Thursday, December 31, 2009

What I Have Learned About the Compassionate.

Much has been said these days about social identity, community, social responsibility, and the "common good". These are ways of helping us to understand that we are not islands, but that our lives are interconnected. But, those that think that they are the "leader" or are more compssionate, or spiritual are prone to think that they must lead others toward whatever their passion is. They must implement thier passion upon the world.

I have learned that those that feel so self-righteous in their "care", do not care for those who don't, unless it is to "train" them to "care". These have a mistaken idea of "care". Their need is to 'parent" another, to make them into their own image and likeness. Those that don't care must care, and be made to care...about the same things. If there is a starving child dying of AIDS, then that is what must be the focus of everyone, interior designers, beware. You might be labeled as 'uncaring and materialistic'!

The height of arrogance, at least for me, is to assume that one's passion, ultimate concern, or conviction should be everyone's. The whole world should stop and take notice of the concern that some think are of ultimate importance. There are many important concerns in and about the world. One must not think that there should or will be only one.

I get rebellious over this way of thinking, because it is disrespectful of another's difference of value. For, those that judge another because they do not have the same concerns, are doing an injustice to so many.

I have learned that the compassionate can be the most attentive to specified needs, but completely dead when it concerns other kinds of needs. The driven need to be concerned is a type of addiction to "feeling needed" or "feeling important", as if one is a "savior".

The compassionate are never labelled compassionate, in my book, if they have not shown compassion toward those they deem uncompassionate.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Interesting Media Program

Last night I turned on the T.V. to find a program discussing the issue of "news". The people were all associated in some way with the news media and they were talking about all the ways in which news was gotten and the implications for the media in general.

I thought that their concern for what was on the internet was revealing. They were concerned that people were following news stories that were not "up to par" or downright rumor mill. What is their real concern? Is it the loss of power and control? Do these think the same way about tabloids or 'women's magazines" or gossip comunists? Should we ban these as profaning the minds of our populace?

Although I do agree that there are many alternatives that I deem unhealthy and "profane", where do draw our lines in limiting our freedom of the press? I think that allowing everyone to discover the news and investigate what is "out there" is a healthy way to not only protect our liberties, but get people involved in the process of critical thinking for themselves. Should the average person be able to read and assess what he reads?

It was a program I didn't watch all the way through, as I didn't have to. It was obvious that the media has lost some of its power and they were trying to assess the damage. I am hoping that these will not deem it necessary to control our access to information...

Monday, December 28, 2009

In Light of the Comments

In light of the comments, I want to write about sectarianism.

Sectarianism is a focus on specific or special forms of identification factors. Universalism, on the other hand, is a focus on a generalized or common trait.

Sectarians separate themselves due to offense to specified behaviors or beliefs that they think are heretical. Sectarians separate to maintain their identity and define themselves as "special" or "set apart" or "holy". But, they limit their understanding of themselves in real ways and in real terms of a human being. Thus, labels are good for defining these behaviors or beliefs and creating a "false sense" of protection and distance from "evil" and "the world".

Sectarians define things in black and white terms. They do not like or think in bridging the gaps, thinking in shades of grey, because they fear stepping over a forbidden boundary. These are religious ways of understanding oneself and can be damning in developing a self identity.

What sectarians don't know is that all boundaries are made by men, even when they are in texts or define the boundaries of a culture. Cultrues are defined by social norms, and values. The "human" way of looking at things is to identify with another as a "person", a human being. Then, relationship is more about mutual commonality, than in differences.

Universal Healthcare Is Universalized Medicine....

I heard an interesting discussion on NPR yesterday on our way home from S.C. The guest was a health specialist of sorts, believing that the body's innate nature is to heal itself given the proper nutrients and environment. His view was "preventative medicine", but what was more interesting was his analysis of the drug companies, healthcare, and special interests...

He thinks that the special interests of the lobbyists for the pharmecudical companies were committed to drugging as many Americans as possible. Every ailment would and has been taken care of by a drug. Many of these drugs have dire side effects. But, the drug companies are happy as long as they can buy off governmental agencies, Congressmen and doctors.

I started thinkiing that maybe this was the reason for universal healthcare, as universalizing healthcare takes care of any "lone ranger" doctors that can't be paid off by freebies. Now, they can just use government force to prescribe the drug of choice. Is this how and why our economy is being pilfered through corporate excess? The common person sits by to pay his dues to those in seats of power that undermine his interests to support "Big Interests".

All I can say is that we need another revolution to take back the country from those who assume too much about and for the American people. Little businessmen are going to go out of business or be forces to choose a public option to meet any profit margin whatsoever in today's economy. Is this the intent?

The poor are being a useful tool in the hands of the rhetorticians for the "common good". Morality is in the eyes of the beholder, I guess...

I Find It Disturbing...

The failed attempt to blow up a transatlantic flight out of Amsterdam recently adds "fuel to the fire" that education does not "transform" one's commitment to religion's claims to radicalism. I find this disturbing, when educators think that all that is needed to transform the world is a little more information.

Philosophy is Not Palatable to the Fundamentalist

Philosophy is how we understand or our ability to know what we know. Some think that one aspect of understanding is "all there is". But, there are many aspects of understanding and knowing about the world.
Knowledge is understood as reason's ability to grasp or understand the real world in investigation and analysis. This is where the Academy excels and explores. But, reason is not the only avenue of understanding or analyzing the world.

Experience is the common person's understanding of life. Experience give wisdom to those that are open to grasp and grapple with life. But, wisdom is not an absolutist position, but a tenuable one, because experience helps to temper and tame the most ardent ideologues. But, experience without knowledge is blind in some ways and cannot speak in terms that are more palatable to larger audiences.

Religion understands itself through texts, and tradition. These help to form the culture of a society. But religion's knowledge can be damaging to others without understanding experience's wisdom and the Academy's knowledge. Religion creates the environment of society's social norms and values. Without religion then, there is little or no ability to appeal to a "higher authority" to gain a 'ear" or exert a moral influence in society in maintaining social control.

Philosophy is understanding that knowledge itself is created or formed within certain frames of reference, vision, passion, and concern. These ways of reference and vision should never be seen as absolute, otherwise, we create an environment shorn of the diversity that enlarges the world and its complexity. And whenever we limit the world and human beings in this way, we cultivate a climate that dismisses the humane for the "ideal" in "two-dimensional" universe.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The Authoritarian Relgious

I just realized when I re-read my last enty, that a religion that works like the miltary is what some deem "Christian discipleship". It is nothing more than abuse of power over individual lives, in the name of God.

Christianity's close affliation with Islam should help us understand why some would see thier Christian faith in such anti-cultural and authoritarian ways.

Sacrifice is the epitome of this type of religious conviction, as it shows how much one trusts God or is willing to serve God above all other gods. The use of Abraham in Genesis is useful to illustrate "what God requires", the sacrifice of any "hope", as the promised one, is to be the sacrifice. It is called covenant theology.

The story ends with Abraham's "trust in God' being defined by the test of sacrifice and God's provision of a "lamb" in Isaac's stead.

Christians have used this to illustrate their message of provision of a "savior", in Christ.

But, what kind of God demands sacrifice and testing to prove that He is first and foremost the most important in one's life? Does a father or mother ever think that this would be appropriate to request of a child? or a spouse? or even a friend? Is God above our understanding of common decency and care of human desires and emotion?

Some would say that God is interested in purifying our desires and our interests, as he is to be worshipped above all gods and this is the way in which his purification comes.

I think Voltaire's "Candid" would be my response. God is in control of everything therefore any danger should not be seen as a danger. Any obstacle can be removed by faith, if one only believes. Healing can come to the sick if they only have enough faith, etc....God is in Control. God intervenes, but he doesn't always answer our prayers the way that we want him to. But, what if we have requested something that must be "his will" and yet, the prayer is unanswered?

I have heard Christians defend God's "lack of response" by saying that "his ways are not our ways", "he has higher purposes or plans", "he knows best", " God works it all out in the end", " God is just, we just don't undestand everything about his justice", ad nauseum....theologizing pain, suffering, death, suicide, and other human tragedies.

The other answer is that "God is disciplining you", so that you may partake of his holiness! Thank you, but no thank you. Why is it that he "picks on some" as he is supposed to have 'no favorites, as he is no respector of persons.

So, those that hold these views believe that the only thing that is required is absolute faith or trust, withholding one's reason, in fact, reason is the enemy in these cases, because reason will supplant faith.

In the real world, those who have gotten burned when their heart was right and they trusted with all their might and they died, or they were immensely disappointed, or etc...Do these continue to go down the same road and perform the same behavior of "trust", believing somehow that they were at fault, somehow? Or do they learn that this is not the way the world works and then set out to learn what is expected in the "real world"?

I think that those who believe in this type of supernaturalism are really half crazy. I was. And I am trying to come to some sort of sanity, where reality is not disconnected from any other source of knowledge, or life experience.

I really fear for these, as they ignore the "world" thinking that the world will 'take care of itself', because these are to be separate from the world and everything in it. These miss so much of life and the joy of living.

Military Rules in Today's Deployment

I have stated before that my husband and I admire the military, because the military believes in ethics. They do not condone fratenization, adultry, or disrespect for authority. The military believes in "team effort" and pursuing the ideals that made our country great. The military is a great tradition to be involved with.

Westpoint's motto, "We don't lie, cheat or steal and don't tolerate those who do", is the motto of character. I value the training that our men and women in uniform submit to, for the sake of liberty. These lay their lives down willingly for the sake of democratic ideals and our national interests.

Today, I was listening to a program on NPR that had a former military commander, a professor of military law from Yale, and others that were talking about he recent General's pronouncement that anyone found to be pregnant during their service under his command in northern Iraq would be court-martialed. It is my understanding that the pronouncement was tempered a bit. But, the lawyer from Yale said that if this pronouncement was challenged in the courts, it would be upheld. The military "owns" you. And with that, a woman called in to say that she was a former military wife whose husband was told by his commander that they owned his body. One of the other officers had gotten sunburned and was disciplined, because no one should be in any condition that subverts their readiness to serve.

I respect the military's commitment to the ideals of our govenrment and their commitment to one another, as team members serving the same goals. This is an environment any business envies and tries to emulate. Productivity is high in this environment, because of the voluntary nature of entrance, one understands and knows what he/she are serving and why.

The military is not respected by some that think that a pacificist stance is more true to the ideals of humanity's interest. But, this commitment is based on an idealized view of man, where man is not prone to the "disease" that free societies call oppression, and the religious term "sin".

The military will always be needed and should always be applauded not because of what they have to do, but what they protect and what they value. These are the ideals that free societies uphold, even by force, if necessary, because otherwise, none of us will be free for long.

I Don't Respect the Religious

The religious are those who think that they have the TRUTH and that EVERYONE should submit their lives to how they see reality. These are not tolerant, unless it will serve their agenda of "saving the lost". Those who seek to "spread the Gospel" do so because they fear the punishment of God, for others and sometimes for themselves. The religious therefore, are confined by their understanding of God's will, versus coming to terms with their own personal views and convictions. This is why I don't respect the religious.

Our culture allows differences of opinion in every area of our lives, but the religious think that this liberty will somehow circumvent society at is very foundations. The foundation of society is the family. And the family is what constitutes the environment for children, our next generation of citizens. I can appreciate and applaud this value, because I know how important family values are. But, the religious sometimes do not seem to appreciate the diversity of the family. "Family" is known by the form alone, apart from the quality of the family's "life" inside. Divorce is forbidden is such understandings because "God hates divorce". Many suffer under these religious rules, so I don't respect these values.

Other values that the religious hold are the values of cultural monism. The right "culture" is understood according to some outside standard "text", therefore, democracy is not valued, because government becomes God, incarnate. I don't respect those that have such confined understanding of diversity.

Now, that I have stated why I don't respect the religious and some of their values, would they respect me? Probably not, but in our society, we are free to identify with some other group. We do not have to be a part of a religious one. It is important to have enough self-respect to not"submit" to religious rulers , who speak for God. This is a necessary for personal growth and development. I need to own my own life and learn to relate to others where they are open to relate to me, without imposing their own standards upon me "for my own good". Those who think they hear God and can speak for everyone, are dangerous, because they will think they are justified by God to do whatever they want to another human life. And I do not respect that.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

"Postivie Liberty" Amended

Positive Liberty is understood as "intrapersonal", whereas, negative liberty is "interpersonal". Both are needed, because an individual cannot "become" what he needs to "be", so that he can "do". In this sense, postivie liberty is necessary as the means of negative liberty.

Isaiah Berlin thought that positive liberty divided the self into "higher" and "lower" aspects. Where friends can intervene to interject "wisdom' into a situation, government doing so limits liberty altogether. This is where "to manipulate men, to propel them towards goals which you-the social reformer-see, but they may not, is to deny their human essence, to treat them as objects without will, of thier own and therefore to degrade them" (Isaiah Berlin, 1959) is true.

We are experiencing such tyranny in our government's "universal healthcare program". Americans are not used to other telling them what is "proper behavior", as we are used to negative liberty on the larger scale.

The French Revolution was the result of determining a single "right course" for society, a single cure for its ills and woe be to those who opposed it. This has happened in any totaltarian or authoritarian government. Americans believe that their Constitution protects them from such "forces of power".

I believe that we must stand against such grabs for power. Otherwise, most of us will not have liberty at all in our future. We will be enslaved economically, socially, and politically. American ideals will no long exist as ideals, because they will be cremated on the "rocks of political ex, pendiency".

Friends Are Also For....

Friends have many 'jobs". But, these jobs are not "jobs" in the proper sense of the term, because friends are "joys".

Friends are important for celebration. A celebration is not the same without friends. These celebrations are important events in one's life, whether they be graducation from kindergarten, or graduation of one's child from high school. Friends love to experience life with you.

Friends are there during times of grief, when there is nother than anyone can say to comfort you. Friends know that words are absent meaning is such times, but they also know that their very presence speaks volumnes about love, care and concern.

Friends know how to tell you the truth. They inform you "objectively" without objectifying your 'person'. One can recieve from a friend these "gems of truth" because trust is the very essense of the relationship. Trust is the food of the relationship, whereas, respect is its food. A friend's concern is never disrespectful, because they want the best, when they see the worst.

Friends have memories that are shared just between the two and memories that are shared with larger groups. These memories bind one with the other with an identification that connects "hearts and lives". And friends call this "love".

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Naturalism is Just Another Name...

Naturalism is just another name for God. Naturalism claims that there is no 'open universe". Resources, whether they be the natural environmental, or social are in "short supply". So, all people are called to altruistic ends, because we all need to survive.

Crime is viewed as not affirming human need, whether in material resources, or social structures. Crime is really the fault of society, because we don't share and dont' care.

I don't want to sound sarcastic, as I understand that there are many that suffer from the failures of others, but that doesn't mean that the whole of society should suffer the consequences of the "underdog". Under-dogs are prone to stay under-dogs unless they are given proper resources to overcome their deficiencies.

Leaders in the naturalistic scheme of things are those that create society and form the interests of the state. And the state should have all citizens interests in mind when formulating the laws that govern it. Equality under law, must be of primary importance when the governing bodies propose policy for 'public good". Does the policy build on liberty of individuals under the rule of law, or does it circumvent this equality under law, by prescribing how equality is to be served?

So, it is "we the people", not "we, under the rule of government", or "we, the people under God-ordained authority". We are a people that have minds, wills, dreams, hopes, and desires that create our republic. We the people has meaning. And the "common good" or the 'public interest" should not be formulated in naturalism's interests alone. We the people are human beings, that are designed to benefit from a free and open society that has no ulterior agenda other than serving the interests of the people the government serves!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Some Thomas Jefferson Quotes

I like Thomas Jefferson. He is a "noble servant"of our country's Founding and I think he has much wisdom for today...

"The Constitution of most of our states (and of the United States) assert that all power is inherent in the people; that they may exercise it by themselves; that it is their right and duty to be at all times arm."

A Bill of Rights is what the people are entitled to against every government, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.

A wise and frugal government, which shall leave men free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned - this is the sum of good government.
Thomas Jefferson

All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.
Thomas Jefferson

Commerce with all nations, alliance with none, should be our motto.

Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition.
Thomas Jefferson

Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.
Thomas Jefferson

Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms of government those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson

For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well-organized and armed militia is their best security.
Thomas Jefferson

Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.

History, in general, only informs us of what bad government is.
Thomas Jefferson

I do not find in orthodox Christianity one redeeming feature.
Thomas Jefferson

I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.
Thomas Jefferson

I never will, by any word or act, bow to the shrine of intolerance or admit a right of inquiry into the religious opinions of others.
Thomas Jefferson

I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.
Thomas Jefferson

I would rather be exposed to the inconveniences attending too much liberty than those attending too small a degree of it.
Thomas Jefferson

In every country and every age, the priest had been hostile to Liberty.
Thomas Jefferson

It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others: or their case may, by change of circumstances, become his own.
Thomas Jefferson

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What I Hate to Think

What I hate to think is that God is reduced to the "common Gospel"...
or the "common ideal"....

What I hate to think is that man is reduced to obedience, instead of rational choice....
or "devalued part"....

What I hate to think is that the individual is only understood within his function...
apart from his function, he ceases to exist....

Christians need to cease being "Christian", giving advice, and having all the answers....and knowing what "the Kingdom entails", and what God's will for everyone is...
Christians need to learn how to be, before any "doing"....

As Christians are foremost humans and maybe when they understand how to be "more" human, then they will cease to be "Christians"....

And I will cease hating to think....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Quote for the Day....

“All tyranny needs to gain a foothold is for people of good conscience to remain silent.“
– Thomas Jefferson

Liberty, Not License

I have heard many talk about liberty, as if it meant license.

What is license? License is what breaks the law. And, liberty is freedom to do as one chooses or wants, but not a license to do what one shouldn't. What one shouldn't do is defined by the law of our country, and by social communities.

Social communities are volutary organizations. One must understand and commit to these with discretion, knowing what these value and why and if these communities represent what you value most.

People change their values and commitments, and this is when it is necessary to change social communities, if they conflict with the values one holds.

I have found that I have changed a lot in the last number of years. Many things change people, as life has a way to change perspective. And education also informs what one values, or how one sees things.

Not everyone that I consider a friend will change along with me, as it concerns certain social communities, and this is why there must be negotiation as it concerns these changes.

So, the ones that are concerned with liberty need to learn where they are able to limit their boundaries, and if it is prohibitive, for whatever reason, then, move on.

And the ones concerned with license, need to be more "humane" in their boundary matienance.

I Like "Positive Liberty"

I like the term positive liberty. I got the term "positive liberty" from another blog site I follow, American Creation. One of American Creation's contributors has a blog called "Positive Liberty", which I have visited on occasion. His name is Jonathan Rowe, and he is a lawyer.

As I have thought about the concept, "positive liberty", I have come to "see" an important, if not a prime value of mine, as well, as our country. "Positive liberty" means that the law and the country seeks to protect liberty. I am not saying that this is the stance of the blog by that name, nor of its contributors, Jonathan Rowe being only one. But, liberty is the highest value in American society. Some think this is a good thing, others do not. Where do we draw our lines and on what basis? (I am thinking on this myself.)

Our American society is guided by principles that allow freedom to individuals as "equal under law". But, social conservatives have always understood society as a narrowed liberty to the social norms as defined by one's social group, mostly by parochial standards. But, our society has changed over these two hundred plus years, where many of the social ills of the past were taboo, today, we do not see many, if any social taboos. And with our enlightened understanding of science, we are even more open to re-define what makes for a flourishing society. But, if science is what defines our society today, are there to be any limits upon scientific investigation? And on what rationale is science to be limited?

Crime will always be considered taboo, but even crime has become defined or specified by science. A criminal is dealt with according to an enlightened view of the person, and their motivations and not just the crime or social norm, itself. We are, after all, a "humane society".

But, what happens when society's leaders have no moral inhibition to such things that were forbidden in the past and even, go to the extent of stretching the law's intent to the benefit of the "legalist"? This is why we have such ethical problems today in our leaders, whether governmental, or corporate. And recently, these same indiscretions lay at the doorstep of the Church, as well. This is where we are today. And our country is not "greater for it, either".

Although I understand the pro-life stance, I cannot take that stance legally, because of the "humane" aspects or the personability of our country's values. Prohibition used to be America's stance toward alcohol, as society feared alcohol's consequencs on the individual and society. And those that chose to seek out the "moonshiners" did so, sometimes at their own expense. We have done away with these laws and some still think that our country has "done wrong" in defending the use of alcohol.

The issue of abortion, with today's view of evolution, where there is "no speical creation, or "special creator" also, has to be evaluated on a rational basis. This is a scientific question and not just a moral one. An un-wed mother, though accepted more in our society than in the past, is in a crisis. And although there are many "crisis" pregnancy centers that seek to counsel those that are in "dire straights", (which is a good thing), what is to be the behavior toward those who still choose to have an abortion in a civilized society? And should society allow what some consider a medical procedure, because they do not adhere to "scripture" as interpreted by the social conservative? Nor do they acknowledge special creation? Should a civilized society allow a pregnant woman to get an abortion, as they used to in the "back alley", where death might be the liklihood? What is MOST humane and reasonable to society and the woman?

And if the woman has the baby, and chooses to keep the baby, what is society's responsibility for the child, and should society be responsible for such children and why? Where do personal and societal responsibility intersect? And at what costs to society, and the child?

A similar concern for society is sexual education. How is society to meet the needs that the family used to provide? What is society's responsibility? Is there any, and if so, what are the educators supposed to do with sex education, when there are many moral issues that all members of society do not agree upon? Should taxes go to support what I, personally do not value? If not, and it is legal, how do I resist such abuses to my conscience?

Homosexuals are also "up in arms" over their right to marry in our society. Should they have a right? Should we divide marriage, as many European countries do in civil and church unions? What is to be valued most in our society, liberty of conscience, or moral definitions, and then what church is to define the moral definition for our country, when our country does not allow a "state church'? Are our Protestant churches supposed to "submit' their consciences to the Roman Catholic Church? Or the Greek Orthodox? Or the Russian Orthodox? Who is to be the arbitrator of such societal situations?

An atheist that seeks public office should be allowed to serve our country, shouldn't they? This is a question now being considered in Asheville, N.C. where an atheist is being challenged. Is this appropriate, when our country allows liberty of conscience concerning religious values ? Just because a person doesn't define God according to my definition, should that ban them from public service? What about a Buddhist, Unitarian Universalist, or Muslim serving our country in public office?

Today's challenge is to be humane in a society that is not perfectly accomodating to our own personal social "ideals". We still need to be civil and inclusive in our discussions of the issues that concern us, when another challenges our personal convictions and beliefs. Otherwise, our society will dissolve into tribal mentalities and tribal survival instincts. And we will not represent the ideals of our Founders in upholding the values of liberty and justice for all....

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Power Corrupts

It has been said, "Power corrupts and absolute power, corrupts absolutely". Why is this so? Power gives a sense of being above the frey of "common man". Power is exillerating because one can choose and "make things happen". World events and history can be changed due to the use of power. But, history has also understood what absolute power does in any position. This is the brillance of our Founding Fathers in establishing our three branches of government. The executive branch was not considered to be the "rule of a King". The people had a voice in their government through their vote for Congressional candidates and the judicial branch has granted individual liberties to those that were persecuted or discriminated against.

It used to be believed that power was given by God and therefore, rulers ruled under the authority of God-given power. The peasant classes were to submit and deter to what "God had ordained". Heridatary power was understood to be the priviledged and empowered classes and Kings made treaties based on marriage contracts.

But, our Founders understood that all people were created equal, with certain inalienable rights. These rights were natural rights, not supernaturally given or sanctioned. Men were to recognize and respect another's right to life and liberty and their pursuit of happiness. This was the basis of our Constitution and has been the fodder of the human rights movement.

Individuals are respected in our country's very "ideals" and power is limited by "the rule of law". Therefore, I am thankful that I live in a country that respects the "rule of law" and wants to pursue justice, stand against injustice and resist those that think thier power is absolute.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why I Like D.C

My husband and I have been a "part" of the D.C. area since 1983. It is familiar territory for us. It is "home" in many ways, because "our" lives began there with our children. And we have gone back there every year for at least several weeks, to serve on 'active duty'. D.C. holds many memories that have become a "part" of "us".

The memories of D.C. are of its diverse culture, which allows freedom of thought and life. It is the center of our nation's 'power', which I have come to cherish. D.C. is a cultural hub where one can have learning experiences of all kinds. And D.C. doesn't "care" whether you exist or not. It has the atmosphere of "city life".

D.C. has become representative of 'our values': diversity, challenge, stimulating, culture, and the center of our government. As our children have grown up, and now, with Nate gone, we do not have our family dinners around the table, as much. And when we do, Nate isn't there anymore. Rebekah has her own family and Daniel has recently married and has integrated into his wife's family. So,these are all values that bond my husband and myself these days.

Friday, December 11, 2009

"The Island", a Good Commentary on the Dangers in Science and Religion

Tonight my husband and I watched "The Island". It is a realistic sci-fi picture about clones. The main plot is to"control" the clones in their human characteristics, limiting their choice, questions and experiences and controlling the information to the outside world about their humanity. I found the movie spoke to both sides of the religion/science debate.

Science's danger in de-humaninzing the individual clones was seen in the way that the clones were treated and "named". The clones were termed "products" and named according to their "lot in life". Science determined their purpose and limited the clones in questioning or observing their environment, or experiencing the joys of human "connection"; the joy of parenthood, or joy of "love". These clones were made for specific purposes and could not be allowed to "become" other than their determined purpose, which was a fulfillment of another's purpose and plan. The clone was not unique, but was told they were "special", which was another way of deceiving the real intent of their "controllers".

While the scientific aspect of the movie was obvious, the religious implications were no less clear to me. These clones were not allowed to experience the "outside world". The clones had a standardized environment, which limited their choices and understanding of the world, while telling them that they were 'special". The religious aspect was the de-humanizing element of being called out and promised a visit to "the Island", when in reality, the promise was only a fabrication to give hope in a sterile and controlled environment. What the "promise" represented was the fulfillment of the 'controller's purposes, not the hopes of the clones. The clones were not allowed to hope or experience the common joys of bacon, or the touch of a hand.The clones were sub-human as their ultimate purpose was more important than their speicific desire.

Two clones escape and "fall in love". They are desparate to "live" and experience the "real world", have choices, and come to terms with themselves, not their "pre-determined purpose". I found the movie stimulating but, perplexing emotionally.

Humans are never to be treated with such disrespect and disregard. Psychologically the movie intensified my anxiety over such life situations. All humans want to think that they are self-determining agents, and not pre-determined "robots". Humans rebel against such treatment and they should.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"That's What Friends Are For"....

There was a song long ago that I used to like, "That's What Friends Are For". I couldn't help but think of that song tonight as I was thankful for the friends I have.
They have blessed my life today, and everyday they have been a part of my life, these past 55 years. This is to commemorate these friends, as well as to honor friendship in general.

Friends don't have to ask questions, they know you, therefore, they just "know".

Friends don't demand, demean, or dishonor because they really care about you.

Friends like to spend time together, as friends enjoy each other's company. There is acceptance.

Friends seek to encourage, when their friends are down and out. They seek to find ways to "say" "I love and care about you".

Friends are there when you need them. And there are many times that you need them.

Friends always have space, and time for you because you are important.

I think being a friend is an important job. I hope that my friends always find this true of me, as I seek to grow in these areas.

This I Believe....a Personal Confession

I believe that man is made to become independently self sustaining and independent. This is not to say that man lives alone, or doesn't need companionship. Nor does it mean that man cannot learn from another, as we all learn in many ways from others. But, man is made to become a rational being that can ascertain the values that he holds most dear, that decide the course of his life and commitments. There should never be group imposition upon another human life, without full acknowledgment and consent of those so governed.

I believe that many times these commitments might conflict and cause one to choose the greater value.

I believe that self responsible behavior is one of the most important gifts parents can give their children and that authority is respected when they give the respect to individuals under their responsibility. Right attitudes is mandatory in all relationships, whether they are personal and intimate, as in the family, or contractual, as in business dealings.

The church is one of many social structures in society that give men a place to become, but should never be ultimate in their authority, as authority is not the purpose of any government.

Government is to respect the rights of the individual. Government was made for man, not man for the government. Therefore, government must not intrude into private life, not demand public service. Public service is to be given freely by grateful citizens that benefit from the protection their government provides. But, government should always limit itself, just as men must learn to limit themselves.

Marriage is a social contract that should be respected by the parties entering into it. These parties must determine for themselves how they want their contract to work. Society, in return, should expect the parties to respect the contract as a social structuring in securing an environment for society's flourishing.

Social institutions are to provide environments that help further the cause of human flourishing and society's structuring.

I believe no one should impose their view of virtue on another. Virtue cannot be forced, as virtue could be just as much resistance to oppression, as submission to a social structure. Virtue must come from a conviction within, not without.

Morality is determined by one's social group and society at large,. as morality are the rules that define the specified society's values and ultimate concerns.. Morality are the social norms in society, which are legislated in our laws to protect our liberty. Liberty of conscience must be maintained in matters of personal interests, such as religious worship. Otherwise, the society demands what cannot be demanded without coercive government interference into another's life.

I believe that what one chooses to do with one's life is a personal matter and not the matter of the church or society. Society and its social institutions can help further the goals of an individual, but government should never determine another's life choices or values.

I believe in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These will be defined differently by individuals within our free society and that is the greatness of America.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Cultural Wars and "Winning the Game"

Yesterday, I heard an interview with Jim Leach on NPR. He is heading up a "humanities" project that wants to educate Amerians on philosophy, history of the U.S., politics, and there may be some other issues that I don't remember. His intent is to bring about a more "peaceful" solution to the present culture wars.

War occurs when there are two opposing views that "collide". Both think they need to "win the game". Both think they are justified and "right". And to win the game, it is believed that it is important to "stay the course" at all costs! But, is this cause worth it? I'm afraid American culture lends itself to the "ideal" of winning at all costs, without considering the ultimate costs to our civil discourse in the public square. We all need to learn to express our views with passion, but without personal attack, understanding that the very expression of political views were won by our Founders garuanteeing that America "wins" when "both sides", win. It is a balancing of power, when we have a "tug of war".

America's culture wars are about political goals, who will win at policy-making, and who will have to live their lives accordingly. These are issues that cannot co-exist peacefully because of their immense diversity and the impact that the "other side" thinks will transpire because of it.

It is unfortunately the case that for the most part, we are a two party system. The nuances of political philosphy are not important to "discover", as muh as maintaining the course of whichever agenda has been appealing. This is why I think that Congressman Leach has a noble purpose.

The conservative side, which believes in free markets and pro-life, have gone so far as to re-create scripture to further and sanction their political views. The political left, on the other hand, believes that the social concern and moral duty of Americans goes beyond their "own doorstep", so to speak. These two views have a vastly different politial philosophy, which certainly cannot co-exist, if one believes that "God" is on "your side". "Winning the game" because all important then, because of the feared consequences of the cultural impact at "home" and the world at large.

These views could be discussed more civilly, if one did not mix "god" into the "pot". But, holiness causes are prone to justify any means in the attempt to defend "God's honor", or "God's purposes", while the left would be more prone to defend the "greater good" for the "world". But, do we really know what the 'greater good" is for the world, really? Both sides sound presumptuous and arrogant, in their own way, whether about understanding "god", or about man having an omniscient and ominpresent view.

Jim Leach was a Republican Congressman from Iowa, so, I would imagine he has some "insight" into the conservative viewpoint. And beause he has been in politics, he understands the left. I wish him well on his journey, as the nation needs this type of "calming" influence.

And Americans need to understand their neighbor, as well as understanding their right to speak.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Literalizing Text, Tradition, and Science

For the past number of years, people have been analyzing Scripture as if "every dot and tittle" is true. The analysis assumes that the message is literally and universally true. The problem is that literalizing the life of Christ is absurd if one wants to have people that live in the "real world". The fundamentalists/evangelicals are pruod of this endeavor. But, no less proud are the literal scientific types.

These scientific types think that bringing about the "real Jesus" movement will bring in the Kingdom of God. These are the theologically and eschalogical literalists.

Others are more open to experiment upon actual "case studies" so they can further their speicific Christian disicpline to prove scientifically the "facts" of faith. And still others, are interested in building the church.

International business minds find they can "get a cut" out of the deal, as their are so many fundamentalists and evangelicals in the U.S. Play the game and get the benefit.

So many, the believers, un-believers and the ambitious are all "on board" to bring in the Kingdom of God.

But, what about those who have been so pre-ordained? How do they think and feel about such a method of crucifixion or "usefulness"? Is this loving? No, but it will train or teach or form the person into "God's image", the very image of Christ. The pietists and Kantians are enamored.

But, is this methoc kind and considerate? No, but the greater good will benefit and the "guinea pig" will learn to be "selfless". The educators and utiltarians are "lured".

And what about the poor, who are "useful" for political ends? Are they truely cared about by those that use them as a "means"?

You get the message. "Doing justly and loving mercy" is not about planning the Kingdom, or carrying out specific purposes of others. A man or woman of character cannot objectify another life in such a way, as the means de-means the very image of God. The means controls, manipulates, assumes, presumes, and thinks of an 'apology". And yet, these think they "do God's work" and "co-create with God". What they create is a monstrosity. It is evil itself, not "good".

This morning I was sent an e-mail from a friend about Shaine Clayborn, who wrote "Irresitible Revolution". This was the 'primer" of this "entry". Our university used it in thier "World Changers" course. My husband and I tried to use it to help these students understand that their lives could be used just as pursposefully, in a different way, than Shaine's "radicalism". That anything they choose to do can be useful in the world for God.

Shaine's premise is the love of God for the poor, which has become the politically and religiously correct view these days. His interest in the poor is because God is love. He has obviously experienced this love, to be able to know and share it. Fine. But, for those who do not have that "message" to impart, then what is the "Kingdom" for them?

Are others allowed to have different lives and not be "judged" as lacking commitment? Maybe this is a good "weeding out" as the radicals like to say, of those "chosen" and those "not chosen". That is fine, too. I just know I am not going to share what is not "reality" to me. And who should?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Nation-States, Values and Universiality

Today's need to look for the universal, so that our fractured state of affairs might be mended, is all important, I believe. Is there a universal? Are there unversal values?

In a scientific age, where men do not accept religion at face value, one must use the "picture" of man as an evolutionary being, and yet, hold to some aspect of "higher value", so that man is prized above the natural realm. Why would this be important?

Humans must not be equivolized to "matter alone". Otherwise, science will treat man, as just matter. There is no ethical or moral obligation to deter science from de-meaning those "outside of the power structures".

Today's climate of globalism has led many to affirm multi-culturalism without critical analysis. These have sought to understand man within context, without understanding man, himself. Is the "man" apart from culture?

Yes, man is a rational being, that acts in response to stimuli,and has certain basic needs to develop potential. But, affirming multiculturalism is a different matter.

Multiculturalism holds no values as universal, because values are contextually understood. While this may be true within the realm of religious values, it is not true within the realm of science, or universiality.

Universiality are the basics that our nation upholds; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Each citizen is granted these inalienable rights. These rights are the basis of human rights and our government's desire to see that other nations comply with these universal principles.

Today's globalism that affirms such multiculturalism and relativism as The United Nations affirms all nations as equal. Lybia is an equal to America, in fact, because of America's "discriminaton" of certain nations, America suffers persecution under the label of "Empire".

This is an absurd view, because American ideals value individual liberties and independent thinking, unlike nations that condone monarchies, theocracies, or dictatorships.

What is of ulitmate value? American ideals, which uphold human rights, but within the bounds of law.

Science, as the New Religion

Science has been a "blessing" to man, but just as much a curse. Science has blessed many with technological developments and medical 'miracles" that have brought convenience, and health. But, science today is really a religion.

Religion requires "worship". And worship is a form of submitting one's rationale to an "uncritical" mind-set. I think this is what had happened with the elite scientists that "fudged" on the data concerning global warming.

Science gives man answers that makes men feel comfortable and safe, as if they control their environment. And science has been "useful" in "controlling" society, just as religion was in the past. Anyone who quotes a scientific expert has the ear of the populace. But, what the populace doesn't know, for the most part, is the science itself is diverse, just as religion is.

There are certain formulas that a scientists uses to understand the physical world. But, there are many formulas, or ways of approaching the physical world. And this is what the university does in thier "discussions" about the world in all its aspects.

Man, though is more than his physical being, and this is what scientists seek to understand today. There is much that is left in question, now with the discoveries in neuroscience. How are we to understand man, when neuroscience says that the brain determines many aspects of a person's behavior? Is there to be a "committee" to determine what is to be "proper behavior", so that those that "don't fit" will be "fixed" by medicine? These are very pressing and pertinent questions concerning mankind's future.

What and how do we understand the social science that believed in the past that man was influenced by his enviornment? How much is the brain affected by experience, and how much is experience interpreted by the "form" of the brain? Is mental illness just a brain "dislocation" like an arm that is broken?

The ethical questions are many and profound in their implications. What does religion mean in such a context? Is religion just a "coping mechanism" of the brain to its environment? And how are we to know? Is it ethical to "test" on human subjects by forcing them into environments that would "force" the issue of how the brain adjusts to such "trauma"? Scientists that think such experiements are appropriate think that the benefit far outweighs the "costs" to the "guinea pig".

I fear for our future if scientists have such a view of man, where he is only a "frog" to be dissected. Men are more than "frogs", if one believes in any form of "God". And we know that experiements such as this would be against what the West has always stood for in human rights.

We have much to fear if science becomes a religion!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Using Religion

If religious truths are true, then they should be followed by all. But, if religious truths are relative in human devleopment, then they should remain 'in their place". I am no expert, but it seems to me that since there has been research that does not appeal to the religious realm for human developemnt, then religon is an apendage, a periforal, but unnecceary "extra", as there is "no truth but God's truth". There is no "special revelation, only general revelation. And general revelation is not defined necessarily within the relgious "confines" of church and religious community.

Religion gives meaning, defines values and give man an outside source of authority. But, modern man knows that humans develop apart from religion and traditon can be understood in many different ways, as cultural or familial identification factors.

I got an e-mail from a friend today that told me of her struggle ot overcome an abusive religous environment. She talked of moving away and thinking she would never recover. She revealed how protective she and her husband were toward religious environments and religious "purposes". She encouraged me to walk carefully in regard to "belonging to a religious community", or looking for affirmation within that sort of environment. She said that her healing came from outside of religion and the community of faith, from a friend that wasn't connnected to religion. I think she has fully recovered, as she sees things clearly, now.

In her book, "Twisted Scriptures", Mary Alice Chrnalogar, a international recovery counselor of abusive discipleship programs and abusive churches, has many "signposts" that signify an abusive spiritual environment. She develops the history of the discipleship/spiritual mentoring program and shows the ill effects upon the naive and trusting.

I find that most evangelical and all fundamentalist teaching that I have been exposed to, is prone to this sort of abuse. Many do not recover their individual identity and some have break-downs because of authoritarianism, and distorted views of spritiuality. I know many who have experienced such abuse and wonder how many suffer under thei ill-effects of such environments.

This friend's husband also compromised his career because of such "commitments". Commitments that are useful for leadership and their goals, use terms such as: "covenant", "total surrender", "consecration", "full commitment", "wholehearted", "sanctified", and many other such terms. The definitions of these terms, of course, are "understood" best by leadership. And one that wants to be so commited will do whatever the leader requires to be "approved" to have passed the test to recieve the "sanction' of the "special intiation" into the religous community of faith. This is a CULT! GET OUT!

Cults breed undue dependence, and demand obedience, as their authority is derived from God, not man, or so they assert. Cults do not allow independent thinking, critical analysis, or academic development. Such "outside sources" might challenge the 'status quo" that would change the very authoritarian structure, undermining the leaders power and control over others.

Individuals need to find thier unique gifts and interests and follow these. This will be a defense against those that wish to prey upon those who seek outside approval. Everyone should come to a place where they will be settled in 'who they are', as innately gifted and created. And say with me:
"I will be, who I will be, not who some else thinks I should be and I will do what I will do, not what someone else determines for me to do. I will be free."

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Politicizing the Public Square (con.)

My last post suggested that we must allow diversity of viewpoint, if we want our Republic to survive the "cultural wars". The Establishment clause did NOT discriminate against relgious freedom, but neither did it discriminate against any other form of "being in the world". So, religion cannot be established by the government, that means a certain tradition being sanctioned under governmental power. But, religious people can form the views and opinions and have a right to assemble about political goals. This is appropriate in a free society.

We do not discriminate based upon one's choice of commitment, whether that be to one's vocation, one's spouse (except in the case of homosexuality), one's religious views, or one's political views. We are a society that believes in liberty, as our unifying identity.

Today, though the Church wants to implement its views into our courts and legislate what everyone should do. Legislation is not about character, but about conscience and values. Instead of winning the "war" with persuasion, the Church wants to control behavior legally.

Whenever one attempts to control another's behavior, there is a lack of ethical character that I think trumps the concern that the religious try to impose. One size does not fit all, as Americans are not all believers. And even believers differ in many ways from other believers in their opinons and convictions. There is diversity and this is a strength, if we hold to the ideal of tolerance, and not some form of ideology that defines what life and liberty MUST mean.

Our Founders were not all in agreement as to their personal religious "commitments' and beliefs, and they found a way to form our government around the ideals that define "freedom for Americans". Those who disagree with what is or has been legislated have an open forum in the public square to voice their opinon. But, all who voice thier opinion should also know that there should be equal access of time to those who have a different view.

What would our nation look like if we could disagree and tolerate, holding to the ideals of liberty and justice for all, not just a segmented or identified part, but for ALL of us. Would that be more like "heaven on earth"?

Politicizing the Public Square

I watched a program the others day about child prostitution and today I received an e-mail from a friend about a program to meet the needs of orphan children, who live in the garbage dumps. On the sidebar there was a quote from a public person affirming this program's value. I started to question my response/reaction...The wealthy can "throw money" at these issues without even a blink about the money they give, as they have so much. But, those of us who are average Americans attempt to live responsibly and take care of our own and give here and there, and yet, the public square is making many demands on private citizens these days. This is the "moral climate".

Why did I not respond as I usually have in the past with tears, or thinking that this was a valuable "mission"? As I went through and tried to discern what was "in my heart", I realized that the truth of belonging and significance was of great value in motivation. Sometimes the issues we are most emphathetic toward are those we ourselves have experienced.

The other day, I had an occasion to share about research findings that support a person's activity to their identity. This seems even more pertinent in today's culture wars. The conservative continue to battle their "prime" concern of "pro life", while the liberal has underwritten their agenda with political power. It seems "the poor" are the pawns in the liberalized agenda.

No one likes to think that they do not belong, so humans seek a place and a space where they identify. Names are of importance in one's familial identity, and society approves or disapproves of the "name" because of "the standing in the community" or the larger public square. So, parents compete for prominience through their child's accomplishments or their family's status.

Accomplishments are certainly of value and any parent, teacher or mentor wants to see their
young person develop to their fullest potential, but there is something sinister about competing when the child doesn't have the interest or there is a mode of competition that devalues others because of the "game". This type of politicizing the family is tragic for the child. It teaches the child to value winning at all costs, without considering the other. Or it teaches that using any means is fine, if one can have an advantage over another. Caring about another is much more than their material accomplishments, but it is also about caring about the"person", as an individual.

The public and private segments of our lives were meant to stay separate for a reason. Publicizing private pain or failings, is not humane, but cruel. Only those that are relationally involved with a person can understand all the reasons a person chooses to do what they do, or value what they value. America is a nation that values the right of individuality in choice and conviction, when it comes to private matters of worship, conscience and value.

That is not to say that others should not play an important part in their relationship toward parents, children, and or families, as friends do what they can to support, help and underwrite the parent's desires, as long as it benefits the child. Friends help, support and hold each other accountable. That's what friends are for.

Humans tend to love voyerism, especially if it concerns society's "elite". Somehow, making another look bad, makes one "feel good", but, what really needs to happen is for our lives to be full enough to not look at another's life, but our own and live for today, as fully as possible. Objectifying another's situation whether moral, material or otherwise, does not lead to a "healthy assessment".

We, Americans are free to choose our values, and our commitments. Let us allow each American the right of choice in the public square and not politicize the private. Do we allow another the freedom we want for ourselves?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Would Do It the Same Way Again..

Time is curious, as it seems to have no consitency in our perception. Sometimes time seems to fly and other times, time stands still. But, nevertheless, time moves one whether we percieve it to or not. Time makes many of us wiser and this is the topic of discussion today.

Wisdom comes with age, they say, because life has a way of teaching you about "life". Many of us learn and grow as we are stretched or enlarged by our formal or informal educational opprotunities. But, when I look back over my life, I cannot regret. Why?

If I went back, I would be the person I was, not the person I am, now. And because I would've been that same person, I would've responded in the same way I did back then. We can never go back. But, we can learn to grow through our mistakes and learn from them. This is wisdom.

So, today, grace is about forgiving oneself, even more so, because we must be understanding of the other as well. Otherwise, we become hardened and narrow and bent on correcting another's wrong, without understanding that we ahve make mistakes, too.