Monday, November 30, 2009

Self Interest, Altruism, and American Freedom

American freedom is provided for many "convictions" of consciences, as we believe in the "rule of law". The religious term conscience according to "Tradition", while the Scientists are seeking a way to maintain "peace" in a diverse and global world. Can altruism be "taught" or "should it be taught"?

I believe that tradition can be formative, but does not have to be. Conscience dwells in man as an innate nature. It is only when there has been a conditioning that has diminished or humiliated another where conscience can be deadened. A deadened conscience can be a reactive response to a lack of acknowledgement. Humans want to be affirmed, as they are social beings, and not just physical beings.

Nazism arose as a reaction to the humiliation of the German nation, after WWI. according to some historians. Hitler's rise to power was the "need" of the German population to have a sense of identity and pride in thier nation. Nationalism was borne on the heels of revenge.

I believe because we are self=identifying individuals, that we must become aware of what our identifiers are and seek negotiation with those that have different identifiying factors. This is in the interest of both parties. I do not believe that self interest is wrong or bad, it just is, and it should be, because without a "self" there is no way of protecting against another taking advantage of the other.

So, recognizing our self=interest, being honest about our values and commitments, and then proceeding to make negotiations when it regards one's public life, is the epitome of freedom.

Altruism, on the other hand, is a scientific undertaking, these days. Scientists want to provide peace and are seeking to understand and/or train people into altruistic goals or purposes. To do this, many think that religion is useful. People that identify with religion usually have poor self development or self esteem or they have been taught that it is selfish to seek self interest. These are pawns in the hands of the unscrupulous. This is when America's laws should provide protection from such"preying hands".

If anyone tells you that they are seeking to "turn your eyes outward", instead of "inward" (as Luther termed "sin"), then run and take an interest in yourself. Otherwise, you will become someone else's training ground.....

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A "Christian" Vision and the Pioneer's Goal

Christians have agendas that they think will "save the world". Scientific materialists also have agendas that will "save the planet". Both think that their way of understanding humanity, the world and what is "right" is the most important and valuable, otherwise, "the world will go to hell in a handbasket". These are radicals that tend to think they must convert everyone in sight to their way of thinking.

While Christians have traditionally understood their truth as supernaturally revealed, the scientists know that thier truth is based on the facts of 'realtiy". Both suggest that the transcendent or the immanant is where truth is "real", bringing us to the culture wars of today in America.

America was founded because of the disrespect of the British government in demanding a tax on those who were revolting against the Church of England. These had sought a country where they could worship God freely without 'state regulations' that they found repugnant because of the King's divorce and dissassociation from Catholicism.

Others had sought out the country for the adventure of developing a distant land and making it their own. Their was a more material goal.

The Founders had a "whale" of a problem in forming a "more perfect union" without alerting the overly scrupulous in inhibiting the way they wanted to worship God, while allowing free enterprise to become a reality in the "new world". Very different goals and purposes formed our union.

Today, Americans fight over which was "right". Which truth in history formed the Founders thoughts in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Both did.

We are a nation that is formed by man's desire to flourish in developing the land and material goods that this country provided. The Dutch made use of New York and called it "New Amsterdam". There is absolutely nothing wrong with economic prosperity, it is our country's heritage. And the free market has benefitted our society with prosperity beyond measure.

The Christian "ideal" is a "morally grounded" govenment, which they found in the Constitution that defended their right of free expression or worship. Today, though, it has gotten into areas that have not been defined by science, so much as the right to liberty. Liberty threatens the religiously conscientious, as they fear dishonoring God, or offending the Holy Spirit. These tend to want to defend "God's honor" by legislating their conscience. This was never the Founder's intent, I believe.

The First Ammendment was formed to protect religious institutions from interference of government. America did not want to form another 'state church". The provision in our Constitution of the Separation of Church and State was to formalize this conviction. But, where the early believers in America found solace in this freedom which was their ultimate value, today's church has gotten wind of the 'free enterprise' adventure to form corporations. The mixture of these values (religious freedom and the free enterprise) must still be affirmed under liberty of conscience.

Our country must defend the rights of a liberal democracy and uphold the standards of a Representative Republic, so that both the educated, uneducated, the religious and irreligious can be unified in a diverse climate, which the Founders "saw" and formed under the "rule of law".

Saturday, November 28, 2009

When Someong Thinks They "Know Your Name"

Names are important, as they give us a way to hear and understand when another is addressing you. Marketing and leadership "ideals" always emphasize knowing someone's name to "make the sell". So, names are important. But, I am not talking about a name of adressing someone casually, but knowing someone. That is the issue of "knowing someone's name".

The height of arrogance and disregard for another individual is when one assumes or presumes upon another, without the relationship. The relationship is an ongoing understanding of what another is facing and what another's life values and purposes are. These are always changing, as we grow and encounter different "contingencies" in our lives. This happens a lot with parents as they learn to "grow with their children". Children are not "written in stone", but are growing individuals.

I have found that I didn't really know my children deeply, as they were only persons to be "controlled" so that their "outcome" would be something that I had in mind. I hurt for me and them, because this is not the way of making a relationship "work".

But, since they have grown, I have come to understand them better, but it doesn't help the ache I have inside because I had an "agenda' of making them "obedient". Otherwise, they could not get along in life. What I really did was hinder their self-confidence and undermine their efforts at "finding themselves". I have repented and they are now growing and flourishing adults.

There is something about 'agendas" or goals that gets in the way of relationships. These agendas or goals are defined by everyone co-operating and "being in their rightful place". This is proper understanding of organizational structuring. But, an understanding of leadership also affirms the value of the individual on the team. No one should feel they are part of an agenda, or "purpose", even if it is formulated in "God's will".

In fact, using "God" in this way, I think is 'taking God's name in vain", because if man is created in God's image, then we will respect the right of another to have differences of opinion, values, and convictions. There is no "one size fits all" in this 'image".

Social contruction or social engineering defines the outcome all too strictly. This is an undemocratic way of functioning in society. And it breeds all kinds of discord, from economic to familial relationships, as I have shared.

"Knowing someone's name" is personal, because humans are personal beings. Though we have many things in common with the animal kingdom, we are more than the animal and treating another as an animal only heightens their resistance. Unfortunately, those who view humans as animals, will define resistance as "animal behavior" that must be controlled. This is when revolutions occur, as there is no other option for freedom of individual conscience and personhood.

Humans need to be respected and valued in thier own right, and this is the value of our form of government, where individual voices can be heard. Leaders in our government are "Representative", because liberty is of ultimate value and concern in "moral structuring". And whenever the "moral structuring" hinders the ethical ideal, our government allows grievances to be heard in our courts.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Discrimination of Cinderella

A few months ago, I wrote about Cinderella. Cinderella's story is a classic story of discrimination.

Cinderella not only had natural right but a civil right to be a part of her step-family, but was excluded and given the common duties of a maid.

When the time came for the King's ball, she felt sure that this time would include her as an equal. And her expectation and hope and work to ready herself was met with disapproval by her step-sisters and step-mother. Her legal family had not given her legal rights!

Fortunately, for Americans, we are granted rights under law, that protect us from discrimination. Those that seek to upsurp another's right to be an equal are doomed to be convicted of discrimination. Cinderella had no civil rights, so she had to resort to depending on a "fairy godmother". Hers was an unfortunate state of affairs.

But, as Disney's fairy tales all end with 'happily ever afters", Cinderella ends us gaining not just her legal and moral rights, but also the whole kingdom. She becomes the Prince's bride and all ends justly.

This is similar to what Christians believe. They believe that the supernatural will intervene to make things right or just. And if not in this life, then justice will be measured out in the after-life. This is not rational. And our Founders knew that without civil liberties, then one would be doomed to live their life in servitude, as they had under Britian with the "tea tax".

Civil rights were to protect natural rights because government should not 'take life" in any way, shape or form. We are a People, because of our consent to be governed in liberty under civil law.

Discrimination About Discrimination

Civil rights has a turbulant history in American culture. And we are still "fighting for civil rights". But, has civil rights outweighed the value of society's value of "the common good" because of its overemphasis?

Minority rights "won the day" when minoritiesad the right to be represented through "quotas". Quotas brings hand-wringing to some camps that discriminate by "nature". That is, they discriminate to define themselves apart from the larger context of society. Such is the case with a conservative school and homosexual teachers.

Minority rights has been accepted as a "standard" of fairness. And minority rights are protected by civil liberties. But, are civil liberties just as keen on protecting a "creationist educator"? I believe so. But, the cultural climate is not conducive, these days, for diversity, as just as in quotas, there is a conscious effort to value the "politically correct".

I think that our society has really baffled others, as we have no culture that supports a generalized view of life, as we believe in individual liberties and cultural diversity. This is all welll and good, until the culture becomes so diverse that there is no consensus of any kind to appeal to rationality. This is what America faces in its "culture wars".

Is everyone going to get represented equally? Or will those who have 'politically incorrect" views going to be discriminated against, because the power of the government has the force to "keep them in line"? Is government "protecting us" from information "for our own good"?

Conservative churches are afriad that they will have to pledge allegience to the "cultural ideal" of diversity, at the expense of dissolving the values of the churches populace. Atheists are "drooling at the mouth" over such unfortunate situations, as they might want to make a case against religious freedom on the basis of "discrimination". Our Founders would be appalled!

Each religious group has just as much right to survive in the "cultural wars" as a minority. But, minoirity rights are politically correct because these vote in the next election. Conservative organizational structures do not vote and the individuals in such organizations probably wouldn't vote for a "plural view" of society in the first place. So, politically, the conservative organization is marginalized or useful only to promote agendas that "appear to be fair", while "hoodwinking those in its bow".

The only solution to the cultural wars is the libertarian position. Individuals taking responsibility for their own lives, without govenment interference. This way there are no 'priviledged positions" that give one a 'right over another", and there are no priviledged "people" because of a 'right" made to bring retribution. And government would have to listen to those whose liberties are bing plundered. Government would finally be held accountable to the people, and not the people to the government.

Our country has changed in regards to entitlement. No one deserves anything other than proper respect and dignity, as a human being and being treated equally under law as a citizen. But, nowadays, young people are able to take time out from school and dont' have to hold down a job while in school ,because parents are wealthy enough to "make it easy". Some of these young people grow up to expect the world to "stand at attention" for them and when it doesn't, "Mama can't do anything about it".

My grandfather and those in his generation grew up understanding that life was about working to make a living, being responsible to their government in serving their country and acting respectfully to authority. Today, this is not the case and society suffers because of it.

The 50's brought America prosperity that spoiled us, but allowed us the freedom to innovate, as we were also wealthy enough to not worry if we didn't make the money right away. There was enough to put "food on the table". Today, we are back to square one, working feverishly to "make a living".

I heard that some believe this economic crisis is good for families, as it demands that they spend more time eating together around the table and playing games at home. Though these "images" bring 'warmth to our hearts", these images are not of everyone's family. Financial concerns are the number one culprit of marital discord. And some who face financial crisis will have to get a second job, instead of eating around the table with their children, these will be more tired and more absent from their families, even when they are at home.

Prosperity is not the enemy, though Marxist ideologues would like to sell us that "bill of goods". Prosperity is a sign of hard work, innovation, wise decision making, investment, responsibility, and self-governance. The problem with today's prosperity is that too many Americans bought too much too soon and got in debt over their heads. And those in the financial fields got greedy of gaining on their investments at too high an interest rate. It is always easy to play with other people's money and livlihoods.

So discrimination is not just about race, but also about choice, value, and lifestyle. No one can make right decisons for you, as individuals must make that choice for themselves for it to have any moral value. Americans have not been used to moral dilemmas, or ethical evaluations for the most part.

And not remembering the mistakes of the past, ensures that we will experience the results of those mistakes again.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Projection As a Source of Psychological Survival and Goal /Value Formation

Heroes are the leaders that represent our values. Those who represent these values are prone to gain a following, even though this may not be their intent. And those that represent our values in a Representative Republic are valued for thier defense of our ideals of life and liberty.

Our representative Republic was formed to create a more 'perfect union', where individuals could attain the "right to life". The right to life is a basic need in Maslow's hierarchy of needs, as without the basics of physical and emotional sustenance, there will be no 'goal setting" or reaching human potential.

Although the "right to life' is a basic need, our Founders understood that without liberty, life would not be valued. Liberty is of primary importance to uphold human value, because without it, an individual is a product, a number, or a project. Liberty must be first for life to survive fully and abundantly to reach its full potential. No one has the right to suggest how another human being should live their life. Life is valued not because of how one behaves within the boundary of law, or what job one has, but because life is a value in itself. And these liberties are what are protected by the Constitution.

Life and liberty will always breed "bones of contention" between the values of the consevative and liberal, and how these views are held in social and fiscal areas of policy making. None of us will agree on every single issue. And this is as it should be in a free society, where we are free to disagree, discuss, dissent, and petition our Representatives for a "more perfect union".

The "pursuit of happiness" is allowing liberty of conscience. No one should judge another in how they choose to live thier life, within the boundary of law. Persuasion can be useful for those that feel so constrained to make a difference in others lives for change. But, authoritarianism in any form is anathema to a free society. We elect our leaders to represent our interests And our representatives in Congress are responsible for maintaining a culture for/of peace, as this is what the 'rule of law' should do; bring peaceful resolution. I do not believe that we should have a positive view of the law, but a negative view, because of the primary value of liberty of conscience.

We value our laws as these are what make for "our perfect union". And this is the ethical "ideal" of human value in life and liberty.

"The Curious Savage" and the Message It Made

I love theatre, because of its proximity to real life and it being in the form of "real life". The playwrights all know this method of relaying a message about "life" is effective. Last night, my husband and I attended a local production of the play, "The Curious Savage". It's message was no less poignant.

The notes on the play suggested that the main character, Mrs. Savage was an illustration of selfishness, but I thought that some of the other members of the play illustrated selfishness more starkly.

The play begins with Mrs. Savage being brought to a 'home" by her three step-children. She portrays her resentment of their control and their greed for thier inheritance, through a mockery of thier values. And is left by them to face "herself" in the many characters that inhabit the "home".

These characters; a grieved childless mother, an idealistic, sensitive "dancer", a stubborn defiant "hater", an accomplished neurotic pianist, and a "blind" unaccomplished violinist "mirror" Mrs. Savage's psychological "reflections" of "loss".

Mrs. Savage's hope for a family had ended quickly after marrying her step-children's dad. She was never accepted for "who she was", but for what she could give monetarily. These step-children were"well-connected" and had positions of promenience. It was obvious that their actions were only "protected" by their fear of loosing "status", but their greed over-rode their sensibilities in the end, when Mrs. Savage told each one where she had hidden thier inheritance. She did not tell them the truth, nor did she tell them the same thing. She was protecting the inheritance to provide a 'name" for her dead husband.

Justice finally rules at the end. Each character is "redeemed" from their situational/psychological "doom", the step-children have been exposed for who they are and what they really want, and Mrs. Savage ultimately gets her inheritance, and her freedom.

I found this play to really speak of "reality". People are prone to hide their fears behind religious walls of identification. These fears are "real experiences' that have impacted lives. And religion or tradition just covers over their denial of "real life".

On the other hand, character is truly revealed when desire runs over another human being, such as the step-children did in Mrs. Savage's case.

I didn't agree with the director's analysis of the play, as Mrs. Savage was the only courageous one in the play. She was resolute to defend her honor, face her problems, and protect her husband's memory.

I highly recommend this play.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Embodied Minds or Minds Embodied in an Ethical Ideal

We had a speaker just recently at our university, who proposed that we were what we DO, first and foremost. Intention or action is all that matters. Minds are not formative of behavior, but behavior of mind.

I don't want to suggest that I have full academic understanding of this subject, but I do have experience and some knowledge of the question.

Does doing what is in opposition to reason appropriate? Does irrationality breed good behavior? Do we become what we do? Aristotle believed we do become through habit formation.

Although habits can be good or bad, don't we first choose which habits we want to be a part of our life in our behavior? And don't we choose these behaviors for reasons? If I want to loose weight, there are certain behaviors that are necessary. And these behaviors are chosen because I know I am overweight and it is bad for my health.

This particular speaker said that as a faith community ritual was all important, as ritual bred communion and made us believers (?)! If Richard Dawkins took communion, would that affect his belief system or behavior? I thought this sounded a little off the wall, although I recognize that he was just trying to form a way to bring about a wholistic understanding of mind and body. He was thinking in opposition to a dualistic formula. But, it misses the mark, it seems to me...

In attempting to form a "more perfect union" between mind and body, he suggested behaviorism in the form of ritual. The Catholic believes that the elements of communion literally become the body and blood of Christ and that taking in the elements of Communion gives the "life" of Christ to the believer. I disagree.

Luther's view of Communion was not transubstantiation, but consubstantiation. He believed that the elements became the body of Christ when mixed with faith. Faith was the pivot point for him. The elements are not important, it is the belief of the person. Richard Dawkins taking the elements would not change his belief system or behavior. The believer must have faith first. As the Reformers believed that faith was a gift of God, then there is no way that behavior can give faith. Behavior follows belief.

Sociologists understand human behavior to be connected to identification factors. If an individual identifies with a certain group that has certain behavioral standards, then the individual is likely to conform. This is part of accepting the 'social norm" of the group. But, the group has a reason why they believe a certain behavior to be appropriate or inappropriate. Appropriate behavior is considered "moral". "Immoral" is inappropriate behavior. These are cultural norms.

America's "ideals" of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are based more on ethics, where the individual can choose his "own way of life". These ideals cannot be chosen in a way that impinges on another's life, liberty or pursuit of happiness without legal ramifications. We believe that individuals have rights to form their own way of life, as individuals are equal under law. This radical individualism terrorizes the religious because of their fear of anarchy or immorality, as they see an outside authority as necessary.

Character is not understood in specified belief systems, or affirmation of outside authority, but in respectful behavior. Repectful behavior is demonstrated in our tone of voice, and our way of interacting with another. So, while minds reflect our ultimate values, behavior reflects our heart.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Leadership as the Form and the Individual Expression is the Symbol

Much has been written about leadership. And leadership "leaders" have written about types of leaders, as well. The Spartian Stoic is the epitome of leadership in the "traditional" way of viewing a leader. These leaders can be found in religous and militilaristic mentalities, that de-value "life".

But, this type of leader is not connected to the real world of the human condition, as these only have the "ideals" in mind, which disconnect one from identifiying with the "human condition". Although "ideals" are most important in understanding what we value in a Constitutional government, we must not allow ourselves to become "nationalistic" in de-valueing the "human".

Leadership is much more about "self-government" in a free society that respects individual liberty of life' expression, as a value.

"Form" and "Symbol" as an Art

Art is an expression of the artist. But, the expression of the artist is not only confined to
Art, proper, but as an expression in any human endeavor.

Art was what the Founders of our Constitutional government "created" when they "formed a more perfect union"! The Founders valued "free expression" under the boundary of law. Law protected the value of individual freedom of expression.

The Reformation brought about a revolution of education, for the "common man", and separated the Church's authority over the individual, as an authority. But, the Reformation did not separate religion from confining regulations of expression in forms of art. The Reformers believed in limitation upon art, as an expression of "God's image". Because of this limited view of "life", art was destroyed because of the "fear of idolatry". This is a travesty in human history. All due to a "fear of transgressing".

Art or the athestics cannot be confined by religion's claims, as athestics are diverse views of "symbolization" about what is of value. Free societies do no limit these expression, unless it impinges on another's very life.

Anthropoligists understand the use of myth, as did the Greeks in forming a "story" in understanding of values and the human condition.

Our Constitutional government does allow freedom of diverse ways of expressing individuality. And these expression can be in academics or entertainment. Relgion would disallow such freedom because of a fear of diverse views that would limit a monistic view of "life". And yet, if the religious were honest, they would understand that humans cannot come to know the Transcendent realm as that realm is beyond reason. But, art points beyond reason, in "painting" a "way of viewing life that resonates with the values of religion and/or ultimate values.

Form and Symbol, as Ultimate Value

I have really come to appreciate the values that our Constitution upholds. Our Constitution is what protects our culture from anarchy and affirms individual values of expression in one's life; liberty being of primary importance.

A couple of years ago in reading about moral development, I discovered that democracy was of ultimate importance for the full development of the human. Democracy allows freedom of conscience when it comes to various ways of expressing the "symbolic" of religious tradition. This is true justice of individuality, opinion and conviction.

The symbolic is understood in faith traditions to manifest ultimate values. These values of life are universal rights to happiness, which our Founder's "formed" in our Constitution.

These values are not just represented by the myths of faith, but also social critics that "see" and understand where the culture is "missing" an element that is necessary. Cultural critics bring about the social and cultural changes that are needed in the particular society. Tradition nor materialists usually embrace such with "open arms".

The highest "ideal" our Founders understood were the values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Such values are framed in our FORM of government, where balance of power, equality under law, and our Bill of Rights gives value to each individual in making meaning of their life.

"Meaning" (symbol) many times means religion, but it does not always have to. Meaning can be made many times in free societies without religion, as one expresses what is internally important to that particular individual.

The real enemy to democracy and a free society in a Representative Republic is an exclusivity in outlook and attitude, whether it is bred on the heels of emotion-based religion, or hard-headed science.

Both science and religion speak of man, as man is a combination of intellect, emotion, and physicial being. These must all be affirmed in each individual "form", within the FORM of our government's Constitutional Republic.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Christian and Islamic Radicalism

Radicalism is the decline of rational faith and the beginning of emotional reactive faith claims to exclusivity.

These claims cannot be reconciled or resolved by furthering radical's claims to absolute Truth.

Absolute truth claims in the Christian tradition is based on Scripture and/or Tradition. These believe that the Church or God's "Word" is God's revelation. And these think that others must be reached to further what they deem as absolute.

Islam is no less committed to absolute claims to faith. These believers, just as radical Chrsitian believers, are willing to die for their faith. It was reported that (Hassan's talk on the Koranic worldview affirmed death more than Americans value life.) Both leave behind this world for "that world", believing that this world is somehow less than "that world".

My husband recieved an e-mail from the Netherlands that suggested that the curse of the Christian Church was a lack of commitment and a lack of conviction. This would be true to radical idealists, who do not temper their understanding to be inclusive of difference. Everyone must "dot their "i"s and cross their "t"s" in the same way. There seems to be little or no understanding of man's limitation in understanding that world since that world is understood to be revealed and they "have recieved the revelation". How the revelation comes and what it depends on is what is debated.

Some Christians such as fundmentalists believe that Jesus, as God's revelation is an absolute. And that Scripture is God's testimoney to His Son. And His Son is the only entrance into heaven, as one must be 'born again". The text is considered closed by these believers because God has revealed everything that was needed in " His Son".

Fundamentalistic Islamic believers believe that Allah is the One and Only True God and that his messenger was Muhammed. Those who do not adhere or convert to Islam are infidels. And infidels are not considered equal to Muslim believers. The Koran is understood to be the text of their faith.

Both these traditions base thier claims on absolutistic understandings of God, as revealed in a text, visions, and eye-witness accounts. Both "win" when they are willing to "die for the cause of Christ or Allah".

The Essenes were the Jewish sect that believed in a sectarian view of life. But, i am not sure whether they understood themselves in exclusivistic ways.

In today's climate of violatility, we do not need radical faith, that cannot be verified. Dialogue is not possible with these that believe that they have THE handle on Truth. The Transcendental in this view, is to be loved over the Material.

I am afraid for our future in this world, if radical claims of faith continue to be perpetuated, at the costs of many lives, and without recourse for the value of diversity.

I am not sure of how radicalism can be tempered, as the radical always thinks that when other do not believe as he does, that it just proves the validity of his faith and his "specialness" in 'knowing the Truth". Persecution is a validation, instead of a correction. These are not open to input. But, they definatley think others should be open, or else these radicals will do the persecuting.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Intellectual Equality or the Political Gap?

Today, on Facebook, a very good and old friend had a test on "what kind of libertarian are you"...I took the test and had a few questions after taking it, mainly due to two answers to one of the questions that baffled me on which was of more importance.

The two categories that I find important are intellectual equality and fixing the political gap. Why are these two important? My innate desire to relate to people on an intellectual plane, which is "who I am", and yet, my experience has taught me that "political gaps" where people treat another as an unequal is also damaging. One errs on the side of snobbery and the other errs on the side of snubbery.

Leaders do make determinations about where others will fit into their plan for their own personal and larger political goals. And this is the political gap, where a determination is made about another that is prejuidiced and deterministic. I am revulsed over any type of pre-determination.

The point where my innate desire is to be treated as an equal intellectually is important. I resent people patronizing me, in whatever realm. I have a mind of my own and though you may disagree with me, I must be respected enough to be "engaged" and considered, without others determining my "outcome" or purpose. I also want to engage others on the same basis, in respecting their ability to reason and live their life rationally.

This is the main reason for my commitment to the libertarian party. Each person must determine their own destiny. That does not mean that an individual needs no one as far as guidance, or education, or suggestion, or encouragement. But, I will die for the right to be treated with respect and dignity in living my life on my own terms and for others to also have the right to live their life on their own terms. We will disagree and this is to be considered a healthy sign of difference where we can learn about another that thinks, believes and sees things differently.

This is where our freedoms become realities in our lives, as we live out the commitment to our diversity, but also our commitment to the unity of our freedoms. God Bless America.


Humans are social animals, but they are also rational animals. If the social context leaves no room for reasonable "personhood", where compromise, negotiation and solutions are met, then inevitably, relationships are dissolved through divorce.

Although divorce is a personal relational term, the issue plays across other types of relationships, whether they be business contracts, treaties, or community rules. Sometimes "peace and goodwill" dissolves before personal desires and necessities.

I think the Christian community and liberalism, in general, is living in denial, when it comes to many of these situations. Divorce happens and the long-term implications are many. Those who have never experienced divorce in their families are clueless as to how this affects the whole family system. But, they may be attempting to "protect society" from the inevitability of divorce, or other social ills.

The Christian community has a "pie in the sky" attutitude where the stereotypical "1950's" family is the standard, while the social liberal has their "ideal" as "peace and goodwill" in a globalist context. How can people continue to believe in a "ideal reality"? This is absurd!

Conflict is inevitable in this world and reconcilliation is not possible in some cases, either because of the situations involved, or the parties' lack of desire for reconcilliation. People all have their reasons for divorce. A childish hope for the "ideal" will not bring solutions to the real world.

Dr. Chris Smith, the sociologist from Notre Dame alluded to the Church being a solution to these kinds of problems, when he suggested a kind of "family intervention". I wonder how he imagines this being a solution, when the Church is full of those who are ill-equipped to deal with the realities in life, either through their "idealistic mentality" or their lack of education in the psychological or sociological fields.

Social ills are the real world of social problems and they will not be resolved through spirituality. "Spirituality" separates the ideal from the real and life is lived in the real realities of social contexts, personal problems and irreconciable differences.

No Church or liberal agenda is going to eradicate the issue of divorce, but they might continue to stigmitize the issue and distance themselves from divorced people. And this would be the worst of all possible "sins".

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fort Hood's Execution

"An eye for an eye" was the Old Testament balance for "justice". An "eye for an eye" limited revenge to fairness. One could not kill another because of the loss of an eye. Maybe this is the measure we should meet out with such crimes as happened at Fort Hood.

Everyone knows by now, that this will be a military trial, which is fair, as it was on military soil and the military suffered the loss.

I do applaud many news organizations for prefacing their "news" with qualifications of "innocence", because we are a people that believe that one is innocent until proven guilty under a trial by jury. I am glad for this.

But, I am not satisfied with everyone tiptoeing around the connection of Islam to this man. He was a Muslim. But, to protect our nation from an uprising that would hinder the climate of tolerance, news sources cover over the details that might suggest a religious motive.

The athiests are crying for a banning of religious freedom, because of their fear of radicalism, while the conservative religious believer is adamantly holding to their right to "free speech" and free belief. The climate in America is at a boiling point over issues concerning religion, race, and "rights".

I grieve for the loss of these soldiers, but I also grieve over the loss of integrity for this psychiatrist. He needs help. I am hoping that an "eye for an eye" will turn out to be a measure of justice as the trial commences.

Let us hope that this will never happen again within military quarters and that military personel are all aware of the consequences of being "politically correct", when there are valid concerns and ultimate costs of lives.

A Sociologist and His Views of Yound "Emergents"

Tonight my husband and I had the opportunity to hear Chris Smith, a professor of sociology at Notre Dame. He had been invited by the honors college and the President to give a talk about his new book, "Souls in Transition".

Dr. Smith has widely studied and viewed American society from many aspects; history, culture, religion, psychology, modernity, and social structures. He said that the emerging adult generation (ages 18-29) are marrying 5 years later, experiencing many kinds of relationships and experimenting with different lifestyles, before settling down and taking responsibility. He thinks that this is due to a 'post industrial" society, where work is not as valued as leisure, the prevalance of birth control, and alternate living arrangements and parents supporting adult children into their 20's. He finds that the adult culture is directly responsible for the environment that the children acclimate to. So, parents are ultimately responsible for their children and how they succeed.

Religion is not influencing this age group as it had in the past. And families in general are not experiencing a serious commitment to religion, as evangelical religion is infilterated by consumerism and "watered-down" commitment.

When asked how he defined religion, he acknowledged that this was a big question in many disciplines, but that he was talking about the practice of a certain or specific religion or denomination. And he suggested that the differences in our culture, breed tolerance, which was a good thing. He spoke against having an extreme view in regards to "truth" and convictions. He said that there was a third and "better way" that promotes democracy's "civil discourse".

His main interest was in defining "what is the human person". He emphasized that the human person is more than his physical or biological make-up. There is something unique and special about the human person , and yet, the basic needs of humans are universal. When the young emergent generation does not get their needs met, there is long-term damage affecting society at large. He was not too optimistic about the future, as it looks today, but emphasized that sociologists study what is, and do not pretend to make predictions.

Dr. Smith ascribes change through religion, if the religion is taken seriously and is distinct from the American consumer culture. He also thought that "at risk kids" needed adult mentors to give them a sense of being cared for, otherwise, their success would be limited. And he ventured to suggest a 'family forum' type of ministry program in churches, where the whole family was "formed".

He expressed concern for our future, if society continues along the same course it has for the last number of years.

All in all, he seemed to have done his 'homework" and the questions and answers were thoughtful.

My personal critique validates most of his claims, except his view on religion. He doesn't seem to suggest any reason why American religion has turned to consumerism, other than prosperity.

Prosperity has been looked upon in Marxist ideology as "unfairness" and "inequality", which has been condemned as indulgent and irresponsible in regards to the larger world, which is against "universal brotherhood"and "love of neighbor". Isn't there more to loving someone than meeting their material needs? There are many children whose material needs are more than met, but their emotional needs lie untouched by any significant other.

Consumerism is the mantra of the Obama adminstration. The materialist is guilty of materialism in his ideological commitments, and yet, he accuses the Christian church of materialsim. There is no getting around the fact that one's ideological commitments drive what defines one's values, without understanidng complexity of the issues involved.

And he doesn't give any rationale for religion in the first place. Is religion a description for "community"? Is community also the "only value" that post-moderns think is good?

Religion can be just a destructive as constructive, and Dr. Smith acknowledged that this was a prevalant view in today's climate, where religion defines the cultural wars.

Religion is diminishing in the West, should we be concerned, as religion was the trascriber of social norms? Today, there seem to be little to form a unifying factor, other than church affliation.

In conclusion, Dr Smith did a great job in analyzing our society and suggesting alternative ways of addressing it's ills. We should applaud his noble effort.

Thanks, Dr. Smith.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Liberty, "Two Sides of One Coin"

Yesterday's fall of the Berlin Wall, today's celebration of the birth of the Marine Corps and tomorrow is Veteran's Day set the theme for today's post. So, the theme should be about Liberty, shouldn't it?

Liberty is fragile because of people. People have goals, agendas, visions, worldviews, and opinions that conflict. And when conflict happens, then liberty is at stake. One side cannot make demands on the other without subverting liberty.

In the book I have been reading, Democracy and Dictatorship, Bartu, suggests that there must remain tension between two distinctive ideals, for liberty to survive. Man's very psychological make-up is made betwee two type of consciousness; rational consciousness, and unconsciousness or feeling. When one or the other rules the society, without acknowledging its tension with the "other" ideal, then liberty and justice will be denied us all,. The individual must be affirmed in society for liberty to be maintained. Society is formed of individuals.

Governments are protected by holding tensions between the immanent and the transcendent realms. Fascism suppresses the transcendental dimension of life by the secular myths of leadership and race, while the Communists call the trascendental dimension empircal and immanent and work accordingly.(pg.66).

The critical mind must affirm both the ideal and the real.
Democracy survives only as Christian ethics and the individualistic ethics of competition survive. How do these two co-exist in one society? America has done a good job.

All of these (and there are many others) provide a climate where tolerance can flourish and becomes a value. This is an American "ideal"; tolerance for diversity.

Today, Americans celebrate our liberty because of others who sacrificed for our liberty from those that would only affirm "one side of the coin". America's ideal is our diversity and holding to public debate and discourse about differences of opinion, conviction and values. Let Liberty Ride On.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sundry Thoughts On Experience, Psychology and Theology

Does experience have to "form" our understanding or thinking? Some believe that it does, as we are bound within cultural contexts that define or determine meaning. This view does not allow for development of reason, or individual uniqueness in personality or gifting. Cultural contexts are "group" forming "groupthink".

Although experience does influence our understanding, it cannot determine what or how we understand life, unless we allow it to. This view takes into account another way of "seeing" or coming to terms with reality. Those who have experienced trauma are helped by counselors to see or understand reality differently and not allow their experience to "interpret" the present.

Science does give us clues as how experience affects us. Mental disorders such as Post Traumatic Stress, neurosis or anxiety disorders have been understood to have begun through a "conditioning experience". These disorders can be overcome through means of medication, behavior modification, and coping mechanisms.

"How do we paint reality"? Many paint their reality through their experiences of childhood. Bad parents breed bad behavior and bad thinking. The child's self-concept is damaged to such an extent that the child cannot grow emotionally, or finds it difficult to attian their potential. These ways of "painting reality" must be rectified, so that these young adults will become and accomplish.

Today's sermon was given by a youth leader. His message was about "conviction" and power of the Holy Spirit and how we live "Christian" lives. What do people outside our church say about our church. Do we only say what we feel or do we live what we feel, as a testimony to our faith?

It seemed he was basing faith on feeling. That was interesting, as feeling is a common "identifier" in man. But, this "feeling of conviction" was also the identifier of the radical Islamic that killed our soldiers last week. And then, when he said that we don't "feel the power of conviction" because we are affluent or prosperous, he lost me. He said, we cannot understand (or feel) the "power of conviction" because of our experience of prosperity!?

Although I do agree that we cannot enter into another's pain of "poverty" in the same way when we have no experience to identify with, does this mean that one MUST experience pain to have "compassion"? And is compassion only toward "the poor"? That is ridiculous.

Some experiences cannot be "formative" for another, as was Job's experiences. Job did not need anyone to analyze his situation, but to "be there". Theological dogmatics do not lend themselves to compassionate understanding, but "demanding" obedience, or repentance, or justification of "God". Was Job more compassionate after his experience with the religious? Was Job more compassionate after his rebuke from Elihu? No, but he was more humble in understanding that there are some questions that are unanswerable. So, is compassion the only necessary ingredient to faith?

I find that those who have "agendas" that are unacknowledged, or deceptive are prime culprits of using persuasion to influence others. And theology is a useful "tool" for those who are unreflective and disregarding of another's situational "contexts" to manipulate or control. Influence and agendas are not the problem, but deception is, whether that be one's own personal unreflectiveness, or attitudes toward another.

Fortunately, our government is based on "the rule of law", where the "real world" trumps the "transcentdental one".

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Wrong Side of Multiculturalism

Today, emphasis is put upon multiculturalism in the name and for the sake of tolerance. Tolerance is a value in Western society as it civilizes what otherwise, would cause conflict. I am in totol agreement with this "ideal", but the reality is, that many do not adhere to plurality. Plurality takes humility of mind and heart and exlusivist religious claims do not allow such tolerance.

Fort Hood's "battleground" was to be a place of safety where "liberty and justice rules" and "peace reigns", because of our liberal democracy. It is to our detriment that we "tiptoe around" the issue of radical faith claims.

It seems obvious that the man that killed these soldiers in cold blood was doing so for religious reasons. Yes, there were political differences, but the differences were basically underwritten by this man's religious convictions. This view is not open to pluralistic views or values, because it views any "other" as "infidel". How can we tolerate such thinking and being in our society? or at least in our military?

When men/women pledge their allegience to the cause of our nation, they give up the right to digress from serving what leaders deem necessary for our nation's interests. Those that think that there is a higher or more primal loyalty do not need to be pledging their allegience.

Those that think that societies can live without police officiers are living in an a disconnect from reality or are in mental institutions. Crime happens and people get hurt, should we look the other way? Should we tolerate such things, or worse, should we dissolve the "force" of the police officier because we think the police officier is the "problem"? Of course not!

Our military do similar things in the larger context of "world affairs". Whenever nations rise up against another, should we looke the other way? Should we dissolve the military of any "force" because they are the problem? Or should we evaluate our values and determine whether this is a cause that justifies our nation's interest and the interest of a "free world"?

The world does not change in this regard. We will always have need for law to bring order and the police and military are the enforcers of what is "right" in the "free world" under law.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Moral Authorities and Economics

Moral authorities like to demand conformity without understanding personal conviction or conscience concerning complex issues. These want to demand or co-erce others to transform society into their understanding or viewpoint, hindering liberty. (They assume that to transform society, then those who view things differently must be educated into their way of thinking, limiting diversity of views and limiting the freedom of the Press).

Much has been written about disgust and purity issues. I have such disgust over those who want to demand a "one size fits all" way of thinking and being in the world.

It is to the advantage of the materially minded to suggest that others provide virtuous attitudes in their bodies, while they take control of life and limb, all the way to the bank. Such was the case with the sell of indulgences during Martin Luther's reform. The real problem of the Church was their abuse of power. Power has to be balanced in any relationship. Otherwise, there is coercion, and bondage.

Economics must be based on rational choice of the individual under contract, not some redistribution of wealth or corporate profit that disregards the 'worker'. Whenever one does not concur with a goal of an organization or the value of a company, negotiation must transpire. And there is always the choice of leaving a company because of a disregard for proper negotiating.

Moral authorities who are "idealistically" inclined mandate for the poor and needy in society without understanding that it is the free enterprise system that has made for a flourishing economy in the West. And it is the West who have given most to the poor, because of that prosperity.

Prosperity is not the 'great evil" in the world. But, it has been disparaged by the "superior" because of altruistic goals, not understanding the means of that "outcome". The means are always human beings, as human beings have to have the right to choose their own goals, and if that falls in line with another's goals of altruism and/or profit, then so be it. But, if not, that is the right of an individual in a free society to not co-operate.

Let us be done with a monistic view of life and liberty. Otherwise, we are headed for a "new aristocracy".

Value as a Means of Expressing the Incarnation

In thinking about how Barbu understood the integrative and disintegrative values in a democracy and how they have to be maintained "in tension", I think that the Quadralateral is a good way to analyze these values and how they are incarnated in one's life.

Scripture is a means for moral and religious value but I would think that Scripture being a defining element of the political realm would be limiting freedom of conscience, or aesthetic value. Ethics in this regard would be an undermining value to religious or moral tradition's understanding of value.

Tradition also upholds moral values, as it has been defined by the Church (or other religious authority), but Tradition also maintains religious value in social norms. Again, without reason, tradition runs rough-shod over cultural adaptation and change in regards to ethics.

Experience underlines how the individual formulates "his world" within a religious (or anti-religious), and political realm. Experience cannot be formed "outside of itself" without limiting individuality. Man's reason is useful to analyze, categorize and determine his course. So, experience does not uphold tradition or religion, as the "form" must be individually understood and embraced. But, experience does uphold aesthetic value, leaving room for individual's to "find their place" in this world. This is the ethic of human rights and personal identity.

Reason is used to understand, evaluate, and formulate, which is the scientific value of modernity. Although fragmentation has occurred within modern society because of science and rationality, isn't freedom about that very fragmentation? And isn't freedom what life is about?

Life without justice (rights) is a life that is defined by "outside sources" of religion and tradition. And this is not what modern democracies uphold or value.

And this is why our democratic Representative Republic is of ultimate value to me!

Reason upholds

Reading on Dictatorship and Democracy...

I have been picking up a book the last few weeks (which I would suggest doing in "one sitting", as it is more conducive to process fully), called, "Democracy and Dictatorship", by Zevedei Barbu. It is a fascinating book, but the part of it that refers to what I have been addressing today is on unifying and diversifying elements within democracy. These are elements of value.

On page 66-68, he refers to the diverse values of
1) Religion is a defining value in a democracy, which is characterized by a "feeling of supra-individual and transcendental order". Religious values via anthropological studies show that religious values bring cohesion in behavioral standards. These values create social norms.

2)Aesthetic values are based on the concept of form. These values do not bring cohesion, even in the relgious realm, because the individual must create his "own world" of meaning through experience.

3.) Scientific values are based on analytical analysis of what works. It is integrative only as long as it establishes relationship between facts, but disintegrates the answers to life with only questions.

4.)Political values are integrative, as they help to form group dynamic, so goals can be accomplished.

5.)Moral value is integrative as moral action is taken as long as there is a consciousness of being a part of a group or society.

6.)Economic value is disintegrative in modern societies, as the individual seeks ownership.

Since the Renaissance, there has been a tendency for these values to undermine religious value and a tendency for autonomy in each cardinal value. A balance among the integrative and disintegrative values are important for democracies.

I think that this is the "fix", public debate and discourse concerning these values within the context of historical development after the Renaissance.

Innatedness or Environmentalism?

Last post I was pondering the question of democracy and justice. It seems to me that there is a "conflict" of views in the issues of social justice and democracy on a more basic level, innatedness and environment.

The conservative, who believes in self responsibility and limited government also believes that man can develop innately because of his God-given nature. While those that believe in social justice also believe that human nature will develop, these also believe that proper environment is also necessary for human nature to develop appropriately.

Is the human gifted above the animal kingdom to develop irrespective of environment? Or is environment mandantory for a proper development?

Is a democratic form of government all that humans needs for proper development, or are social structures such as family, community and Church also necessary? Do individuals develop because they are rational animals, or because they are social animals? Isn't it both?

The individual and society has also bred many debates philosophically. Interesting debates as these are the substance of our public policies.

The Question of Social Justice and Democracy

We in America "fight" over social justice, as social justice guaruntees what some deem to be "bigger government" and an undermining of self responsibility. Is Democracy to undermine distributive justice? Or does distributive justice undermine democracy? These are questions that have puzzled many and continue to be at the forefront of our "culture wars".

Christians that believe in a literalizing of the Judeo-Christian Scripture believe in upholding distributive justice, as do Democrats. Distributive justice guaruntees education, healthcare, and minimun income. Social justice should be underwritten by "good government".

While these believe in government guarunteeing these rights, others think that civil and political rights should be enough to guaruntee human flourishing. Government should not intervene in the affairs of men, but should only protect civil and political liberties. The individual should govern himself and create a place for himself without government support.But, what is the responsibility of the government toward the young or those who cannot create the "good life" for themselves?

Public education is upheld as a right by most Americans, but lately the homeschool movement has gained ground in education. Parents believe it is their right and duty to educate their young. These homeschooling families believe that government would provide for a secularized education that they find appalling. Do these parents have a right to educate their children? Or does the State have a duty to see that the child recieves a full education, either through mandating what qualifies a parent to educate their child, or through limiting homeschooling altogether. These are issues that breed "culture wars".

Our nation is a religious nation, although we believe in religious freedom, therefore, mandating anything at the federal level is a "red flag" to an American. States in America have the right to legislate how homeschoolers will function, and what requirements will be demanded, if any.

On the heels of homeschooling is the issue of Scripture and the belief of "Creation" and the evolution debate. Evolution has been approved by the eduational community as a value that must be taught in our public schools. But, what of the homeschoolers? Are they to be under this legislation? Does government have a right to protect the education of its young? Or does government have a duty to protect the right of the parent and their duties toward their child?

The conflict over our Greek democratic ideals, and the Jewish/Christian understanding of justice is at issue. Do we limit individual rights or do we limit individual freedoms? Do we believe in freedom of religion, and at what costs, especially in the climate of radicals? Or do we discriminate against religious convictions and on what basis do we determine when to discriminate? Surely, we wouldn't want to discriminate altogether, would we?

The issue of Church and State has been a long and difficult one, but it is the basis of our democratic process and what forms our society's value of diversity. We just don't know where the unity lies...

Law MUST Protect Rights (Freedom)

We are a nation of law (and order). And because we value law, we are an ordered or civilized society. What happens to society when laws are disregarded, or abused?

Man is a rational animal and rationality is developed by understanding rights before the law and coming to terms with one's ultimate values. Every human deserves the right to have a sense of freedom about their life, so that they can take responsibility for themselves. This is a basic human right.

Governments and people who do not value laws that protect rights are disrepectful of another's life. Motivation and human flourishing does not occur as freely and frequently in oppressive regimes, which affects society itself. Humans must be free to choose where their responsibilities will be and where their ultimate values and commitments lie.

Religious dictators would subvert another's choice through "God's will", or "God's Purpose", while political dictators subvert another's choices through subversion of rights under law.

We should value our freedom and undestand our rights as granted by laws and protected by our "Representative Republic".

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Experimental Theology: Two Friends

I found this an exceptionally touching story...Experimental Theology: Two Friends

My Heart Goes Out...

My heart goes out to those who lost loved ones in the most recent attack on those who serve our country.

I can only imagine in my worst nightmare having a loved one come home from a dangerous location, to have them shot within our" protected boundaries". These men and women had shown bravery and self-sacrifice for our nation's defense. And these also represented their loved ones hearts and their giving to our country.

Why would someone do this?

It is supposed that there was a "conflict of interest" for the one that committed the crime. He had not wanted to be deployed and was against war. Why did he join the military, then? Although we do not seek out a war, the military are called to defned our nation, if that is necessary. Was he under the impression that he could be in the military and not be involved with war, at all? It all seems strange to me.

How did he have access to the weaponry? And was the attack "planned" or premeditated? It would seem it would have to be with the wearponry he had.

Many questions, but only one known answer if for sure. Questions about the why, when, where and how, but only one answer for our military; duty, service, and country.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Our Son's Leaving

Today is a celebration of our youngest son, Nate. He has left our home, which is quite normal at his age. But, his mission is a noble one of serving our country.

Our older son had taken off work, so he, our daughter and Nate could eat breakfast together "one last time". After breakfast and Nate's last minute packing, our children and I sat in their Dad's study, one last time. And I saw Nate tear up and look away several times. I knew I was not going to make it without shedding a few myself.

As I took him to the recruiting office where he was to meet others for his ride to Indianapolis, I off-handedly remarked that he probably would not miss our small town. To my surprise, he said he had enjoyed growing up in the Mid-West, not because of the location, but because of the friends he had made. He said he would miss them. I was proud that he valued his friends and that his view of 'location, location" was "where his heart was". We have always tried to impart "family values" and relational priority.

At the recruiting station, he told me that he didn't want me to go in. He said he was in the Army now, underscoring his independence from "his Mom". I got out and he hugged me so tight and didn't even look my way, as he picked up his bag to walk away. I felt my heart torn, but I drove away giving him room to "grow", and take flight.

As he said, "I will miss the people, the friends I have made". And we will surely miss him.

Bless him.