Monday, August 08, 2011

Immigration & the Kingdom of God

The Kingdom of God is like this:

A landowner built a great wall around his property, which was impenetrable and unassailable. One day the King came to visit, lavishing incredible gifts upon all the townspeople, except the landowner, who discovered too late that the wall he built served only to keep himself out.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Guest Post: Kahlil Gibran

On Freedom

At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom, even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them.

Aye, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff.

And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfillment.

And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Assault Weapons: An Assault Against the Community

The question i have is this: Why does my neighbor get to carry around a concealed weapon without my knowledge? What if i have reason to believe my neighbor is not a safe individual?

There are a lot of civilians that many of us have reason to believe may not be safe carrying a concealed weapon (i happen to know a person who i consider very emotionally unstable who carries a concealed weapon). Why do they get to decide whether i or someone else gets to live or die with the flick of a trigger? What qualifies them to make this decision? Yeah, they could kill me with a knife or baseball bat, but i'd rather take my chances against those kinds of odds. i can outrun most of my neighbors. i can't outrun a bullet.

How will my neighbor react under duress? Will their shaky hand send a bullet flying in the direction of one of my loved ones? Will they fail to release the safety and thereby become disarmed by the perpetrator who they were trying to stop? Will that perpetrator now have the means to hold one of my loved one's hostage, or worse, shoot them on site now that he/she is angered and wants to show they are in control?

There's a lot of things that can go wrong with a civilian carrying a concealed weapon. i don't know that individualism and personal rights should always trump what effects the community. Take smoking for instance. Many states are passing laws against smoking in public places. Why? Because of its potential to harm others. They can still smoke their cigarettes at home or in places where it won't be a potential harm to others. i believe these are good regulations. Why? Because we aren't 'islands unto ourselves'. We live in community. When one person's liberty has the potential to do serious harm to another's, then the community ought to have some voice in the matter. If the community wants stricter gun laws, then the community should have the right to ask for them.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Assault Weapons: The Great Christian Contradiction (Part V)

Historically, the Church has always condemned individual acts of violence, even in self defense. It was not until after Constantine made Christianity an official religion of the Roman Empire, and St. Augustine later developed "Just War Theory", that the Church condoned violence in any form.

Just War Theory did not allow for individual Christians to use lethal force. Instead, it was a theory that relegated the authorization of lethal force under certain defensive circumstances to the governing authorities. So while the Church certainly went through a time where violent action was condoned, it did so as a governing authority and did not believe this was something left to individual determination.

Even Luther and Calvin refused to condone the individual right to use lethal force. For them, this right was only legitimate when used by governing authorities within very limited circumstances.

Only recently have Christians claimed the right to determine for themselves what justifies the use of violence, without regard to the principles of Just War theory. Now we have fulfilled the saying "And everyone did what was right in their own eyes."

It would be good for Christians to revisit the question of "what is the standard which i live by?" Rather than 'every man for himself' we ought to revisit the Scriptures, especially the teachings found in the New Covenant, and even Christian Tradition. We ought to examine when and where we determined that each person's own personal reasoning became the only standard of determining how we live. Is there a model in the NT for community living and decision making?