Monday, August 31, 2009

Abortion, Pro-Choice, or Anti-Life

Abortion divides our country down the middle between the conservative and the liberal, or so it seems.

I was glad to hear on the radio today that someone understood that one can value the right of choice, without affirming an "outcome" (abortion).

Abortion is the actual procedure that dissolves the possibility that the woman will have the child. A "D&C" is a medical procedure that "cleans out the uterus" and is used for various medical conditions. It helps the woman to stop bleeding, and is used for other diseases of the uterus.

Pro-choice is the right to choose to abort. This right is the individual right to decide for themselves whether they want or will to have the probability of a child.

Anti-Life is an attitude toward life that denies life, not just its physical existance, but its quality. Life should be about more than quantity.

The conservative views life as given by God. Some believe that God actually "causes" the life to come into being, as a product of his intervention in history and they use Psalm 139 as "proof" of God's view. These believe that God directly directs a "special creation", in the human child. God is a personal God.

Others take a more moderate view of life as a gift, whether directly "caused" or not. These believe that life, even as an evolutionary "product", is the result of a Creative Being. These can be Diests, Intelligent Designers, Theistic evolutionists or agnostics (leaning toward statistical probability).

And still, other believe that life is the product of chance, a mere product of physicality. These people believe that life is valued not because of any innate nature, or divine gifting, but only as the quality and function of life, as human life is no more than any other "life form".

Why is this debate important? I believe it is important not because of one's view of God's intervention in history or how life got here, but how we view human life as "different" from other life forms and the responsibility of government in respecting that difference. It has a lot to do with how the government will decide medical decisions, if our healthcare becomes "universalized".

Even, if our healthcare is not universalized, we must face the fact that we must come to understand some kind of ethical standard and value for human life, so that human life will be protected and valued. These are pivotal decisions that probably will impact us in one way or another through family members, friends, or neighbors.

I believe that the radio talk host was correct in describing a moral imperative to "life", which is choice. Choice must be valued and affirmed in every way possible to maintain a free society and to affirm the value of a "higher life form". Choice is the only difference between human life and any other form of life. We should not be intruding into other's lives and evaluating their decisions. These are personal issues of faith, personal responsiblity and conviction.

Pro-choice does not have to be "anti-life", for if one does not have the freedom to choose, then is life of value? If a life is only carrying out another's "will", whether political (Hitler) or religious (Taliban), then is a particular life "owned"or valued by its owner, as well as the larger society? Self responsiblity for one's choices, is the first freedom that a free society should guarantee its citizens.

And because life is valued for its quality and not its quantity, Americans "fight" for freedom.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

What Kndergarten Can't Teach

Yesterday's post was one of reflecting on the "world's problems, and the foundations of society. I admit that "rights" undermine the foundations of family, community and Church ( or any other organized structure). But, the question is not one of foundation but ultimate principle. What are the foundational principles that lead a free society? What are ultimate values that must be allowed if society is to remain free? These are questions Kindergarten can't teach you.

'Rights' do undermine "groups", because they are by definition individually identified in free societies. Without upholding civil liberties, then we are doomed to fulfill another's value system, which just might include slavery, patronage, or any other "out-dated" or discrimanatory system.

Perhaps, some would adhere to these systems as they help to create an ordered organizational structuring and functioning. But, at what costs? The "outcome" in business venures, is indeed profit. So, how does one do business and maintain a healthy stance toward those whose "place", "function" or "role" is necessary in producing that "profit"? Does one reward those who produce 'profit margins" and is there a "moral" standard to gauge the dollar value to an individual in a specific company? Will the workers be rewarded, as well as the CEO? At what costs do companies make their profit in human capital. Or should humans "be" capital? Justice should be the "by-word" when it comes to company assests. Reward should be based on risks, investments, time, training, and service.

America has become great because of private enterprise, creative innovation, and corporate co-operation. Individuals associate with what advances their interests, as well as the company's. Motivation does not have to be driven by an outside force, but by the passion of those committed to the vision of the company.

Other countries where companies are "used" or owned by the government do not have widespread economic prosperity, because government brings a cumbersome administration that inhibits "fine-tuning" in the specifics of a company . And it makes much room for unaccountable abuses of government "power" and wasted resources. Those who hold the reigns of control are the ones that are profited most, and when government advances its own interests, instead of the people's interest, incentive suffers and corruption abounds.

Kindergarten can't teach you what is of personal value or what one must commit to. The "shoulds" are not personal commitments of value, but are social guidelines for maintaining ethical business practices or social order under a limited government. This is what the law is and does. The law never should tell us the details of our personal lives.

Friday, August 28, 2009

What Kindergarten Didn't Teach...

Kindergarten does teach the basic principles of respect and proper behavior, where it concerns my "rights" and another's, but it does not teach that even when one does what is appropriate, others may not behave appropriately. Welcome to the real world, where kindergartners "grow up" and recognize that the world is not a safe, secure, and predictable place. The world cannot be kissed and it will all "go away". No, the problems are much deeper than that.

Our society has given "rights" to minorities of every stripe; race, religion, ethnicity, class and gender. But, in giving our full approval of "rights", we have come to devalue some of the basic foundations of our society; the family, the community, and the church (as America's "tradition"). These were the foundations upon which any society is built. The foundations of our identity is grounded in these important 'communities".

The family is the child's first encounter with "life". In the family, he learns about trust, a basic necessity for any healthy personality. The child learns about the values the particular family holds and he internalizes parental "messages".

The community where one works and lives is another foundational association that has made an impact upon the maturing individual and maintains a sense of support for the adult. The community is where one comes to understand cultural values and political power.

The Church is the foundation of how one understands himself in the larger world, God's world. This world is not confined by the former, but is understood within a "frame". The "frame" is not absolute, but is valued for its function in bringing a bearing upon questions about life.

In America, the family is falling apart, and the Church seems to have no means of addressing the problem, as Christians are getting divorces at the same rate as those who are not affliated with Church.

The community is struggling with the outcomes of failed marriages, and damaged identity. The schools and teachers attempt to maintain a sense of "order" that used to be expected. Now, children and teens are rudderless. They have no guidance at home and little concern from other significant others. Communities throughout America struggle to address the budget crisis that is due to over-stretched budgets at home. The stress pours over the lines of "common decency" and sometimes end in an angry defiance in criminal behavior. Others respond to their crisis in addictive behaviors that undermine individual potential.

The Church does not know how to address social problems, as the standard line for conservatives is to "maintain the standard" (of biblical behavior). So lives go untouched because no one wants to admit their humanity. Fear drives the hypocrisy that maintains the religious facade, until it cannot be denied anymore. The real struggles of real human beings boils to the surface and somehow breaks free from the "standard" of scripture and cries out to be heard. And the Church is dumbfounded!

There is nothing new under the sun and the Church is a social organization, that can be so unhealthy and dysfunctional. Honesty is not forthcoming as one must maintain an image. The image that is imagined to make one "set apart" from others. There is a self-righteousnessness that smacks of pride and superiority in these camps. Not many want to affliate for too long with these, unless there is such a deep need to be accepted that the obvious abuses of relationship is overlooked.

Our nation is facing real crisis of gigantic proportions; economic, moral, social, and national. We cannot be duped to dicker over the finer points of lesser identities.

America must address her domestic problems. But, also She must address the problems she faces abroad. What do we do about Iran, N.Korea, Afghanastan, etc?

At a time of such crisis, we must not undermine our national securities, investigating the CIA. Where are the promises that we would let bygones, be bygones. Is it that distraction and blame on another adminstration is the "point"?

Our men in service are in dangerous territory and they do us 'service" because they believe in American freedoms and want to see these freedoms defended abroad. Are we to betray them by undermining a "force" for their protection?

I am concerned that power given to Obama to shut down the Internet, will be used subversively, in undermining one of the main protections of a "free society"....The Press! We cannot allow those in power to be unaccountable to the American people. The media must inform us, this is their duty, as well as their job. Their duty is to honor our Bill of Rights. We will not remain a free society without a free press. All dictators begin with propaganda, control of information. This would be tragic.

So, no one learns everything they need to know in Kindergarten. That it, if they want to live in the "real world"!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Kindergarten Teaches You All You Need to Know...

I heard a good way to distinguish a liberal and a conservative today on the radio.

A conservative is one who believes in the Constitution and believes that the Bill of Rights limits government from intruding upon individual liberty. The Bill of Rights is descriptive.

The liberal, on the other hand, believes that although the Constitution limits government's intrusion upon individuals, it does not explain what the role of government should be. The "should" is the key. "Should" is a judgment of value, a moral imperative. And the judgment is prescriptive.

Should there be an "ought" or a "should"? And by what measure do we assess the prescription? If someone legislates that we all are to work 3/4ths of the year to provide for government's "necessities", then is this what the "should" should be? Or has government over-reached its bounds? Is the private sector to be responsible for the "moral"? If so, then how is this postulated? By non-profits? Are Americans still "rightful owners" of private property, or does government intrude upon that "right"?

Morals are taught in kindergarten. There, children learn to share, not take another's toy and to respect others. Government should not be teaching 'kindergarten", but unfortunately, parents and teachers are not teaching what they "should" and it ends up being a matter for government to "take care of" in addressing criminal behavior. Then, we all pay for what others have not taken care of.

Society will not be able to function if parents and teachers are not able to help undergird and undertake "training" children to understand that it is not right to take another's toy, or that it is inappropriate to talk while the teacher is talking. Respect is a necessary value for one to learn in kindergarten.

Conservatives believe in individual liberties, but these liberties are not absolute, when it comes to required behavior. Society demands attention to other's rights, as well as one's own. The required behavior are written in the laws that define our society. But, conservatives limit the other's rights, when it intrudes upon their own. This is responsible behavior and it demands responsible and respectful behavior from others.

The liberal must love when others intrude upon their rights, because it means that they are "needed" and that they have a "function" in society. The liberal needs to be needed. He is the eternal co-dependent. The liberal views the conservative as selfish and narcisstic, as he believes that the "moral imperative" is an "absolute". And the liberal's moral absolute intrudes upon the conservative's liberty bias.

The conservative is not necessarily driven by "evil" in protecting his values of liberty and conscience. The conservative just values his own independence too much to allow government to "tell" him in a prescriptive way "who, what, when and how".

(Perhaps, I have over-stated the liberal's position, as I consider myself a conservative. But, it seems to me an injustice and a moral failure to "demand responsibility from one side and allow irresponsibility on the other. That is my take, at least.)

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Atom Bomb, Human Rights and Nation States

My husband had a conference in New Mexico this past week and "invited" me to go with him. I had never been to New Mexico, except for an overnight stay with our children on our across country trip many years ago.

As this was the week-end after our anniversary, my husband decided to give me the opportunity to experience this Southwestern State and celebrate our anniversary. It was a memorable experience, not just for "our celebration", but in what I learned.

On Saturday, after the conference was over, we drove through the mountains and attended an Indian art exhibition in Sante Fe. My husband wanted to continue up the mountains to Los Alamos and see where many physicists worked on the nuclear bomb during WWII.

I was not aware that there was a musuem in commemeration of these scientists, their work and the ongoing work of other scientists today. I had just gone through another musuem on the Holocost in downtown Albuquerque the previous week. The musuem was really about prejuidice and illustrated what inhumanity "looks like". These were human tragedies that scar the face of the world. And it gave me a "humanitarian context" to evaluate what I was viewing in our nation's history.

During this visit, I also had an opportunity to talk with a German, who was raised during WWII in Germany. He talked about how his uncles struggled with their resistance, and were unable to express their view of dissent. There was no freedom of expression, as they were to serve the Furher. I cringed to think how they must have struggled to maintain their dignity.

In the context of this visit, the "atom bomb" became a necessary evil . There was no other way, with the advancement of Hitler's army and his insane dependence on narcotics. He was not going to be stopped without some sort of force. His alliance with Russia and Italy made the war a world wide concern for "freedom" and "difference" itself.

Unfortunately, innocent lives were lost, but how many more would have been lost, if the Allied Forces had looked the other way and had not sought justice? Time had already been lost when America entered the war and with it, many countries had been conquered.

These scientists and their families were kept in isolation and worked frantically to discover nuclear power before Hilter did and used it to profit his own "selfish ambition". These scientists were awe struck at the results and some questioned what they had done.

What else could they have done or could we do?

We will continue to make the same mistakes, if we do not learn from the past. The question is what should we learn from the past? Are we to learn that people do not change? That people will assume power and subvert decency if justice, is not maintained?

Or should we learn that Hiroshima should never happen again? That humans should be "kind" to one another and understand difference? While these are "noble values", they cannot be the policy driving nations. Nations are to uphold justice for the law-abiding. Those who do not adhere to the 'rule of law' as it pertains to internatonal law, treaties between countries, are to be considered an "enemy". Enemies cannot be tolerated, when they undermine everyone's security. Of course, we do not want another nuclear explosion, and this is why we have tried to verify what countries have and how they plan to use it.

We cannot be naive. History has been replete with examples that without a "just government", where the "rule of law" upholds human rights, then we will see another Holocost, or worse. But, human rights cannot undermine national security, either.

America and the rest of the free world cannot be blind and short-sighted. We fight against those who do not allow liberty of conscience and do not value the freedom of the individual.

Do You Hear?

Hearing takes time. The time to listen and weigh. Judgment is made according to how one assesses the "need". And needs are various and many.

What should be the ultimate concern and value of America? Some think that America should boil down their distinctiveness to "commonality". I think not.

Our distinction is what has made us 'great'. America's distinction is our freedom of conscience. And freedom of conscience has nothing to do with "common concern".

"Common concern" has to do with forming what is to be addressed. But, before anyone can address "common concern", there must be an awareness of what all the "concerns" are.

It seems to me that the political climate has not allowed "free exchange" of "concerns". Our leaders have not heard our voices, as we and they have assumed that our "concern" has no value.

I am heartened that many have made their voices known in the town hall meetings over the issue of healthcare. The anger is evidence that people are "concerned" and are aware of how their leaders are not hearing them.

Americans are concerned for their way of life and their country's very existence, as a distinct nation. But, leaders are only concerned for making sure that their "position" is protected by the "images" they "present".

Where is the Real leader, who takes to heart his contituency? Public servants are to serve the "public interest", at the public's bequest.

Our nation is facing the biggest challenge to remain solvant. We should not be talking about healthcare, when we cannot take care of our own. "Concern" for our own existence must be our focus, otherwise, we will not have any means to continue to further our democratic ideals abroad. And that would be the height of tragedy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Politicizing and Politicing

I have become a skeptic that anything happens apart from politics. This brings me to the point of questionig the present political situation and policies.

Does anyone believe that we are to be responsible citizens and accountable to the laws that rule our land? Is this what being a Christian is about? Or is being a Christian about allowing others to be irresponsible?

Are we to look the other way when there is dishonesty, hyposcrisy, and abuse of power in our leaders? Are we to be honored as citizens in a representative republic by being informed of the discussions on policy and our "voices" considered in the process?

I think that the whole healthcare concern is a passionate ideological grab for power over the American people. And it is being done in a dishonest and power driven way. This is not what our country should be about.

Our economy is suffering under "social concerns". Warren Buffet has warned that we are headed to be a "banana Republic" if we do not turn back this downturn. But, the economy has been demonized as "greed", "love of money" and self-centeredness. Is this "blanket statement", really true across the board? Are Americans greedy, money hungry, self-centered individuals?

We have seen our country's economy "politicized" and our very founding principles undermined for the "common good". We were founded on individual right of conscience. The conscience of religious freedom and public interest. But, the "public interest", is not what is now called the "common good", as we were never a "socialist republic".

Healthcare is being politicized on a "moral basis" of "taking care of the poor". While we have built our nation on hard work and reward, we see our country being "called into question". While there is no doubt that Wall Street and others have mis-used our system to the detriment of all, we cannot throw the "baby out with the bath water".

I am concerned for our country's future and hope that our leaders will listen, as well as govern. We are not a people that is used to submission at the costs of "voice".

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Will, Freedom and Values

I am "just thinking" today, as I have no "scholarly wisdom" from scholars, but I am analyzing my own behavior and thinking about what drives it.

The will of man is the seat of choice, goals and determination. But, if the will is not "enlightened", it will be misguided or controlled by others or limited by oneself. The more information that is available to us at a given time or throughout our life is of value in "enlightening" ourselves against foolishness and superstition, as well as making us responsible citizens. This is one reason why Americans are to be informed of their representative's goals or commitments and their government's "process" of discussing the issues regarding legislation.

The individual's will chooses what is of ultimate value and commits to what is of most importance. No one can do this "work" for another, unless one wants to engage in "social engineering" that limits and manipulates information. Propaganda does "control", but it does not free, or "enlighten" the individual to fulfill his highest potential or help the individual to develop critical thinking skills. Critical thinking skills are important in determining goals and ultimate values and commitments.

Whenever one encounters situations, circumstances or "systems" that "attack" values that are of ultimate importance, then, one's will becomes engaged in a "battle" of sorts. The battle is for what is of ultimate concern for that individual. One cannot deny what he finds most important and will forsake other values, for his ultimate one.I have found that an ultimate value for me is liberty.

Liberty is of ultimate concern because without it, people cannot seek their own lives, but live for another's values or ultimate concerns. This is enslavement to another and it is something modern minds abhor. Freedom of choice is what we uphold in free societies because we value individuality. "Social concerns" become secondary to the individual, because the individual or the particular is the epitome of "truth". Human rights and our Bill of Rights are protective of the individual.

Some Christians would think that one's "ultimate concern" should be what is written within the text of scripture. The "ulitmate goal" is to "love God and love neighbor". But, can we love others when we deny our own values and "ultimate concerns"? Some would think that this is what love is and does. But, love does not demand of another that kind of sacrifice to "prove" love. One can only "do" and "commit" to what one "knows" to be of value. This is why becoming informed is of most importance, otherwise, one might think they are "doing good", when in actuality, they are "doing evil" by imposing their views on another.

These Christians believe that Scripture reveals what "God's will" is about "the Kingdom" and what we should desire in being "one". We, as individuals should "submit" to "corporate" identification, so that "God's Kingdom" will "come on earth. But where in the "oneness" is diversity? Something is lost without diversity. I stand on the side of diversity and individuality.

Why is "the Church" of more importance than the individual, himself/herself? "The Church" is only one means of "doing good" and is never the end, itself. Isn't the development of an individual child, student, or young adult of more importance than an institutional sturcture that "speaks for God"?

I don't think I am really any different than a "secular humanist" and some atheists, or agnostics, I have read. I believe in the individual's right of "free speech", "free thought", etc. I probably appear to be "rebellious" to the "faithful" because I resist and resent "groupism" that is found in Christian circles. And I probably don't "fit" well with those who are commited to "social responsibility", as the "liberal", because even as I am committed to individual freedom, I cannot be committed to that radical kind of liberty, if I am not committed to it for myself, as well.

So, my will resists "teams" that play without all players "on board", informed and engaged. This is the problem with the "healthcare program". And when we see people fighting for their right to be heard, we are seeing the downfall of one of our countries' greatest values, Liberty. Without liberty, there will be no justice.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

What I Am Reading...

I have been reading and am committed to finish some books within the week.

One is on "Ten Philosophical Mistakes" by Mortimer J. Adler, I have just finished. I have learned that there is a difference in intellect and sense perception. This difference distinguishes the human from the animal kingdom.

I have also learned that potentialities are what distinguishes the differences in behavior from the animal and human. And I believe that liberty is the only means of attaining and developing potential.

I also am thinking through "natural state", "the state of nature" and "social contract", and the development of "constitutional government" as the "ideal" of the real historical understanding of "context".

Another book I am beginning, " The Discovery of Freedom" (Man's Struggle Against Authority), by, Rose Wilder Lane and "A Plea for Liberty", a mixture of writers writing on the topic of liberty.

I plan on furthering my understanding and education in what has interested me.

I find the topic of liberty always pertinent to man's "identity", but especially in today's climate of maintaining a "social agenda", which politicizes the "moral", at the costs of other necessary truths. I must resolve what I believe to be the undermining of what makes the human different from the animal. And that is the diversity and uniqueness that is only granted under a "constitutional republic" ( or is it a "liberal democracy"?).

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Against Rights?

I just recently read where the politically conservative are concerned over the Bill of Rights, in our Constitution. They seem to have a distaste for the "freedoms" that are written therein.

Where it concerns civil liberties, these believe that they must hold the ropes to a 'decent" and moral base, as understood in Scripture, otherwise our country will be doomed to suffer the judgment of God.

Conservatives of this stripe understand the "world" as a world where God superintends his "design and plan" upon others, even over the uncooperative. God does not rain on the just and the unjust, but "picks the chosen" those that are cooperative to bring in "His Kingdom". And the "Kingdom" is materialized in the way of their interpretive frame.

We all interpret our realities within our frames, this is normal mental health. The problem is when those in power deem anothers frame as "mentally ill" or mentally incompetant". Then the social structure of government has determined a cultural "norm" apart from a religious one. This happens under Communist Regimes where the religious are deemed the "mentally ill". Political activists are also shunned, as communism does not take kindly to dissention.

Something similar happens in Religious Regimes where those that disagree with their ideas of "dress, behavior and belief" are considered the "infidel", the "enemy", or worse. Those who maintain an exclusivist model of reality ostericize, shun, abuse or torment those who they deem to be outside their understanding of reality.

Both types of governing have an authroitarian way of maintaining the social order. This may make for "peace", but it does not allow diveristy of opinion, academic freedom, artistic expression or many other freedoms that we have in free societies.

So, why on earth are the conservatives hoping to reform the "Bill of Rights"?

Cleaning Out the Old

We have been cleaning our house, sort of a "spring cleaning" done "late" and long needed. The twelve years of accumulation brought back many memories, fond and "not so fond".

My husband was going through our cabinets in his study and found a large box of cassette tapes. Since cassettes aren't in vogue anymore, we decided to get rid of them. But, we did save the ones that would be good for our grandchildren, such as "books on tape".

What we found were many tapes from a "church" that underwrote a "bible school" on "spritual warfare", and various aspects of one's consecration and "walk with God". I cringed to think that this was where I used to be. I really believed this stuff. And it brought back memories of how I behaved because of my staunch belief, as The Truth.

The founder of this particular "organization" used to be a missionary and so his focus was just that. His understanding was a very sectarian view of faith. There is "the world" and there is "the flesh and the devil" and never the twain shall meet. Those that attended there (and I had quite a few from my family) were indoctrinated by this type of "faith tradition".

The "dichotomy" between the "real world" and the transcendental world is very limiting, as it defines everything according to scripture. As scripture was never intended to be handled in this way, it breeds all kinds of presumptuous attitudes and actions. People become dogmatic, opinionated and hard to get along with in the "real world" unless you agree with them. Agreement means that you are on "the Lord's side", if not, then you are considered "the enemy".

My husband and I talked about whether to give these tapes to a local charity, but I didn't want to promote that type of "faith". I think it is not just limiting one's "worldview", but also limiting to the person who believes it. And I certainly don't want to be a part of limiting others to a confined understanding of a particular tradition.

It was good to throw these tapes in the garbage, as they represented my past, which though was a part of my history, does not have to confine my frames of reference in the present. I do believe that we learn and grow, as we are open and this is the primary reason why I resist fundamentalistic thinking. Fundamentalism is afraid of reason. Ane yet, fundamentalists use reason to determine their "absolute" fundamentals! How odd.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tolerance is Another Name....

A lot of "talk" today is about tolerance, mainly, I think because there is so much diversity and those that are intolerant want others to be "tolerant" to them.....This got me thinking.

Tolerance is another Name for submission to those you don't like, and/or agree with. What is wrong with this picture? Well, it depends.

Those who one doesn't like can range the gambit from how they dress to what they do. What someone does that is wrong, is not to be "tolerated". "Wrong" is trespassing. And wrong is not loving, kind, or tolerant. So, should we be tolerant of those who are terrorists amongst us?

I think that sanctions work in giving another a boundary, so that there will be no more trespassing. Trespassing in this regard is disregarding another's "person", whereas disregarding a standard of dress is trespassing against another's taste or personal opinion. One annihlates and destroys a sense of security, whereas the other offends.

Tolerance should never be granted to those who are hardened toward another's very life. Life is not up for grabs and should not be a tolerable mistake.

No, trespasses of this kind demand an accounting. This is why negoitiating with those that do not adhere to the same values of life is dangerous, because their ideology drives them beyond the bounds of reasonable dialogue.

Measuring Up or Messing Up

I have learned a lot through parenting my children. But, the one thing that I didn't realize was how my 'standards" of measurement were messages of "messing up" to my children.

I didn't intend to give them a low sense of "self", in fact, I thought "self" was the problem, as a "Christian parent". After all, I was taught that all of us were "born in sin". And sin was rebellion against God and "proper authorities". I didn't see myself as a "good parent" that "had all the answers" that would "lead others", but as a struggling parent that wanted to do "right" and "please God". I assumed that "pleasing God" meant "measuring up" and therefore, my children had to "measure up".

Inadvertly, I gave my children the message that all I wanted from them was a "performance of behavior", which in reality, I probably did. I lacked heart, because I was so "caught up" in performance myself. I wanted to see obedience and submission, which was verifiable.

I was performing my parental duties before an audience of "Christian people", who in my mind were the "ultimate authorities" of "proper parenting". I have learned there is no such thing. Parents of all stripes and colors of faith commitments and those who have none, love their children and want to do well by them. Parenting is a universal model of "listening, learning and growing along with your children".

Perhaps, it was my low self-esteem and my lack of confidence and my fear of responsibility that made me an over-anxious parent. My goal growing up was to be a "good parent". But, as most of us, I have learned how much I failed my children. I didn't listen so much as hold a standard before them, which was an oppressive means of "control".

Half-way through my parenting years, we moved and I had learned and grown, but "life happened" and I found myself "unavailable" many time and in many ways. Of course, at the time, I did not think I was unavailable, I was only trying to survive myself.

So, I gave two "whammy" messages inadvertedly to my children. Early on the message was, "Shape up" and the latter message was "Ship out".

Our youngest son is going into the military shortly and as I interact with him, I groan inside with pain. The pain of lost years, lost opportunities, and anticipation of a "lost presence" in my life. I have been fortunate to have our children around us and our youngest leaving is the first "child" to"move away" and he is 22.

Why am I thinking about all of this? Because I think that Christian is a label that can mess up people's lives. Christian "confines, conforms and confuses", what should be "human". The 'human' is universal within a context. The human is parental love in context of the individual child. No performance needed. And messes are expected to bring about learning. There is nothing especially "Christian" about that. I have learned that the message of acceptance and love is what I want to give my grandchildren. No strings attached.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Government's Intrusion Limits Choice

Government knows how to "give" at other's costs. They do it well, as they pay their contractors over and above the "local price". Such is the state of beauracratic governments that try to be "moral".

Governments cannot be "moral", as they do not have choice. People can only be moral, because they do or, at least, should have choice. Government binds choice in beaucratic "mess", so it limits the choices of individuals. Some seem to think that this "limitation of choice" is "good", because it will re-distribute wealth or "benefit the public". The "moral socialists" think it is "immoral" to make too much money! And countries that adhere to capitalism are culprits of corruption due to corporate greed.

Is it any less "immoral" to take from one to give to another? or to limit individual choice in giving or not giving? Those in powerful beauracratic systems do not seem to be "more moral" than the corporate world. But, what happens when govenment and the corporate world combine to "do good", or to "do business" for the "public good", at the costs of the taxpayer? I believe this is what we are seeing happen in our country today. Those in powerful positions are taking advantage of those who are dependent on the "power".

Americans used to be those who were independent, self-reliant and industrious, but now, it seems we have lost our "will" to be independent from government help. We depend on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Disability, Unemployment, etc. and now, we are told that we cannot do without the government's "help" in our healthcare! I think we have become indulgent and "entitled", without even realizing what we give up when we do limt our "independence".

I agree that some system shoud be in place for the disadvantaged, disabled, and those who cannot help their situations. But, our country has become too lethargic in becoming informed and understanding the issues, so that they can be "good citizens".

I hope that the healthcare "transformation", or "takeover" will be America's "wake-up" call!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The "Forever" Pursuit of Finding a Universal

People like to understand universals, because only in the universal, can all things be understood. The "universal" holds the "common thread" to understand human beings and and the "world". Universals, though, will never be found apart for specificities, because we are bound within frames of references of personal and cultural histories and we "put our worlds" together differently, depending not only on these universals of personal and cultural history, but also the individual and thier value system.

Our contextuality has been understood and accepted in postmodernity. The individual is the 'universal". But, scientists, who like to explain the "world" more thoroughly, are investigating different aspects of the individual. The individual could be viewed in physical ways, metaphysical ways and social ways. Somewhere in the midst of the physical and social is the answer. The metaphysical can only be understood thorough the understanding of the "mind", as the metaphysical is about the individual's "construct" of "mind".

Universal ideology is a dangerous way to approach individual situations and contexts, as these are not understood "out there" but "in here", by the individual and within his framing of mind. Biblical scholars all understand that it is impossible to know for certain what was in the "mind" of the Prophets, the disciples, or Paul, for instance. This is the modern paradigm of understanding context, socially, historically, and contextually. But, these understandings are limited as we do not know the whole story around the "stories" contained in the biblical text. We can only surmise and think as far as probabilities. So, to extract universals from the biblical text is dangerous and misguided.

Not only is it problematic to make the Biblical text universal, but also theology has its limitations. Any theologian also, knows that there are as many theologies as there are contexts and "themes" and ways of approaching and understanding "god". This is why some think that theology is contextually bound. But, God is not a 'universal. God cannot be a universal, because of the lack of understanding to a "universal metaphysics".

I think that the Church is seeking a way to explain without explaining away, but this is almost impossible when modernity undercuts the universal in the text and the contextual undercuts the universal in theology. The only universal left is the "human", but what makes the human, "human", or a "universal". That is the biggest question facing anyone of any faith, whether of a traditional kind or an atheistic one.