Thursday, April 30, 2009

Religion Set Itself Apart

Religion is man's attempt to to 'be special" and not just the result of evolutionary "process". Human beings have always attempted to "set themsevles apart" for some "special purpose".

The human need to "be special" could come from many factors, but we all need to be valued in one way or another, unless life itself is devalued by one's culture. What "inspired" people to create a "more meaningful experience" than barbarianism? Some would want to believe that is is because of "god".

"God" has been useful to create meaning to life, give priority of value, and bring about an 'order'. But, these functons of "god" have been based on different authorial sources. The Calvinist based his understanding on supernaturalism or revelatory texts, while the naturalist, liberal, or Catholic bases his understanding on natural law, order and structure, which is based on reason.

The Founders understood man's need for order and structure, but also understood the need for a freedom to express diversity. Diversity or difference is not applauded in caste, or aristocratic systems of government, as these are controlled by the "ruling elite", where change itself is understood in negative ways. Change can happen in a democracy or representative republic by the people's vote, lobbyist, courts, and public dissent through the press, or demonstration.

Religion does not value the individual for the most part, as it affirms conformity, and is threatened by dissent, and questions. Religion, in this sense, is an aristocracy, whether one believes that "God" rules, the cleric/priest, the text, or the congregation. An individual is at the whim of whatever "authority is affirmed".

Questions and Quandaries About Faith and Reason

It has been a number of years since I sat in or read my husband's course on Science and Faith, as it affects society. He won a John Templeton award for it a number of years ago. So, I don't remember many details, as I have been doing my own thinking and coming to terms with faith and reason.

I think coming to terms with one's faith, is addressing many issues that concern one personally, as well as the meaning of these concepts. How these all "fit together" is a quadmire of "mystery", at least, to me.

I understand how our environments are "supposed" to affect us, but how is it possible to assess that each and every individual processes information the same way? There are so many variables concerning our choices, understandings, and the prioritizing our values.

I think that if I spent the rest of my life trying to understand this subject, I would never exhaust the subject, but possibly I would exhaust myself. But, isn't the pursuit of truth what man was made to pursue? The reality is that it takes courage to face what one thought was "real and true" and universal is somehow questioned and questionable. This is the way of learning, and growing and enlarging oneself, so that one can "be" and "become".

I do agree that one's faith "fills in gaps" in a person's psychological make-up, if one has not been brought up to identify with a certain tradition. The basic needs of man are understood and met within the different frames of of understanding. This is where the psychology of religion meets the philosophy of religion, as it answer the question of how one understands or comes to "faith", at least this is how I am thinking it 'happens".

We all have early images that make up the meaning of life. These images are represented by "words". And since our experiences with these images and thier meanings have different understandings, depending on our "connections", then we react or respond differently to the same stimuli.

Reason understands things in "flat language", or "one dimensional language", as each discipline is "one language among many" and each language, even within a discipline has many "languages". It has almost become impossible to communicate between the specialties because of the difference of focus of the discipline.

Understanding an individual takes a lifetime, as any married person knows. There are so many aspects to the personhood of the person, that is negated and missed when one trivializes "meaning" and value. This is why it is so hard to bring about reconciliation between those that see things so differently, as each has their own reality and to deny that reality, is to deny a basic tenet that makes up their personhood and identity. But, how in the name of "reality" or "real history" is there to be a reasonable resolution to those who insist the Holocost did not happen. Or we ask those who have been denied a voice in their life to deny their very "need" for a voice, to deny it for the other? This is human cruelty, and yet, the world must function on some basis of understanding in formulating foreign and domestic policy.

I have found that the questions and quandaries are greater than any answer where it concerns faith and reason. But, it is a fascinating endeavor to pursue "truth" anywhere one finds it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

In the Place I Am...

In the place I am, I find that meaning is "what one makes it". There is no universal meaning, as we are individually, and contextually different. What I have to share, is not "gospel" truth, but truth for me that I seek to understand in a broader way.

I used to think that there was a distinct difference in "spiritual" things. There were spiritual truths, spiritual values, spiritual disciplines, spiritual understanding, spiritual revelation, and spiritual people or spiritual leaders. I have come to understand that there is not such distinction. Why?

Spiritual means that there is something distinctly different about something, whether a person, truth, or discipline. The transcendent means, by definition, that it transcends understanding, therefore, we do not know about that realm, only this realm of reality, truth, character, or leadership, as all truth is God's and serving in the real realm is serving God.

Humans are created to develop and they develop according to the environments and natural propensities that they have. Whether one believes in God or not, there are concerns about our world that affects us all. Therefore, all humans should work together to understand, first what the problems are, prioritize the problems and seek solutions. The difficulty is that there are so many problems and different ways of approaching the problems that humans find it hard to find solution due to the politics involved. The answer is not to limit information to the populace, so that the elite can "have their way", before the "morons" know what is going on. This kind of leadership would be acting in arrogance and not respecting the dignity of the American poplace.

Humans have values in and of themselves, that is if we believe that our own life is or should be of value. Therefore, we should recognize that suppressing infomation in the name of the "common good", may miss opportunities for some that might be of utmost importance to address the issues at hand. This attitude, besides being arrogant, is overt discrimnation. I do recognize that the ones that have the education should be the ones that are pivotal in addressing the problems. This is why I find it hard to believe that we will elect representatives that have little or no experience, or little education, to boot, to represent our interests. I really wonder how much really gets done by the freshman politician, as he/she must be mentored and initiated into the "system" before their voice really counts.

I don't mean to sound cynical, as I believe that our country's form of government is the best form ever imagined upon earth. And I believe that those who serve in public office are due respect for thier position and gratitude from those of us who have elected them. Our ingratitude should come primarily at the voting booth and expressing our opinion in open forum, whether through informal means, such as the internet, or formal means such as one's profession.

I appreciate the time and effort that goes into these public jobs and I wonder how many of us really understand the pressures, challenges, and time consumption that these jobs require? Many of us put in similar circumstances would not hold up under the intense pressure or scrutiny of such voyuerism of the American public.

I question many of the policies of our leaders today, but I want to take this opportunity to applaud them for serving us, at least in "ideal" and hopefully, in reality.

God bless America.

What Are You Afraid Of?

I am sure that anyone who knows me, knows that I do not want to be controlled, as I value freedom. But, doesn't everyone value freedom? If we allow others the same freedom we would want, we do to them as we would want done to ourselves. This is fultilling the Golden Rule.

But, some are fearful that if they do not control others, then they will not "fulfill" their ultimate purpose(s). These have depended on others to carry out their "vision". While others are necessary to carry out any plan that is greater than "self-improvement", people have to co-operate, which means that they must believe in the "vision" and are committed to helping carry out the vision.

One of the signs of a great leader is inspiring others, not just initially, but when the going gets tough, to hang in there and not "bail out". But, leaders should always be open to new information or input from others, as those who are affected bythe vision should have a "voice" in their "life choices" and commitments. Good leaders are not offended or angry over criticism, as they desire to get a broader picture of the problem, so encouraging as many voices as possible is desired and really necessary. The more voices that are heard, the more likely problems will be alleviated.

Fear can be alleviated by information, as everyone grasps their "part" as they have committed to "vision". Our liberal democracy allows many avenues to fulfill one's duty, life purpose, or "vision". So, in our liberal democracy there should be no fear, but fear itself.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Individual As the Epitome of the "Ideal"

Just recently, I used the Trinity as a model of our government's form. Jesus was the legislative branch as he represented the people before the executive and made the rules., as well as fulling the 'law" (rules). The "holy spirit" was the judicial branch, as this branch interprets the law practically and specifically. The "spirit" of the individual is where they must understand how they will apply just issues to their life. But, religious leaders love to interpret the law for another and tell them how to apply it correctly. Leadership of this kind brings ultimate oppression, rather than freedom for the individual to become and to be. This is where damage occurs to the individual and the true intent of the "law".

Our country values freedom of the individual because the individual is made in God's image, not the "group'. Moral development, intellectual development, and faith development are all aspects of the whole person.

While the judicial branch is how the law is interpreted by the holy spirit to the individual in faith development. It is understood that the symbols and meaning of religion is understood in individualized ways. Certainly, context is important in an individual's understanding, and this is why the individual will understand their faith within different paradigms. Faith in the symbols, which represent something that point beyond themselves to something that is beyond the symbol and the context of the individual.

The legislative branch understands how these "rules" as interpreted by the judicial branch in faith development, will be understood in living out life in this world. This is the practical work of moral development, where "tradition" is not the ultimate, but the world at large.

But, the intellectual development is the executive branch of how the person chooses or commits to their understanding of the "rules" in their life. Intellectual development is where the life of the individual becomes a broader or wider "vision" of oneself and the world that God created. Learning is not the enemy but the friend of one that is really walking in faith. Intellectual development comes to realize that the "rights and wrongs" of "tradition" and even a certain political persuasion, all have their limitations, as reason itself is limited. The individual is not omniscient, so the individual must "play out his life" in an arena of some kind. These are personal commitments and personal values, that the indivdual finds of most importance.

So, a fully developed person has come to understand the complexity of moral issues that face social situations, and they become committed to seeking justice in those specifed areas that ultimately concern them (the disciplines). This is what life calling and leadership is about. And it is the call of the university to develop the student in a full way, so that they can have the opportunity to understand the vastness of issues, and purposes that their life could 'impact".

Just Thinking About....Torture

On Richard Beck's blog site, he is talking about tortue. Is torture right or wrong, and how do we understand our position?

Just recently it has been discussed whether the Bush adminstration should be held accountable to the torture of suspected criminals. The CIA was absolved, but certain lawyers who represented the Bush adminstration may be held accountable to providing a legal means to torture these suspects.

Again, the issue of sovereignty and law, is the "problem". Is our country a sovereign over its interests where it concerns national security? Or is universal human rights as defended by international interests of more importance? Where do self interests protect freedoms, and where do they deter international "peace"? Where do ignoring rights of individual suspects undermine human rights? And where does America have a right to defend its security and help the world defend freedom abroad, while sometimes furthering injustice in specific situations? This is certainly an imperfect and complex world.

Obama has released certain CIA tactics or torture, disregarding CIA concerns of releasing this "classifed" information. Obama is making a heroic attempt at internationalizing our coutnry.

But, what happens to the "law" if there is no balance of power? If Obama suceeds in prosecuting those who differ with him in interpreting the law, while keeping the "other voices' silent in the Congress and the media, suppressing information to the people. America will be changed without most of us even being aware!

I have written about my concerns of the U.N. before on this blog site. There is an attempt to give developing nations more of a voice. But, if these countries are barbaric in their understanding of government, then at what costs will our world pay? Those who think in terms of tribes, and people groups have not developed the individual's identity so that education and the market, and the econcomies can become what America's has been. Those who think in tribalistic ways are loyal to religious conviction. And when religious conviction is understood to be involved in the political realm, then, the world will be "at war" because politicized religion is a danger, as history has often illustrated!

I am afraid that just as in any organizational structure, there have to be those that are "foot soldiers" to carry out the vision or plan of the adminstration or leadership. If the world is one big organization, and everyone is to have equal opportunity, then who are the "foot soldiers" (nations that are to be the "underdogs")? And how is leadership to be decided upon and how are the laws against neopotism to be upheld? And how is leadership to be accountable? ETC. There are many kinks in the garment without us understanding the garments "wash and wear" directions. What if the garment "shrinks", or "becomes stretched beyond fitting for its purpose"? These are real economic, political, governmental, leadership questions.

Hopefully, most of us will not live in a tortuous situation without recourse, or resolution, while the ship is sailing on open waters, with little or no rudder and no map in view!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Obama's State

It is pretty well established by those that believe that "big government" is not the "way to go", that Obama wants an "Obama State".

Obama wants to expand the energy program without even having the technology developed, so that we will not be dependent on foreign sources, as well as protect the environment. There is certainly nothing wrong with the reasons, but the policy needs to be clearly thought out, without seeming urgency, which this adminstration seems to be doing with every public policy that comes up "for grabs".

In Congressional hearings, Al Gore, said that it would cost the taxpayer about 30cents a day for this energy program, to which Newt Gingrich replied that the figures were misguided and misleading. Even if the figures are correct, we are talking about $400 per year for a family of 4!

Not only is the energy bill being negotiated, but healthcare is of urgent importance. Obama wants a plan like Europe's. This universal healthcare is not known to give the best most efficient care. A friend of mine has a sister in Germany, and my husband's family lives in the Netherlands. Both have had to wait to get medical care that was necessary. Why? Because when people do not have to pay, then they are more likely to take advantage of that with more doctors visits, that would have probably been delayed had they had to pay out of their own pockets!

Why is there such urgency to "take care of the major portions of our economy? Is Obama afraid, that his popularity will go down and he won't be able to get his policies implemented?

Or is he afraid that by the next election, the Republicans will hold more strength of numbers, because the American people will vote with their feet?

It seems that some of the GM plants that are having to "cut back" are being politicized. The Republican states are the ones chosen, as the "cut backs" will be unpopular, and then the Republican Congressmen will be blamed...and Obama will maintain a Democratic majority to carry out his revolutionary agenda!

I find it hard to think that we will be able to recover some of the lost ground! It angered me to hear them tout how much it was costing us in future generations to not address the environmental issues! AND THE STIMULUS BILL WAS NOT GOING TO EFFECT THE NEXT GENERATION IN ANY NEGATIVE SENSE!! That is lunacy!

I wonder what we can do and wish my husband and I were still in D.C. so we could be better informed and involved in making a difference for the sake of our country.

Time Flies...

Today, a former student dropped by with her two children. I haven't seen her in over 5 years, as her little girl is 5! I was delighted to see her, as she was the "same" and yet, different!

I met her 9 years ago. She was pretty insecure. I remember one night when we were having a heated family discussion at the dinner table (a debate), she quietly got up and got her Bible and held it close to her chest. It reminded me of how literally she took the text, as if she was defending her beliefs with her "sword". She felt threatened and uncertain, as each of us challenged the other's views.

Today, she is confident and almost poised. She talked as an equal and it really amazed me what life can do. She is a wonderful young woman and mother.

Many times I think that this is what religion and scripture does. It "empowers" those who think they have "no power". But, it is not living in the "real world", but an imaginary one. And it certainly does not alleviate personal, mental, or personality problems, but covers over them. But, even so, these people are humans that have an ability to come out of their "holes" of confinement.

She told me something that really blessed me. She said that she was so grateful for all the things I taught her. I questioned her, as I abhor "formal mentoring" (like, come look at me and I'll teach you a few things!). I "mentored" her, I guess, by sharing my life and being a 'friend". She saw me as very human. She said that what I told her always stuck with her through these years. Life teaches you and so, relax, as life happens.

That is like saying that the "sky is blue". Life consists of time that flies, and as one views it in hindsight, it has much wisdom.

Tomorrow our youngest son graduates from college. It was just yesterday, or so it seems, that I was hearing him shout, as he closed the door on the way to school, "Bye, Mom!" What a joy.

Our older son is getting married in September and I cannot believe that is is now in his mid-20's. I look at my husband and he doesn't look much older, as he was our son's age when we first met!

My daughter has already been married for 4 years, this June, and now has two children! I can hardly believe she is approaching 30! It reminds me of the song, "Sunrise, Sunset"...quickly go the years.....laden with happiness and tears....when did she get to be a beauty, when did he get to be so tall....seemed like yesterday when they were small!

We will all celebrate tomorrow, and remember that life teaches you. Sometimes, no one understands, unless they have experienced it. Problem is; who is the "formal mentor" who can assuredly say, "look at me, and I'll teach you a few things"? There are mentors all around, if one has eyes to see, and ears to hear!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Today's "Sermon" on Consecration

Today while attending an honor's college function, one of our professors spoke to us about "seeking first God's Kingdom and His Righteousness" and all these things would be added unto you. The verse has been used as the theme for this year. This professor went on to quote the verse about "leaving all, even father, mother and children for the sake of the Kingdom" to be Jesus' disciple.

Since this professor was a historian, he used Thomas More as an example of dying for his religious conviction versus his commitment to King Henry. He was beheaded for treason. So, his point was that not just family commitments, but also nation-state commitments should be "surrendered" to "His Kingdom". This view is based soley upon faith and not reason, or rationale. No suggestion that the Golden Rule applies to the disciple. The disciple is to be "submitted" so that his life can be consecrated for whatever purpose the Church sees fit.

Many saints have died because they have disagreed to what the "church" or the "state" wanted, or will for their lives or other lives. These martyrs were beheaded, defrauded, defamed, dismissed, excommunicated, tortured, and humiliated "all in the name of Christ and for His Kingdom as the ones in Power understood "the Kingdom". Must we, in modern day society, submit to such lack of rationale, or should we resist, and rebel like these "martyrs" for the faith? Should we submit to power (authority), or should we submit to conscience?

God is not man, that he is to be served by force. Worship that is not from the heart, is not worship. Some would say that one should not rely on emotion or "feelings" as duty is to "enforce" the behavior that is most "approved". Religion that adheres to means of "duty", control, force, or demand, should not be followed, much less submitted to.

Trustworthiness, a mandantory character trait of leaders, should be earned, by the leaders own life and commitments. Obedience should never be because of reward, but because it is "right" and "just". Rewards are irrelavant to those that have character!

Culture Wars Are Ideological

Culture wars center on ideology. And ideology determines how one understands, and 'puts together" their understanding.

In today's America there is a battle for "truth", which is "real history". This battle is not fought just within our borders, but in the wider world, as it affects the world at large.

There are some that believe that our nation's founding was to promote a Christian ideology. What transpires when this thinking is allowed without challenge, is a type of fundamentalism in application of "authorial sources", whether that be scripture or Church tradition/authorities. Who decides what is to be "real reality", i.e. power in the political realm.

I believe our Founding Fathers were theistic rationalists. They understood the implications of allowing a Church tradition (that includes scriptural traditions) to play out politically. It ends in war over whose interpretation, whose "right" is to be defended, and where will that play out in the reality of others lives who don't believe as the "ruling party". They protected us from this situation by the "Establishment Clause".

Conservative Christians have been concerned over the country's "moral demise" and have entered the public square to influence legislatures to implement their form of "truth". The "Moral Majority" was born and social activism was birthed in the pulpits of many churches. The evanlgelicals were known to have the traditonal values and commitments to the "family, pro-life, and anti-gay" movements. These positions played out politically in lobbying, petitioning, protesting, and appealing. If one did not adhere to these standards, then Christian faith was doubtful.

The Christian Church became political in every aspect, as their view was "total commitment" to Christian values. "Toltal commitment" to Christian values broke the wall between separation of Church and State, re-wrote history, and alienated those whose political views might differ.

I have been reading the writings of our Founding Fathers and find their insight profound. These men were not "Bible believing" Christians, but Deists, theistic rationalist, unitarians, etc. They valued freedom of conscience, when it pertained to religious matters. And they found that tyranny was often the result of combining religion and politics.

Whenever ideology does not allow open dialogue across diverse voices, there will be a lack of freedom for the individual. And our Founders found that the individual conscience and reason was the best way to formulate the "standards" of government.

The culture wars we have today are based on universality, which the Founders believed, or exclusivisity, which the Puritans believed. These ideologies could not be further from each other. But, exclusivist claims to truth do not allow freedom of conscience, freedom of discourse, or reasonable choice.

We are a people, but a diverse people who do not adhere to any particular conviction about religion. We are based upon a rational choice ideology, and not a "determinsitic God" of the Calvinist sort.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jesus as Prophet, Priest and King in Governmental Form

In last post, Jesus was understood as the "legislative branch" as he fulfilled the law, by doing the law. But, Jesus was also representative of the judicial branch as he interpreted the law against the Jewish religious leaders. He never denied being a Jew, as he even preached in the synagogue. He did not come to set up a "new religion or religious order". Jesus was a universalizer of the law in understanding the full intent and meaning of the law.

Not only was he the prophet and priest, but also, the King. He was understood to be God. The executive branch, the President, is not King, as his position is balance by the "others". Balance of power brings true humility as it understands its dependence on the "other" branch. In this sense, there is no sovereignty. Only the law in its defense of the Constitution (the President), it interpretation (the judiary) and its legislation and representation (Congress). Our form of government, in this sense, is the most "", philosophically.

As to sovereignty, this form of government protects individual rights, as this government believes in the universal of the individual, as equal before the law. Justice defends and protects the indivdual's right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. So, while Law is upheld by our government, sovereignty is understood in individual terms.

Incarnation in Government's Form

The uniqueness of Christian faith is the Trinity, as the Trinity is a 'model" that pictures the balance of power in God. And the Trinity also affirms an exchange or interdependence of the parts to the whole. Each person of the Trinity defers to the other, which gives back to the other. It is emblamatic of the "love" of God, in justice. Equality.

Our government has three branches which have a deferential relationship, as each is interdependent. This is a balance of power and it gives government proper functioning without empowering one part's part.

I find that the incarnation is most understood within the legislative branch as Christ fulfilled the "law" through bringing about justice. Christ was the Congressional leader who heard from the people and spoke back to inform the people. Christ gave his life, so that those who he represented could have a "voice". Laws define behavior and while the religious leaders felt that their understanding and their rendition of the law was appropriate, they had missed what the law's intent was; universiality.

Justice is a universal concept, but its understanding is usually contextually bound. Cultural understandings of justice are renditions of a particular religious tradition. Universalizers do not adhere to one particular understanding of a tradition for they understand the situatedness of a person's understanding and the temptation of those in power to take advantage of the ignorance of another. It is unjust to take advantage of the ignorance of another, as it breeches trust. Trust is about relationship, which in our form of government is public trust. Our government officials represent the people. They are entrusted with a duty. And the duty is the duty to be just in rendering representation of that trust.

I have been so late in understanding my country more in depth, although I have always loved her. I value her values and commit to her understanding of freedom. We are a people that are entrusted with our freedom and we must not take it for granted. We must defend against abuses of power wherever we find it and we must continue to protect our nation's security, as without it, we will be undercut by those who do not adhere to incarnating the values of law. Laws that protect justice and freedom!

The PROBLEM With Culture

Culture is context. Context defines who we are, as human beings. Culture determines values, as they impact how one assesses "right and wrong". In the West, we depend on reason and use science to bring understanding. American culture affirms individuals and their 'reason". This is a universal as it allows diverse views within a unified nation. Or are we unified?

Many are concerned as our country is divided by the political realm. Our strengh could become our weakness if we do not continue to be open to "reason". Whether one values Republican or Deomocratic values, as it concerns social issues, we must learn to listen and THINK! Otherwise, we are headed to divide our nation and defeat progress in legislation, and our culture's impact on other needs she has.

I find that the ultimate value of our First Amendment right to freely allow information to flow, so that we can be better informed and make rational decisions, and become more "whole individual's as it concerns our own personal development. We have the tools in America to "become" because of our freedoms. Let us use them and defend them.

If Culture becomes an icon, we are headed for totaltarianism of some kind. Government cannot enforce itself upon human beings without there being oppressive. This is why we allow certain freedoms. Religious tradtions sometimes feels threatened by progressiveness, as tradition's understanding of itself is to remain "true" or "loyal" to what has been understood to be of value. And "god" is the ultimate value of religion. "God" in the modern West is being re-defined according to science's "evolution" and understanding of the physical world. This is troubling to some, as it undermines the personal, as understood in conservative or evangelical terms. I think the personal should be undermined, as otherwise, it becomes the "god of one's idolatry". God cannot be understood in complete form, so this should comfort those who fear science's challenge to religion's value and loyalty to "god".

America is the universal standard for an "ideal" government, as the ideal is connected to the real world and it allows the personal to "exist" in the indivdiual's values, and convictions. America affirms the universals of freedom and justice for all, because of its affirmation of all voices in the public square.

What Is a "Dog" in Cultural Terms?

"Dog" was a derogatory term in scripture. "As a dog returns to his vomit"....dogs are still understood in derogatory ways. Both science and religion use the term differently from their perspectives.

Science uses "dog" as those who are not "top dogs", as science understands the "survival of the fittest" and since this is the "way of the world", this is the way they understand survival. It lacks humility and evenness of temper concerning reason's "claims" to truth! Because science is focused on the pragmatic, it looses focus on more universal reasons of practice. Sciences specificity dissolves ways of crossing boundaries of understanding, as its understandings are so specifically specialized. It demands diversity at the expense of unity. But, it is reason's strength.

While science's claims can be arrogant and dissolve focus on a unifying focus, so are religious claims to truth. Religion understands itself as the "center of the universe", while dismissing the absolute vastness that is the universe. The Church's understanding remains ideologically similar to their view of the physical universe in the past. The earth was considered the center by the Church, but science revealed that the earth was not the center. While the Church eventually came to embrace science's claims, it still remains convinced of itself as "the center" of truth, not understanding it's purpose. Religion is contextually oriented without knowing it. "Dogs" in religious terms are those who do not adhere to understanding their way (cultural distinctives). Religion demands conformity and limits diversity

This is where the university should live, in the space between the two! The universals of science must understand that they only know in part, while attempting to understand the whole. And religion should understand their contextuality of "difference" is not universal, but no less important to affirm. The Church is one among many faiths, which represent many cultural forms of understanding "god".

Diversity in unity and unity in diversity is imperative in this complex, interdependent and vast "world". We should not define our understandings as ultimate, but broaden our understandings through diverse interactions with others that are open to difference and open to learn. None of us will know everything there is to know, but I have a dream that one day, all of us will become unified diversity.

Why Is Scripture Not A Universal?

Scripture is a human book written within a certain context that evangelicals or conservatives claim is universal. Universiality is a claim to ominiscicnce. And since no human can have omniscience, as we are bound within many contexts of cultures, we are misguided to think that Scripture is the "ideal". This is where tradition enters.

Tradition is the attempt at "producing" or refining the text. The text has been debated as to his historicity or its mythology. Whether the writers of the text were writing in universal "myths" of their day (Greek) or whether they were using the contexts of their culture's myths (Hebrew), they were attempting to attain to the heavenly. Man has alwasys attempted to describe reality through many ways, philosophy, theology, psychology, mythology, literature, art, etc., as man is a creative being. So, tradition was man's attempt at creative interpretation of the transcendent.

Tradition was accepted in cutural norms, values, and mores that held society's "truths" and maintained society's "peace". As the individual, historical science, and the natural sciences gained influence in society through human reason, tradition and tradition's "culture" was challenged. Reality was no longer understood in tribal and communal ways, but individualized ways. The individual became capable of being educated beyond the "confines of culture" and became a "free moral agent". The birth of self-consciousness was "born" within the West and moral choice became of importance and value. Children could grow away from family values and tradition, because they became "self-actualized".

While "self" or the individual became important in the West, and industrialization undermined the "family farm", virtue was defined in different ways than "traditional understandings". Virtue became those who were able to attain through independence, choice and determine their own course in life. Determination was not from the outside, but the inside.

A clash of civilizations was born in the West and the East. The West understood values to be based on the "rule of law", and the social contract, whereas, the East are still influenced by their traditions. Self development is not an option in these cultures, as "self" does not exist apart from tradition. Reason is the enemy in traditional cultures, as it challenges the understandings and values of traditon's absolutes. Critical thinking is not a value to the conservative or evangelical because of their value of text or tradition. Reason is feared to undermine "god". God cannot be undermined from reason's inquiry, as reason is a god-given gift.

People who have not developed their reason, through fear of leaving tradition, are not developed to own their own person and choice and determine their own values. People who are passively accepting of tradition's values are prone to be useful for others to "use". These people are the modern day "dogs", so it is important for conservative and evangelicals to understand their faith in more reasoned and reasonable ways. Otherwise, we will have no impact on society at large. We will continue to be a small sectarian community that fears the world and waits for "god" to correct things. Those who do this are not leaders and they are doomed to wait for heaven to bring about justice.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Human Book That Can Be Dangerous

Last post I was personal. And in sharing my journey I do not want to give the impression that "I have no hope" or that I am distraught. No, in fact, what I have come to understand has enlarged me as a person. I am grateful for it, but it has been challenging and at times, painful.

When I call scripture a human book, I mean that humans wrote the book with certain understandings, and assumptions. Some of these are personal assumptions, just as the "image" of Father was an important one for me, because of my past. Each gospel writer have different emphasis' and different rememberances. This is not unusual, as when two people are asked about a certain situation, there are ususually areas of disagreement.

Why do I say that a human book, much less the Bible is a danger? Whenever there is something that is considered "special" or"holy" then humans tend to treat it differently. This should not be, as scripture was written by human beings, and though, inspired, were not inspired any more than what any other human being can be inspired. These writers did not become some "superman" before they wrote the scriptures. They were ordinary people who had had an extraordinary experience that had impacted their lives. Because of the impact, these writers were "inspired", but it was not a supernatural kind of inspiration. Without knowing really what the writer's intent was, nor can one understand how they "hoped in god", but we do know that these were "worldviews" as well as personal views of the writers. Therefore the text should not be accepted at face value because our world is different.

I find that faith is more enlarging and mores inclusive of others when there is an understanding of the text's limitation and not believeing that the text is somehow superior to the human being. The text cannot talk, interpret, or reason. So, understanding the text is "work". Ancient paradigms, language expressions, bring much confusion as how to apply the text Our modern West does not seek to apply it, but dismiss it altogether, while the conservative evangelical tries to obey it, with limited understanding of how wrongly their application might be. This is dangerous to the individual interpreter but also, others, as judgements will be based on this limited viewpoint.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Why I Am Re-Evaluating My Faith

I will perface this with; I am re-evaluating my faith, what it is in, and why. To analyze my faith is important as I don't want an "unreal faith" of a transcendant kind. I want to understand where I place my hope and why...if one is not interested in a personal story, then "move on".

When I came to faith, I thought that it meant I had a family, who were commanded to love and accept me. This was something I could not even begin to believe, as never had I felt "good enough" or acceptable. This was such good news that all I could do was cry, whenever I thought about it. And it called for me to be as consecrated as I could to the task of knowing what I believed.

I had hated myself so much growing up that I really felt like I should not have existed. And even more so, because I thought that my very existance was a mistake, as I was the product of a failed marriage. My rationale and my grandmother confirmed it, was that if the marriage was not "intended" then I wasn't. (I had not learned about contingencies yet, as I thought that everything was either in the "right plan"(God's will) or "not in the right plan" (not God's will). )My self hatred was theologized by identification with Christ's death. "I" was 'taken away, as God was the one who deserved to live, as he had given himself for me and I didin't have to be "me" or face myself, as I could never accept myself.

Growing up, I never felt that I belonged anywhere. My mother had divorced my father when I was a toddler and we moved into my mother's step-father and mother's home. As my grandmother worked, I was baby-sat by my grandmother's maid, Elizabeth.

After a few years, my mother who had gone back to school met a very wealthy man and was to marry him, only to find out that he had someone on the side, even after their invitations had been sent out! My mother was devastated (I believe) and met another young man at a party, who had been a Marine. They soon married and we moved to another state.

Every week-end I would go to visit my grandparents, as my step-father was really not ready for a "ready-made family". My younger brother was born less than a year into their marriage and we moved several times during that 3 year period. I was very lonely as a child and would cry myself to sleep. Whenever my mother would hear me and question me, I would feel guilty and lie to her about having a nightmare.

After my family moved back to the same city as my grandparents, I eventually moved in with them. My grandfather had had no natural children as he had married my grandmother after her divorce. My grandfather loved children, but my grandmother "had raised hers". I always felt she resented me living with them. There were times I was left alone and it would frighten me. I wrote my name on the wall behind Papa's chair, where I used to hide until they would come back.

I am not saying that by "world standards" that my life was "bad", but it was no healthy. I always was jealous of my boyfriends, and would find myself unusually anxious about separation, which I recognized after coming to faith as an emotional response of memory. (My father had visitation rights and would see me regularly, until one day he just never came back!).

I won't go into anymore detail, as I think that gives one some "picture" of "my life" before faith.

Faith meant that I was valued, I belonged, I was significant (didn't mean important), but, that all was challenged and changed for many reasons.

Reason was anti-thetical to faith, as I came to faith through personal experience and believed that "the natural man does not recieve the things of the spirit, as they are spiritually discerned". This was a fundamental belief, as it was a spiritualized understanding that did not connect the dots to the 'real world".

In being exposed to various subjects, I began to try to integrate faith in a more realistic way. But, in the midst of coming to terms with reason, my brother commited suicide due to numerous reasons. But, of primary importance, was his disappointment with a Church split.

The impact of unanswered prayer, his disappointment, as well as my own, intellectual integration questions, a lack of connection locally, raising teen-agers, my husband's diagnosis with diabetes and the loss of his parents all culminated within a few years.

I had just begun working on gaining some self respect before the move to where we are. In that journey, I had learned that I was not just valued because of God, but because I was a person apart from God. Thus, the separation of my identity from "god's" and others.

I know this is infantile work, as I had not developed personally, and it was/is necessary. I have had need of community, but no community that I felt I belonged to for my own reasons, and not for any "other" purpose. It is important that I be valued for myself, as without that, it de-values "me" as an independent being, which I think is foundational to whole psychological health.

Therefore, my projection and fear of "co-ercion" and a need to belong have long roots and personal history. I have found that communities of faith are not places of safety, but places of "warfare". I cannot believe that a "milatary stance" is the stance I want to take in regards to faith, as it de-personlizes faith to duty and attacks others faith as "less". Value judgments are not what I want to be a part of, in regards to faith.

So, reason is necessary for me, as otherwise, there is no reason to hope that faith has any grounding other than my "emotional need". And while emotional need isn't to be invalidated, it is not what I would call a good reason to believe. I am not interested in some spiritualized understanding, which is beginning with faith "smacks" of to me. For, if one begins with faith, there is just "irrational choice' for me. There has to be reason for hope, or there is no hope. And hope is about government, as good government is just, as it affirms "rights', which is important to me, as I had none growing up. The "real world" not the spiritual world is one in which we must value the individual and their right to exist and have choice. Bad government is like bad parenting.

So, I really am not about the "value" of missions, or some spiritual salvation, as that is disconnected and very cruel to give to those who are suffering under harsh realities in life. So, I question my commitment to the Church, in general. Experience has taught me that it is best to deal with the "real world" and let the spiritual take care of itself, as believing that communities of faith are some 'spiritual family" is really not rational. But, it was a belief and a need of mine in the past.

I have learned that life is about choices, value, and responsibility. Life is not about transcendental truth, but personal truth as one lives one's life according to the values that are most important. Personal values should be owned by the individual, and not judged by anyone else. And that is something I will fight for, for no one should take away another rights to their life, liberty or pursit of happiness.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Politics, Ideology, and the Nation State

I have real concerns about some of Obama's actions recently. I have mentioned how he has treated our allies, but how he has treated our enemies baffles me. Perhaps, he is trying to befriend these enemies, so that the multi-cultural postmodern mind-set will win the policy debate. He has said that we should use diplomacy and not military might.

But, I think this has real implications about how one understands the world and its future. I don't doubt that we must engage across boundaries, nationally, as these have already dissolved because of economic necessity. Maybe this was misguided, as now we must "do" policy around economics, insteads of economics around policy. (This was America's "sin" and the cause of much of our heartache financially today.)

We are one world economically, but we are vastly different polictically and culturally. This is what is dividing people. If we give credibility to those who deny the Holocost, then we are denying reality, for multicultural "opinion". And we are doing a disservice to the nation-state and the ideals that our country stands as it concerns individual rights.

Obama has sent a video to Iran, wined and dined with Venezula's dictator, Chavez, and opened up Cuba. Perhaps, if earning "respect" by giving "respect" is the way to "enter the country" and bring about change toward democratic governance, then his vision would be rightly discerned. But, isn't he taking a chance in "trusting" the dictators, their media propaganda machine, and actually discriminating against our long-time allies? I think he is acting naively. Just recently a journalist was taken and tried in Iran and is to serve time in their prison, as she spied. This is reality, not a naive "hope" for peace.

The U.N. is being banned by some groups because human rights is about the ideal of the individual, not cultural rights, or ideals, unless, it is about our nation's ideals of "life, liberty and the pusuit of happiness". If tradition is not honored by Obama at home, like when he covered the crosses at Georgtown University, and yet, he wants to honor the discriminated "tradition" of Islam, or the persecuted "class" of Hamas, while dismissing our allies, as allies (militarily defined) then we are headed for some turbulant times.

Postmodernism is multiculturalism, perspectivism, relativism, etc. It is context oriented. But, context cannot determine policy when it comes to a nation, and this is what disturbs me, as Obama wants to change the very foundations of our government, giving all equal opportunity, while not discerning of or discriminating about accountability.

Although our nation has "done damage" abroad, we have also done much that is good. Why should we apologize over who we are, as Obama is continually doing when travelling abroad. I recognize that we have been seeking the financial benefit of our nation's interest, but all nations seek to do this. Why are we apologizing for our existence? Of course, there will be many that are jealous over our freedom, and "prosperity", that is human nature. But, alleviating envy by dissolving all of our assets does nothing to address the problem of envy in the hearts of other countries.

We have sought to bring freedom to individuals and nations. And while the means of bringing freedom have not been perfect, nothing in this world is perfect, and life is more valued as free than as enslaved by any system or form of government. So, we should continue to be proud of our nation and our military. And we should definately not be apologizing, especially to those who do not value life and freedom!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I Don't Care

People say we should care about so many things and that if we don't care and take responsibilty for this world, then there is something wrong with you. You are self centered and unloving. There is a difference in what they think will make you change your opinion, but all of them would believe that there was something innately wrong if you didn't care about something. There are so many things to care about that everyone demands their cause to the the "first cause" and if we don't care, then we are turned inward and need "correction, so that we can learn to have a repsonsible response and duty toward life.

Some say that Americans have lost their sense of reponsibility and duty because they didn't have "proper training" at home. These love to tout their superspirituality by pointing to how much they serve.

Many think that the environment is of utmost importance for without protecting our limited resources, then we are all doomed. This is to protect future generations, as well as our own.

Others think that fiscal responsibility is where we should be focused. That without addressing our outregeous debt, then, we will doom the future generation.

While others believe that the proper cause is the "great Commission" as without the spread of the "spiritualized gospel' anything else doesn't matter. They don't see any real reason why we should care about this world as it is all passing away anyway.

All people who have passions think that their passion should be yours, and if your don't care about it, then you are worse than an infidel. In fact, you are going to hell in a handbasket. And these might stamp you as a self-centered narcissist, that only thinks about themselves. I find that unless one is interested in their specific passion that they think is of utmost importance, then you are doomed to be judged.

So, in effect, one will be judged by someone, as no one can be involved in every cause that is of value or importace. So, one must choose what one wants to value most and then prepare for judgment!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Social Responsibility and Accountability of the Free

I have been thinking about social responsibility, as this is the philosophy of this adminstration. And the "rebellion" against such a universalized view was demonstrated in the "tea parties" that were thrown across our nation. Our taxes are being used for what those in power deem is appropriate, or socially responsible. But, some in the public are disagreeing with this view. And others view resistance to what is deemed our 'duty" as selfish and self-interested. These deem their social responsibility their duty to underwrite and support, as they think that the demise of our country is grounded in social irresponsibility.

Just yesterday my husband read the tax returns of Obama and Biden that were reported on some news source. He is Dutch, so that must be taken into account :), when he told me that Biden had given .7% of his income, while Obama had given 6% of his. He was a little perturbed, as the waste in government is his experience and he believes in being frugal, especially when it comes to another person's property! But, these men had not even given the tithe, and yet, they expect the taxpayer to pay their dues to others in social responsibility.

I am not suggesting that Obama or Biden did anything wrong in their giving, but as examples, are they to set "antoher standard" for us, the "common folk"? I do not believe that there should be "mandated" charitable giving, otherwise, I would be for "taxation"! I just wonder if socialists, who WOULD mandate another's giving through taxation would continue in the benevolence:), just as they have paid all the taxes they owe!!! :).

BTW, I think that "social gospelers" have furthered the cause of socialism, and at what costs? There should not be the "mix" of religion with politics, otherwise, one does disservice to freedom of individual rights.

The problem today is how one understands the "human". Is the human "just an animal", that needs proper training? Then,the question is what is the proper training? And on whose and what terms?

Is the "human" a brain? Then, what is the mind, and how the mind understands and processes information? Or is the brain a computor that only becomes what it "should be" if the input is "right"? Then who or what determines the "right"?

Is the "human" just a social construct? Then, which culture is to determine what is "right"?

If the "human" looses memory, is the human the same person? What about those who have brain injuries and no longer have the same interests, emotions, or personality, in general? Is that person the previous person, or not?

ETC.!There are too many questions to determine anything, so our public policy flounders because the Constitution is "outdated". There needs to be a "new foundation" in the name of globalism and globalization? How are we going to bridge the gap of the great divide among the many cultures and the climates they breed?

"Frames" Make All the Difference

Today, on Ken Schenck's blog site, he has an entry on "Confirmation". (He does seris of different kinds. This one is on "the Church"). His point in the entry is that there are many and various ways of understanding "membership" in Church.

Since his commitment is to "bibilcal studies" and he is a biblical scholar, as well as an ordained minister in the Wesleyan church, his frame is on "tradition/scripture" (not to say he cannot work within other frames and he does, as a bibilcal scholar).

As I was thinking more about it. I was thinking how someone committed to the Church would view another. Say, for instance, the other was not working within or understanding the organized structure of the Church, as they were using critical analysis and not faith in understanding tradition.. Someone working from a "tradition/scripture" and faith frame would "judge" that this other person would be a 'person" gifted for evangelism, as John Wesley said that "the world was his parish". But, is this necessarily so?

No. The "critical" person is working from a different "frame" altogether. Their frame is not a frame based in faith, but reason. For instance, a critical frame of reference would be using "reason" as the frame, not tradition. Someone could be interested in the psychology of religion and be interested in the similarities between people when they have a religious experience (reason/experience). Or someone could be interested in how history has been affected by the Church (tradition/reason). Or someone could be interested in the development of traditions (reason/tradition/experience). There are many ways that reason "understands". And the ways of understanding are found within the academic disciplines.

I find it frustrating when people "peg" me to "tradition" or "scripture". And I am sure others would feel the same if they were "pegged" (per-determined).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Thinking About the Implications of Nationalism and Globalism

I have been thinking about how we have come to the point we are...

If one is politically progressive, then, our revolution was "right" because of "taxation without representation", but wrong according to conservatives, such as van Prinster, as it was "modeled after the French Revolution. And, after all, Romans tells us to submit to the governing authorities..

The Puritans came because of purification of the Church of England and felt that they could set up "god's kingdom" in a brave new land.

But, as people moved away from their settlements, and "set up house", their "interests" became defined around those settlements. For the South, the interests was the land, and those who worked the land, the slaves. Scriptures affirmed that slavery was "right".

But, the political progressives did not view slaves as property, as slaves were human beings. The great debate and eventual "Civil War" was fought over the issue of slavery. The Civil War ended with the South's defeat and the furtherance of a centralization of government, because States ceased to have the right to slave ownership. Southern States were hindered from pursuing their "own interests" for the interest of "human rights".

The issue of globalization is similar in intent. Nations have not been "centralized". There has been talk of centralization under the U.N. and for "human rights". In 2005 there was a discussion about the issues at the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies). The discussion was about "peace", nation development, etc. (Human rights, in general).

The question that disturbs me is; "even though the North and South had different interests in the slave issue during our nation's Civil War, both sides had an interest in the nation, as a whole. With globalization, culture becomes a big obstacle. Culture holds the values of a society and is not easily "given up", as it brings identity.

How are we to seek a unified "globe" when diversity is so profound? And how do we go about meeting such different interests? How do we agree with those who do not believe or adhere to the "rule of law"? And what about cultures that define deference to the "rule of law" differently? And how can we come to agreement about what is in the best interest of everyone in international law?

Case in point: Do all humans deserve equality under law, irregardless of their "intent" to undermine another governement? Then, human rights are universal and irrespective of person or value. But, are there distinctions, like we have in our laws, of intent, etc.? If so, then how are we to define intent, when intent to one culture would be "right or lawful" and to another it would be counted as "wrong or unlawful"?

There is much to be considered and it has nothing to do with "obedience to god", but what is best for "world affairs"?

Nationalism, Globalism, and "Tea Parties"

Yesterday, Obama said that he wanted to build our Nation on the "rock". He used scripture, appealing to the religious conservative. While no one disagrees that our Nation has to be built upon a "rock", most conservatives agree that the "rock" is the Constitution. Others find that our globalized world calls for us to "lay down our own interests", so that "the greater good" can be furthered.

Government in conservative eyes, should be to represent the people, private interests, private business and free enterprise, in general. But, with the "bail-outs" and budget over-spending, the conservative feels that government has overstepped its boundary. Government should be limited, so that there is personal freedom.

Today, Obama said that we needed to pay our taxes so that government could pay their bills. Joe Biden said during the campaign that "to pay taxes was to be patriotic". No, when the people pay taxes, so that government can pay their bills, while there is outrageous debt and, yet, government does not limit themselves in their spending, then there is moral outrage. Why? because the people support government, instead of government protecting the people! This is socialism! The common good, the public interests, the higher purpose, etc. all are synonyms for government's justification of "doing good" for us. We, the people, cannot do good ourselves, we are dependent on the government to determine and distribute what, when and where. We, the people, loose our power and control over our lives, not just our money!

What do Americans do? We throw 'tea parties". I just heard today that one lady called her U.S. senator to be told that he and the staff would not be able to participate in the local "tea party" because "tea parties" are a protest against government and since he and staff are government employees, then they are forbidden to go. Who says that on one's own personal time, one cannot participate in any activity that is legal? Is it ia conflict of interests? Has the federal government "laid down the law" that this is not a freedom that any government official is allowed? Does government "control" their employees political convictions and opinions? Is this why we have not heard from Republicans? One just wonders.....

The issue is really a complex one, as it is about national vs. international interests. This is like the old argument of individual vs. societal "rights"...where and how do we determine what to do when globalization is upon us. We have no choice. We do have to address it!

Just today I read where the U. N. had had "problems" with contracting out their interests. Humanitarian aid is a money making business, no matter what anyone says. America has limited her power at the U.N. to regard other "dictatorships". America should not give up her understanding of "right" for any "common purposes" of globalization. And, yet, I know we cannot live without our neighbors. This is what disturbs me about how Obama has repected the Arab nations (bowing) without continuing to honor the 'free world" in his behavior.

On one hand, SOS Clinton did agree to limit the "rights" of the pirates, but was this due to America's interests or humanitarian aid. Would there have been the same or similar opinions if it had been a military expedition?

I don't think that destroying our Nation or the "free world" for the interests of globalization is very wise. We have valid interests to protect and we must not let our freedoms slide into the nebulous, undefined "whole" of globalism.

Piracy and Human Rights

Lately, there has been much discussion about piracy. The threat that is posed toward Americans, who are seeking to provide humanitarian aid poses a threat to 'freedom" and "human rights".

I was glad to hear that Sec. Clinton was going to take measures against such people. These people pose a threat to all of us, if left unchecked. Even though some have sought 'rights" for these pirates in the name of "humanity", it is obvious that they could care less about anyone else's right to their "freedom".

Humans like to control, as this gives us a sense of power. Control is not a bad thing, as without it, we cannot be moral agents, nor can we be self-governing. But, whenever control intrudes into another's territory, then we have hindered "freedom and justice" for the other. This is what our Founding Fathers desired for everyone, equal opportunity, fairness, and equal treatment. There is no sense of "peace' without the "rule of law".

Without the rule of law, we are only animals, not human. Human means that we respect the other's rights of difference. Without difference, there is not freedom.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Systems is "globalized thinking" and it is applied to many disciplines today. Just today, I saw a comment that was "systemic" in its paradigm. Systemic thinking bothers me in some it ends up becoming an "enmeshed identity" that hinders the "outsider" from bringing change, impacting the whole, or offering their "part", as the "whole" has already been identified, with everyone's "place" pre-determined.

The comment in this article said something to the effect that roachs, ants, etc. have their function, and though they are not higher state beings, they do serve a purpose to the overall 'ecology". This "wholism' emphasis is the focus, not just of our biological or ecological systems, but also our political realms in systems thinking. And sometimes I think it leads to a "type" of Aryanism, a certain breed of person is 'better than another'. It is breeding ground for in-group and out-group mentality.

I do not think that systems is innately "evil" but systems approaches to local communities can diminish and de-value the individual to only a function, especially if the person is not informed as to the system's goals or focus. And the system sometimes may "loose out" on someone that could benefit the organization or system, if there had been an open vision, instead of a tightly defined one.

As I was driving home tonight, I thought about the individual within the system. It is like being in a foreign country and not knowing the language, customs, or the traffic. Imagine a person trying to make decisions about crossing a street and not being able to read the signs. Instead of bringing a benefit, or at least not being a distraction, he becomes an obstacle and a danger to himself and others.

This is why leadership is responsible to inform and give vision and help the 'team to remain fcused on the goal of the group, or organization (system). If this uninformed person senses that he is "in the way" or making problems for others, there is self recrimination that is really not his responsibility, but bad leadership. This is inhumane and cruel, as it brings a message of insignificance or de-valuing of the person. And it gives away leadership's attitude toward this person as "just a roach" in the system (even when the "roach" has a function as in our ecological system, it is the message that is the important thing to watch, as it appeals to pride in leadership and hinders morale in the "roach"..)

Globalization calls for us to be informed about many issues, which no one person can handle. As I was listening to the discussion on NPR concerning policy of piracy, The ones discussing policy were concerned about a certain "issue", I thought about how important it is to be a part and an informed part of the whole. This benefits everyone's part, as all roles are "working on the same problem, or within the same paradigm, etc.).

Vision can hinder dynamic and change, if the vision is too tightly defined. This is a "funnel approach to leadership. My husband and I had an experience that seemed to be a "funnel approach" to "dynamic" when a friend applied for the buisness chairmanship at our local university. I was talking with my husband over dinner about it, and I wondered out loud what would have happend to our university if he had been hired. He had been a VP and an international negotiator for Hewlitt Packard for many years. I just wondered what would have happened....

I think that systemic thinking sometimes limits humans from seeing others as human beings, and relates to them as "roles". Of course, it is good for a false sense of superiority in hierarchial organizing, but it really hinders relationships and can bring a de-moralization to many that may feel that they are just a role or function, and not a significant part that is valued and important. And inevitably, it hinders the whole, as the "roach" is needed for the whole to "win the game. Are leaders telling their "roaches" that they are "just a roach", by their attitude and actions?

The "New Atheist" Intrigue

I just went to the American Atheist website. I did not know that many of the featured speakers in the upcoming atheist convention were part of the atheist's "cause" of furthering rational thought.
Because I have found their writings, speeches more than interesting, but challenging and enlarging, I am wondering about my ultimate commitment. I think my ultimate commitment is to reason, not the transcendent, or unknown. There are too many "theories" that are just not believable, when they are not verifiable. And supernaturalists do things that are irrational, thinking that they are benefitting some "higher cause" or "purpose". This I find ungrounded, except in "faith", which I do not respect. I respect those who have reason for what they think and do, not some baseless transcendent. And the demands before us nationally is daunting enough than to deal with the unknown and the unverifiable transcentdent.

I do not think that our free society should dismiss or limit the political voice of the religious, but that that voice should no be a domineering one, nor should the atheist's voice be the lone source of our nation's focus. A plurality of voices should be the focus of our nation.

Co-ercion in the Name of "Community"

This morning was a mixture of reflections between the Church and the State. The first stirring toward reflection was when I read an editorial in our newspaper. The other was when I read one of my regular blog sites. Both reflected on "coercion" in different ways.

The editorial was about how our government is beginning to undermine our "right to private property". Our Constitution protects private property from "public use". This editorial went on to tell the story of various occassions where the government "took" from private citizens, or businesses and 're-distrubuted" it for public interests. The point was made in the editorial that money was also property. Whenever co-ercion is used, there is resentment, because man is made to be a "free moral agent".

While many might have disagreed that the wealthy have the right to their money, as many believe that the wealthy can afford to be taxed more and morally, it is reprehensible to have those who are in the top 1% to have most of the "goods". It is still inappropriate for the average "Joe" to begrudge another of their property, unless it was "ill-begotten".

All taxpayers are outraged over the "bail-out" at taxpayer expense, while banks are raising their rates on bank accounts, credit cards, etc. The average taxpayer gets hit through taxes that pay off others debts, and at the same time, paying more to underwrite those same busniesses. It seems to be doubly offensive and disregarding of the taxpayers budgets. This is a "type of co-cercion" by our legislatures and President.

Government was to protect our personal property from another's greed, which is protection from envy, and coveting. But, while the government protected from the greed of another, it did not protect us from our own greed. This is the state of our country. We have become a people that bases their decisions soley on monetary gain. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with considering the monetary in making one's decsions, but basing the whole decision on the monetary is mis-guided and limits more necessary priorities, such as family.

Our country's "state" is not just because of our collective, and private "greed", but also because of the Church's greed. The church has given the impression that this same attitude pertains to the Church. The Church was to be the instrument whereby society could be benefited. In this sense, there is no difference between the Church and State. But, the Church has beomce more politically active, than socially concerned. This has led to a lack of relationship to the Church within local communities. And has distanced the Church to other through political attitudes that are less than pleasant and loving.

I do not believe that a "supernaturalistic" message brings any hope when life is falling apart before one's eyes. This is a "sore spot" for the Church, as it points to the Church's failure to meet the needs before them. The Church's emphasis has been distorted because of its need to grow and become an entertainment center, rather than meeting the human at the point of the human.

It is like that "warmth of my heart" in yesterday's post about Sen. Kennedy giving a dog to the first family. Whatever your political opinion, the human heart is warmed by human contact, human compassion, human affirmation. This is the "universal" that is to be the Church's vision, humanity's interest.

And in that light, there really is no "jew or greek", Democrat or Republican, slave or free, black or white, pure or impure, etc. There is just humanity, which is "god's interest". And "god's interest" should be ours.

Monday, April 13, 2009

An Interesting Experience This Morning....on Defining Values

This morning, as usual, I picked up the newspaper. There was an article about the 'new dog" at the White House, which is a water spaniel.

Since I am a dog lover, I read the whole article and found out that Sen. Ted Kennedy had given the dog as a gift to the first family. My heart was warmed. I found myself wondering why this meant so much to me fascinating. Probably, any of you reading this, will wonder what I was so fascinated about...

Well, I have certain political opinions, and find that some of the convictions that are held by our public servants to be undermining of our nation's interest, not to mention some of their character flaws. While this is the case, I found myself really appreciating the humane-ness of this kindness of Sen. Kennedy. And I found myself telling my husband how much I appreicated our public servants. There was a certain "respect' of the office that represents our nation, which I am fully committed to.

I have often heard about and have "obeyed" the conviction of "honoring the position" and not the person, sort of "command stance" toward authority. But, I found my attitude this morning surprised me.

As I reflected on this today, it became evident that I respect all of the values that our nation represents. And this is why the military give their lives for our nation. I guess, I am convinced that what we value most, we will uphold by our life commitment. I think that life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is pretty "universal"....liberty and justice for all and these values are ones that demand our commitment.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Critique of "Evil" in a Sermon

It is Easter. Many find this the time to celebrate "hope", but the pastor's sermon was on "the cross", dying, and fruitfulness. Several times he referred to "except a grain of wheat fall in the ground and die, it remains alone"....I imagine his intent was to encourage those who face "evil" that this was a way to produce fruti in one's life.

A grain falling in the ground to die is an agricultrual way to say that our lives are meant to be "given away", which is a fact of anyone's life. It is just "what is the "end" to be for one's life. That is a personal choice. But, he had ominous tones of life being taken, as Jesus' life was. Remember last Sunday's sermon was on "Stolen Identity". He encouraged us to see evil in 'spiritualized terms" of "satan" or the "devil", while suggesting that we were responsible for our sin and must not define it any other way. Nor should we rationalize what we do wrong. This was confusing to me.

I sat there thinking to myself that blaming "satan" was not "taking responsibility(as if any rational person really believes in a "real" person named Satan. I thought the Church had criticized the view of holding two equal powers as heresy, anyway.) I thought that possibly this was a way to dispel responsibility for actions that are no more than horrendously offensive. He attempted to describe war escalation. "Satan" was the way of "scape-goating" evil, and producing "solidarity" with one's "enemy, the one responsible for the "sin". It was a confusing message to me. And it sounded as if he was trying to convince himself that this all was true.

I find that whenever we set out to pre-determine another's action, response, or choice, then we are headed for disaster. And pre-determination is highly problematic morally. I was just reading "A Theory of Justice" by John Rawls today. He argues that there must be a equal liberty for justice to prevail. This is what our Constitution is based upon. We value the individual's right of self-determination. "We hold these truths, to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, with certain inalienable rights...." Justice and fairness is ruling by "consent of the governed". I guess these rules don't apply when it comes to 'religion"....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Is There Nothing Supernatural About Resurrection?

The resurrection of Jesus was the 'faith" of a believing community to the "hope" produced in the human heart by the message of a "god" that was "for them", the outcast, and forsaken.

While Job's revelation of "god" was a "mystery" that was beyond a "cause and effect:" of earning "god's favor", which undermines the understanding of "god" for the religious. The early Church "created the story" of "hope of resurrection" for those who had no "hope". These were not historical, but mythological religious images that met "universal" human "emotional" need, of belonging.

The apostle Paul, a "law-abiding" and observant Pharisee, understood this message of "hope" as a uniting of "all people", humanity. There was no distinction of the Jew or the Greek (Gentile).

The historical development of Church traditon grew up around the initial "story" of "hope for all" (Jew and Gentile/Greek), which formulated the Church's apologetic arguments for the validity of the "story".

With the development of scientific discovery and the understanding of the the human person through the social sciences, the "supernatural story" seemed unbelievable. The West has thus abandoned, or is abandoning the supernaturalistic "story" for a "natural" one. The Church is seeking a way to address this need, but apologetics won't do when the whole "story" has been undermined through understanding things in a more realistic way.

Some have thought that since the Church's main "mission" was to those who had no "power" then the Church should seek to develop those outside the political and religious "power structures", just as their "moral model", Jesus, did. The social "gospel" gave rise to this "mission" to those who were so convinced.

But, while humanitarian causes were the emphasis of the social gospel, there was little distinction of the Church from America's mission or message of individual "specialness" and humanitarian aid or mission as a nation, which has led to the Church's demise as an important influence in the culture, as a whole.

The Church developed two responses. One responded by accomodating to American culture (nominalism) and the Church became indistinct from any other social organization that sought similar goals, or had similar values.

The other response tried to define the Church in more distinctive ways from the nation's interest. The separation of the sacred and secular began in our culture, with the Puritans, which has led to a super- spiritualizing the text, traditon and community. The Church in distinguishing oneself in opposition to the "other" (the nation's interest) became undermining to the Church's believability, as it left the "real world" for a "transcendental one".

I find that false distinctions are only means of meeting narcisstic needs of "difference", instead of uniting with what we can and impacting society at large. Since there is no distinction of the sacred and secular, the Church has "problems" with identifying itself apart from "natural" human understandings. This is why the Church has almost died in the West and why Newsweek said that America had died as a Christian nation.

Just as there was really no difference between the Jew and the Greek, there is no difference between the sacred and secular in knowledge or human truth. All truth is God's. Truth is not a way of interpretation, as that would be dependent on humans, but truth is a matter of discovery, which is a matter of science, which is a part of the 'real world".

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Great Debate Today

The great debate today is whether there is a "supernatural gospel" or if the gospel is to be understood in naturalistic ways....and some believe there is a third way of reconciling the two, using science to investigate people and cultures. While one seeks to restore the image of God within man by freeing man from religion and helping him be "more human", the other seeks the "Christian Gospel" as the meta-narrative for the world at large. One affirms an exclusivist claim, while the other allows a plurality of views and voices.

Humans are social beings, which means that we understand and address issues, questions and understandings about life within social contexts. History is built by these social interactions. It is no less true of those who lived in biblical times. In fact, more so, as they were an oral and tribal culture.

Conservative evangleicals believe that there is something "supernatural"about the "gospel" and call it the "holy spirit". While humans do respond to messages that inspire the human heart, there is nothing "supernatural" about this, as a political message can inspire and motivate as much as a sermon.

Humans create their meanings and understand their lives by formulating "stories" that identify their "communities". This is a postmodern paradigm and leaves out the science of understanding the "why" and "how" of individual humans.

Moral development of the individual and society has been understood to be furtherd within "communities", but is not the highest attainment of the individual. The individual has to come to an individuality or "self" identification and must be allowed the freedom of choice beyond communities of "faith". Reason develops to a point of choice of commitment that identifies the person with the values they hold most dearly.

While reason and commitment is the epitome of moral and intellectual development, faith development is recognized in symbolic forms or ways. "Faith communities" are conventional level of moral develpment, where "moral models" are held to be the epitome of "community formation" and identification. Whereas, a more advanced faith development allows for diversity of viewpoints, acknowledging the fallability of all absolute claims to the transcendent.

I find that supernaturalistic claims to a faith without any development of reason to be not only misguided, but dangerous for the individual and communities. These are cults, which are bent on radicalizing their understanding without balancing thier faith with rationale.

America has allowed the freedom of conscience in regards to religion. The problem for America today is the dissolution of the family, where the child is taught the values, either directly or indirectly, of character. Children have little guidance or mentoring because of absentee parents, and the culture, as a whole has left the values that traditon maintains.

So, the Great Debate is settled in my mind. We are human and we must become "more human" by admitting our needs, fallabilities, and faults. These can only be rectified within a culture that allows for socialbility and not measured by success.

Unfortunatley, our culture has suffered due to the American Dream and its pursuit. This has damaged marriages, families, and individuals because we have sought fame and fortune at the expense of responsibility and commitment. Our moral climate is at an all time low because of it. And the stories we tell in America today are stories about "moral demise" and not "moral success".

Thursday, April 9, 2009

When Someone Else Writes Your Story, Christians Call It Pre-destination or Providence

In post-modernity, it is all about "story". We are called to "write our own story", meaning narrative. Narratives are how we understand our life and give meaning and value to life.

But, when governments (leaders) write your story, then this is evil. Christians call it pre-destination or "providence". Some Christians have understood Christ's life as a life of "love". But, love has to be a choice to give one's life away in a certain direction, otherwise, the life is diminished by undermining another's "call of different value". This is why good leadership does not pre-determine another's life, as if leaders can transform another. Leaders can influence, but should never attempt to control. But, postmoderns believe in "social construction" or environmental factors in determining the person. This is a very limited and narrow view.

In terms of legalese, pre-determination is stealing, killing and devouring another's life. Life consists of choice, values and desires, which determine how and what one chooses. These are not black and white issues of right and wrong. But, those who have only one "insight" about how people come to maturity, force the situation, and circumstances to fit their own needs, disregarding another's life, thus de-valuing this life, for thiers. It is the height of selfishness and self-centeredness. We call it abuse of power and this is immoral, if not illegal.

We all enjoy "stories" and this is why most of us enjoy novels, movies, and sometimes, even gossip. Adventurous and dangerous stories are interesting as long they are another's story and remain in the "novel" and does not become one's own. This is why moral dis-engagment happens with observation, as it distances "us' from others. We become superior, elite "beings" without self-reflection and without moral insight.

Painting Our Walls With Ungrounded "Hope"

These past two weeks, my son has been painting our walls. It is so refreshing to have nice clean freshly painted walls to begin spring. As I was thinking this morning about what it meant to me...these freshly painted walls, I started thinking about how we often paint over our own walls to the detriment of the "cracks". What do I mean?

Life has many "bumps" in the road and humans were meant for a certain environment. This enviornment gives the essentials of life, physically and psychologically. The family is the first and most important "group" the child will encounter. And that encounter has a lot to do with "cracks", but is not the lone reason.

Neuroscience is beginning to understand our brain and how the brain determines so much in the individual person. Psyhological science has various theories about personality, identity, personhood, etc. These sciences, as well as sociological science, define the development of the child, or person.

Humans all have "cracks" as we live in an imperfect world. These 'cracks" are what are met in religious identifications. They help us cope with life, when life seems to be incomprehensible. These "stories" grew up in the communitie's imagination to help the community to define itself within a larger context and to give meaning and value to life.

Religious experience is the emotional/psychological and physical response to stimuli that "fills in the cracks" with meaning. Religion gives a "reason" "why", so that those who suffer under their "cracked walls" can begin "anew".

But, what about "painting over the cracks"? Painting over cracks is what I would term "re-creating" the person, into a "spiritual image". This spiritual image is an image that is the "ideal", whereas he "real person", the "cracked person", is de-valued and dismissed. The problem with "covering over the cracks" is multi-faceted, as it affects everything from what you choose about life, the clothes you wear, to the way you bring your children up.

Religious identity can be damning and damaging to oneself and others. Why? because it never addresses the "real issues" but helps one to cope, cover over and deny "cracks". Cracks are part of being human and should not be denied, but embraced, as part of a person's "real history" and "real pain". These "cracks" cannot be healed without acknowledgement, confession, and understanding. And real change cannot be made if there is no accountability.

Religious cultures are breeding grounds for shame, which are unhealthy ways of social control. A human should never be subjected to humiliation, and shame because of some religious standard that denies the "cracks in humanity's face. Forgiveness is not "cheap grace", but a struggle to understand, deal with anger, admit the pain, and eventually decide response.

Many addiction counselors understand that humans use many substances to cover over pain. But, most people do not admit that religion is just as addictive, as any drug and it can be harder to alleviate because of a sense of "doing god's will" and "being righteous". This is an addiction of personality and it consumes the person under a subversive message of "self denial".

People that have "cracks "and can't admit it for fear of shame are those who live in self-denial through the messages they tell themselves, as well as the acts they perform. We should never "paint over our cracks", as it makes for terrible looking walls.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

There Is No More Christian Experience

Human experience is the universal affirmation of all beings. Human experience does not have to define things in religious ways, although, it can. Experience is about life and all that makes life in this world. It has little to do with life in the here after, as we just don't know about that kind of life.

In reading today, one blog site that I subscribe to, talked about the Founding Fathers and their faith. Their faith had a range between orthodoxy and Deism. The middle ground was called theistic rationalism, or Unitarian. It was a middle way between the naturalism of Deism and the supernaturalism of orthodoxy. This is palatable for me personally, at least, at first glance.

What is a theistic rationalist? A rationalist believes in reason as a guiding force for one's life, while theism affirms a "god" beyond natural forces, and causal influences. The part that I struggle with is the personability of "god". I just don't see that this is the case in reality.

Circumstances are interpreted from a certain veiwpoint. Bias, or faith, is what predisposes one to the interpretation. Reason seems to be more plausible in discerning how one will understand reality, not faith alone.

If Faith supplements reason, then, how do we know if this is our posture, that our faith is just a "trust" about the "mystery", which may or may not be "god"? Providence is not something that I find reasonable. There are too many questions about evil and suffering to forego them for "faith" in the providence of "god". So, I don't think that commitment to a "god" that is to be believed in spite of rationale is not a promising prospect of "hope".

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Belonging, Belief, and Behavior "Revisited"

On Richard Beck's 'Experimental Theology" he wrote about "Third Places". I think these "third places" are what humans need in their experience of life. It is one of the basic needs of being human. It is the need to "belong". Humans are social beings.

Behavior that is inclusive is also about belonging to the "human race". This is about being and acting humanely.

Beliefs, though, can inhibit humans from crossing the divide of difference and acting in a humane way. Many times these inhumane ways of behaving is because of a person's understanding of "god". And other times, prejuidice is due to conditioning within a certain social context.

In America, we live with difference, as we live in a diverse culture, although Beck seems to think that we don't. I guess it might depend on if we have ever lived in a city, even in surburbia. Larger populations in America are almost always diverse.

Human love to categorize, generalize, and universalize. This is one way that the social sciences understand the 'human". But, while social scientists generalize, humans are also unique individuals, with personal experiences, personal values, and personal gifts that go beyond their identification to a certain specification.

Some behaviorists think that change to an individual happens because of exposure. But, this is not always the case. Research has shown that not only do some people "read" their bias and prejuidice into a situation or encounter with another different from themselves, but there is also a type of 'prejuidicial personality type.

So, while instigating behavior is an important factor in evaluating or determining research for social scientists, it is a variable that is not easily "controlled" or evaluated as to its universiality.

In postmodernity's need to find "reason", human experience is the only "universal" human category. And the category itself is very diverse in its true understanding.

Misunderstandings and Such

I have been told that I "take the ball and run" when I respond on another blog site. I have been told more than once, so there must be some truth to this. As I reflected on this, I have some 'theories about why this may be so...

1.) these who say I am "re-inventing the wheel" may have certain understandings that I do not have, so my response is "off kilter" to them. I have a different frame of reference than theirs. For instance, if someone thinks that you should be feeling guilt about something, then they will think that you "project" your guilt in your responses. They are prejudiced in a certain way, because of their own personal convictions, or bias.

2.) I have different definitions to my words, therefore, when I read their site, I "hear" something different from what they meant.

3.) I have different "interests" so what I extrapolate takes the discussion in a different direction from the one intended..

4.) I have a learning disorder.

Which one (or all) is true? and how do I know? or how do I find out?

Is There Such a Thing as "Social Justice"?

Social Justice is a universiality of some "moral" determinant. It doesn't define life in various ways of forms of value. It limits life in definition. Thus, it undermines justice, itself!

The moral concerns of poverty, global warming, "the greater good", or other social concerns are various and dependent on personal goals, values, convictions, understandings, vision, gifts, etc. No one should, or can determine these for another individual. Otherwise, there will be oppression, limitation to choice and a hinderance of academic freedom and values clarification.

So, there really is no such thing as "social justice" as a universal. Social justice has to be defined by someone or something, which limits diversity of "voice".

"Order" and "Rights" as Justice

Yesterday's blog entry was about the grounding of justice. I believe that "somehow" these two views, 'order" and "rights" are definitive of true justice. Today, I was thinking about justice and how "order and rights" defined "justice" as it involved the growth of our grandson.

My daughter called this afternoon to report on our grandchildren and their day at "pre-school". As she and I were discussing the children, I commented on how I thought that Drayton was acting with more confidence and I had heard him using consonant sounds more often. She had previously expressed concern over his not making consonant sounds And we have all been concerned over his delayed speech and this was one factor in deciding to put them in pre-school.

She disagreed with me and then started to compare him with another child in her husband's family, who is half as old. I cautioned her about making comparisons, as each child has such differences, and that true development or growth should be compared with his own "past".

I, then, started thinking about how this applies to "order" and justice. Order is structure, or universality. Whereas, much has been written on child development, most psychologists would agree that these universals cannot be so strigently understood and applied that there is little room for unique, diverse and individual children. Usually, the pediatrician depends on the parent's assessment of the child's behavior to determine if the child is acting "out of character" to determine if the child is not feeling well.

Justice is defined by law in the West. These are rules that society understands keeps "order". While "order" is society's "right", the individual also has a "right" of difference within that "order", just as Drayton's "growth" should be "gauged", measured, or evaluated within his own "past". So, true justice takes into account a person's context, present understanding, and personal maturity. All of these are considerations in our courts of law.

So, while a good and functioning society should maintain order, which is defined by the "rule of law". There is an allowance also, within good government that allows for "freedom" of individuality, expression, and conviction based upon the individual's growth. Good societies allow for this "wideness" of difference. And the wideness of difference is what human rights is all about, as it concerns the social structures that "order" life.