in focus, policy driven by environmental issues or poverty alone will subvert other interests. All interests are of concern in the West, as we are a diverse people.

Science is innovative and therefore, the West has recourse to environmental limitations. And some have become involved in seeking to alleviate poverty by helping with sustenance relief. But, while the environment and poverty are some of the driving forces of public policy today, we, in the West, cannot deny, or ignore the political dangers that exist in the world. Dismissing danger to our sovereign right to exist and hold our own cultural values, will undermine all of the civility in the world. Radical faith is the driving force behind terrorism, and fundamentalism that undermind rational and reasonable government.

Government that determines it's foreign policy on "peace", when these ideological religions exist, is only living in "fantasy land". Peace is not what radicals seek. They seek the universalization of their understanding and their world at all costs. And it does not matter how they undermine or subvert another's "world". Their voice and understanding is The "lone voice".

While the radicalized religious zealot is one political danger, science can also be a dangerous terrain for public behavior. Genetic engineering, while giving much promise and hope to mankind, has not had any type of guidance as to any limitation upon its power to make change in society. Bio-ethics is an important issue to be addressed, as without these limitations to scientific discovery, we are headed into a Brave New World, where it will be the intellectual elite that determine public policy, limiting the average citizen their right of "voice".

How does the West live with those who do not believe in universal human rights? much less woman's rights? or individual rights apart from societial function? How do we, as "free people" allow a different culture that has different political implications. Who murder their "sinners"? Or determine the outcomes?

We cannot be blind, or naive'. Our security needs to be of first and upmost importance, so that we can maintain rationale for universal human rights and the free society that we have always enjoyed. Religion should not be politicized. The public sphere, though influenced by religion, as the religious are representative of a group, cannot be the only group to determine policy without a counter-balance of weighing difference.

And the scientific discoveries of the West with all of the possibilities, cannot drive policy without discretion and humility. Science is good, but should only be used in the right way and the discussion about what that "right way" is should involve all of us.

A Continued Thinking on Individualism and Collectivism

Collectivism and Individualism does not just "run" our understanding of government, or policy, but also theology.

How we understand the Church has been based on these understandings, if not directly, then presuppositionally.

Is the Church a social organization? Is the Church a "living organism"? Is membership in the Church dependent on individual choice and/or faith, or is Church membership about what "form" is required of the religious hierarchy, the traditions of the Church? Or is being a member of the Church dependent on what one does or believes, or both? Is faith dependent on or independent from organized religion and/or social intereaction?

Is the text, in a religious Tradition to be approached by the individual or the magisterum? Is the individual's devotional practice and/or personal experience to be valued? Or is submission to authority structure important in affirming one's faith?

All of these understandings and their value has formed our Traditions within Christian faith, and I think forms most organized religions. Faith itself is larger than religion, as faith is about persoal values. These values can be defined by religion, but don't have to be, they can also be defined on reason, which sometimes challenges traditional understandings of "belief systems".

Atonement theories are based on understandings of Jesus death. The meanings of these theories is like any other theory "a form of understanding and meaning making" in any discipline.

I find that the progress of natural science and our undertandng of man's understanding of the world in general, in every discipline, challenges certain traditional assumptions. This is where the broader and wider discussion on how, what, where and when policy should be made. These policy thinkers live in our "think tanks", and they hold the brightest amongst us. We should be thankful for these think tanks that question, struggle and help our government and the public to understand the issues, th questions, and the decisions of our policy makers! Then, there is a balance of power to government by the intellectual elite. But, who holds the intellectural elite accountable?

Individualism And Collectivism continued

I understand that there is much concern in some circles about how to "teach" or understand altruism. Evolutionary science has left little alternative because of the belief that we are little more than animals.

Some suppose that since we are only animals, then, we must be taught the "proper" way of bahaving, such as in civilized societies. Thus, understanding human behavior mostly through actions within society, rather than the motivational, reasoned, or innate nature of the human person. The concern is for "peace" and a civilizing of behavior. Culture and its social structures are the "defining force" for these.

I find that as I am reading through and thinking about my faith, that there are many writers, thinkers and philosophers that have lived within "communist" regimes and usually, these people, knowing truely what communism does to the human person, are opposed to "collectivism".

Not only has there been human experience that has borne out the "dangers" of collectivism, there have been studies done on human temperament that opposes such divisions. These understandings have understood the individual within society and the individual's relationship within as a temperament distinction. Four "types"; Hierarchy vs. Horozonal and Inividualistic vs. Communal have been identified and the combinations "determine" the person's way of viewing and acting within the group. I found this interesting. This is not deterministic, but might be limited within religious communities, as these communities affirm communal behavior.

Why do we in the West ponder such things, as collectivist "States", when there have been many voices that have carried the warnings of what collectivism "costs"? Maybe those who hold the reins of power are those who have the control and then, of course, these won't be concerned, for they will not suffer under anyone's "rule". These kinds of rulers are not altruistic because of their attitudes toward those 'under them". And they justify their behavior with collectivistic terms such as "function" and "role" in society. The labelling of another's "role" or "function" has already "determined" another's life, and development and it was "their determination", their "wisdom" that limited others in attaining "another role or function". I believe that this is immoral, because each individual is a person and has identity, and is a developmental being, not to be defined by the "group" alone!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Individualism and Collectivism

Tomorrow I get to lead a discussion after viewing a video on DNA, personhood, and human nature. In thinking and preparing for it, I began thinking about DNA sequencing.

The video features, Watson, who was one of the scientists that discovered DNA. He suggests that the decisions that we make about DNA should ultimately be of value to society.

While initially, I wasn't thinking about the "theories" of collectivism and individualism as being related to his ultimate goal; I find that they are profoundly related. He didn't dismiss any type of human configuring or manipulation of DNA, IF it was good for society. But, how does he determine what is good for society, except what the individual can add to society? The individual is not valued in his "economy", as is the case with any collectivist.

George Will's Editorial and Legislative Power

This morning's paper had a nice editorial by George Will entitled, "Bail-out Erases Constitutional Boundaries . In it, Mr. Will is calling for Congress to subsist from giving power to the executive branch.

Our Founding Fathers divided power amongst three branches that should not "over-ride" the other. This was what a lot of "hoopla" was about over Bush's abuses at Guatanamo Bay.

The Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (EESA) should be considered unconstitutional, as it gives $700 billion to the executive branch to "do as it will", without accountability. This is, in effect legislation, as the executive branch is not dependent on Congress to approve their choices. Congressional leadership is accountable to their constituencies, but the executive branch weilds power for 4 years, without recourse, as long as there is no reason for impeachment.

Americans do not believe in arbitrary power.So, whatever the executive branch determines to do with the $700 billion, they have power of enforcement, and/or sanction, which should be disturbing to the American public. It seems that the Democratically led Congress has given leeway for the executive branch to have this right and power over the people.

The State then has Sovereignty over the sovereignty of the people and the individual American. We have been known as a government that has been "for and by the people". Now, I'm afraid that the government represents their own interests, in the name of the people and for the "people's "good", which limits how the individual can choose their own good.

Do Monsters Exist?

Yes! Monsters are those who decide to determine another's "life", whether they are well-meaning parents, intellectural elites, or bad governments. There is no excuse in our government for anyone to experience such evil, as we are ruled by "law" and not the whims of people or "god".

Evil is the work of others in furthering their agenda, disregarding others in the process. We see this is Bernie Madoff or with the "bully" down the street.

While evil is done by individuals, there are times when evil is the combination of events that pre-determine or "set a course" that is not easily changed. This is momentum and it has been useful to appeal to "motivational goals", so that organizations can accomplish certain ends. But, enthusiasm is not based in reason, and sometimes without thoughtful reflection, unwise decisions and choices are made.

Evil is not "God's problem", unless one believes in a personal "god". It is much easier to not believe in a personal "god" who supposedly "cares" than to suffer in the "name of injustice" and think that this kind of "God" treats a person as "invisible". No, it is much more palatable to understand evil as unwise human behavior and understand that chance, chaos, indeterminism, and contingency, etc. than to believe in Providence.

This is where "co-creating" with God, falls short of wisdom, as it appeals to a certain view or goal that presupposes or determines what "that purpose is to be". Anyone who understands the complexity of issues and of life, would hesitate to predetermine "in the name of God".

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Monsters, Aliens, and Other "Stangeness"

Some in the blogosphere have been "talking" about monsters and aliens. What is a monster or an alien, but those who are outside our frames of reference. Or those who appear to have some form of deformity (spiritual, mental, emotional, intellectual, social, etc.) according to our "standards". These people challenge our comfort zones, because they create a tension in how we understand ourselves. We love people that are "just like us", because they affirm us, instead of challenging us.

While these people create tensions to our identity, they need to be understood, to be cared for, etc. At the same time, it is all right to maintain our boundaries, which define our differences, as well. This is, again, what makes our country great, as we do not establish/sanction a religion or specific culture.

Just recently, when we were in D.C. I noticed that the Kennedy Center was having a cultural exchange, of sorts, in the arts of the "Middle East" and the Shakespeare Theatre was offering a "translated" interpretation of Shakespeare's "Richard" into Islamic terms. Unfortunately, we were already "committed", so we did not attend. I thought this was a fascinating concept, though, as I have attended such "adventures" in the past. One does not have to live in another country to "understand" or have exposure to 'others" and their "world". And this type of exchange helps us to appreciate their forms of art.

When we appreciate a culture that is different from ours, through the arts we have learned and grown in awareness of "difference" and that is an education, itself.

On "Liberty and Tyranny"

I just recieved a copy of Mark R. Levine's "Liberty and Tyranny" and plan on reading it when we go to Colorodo.

On the back cover was this statement, "We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with others, the same word my mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name-liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different names- liberty and tyranny." Abraham Lincoln, 1864.

I find that this quote fascinatingly pertinent for today, as it is a universal value of our Founding Fathers. We must not loose our fight and will to maintain our individual liberties.

Moral Choice, Moral Responsibility, and the "Greater Good"

I was cleaning out my purse and I came across a synopsis of a lecture I attended Fall '07 about Free Will. I decided to blog about it, since it really "fell in line" with my previous recent posts.

C.A.Campbell in "Has the Self Free Will" (On Selfhood and Godhood, 1957), says that relevant acts for moral responsibility are "free acts of choice" rather than outer acts. These are acts that the moral agent is the sole author and are not "necessary acts of character". He argues that acts are choices of the "self" and are "creative acts". He is libertarian, as he believes that the nature of the "self" is not reducible to the "character" of the self. And I think with the little that the synopsis had about him, he may be thinking along similar lines that I am presently.

Religion presupposes what we "should be", as if what we are fall short of some "standard". What standard? a moral model? which one? a moral text? which one? Character is an absolute? Then, what is being gauged? Was Luther's questioning of the 'moral authorities of his day something that was deemed "bad" character? At the time, it was.

I think this is the primary point of our free government, "we are all created equal, with certain inalienable rights". The "greater good" argument is determined by someone outside of another's "self". This is why limited government is the ideal.

Perhaps, because we have become disconnected personally in our social interactions and in our business transactions, we have become less and less "identified" with the "other", as the "other has no "face". It is easier to dismiss and disengage our "self" from the other when that happens. Then, "self" is "free" to "do what it wants/wills". This is the loss of moral responsibility due to social/psychological disengagement. Leaders are especially prone to do this, as their position most times distances them from the "common man". It is imperative that leaders "give room" to those "under them" to have "free choice".

What is the solution? Perhaps, just as I saw in the Newsmuesuem, the media should be about the business of keeping the "other's" real face before our eyes. And we, all, personally, should hold each other accountable in our relationships.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Quantum Theory and the Social Sciences

My husband tells me that in quantum mechanics that whenever a measurement is taken, the measurement affects the object measured. I wonder how this affects the "outcome" of social science measurements. How would social scientists be able to "tell" if their measurements are true, or if, indeed, as in quantum theory, the stats are skewed??

Surely, when one observes, they cannot have "pure motives", as in the Golden Rule.

My Greatest Commitment

I wanted to state in writing that my greatest commitment is to freedom and justice for all. Justice cannot transpire without freedom, because without freedom one is limited in what one thinks, does, says, or is. These are formulated in our Bill of Rights. Therefore, I am committed to these values first and foremost, which have underwritten our civic liberties.

Some would think that serving "ideals" such as freedom and justice is less than what religion requires, because religion is first and foremost about the practice of religion. While people are a value, without the battle of ideas for freedom, as our Founding Fathers recognized, there is no freedom for the individual. Therefore, I am about standing for the ideals of freedom and justice within government.

Government is a form of bringing about "unity" and boundary matienence. Boundary matienence is what laws protect, but should not be used to subvert the freedom or interests of another, as this would be the improper use of law. Government should protect the rights of each and every individual in a free society. This is what has made our country great.

Freedom to be, to do, to become, to delight, to enjoy, to ponder....these are the things of a free society, which began the American Experiment and has brought about many fascinating and unique discoveries.

So, I am not first and foremost committed to religion, but to free government, because self-governance is where one learns to become, not from the outside, but from the inside.

And if there is a "god" and I believe there must be, then there is creativity, as well as form and structure. Form and structure, which defines government and law, cannot squelsh the creative spirit of individual expression and still be a free government.

Hairdressers, Heroes and Hope

Today's paper had much to say about heroes, noble causes, and giving of oneself. Today's climate of "demands" on one's time, leaves little for one to spend in "noble causes" apart from one's job. This began my thinking this morning about hairdressers, heroes and hope.

My family was filled with hairdresses. My great uncle, my great aunt, and my own mother were hairdressers. Hairdressers help us to find our "best selves" on the outside. They are interested in beauty.

My mother worked hard and long hours as a hairdresser and spent some of her time pursuing awards in hairdresser's contest. I was often a "model" for one or another hairdresser.

At one point during my early teen years, my mother had a boutique in her beauty shop and I got to go to Atlanta to the merchandise mart and help pick out the "boutique's wardrobe". This was always fascinating to me, as I loved beauty, fashion, and even thought at one point of becoming a fashion designer, or something to do with the fashion industry.

My love for beauty was emphasized in the culture in which I lived, the South. The South prides itself on tradition, which is exhibited in the historical. The plantatian homes, lovely gardens and using the right fork were all a part of "my tradition", my cultural heritage.

Though I enjoyed beauty and relished the South in some ways, I rejected many of its values, as I personally felt "different" on the inside. I was an alien in my own surroundings. Such family names as "the Sullivans", "the Browns", and "the ???" often made me feel intimidated. These feelings were in spite of my grandmother's desire to "train me" in the "finer art of Southern gentiality". I resisted, resented and have learned that my rejection was self-defeating. I always viewed debutant's as "putting on airs", while my cousins all became debutantes. And my uncle (brother in residence) took city council and ran for mayor.

My feelings of unworthiness and my experience of rejection ran so deep that I never allowed myself a chance to succeed. Early on, my friends were the doctor's and lawyer's children, but when I became old enough to choose my own friends, I chose those "on the other side of the track". My uncle even had to bribe me to enter a beauty contest. Was it because I was partly raised by my grandmother's maid when I was only a tot? Was it my own self-rejection because of my parent's divorce? Or my father's eventual abandonment? I don't know. But, it has always made me interested in psychology.

What is my point? Well, to be honest, I was trying to think of a hero in my life, which led me to the values that impacted me most and why. I love beauty, as it gives delight and just "is". I think beauty is valued because of its "being" and that is how humans should be valued. Hope is in seeing the beauty that points beyond itself, because it just is.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Healthcare Mandate

It seems that the Republicans are going to be 'in the dark" as to the healthcare package. This was exactly what Hillary Clinton tried to do as first lady.

What is at stake? Private industry, individual choice, and ultimately, government control of a major part of our economy.

It seems that this adminstration is bent on destroying capitalism, incrementally. Incrementalism is bite sized change, so that the average American will not be aware of implications...

If this plan is put into place, we will have a choice at first, but government will make it look very tempting to "convert" to their healthcare plan, as theirs will be less expensive, and since most of us will be earning less due to job loss, as well as investment depreciation, we might consider this as a budgetary issue, allowing the eventual "take-over' of a major portion of our economy.

Remember Obama's three main focuses, healthcare, energy, and the banking industry. These are major aspects of our economy. If we are completely dependent on the government for energy, healthcare, and the financial market, we are another united socialist republic.

Rape in the Name of Religion

Those of us in the West believe that rape is wrong. Why do we believe it is wrong?

1.)We believe that all people are deserving of respect and dignity.
2.)We believe that humans are not property.
3.)We believe that humans are not commodities.

1.)We believe that all people are deserving of respect and dignity because we believe that there is no difference between male and female, as to "rights" of personal boundaries.

2.)We believe that humans are not to be considered another's property. We believe that humans in relationship do not give up their human rights. Relationship serves the humans involved in mutuality, not in hierarchy.

3.)We believe that humans are not commodities. Humans have value in and of themselves, therefore, they must not be a means to an end.

Religion has sometimes dismissed these values in the name of "god". God sanctions authoritarianism and the use of humiliation to "break the will" of those who resist "His Will'. This is "proper discipline" and teaches or trains those resistant the "costs" of rebellion.

Discipleship means that one does not use reason, but submits to authority without question as this demonstrates a "heart focused on loving God" above "self". This behavior shows that one is surrendered to do "His Will" no matter the costs, and give up everything for the cause of "god" and "his Kingdom".

Denying self means that one does not seek one's own interest, in fact, one must annihlate "self". Self must die, so that others may live. Your life is not your own. You are a slave to "god" and are to serve "him" alone.

Virtue is required in the midst of horrendous abuse of power, as this illustrates one's trust in God, as well as affirming one's commitment "unto death" for the "cause of Christ".

This is "God rape" of the human heart and spirit. And it leaves a damaging view of "god and religion" impressed upon the brain.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Personal Identity and Political Reality

Political Reality is where we live, work and play. These contexts breed the social aspects in one's life. But, these contexts also include how we understand our faith.

Some have separated the sacred and the secular aspects of life, as they represent different "domains". But, the separation of the sacred and secular dissolves religion into belief systems. While belief systems do underlie our behavior, the Church was "committed" to "political reality", or the real world. These realities were not to be separated according to "orthodox faith". Faith is known by behavior, but faith based behavior is not based on rationale, or reason. Faith and Reason have always challenged the Church.

Religious communities have tried to identify how they "help" or what "role" they play in the political realm, where real reality is played out within history. Some of these communities have attempted to "connect" the sacred and secular together within a "moral model". These 'models" which became wholesale theological systems were not based on real history, personal experience, or reason, but on faith. Such is the case in Christian faith with Jesus of Nazereth. These "models" represent certain attributes or universals that might be "missing" within political realities in a given situation.

But, while such theological terms as "incarnation" and "emergent properties" try to "connect" reality to God, as if God exists "outside of time and space, others try to dissolve the distinction of the sacred and secular altogether. I think that this is more healthy, as whenever we signify distinctions, then we separate over issues that divide, instead of unite.

Any and everything is given, so we should not be about the business of making such fine distinctions between the "spiritual and the non-spiritual". There is enough "reality" for anyone to "fit". We must be about the business of allowing the freedom of religious expression of all kinds (and that includes atheism) within the political realm without dissolving the differences of value commitments. This is what the American experiment is/was about. As long as religious freedom does not demand allegience, or subversion of the rule of law, then there should be full expression of religion in the public square.

Philosophical Reality and Personal Reality

In the past, I have written about philosophical reality, using an open, closed or flat "universe". These philosophical distinctions form ideological "worlds" and understanding. These "worlds" are what are useful to help us in bringing a larger identity to a personal one.

While enlarging our personal identity to include a "world" is important, it is no less important to affirm, search and find one's personal identity, when the "former world" is challenged. This work is done in adolescence, and into the college years, and sometimes in the middle aged years, where cognition is challenged with information that doesn't "fit" one's particular familial "world" and social contexts.

I understand this search, struggle and eventual commitment as a development of "self" in understanding, identity formation and vocation. Research suggests that one's personal identity can be stymied through abuse, limiting the child's development beyond that point in time, inhibiting development. I wonder how these limitations affect the development of personal identity.

While philosophical questions answer the "big questions" about how life should be and why, it does not answer or address personhood. Personhood is personal boundary matinence that understands where one's commitments lie and why, which is value clarification. Personal identity is based on these important ponts of development. This is what education is about. Education allows for the individual child, young person or middle ager to formulate their own way of viewing life, from many perspectives, broadening the opportunities and enlarging one's capacity to engage a larger world.

Philosophical questions should not be answered by an intellectual, or spiritual elite, otherwise, personal identity ceases to exist and the person becomes an object of Statism, or "state interests". This happens in coercive, oppressive, and uniform political "systems". Our country does not view the individual in such ways.

Our country's Founding Fathers understood that the individual was created with certain inalienable rights, which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We Americans, must not allow our freedoms to be subverted in the name of any "high sounding moral virtue", such as "the common good", "public interest", or "community welfare". These are terms that play on man's false sense of responsiblity for another, in sacrificing their own personal boundary, to the demise of all civil, moral or rational "order". The "civil, moral and rational order" was the underlying belief of our Founding Fathers belief in natural law. And natural law is the basis of our rule of law and the natural sciences. We undermine these to our own personal destruction, as well as enabling corruption within and without government which affects us all.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pay-Offs and Government Power

Many have been outraged with the government bail-outs of AIG, as government has tried to "use" thier bail-out as a means of increasing government's power to tax (at 90%). This seems to be the case with the recent suggestion about government lending private investors money to hold toxic assests.

Whether these investors win or loose, the government gains power over the individual. If the investor overpays the government in "buying" these toxic assests, then the government can gain over the public's preception in clearing the toxic debt off its "books", while touting the "increase" of private sector "profits". But, even if the "plan" looses, the private investor looses nothing, as the government holds the "loan", and then, the government has the "opportunity" to tax the "common man" for the "public good", thus increasing government's power by increasing its coffers of private monies. So, it seems that this 'plan" is a "cover" for governmnt enlargement and power, while using the private sector as a scapegoat. These private sector "scapegoats" have a vested interest, in my opinion, in profiting from their "role". Their function is to be useful for the adminstration's goals of an "insider" political elite, that lives off of the public.

This was the very way in which, as I understand it, that A.C.O.R.N. funnelled money into the pockets of a few. The "common good" of altruistic concern over the poor and thier housing, led to a whoesale use of our government's public institutions as a means to money laundrying...

Our nation was founded on the principle of limited government. This is not the vision or goal of this adminstration. The Secretary of the Treasury is the "sole" arbitrator of trillons of dollars of tax dollars, while 17 political appointed positions under him lie vacant. What kind of power can be weilded without a "cabinet" to fight or be accountable to?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Privatization of Veteran's Insurance, and Universal Healthcare for Everyone Else

I had wondered why Michele Obama and her husband made such a "fuss" over the military, when their policies seem so contrary to conservative values. Obama proposes to pull the military out of Iraq, which many average citizens believe to be a good idea.

Tonight it was reported that there was a breech of security issues concerning the new head of an intelligence area, Deutsch, while loosing his secret clearance under the Clinton adminstration and getting a pardon. He had maintained military secrets on his personal computor and now he is being appointed to oversee a major area of our security.

Obama recently declared his intention for development of a universal healthcare system, but backed away from the rhetoric concerning this major issue, when he "heard" the outcry of the American people about the economy.

How do I think these are related? Well, to be honest, I think that the military is being undermined by this proposal. Although it was reported that it would be defeated from "all sides", the mere suggestion of our military serving in harm's way and not being benefitted by our government, while government benefits AIG? I suspect that the private sector is licking it chops at the prospect of government contracts in the healthcare industry. The privatization of military insurance, is just a step toward government control of all of our healthcare. It is creating "class envy" through putting before the public the fact that the military is being taken care of by the government. Remember "Clintoncare", when Hillary headed up her committee on healthcare, only to be held accountable by the Sunshine Law...which demands freedom of information. The average Joe, if not given the the real agenda, will be led, on the heels of the anger toward corporation bail-out plans, that they need a "piece of the action". Entitlement is the name of the game when it comes to our populace and their "goals". And "class envy" is a means to get government control with acqueiscence, and the "leaders" will hold the power and the treasury.

While entitlement is an obesession with "rights", "rights" nevertheless, should be given to the individual in choice of vocation, healthcare, and general 'way of life". The dignity of the individual demands that government allows that freedom.

I am hopeful that our country is waking up before it is too late. And I hope that there are people that hold government accountable to the Constitution and other laws that would protect the "common man" from the overstretched hand of government control.

Moral Order or Individualism, Which Determines Social Ontology

The old question of nature versus nurture is being resurrected, of sorts, in coming to understand what makes for social ontology. Social ontology is the study of reality. This interests me and my husband immensely.

The division lies in how one understands how people come to develop, as well as how they come to think, and how they put it all together. The Quadralateral is sometimes useful for understanding different ways of approaching reality, but there are certainly other ways, as well.

The Quadralateral has four components; reason, experience, tradition, and text (texts are usually understood within a tradition's framework). All aspects of the Quadralateral can be viewed from an individual developmental view, or a social/contextual/cultural/traditional view.

The individual view is based on Enlightenment principles of reason and moral order, while the social view emphasizes social/cultural/tradition and political history view, which emphasizes the individual within context. Whether one believes in an innate nature or the importance and impact of nurture within the different social units of society, both are important aspects of "being" in the world and a development of understanding (hermenuetic) of "reality" in the world.

We cannot understand, or judge from our own perspectives, which apart from the difference of understanding the social contexts themselves, are also, individually understood, depending on one's personality, gifting, and "idiosyncresies".

I want to read and study further along this line of understanding, as it is interdisciplinary in nature and it would complement my husband's "coming to terms" with faith.

Ideological Commitments in a Free Society

There has been some suggestion that ideology should not drive policy, such as medicine. This is absurd. Although most of us do not realize what our ideological commitments are, we do have them. And sometimes, these commitments are inconsistent, which brings about a befuddlement when anyone addresses our inconsistencies.I am in the process of thinking through and developing my ideological commitments.

This is a necessary process for me to have consistentency, principle, and commitment in my life. Fortunately, I have the priviledge and luxury to be able to do this, as many in our world do not.

Ideology should drive our values, commitments, and our lives and help us to process the decisions before us.I do no think and I think I am strongly opinionated about, an imposition from the outside of an ideology, which is basically, oppression of reason's value.

Ideology must not just be tolerant to the individual's development, but also, must be reasonable to those who may disagree. Ideologies must recognize their relativity in space and time. Ideologies must remain humble, in their assessments and in the process of carrying on a civilized discussion about what ideology should drive policy.I think that the worst sort of ideological commitment is an absolutizing of State or Religion.

Reagan's Legacy; Political and Religious Freedom

The mention of Ronald Reagan's name raises ire or admiration, depending on one's ideology. But, no one can deny that his presidency left a large legacy that remains to this day.

Reagan was the "ideal" of conservative values of individualism, determination, hard work, limited government and freedom. He inspired the conservative views of American values, while his commitment to humor dissolved defences of his opponents (at the time). His legacy ran the gamut from the economic crisis left by the Carter adminstration, the freeing of the Iranian hostages, to the call for "tearing down the wall" between Eastern and Western Germany.

His ideals of freedom and justice for all, his optimistic outlook, and eternal hope in the American dream and dependence on American values were the driving and determining commitment of his presidentcy.

I find that the human heart cannot live without vision, dream or ideals, which inspire the individual to accomplish and attempt to attain a 'better way of life". The human heart was what Reagan appealed to.

I find that the socialistic enterprise whether in government or organizations tend to leave the human heart burdened by "mandates of "resposible behavior". Social responsibility is a good value, but cannot be "mandated" without hindering or limiting individual freedom. Freedom is the first and foremost responsibility of any good government. Freedom allows the market to flourish as it rewards those who have goals of business prosperity, as well as the individuals who choose a different way of life.

An ideology of materialism cannot be the basis of any government, while freedom can. Governments based on materialism, whether absolutizing the free market or social responsibility is a short sighted view to the 'common good". While alligning the free market for the benefit of the social may be productive to the material well-being of the government or organization, it limits individual choice and rewards those who have shown personal irresponsibility.

While personal freedom is the first responsibility of a good government, there should be a balance of power in understanding that no one has the "full" or "right" view of the future. And universalizing "social concern" does not make the proper distinctions about who is truly worthy of help, without enabling those who want to be social parasites.

I loved Reagan. He inspired my heart every time I listened to him. He was transparent, direct, and honest about his values. He did not have an attitude of arrogant "etlite-ism", as he always made comments of humor that balanced his "statements of commitment" with humor and grace.

I thought of him this morning and smiled.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Documentary "Obsession"

This evening my son, his fiance', my husband and I watched a documentary that my sister in law had sent us about Islam. It was filled with testimonies from actual ex-terrorists, and Muslims, themselves.

In the film, there was a dire warning of radical Islam, while supporting moderate Muslims. The similarities drawn between radical Muslims, and Nazi Germany, was eerie. The similarities were not just thier commitment to takeover the West, but also down to the details of its symbolism.

Edmund Burke said that all that needed to happen to allow evil to prevail is for good men to not act. I am afraid that our "political correctness" caused us to be inactive toward this radicalism. And it has furthered the agenda of evil dreams to transform the West into a terrotory for Allah.

Perhaps, because the roots of Islam, Judiasm and Christianity lie in the same history, the West has acquiesed to a tolerant attitude at large toward Islam. A radical tolerance is a "welcome mat" for domination, as this is the very "hope" of these radicals, taking the world for Islam! Is the West too naive, or been so far removed from religious ideology that we sleep, while the "devil" is at the door, waiting to come in?

In one segment, an ex-Nazi youth was interviewed about his submission to Hitler's ideological "mantra" of superiority. The British Prime minister at that time had signed a "peace agreement" with Hitler that he waved before the new media as a "sign" of "goodwill" and forthcoming peaceful world. Ideologies do not bow to compromise, as their absolute understanding of reality is not to be denied. It is sad to say that many have painted the West as the culprit of this evil, by demonizing the West as imperialistic, while the Islamic media use terrorizing and violent propaganda to demonize the West. The stark reality is that the West is "apologetic" toward any attempt at defending its right to exist and "be different". And we are seeing the underming of our laws in the West, because of our tolerance and deference to an ideological "evil".

It is very clear to me that what is called conservative Christian faith and discipleship is very similar to radical Islam. The similarities run from the "vision" of world domination to "martyrdom for the faith" as being considered "sold out to "God" (Allah)...This type of faith is not rational and cannot be appealed to based on reason. These "faithful" have left reason behind, as faith alone matters.

I fear for our country, and the West, its ideals of freedom, which Islam hates. Uniformity and unity is the mantra of the radical. I fear for the ideals of life, as "death" to self, either literally or figuratively is the "ideal" of commitment and discipleship in radical faith traiditons.

Hopefully, we have enough leadership in Washington to help shore up our defense against such radical ideologies, cultures, and faith commitments.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Universalization and Cultural Misconceptions

Tonight we had a college student over for dinner. In talking to them about thier "intercultural requirement", she said that she would like to go to Africa. But, she was hesitant about staying in "nice" dorms as she felt it would be "wrong" to live differently than the native. As these live in abject poverty, she felt she needed to experience the same living conditions.

She went on to say that the way of the African was hospitality shown in meal sharing and that their culture is very generous in it. She said she thought that this was so admirable as it was so sacrificial. I asked her if she thought that these people would really identify their sacrifice, as a sacrifice, since this was a cultural "norm". She didn't seem to understand at first that her judgment was based on her own standard of living (the Africans would understand sacrifice as not being allowed to share their meal). After she saw my point, she acknowledged that what is deemed sacrifice is relative and sacrifice is not necessarily 'moral" or "spiritually more mature". What we value is part of our cultural heritage. She was assessing the spirituality of sacrifice with Scriptures, which are Middle Eastern "norms" of hospitality.

Richard Beck's Monsters and Hospitality and World Affairs

Richard Beck's "Experimental Theology" blog is an interesting blog site by a Christian psychologist. He has recently been talking about "monsters and hospitality". He identifies our psychological responses/reactions to these monsters, as a projection of self. This morning's report on the news made me wonder about this theory's practicality, when it comes to world affairs.

Prejuidice is the result of an "us/them" dichotomous mind-set. Social psychologists understand the dynamics that lead to humanitarian disasters, like genocide. Although humanitarians may desire to break down the walls of these identifiying barriers to "commonality", these identifiers are a necessary boundary line that defines "self" and "other". "Monster" is a term that Beck identifies as a "them", less than human label. Without identifiers we cannot discriminate or think, make decisions, as we must make judgments when we determine a course of action, which demands that we make distinctions. Multiculturalism leads to a non-discriminatory mind-set.

Today's news, as well as recent news, has made me wonder about the wisdom of this type of thinking. Russia is now expected to locate bombers in Cuba and Venezuela. Cuba is 80 miles from American shores. What are the reasons? Are we the "monster" and why?

Just last week, Great Britain's prime minister, George Brown, came to meet with our President. Great Britian is one of the closest allies to America. The usual dinner meeting as couples did not occur and a statue of Winston Churchill, a hopitable gesture, was sent back to Great Britian. I do not understand why this action occurred.

In Beck's terms, how are we to not believe in monsters in this world. We must, if we don't want the annihlation of our identifying factors. I think America's identifying factors are worthy ones, but that doesn't mean that some in our system have abused them. Americans, for the most part, are a generous, hospitable, and friendly people. Other nationalities may see us as arrogant, opinionated, rude, crude and naive.

Our seeming arrogance and opinionatedness, is just what our culture allows and condones in our "freedom of speech" and our individual freedoms. We speak our minds, but we also welcome others to as well. Our seeming rudeness is just our lack of sensitivity to a difference in culture, as we, for the most part, are allowed individuality within our culture, so what is a traditional "manner" is not even on the 'radar" of an American. And our naivete' is only because we believe in the American Dream that all men can attain and meet their highest potential, so we are optimist, for the most part. We have a 'can do attitude".

As I defend our cultural misconceptions, I do not deny that we Americans need to understand others a little better, as we don't get "world news" for the most part. And our nation's largness and diversity lends itself to belly gazing without regard for diversity abroad. So, to those whose traditions have been offended, tolerance is a value that could benefit you and your country, as graciousness is about tolerance. And we need graceousness and tolerance to live in this world.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Truth is Political

I think that truth is political. Although science discerns facts, which facts are used and how they are used to form the policy that determines reality, is what determines "truth" or "reality" for the average person.

Anyone in leadership is responsible for what facts are offered, how they are heard and understood and then implemented into practice. Any policy is a practical philosophy. And philosophy is where the discussion of truth lies.

In the Biblical text, many understand that the context of the book is an important determination, as the context determines what the interpretation is. Context is the political domain, nothing more nor nothing less. Therefore, the bibilcal text is a product not just of the author's political context, but the Church's in its canonization.

I think it is shallow to argue for the "bible", as in "battle for the bible", as it undermines the human contexts and the human authors. The text of scripture is a human construct. It was an attempt to rationalize and theologize about God, Jesus, and the human condition.

It is unfortunate that more people are not aware of how limited their life is, by living passively and restrictively because of an anceint text, such as scripture.

Legalizing Marijuana

Obama has stated that he will leave legalizing marajuina to the States. California is to bring up the issue before their State legislature and it is expected to pass.

Ethics, as well as science should be considered in this legislative decision. It is reported that marajuina is available to teens more readily than alcohol and cigarettes. The argument is that legislating a substance requires a more regimentation and structure which helps those who need it and limits abuse of minors.

Marajuina is regarded as a medicinal way to alleviate pain for those with painful illness, such as cancer, AIDS, and even for manic depressive disorder. Many think that this is a compassionate way to help, not only with pain but supposedly with appetite. Appetite loss results from certain drugs, not to mention the damage to organs that further complicates the initial illness.

California is not just looking at legislating marajuina because of compassion but because of the monies that can come into state coffers through taxes. It is known that pharmacetical companies have strong influence in our Congress, so possibley passing the buck to the States is a political means to stay "clean" on the issue, while helping States cover their deficits.

On the other hand, the argument against legalizing marajuina is substance abuse. Those who are buying the drug on the black market not only are furthering the drug trafficing along our borders that increase the dangers of gangs and crime "warlords", but it also exposes these people to possible tainted substances that could have damaging reprecussions. So, do we take the chance on addictions escalation through legalization, or do we further the crimes at our borders with drug smuggling? It is not an easy choice. It will be an interesting development to watch.

Stem Cell Research continued

This morning's paper had an editorial about stem cell research that got my mind back onto that challenge before us.

The writer was not religious, but was concerned over our President's lack of boundary in regards to stem cell research. The President was going to base his policy on "facts of science". Science cannot be an ultimate guide for life in this world, otherwise, we have dissolved life of value or meaning. This writer had been on a Bio-ethics committee under the Bush adminstration, so he was not speaking off the top of his head.

He was concerned that no boundary or definition about 'life" was a disregard of human life. Was any life "made" either thourgh in vitro fertilization or cloning of the same moral fabric? He was making a moral distinction of valuing human life, as to our responsibility for human life. This is where the discussion should be. And it should be a discussion that is free from dogma and ideology, but not free from reasoned boundary concerning human life, if we continue to believe that human life has any value apart from the 'greater good" argument. The author speicifically stated that human life was never to be used as a means, but always an end. That is good moral philosophy. I think most rational people could agree with that.

Determined by Evolution, God, or Choice?

Rational people take responsibility for their lives, but reason is not the domain of determinism, by God or by evolution.

Evolution maintains that man is a product of chance, while Divine predestination determines by Sovereign Will. Blind Chance or Sovereign Will do not lead to responsible behavior. Chance leads one to disregard human life as nothing other than part and parcel of the natural order, while Divine Will disregards man as morally responsible or accountable for life in this world. Both undermine personal value and choice based on rationale.

Theistic evolutionists hold to "God" ordering the world through evolutionary means. But, at what point does man become responsible for the "chance" or "chaos" that occurs within reality? Some have argued at the "age of accountability", when the child reaches puberty. The Jewish religion and many others have a 'rite of passage" where the young person becomes an adult. Adults are called to self-determination or self-governance. But, not only is man responsible for himself, but man is to order the universe. Man determines, not nature or "god". But, if man determines, what is he to determine? Since man is a responsible being, then man should not determine another, but allow freedom of choice in responsible behavior.

The West understands social/political reality as one of contract or treaty. We negotiate and strategize with the other party, but we do not plan deterministically. Historically, this was not the case, as slaves were given, or exchanged in trade agreements, disregarding the slave's life and personal boundary. Kings had the pre-reogative to determine other's lives, but democracy values all life equally.

Evolutionists to be consistant would disregard any boundary of another as we are not separate entities but a "World Soul" or less. Divine Providence is no less culpable in disregarding the individual's life, if that is the pre-determined state of " God's will". There is no room in this view for personal boundary, as "God" is seen to be the Ultimate. Our wills should be nothing less than "His", which dissolves the distinction between God and man. Man is to become "One" with God. Personal, social and political distinction dissolve or really have no value or meaning when one views life in these ways.

America's values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness affirm the value of the individual in personal boundaries and moral choice. Moral value hinges on moral choice, otherwise, life is no more than an evolutionary "play" or God's "novel", where He is the Only character that really exists or matters.

I would much rather believe in freedom to be, to do, and determine my own destiny, without interference. Those who would like to help me find the way are welcome to do so, but only if they respect my choice and value my independence.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Determined to Be Free

The three positions of reality; open, closed and flat are ways of understanding God's universe. God's determined plan of creation was stewarding the universe in responsible ways.

We do not live in a completely open universe, as we must work with what is given, within our particular contexts, and creation givenness. While the universe is limited in this way, we do have choices in how we will live in the universe as given in our particular contexts and givens. These are responsible responses to and in our particular cultural heritage.

Because our universe is made, but not determined, we as rational beings must use our reason to the best of our ability. Using our ability, presupposes political freedom.

Political freedom is not a given, as governments are ordered by men. Men, unless accountable to an understanding of order, will not act responsibly or rationally. "Citizen" is a term that presupposes duty and responsibly behavior.

Thankfully, the West is free because of these understandings. We take these freedoms for granted to our own demise.

Biden's "Take" on Federal Support of State Initiatives

I just listened to Biden's view of our "new economic" policy with the "new stimulus package".

It sounds like federalized support of State ingenuiety to recover their local economies. Biden is hopeful as well as Obama and state and county governments with building a "new economy" through "new" business innovations to support "new" jobs to help those unemployed. So, in effect, our tax dollars are being "sifted" through federal hands to states so that the individuals benefit. So, that is like all of us using our own money to support a beaureaucy to underwrite our own "needs". Personal responsibility need not be applicable except to fund the tax coffers. The government's leadership will be the ones to determine what priorities there should be for your life, as they will determine what new projects will be supported and sponsored. And the locals will be rewarded by the jobs that these new endeavors create.

Locally, in Indiana, there has been concern about the "brain drain". There are many universities that educate, only to see those educated here in Indiana leave for jobs in other states. Indiana is concerned that the state is loosing money this way, as high tech jobs are nowhere to be found. There has been a push for high tech companies to move to Indiana and much tax advantages have been underwritten for new companies. A noble cause, but an expensive one.

I hope that the benefits outweigh the costs, as most often taxation to bring about government jobs only allow an expansion of government, which is cumbersome, not only in implementation, but costs. There will be many jobs created in D.C. to "oversee" these expenditures. And government jobs pay well, unless if one is a guinea pig for the 'state".

I hope it all works out, but Americans have not experienced government programs to be trustworthy, nor have governmental officials been trustworthy (and sometimes business people arent's trustworthy either). Barney Frank just said yesterday on the radio that the American people were not interested in the tax evasions of their leaders, so much as their personal economic situation and it was wrong of the media to focus on such irrelavant issues in such hard times...

We are supposed to be so burdened by the economic situation (that "bad corporations" have created:)) that we should support an outregeous tax increase and spending package that the leaders refuse to support through paying their own tax bills! Talk about leaders spending our money. Yes, it is our money alone, none of theirs!!

The way of the Democrat it to accentuate the differences of lifestyle to the "poor" or "working middle class". While accentuating "class envy", they run away with the treasury. On the other hand, Republicans run away with the bank. Which is worse?

What Are The Implications to a Flat, Closed or Open Universe

Last post I was thinking in terms of how one views reality and how that view affected how reality was understood. Now, I want to think about the implications of those views more deeply.

The closed reality is a reality of limited resources and is a backward focused view of history in the real world. Evolutionists think in these terms, as their understanding is a closed system of natural/physical reality. Although natural/physical reality is part of our understanding of the universe via the natural sciences, it should not be our only reality, as a closed universe suggests limitation to the human species. Limitation of natural resources play upon natural fears of death within man and further his fear of death, by re-enforcing a competiveness that is destructive. This is what evolutionists call "survival of the fittest". Even though competition works in the free market, competition should not "drive" men, as men are prone to beat another down by competition. This is not a compassionate way of life, which must be gauged with a balance of power, and accountability.

The flat understanding of reality is the ancient's understanding of "wisdom" and is best understood within religious traditions. Wisdom is the understanding to live one's life with insight. Insight is a knowledge of self and other. Our country's balance of power again breeds the environment of accountability and cicumspection. History does repeat itself, if we are not wise enough to learn from it. This is a backward look into our past, so that we will not be people without self-reflection, which continue to make the same mistakes of those in the past.

The open view of reality is a view of possibility and potentiality. This view paints a hopeful tomorrow, because it is not based on limitation of resources but a prosperity that can benefit all. A limitation of government must be mandated for the individual to attain their highest potential and find the freedom to "be" and "do" whatever their heart finds passion in. America's values are the ones that give hope for the future, as it does not limit individual choice or action. The American dream is one that is filled with the hope of equality. Equality means opportunity, but not necessarily success. Success is for those who choose to continue to be diligent in following their goals to the end. And understanding is given to those who perservere.

I think as we face the global economic crisis, we should be reminded of these truths. For those of us who have lived with little thought for tomorrow and presumed upon the future, perhaps we need to reflect on our lack of wisdom. And for those of us who have thought that controlling the limited resources either through hoarding, or controlling others, we should learn to be accountable. And those who have lived with little means really have little to learn as this is not "their lesson", but ours.

Is Reality Closed, Open or Flat?

There are many theories out there when it concerns reality, but what are the implications?

In a closed system, there are limited resources that must be protected, as there will be dire danger if we do not "steward" these resources. While this may apply in the natural realm of conservation to the environment, does it apply to the social sciences? A naturalist view is based on natural science.

In economics, free markets allow a cyclic compounding of interests and bring about more proseperity than those that conserve in limiting risk. So, in economics, it seems that controlling the market would be the height of limiting productivity or prosperity. But, the risk is based on an understanding of an open universe, not a closed or flat one.

In a "flat system", "reality is what is, and is what is. This understanding is one of realism. It critiques or assesses the world and sees what is or has been. This is a cyclical view of history and can result in "wisdom" on principle. This understanding of reality fits best in the Christian worldview.

In this worldview, since man is understood to have certain "propensities", then there should be a wisdom about understanding the "universals" that lead to social problems, such as greed, envy, jealousy, etc. Understanding that humans do not change in their nature, our Founding Fathers understood the necessity to balance power. This is the basis of our three branches of government, federal and state balances, the Congress and the Senate and the individual vote in the electoral college.

The open understanding of reality, not only affirmed a free market economy, but also limited government, as a means for the individual and freedom of choice, which our Founding Fathers found to be important. Democracy allows the free exchange of information through our media outlets, where people can have difference of opinion and conviction. It also allows difference of commitment in intellectual understandings and convictions. Democracy allows diversity. And diversity demands openness!

So, whether one views the world as closed, flat or open, one must understand the necessity of allowing another view, so that our views can meet all the needs that are in this world. Otherwise, we will limit one aspect of human reality which will result in much suffering and pain.

Governments, Morality, Law and Ethics

Government is the first and most important aspect to address in our world today, not poverty. Government is about individuality and responsible behavior. Governments which inhibit the individual's life is limiting life and one of the primary values of our country is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Some think that poverty should be alleviated by population control. So, whichever way one views "world problems" there are no easy solutions, nor is one problem easily solvable.

Governments, Morality, Law and Ethics is what I should have entitled my last post on Ethics, Morality and Universalism. Please see my last post.

Ethics, Morality, and Universiality

I listened to a professor of Ethics from Princeton U. on the radio today. He was suggesting that we have a moral obligation to alleviate "world poverty". This suggests or assumes that world poverty can be alleviated, and also suggests that the only moral question is one of poverty.

These "moral universalists" impose thier views or convictions on others, just as much as those who want to legislate their personal moral convictions, say, about gay marriage, or abortion. Laws are made to impose moral action. Those with religious convictions are of course divided as to what is of most importance, in a world that is filled with complex issues.

Our nation has been generous in humanitarian aid, but that aid has been limited by immoral governments. Government determine, control and demand certain actions, while prohibiting and limiting others. A moral government must not limit individual choice, otherwise, it becomes a dominating, limiting, and oppressive government. Our nation has given 2%, while most other nations have given much less.

Social moralists are socialistic and Marxist in ideological commitments. These ideological commitments are regimes that make us all poor. This is proven historically.

Moral outrage should never drive our policy or legislation. But, these "moral universalists" demand that others have the same conviction and commitment and, Ulitmately, the same political view of implementation. "Welcome to "globalism"...

Moral univeralism limits personal responsibility and hinders freedom of expression and opinion. Governments then become "run" or led by those whose views are uniform, which ultimately makes for a communistic view of governing.

Diverse views promote and allow academic freedom, individual and personal freedom, and benefits man through creative ways of taking responsibility for their own life in innovative ways of making a living. Otherwise, the free market is limited, by government controls, and demands, which limits productivity and the ability to produce and to give.

Marxism has never led to the betterment of mankind, but in a world that is seeking for a way to understand altruism in an evolutionary world, there are no easy answers. But, usually, these believe that man must be responsible in planning how altrusim should be developed. Self interest is the epitome of "social sin".

Although I do not condone pursuing the "Almighty Dollar", pursuit is a relative term. Absolutism in the domain of morality is nothing less than domination by government control, which is immoral itself, as there must be moral choice and responsibility for there to be any moral value!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Problem With Christianizing Experience

In the past two weeks, I have talked with two friends who live in two different places,; who I have known in different "times" of my life, and who don't know each other. I have been struck with some similarities of experience, and finding that "christianizing" their experience is horrendously cruel. What do I mean?

One friend is married to an alcoholic, who is "in ministry", while the other friend is married, while living "estranged". Both are committed but struggling with staying married, questioning the situation, themselves, dealing with anger, confusion, indifference.... As I talk with them, I listen and try to understand, but I used to try to "christianize" my advice, as I thought that this was the "right" thing to do. I don't do so anymore. I only struggle to help them understand, evaluate, and try to encourage in any way I can.

I find that Christians bring upon these kinds of people trememdous pain, guilt and condemnation, by their patronizing attitude toward their "problems". One of the couples is in a small group and she shares some of her anger and frustration over not being understood and the simplistic way in which everyone else seems to understand their life. Of course, she does not feel free to "really share". Christians are not the first people that one thinks about "running toward".

I don't think that these two friends and their 'problems" are any different from any other human problems in one sense, but in another sense, they are suffering more under the guise of the expectations of "Christians".

These two friends and their "christianized experiences" are not the only ones that have impacted my opinion about Christian faith. My brother many years ago wanted to divorce his wife. My mother would not agree to it, which now she regrets. His marriage was a horrible one, but "good christians" don't divorce. His life ended in suicide. While I am not blaming his marriage as the total cause of his despair, it was a major part. Would he still be living if he had divorced? I don't know, but I wonder how our "christianized" encouragement damned his life!

Christians like to live by standards, which sometimes are hard roads to plow in the real world. The real world is not simple, and real solutions are not christianized experiences. Real solutions are political, moral and ethical questions about values that make up life. What is important to a person needs affirmation, if at all possible, not "christianized" condemnation.

"Christian" in evangelical/conservative terms has meant a "culture". But, that culture can be inhumane in their attempts to christianize experiences in the real world.
I have come to a point where Christian has no meaning, because what the word used to mean has dissappated. And under the circumstances, I think that is a good thing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Public, The Private, and The Moral or Ethical Questions

Some people of faith believe that there should be a universal way to understand faith. These people like regulation, structure and measurements of faithfulness, and growth, while others like to define faith in purely doctrinal, or theological ways. There is nothing wrong in and of itself for a group to define its faith in a particular way, but it becomes problematic for these "faithful" to impose their views on others, impinging on another's life. Another's life is thiers to steward in the way they deem fit and for their own personal values and commitments, which may or may not fall "in line" with the afore-mentioned ways of understanding faith.

All Christians believe that life is sacred and the conservative defend to the death the "right to life" of the unborn, while excusing thier disregard to another's "right to life", as far as personal conviction or commitment. But, this is just the discussion of the private and public domains.

Some claim that one's faith is played out in life, as there is no private faith. Faith is always lived. This is true, but how these commitments of value are understood and lived are different from one person of faith to another. In a democracy, we must allow that freedom of conscience, otherwise, we are doomed to live under political or religious oppression...

For instance, China and Russia allow a "state approved" religion, while the Taliban only allow a "religiously approved" way of life. Both are unbalanced ways of coming to terms with faith. One views faith as completely personal and private, while the other views it as completely regulated. Both oppress in different ways. We must not allow this to happen in our country.

Many argue that separation of Church and State does nothing other than disadvantage religion by not allowing a "voice" to the religious, while others claim that their political freedom is disadvantaged by the imposition of that "voice". Where is the balance? What is the solution?

If faith is a playing out of one's commitment in life through action, then there is no reason to believe that whatever one does is a matter of faith. Faith should not be understood in a compartmentalized way, but at the same time, we should not demand a certain response to "prove" faith or faithfulness. Faith is about one's understanding of life and how this understanding comes to be understood.

Religious people have sacred texts that transcibe how life should be lived, according to the interpetive community. This is a sectarian view of faith and is not a universal perspective. Those who base their life on reason do not transcribe to a religious tradition necessarily, but do want reasons for their faith about one or another issue. This is the basis of our democracy and is what our public discourse, where our values are heard in the public square and defended with reasonable reasons. The political realm is where the ideological frames win or loose their power over policy. And this is the freedom of conscience that the Framer's of our Constitution allowed.

Ethics and Science in Stem Cell Research

Because of the recent commitment of our president to stem cell research, there has been much discussion about science and ethics. Our president suggested that stem cell research was not to be determined on an ideological commitment, but on the "facts of science".

While I believe that science has added to our quality of life, science should not function without a proper ideological frame, which are the ethical questions. Many on TV, radio and in the paper were talking about the struggle between science and ethics. Science does not answer any "moral question", it just "works". But, should our society condone anything that "works"? Pragmatism is the road to expediency, but not the road to wisdom.

Stem cell research holds much promise for those who suffer from many diseases, so this area of research would breed much "good". The ethical questions are based on questions that cannot be solved quickly, if at all, and only divide all of us along ideological lines. So, why attempt to answer any ethical questions when science's expediency in meeting human need is of primary importance? Isn't human suffering something that we all should be committed to? But, at what costs?

I have written before about the questions concerning genetic research, and some of the same questions apply to stem cell research. Who will determine when an embryo has become a separate life? And how will that be determined? Will each case pose the question and allow the individual woman the choice, such as we do with organ transplants? Is the embryo to be viewed as an "organ", part of a woman's body, that might give life to another? Organs must be taken from the donor while the donor is alive for the organ to be fully functioning. Our state license bureaus ask us whether we want to be an organ donor when we get our driving lincense. If we agree to be an organ donor, then we are giving our living consent for our organs to be used for a 'greater purpose" of saving another life. Is this wrong to allow the individual a choice? I don't think so.

Many religious believe that to give any person the right to choose is a "sin" against God, since God is the giver of life. But, when does God give life, at the moment of conception? at the moment of birth? at the moment of the heart-beat? at the moment of brain waves? at the moment of viability? When? These questions are not easily answered.

I think more importantly is who will determine when life "happens", as the political realm must remain "free" for choice, otherwise, we have political or religious authorities determining for the individual what is "best". Either way, we will be setting up our public forum for ideological war. Personal decision is of utmost importance, such as we allow with organ donation. This personal decision should not be made without all information, or deep reflection, as we must be convinced in our own minds. The separation of Church and State is commenable in this arena as well.

Thoughtless Actions Pave the Road to Hell

Yesterday, another blog site had quoted Chesterton. I picked up on "hell is paved with good intentions" and proceeded to ask the question about what makes for "heaven". Was it action? Another comment was made that Dante had understood the division of heaven and hell was action versus merit and grace. Purgatory was paved with intention.

As Dante was Roman Catholic, one can understand his thoughts and how he divided his understanding of moral action. But, is this true? How one answer that question, depends on how one understands their values, priorities and commitments.

The first question that stands out in my mind is, how does one determine what is an action that paves hell versus one that paves heaven in merit? Our country defines right action by our laws and does not define or determine "merit", as this term is useful in religious communities. Grace and merit is not based on obligation, but choice. Grace gives, without return, whereas, moral obligation is "duty-bound".

Religious communities determine "what is best" according to their source of authority, goals and purposes. One must determine for themselves what and where their understanding of "right" is. Everyone must determine whether they can support the goals, purposes and vision of certain organizations before their commitment. Thoughtless action leads to nothing other than mindlessness. And thoughtless mindlessness is what I would call "hell". Humans are not to be "machines" that turn out a product for those who impose thier vision upon another. Humans are to be motivated by inner desire, passion, and vision that motvates. This is the grace and merit of giving back the gifts of life.

Unfortunately, the political realm does not allow in some areas of the world the freedom to pursue one's own interests. These lives are lived under oppressive rule that prohibit and limit human choice. The ability to choose one's way of life is one of the primary rights that should underwrite human rights. This is a non-negotiable.

While our free society allows choice, for the most part, we must not neglect thinking through our choice of action, otherwise, we may be making foolish choices and foolish choices pave the road to hell.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Our Political Frame Forms "Our Evil"

I am more and more of the opinion that our two party system, though good, as it "simplifies" some issues, is also at a danger of being counter-productive for other purposes.

Today America's "two party" system has been diminished by the majority held, not only in Congress, but also in our executive branch. This situations limits our two party (or two perspective) system to a one party or one perspective system. The danger is the lack of balance to power in policy formation. Ideological differences can be a good thing as it brings humility to each perspective, and it brings about negotiation, compromise, which represents a more "wholistic view" to our system of government.

The capitalistic free market system is the commitment of the Republican party. Their interests lie in business, production, and tradition. While the Republicans, for the most part believe in family values, and the Protestant work ethic, the Democrats believe in moral responsibility, the social gospel and the "common good". This view simplifies what can be personal differences of value in fiscal responsibility, social responsibility, familial responsibility, and moral responsibility. We will all understand the responsibilities we have in this life differently, as we defend and define our lives on the freedom to understand and live those differences, without judgement form 'outside interference". These differences are the very freedoms we value as Americans and we must defend them at all costs, otherwise, we are headed toward a regime or government that will circumvent individuality, difference, innovation, creativity, and limit our ability to enjoy and choose our vocations.

Evil, then is identified by the 'other position holding sway over our understanding of value. Americans, fortunately, have a re-dress from a determination of individual values, which are our civil liberties.

You Have No Choice as a traditional Christian

You have no choice as a Christian, because you must subscribe to "His plan", as defined by the prescribed authority. You have no choice because your life is already determined! You just need to find out what is determined for you and "Submit". Submission is a virtue that is of highest value to those "over you", as it shows how much you "trust God". And faith is most of all how one "trusts God". Faith in not about reason. No, faith is about going into the fire or into the den of lions, or into the presence of 'the king" without qualms, because "God is with you". Faith is brainless, because a child can believe and that is what the "kingdom is about". One who has grown in faith is one who is childlike and uses the proper terms so that others know that they have been intitiated into the special group of the "born again".

If one has become "intitiated" into this "special group", then one is immune to certain things that the "common person" is not. Some people of faith believe that they are immune to physcial illness, others believe that faith gives you immunity to poverty, while others believe that faith subverts the social structures themselves so that one is protected from death. And even in death, one is immune because the faithful will inherit eternal life.

I find that faith is for those who do not want to take political action, but submit to their "lot in life". Life is about politics, as that is where one lives their life and make their choices. Choice is about determining what is of most imporatance and value. And Christians believe that "god" and "others" should be the greatest importance.

But, those in Scripture had no choice for the most part, as their "lot in life" was not our democracy. Our democracy allows the individual to choose and determine their values. And any individual can "worship god" in doing whatever they desire with diligence and delight....

Apologies Are In Order...

In my previous blog entry, I suggested that that the morally mundane was a "lesser" morality. While in the context of my post, I believe this to be true, it is not always true, as the "moral order" and social structure of society give security to people. Security is necessary for human flourishing, as it gives the human the ability to "predict" and "plan". An "ordered life" is recognized by some as the epitome of "morality", as it structures the life around "fruitful goals", etc.

So, allow me to apologize, if there is anyone that might "take offense" to the implication that "moral order" could be prohibitive of moral progession. I believe that all of us can progess morally, if we engage in thinking through the implications of our "order" or "system" of understanding ourselves and "way of life". We are not immune to "moral obstinancy or blindness".

A Movie to Chew On...in Moral and Ethical Questions

This past week-end, while in D.C., my husband and I went to a movie. There are many choices available in the D.C. area that are not available in certain regions of our country. And some of these movies never make it outside the larger cities of D.C. or New York. We enjoyed having the opportunity last year of taking advantage of this situation while in D.C. for the year.

This movie was about an illiterate German woman during WWII and her response to shame. Although the movie was a pretty common story of a relationship, estrangement, reconcilliation, and human tragedy, it's story line ran through many complex moral and ethical questions. The more my husband and I talked about it, the more ways we "saw" the diverse views of understanding the 'issues"....

This woman was "convicted" of war crimes, partly, because she was ashamed of revealing her illiteracy. While she was being tried before a jury, she struggled as she was asked about her passivity to the cries of prisoners being burned alive. Her response was one of "keeping moral order" ("There would have been chaos, if I had freed them."). The moral detachment from the reality of human suffering is one that most of us in one form or time have experienced. Even though others were just as cupable, her sentence was for life, while the others were sentenced to 4 years...

What was the moral obligation of the "friend" who knew facts that would have given her leniancy? How was his shame connected to his reticence to come forth with the information? What did he do as a result of his guilt? In the end, was the life of the woman (and "friend") "saved" from the tragedy of what "shame, humiliation, and condemnation" of thier "societial obligations" (the "moral authorities") demanded?

I find it fascinating that most often those who resist the moral authorities are at a higher level of moral development than those who allow the domination of a system. I do not support revolution for revolution's sake, but it seems that humans are "comfortable" in the "morally mundane"...

Discrimination,Morality, Banking, and Business

The news reported this morning that a Muslim owned bank in Michigan would
do business according to "shairhia law'. The concern was over the "trojan horses" attached to this banking business in their lending practices. The question is one of discrimination, morality and law and it concerns our Constitution, and form of government, as well as our experience of life.

Does a business have a "religious right" to "freedom"? We have legislated that religious institutions are free from taxation, as we believe in the separation of Church and State. But, do the politically-motivated religious have a right to "do business" with "strings attached"? Can a Muslim business use "shairh'ia" law to discriminate about the use of the money loaned? In other words, can these religious/political banks limit the use of the money and determine so, by "shairh'ia" arbitrators?

My husband doesn't think that our country would allow the discrimination under shairh'ia, but many have been concerned about the religious freedom of Christians. Now, it seems, that if religious freedom is allowed for the Christian, then there should be no discrimination toward Islam, either. But, at what costs? Islam is a politicized religion. Their religion does no allow for freedom of conscience. This is troubling, as our whole understanding and system of government was formed around "a freedom of conscience". How can we, as a nation, tolerate the intolerant?

I'm sure lawyers, civil libertarians, and political philosophers have been hard at work in thinking through these complex issues. At what point does business intrude into another's political "conscience". Today's need is not one of religious freedom so much as political freedom. Without political freedom, there is no religious freedom, no matter what a theologian says!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Questions Concerning Priorities

One wonders this morning about what matters most, when the Market has fallen to the lowest point in 12 years, and the unemployment rate may reach 8% by the end of the day, and the President is "concerned" over our healthcare!

The President suggests that our economy is at an all time low because of healthcare costs! With no support for the Secretary of the Treasury, and little talk of Wall Street's concerns, it is obvious to most that this adminstration's philosophy of government is at odds with the "private sector". People have lost money in retirement investmensts, universities, charities, and other investors have lost in their endowments. The future is not focused on business interests, as GM struggles to remain afloat as many have already declared bandruptcy.

I'm sure those in Congress, and others in power are not concerned over this economic crisis, as they do not have to worry about their "daily bread". Hopefully, Obama will choose to see those who he promised to 'protect" under the Constitution and veto this stimulus bill.

I don't write this because of personal interests in investments, as that is not my or my husband's job concerns. But, I do write it as a concern for the discussion and balance of the philosophical positions that play out in our policy.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Abraham Lincoln's Impact on My Thoughts

Today was my friend's birthday, and so, we decided to visit the National Portrait Gallery, where they have special exhibit honoring Abraham Lincoln.

As I read about his life as president, and looked at the pictures, I couldn't help but think of what principles his life laid bare. He was committed to "a universal rights of men", as "all mean were created equal". He felt he was the "bearer" of our Founding Father's vision. And though he did not want to see the inevitable conflict between the North and the South, he lived to see the conflict end in "war". But, the end of the war resulted in his vision, and he got to pronounce the "abolition of slavery".

His life was cut short by an assasin's bullet, just after his second inaugeration. His assasin did not see that the "war had won" any better society, he only saw a man that stood in the way to his way of life.

I found myself reflecting back over one of my professor's musing over Lincoln's life. In his opinion, Lincoln created a centralized government. He did not give room for a division over slavery, as he was committed to unity. States had no right over the "United States". Federalism was born. But, the problem with centralization of government is the balance of power, which the states bring. Each state is given senators (equal representation) and representatives (numerical represetation) to help give an equal opportunity to the state's interests and the people's interests. The federal government is composed of these diverse interests. But, what happens, as in our world today, when global interest play into our sphere of concern?

These prinicples are not easy ones to address, as people are convinced differently as to which "side" is best. Do states have rights at the costs of federal interests? (think education, or other laws)...the same principle holds true for the individual and society. Do individuals have rights against corporate, society or group interests? Where do we draw our lines, and understand how these rights and interests intersect?

There is no simple solution to these concerns, as there is no balance of power as it concerns the world scene. And there is no divying up the different interests groups, when nations, cultures, and interests, collide. Religion only complicates these concerns to those seeking solution for unity. The fundamentally zealous are not open to diversity, where it concerns unity. Bad news for political solutions.

I don't know enough about foreign policy or international relations to come to any conclusion. I am reading, listening and learning. Any opinions or comments are welcome.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Connections That Make One Wonder....

We are here in D.C. again, and while driving back from work my husband heard on a local station that Obama was to appoint a man for "intelligence analyst" that had connections to Saudi Arabia. Intelligence, our intelligence, could be undermined, when conflicts of interest, such as this exists.

Maybe Obama doesn't think that these "new friends" pose a threat to our security, but how can there not be a conflict of interest, when it comes to "connections" ? Will Muslims who defend their own with their very lives, at the costs of the "infidel's life" to be trusted with our intelligence? Maybe this is the point, we should be making friends with those who have connections to our political "enemies". Then, our "new friends" can have the conflict, in choosing to support us, and not, them. And, perhaps, the hope is that these "new friends" can vouch for us, defend our reputation to the "enemy", so that we can live in peace and security and not fear the amassing of WMD. But, can we trust those whose vision, and purpose is political control of the whole earth, under Shairia law? I am glad that Gert Wilders was allowed to come to show his film about Islam to Congress just recently.

I am, of course, speculating, but when one looks at the Obama cabinet, it looks like a re-creation of the Clintion cabinet, minus Janet Reno. Remember Reno? What about Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill? I remember what was talked about in the Washington Times, when the Bush cabinet moved into the White House. The place was a disaster. There seemed to be little respect toward our government and its property.

Remember the Lincolm bedroom? And the pictures taken of Clinton with drug lords, criminals other questionables? What about the illegal immigrants that were hoarded into immigration offices to be "nationalized" before the election? Many were criminals.

It is so ironic that Obama can write a letter to Russia requesting their help with Iran, if we take out the missile defense in Poland and yet, Rush Limbaugh can make a statement about his disagreement with the philosophy of this adminstration and not hear the end of it from the media. Have we heard about the letter to Russia:? Fortunately, we were in the car, when the press conference with George Brown was given and the press questioned the president on the letter, and we heard a comment about it.

Today's speech talked about supporting small businesses, and checking over-spending in government contracts. This is a good idea. So, is he wanting the people who are contracted by government to cut their pay, and yet, the earmarks, which he promised to resist, are being approved for "Congress" and other special interests groups? I have a sick feeling that "change is happening" to our country and her people will be the last to know what that change really means until it is too late.

Why are there conference calls every morning with the media? Why has the census "headquarters' moved into the White House? Is the government to be run from the top down? Is this what Big Government means, that top down governing will distribute to community "improvements"?

The budget is "last year's business", we are told, but it still affects the American people, in the long run. And it affects them not when they are 'on top" but on the bottom". Perhaps this is to be a "lesson" of "compassion" for those less fortunate. But, lessons are hard to learn when the anger hinders the hearing. We are not used to being "told what to do", but "nanny state" will do so and gladly.

Rights, the Press, and Reform or Revolution?

Government, whether national, parochial, or familial is instituted as a means of protection. Government is an ordering and structuring of society for the "common good'. Good government does not oppress, but gives a frame to live a "peaceful" life. Scriptures commend us to pray for government, so that our lives may be peaceful. But, what of reform or revolution, then?

Traditional "biblical" Christians are taught to submit, as 'this is the will of God in Christ Jesus, concerning you". This scripture is written with the assumption that "god controls" the events of life. This view is not affriming of what science knows to be true about time, the cosmos, and systems. Therefore, "biblical Christianity" does not exist, except in one's head. Personally, I find telling someone a "myth" to soothe their suffering, or soothe their conscience, is being dishonest.
But, theology has sought to bring about "hope" to give a reason in difficult situations or times. These theological "musings" are offensive, and can be horrendously oppressive.

The political realm is where "life happens". Politics drives policy, but ideas are what drive politics. The philosophical arguments about life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is really where the battle should be waged.

Every human has life, but all do not have quality or liberty of life, much less the political freedom to pursue happiness. These are the practical issues that policy seeks to address on a global scale, but how? Liberty is not won except by exposing the costs of tyranny.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a political dissident for the U.S.S.R., in the March 15, 1976 article in U.S. News and World Report, said:

"Tyrants, bandits, puppets have come to power and pragmatice philosophy says: That
doesn't matter, we have to recognize them. And what is more, one should not consider
that the great principles of freedom finish at your own frontiers, that as long as you
have freedom, let the rest have pragmatism. No. Freedom is indivisible, and one has to
take a moral attitude toward it" (pg. 23).

The human heart is meant for freedom, and good government should allow freedom to the individual to pursue his own ends. Tyrannical governments have used many means to oppress; bad laws, no law, and God.

"All men are created equal with certain inalienable rights", "with liberty and justice for all", these are quotes that any American knows, and I hope, values. The principle is the value of the individual and the freedom that justice provides. No one should suffer under the hands of bad government, but most in this world, do. Americans do not live with fear of government interference in their private lives nor do we fear government paranoia, where government intrusively invades our physical space to demand an accounting.

Americans became a "people" because of the belief that none should be diminished or repressed. The cry of the Revolution was "no taxation without Representation". A Representative Republic "ideally" holds the leaders accountable to the people, not the people to the government. And the accountbility of the leader to the people they represent is the "vote".

In our free society, we are to give feedback to our representatives, as our voice is to be valued. If leaders are blind to the needs, values, suggestions of their people, then they have ceased to represent, and have become figure-heads or bandits of our treasury.

Free societies are only as free as the press. The press has great power in giving information to the people in our free society, but if the information is skewed, or suppressed, then the press is undermining our freedom, not just of the pertinent information, but our society as a whole. Again, let me quote Solzhenitsyn:

"The most important aspect of detente today is that there is not ideological detente. You
Western people simply can't grasp the power of Soviet propaganda."

Without free information, people are at the mercy of their rulers. I heard on a radio program yesterday, that some in our press are informed from the White House about news coverage. How one writes about the news can impact and influence public opinion. This adminstration obviously knows that without the press as a powerful weapon of reforming and revolutionizing our nation's values, "change" will not occur. Our society is to be an open and free one, but secret letters written by the President about national affairs, without accountability to Congress or the people, is acting without representing. The same independence of attitude was "applied" at Guantanamo Bay.

Government is a gift, but must be valued by responsible behavior. Leaders should be accountable, and the people fully informed. Otherwise, we are headed for the tyranny that Solzhenitsyn warned about. Americans must not allow that.