Sunday, January 31, 2010

For Those Who Choose to Believe...

Humans are created in the "image of God", or so the believing community affirms. Therefore, humans are special, or distinct from other forms of life. Human life is to be respected. Therefore, those who choose to believe must affirm that humans cannot be manipulated, controlled, oppressed, or "trained" as animals.

In the Old Testament, there is a story about a man who attempted to "steady the ark of the covenant". His intentions were well-meaning, as he didn't want the ark of the covenant to "fall to the ground" and defile it. But, what happened to him struck fear in the heart of others as to the seriousness of "touching the ark of the covenant" for any reason, well intentioned or not.

The Ark of the Covenant was symbolic of the Presence and Law of God. In the New Testament, it is understood to be "the human being" who is created in God's image that is the "ark of the Covenant".

Other communal understandings is "the Church", as the "Ark of the Covenant". The problem with this view is the problem of any group type form. But, in this sense, the Church is a cult. A cult or sectarian faiths have certain irrational beliefs that defend their practices. These are symbolized in communion, marriage, baptism and other sacraments. These symbolize "the community" as ancient cultures understood themselves in "communal ways".

Enlightenment via the Reformation has understood the importance of the individual, not the communal. Some have thought that this is what has undermined America's civil responsibilities. But, I believe that what the individual child is taught and becomes is based in the family. Family is understood by both pyschological and sociological science and faith communities as a formative community. Therefore, the individual is formed in the framework of care, concern and commitment.

Those who choose to believe will not presume or assume upon the community nor the individuals within those communities.

What is Wrong with Providence?

Providence has been understood to be "God's rule" or "over-ruling" of life in all its aspects. But, what is wrong with this view and providence?

Modern man does not understand 'all that is" as predestined, or providential, but contingent and a "possiblity" or chance. Parallel universes, where choice and contingency intermingle to form what is. That is what natural scientists and human scientists seek to disentangle. But, the more they seek to disentangle the "mystery", the more mysterious it seems to get.

All people in free societies have rights to opportunity, because free societies do not limit the individual. The disagreement happens in how the opportunity is to be understood. Are human themselves to create their own opportunity? This is the view of the "Protestant work ethic", where hard work, willpower and determination will result in success. These believe that innovation is the way of American dreams and possiblities.

The other side views the limitations to opportunity. Those born in environments that do not promote the necessary ingredients to be a 'success" are viewed as society's responsibility. Responsible people seek to take responsibility for those who cannot form their own life for success. This view seeks to prosper the whole by underwriting the "part". Society takes up the slack where individuals and families have failed.

These two views define for the most part, though simplistically, how our two party system views "life", people, value, and choice.

Providence doesn't have much to do with one's environment of birth, whether healthy and enriching, or unhealthy and demeaning.

What is Wrong With "Covenant"

On another blog, I read this morning where arranged marriages could be a way to "form" intimacy. The one response was affirming of this type of "legal commitment". But, I find there are some problems with this sort of "covenant".

"Covenant" is a term that was useful in biblical times to transmit a way of understanding relationships. Blood covenants were an exchange or co-mingling of blood to symbolize and exchange of life. One would take on the other's enemies, as the "other"'s life became one's own. This was the traditional understanding of marriage. It was a mutual exhange and co-mingling of "life for life". The two became one.

Scholars have disagreed as to whether the covenant (suzerain) was unilateral or mutual. Covenant theologians understood the covenant to be undertaken by God, as God was the only one who could fulfull his own demands (basing their understanding of the perfections of God). This was where predestination came into the understanding of "bibilical theology". Reformed believers believed that God predestined some to respond to his "understaking in the covenant", while others believed in various forms of "foreknowledge".

In the Old Testament one was allowed to take the life of the other, if the other had taken life. This was the basis of justice, an eye for an eye. "An eye for an eye" limited justice to equal measure, because of human's propensity to revenge. Revenge annihilates the other, instead of training the other to limit themself.

Covenant in the New Testament meant that what was considered to be an outside demand, became an inside desire. Evangelicals, or fundamentalists would believe that one would need a "new heart" to do what was demanded "under law". Ususally, these understood the "new heart" to come about by a "re-birth" or "born again" experience. Others believed that one was "born into" the family of God by baptism, or communion of life. Holiness people understood this to be "entire sanctification". One obeyed not from duty, but desire.

But, the Enlightenment undermined the view of covenant. Humans were no longer understood to be pawns under God, King or government, but "self". Holiness people understood this "discipline" to be the "fruit of the Spirit". Rationalists understood it to be discipline of habit. All understood it to be the result of a free choice.

The scientific disciplines were developing during the "modern age" where sociology and psychology were in their beginning stages of understanding human behavior, just as the natural sciences were the result of understanding "order in the universe".

Man was no longer a puppet under God, but understood to be "created in God's image". What does that mean, except that man is created to create, decide and choose for himself?

Liberty became the watchword of the Enlightenment, not covenant. Man was a free moral agent.

Today, the human sciences are grappling again with what it means to be human. Contingency has to be considered along with individual choice. Neuroscience has to be considered alongside psychological and sociological science. No longer is man understood in one demensional ways, as a wholistic view is sought.

The modern era brought us the disciplines we use to continue to understand and form what we will know tomorrow about man, society, and his environment.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Art, As Expression and Free Speech

Artists are known to be a "little different". Perhaps, this is a stereotype, but it seems that artists do "see" things differently, "feel" things deeply, and express things vividly.

All art is a mixture of culture, history, and artist. This is why art is so "fun". Art reveals values, and the philosophy that forms the culture, as well as expresses something about the artist himself. Art is of value for itself because it reveals what is experienced in the present and the past throught the artist's eyes.

So, in thinking this morning about color and how to arrange the apartment and its furniture, I also thought about free speech, I realized that art is speech and art is expression. So, art is a form of "free speech" in societies. The question is: where are the lines in regards to art? Should there be lines about what is appropriate art? Does art form culture or is art a reflection of culture?

These questions are like asking the nurture/nature questions. Questions like these can never really be answered fully, as they are so intertwined. Whenever we ask such questions, then we ask about beginnings. What forms society and its values and meaning? I think many great artists are never really accepted by the social norm of their day, because they see "ahead" or understand principles of universialtiy that may not be reflected in a certain cultural time frame.

In the social frame these are social reformers, and in the humanities frame, these are the artists of literature, and art in its various forms. Art speaks to the heart before the head can get in the way. Because art reflects the "human" in a way that other things can't.

Just for example, my husband told me that he felt the apartment was "cold". When I told a couple of other people what he said, they responded that "he needed to turn up the heat". Their answer was an answer of science. But, what Wim really meant was that the apartment did not have "my decorator's stamp" on it. He felt an emotional coldness, because I don't like white walls. And he missed some of my personal taste in the apartment. The "flavor" of art, cannot be expressed by the chemicals that make up the paint.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Amusement About Augustine...

Today I remembered a blog I read yesterday and couldn't help but think that it was amusing. The blogger said that Augustine had suggested that God's reason for creating man's nipples was for aesthetic reasons. Isn't that funny?

On the other hand, or seriously, Augustine must have felt he needed to defend everything and somehow give God the credit for its reason for being. Men's nipples? No real purpose, other than they "look good"? But, that is okay. The world is as beautiful, as it is baffling,

That is really " good news" if you find that "art", music, beauty, and other "useless" creations are really important as pointers to and of beauty. Beauty resonates in the heart of man, as something that is from "another" category, than useful. And that category has a lot to do with what is NOT, but what humans "know" by nature. What is the meaning of beauty?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Superbowl, Free Speech, and 'Political Correctness"

Free speech is again in question. It seems that some think that it is inappropriate to feature an ad taken out by "pro-lifers". The question posed to Palin tonight was; Was this appropriate? Was the Superbowl the place to feature a "controversial" ad. Palin, of course, was supportive and definite in her commitment to the right to "free speech".

I don't understand why this would be controversial in a free society where free speech is supposed to be valued. Why would it be offensive for a mother and son to tell their 'story' of "family"? This son was thankful that his mother decided to choose life for him. Why is this offensive?

I am wondering why conservatives always seem to suffer under the scrunty of liberal snubbery. Liberals can "get away" with indiscretions. I have often told my husband that I think it is because liberals don't hold to "higher standards" and conservatives do. So, when a conservative "fails" to meet their own standards, the hypocrisy is an obvious political bullseye.

On the other hand, when democrats promise big, but don't deliver, the American people are outraged. So, whether through the ideal idealism of the conservative, or the political hypocrisy of the liberal, both are becoming disgusting to the American public.

Not many believe that free speech is in danger, but political correctness is a short step to propaganda. And sometimes I wonder if it isn't propaganda, when it becomes clear that the politicians are not connected or caring about the people they are to represent. Free speech is NOT their right to act in the way they want, but to listen to those who are speaking. It is the people that need to be heard, while the politician listens and explains.

I'm listening, but there is little explaining.

The Question of Why.and Which.....

I was talking to a couple of friends last night and something came up in the course of conversation that made me start thinking of why it was that an individual prefers one choice above another. Some have believed that the preference is due to cultural upbringing, which conditions the child to a certain "bent of mind". I adhere to the value and necessity of an affirming culture, but are all our choices due to cultural conditioning?

As I am the only one that knows and has experience my family, culture, and innate nature, I will "consult" my memory and share my questions.

I was brought up in the South; strong, and proud of its heritage. I have come to appreciate some of the pride I before distained. But, it makes me wonder why? Was my resistance, or "rebellion" of my Southern heritage because of my own innate preferences (biological determinism) or because of my nurture and its failures (self-concept)?

My family was conservative Baptist, but not fundamental in the true sense. I was "raised in the Church" and found friendships there. But, always longed to move to a large city (New York) and experience a larger frame of reference. Was this because I innately preferred large cities and a more liberal environment? Or was it because I didn't feel I "fit" or belonged in a provincial setting, due to family divorce and bad parenting?

In choosing friends in school, I didn't always choose those in the sororities or the popular bunch because I fear rejection and felt like tha "little guy" who couldn't "make the grade" was of value just as I had wanted to be. So, while grandparents chose the doctors, lawyers and "Indian chiefs", I chose the "little guy". And while cousins became debutantes and sorority sisters, I chose to distain such distinctions. Was it due to my self image and fear of rejection or was there something about me as a "person" that innately did not desire such position?

In school, I never excelled or valued education, except for two years that I attended an experimental school that "tracked" individual students based on their ability. Since this was a new type of school there was no way for adminstration to know where to "trac me", when I moved from another school. So they put me in the bottom level of each subject. I worked my way up to the top level of every subject, even though it meant a lot of "catch up work". I was proud, but no one else was. So, I moved on to junior high school interested in finding friends and boys to "give me value".

So, which is it; nature, or nurture? I can't seem to tease out which is of more importance. I only know that it matters that environments be conducive for the individual to excel as far as possible and that includes many social/political dimensions of life.

Bribery and "Indiscretions" at the Height of Power

It seems that what was to be a 'western alliance" to defend liberty has become a defender of "peace at all costs".

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Has bribery become the standard way to "get things accomplished" today? America has prided itself on being a country ruled by law, where individual had civil liberties and were not dominated by others whether through oppression from above or from money below. I guess the love of money IS the root of all evil".

America sees her government being corrupted by lobbyist that "buy" special regard and priviledge and the "common man" has ceased to care. The aristocracy could care less because it furthers their power and control to "do as they please".

And now, we see that worldwide "law" does not rule but money, power and position.

Church And State, Who Wins?

Church and State has been of interest to me the past couple of years. I suppose it is because I am personally addressing some questions about what I think and why.

Is the Church a culture? then the Church has got to take a position about such things as dress, "manners", and social issues.

Is the Church a theological position? then the Church has to defend the "faith".

Is the Church a human institution made of many and various people that have differences of opinion where it concerns social and theological issues? then the Church is universal.

Personally, I think that government is more important than the Church. Why? Because, if one believes that the world has some kind of "order", as our Founders believed, then there are better or worse ways to "do" things. Government can form society, but the Founders were wise enough to know that individuals are what make the society what it is. They believed that all humans were equal, so government was to be for and by the people. Government, then, is only a reflection of the people who make up the society. And when people do not care about their society and its people, their government suffers. So, the question is not whether the Church is of value or importance, but what kind of people make up a particular society.

How is the Church show "care" about society? Should the Church be doing works of activism? Or should the Church leave activism to individual conscience? A lot will depend on the individual's particular persuasion about their religious tradition.

I think that it is wise to not further the gap between the sacred and secular. It breeds an "us/them" mentality. And it leads itself to pious and arrogant assertions, in the "name of God". And arrogant assertions only breed cultural division and a "war" mentality. Christians become "crusaders" for causes that are complex issues that should be left to competency.

I would rather not label myself as "Christian", "non-Christian", "believer" or "un-believer". Identification is held as a responsible "being", not in my political or social affliations. And the Church is only one social/political affliation.

What is "true" is true in all aspects of life, there is no 'special revelation or special people". And humans gain knowledge and wisdom by searching for it, whether they label themselves "Christian" or not.

Humans have needs which have irrelavancy to ideological or religious contexts, or commitments. Therefore, is the Church/religion even relevant in the conversation?

Without political freedom, which must be fought for, literally and metaphorically, humans suffer under oppression. And oppression is a diseased and disordered government, who prey upon it ignorant and uncaring populace. No one "wins" when the State OR Church oppresses individuals and their "free choice" in a "free society".

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Basis of America's Cultural Wars and Civility in the Public Square..

Much has been written about civility and I believe it is necessary to emphasize civility in today's culture of "war". America has always valued it's diversity, but whenever one side thinks their side speaks or should speak for all, then there are gong to be problems. "God" can be dangerous in this cause.

The evanglicalfundametalsts believe that scripture is inspired by God and that its contents are to be followed, as instructions God would "will". The presuppositions to such belief is that God is personal. God has a will that He wants everyone to know and serve. And that "He" controls and governs all of life.

Such a view cannot help but propitiate a passion that is virtually virile in what should be a rational and civil discussion about our society and its future. Whenever one believes that God's Kingdom, purpose, plan or value is absolute and that that is to be served unilaterally, one is condoning intolerance, discrimination, and "war".

Leaders of societies have used civility to "read" the pulse of the public and direct policy around those passions, so that society could remain civil without inciting "war". Such was the view of the Founders of our country. They did not believe unilaterally that God intervened directly, but that there was a order or structure that society should function 'under", which was created by our Constitution.

Today, with the knowledge that psychologists, sociologists, neurologists, and biologists are gaining about humans, it seems that our emotions also influence our thought, choices and values a lot more than previously thought. Law does not take into consideration these "unconscious" needs, values or responses/reactions. How does a civil society, such as Western culture take into account such things? Should we take into account such things? These are questions that our Founders didn't address because their culture was not filled with the diversity that we experience today. So, should we limit diversity, if it challenges the foundations of "law and order"? Human needs go beyond what is seen, but also what is "felt".

Those that are seeking a resolution to the "universal" that binds all together must look more to the human experience of tragedy or joy, because other than that, there are no similarities, it seems. And those similarities are what the "secular", as well as the "sacred" value. That is all that needs to be addressed...

Cultural Diversity Has Some Limits

As has been reported in certain science/religion journals, humans are prone to process things wholisically. (I really don't know how social scientists observe or measure such things) And, it seems that such is the case with the past 24-36 hours for me.

Sunday I read and blogged on my reading about 'the Dutch" and experiencing their culture through the eyes of an artistic Washington woman. She photographed and wrote and I resonated.

My pastor preached a sermon on the relationship of marriage and Monday I started to think again about civil unions, and Church and State issues.

Last night, being bored and alone, I watched a movie based on a factual case of teen pregnancy and its effect on a local high school. Even though the drama was a "little over the top", the message was how teen pregnancy is devastating to the whole community, as well as the teens involved. Abstenance is not realistic in an idealized and impulsive teen world that is bombarded by sexual messages wherever they turn.

And this morning it was reported that many European cultures are banning the "burka", a Muslim woman's head covering. This ban is only in public places and the reason was to protect Western culture.

What do all these experiences have in common? Culture, values, and impact on others.

Although I do resonate with Dutch culture because of their historicity and openness, I also resonate with the individualism in American culture. One must evaluate what makes for a culture and why. What is important to a culture and is that of primary importance for the whole to survive. That should be the question of what is of value to further and what is not.

This brings me to matters of dress, when it concerns certain religious garb. If there is a necessary covering because of a certain climate, which was most probably the case with the "burka", then there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But, when a religious tradition defines certain standards as mandantory because of the tradition's need to control the behavior of another human being, then I think it does not qualify to be upheld in a different culture. no matter the argument of "tolerance".

Religions have developed over the ages and those in power in these traditions had a vested interest in protecting their power. So, secularism would protect from a dominating religious tradition, which is necessary to remain a free society.

But, while religious traditions can protect their values for their own purposes, there are certain values that are necessary to protect for society's sake. Such is the issue of the family. Marriage is the foundation of society and it's future citizens. So, the family is certainly to be an important focus and interest for society at large. Since the family is so important many issues facing Western culture and it's families are necessary to challenge, study, and change.

The issue of teen pregnancy is of major concern and importance to society because it limits the teen's ability to further their future and it brings stress and pain on the teen's immediate family, as well as the reprecussions of the newborn's needs that might not be met by a teen mother's immature emotional responses/reactions.

Society finds itself "bringing up baby", but not in the sense of the past, when communities were close, life was slow and the child could find its place in the larger world without feeling "lost". Today social service agencies are stressed beyond measure and the Church shuns those whose behavior has not met their standard.

Conservatism wants to hold to past tradition for good reason. The family is the center of the child's identity and security. But, society has always brought challenges to past traditions and must address how to answer those challenges today. Abstinence is the "ideal", when it comes to teen sex, but the statistics do not bear out that Christian teens are any "better" at keeping their pledge of chasity than the larger teen population. This fact alone has bred many sectarian groups that try to protect their teens from such behavior. Though this is one response in our society, is this the only response the Church should sanction? Should society at large be of concern for the Church? And how is that challenge to be met?

Today's challenges reach beyond teen pregnancy, which has always challenged the mores of our society. Today the challenge to marriage and the family is homosexuality. Should homosexuals be alowed to express their innate desires within the boundaries of marriage? Or is marriage the tradition of the Church alone, and should never be condoned by the sanction of the insititution of marriage?

My pastor's sermon was about marriage and what makes a good marriage. Sex is not the recipe for a good marriage, but a relationship that is trustworthy and valued for its own sake. Children are a result of the physical intimacy of marriage, but should never be the purpose for marriage. Otherwise, many couples, whether older or barren, have no "right" to be married. We should think deeply about what our values are and why we have those values before we write off a challenge to tradition's "tradition".

Liberty of conscience was the value of our Founding Fathers. We must continue that tradition to continue the value they had of a "free society". A society that is free from domination of any kind, as tradition should not dominate a culture's values, at the expense of cultural needs for change.

At the same time, the Founder's knew that the value of tradition was the foundation of society's values, without them, society suffers superficiality and incongrence.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Today, I Saw and Remembered...

Today, I saw and remembered the Netherlands. It was a sense of "home" for me, as this is my husband's "homeland". Most of his family still live there. And today, I ran across a blog that had some marvelous pictures of the blogger's visit there. It was nostalgic for me. But, her written entry on November 2, 2009, grabbed me heartfully. Her entry described the "culture" very well.

This the entry of "D.C. Weather Report: Mostly Bad News" blog by Iggy Bloggit from Washington D.C. ...

"When I stepped off the platform (after taking a train from the airport to Amsterdam) I saw the future: people living artfully. I arrived into a performance of style and beauty, art and grace. Ahh the Dutchies. Striking and silent. Poise in the way they ride their clunky bicycles, drive their tiny cars. Beautiful and brilliant. Ongoing preservation of really old architecture and traditions of keeping an open mind, speaking openly and to the point, tolerating and living and loving together. Recognition of value in history and future. The past and future together, a perfect equation for a successful present.How do they do it? How does such a place exist, that lives art in every corner?
Even scaffolding and trash bins and mailboxes are decorated with simple illustrations or constructed in such a style to make them pleasing, to add to the collective. My impression is that it is history and an attitude of tolerance that has allowed them to appreciate life, to move beyond matters of disagreement and work together from all sides of political, religious, scientific, and personal perspectives and form a more perfect society. Oh, you are religious? Great, enjoy the meaning in the beautiful ancient churches. Oh, you are homosexual? Have a great life, we were the first country to legalize your marriage. Welcome welcome everyone, we may not all live the same way but we all live, all the same. Our differences make us more interesting.

When I look I can see golden age and holocaust, renaissance and crusade. Is "historically rich" really so important? My high school French teacher thought so, she made it clear what she thought of the US and none of us understood her distaste. That was a long time ago, I've come to understand what she meant. But never to the aching degree I felt in a land where I looked at the people and finally felt I'd found my other elf girl selves. They looked like me! Long and blonde and legs and creamy features. I love and hide behind my personal identity as the white minority in every place I've lived. This disturbed something in me, to see what I would have been if my family a few generations back had not left Western Europe. I felt proud to be European. But though my longings to explore further are directed away from the US, there is a certain cool thing about being American too, and surviving it :) After all we did just elect a black president... and yes, that is unbelievable worldwide still a year later, worth referencing again and again.

One evening I sat with friends outside a bar on the canal in Utrecht.A stranger sat down beside me, looked to be about 40. Big guy, Moroccan. Don't know which of us started it but we settled into a conversation, the bold honest talk of strangers.
"So you are not Dutch?" he asked.
"I am American. I live in Washington, DC."
"Oh, I like to meet an American," he said. I didn't ask him why, but a few minutes later he told me.
"So how old were you when all of this shit happen?"
"I'm 28," I said, trying to follow him.
"So 8 years ago. You were 20. You were in DC? What was it like there?"
"No," I caught up to his meaning.
"I was in Hawai'i. It was early in the morning. We all knew of it, right away."
"Ahh," he said. A few minutes later: "Do you like to know where I was?"
"Yes, of course."
"I was in prison."
"Here in the Netherlands?"
"No. In Morocco."
"What for?" Immediately I felt like an ass for asking, but he was cool in his reply, validating my question.
"It was not for rape, or anything like that. It was not for any thing."
"Did you learn of it right away, do they tell you in prison?"
"We learned, but not right away. I was not so happy about it. I tell you, you go to America and tell your friends. You go to DC and tell your friends, I am part of Islam and they do not ask me permission to do this.
"A personal apology, for an event with shaky details and worldwide effect.
"I will tell them," I said. "I understand."
He nodded.
I said, "They do not ask me permission about things, either."
We sipped our drinks and understood.


This morning it seems that the healthcare reform is not dead, in spite of a statement by Nancy Pelosi that it was. Politicians have a very different definition of reconcilliation.

Think about what has happened this past year. Would you consider it reconcilliation if you were left out of the planning, as many times the Republicans were? It doesn't make sense in a Representative Republic. Don't they have a right to voice their opinion and represent their people?

I have read elsewhere that those that are in the minority can "play it both ways", taking credit for any victories or successful legislation and blame the majority if "it doesn't work out". Politicians play both sides of the game and that is why we so often see our political color change from election to election.

It sounded all too simple that the Democrats would give up on such a major focus of their strategic plan, so I am not surprised, just continually baffled over the continual disregard for the American people and their opinion.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Representative Government

Representative Government is what we need today. We, the people, are to be valued. We are not a theocracy or a democracy, in the proper sense.

When we represent someone, whether a lawyer in the courts, or a Congressman in the House or Senate, these are to be servant leaders, not arrogant or self-serving in their interests in public office. The people vote because of their confidence in a particular candidate. They believe in the campaign promises, and value the platform the candidate represents.

But, all too often, our representatives are bought off by Big Interests, Special Interests and slough it off as a necessary "gain" for the public interest. The public thinks it has been hoodwinked and it is a recipe for damaging the public's interest in their government and civic duty, at large. There is no end to the news about public officials and their indiscretions when it comes to their public trust.

I wonder, since history has borne out that our Founders, or any of those who we "idealize" have feet of clay, just as our present day politicians do? What we want to remember are the "ideals" that we value. But, because of the public's intense interest in private life, biographies have been written that expose such indiscretions of past representatives. And these books sell. Does America want to be ambivalant toward their government and their Representatives in public office?

Representation is known first in one's family of origin. Psychologists have known that children get their view of "God" through their family, the father, being an important imprinter of the child's value.

In ancient societies where the peasant class had no say about their life, other than to serve their patrons, or slave-masters, "God" was know to be represented by leadership. This was how the peasant class came to formulate their understanding of "God". If an unjust ruler ruled, they deemed that God was "above" or "over" that unjust ruler. Theirs was a passive state of submission to the dominating culture.

Enlightened societies have understood that all people should have a voice and have a sense of empowerment when it comes to their government. This was our Founder's "formula" in the Declaration of Independence. Government was no longer to represent "God", or the "King", but the people.

In the light of limited power and limited government, I wonder if limiting terms in Congress would be a good idea? Would limiting terms to 6 or 8 years, and rotating state elections, where there would always be someone in power that has "been there", and had the experience to "inform" the "freshmen", who are new in the "halls of Congressional power". Would it not only limit Congressmen from building 'empires", legislating laws that promote their own personal interests, and get more people involved in serving their country?

Maybe I need to read up on the reasons why Congress was set to serve with unlimited terms of power. Is it a possibility that what has transpired today was never imagined in the past?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Free Speech of the Voter

We are to be a Representative Republic, Not a Corporately held STATE....

The Supreme Court ruled that corporations can have just as much leeway to give to campaigns as the individual....No problem with big corporations "buying" the campaign....

So, what does this mean? Does the little guy usually have as much a voice and does it motivate the American people to care about their government? Does it give Unions an unfair advantage? Won't this mean that money will "buy" the politician? And want that mean that those who have more money have more voice? Does it mean that the taxpayer will continue to buy out the risks of corporations?

After all, Emmanual said that the First Amendment was "over-rated"! WHAT???!!!

The Democrats want to buy out the free information to the American people by limiting our freedom of speech in the media and "protect" rights of the liberals in their agenda propaganda, by the "Fairness Act"...

No wonder they think the First Amendment is "over-rated"!!! Our Founder's knew better!

"They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety. "
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

Free Speech Is in Danger...

I have written about Gert Wilders, a Dutch politician that is outspoken against Islam. Today it was reported that he is being tried for "hate speech"!

What did he say? He said that the Koran was like "Mein Kampf" and that if he was to be tried, then they should bring the Turkish Muslim that killed the Dutch film maker to be tried, as well.

What was the "crime" of the film-maker? He was making a film on Islam using the testimony and life of a courgeous "freed" Muslim woman. He called the film "Submission". And she tried to get him to make the film using a pseudonym, which he did not do. Should we be driven by fear, when it comes to making a documentary, telling the truth of a life?

Is this crazy or what? Is there 'One Special" and Priviledged religion nowadays? The U.N. has granted special rights over and above the Declaration of Human Rights. Islam should not be granted the right to kill someone for any reason. Killing should trump "religious freedom".

It seems we have things backwards today. We become so afraid of discrimination, that we inadvertly discriminate. And why? How can we un-do what has been done in the past? We can only promote more justice in the future by social norms, not legislation. The problem, is that many in the West do not hold religion as seriously as those in the East. And that is something that is taken seriously by political/religious ideologies. Just look at the Christian Church during its "reign of power".

Power corrupts, so there should be no priviledged race, religion, or sex. And we cannot protect from discrimination by "quotas".

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Politics and Rumor

Rumor seems to be the "rule of the game" concerning Brown's candidacy in MA. But, what else in new in politics?

It seems that a religious writer for a well-known newspaper revealed that Brown posed semi-nude. Since conservatives are the base of the Republican Party, is this a way of low-balling a candidate's character and marginalizing his political career?

It also seems that the story is more than rumor, as Brown did pose, it was stated, in Comopolitan in 1982! How many candidates would be left to run for public office if there was an investigation of all past mistakes, bad choices, or raw deals? Most humans cannot brag about a pristine past, free of sordid details, but humans thrive on such knowledge.

Just remember that there have been actual hired professional investigators digging up "messes" of the past life of other candidates or competitors. Human nature does not change when it comes to politics. And if there has never been a "past", I wonder how many can remain free from "tarnish" after running for political office. Humans have marvelous ways of rationalizing their choices.

So, how do you think character should be judged? Should the past play into how one views a person and their ability to run for public office? Is the particular type of past indiscretaion, sin, or mistake important? Is the candidate's readiness dependent on how many enemies the candidate has? Or how he can be portrayed by the media? Or are his religious views relavant? And do these views have direct relationship to policy, or to religious doctrine?

What constitutes a "justified" candidate, one that is capable of doing a job and doing it well? And what factors determine that ability? Is experience important?

I would love to understand how the public views political candidates and their viability politically.

The Question Is...


Do human societies work like the latest scientific discovery, say in genetics/biology? That is what some think, and the human experiment may or may not work. And all of us will be prone to the outcome of such experiments...

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I have a hunch about human nature that I think is universal. Humans want to be taken seriously. What does that mean?

Humans want to be valued for their own sake. This means that humans will not be agendas on another's plate of delicacy. They do not have to fear being devoured by another's ferocious and unwhetted appetite or passion. The individual can live peacefully in his society without fear of intrusion of his personal space, whether physical, spiritual or psychological. Society exists for the individual's well-being, and as the individual flourishes, then society will flourish as a result.

Socialistic understanding is necessary for foundational learning, as in the establishment of a social identity, but adults do not always understand themselves in liberal or free societies as always functioning within their familial frames. Individuals, in this sense, are unique in framing or forming their identifying factors.

People desire to be known, and that means that we allow another to grow, become and be without dominating their "way of being" in the world.

Although my hunch and my analysis is "ideal" and won't be found in this world in all places at all times, I believe it is what a human "is".

I recently read a review of a book on a new understanding of genetics and biology. The review was supporting the book's contention that Darwin's evolutionary theory was too simplistic. Even a Neo-Darwinian view will not describe a philosophical or theological coherent view of the world in natural terms.

The nature/nurture debate should not be viewed as separate or conflicting compartments of personhood, but interdependent, just as the "self" and society are interdependent. Internalization of "all that is" is uniquely configured, it seems, just as our DNA coding.

The "new" understanding it seems is a cooperative wholistic view that is immensely complex and irreducible.

How do we take this complexity seriously, when there are so many trying to "take it apart" so that humans can be understood? And what is the reason for wanting this understanding? What will this kind of knowledge breed?

I am not suggesting that psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, natural scientists should not investigate human beings or human societies. I just wonder what is the purpose of such knowledge, and if it is worth the costs to gain that knowledge.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What Does a Good Citizen Do?

What does a good citizen do? That question could be answered in various ways, depending on how one understand the individual and society.

A good citizen is defined by individuals based on certain values they hold. Do they hold liberty as the ultimate social value or is society itself of ultimate value and concern. The latter are more socialistic in thier view politically.

The political ideal for the socialist is equality of property versus an elitist view that supports capital and investments and individual initiative.

Religion has been useful to serve the ends of socialist's agendas. But religion itself is a question of value. Does one believe that the world was "caused"? Is God personal or an abstraction? Should someone act in faith without evidence? Or should one base their decisions on reason alone?

Is society the basis of values, or is there a moral theist view about society?

Are individual's free, or determined and how hard is the determination? What determines an individual, genetics, or environment? Can someone be held accountable to actions that are beyond his control because of a genetic predisposition or environmental conditioning? What is justice, then?

Is justice or morality relative, or are they absolute? Multiculturalism would uphold a relativistic view, but international law, human rights activists, and the Founding Fathers believed that all people were created with certain inalienable rights, the right of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Is happiness the only ultimate value, or are there a "world of values" in a pluralistic view?

Where people answer these questions will determine their commitments and behavior in certain situations.

Humans are thinkers, whether they think so or not. They are always being influenced by the things they read, hear or see. And in free societies, we allow most any information to be sorted by the individual's free determination. But, the value question comes in, as to what sort of information is productive? Should there be an evaluation of what is productive based on what society wants the outcome to be? And organist view of society would believe so, as would the socialist and moral theist.

But, if one thinks of society as a social contract, one will come to different conclusions than one who thinks of society as an organism, itself. The individual will be of uptmost importance because he, the individual cannot be dissolved into his function in society alone. He is a human being, who has his own desires, purposes and goals, which should never be stolen.

A social contract view of society affirms individuals making an agreement about their affliation with society in a certain culture. This is what makes for liberty, in regards to choices about one's life commitments, and values. "Big Brother' does not determine what one should or should not to in the speicific choices of vocation or mate selection. And this is what has made America great because the individual is motivated by his own goals, for his own life. He owns his life, no one owns it for
Life cannot be lived fully without the freedom to choose and be in the world as one comes to understand the world. And as one understands that many in the world do not have the choice or right of individuality, and live in fear of torture or torment from government or religion, one comes to value the American ideals of individuality and liberty.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On Character....

Character is described by one's attitudes, as well as one's actions, as character reflects conviction and commitment. This is a simplistic view that doesn't take into account any dimension of psychological science. It is as if humans are two demensional beings, while the world is know to be multi-deminsional. It could be termed the "human" "flat-landers.

This is where I believe that Christians are amiss.

Character is not one definitive way of being in the world, otherwise, there would not be various commitments and convictions. One's values do not necessarily determine how one will behave within their value system. Free societies allow individual the liberty, in fact, protect the right of the individual , as this is the classical definition of liberalism.

Authoritarian structures were never meant to be sanctioned within our form of government, as coercion is not the terminology of liberty or justice. All of us are equal under law, as the law in no respector of persons. And Christians, as well as non-Christians, are "not above the law".

Today, we have those in places of power who take advantage of their power for their own purposes, while diminishing their responsibility and accountability to 'we, the people". This is the formula for depotism. And it was not what the Founder's intended when they sought to make a "more perfect union".

A person of character chooses his course of action based upon his highest ideals, or principles. This cannot be defined by religious texts, unless one wants to limit religious freedom and conscience.

Politics does not allow principle when needs are immanant. Politics is a pragmatic science. Is a senator to 'vote no" on legislation that will be the death knell to his particular state, while understanding that the needs in his state are not as immanant as another? Survival of the fittest defines appropriately the political realm. Politics demands attention and decisions to be made with compromise and negotiation, so that something can get accomplished. Politics is "dirty business". Those who hold high ideals will be sorely disappointed if they think that anyone can survive in a climate of partisanship and individual competition, where money and power speak.

Sometimes it is the 'little guy" who can maintain his character, without compromising his principle, because he doesn't have to represent many and diverse voices in our country. He is held up to be the "ideal in virtuous character". This is the traditional "position" of the Christian, the peasant class, where they submitted unto death for the sake of the principle of peace.

The principle of peace should never further tyrannical means, to peaceful ends. Tyranny demands resistance, because otherwise, tyranny will win over all, until there is only one standing. Egoism is necessary for a balance of power and the little guy must not give in to tyranny in any shape or form.

Character is as much about the strength of resolve, as it is about the quiet and submissive. Christians tend to define their terms on the anceint texts that had ancient social situations that are not to be promoted today.

Sometimes character cannot be willed, as there are other intervening factors that must be considered. Last night I watched a program on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression. These are psychological illnesses that impact a person's ability to have control over their emotions or behavior. No one should fault another for a "lack of character" when stressors or illness is the real culprit.

Christians so often have a two dimensional view on the world. And those that don't see in "black and white" are doomed to be labelled as a "liberal", a "heretic", "not a Christian", "unbeliever", "reprobate", "morally stupid", "unrighteouss", "an infidel", etc.

Character is much more about how one handles oneself in a civil society, than it is about a definitive way of believing or behaving. Is one kind, considerate, polite, etc. These are qualities that are applauded across the spectrum of belief systems. One wonders, then what is the importance of the belief system?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

On Forgiveness....

Today in my e-mail, I noticed on a Science and Religion newmail that research had been done on forgiveness. It talked about how there was a decision making process to forgive before one could experience the emotional feeling and health benefits. It also covered various ways forgiveness is manifested toward self, other and God. (Apologies to the one who did the research, but it seems like a overly simplistic view on forgiveness, although I understand that the newsmail could not ever cover all of the information that the researcher uncovered or evaluated. I am only responding to what was stated.)

Forgiveness cannot be demanded by another, (this was affirmed in this newsmail ), as forgiveness was an experience of offering, seeking and reconciling. Forgiveness is not something that is sought for any other reason than the relationship, otherwise, it is predatory. So, reconcilliation is not possible in all circumstances.

I have qualms about certain aspects of generalized suppositions about forgiveness and reconcilliation. Although I can forgive my rapist, I will not trust him and until he has spent time building that trust (that is, if he wants a relationship to me), then, I would be foolish to pursue any type of relationship. So, forgiveness does not mean reconcillation, or that the relationship will be restored. In fact, unhealthy relationships are numerous because of forgiveness being absolutized as the epitome of character, while dismissing the offenses of the predator. Forgiveness can only happen in these situations when the offended feels "safe".

Forgiveness can only be offered to those we trust, so the offender cannot manipulate or demand it from us. Why is this so? Forgiveness means that someone has been wronged and if the offender does not recognize his offence, then, he does not recognize the damage. The offender cannot seek forgiveness for something he has no recognition of. This is when it is necessary to work through the issues, but allow the other "to be". Do not try to have a relationship with such persons, as it is an excercise in futility. Some people will not have the capacity to understand how you understood or took their offending behavior. And others don't care, because they don't value the relationship to you. Move on. Do not think that it is you fault. Many predators love to manipulate their prey into responding out of guilt.

I believe that the Christian community, as a whole, has an unhealthy view of forgiveness. Forgiveness means that there is no consequence in or to the relationship. I believe that relationship is only granted to those who value the person enough to want to make amends. But, the people involved must determine how that will be worked out. Sometimes outsiders mean well, but can exasperate the problem and make one or ther other feel defensive and unsafe. This will never breed an environment of acceptance.

If the relationship has gotten to the 'point of no return", then there are legal ways to rectify the injustice. Divorce is always an option for the victims of damage and devastation. There is no need to put youself or you children or others you love into harm's way.

Today's world is filled with the need for countries and people to be "reconcilled". This term rolls off the tongue of evangelicals without understanding the full implication or impact of what they are saying. The greviances are deep and historical. There is no simple solution in asking for forgiveness, turning the other cheek or making a decision to rectify the situation. Both or all parties involved have to be reconcilled. And in the world of politics there are many duplicities, and inconsistancies to count, much less to rectify. Forgiveness must be a personal term, while reconcilliation is an "ideal" and imaginary one.

Peace is an "ideal" that will never come as long as "God" is useful to justify actions that disadvantage, dominate, and demean another, while seeking promotion for oneself. And I really wonder, since all of us are so short-sighted and limited in our understanding if peace is even a value that can be held realistically in this world.

How Do You Understand?

Another blogger got me thinking about how we understand the world. I didn't realize when I responded to her that my response was based on different emphasises of the Quadralateral.

Do you understand your faith by doctrine? Do you "take by faith", the doctrines in the creeds, without tearing apart the doctrinal truths to see if they correlate to sicentific inquiry? Or do you understand your faith as a lifestyl with others is lived out within the community of faith? The convictions that bind you together are those that define "your world" and sometimes it clouds your "sight" to see or understand differences in approach to faith, after all, these have given their life to these "commitments" and "values". Or do you think that faith is more about understanding and knowing God?

Doctrine is based on a tradtionalist's view, while lifestyle is an experiential view. Reason upholds a theological view, and Scripture is multivaried, depending on which view is primarily driving "faith".

But, though these views all define different people of faith, there are others that define their faith apart from belief systems, and institutions. These people would be understood as agnostic or atheistic in their belief.

The agnostic holds that though we seek God, we cannot know him, because God is beyond our capacity to understand and grasp. One must live within the contexts that define one's life and understand that all men have sought to understand and explain God, throughout the Ages. These are the scientifically minded, as they re-define God, or explain things in "new ways". The Academy defines the faith of the agnostic, as the Academy helps to keep reason humble, because of the vastness and diversity of human knowledge.

The atheists doesn't seek to understand or define God, as God is irrelvant, in their book, in helping to solve the world's problems. These like to be pragmatic in their approach to life and its problems in this world. They do not like the "sweet by and by", or "pie in the sky" promises or imaginings. But, these can be arrogant in their approach to life when it comes to their own reason, and to people of faith. And this is when problems occur in structuring government or laws that allow diversity of views that don't discriminate as to difference.

The agnostic is really atheistic in practicality because the basis of understanding the world is not faith, but the disciplines. Those that seek to understand "faith concerns" will study the philosophy of religion, or history of traditions, or religious studies, etc. And these will find in their "camp" people of faith and people without faith ( in the traditional sense).

So, how do you understand the world?