Archive for July, 2008

Brothers and Sisters

Saturday, July 19th, 2008

A month or so ago some Swedish research hit the news. It shows that there are measurable differences in the brains of gay men and women. Gay men tend to have brains that resemble straight women and gay women tend to have brains that resemble straight men.

This does not prove that sexual orientation is genetic, but this combined with a number of other physiological differences is starting to build a strong case.

So let’s assume, just for the purposes of discussion, that research does eventually prove that homosexuality is genetic rather than a lifestyle choice. The current research suggests that it may have something to do with the level of male hormones in the mother during gestation.

Where does that put those who feel that it is a sin?

Perhaps it finally relegates it to the same status as touching a menstruating women.

Doesn’t this start to feel similar to the situation two hundred years ago when the Bible was used to justify slavery?

Just to refresh your memory.

“When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property” (Exodus 21:20-21).

The Southern Baptist Convention was founded for the purpose of preserving the Christian basis for slavery. To their credit Southern Baptists apologized in 1995.

It will be interesting to see how many apologies are given when homosexuality is proven genetic.

The Bible is a wonderful book that God gave us as a sufficient guide to working out our own salvation. It is most effective in that role when understood as a metaphor for modern life because it was written in a different time. It was this understanding of historical context which allowed clergy to see past the explicit Bible passages supporting slavery to the larger message of God’s love for all His children and our obligation to love our neighbor as ourselves. They used this understanding of the Bible’s real message to oppose and eventually abolish slavery. I predict that this same historical context and understanding of the Bible’s real message will be applied to homosexuality too, and the clergy will again lead the charge to reverse the legal and social discrimination currently imposed on gay men and women.

Something is Happening Here

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Something interesting is happening in Iraq.

The government there is starting to push back on our plans to continue our military campaign. Specifically, they are suggesting that they do not want to continue the current open ended military agreement. They WANT a commitment from us to withdraw by a particular date.

This is interesting from a couple of perspectives.

John McCain has said that we aren’t going to leave until we can declare victory. What if the Iraqi’s decide that they want us to leave before we can claim whatever victory McCain is imagining? Is he going to honor the Iraqi government requests?

Barak Obama wants to leave as soon as we can logistically do so without putting our troops at undo risk. This won’t be easy either and will require some fairly delicate negotiations with Syria and Iran to allow us to leave in an orderly fashion.

The bottom line though is that the existing government has finally realized that their only hope for a piece of the oil pie is to start acting as if they run the place. So they are refusing to enter into a new agreement with the US to replace the one that is expiring until they get some better idea of when the US plans to withdraw. Otherwise, control is going to revert to regional militias; supplied, supported, and employed by America. Tribal and religious ties will determine where the money goes, and all of these factions will ultimately battle it out for control of the country.

My People a Joy

Monday, July 7th, 2008

 

“For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.” Isa 65:17-18

 

A recent survey has revealed some interesting things about the spirituality of the US population.

 

The most interesting is that Americans are much more inclusive as a group than those who claim to represent them.  We believe that there is not one path to heaven or one decisive revelation of truth.  Even though both the Southern Baptist and Catholic religions base significant portions of their teachings on the fact that those of other religions are going to hell, 60% of Southern Baptists and 80% of Catholics didn’t share that portion of their religions dogma. 

 

Similarly only 60% of Buddhists and Hindus claim to believe in central tenants of their religions (Nirvana and reincarnation).  That reveals a refreshing honesty about where people are in their own individual search for God.  They may identify with a particular religion, but are still uncertain about even the most fundamental elements of that religion.

 

Contrary to popular belief by fundamentalists, this remains a country that overwhelmingly believes in God (92%).  Also most of us claim that our views about wrong an right are based on fundamental principles that are common to us as believers in God rather than members of any particular religion or demographic.  Sounds like we Americans are really living the fundamental values expressed by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence – everyone has the right to their own interpretation of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

 

I also visited a site that I’d like to share with you called JamesDobsondoesntspeakforme.com.  The site was started by some evangelical pastors who feel that James Dobson has confused his political goals with their spiritual ones.  I see this as consistent with the survey too.  Evangelicals are awakening to the fact their spiritual goals are much more positive than simply standing in opposition to gay rights and abortion.  Folks like James Dobson would like the rest of us to believe that Focus on the Family speaks with one voice for all evangelicals, but it just isn’t the case.  The very nature of the evangelical movement is a search for personal meaning through a transforming relationship with God and then reaching out to others to share that experience.  Because this is so fundamentally personal, it can’t really be defined or contained by any political party.

 

It is interesting to witness the process of thought being transformed into new and more productive channels.  Building a new heaven and a new earth takes time, but the process never stops.