Friday, July 31, 2009

Let's Get Ugly

Ugly is only understood by some standard. And standards are defined by whatever "standard" the culture agrees upon. This is a cultural "norm". And cultural norms help to maintain social order. Social order is good for society's functioning, so that people can live in "peace".

Our nation of laws provide the standards that represent good leadership, as leaders should obey the law. And the law protects us from "invasions" of different kinds; invasions of privacy (identity), invasions of property (trespassing), for example. We are a people that believe in "equality under law". Therefore, we "trust" that others will respect the law and not trespass, but acknowledge and accept the social contract.

Some, though use the law to their advantage. These are ugly people. They lack character because they do invade, but in a "legal way". I do not respect, nor should anyone else respect such leadership.

Those who do evil should be held accountable by any means available, as they should learn that these invasions are never to be overlooked, but learned from. Power does not affirm others in lawlessness.

But, just as those who use the law for their advantage, those who revolutionize also do. These are the ones who have made history in challenging the status quo. The revolutionary understand that there is a higher principle that must be maintained, otherwise others will suffer under invasions of the ugly. These are the rights of individual liberties that protect invasions of personhood.

A gentler and kinder way, is the way of reform. Reformers work within the system to make it change, without upsetting the whole social order.

One must decide whether the ugly is worth fighting, forsaking, or furthering in a different way. The choice and decision must be a personal commitment of value and vision, as one will pay a cost, whichever way one chooses to change evil into good.


Our thinking is influenced by many factors. What we are exposed to, what interests us, and what values are of most importance influence how we understand and 'put together' our realities. These underlying issues also affect and influence what we choose to read, and educate ourselves and how we understand this information within the context of other understandings in our "world" (reality). So, thinking and one's understanding and commitment to one's values, is a life-long process. One should remain open to new information, as long as one lives.

I have many times underlined our "equal before law" value, here in America. But, the value of "equal", must also understand complementary. We do complement one another when we are open to discussion, dialogue, and defense of our opinions, commitments and values. All of us have something to bring to the 'table" for the whole of society and its betterment.

This got me thinking about marriage. Marriage is a social contract between two people, who decide to commit to one another and share their lives. The religious like to term the agreement as "covenant", as they view the commitment as "an agreement before God", while secularists like to affirm the voluntary nature of the "contract" and its dissolvability. We can agree to disagree about the definitions and understanding of what marriage is about.

But, what should be of value and importance is what constitutes the "best" for society? This is where the social sciences, not just religious convictions, help us to form a better "world". We should listen to what social science has to say, so that we will not be boondoggling our future as a society. Religion can have a voice, if they remain open, otherwise, they will be regulated to the "corner" where they wear a "dunce hat" and the "secularists" will dismiss them as irrelavant.

Religion is equal in the sense of "having a voice". But, it should not remain shrill, angry, prejuidiced, dismissive, condescending, certain, or arrogant. All of us have an opportunity to bring an enlargment of understanding if we agree to agree where we can, change what we see needs changing, and agreeing to disagree where we can't come to resolutions. This way our society, and culture at large can be what the Founders framed for us, "a unified diversity".

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Other Racial Issues

Issues such as race have various emotional responses due to one's experience, understanding and conditioning. We, in America, have the "ideal" that all are created equal and should be represented by "law". These are citizen rights.

But, with today's climate of radicalization of religion, race seems to matter more. Americans and others in the West have experienced, and seen what happens to those who dismiss the danger of radical religion. So, in today's climate, we not only divide ourselves along racial lines, but religious ones, as well.

Just yesterday, a Muslim prindipal dismissed a Christian teacher. My husband told me that it was due to his Christian faith. Because Americans are "taught" that toleration is the highest virtue, we tend not to try to distinguish when we need to. Just as the lady who called the police was "at fault", even though she did what was reasonable and upheld the standards of good citzenship, Islam has a "favored" status when it comes to discrimination. And African Americans have favored status as it concerns Affirmative Action.

Minority rights grants a prividledge to those on the basis of their skin color or their religion. Is this just? When we try to rectify the past, are we harming the future and inadvertedly hindering all of us in being Americans, first? Why are we identifying ourselves as "African-American", "American Indian", or "American caucasian"? We are divided by "racial" and "religious" histories, instead of owning our national history and its development into a nation of diverse peoples, where the individual is acknowledged and valued. The Founding Fathers made our nation a nation ruled by law, and no "special elite", whether religious or racial. This is the freedom and value of being "equal under law".

Instead of identifying along the lines of "group think" which distinguishes what is uneccesary, why not distinguish ourselves as individual Americans? With America's ideals, and progressiveness, do we doubt that we could find a better tomorrow? We need to get back to thinking responsibly about our country and its values, not taking them for granted, but upholding the value of citizenship. And we need to be thankful for the freedoms and all that it allows in our diverse and blessed country.

"Racialized" America

America is known to be diverse in her cultural roots. This is what has made America great, because we have understood tolerance, for the most part. I know our history has contained a "dark" period where slaves were bought and sold, but we have overcome that time, or have we?

We know that America has its "passionate" differences, as otherwise, we would not believe in "free speech". The Klu Klux Klan and the Black Panthers have all "had some voice" in our public square.

This is what has baffled me in regards to the recent "racialization" incidence in Cambridge MA.

I had turned the news on to hear the woman who made the call to the police apologize for any "community upset" that might have occurred due to her call. What? All she did was call the police about a possible burgulary of a neighbor's property! And she was apologizing!!! I thought that we were to "be about community service", and yet, hers was not "approved".

The President responded by demonizing the police officier and the next day apologizing and announcing a meeting with the police officier and the professor involved. Why was the neighbor not called to the meeting? Was she, then considered the culprit? Was she the one being blamed, because she was "white" and her suspect was black?

I know when one has been victimized over a long period that it is hard to build trust. And when the experiences are continually affirmed and conditioned as justification for entitlement, then one wonders where the victim will become the victor. I am weary of this discussion. And it has led many, I believe, to not care.

Minority rights have reverse discrimination as far as I am concerned. The world we live in discriminates. That is how we make judgments and decisions, which are not always because of racial profiling, but because of necessity. The atmosphere has become so violatile that one is "gun shy" for fear of mis-stepping. Who will be offended, and what will be the "costs"?

Although I am glad that we are diverse in our culture, there is a price to pay and the one we have just seen played out before our eyes happens many times everyday around the country. I hope that in trying to rectify the wrongs of the past, we do not oversteer our "balance' and become intolerant to the Caucasions among us..

On "Knowing" and Government

We all like to think our opinion "matters" to someone and that our choices have impact and influence. That is, if we care to engage the world we live in. But, last night's movie, "Knowing", did not have that "take".

"Knowing" presented a world whose "accidents" were "pre-determined" and known by a troubled young girl. Nothing anyone seemed to do to stop these "predictions" helped as the "course was set".

Americans and those who live in free societies do not believe that "the course is set"in the details, but that there is a more or less "way to live and be in the world". We call the "ordered liberty". We believe that our vote "counts" and that our leaders "listen". And that we can choose our "own course" and our "own story" for our lives. We live in a free society.

The movie presented horrifying situations that "played out" before the main character, even when he was "trying to make a difference". This was just as de-humanizing as the former belief that the world was chaotic and things happened by "chance". Now, he was faced with a "world" that was computorized or "Calvinized".

The message, at least to me, was that the world is the way it is and our understanding of it is limited, though we attempt to "label" and understand the world. We live in paradigmic understandings and when these do not "work" we are baffled, as we cannot function without an understanding of some kind. Scientists have made their discoveries based on these "common physical laws".

But, higher mathmatics, and quantum theory stretches the imagination to understand one formula, as it seems to say that what we choose determines reality. That is different from theology's "foreknowledge of a Sovereign".

Our government does not intrude into its citizens private lives, and allows the individual the right to "live at peace", as long as he is "law-abiding". Some American Christians term this "God's Povidence", but do so without understanding the larger implications of that belief.

Those who live under dire circumstances, face horrendous tragedy, and unforseeable evil are not to be "pacified" with platitudes of "God's control and knowledge". The suffering do not nned theology, but solutions to their problems. And these solutions are political, as we live in a politicized world.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Obama has taken to the road again today to take his healthcare plan to the nation. While it is admirable to inform the American people, he seems evasive in some of the details of his "program". Why is he being evasive, when he seems to be so passionately commited to this proposal? Why are we being "pushed", and Congress, as well to pass this huge "project" without haveing all the information? Anyone would think this is unwise.

Healthcare is a major source of our nation's competitive and "leading edge" in the world. Why? Because we can give the best healthcare because of the competition of doctor's and scientist's salaries. We believe that if someone works longer to go to school, works harder at his job, deserves more "reward" in monetary gain. This is what has 'fed" those who have gone into medicine. That is not to say there are many, even most, that go into medicine to serve their fellow man. But, with the costs of medical school, not just financially, but socially, and emotionally, one would find it hard to justify the government "fixing salaries" for the "common good".

It is supposed that when the elderly or "end of life" issues face the doctor, then there will be "support" to face the "reality of death". While support is definately needed to face the "end of life", will the doctor be faced with the stark reality of what is of "costs benefit". Won't this end up being the case? Life will be valued for its economy!

And yet, those who uphold the 'common good" say that "all people of the world" deserve quality of life, because "Evil American Imperialism" has preyed upon those less fortunate countries, because of corporate greed!

While America is not immune to "abuse of power", is it going to "fix" things worldwide to make all of humanity a commodity of "nature"? This is the result of globalism with evolutionary theory attached.

I don't know about you, but I fear for our future, while those in powerful positions "play" out the theories of Marx and Darwin, et al. Surely, there is a better way. But I just don't know what that is.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

The Rule of Law, Positive or Negative?

Is the law to be a positive "force" that makes demands upon our behavior? Or is the law to limit behavior because of necessity?

I believe that limited government unlines the negative view, as I believe in "self-governance", where the individual is able to choose his own life within the confines of our diverse culture.

Today's government seems to deem it necessary to "demand"...more taxes, more subsidies, more public healthcare, more "public good". These demands limit the volitional. We become enslabed to government demands.

Some believe that this form of government is upholding "moral order" as it "takes care" of the poor, and disabled. But, does it? Aren't those in power still living as they always have, while demanding a limitation, even a "sacrifice" on the average person'a part? This is immoral, if you ask me!

I think it undermines civil liberites to make demand. And civil liberites are what is garuanteed in our Constitutional government.

Is "Messed Up", Just Another Name for Liberty?

On a blog I follow "American Creation", there has been a discussion on whether America is a Christian nation, or not. There are various opinions, but one that most agree upon, is that our Founding Fathers were "theistic rationalists". They did not believe necessarily in the Trinity, as they were 'Unitarian".

Our Founders belief in "order" was what inspired them to "create" our form of government. They assumed by the witness of history that men were "self seeking", so they set up a balance and separation of powers. No person was uncorruptable, so no person should have absolute rule. We were not to be ruled by kings, dictators, or tyrants. We believe in liberty for religion and individual conscience.

Although we were a nation whose diversity was maintained under the "rule of law", we have become a people that has no value of the "collective". Because America allows such freedom, we have become a nation that is about freedom or liberty more than life.

Why would we loose what our nation fought and died for in the past? The right for the individual to live?

Today's medical miracles and scientific discoveries have made life what it could never be in the past. We live longer and more comfortable lives, and some of us think that this is the pursuit of life, quantity and quality.

Does an individual have the right to decide how, when and where he will die? The religious believe that all life is a gift from God and that to do damage to life is negating God, which is the ultimate unpardonable sin. Others seem to allow individuals to decide their conscience concerning these issues. If there are diverse views, then what is the damage to our culture? Religious freedom can still be upheld, even if there are some that believe in euthanasia, chosen by the individual.

Many are concerned with universal healthcare. Everyone is promised an entitlement to bring a healthier life, but what really does it do, but limit all of us in choice? We cannot have it both ways, either we will hold to individual liberty, or we will commit to collective "good". And "collective good" is a positive view of the law, not the limiting one.

While I agree that we have gotten overly independent as to our responsiblities and obligations in our families, and our communities, we must not give up our understanding of being a "free people", where no "elite" decides our liberties. We will cease to be a "free people", when the "elites" determine and decide for us, what we should believe, and how we are to behave.

Limited government was to be upheld so that government would not intrude upon the individual, his family and his possessions. (The supposed criminal has to have his rights "read" to him, before the police officier takes him into custody. He is innocent until proven guilty.) This is a right that is to be protected, otherwise, we will live by a tribal mentality that preys upon others for the 'common good", as determined by these "elites", whether religious or academic.

Many "elites" make fun of those who like to have the right to their guns, a right granted in the Constitution. But, while I may not value that right in the city, is it something that should be decided for the average "joe" in the Midwest? This is why we have a representative Republic, because we believe that our representatives will represent our values when they meet to defend our liberties and what that means in legislation. We must not give up that diversity, otherwise we will be doomed to be a "totaltalarian Religious Regime, or a Secularized State".

This battle becomes a fine balance between religious freedom and moral order. Moeal order is established by the "powers that be" in the laws of our land. We cannot give up the value of our country's "rule of law' without giving up one of the basic values that protect all of us, and that included the individuals own right to protect and defend himself from tyranny (whether religious or political).

Monday, July 27, 2009

"Specialialness" and Divine Revelation

All fundamentalists and many evangelicas believe that they have "special revelation". These believe that Scripture reveals "God's plan" and "God's way". These people remain within the "system" of biblical revelation to "defend" their positions. They, for the most part, fear other areas of knowledge, because "special revelation" has to be "above" average, everyday knowledge. Their reading of Scripture and "revelations" are sanctioned due to their belief in the Holy Spirit. No one can convince these believers otherwise, as they have "an in-road to God".

There is something highly wrong and dangerous with such a view. While the Church has maintained it's narrative of Jesus, Christ and Church, those that adhere to this narrative must also submit to Church authority.

Church authority nor is any authority immune to "use" their sense of "entitlement" to further their own agenda and goals. And this is why no organization or people should be above our nation's laws.

Special priviledge is not the "American Way", no matter what Scripture may deem "right"! Slavery was outlawed and patronage is dubious when it comes to our American ideals, as all are equal under the law.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sin, Sanctification, and Today's Sermon

Today's sermon was a continuation on temptation. The pastor emphasized how desires that are not "maintained" lead to sin. He went on to explain that it was only a complete surrender and trust not based on reason that would "help" in attaining sanctification. One must identify with Jesus.

Although he had said that he did not believe any of us are immune to the normal capacity to sin and that we all do, he also seemed to say that one's "entrustment" and "commitment" to God in modelling Jesus' life was "entire sanctification. (These were not his words, but my understanding of the implications of his sermon).

My question is if desire is not a sin, then when does it become a sin? when it impinges upon others? when it hinders other things that someone else thinks should be more important to you? when it limits other areas of your life through addiction? when it become the focus of one's life? what about goals, life purposes, and noble causes that one sees as the epitome of desire?

Buddhism teaches that if we can disengage ourselves from desire, then we can attain a "state of Nirvana". Should Christians then, disengage themselves from their desires to seek entire sanctification? I think not, as desire is not wrong, but channelling it into the right direction is important. This is why our free society is important to maintain.

I think that whenever one talks of "sin", there is an inevitable reaction in the religious of "appeasement to God", as "he is the one offended"....or a spiritual reaction of "moral superiority" because this particular "sin" is not my weakness. Religion intensifies an otherwise "decent" and civil discussion. Religion can be dangerous and often hinders open and free discussion for fear of treading on "forbidden territory".

I think that today's world of religious intolerance, dogmatism, and ideological "drivenness" is not an atmosphere open for civil discourse. Dogmatism hinders open-mindedness, because one's identity is so tied to one's understanding of "god" that any discussion is seen as a personal attack. This is an unhealthy identification, or a limited development, at least.

Traditions do breed security and identity, but can also breed prejuidice and discrimination, through a limited understanding of living and being in the world. One's "world" is "all there is" and should dominate everyone else's reality, as well.This is nothing short of self focused living in the name of "god" and it is repugnant to many who see differently.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Healthy Relationships

It irritates me when others take advantage of others. It doesn't matter if I am personally involved or not, because in principle, I believe that the individual is not to be presumed upon. Presumption depends on others without their input, or knowledge. While my husband trusts me, it would be disrepectful and unkind for me to not ask his opinion, advice, or permission, if I were to take on certain responsibilities that affected his life.

Just today I encountered a discussion with a believer, who adheres to "orthodox Christianity". He was raised a Pentecostal, but thinks that Pentecostals do not understand or believe in "real righteousness". While I agree that theological explaination cannot be separated from "real reality", neither can "real reality" in creating "real righteousness" be separated from one's personal history. I further questioned him on why he thought there was anything "special" about religious training, as training for character is done in secular environments and not just religious ones.

Relationship is built on trust, from the cradle to the grave. Trust is learned in the cradle when the infant's needs are met and the toddler's questions are patiently answered. Trust is built as the teen learns to expand their horizons and explore the world a little further from home. But, adults understand trust to be about living life within a context of social contract.

Social contract is an understanding that although we are individuals, we do not live alone and separated from the greater world. We live our lives within many contexts that underline "who we are". Our identities are written in the contexts we commit to. Adults do not have to be defined by the contexts of their upbringing.

This particular person is a highly educated and personable who believes in supernaturalism. I felt frustrated over his seeming inability to understand where I was coming from. He had stated that we all have dogmatics that we "live by". And he proceeded to talk about postmodernity and narrative.,the Church being the ultimate universal. He spoke of "community", that sounded uptopian to me. When I tried to point out that all social organizations "run" in similar ways, he kept holding to a "higher spiritual view". Definitions of boundary are what identifies the groups "form" and structures the organization's values. These are not universal, but specified and are committed to by individuals who want association with the group. This commitment is a commitment of choice and value. It is a commitment of faith, which is the "social contract". And the social contract must be built upon the foundation of 'good will" and "good intention".

But, what if there has been a history of "ill will" or a breaking of trust? What then? Is one called to just "take a leap" without understanding or reasonableness? I think this would be the height of naivete'. One must trust what one commits to, otherwise, it is an unhealthy relationship.

In Thinking About Aristocracy

History was never a subject that I delighted in during my schooling. Unfortunately, without an understanding of history, one is doomed to "repeat the mistakes of the past". History teaches us wisdom, as it helps us understand the "human element" that does not change. Government is to provide a framework to protect men from each other. It was never meant to be an oppressive force over individual liberties.

Since evolutionary theory is the "consensus" of most, and scientific investigation "works" upon the basis of the "pragmatic", we accept evolution as truth in science.

Evolution does not give us "human history", as we have developed from lower life forms. These life forms do not hold the "essence" of the human, but are the basic physical components of the "human". We really do not understand the human in these days of scientific understanding. But we are seeking for more information and understanding.

Evolution applied to human society defines civilization as human "engineering". Leaders plan, dominate and control what "is to be". These are the aristocracy in our societies. Aristocracy is a 'natural" occurrance in the world, as without leadership, nothing else will have focus, or vision. But, while aristocracy is the "natural" understanding of organizational structuring, free societies do not priviledge the aristocracy to be "above the law". Free societies depend on "law" to maintain order and structure in society, and not just leaders' visions, viewpoint, desires and opinions. Societies that function on the basis of a leader's "persona" are despotic.

Leaders in oppressive societies limit equality under law, subvert the law, or define the law arbitrarily. These societies seem to bring about a human resistance in reform or revolution, as humans are meant to live as individuals, defining themselves by their most important values. This is why America applauds "civil liberties". And no one is to be "above the law".

The natural order is structured by competition. Many think that this is wrong and attempt to "give life and choice" to those who have less of an edge on competition. These think that governing through "compassion" is the most important attribute to develop. Others think that competition, being the natural state of things should determine how we "use" the natrual order for the benefit of society. These believe that the market is the most productive way to "use" the natural order.

I believe our country affirms both values, as we believe in protecting the rights of the disabled, the minority, and the unfortunate. But, we disagree to what extint this should go in our society.

Competition is based on "self responsiblity" and "self governance" that protects the individual from their tendency to "not bear their weight". Compassion, on the other hand, lends help to those who cannot govern themselves, either through lack of training, or lack of ability. Our political parties are divided as to how these values are to be implemented and maintained. This is what our culture wars are about.

Is the aristocracy to be in government's hands, corporate hands, or individual hands? That is a big question of how we see the world, understand life and evaluate priorites.

Friday, July 24, 2009

The Question of Inclusion

There are many issues that touch upon the issue of Inclusion; immigration, terrorism, gay rights, and "difference", in general.

Today I visited my hairdresser who had just come back from representing the Episcopol Church as a deputy. He had been informing me of the discussion facing the larger Anglican community concerning "gay rights" and today, informed me that the American Episcopal Church was to be separated partially from the larger Anglican community. Why? The issue concerning "sexual orientation" was of uptmost concern. This particular gay bishop had served faithfully for, I believe, 26 years was a main focus of 'discussion'. This saddens me, as I believe that one can be a person of integrity and be ostercized due to a "protocol", "interpretation", and "difference". This bishop had not been disorderly in his conduct, had served, and loved his church, and yet, is suffering under the judgments of Church he has served.

This is one reason why I believe that our country is so great. While we have had hot debate over immigration policy and all of it has still not been resolved, we do not allow terrorists to intimidate us in maintaining our identity. We are a people who are ruled by law. Public opinion may sway representatives, but let one person "take it to court" and the law will prevail. This is how it should be.

But, some would question whether the judicial branch should be so active in forming our government's society. These believe that progression must be balanced with "tradition", or we will dissolve the very basis of our society and become uncivilized in our pursuit of litigation.

Life consists of conflict. And conflict must be resolved in a way that hears all valid opinions and voices, so that our representative government will truly be representative. This was the basis of Affirmative Action and minority rights, although some believe that these rights have been taken too far.

On the radio today, I heard that the "inclusive healthcare plan", all 1000 or so pages, was read by a jounalist from the Washington Post. She revealed that Dr. Ezekial Emmanuel would be heading up the "new" beauracracy overseeing healthcare. Dr. Emmanual is Ron Emmanuel's brother. Where did the laws against "nepotism" go? As I have said before, universal healthcare under the guise of inclusion, will bring an inclusivity to a "new aristocracy" that will govern us all in overseeing our decisions and limiting our choices. Inclusion is a relative term, in this sense.

I don't know about you, but it seems that our culture is ridden with all kinds of questions, values, and opinions, that do not bring any resolution only difference and disassociation. Disassociation from those that differ from oneself in a free society like ours, dissolves our country's unity. Our unity is in our freedom of diversity, so we should celebrate it, and not be so dogmatically opinionated about our view that we cannot understand another American, who values freedom just like we do.

Today's Thoughts on 'Free Speech"

This morning while looking over a blog I follow, I noticed a response that was really an attack. As I read the response, I couldn't help but think that this person's opinion was a personal attack hidden behind the agenda of inhibiting "free speech". I was bewildered.

Free speech is a right in our country, as it is garuanteed in our Bill of Rights. It holds government accountable through investigative reporting in our news agencies. Those countries that do not allow freedom of speech (opinion) and propagate an agenda through the media are not free societies! We must stand for "free speech".

One aspect of "free speech" that has been questioned is: what constitutes discourtesy, "slander", and undermines our civil discourse? Much has been written and discussed about the issue. But, without full disclosure of information, the public is limited in their ability to judge, discriminate and assess what they believe. This is tragic, as it leaves those in power not just unaccountable, but enlarges their power base. Those who hold the reigns of leadership understand the power of the media, rhetoric, and "image".

While "image" and rhetoric can appeal to the public on a broad base and give a "good feeling" about our leaders, "image", "power", and "rhetoric" are not what leadership is about. Leadership is an ability to see the future with hope, not just for self-interest, but for the public's welfare. And good leaders know how to inspire, encourage, and equip those around them to be "all they can be", as well as listen and learn from others, themselves. Many leaders do not have the ability to listen, to learn, to grow, through learning about who or what they want to change. This is a tragedy, not just for the particular leader, but also for the leader's impact and outcomes.

This morning's encounter with another's dispute over "free speech" got me thinking about how much I embrace forthrightness, frankness, honesty, and courage to speak as one sees it. This is why I like to read and hear from the atheists or agnostic, as they arent' afraid of 'hurting others" so much as trying to grapple with the questions, and give answers about the world.

Those who adhere to learning in all areas are those that will be more likely open to hear another. It is only those whose eyes are focused on some "god-given" knowledge that supercedes any other knowledge that are dangerous, because they will not listen or learn from other arenas.

The West fights not just to preserve our right to free speech, which is enough, but our way of life, where each individual has an opportunity to explore, enlarge and grow in any direction, within the boundaries of law. I hope that we do not give up that right due to a tepid commitment to our government's values. This is why our conuntry is divided today. Those who are not tepid are passionate about protecting our values of freedom and individuality, but we disagree about how to go about it. We see the "enemy" differently. Some of us see the human enemy, whereas, others see the "ideology" that must be fought. We are in a culture war, at home and abroad. We must resolve our differences in pritotizing the value of freedom, so that we can maintain and uphold justice, otherwise, we doom all of us to be under the dominion of unjust men in the name of "god". And injustice will prevail upon the individual, as well as society.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Theology and Philosophy?

Theology assumes God exists. The question for the theologian is how to defend God in today's world of scientific exploration. Many have given an "apologetic" for the faith, as this is what the Church Fathers did throughout Church history. This is the stance of the theologian; faith in using philosophy to formulate thier particular theological "form". But, is faith in faith viable, really? How do you use reason? Do you depend on experience? I think this is a dangerous stance.

While the theologian assumes God, the philosopher does not. He begins with reason as his resource, but those philosophers who believe in God have faith in reason and seek to explain God within that frame through the disciplines.

Other philosophers, whether agnostic or atheistic, do not believe that God actually exists, but that God is a "function" within society or for the individual. These believe in the development of persons and societies because God is a needed resource for those whose contexts have been "barren".

Agnostics don't really want to defend God, as they are humanists at heart and think that this is the proper focus of life. If God exists, the agnostic believes that God's interaction with the world remains a mystery as we cannot observe God's intervention directly, except through faith.

Atheists believe that God only functions as an illusion in one's mind that is a needed representation of the mind, so development can occur.

Which one are you? Do you begin with faith, assuming God's existance, or do you have faith in reason, as God's gift, and believe that one can ascertain God in whatever one encounters in faith?

Or do you hold God tentatively, because there is no way to "prove" God. God has to be a presuppostion.

Or are you an atheist that believes that "god" is good because he is useful for a purpose?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Art, Form, and Expression

Art in the free world is a personal, as well as a cultural "expression". One's view of life and value is represented by these forms of expression, whether these expressions are in the printed press about politics, or whether these expressions are "artistic" ways of expressing other "forms" of "life". The West values the freedom of expression and so, we do not confine or undermine free expression. But, there are other countries that do.

Just this morning while going throught the massive piles of last week's newpapers, I read where China is now limiting Facebook and Twitter. There is much regulation is such countries because of their need to control the population's information that might undermine "elite power".

Such is also the case in Islamic countries where women are covered from head to toe. The free expression of "fashion" is not to be desired, affirmed, valued or allowed. "Allah" is a "black and white" God. Color, whether literal or metaphorical, is not appreciated in such cultures.

Even though conservative Islamic woman have no choice in their public image, I found many Islamic women going throught the history of fashion exhibition at the Victoria and Albert museum in London. I wondered why they were interested. Was art and its value a human universal, even when it is suppressed? The "universal" categories of "black and white" were more in line with "conservatism", than a particular religious tradition.

As I was looking and pondering over these thoughts, I came across two English women, who were viewing the case before them. One made a rather disintergrating and distainful remark about the "American designer sweatsuit" in the case. As she and her friend were obviously interested in "designer clothes", there was no value judgment made against expensive items. So, I wondered why the value judgment was made against this particular item of clothing.

The statement seemed to be dismissing as extravagant an expensive sweatsuit, while making allowance for much more expensive items of clothing. Was this value judgment based on a "traditional" understanding of aristocratic dressing, for an occassion? The value of aristocracy and its "image" is important to European identity, while Americans are practical and value using thier money where it is most useful, which is an individually determined definition. Sweatsuits are probably worn more than an evening gown, for instance. So, some Americans might find value in spending their money on an expensive sweatsuit, than an expensive gown.

America is known for individualism, informality, practicality, pragmatism, and liberty. I wonder if other countries look at our "success" as innovators, and our economic liberties as something that is envied and resented. America has represented many things to many people, because of our freedoms. Our freedoms are unique in this world. And I think rulers in other countries envy our "power" over the "ideals" of thier people.

I think being equal under law in a representative government is the best "ideal" there is in this world. Americans should value, defend and maintain this "form" rather than bickering about other "forms" of expression and being in this world.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Betwixst and Between

My husband and I just got back from a Science/Religion conference this evening. It was geared toward "religious responses" to Darwinian evolution. I found several things interesting, but one especially so, the "is" and the "ought".

The emphasis on the "religious response" was due to "fear". A "fear of the power of the religious" in America to form policy around "religion" and not the "facts of science". This is what was called the "is". The religious were to remain inside their domain of what is called the "ought".

While facts are based in real reality of the everyday experience and scientific endeavor, the religious are given a "place" of handing out platitudes and metaphors, which do nothing to change reality, except in someone's head. Is this enough?

I find it hard to defend an "ought" or a "should". An "ought" or "should" means that the reality that exists should be changed, but the question is not about change, but "how" and "what"! How does one view the change that would make life different or better? These are questions about values, and not ideals of "shoulds" and "oughts". Values are based on personal conviction and are given priority according to their importance. Values form one's personal ethics in prioritizing one's moral choice.

"Shoulds" and "oughts"may or may not bring about a "right", whether of needed change or ethical decision. The "right" is limited by cultural definitions, at times. And these cultural definitions may or may not be "enlightened". There are only personal choices, not universal ones.

Revelation has been touted by the religious as a means to the 'ideal" or the "shoulds", "oughts", and "right". But, revelation should be "grounded" by "enlightening" one's mind to what "is". Without understanding that what we know is limited about the mystery that is in this universe, we will act presumptutously, arrogantly, pompously, irrationally, or radically. This is not to say that science, nor religions do not give us some understanding of the mystery. But, we do not have but a part of the whole. We must deal in the "is", as this is the only way to really communicate about and make a difference in the "real world". The real world consists of the political and the public, as well as the personal and the private.

Therefore, I think reason is the best way to approach reality and others, so that change may come through shaping policy, making decisions, and committing one's life.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Our Reality to the Political Realm

I read where the Republican strategy is to counter the liberal and ultra-conservative, by gaining back a Congressional majority by "centering" themselves. I hope this strategy works.

The strategy is to be to analyze the vacancies and determine whether the State can vote in a Republican or "loose" by voting in a conservative Democrat! This would bring Congress into center, where consensus can be built and legislation can be made concerning issues about our government. A centered Congress may not be ideologically driven along certain conservative or liberal social issues, but could gain much for fiscal and foreign policy. These are the issues that concern America today.

It is speculated that Newt Gingrich will run for the nomination. I hope so, as I have always been impressed with him. He has built consensus, has taught history and understands the political machine enough to know how to lead.

The God Beyond...

In Old Testament Hebrew literature, God was/is a mystery. His name was so holy or beyond our ability to percieve, that one was not to pronounce His Name. God dwelled behind the "holy of Holies", where the high priest was only able to enter once a year to present atonement for "all the people's sins".

Religion has absolutized their explainations, as we can only speak about God in a metaphor. And in abslutizing the mystery, we have limited the diverse ways in which the explaination can be made, as reason is what we use to explain this world.

Science, on the other hand, does not listen to, acknowledge or think highly of the transcendent because it cannot be studied, taken apart, dissolved into "facts" and applied technocratically to life. Science hinders and limits by defining, as if there is to be an "end to man's discovering". Science also limits mystery, because of its need to define.

Perhaps, in our world of diversity, humans should re-connect God to mystery. And in connecting God to mystery, we acknowledge that we "do Not know or understand everything". But, as we seek understanding (knowledge's application, in wisdom) then, we are seeking "atonement", or At-One-Ment, where God dwells.

This acknowledgement would keep mankind humble in his shaping of reality and society, and would bring about a stance of open discourse, so that our living in the world could be humane.

Paul (as well as, Jesus) As a Useful "Tool" of 'Tradition".

I have not read a lot of N.T. Wright, but I am pre-supposing that he understands Paul's use of "law" as a formation of society. It is now speculated, in some circles, that "Paul" was not a historical figure, but a "form of moral modelling" and forming the "world" according to his "tradition".

The Christian tradition is the context of "Paul's" mission. And his life exemplified Jesus' life "for all people". But, his life is not the epitome of Truth, but is "true". His "life" was for the proptiation of society's values and order.

So, while tradition forms society around the values most important, let's remember that tradition is not to be absolutized in individual cases. Otherwise, one may limit another's life and choice, and value, in and of itself, which is where Luther's "law and gospel" comes to the "rescue".

Meta Narratives and "Understanding"

Our country's value of diversity got me thinking this morning about the value of meta-narratives. Meta-narratives are "The Big Story" that resonates within a certain society. These stories create the meaning-making paradigms that makes sense out of life.

Meta-narratives are "social constructs" that are not True, but "true". Meta-narratives are culturally bound. This is why people "assume" that our Country is a "Christian nation". This is the only understanding that some know. Truthfully, there were diverse viewpoints about 'God" and how He worked, but most agreed that "god" was useful to form society.

God was useful to form society because "god" could be "appealed" to in granting all people "inalienable rights". The 'Creator" was understood to bring "order" when America no longer valued the "Divine Right of Kings". We were a people bound together through identity with our government's "equality under law". Laws were the means of maintaining society's social contract.

Philosophers are men who like to imagine what is and formulate the ideas around what should be. Scientists are also philosophers, some without knowing it. These are natural philosophers that used to understand that their "discoveries" were based on natural laws. But, with modern science's understanding of the world as "chaotic", there was no more "ultimate meta-narrative". This is where the science and religion debate is presently.

Some start with premises about God and formulate their theology, while others want to base their theology on scientific knowledge, knowing that their understanding today may change tomorrow. The difference is where one begins; in speculation or "facts" of the real world. Many scientists don't even bother with speculation. These deal only with the facts, but they miss certain aspects of life that make life "human and humane".

So, while I do not agree that any one "meta-narrative" is the 'ultimate", meta-narratives are useful in society's formation. Religiousity is absolutizing the relative, while reliougiousness is a form of understanding meaning-making.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Justified By Science to Dis-Criminate

I have been following the debate over the energy proposal that passed the House by a short margin and now is to be heard in the Senate. This energy bill would be a financial burden on American families, increasing taxes and limiting resources. It is supposed that there would be another federal agency that would investigate the energy effieciency of a home before it can be sold. Windows, doors, furnaces, appliances, etc. would all be checked to meet federal regulations. Why? Because science says it is best that we limit ourselves for the whole of mankind.

While I agree that limits are necessary in every area of life, one must ask the question why this is to be one of the few scientific "values" that drive public policy....Poverty, and education are others. Whenever a particular scientific view drives policy, we limit the American experiment, because of government's need to control these "suggested" abuses.

It was discussed today on a radio program that there might be federal regulation of smoking in the military, and there has been discussion of regulating our resturants. Why? healthcare costs.

The globalist believes that American is an imperialist country, because they defend their ideology abroad, instead of being tolerant of cultural differences. I find that multiculturalism doesn't want to protect individual liberties so much as protect group identifications. This is what is driving the controversy in the newly nominated Supreme Court Judge, who is Hispanic.

She want to protect individual rights, at the expense of business interests. While obviously, I do not believe in discrimination, one has to question when to discriminate. Where do we draw the lines? All of mankind cannot live under a one world government unless we want to give over our freedom to a regulated and monitored beauracracy. The balance of power will be the "lowest common denominator", as Third World countries compete in a globalized market that is filled with coveting and greed. Many African nations have been known to have corrupt business practices and prey on the uninformed.

Nationalism and national interests are dismissed as narrow-minded, and narrowly focused. Those who believe in our country's ideals should given up their citizenship to a globalized citzenship. This is the paradigm change from modernity to post-modernity.

While there is value to post-modern understanding, it should not drive policy, otherwise it will dissolve national interests, and defense for the 'common good".

There are valid disagreements about global warming among scientiist, but those who are politically connected are the ones that are heard. And just as every other group, scientist live in a culturally driven paradigm of materialistic naturalism in a postmodern context.

Just today there was an article in the Washington Times about the EPA official who had buried critical evidence against global warming.

Anyone who has worked in the federal government undrstands that it is easy to set up busniesses, protect special interests, and use federal programs to "milk" the American people of hard- earned money in the name of public good, while privately useing it for cronies, etc. Beauraucracies are too big to be accountable and unaccountability is a primary cause of corruption. The press cannot even be privy to certain information.

America is the freest nation on earth, but will not remain so, if science continues to do the dirty work of political correctness. Most Americans will just accept whatever science deems is a necessary "evil", because most are ill-informed as to the limitations of science. We do live in paradigmic understandings about the world and life. We must protect our own "world" as Americans to remain free.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Justified to Dis-criminate

The religious seem to justify discrimination. As we all discriminate, because we must make judgments, what is wrong about discriminating amongst religious traditions? Because traditions all seek to understand God within their cultural reference points, we differ as to how we understand reality, God and humans. While humans seek to understand God, as the majority of humans are religious, we should not use God to discriminate.

Discrimination can be along doctrinal lines, where one must adhere to certain beliefs that are and have been traditionally held. These discriminations are the heresy trials, and witch hunts of our country's early Founding. These are understanding of what formulate the creeds. This is the "standards" of belief systems.

Discrimination can also be because one doesn't interpret a text in the right way. Infants must be baptized,; communion must be taken; children must be circumcised; one must cross their hands wile praying; these all are emphasis of undestanding tradition's texts and a reverance for God. What the sacraments mean vary according to the speicific religion and sect.

Some adhere to a wholesale theological framework, in which all of life is understood. These traditions are static and specified in such detail that if one deters from what is orthodox, one has erred and is labelled an infidel.

Discrimination is justified, becasue it affirms our own way of being and undestanding the world. We love to use God for our own purposes. God gives us a sense of power and control; a sense of purpose and a value. Our egos need God's sanction, so we form our "ingroups and our outgroups' based on these understandings and factors.

I truly understand the need to belong. It is one of the most basic of human needs. Humans need support, encouragment and companionship. Of course, some need these blessings more than others.

Justifying our belief systems and our standards of behavior is a rational activity. There is nothing wrong about this either, as all human do this consciously or unconscously. But, when we use our rational resources to maintain an 'in group" at the costs of another, we have stepped past the line for common decency and civil discourse. In our society, discrimination is about belonging to the civil discourse, and there is no justification for discrimination.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


In my last post, I made a statement that our Founders wanted to based our country first and foremost on freedom. This is partly wrong, I think. While freedom is the result of our Constitutional government, the Founders wanted to base our country on the 'rule of law' and not arbitrary authority or power. This is an important distinction, as without law, a government cannot be ordered.

"Ordered Liberty" is our Founders' "frame". We should be so thankful!!!

Religious Terms Have Material Meaning

Religious terms have material meaning, if they are considered "real". In certain Christian circles,
where a separation or holiness message is important, the term "circumcsion of the heart" or "sanctification" is used. Although the term "heart" is used, the emotional reality of pain, is just as painful as Islam's physical circumcision of their girls.

In "Infidel", Hirshi Ali tells in painful detail about her physical circumcision. Muslims believe that 'purity" is of uptmost importance, so to "protect" their young women from intercourse before marriage, they sew up her vagina area, as well as circumcise her clitoris. The circumcision of the clitoris is to "prevent" pleasure in intercourse. "Pleasure" is considered an "evil".

The "protection" of the Christian believer is no different, as the "circumcision of the heart" is considered to be necessary to "purify" motives and desires. God is to be the only desire and pleasure. Just as the cutting away the clitoris, the "sanctified believer" cuts away every pleasure and desire that his heart is set upon, other than God. Both circumcisions forbid a basic human desire; pleasure in this world.

Pleasure in this world is viewed as "evil" and "fallen". The desire of the heart is to be focused only on God's will and purpose. Although I agree that one cannot be addicted to any one pleasure, there is strong question as to the creation order itself in affirming this understanding. Since these believers believe in the "creation order", why did God take the time to create such diversity in the world? Why do we see in color?

In Sunday's sermon, Timothy was used as an example of the "need for circumcision". Timothy is known in the Christian Scriptures as a disciple of Paul. Since he was born of Greek and Jewish parents, tradition tells us that Paul commended his circumcision, so that he could "reach the Jew" with the "gospel".

Hirshi Ali tells about her Somalian "tradition"'s training and her eventual escape from a planned marriage and the struggle she had in the West. Her sheer will-power to overcome such obstacles, both real and otherwise, are inspiring to read. I admire her for her determination, courage and commitment to seek a way out.

There is something sinister about another person determining another's life. In our country, we are not allowed that determination, as we believe in free moral agency. But, this was not the majority's view in our earliest Founding.

The majority held to various religious viewpoints, but the Founders wanted to base our government on freedom first and foremost, as without freedom there is determination. And America is not a caste society, not by man or by God.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Dis-Solving American Identity

Multiculturalism is based on the local and the specified. It is an individualized understanding of groupish identification factors. Multiculturalism's values are not "value free". Multiculturalism makes no "judgements" because prejuidice is the ultimate "sin". Multiculturalism is devoid of reason's "judgment" because of 'imperialistic and post-colonial paradigms of "meaning".

Although I wholeheartedly agree with our 13th and 14th Amendements to the Constitution, as to slavery, I do not think that subverting American ideals in the name of multiculturalism is to be the epitome of "unification of the world". The globalist would disagree. And the globalist is a postmodern in the ultimate sense of the word.

If postmodernism "rules", then there is no leadership, because leadership is based on direction, decision and commitment. Unfortunately, those in the halls of academia have led us down the postmodern paradigm, because of understanding the value of context. Understanding context is an important demension of understanding the whole, but is not the whole. Postmodernism bases their commitment to the local and communal aspects of the world. And I think the evangelical has been duped by the academic community in accepting the 'whole of postmodernism in the name of pragmatic good, but dissolved of universal value.

The universal's that our Founders affirmed of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness were to be upheld for each individual conscience. The individual in our society was held supreme, as he was made in God's image and had inalienable rights. But, with the acceptance of evolutionary thinking applied to the social sciences, and history itself, the Academy became culprits of multicultrualism, and postmodernity, for the sake of these universal ethical ideals.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with understanding context, locality, or individuality, but these values do not affirm the values that should fulfill a leadership role and function. Leaders evaluate, analyze, and cultivate an understanding of the best of 'what is". Decisions leaders make are based on analytical, and strategic ways of understanding the world. The multicultural and postmodern way of understanding the world is an emphathetic way of understanding the world.

A world leader cannot lead unless these styles of understanding are all implemented. We cannot tell Israel to "do what she will" with Iran; not speak forthrightly to Iran about human rights; and ignore the democratic process of voters rights, without undermining democratic ideals and our Founders values as understood in the Constitution.

Names, Meaning and Value

"Dem dat's fighten words" is a common colloqualism. Words have meanings. And meanings define values. These are the things that life is "made of". And this is why there is so much diversity in the world. I couldn't live without diversity. Life would be dull and colorless. I just "react" to those who think their meanings are ultimate and absolute, because they de-value the diversity that makes life valuable.

Last night my grand-daughter was here. She is almost 3. She is confident and very "dramatic". I love to engage her. But, last night I was not cognizant of "where she was" and she ended up crying.why and how did this happen?

I began to point to others of her family members and give them different "names". I pointed to myself and said 'Mommy". She started out with "correcting me", but started to look befuddled and then began to cry. I recognized this as an indication that I was "confusing her world". She had names that defined people and they were defined by the roles that they signified. I was asking for her to think beyond her capabilities. So, of course, we brought comfort to her.

The challenge to educators is to expand, enlarge and encourage growth in the intellectual realm. Educators exist in many areas of our world, not just in the academic. Educators seek to bring understanding and and expansion of knowledge, so that others can grow beyond their narrow definitions and narrow and limiting worldviews.

When someone asks "what is of ultimate value", the answer will depend upon how the person has been educated. Those indoctrinated into Christian faith will have different responses depending on their understanding of faith and how broad their exposure to Christian experience is. I find that religion, for the most part, does define one's life in narrow ways.

Conventional morality is about what 'tradition' says is "correct". But, is tradition right, necessarily? Or is tradition only an aspect to a cultural ideal or norm? What is of greatest value? God, humanity, life on this planet, the environment, healthcare, growth in knowledge? The answer will depend on one's highest values in life. Religious tradition defines the highest value on an understanding of faith, while education values knowledge, and scientific endeavor values medicine and other research opportunities.

Our country does not define another's life for them, as we believe that though the individual is a social animal, he is also an independent moral agent, that must decide for himself. The individual is given opportunities by the social contexts he exposes himself to and then is free to decide what is of ultimate value and importance. There is no "right and wrong" answer, as values are about clarity of purpose and vision for one's life.

This is why the value of our country in protecting freedom is of ultimate value to and for me. I value freedom because it means that the individual does not have to confine himself to another's definition of what constitutes "greatest value". Freedom means that the individual is guarunteed justice, because the individual is a reponsible moral agent that can determine his own course.

Usually "war" transpires when others are protecting their own values. Fear of another's intrusion upon the values most held dear become self-protective walls. But, how do we engage those whose worlds are so confining and defined, that they will not engage. Diversity is not a cultural value. In fact, diversity is the very name to be destroyed.

In our world climate, Obama seems to be making attempts to change the world through diplomatic efforts. This is a noble cause, but I question how diversity can be maintained when the "absolutist laws of Sharia" will not allow such diversity. Whenever one labels another's difference with "Satan", then one cannot be rationally engaged. Religion does not allow for rational engagement because it is based on emotional connection to cultural identification in behavoiral terms, as well as a specified view of "God". This is not change that will come to the radical through diplomatic engagement. And this is why it is necessary that leaders of countries are rationally engaged with affirming difference. We have done this in the past, but with devastating consequences. And in our world climate, where the enemy is not readily identified, how do we protect the values of freedom and diversity? Do we engage countries that are dictatorial? Can we trust these?

I personally "fear" what Obama is doing, as I do not trust those who hold absolute power. And leaders who identify with those who hold absolute power are also, IMO, also untrustworthy, because those who do not hold the value of freedom and justice for all, which is a holding to the "balance of power", do not hold to the values of a liberal democracy....or a Repreentative Republic. These are those that use position to bring change, but at a costs to those under them. And this is why there has been much discussion about the "czars" that are independently appointed by this administration.

Obama has African roots and he maintains that equality is a global issue, not just a national one. This is disturbing to me because national interests (The Constitution) is the pledge of the President to uphold the values determined by our Founders. Can a globalist do this and remain true and trustworthy to "his people".

This is my concern, as words have meaning, but we must question what meaning is made when we hear those that hold values that are in opposition to ours. Then, we can be more educated about how to engage the public for the public good.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What in the World?

This morning it was reported that there is a crackdown in China against the Muslims. Riots were shown on TV. Yesterday, in Church it was reported that an island off the coast of India is persecuting the Christian population, which is 1%. Just recently, Korea shot missiles to show the world their power. What in the world is happening?

I think that the nationalizing of our healthcare is a power grab as well. Some of our companies cease to be privately owned and the government has gotten involved in mortagages for the poor.
A.C.O.R.N. is not being investigates, as John Connally, head of the Judiacary Committee reports that he was stopped. BY WHO AND WHY? Americorps and World Vision has been caught in power grabs. There seems to be no end to the way that power is exerting itself against the "common person". Privitization is being dismissed as selfishness. But, is it?

One of our Founders warned that when government starts stealing, undermining or federalizing the Treasury, then we will become slaves! Is this to be our future?

It seems that since many in the American population have been squeezed because of the recent economic downturn. Those who have lived off credit, live in expensive areas, or lived for money and power are dismayed. Some have given up hope altogether and committed in ultimate hopeless act of taking their own life.

Is such hopelessness causing us to feel helpless, so that we will not care anymore about our government and what the Founders set in motion to protect private property? Liberty of conscience, the private and the publice, the Church and State were set at "odds" to one another for a reason. It was the allowance of individual freedoms and rights. Today we hear of 'public interests", the "public or common good". Where are private interests? Where are human rights?

The ethical can never dissolve the individual without undermining liberty altogether. Is the government "stealing our lives", so that we become enslaved to government's power to "help". We have no other resource. We will be a people of entitled dependence!

I am truly disturbed. I am grateful for a few brave voices that hold government accountable. But, we should all be doing whatever we can to prevent government's corruption throught absolutizing government power.

I am afraid that when the American people suffer, they are too caught up with their own personal pain to be concerned about the real public interest and public good.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Re-Definition of What is Valued ..

Belief is a form that is constructed by certain groups that maintain their group identity. These are groups such as faith groups, social groups, nation states, etc. Those that are the leaders within these groups formulate what is to be believed to maintain identification and social order to accomplish their particular purposes. Beliefs form laws, and are speicified by the group's values .

While beliefs form laws, these beliefs also define behavior that is appropriate within a certain group. Those who maintain the behavior that is defined as appropriate are the ones on the "inside". These people "belong". "Others" do not belong. These boundaries help to define the "self'.

"Self" is a function of the ego and those who have healthy egos are defined by no source outside of themselves, as they are defined by their own values and not group identification.

If the ego is not formed or values are not clarified, then the ego is formed by those in their particular cultural location. This frames the ego's defenses and helps the "ego" to define itself over against another ego. This maintains an "us and them" mentality. But, "us and them" mentality is healthy, in that it distinguishes between. Healthy egos do make distinctions.

I have come to the conclusion that believers base their faith on belief systems (and systems are part of the definition of "original sin"). These maintain religious identification, while those who base their faith in reason have two responses.

Those who base their reason on bahavior are agnostic. They do not want to commit to a particular definition of value, whereas, those who are atheistic base their value on reason alone. Self is defined by reason's assessment of greatest value.

Agnostics are tenuous in their commitment because their "self" has not commited one way or another. Perhaps, ego definition is needed by identifying with others in their behavior, while those whose ego is defined does not hesitate to define themselves outside of any other framework. They evaluate their commitment on "self-interest". So, conflict in self interest brings about a resolution of one's important and most valued commitments.

I think that committing to oneself in what one values most is not dismissing the other, but defining self. This is a necessary "duty", as without definition, there can be no resolution, commitment, or focus in one's life as to values.

Diversity in unity is for the functioning of society that is reasonable. While all men are created equal, there are differences that must be allowed. These distinctions are where boundaries must be maintained in valuing the best. It is ethical in focus, as it chooses between two "goods". It distinguishes and discerns. This is why it is important that leadership is not given to those who cannot be diverse in their understanding of "diversity". Otherwise, we allow absolutist to draw lines that need more nuance, subtlty, understanding etc.This is what diplomacy is about. But diplomats also have to deal with absolutists. This view of diversity in unity defines what is "true" for one's "self definition.

Unity in diversity is the view of group identification and not self identification. Unity in diversity calls for conformity to group identifiers, so that the stated purposes of leadership can be followed. This does not allow freedom of conscience, but a commitment to certain purposes already defined. This view is a functional approach to orgaizational structuring and societial functioning. This view defines what is "love" or tolerance.

Therefore, I continue to uphold our Representative Republic as the highest moral order and value for it allows the individual to choose his greatest good and greatest value within the definitions of lawful behavior. The individual pursues his own course, and not another's for his own life and as he does so, he brings value to society and understands his own values better.

Someone said on another blog site that America does not have a culture. Culture is defined by religious tradition and we do not define ourselves on religious tradition, but a freedom of conscience, that is upheld by laws. This is what the separation of Church and State is about. The State protects the individual from being accused as a criminal based on religious ideals., and yet, it protects the religious individuals freedoms, as well.

Our laws are defined by universal human ideals that protect individuality or human rights. But, "We, the People" have defined oursevles by our Constitutional government and discriminate based on citizen rights. Therefore, "We, the people" do exist apart from another nation's interests. We must maintain the distincition and stop allowing multiculturalism to play into the hands of dissolving our freedoms "as a people". The Nation State still has significance and the citizen still has rights!

Frames, Forms and "Formation"

This morning's message was on 'unity" and how important unity was/is. The commendation to corforming one's opinion to the tradition of the text of scripture and the 'form of Christ", was a unified way of understanding, which is based on "tradition", instead of "agreeing to disagree" (reason). Christ and who he has been undestood to be as the Chruch (tradition) has interpreted his life (doctrine) is to be the "form". But, is this necessarily true?

The "pastor" suggested a "faith," that was mindless and not based on reason. Reason subverts faith, in this scenario, because "ideas" were viewed as "endless speculation" and "not after Christ" (text). I disagree. Will the pastor "tolerate" (live in unity) with my disagreement? Or do I have to conform to this pastor's understanding because she is after all the "leader"? I think not.

I find that unity is not about beliefs (text and tradition), as beliefs will always be formulated differently, depending on one's frames and the forms, which represent the highest value of a certain individual. Even in using "Jesus, as the Christ" as the "form" universally, is invalidated, because there are so many ways that his life has been understood. So, unity cannot be in beliefs, because otherwise, we would have to agree about things that it is impossible to agree about. We have different ways of understanding, formulating and thinking about "reality". These ways of understanding are not absolute, as they represent certain contexts of personal, and cultural "conviction".

So, what is unity about? Unity is about attitude toward another's right to exist. The other has a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Prejuidice is a pre-judging according to some "group" standardization and understanding. There is nothing wrong, in fact, it is informative in some settings to understand another groups "convictions", ideas, and opinions, as this helps the sociologist, and anthropoligist to "diagnose" how a certain culture "functions".

Functioning cultures are those that are based on an "ordered government". The differences of government depend on the ideas that "form" that government. Government is about equality and law. Therefore, government should be a way to protect individual rights under law. Other forms of government are based on absolute power, domination, and even anarchy.

Therefore, unity has to allow diversity, otherwise, unity commends conformity, which is domination of another's view and how they have come to understand and formulate their reality. And domination is not "good government'.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

14 th Ammendment

The Fourteenth Amendment states that slaves have equal access to due process. This ammendment protects everyone from tyrannical government which would steal from the individual his liberty, life or property. There must be a hearing.

Slaves are equal under law. And now we have a president whose ancesters "could" have been slaves. Only in America.

We are so fortunate that we do not have to fear a seizure of our property (unless one is thinking of taxes!). We are a people that is protect through the rights and freedoms that this country provides. Thanks be to our Founders and their wisdom.

Life or Liberty?

Happy July 4th!

Today is the celebration of our Independence! And the meaning of this day is significant to the world, as it is and was an "American experiment' in diversity of every kind. Governments are instituted by men to maintain order in society. Our order is one that is moral as it values all expressions of life, and guranteew equality under law, this is what liberty is about.

Conservative Christian's that have a fundamental bent believe in the 'pro-life" movement. Their ultimate value is life, as it is believed to be given by God. God's sovereignty is understood in these circles to mean whatever happens is "God's will", as their understanding and commitment to liberty is limited.

These Christians believe that choice is not to be valued as to one's life, because life is pre-destined or pre-determined by sovereign right of God within "providence" or sovereign rule of scripture. These Christians do not understand that our country's ultimate value is based on liberty, not life.

Is life of value without choice or liberty? I believe not for liberty means justice, as to conscience about the details of one's life. But, while I believe that civil liberties are important, so is upholding moral order, which is based on "law".

Law is what is legislated and agreed upon to maintain order and a civil society. Therefore, there are many lives that are of value that the conservative would dismiss "in the name of God". I believe that this dismissal itself is abhorrent, as we should be intolerant of the intolerant. So, while we may disagree with how one chooses to live their life and the values they uphold, we must in a free society allow them their "freedom of conscience".

Freedom of conscience affirms the religious just as much as it affirms the "infidel". Therefore, we must not dismiss the other without acknowledging that we undermine the very values that our Founder's had, diversity.

Does this mean that someone has to tolerate or live within a group identity that is not conducive toward their convictions? No. Our country is large enough to embrace all forms of understanding. We just cannot tolerate the intolerant, when it comes to the values of life and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Patrick Henry said, "Give me liberty, or give me death"! I think he is right, because otherwise we live, yes,
but under tyranny!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Liberty and Marriage and Parenting

Marriage is a social structure and a social contract. Social structures have functions in society, but are not necessarily to be understood as static, as any healthy relationship grows with the people involved. Social contract is the communicated and agreed upon expectations about the marrage.

I find that those who adhere to a traditional conservative view of marriage, sometimes do not allow freedom to the individuals to formulate their own roles within the marriage, as they are defined in static form by the text of scripture. These make no allowance for individual conscience or identity apart from the marriage unit. In psychological terms, identities become "enmeshed", or "enabling" or "authoriatarian" and "overbearing", instead of functioning in a healthy dynamic way.

Communication is key to the continued intimacy in a changing relationship, as otherwise, there will be no ongoing understanding. Some think that there is no need to communicate, as their expectations of their marital partner is already understood, because of the "role" the other is to perform. Performance of any function is a de-humanizing way to "be" in a relationship. The standardization of marriage leads to a suppression of individual differences in talents as well as conscience.

I have used Jenny Sandford as an example of a healthy individual. She has not defined herself by her role, but understands that her person is not defined as Gov. Sandford's wife, but as a separate identity with a separate career. She also gives her husband room to choose what he will be and what he will do. This is why she can say she will forgive him, but reconcilliation is dependent on him, not just on her part. He must respect her, as well as co-operate in the relationship as an "equal partner". This is common sense, but some Christian marital counselors would condone an unhealthy union, as long as there is no physical abuse.

I think that whenever there are certain prescribed expectations that become formalized, then there will definately be an unhealthy relationship, as relationship is not about the "formula" but about the individuals involved. Their distinct uniqueness as individuals is impossible to define within a " roles or functions" understanding or mentality.

Expectations that are defined universally and not specifically, are a hinderance to the relationship. There is no form for marriage, in regards to roles and functions, just as there are no "formulas" that define what universal parenting should look like, except that the parent is interested in the best for the child.

Good parenting takes wisdom and makes room for the child's individual differences. Bad parenting does not allow the child to develop properly as it is overbearing, indifferent, or hovering. These bad parenting models are more about the parent's needs, than the child's. So, it takes a mature adult to raise a child and to be a good parent.

And it takes a mature person to be in an intimate relationship that is healthy and growing. Fortunately, our country allows diverse views and opinions. This is healthy for the individual, as well as the social structures.

Identity, Liberty, and Multiculturalism/Postmodernity

Many in the academic world have made much of the "talk" of postmodernity, or multiculturalism. This view affirms what defines "context", "groups of identity", and the values that these adhere to in behavioral standards. While I agree that all groups have to be defined, and that identification factors are not invalid, is there something that is "more" important and on what basis does one determine what is most important?

Yesterday, I wrote about how I was struck by Jenny Sandford. She had defined herself apart from these group identifiers, at least in her principles. She was able to evaluate a situation that was very personal from an objective viewpoint. She has her boundaries, although she respected others their right and understood that right in giving a "negative response" to the press.

Last night I listened to one of the contributors on a blog site I follow, American Creation. His name is Jonathan Rowe. He is libertarian in political commitment, but the others on this blog site range in their political commitment from fundamentalist evangelical, Mormonism, to agnostic. These political commitment are direct corrolaries to their individual understandings of the Founder's intent in regards to American principles.

Jonathan said that the Establishment Clause has not been definitively defined by the Supreme Court. The Establishment Clause has to do with religious freedom and the State and whether our country is a "Christian nation" or not. The Founders personally had various religious convictions, or commitments. This is why I believe they were libertarian in their understanding of religious traiditions.

While religious freedom defines our founding and protected the individual's conscience within a group identity, I am concerned about these very freedoms being undermined when it comes to certain ideals, as it concerns the Enlightenment. These ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are universal. But, is the universal personal, or is the universal communal?

I believe that the universal is personal within a communal/universal context. Therefore, individual/civil liberties trump communal/religious rights. This view protects or upholds human rights. And I believe that those who value women should adhere to this view. Traditions do not value women, for the most part.

Does the State protect religious conviction when human rights to education, medical care, and dignity are de-meaned, ignored, suppressed or subverted? And yet, where will religious freedom be, if there is not freedom from State intervention? Civil liberties protect both human rights and religious freedom. Freedom of conscience as it regards these issues is the most important value, in my opinion.

So, today's discussion is over the individual/personal, group identification/ multiculturalism, postmodernity/ modernity, dichotomies. Where do you think the lines should be when it comes to religious freedom, individual conscience, multiculturalism, immigration policy, assimilation, etc. All of these issues are at stake in our free society. We must address them to remain free.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

"Self", Jenny Sanford and Christian Faith

I read an editorial about Jenny Sanford this morning and in light of a friend's e-mail today, I think that this is worth a blog entry.

The editorial was about how Jenny Sandford was handling the media and her husband's infidelity. She is being upheld by this editorialist as an "shining example" to others. I agree.

Instead of "standing by her man", like Christian conservatives (and other politician's wives) would affirm, she was not present at her husband's "confession". It is, after all, totally his responsibility and his choice. She is allowing him that freedom, although she had asked him to leave the house two weeks prior to his latest escapade. That is courageous. When the press intruded upon her family at an opportune moment, she respected their right of coverage, but also demanded her right to privacy, by telling the press that there was no room in the boat for them. She is no victim, nor is she victimized by his choices, nor is she to be humiliated in the press by expose'. She has a distinctly different concept of "self" than most conservative Christians and our voyeristic culture. She has dignity and self-respect.

Christians deem it necessary to be responsible for others. This is what is called the "social gospel". We must "walk the second mile", bear the burden of others, and fulfill the "law of Christ". I guess Jenny has considered her "walk" with Gov. Sandford and her commitment of these years of marriage as enough to "prove" her character. She is not trying to "prove" anything about herself; how compassionate, and how forgiving, etc. This is unlike what is "preached" in Christian circles.

I admire what she has accomplished. She is a investment banker. I think a Vice President. She is a strong, capable and independent woman. We need more of them, but we won't get them if conservative Christians have anything to say about it.

Do Values Determine One's Paradigmic Understanding?

I have been thinking a lot about our American Government and the values it upholds. This is probably timely, as July 4th is just aroung the corner. We, Americans, "hold these truth to be evident, that all men are created equal with certain unalienable rights".This implies that each person's understanding and values are to be commended, as a "right". But, what determines their "understanding"? Education and culture.

Culture is a frame of reference, which determines the most important values of a person. In our free society, the individual is "free" to determine his own life. It is called "self-government". Our Constitution limits our government from overt determination or covert suppression, in a number of areas; privacy, religion, freedom of expression (speech, press, assembly). Individuality marks the American experiment.

But, Americans determine their own values in various ways. Some Americans adhere to an exclusive religious claim and gain and maintain their identity through the group's approved norms. Others Americans gain their values from their specified "cultural location". These values all influence the individual's own values and determine how he views the world and life, in general.

Education in our American society has been public, private, and religiously based. Each has its own constituencies. And each has its emphasis. While private and religiously based education has been privately funded, public education has not. We believe in the right of everyone to have an education. There is no "elite class" or "tracking system" as in European countries. A lack of "tracking or limiting" education to those who are "fit" for it has its downsides, as well as its opportunities. But, Americans believe in equality of each individual to choose his place of education.

Education has been valued for its ability to prepare others for a vocation/job, as Americans are pragmatists. Pragmatism has had its impact on American opportunity, irregardless of 'fit". In Europe, education is deemed to be a service to society. Those who have higher IQ's are deemed "fit" to fulfill a certain role or function in society. These are the ones who are tracked to attend the "gymnasium" high school and later to attend the publically funded universities.

Professors are considered highly in European society, whereas, educators are not valued, on the whole in American society. Americans like their entertainment, after working their jobs to earn their living. They don't seem to care to think about "values" or if "values" are important to address as to change. Americans are open, generous, and self-focused, for the most part, because they are naive'.

Perhaps, because America is so large and many do not travel extensively and even when we do, we don't go out of our country to understand the 'wider world". Cultural differences don't exist because we are a diverse country and "anything goes", while Europeans can be in another country and hear another language and experience another culture in a matter of a few hours drive. Most Europeans are exposed to differences, in a different way, than Americans are.

So, when Americans talk of values, then we are a people who define ourselves, by the multiplicity of opportunities, and "cultures" we can be a part of. American identity is as diverse as the American population. And the individual's values are developed within a diverse, open and free society that should value critical thinking more than it does.

Bad Attitudes, Good Attitudes in the Media and Healthcare

I have to admit that I haven't been engaged with the discussion on healthcare, as I am not open to government taking over that part of my life, no matter what their "greater good" arguments are. I recognize that my husband's employer, as well as many other employer's are probably most interested in this discussion, as many foot much of the bill. But, I have listened to some of the discussion. What stikes me is the press!

We need a Free Press to remain a Free Society. Without a free press, we are headed for an authoritarianism that will subvert any choice that the individual may want. The taking over of our liberties is done incrementally and without much notice, unless one is aware. The press is aware of what is happening, if they will 'take a step back for ideological commitments and do their job responsibly. The government is held accountable by the press and is the greatest assest, if sometimes the only way "we, the people" are informed! I love to see a "critical press". But, most of the time the press holds a double standard when it comes to Republican and Democratic leaders.

I caught a glimpse of change when one of the press's most prestigous and well-known asked a question of Obama's press secretary. He tried to delay answering the question until the end of the press conference. Why? Was it because he hoped that the question would not be televised, or that he had time to "think" about how to finagle out of directly answering the question? Was the question so direct and critical that he was "taken aback"?

Whatever the reason of his request for delay, he was held accountable to the press! In fact, the press insisted that the question be answered, then and there. And it was suggested that the press was being controlled! I was very elated to see such courage, such critical thinking, such responsibility toward the American people and one's job!

Was this a bad and disrespectful attitude toward those in authority? Or was this a Good Attitude because the press was not being held hostage to the adminstration's desires about healthcare?

Is this adminstration having an open dialogue with the American people about the real problems, and allowing the population to engage, be informed and educated, as well, as being honest about the pros and cons of both sides of the issue? I don't think so.

I "ran upon" a town hall meeting when flipping through the channels last night, while babysitting. The moderator asserted that Obama had not been informed beforehand about any question that was forthcoming. He was answering honestly and directly. The first question was about why America wouldn't want a one payer insurance policy, meaning that the government underwrites all of everyone's healthcare. Obama did not answer with pros and cons, but only with the pros concerning government take-over of everyone's healthcare.It seemed to me that it was a 'prepared answer' to a specifically focused question. Obama didn't show any critical thinking skills at all.

Then, a woman stood up and said she hoped she could ask a question without crying...she gave her "story" and the public was moved, Obama gave her a hug and reassurance that "government would be there"! I was not moved and was incredulous at a Town Hall meeting of our president, the most powerful of the free world, having an"Oprah-like" "feel". I turned off the TV. I couldn't bear how manipulative the whole scene seemed.

I am not negating this woman's real crisis, if it is real. But, I am negating what seems to be a "play for reality TV" when it comes to our policy decisions. All it takes for authoritariansm to take hold of our government is for there to be no accountability. The "consent of the governed" is being taken incrementally, subtly, and without any critical thinking on the part of the American people!

Did the press have a "bad attitude" toward the press secretary by "not being nice" in his request of denying an anwer to a direct question? or was the press really in "good behavior" according to their responsibility toward the American people? I think it is obvious!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

What I Find Interesting in Language

As I have been intereacting on different blog sites, it occurs to me that each subject or discipline has its own language, which different "communities" or "peoples" use, understand and value.

I think that for one to be a good social constructionist, all languages must be used. For without the different languages, and ability to translate into other languages amongst the disciplines, then the disciplines cannot colaborate about the "whole" truth of a certain subject.

Since the human being or person is the unifying factor amongst all subjects, then one must ascertain what defines the human person.

Social scientists inform us that we are products of our environment. These are determining factors, while the more recent intersection of the neurosciences suggest that the human is determined by his DNA. Which is true? Both.

Religion and anthropoligists say that the human is bound by his particular context and understanding in his cultural framework. While this is true it undermines what moral philosophers and moral development has found to be true.

Moral philosophers and moral developmental has shown that the human person is a free agent. A free agent is determined by his free choice in a free society. But, what defines morality in a free society? This is where moral philosophy that was wrought in America's founding is useful.

I find that all of these subjects are profoundly interesting. And this is why I am wanting to learn the languages.