Monday, September 28, 2009

Big Government vs. Common Decency

The argument is that we cannot trust big government. i can't much argue with that, except to say that i don't think we can trust big business either. We've certainly seen the evils of both.

Many fear that a public option for health care is the beginning of socialism, and socialism is to be feared. Perhaps it is, i don't know.

i still struggle with the notion that there may still be room to talk about what is a move toward "big government" and what is just plain "common decency". i don't want government to make rules for every aspect of my life. i don't want to be told how many children i can have, or how to discipline them, or what they must learn. i like to be able to make those decisions for myself and frankly i don't like a lot of what i see being taught in the public school system. i'm glad i have other options, even teaching my kids myself (though i thankful to the many great teachers who work in the public school system and have excellent values!).

On the other hand, when i think about every person being able to receive the health care they need without going into massive debt, this just seems like common decency to me. i'm not trying to be anti-Jesus on the issue. It's just that i have private health care and i'll tell you, my government supplemental health care has enabled me to keep paying my regular bills. i'm very thankful for it. You wouldn't believe how much my private $13,500 a year health care doesn't cover!

The other argument i have is this: If half of our tax dollars go toward military expenses, it only seems like common decency that we would be more concerned about people's general health. Nobody seems to question that our military budget easily dwarfs that of any nation and compares with the combined military spending of all other industrialized countries combined. This is arguably beyond what is necessary for "keeping us safe".

If we can spend this much on potential destruction, then wouldn't it just be common decency to spend more on potential healing?

For me, the question isn't a political one, just a humane one. Is it evil to ask these questions?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Concerning the Revolution

Below is a link to today's message which discusses the nature of the advancement of the kingdom of God. If Christ has come, why is there still evil? Isn't the continued rise of Islam a threat to Christianity and do we have to stop it in order to protect Christianity? Who is suppose to do the weeding?

Today's Message: "Concerning the Revolution" (Parables of the Mustard Seed/Leaven/Wheat & Weeds)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fireside Chats: Episode 4 "Horton Hears a Who (and the human predicament)

This Fireside Chat has an existential flare, delving into the finiteness of humanity and the human predicament (outside of God's intervention).

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A New Take on Christian Community

The Christian cannot simply take for granted the privilege of living among other Christians. Jesus Christ lived in the midst of his enemies. In the end all of his disciples abandoned him. On the cross he was all alone, surrounded by criminals and the jeering crowds. He had come for the express purpose of bringing peace to the enemies of God. So Christians, too, belong not in the seclusion of a cloistered life but in the midst of enemies. There they find their mission, their work.

"To rule is to be in the midst of your enemies. And whoever will not suffer this does not want to be part of the rule of Christ; such a person wants to be among friends and sit among the roses and lilies, not with the bad people but the religious people. O you blasphemers and betrayers of Christ! If Christ had done what you are doing, who would ever have been saved?"

Dietrich Bonhoeffer "Life Together" quote in parenthesis belongs to Martin Luther, as quoted by Bonhoeffer in "Life Together"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Parable of the Sower Matthew 13:1-23

Here's a link to today's message. You can listen online w/ a left click or download by right clicking and choosing "save as"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fireside Chats: Episode 3 "

This "chat" was created before the Joe Wilson "You Lie" outburst. After listening you'll see the irony of it all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Proper Role of Science

Science fulfills its purpose, not when it explains the reasons for the dark spots on the sun, but when it understands and explains the laws of our own life, and the consequences of violating these laws
-John Ruskin

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Truth as Compassion Rather than Knowledge

The closer people are to the truth, the more tolerant they are of the mistakes of others. -William Burton

This axiom is why raging fundamentalism is fundamentally wrong. Truth is not just a matter of correct belief and facts. It is more foundationally a sober understanding of self, humanity, and creation, especially as they stand in relationship to God.

If our knowledge only puffs up and serves primarily for self-exaltation, even if only in our own eyes, then it is false-knowledge and understanding. Another axiom, "The more i learn, the less i know". This of course has a double meaning. It is not that i am less sure about knowledge and facts, but rather that i am less sure i have the corner market concerning my understanding of the knowledge and facts. It is also understanding that truth, in many instances, is pliable. That is, different experiences and perspectives result in truths being applied validly in various ways.

But you say, "Sin is sin!" Is that so? Then how do you explain Paul's logic concerning the nature of sin itself? Romans 14:2-3, 14, 22-23 "One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. As one who is in the Lord Jesus, I am fully convinced that no food is unclean in itself. But if anyone regards something as unclean, then for him it is unclean. So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But the man who has doubts is condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin."

This is certainly not not a ticket toward absolute relativism. We would all agree that there is a common law which states "you should not kill my mother and i should not kill yours". At the same time, it also shows a certain flexibility which recognizes experience and perspective as factors in determining truth and virtue. Therefore, for one person, something can be a sin, while for another, it is not.

In addition to all this, to grow in truth and understanding is to perceive oneself more soberly, and therefore to extend grace to others, based on a proper perspective of self. When we see ourselves for who we truly are, especially as it stands in relation to God, we develop a sincere appreciation for another truth: "No temptation has seized you except what is common to humanity." 1 Cor 10:13

The closer we are to the truth about ourselves, the more tolerant we become toward the mistakes of others, because we see a reflection of ourselves within them. This is why Jesus says, "Love your neighbor as yourself".

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Undermining Justice: ACORN

They say truth is stranger than fiction. i'm sincerely praying that there is no truth in the allegations that have come forward concerning these officers in ACORN. Could it be the whole thing is a hoax? i would like to think so, but if it is, then these women are incredible actors. Unfortunately, this looks real, even while it remains unbelievable.

The accusation is that ACORN workers knowingly and over-willingly helped a pimp and prostitute claim their brothel as a legitimate business, while also giving them advice on how to claim illegally trafficked underage girls as "dependents". See the news story here, and watch the hidden cam footage below. Again, i pray this is an incredible hoax.

Friends, the best way to undermine justice is to commit injustice under the banner of justice. Certainly these women do not represent the vast majority of the organization, which internally investigates and actively brings forward the majority of cases of fraud on their own initiative. Yet something like this is enough to shut the whole organization down, and perhaps rightfully so.

When i was a food production manager at a resteraunt the company would send in people who posed as legitimate customers to test the quality and service of their own stores. i believe this is something that will be mandatory for non-profit, government assistance, and justice programs. The only way for true justice to be brought about is for Just people to promote it.

If true, then this is an incredible blow to all assistance and justice programs. The devil is inspired today.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

True Transformation must come from Within

There is one hard and fast rule we must always remember: if a good end can be achieved only through bad means, either it is not good after all, or its time has not yet come. -William Warburton

Could this be why the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned out so miserably? First, the means, "warfare" is a bad means. At best it can be called the 'lesser of two evils'. Though i am not convinced that it is the 'lesser'. We all know the axiom "The end doesn't justify the means". Why is this never applied to war?

Secondly, we seriously have to consider the possibility that "its time has not yet come". That is, we are seeking to create democratic and free societies which are ultimately being imposed from without. It is common knowledge that successful revolutions must start from within and are most firmly established by public consensus, not violent overthrow. Violent overthrow simply replaces one regime with another. We have countless examples of this, of which Vietnam is no exception.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Fireside Chats: Episode 1 "Non-Violence" Intro

Fireside Chats is a new discussion format i am trying out. I've entertained this idea for nearly a year, but am just finally getting around to doing it. These are just random thoughts on topics of interest to me. There are no notes or practices, just the randomness that happens to pass through my mind on a given topic. i hope you enjoy.

Oh, and this is actually a very big fire! You'll notice a metal burn barrel on the left hand side of the screen. The fire itself is probably about ten feet high!