Archive for the ‘Healing’ Category

Being Christian

Tuesday, April 9th, 2019

via GIPHY

In simplest terms, being Christian means following the teachings of Christ.

From there, it is all about faith, honesty, and humility.

In that regard, I feel that I can only talk about my own belief.

That belief is that there is only one God. That God is all powerful, all knowing, all loving, infinite, and spiritual. The Christ is His message (His son) to His creation (us).

We all reflect our Creator to the degree that we embody that Christ message of love, obedience, humility, generosity, honesty, and spirituality.

Jesus was the perfect embodiment of the Christ. He came to show us the way we can better understand who we really are through deeper understanding of our infinite Creator.

Even though God gave Moses Ten Commandments, they were delivered in the context of what those people could understand – judgement and punishment. They were emerging from a long period of slavery, oppression, and religious persecution. This was a might makes right world. All those around them tried to make sense of their dangerous brutal world by imagining a set of brutal, vengeful, capricious gods who were also in constant conflict. Why wouldn’t the world be chaotic if those in charge of it were also locked in a constant struggle for dominance?

Jesus effectively rewrote the Old Testament by reducing the Ten Commandments to just two – Love God and love your neighbor as yourself.

The life of Jesus documented in the New Testament was one of upending common wisdom regarding the role of the promised Messiah. It was rebuking the political and cultural roles of those who controlled the Jewish temple. He regularly pointed out the hypocrisy of those who felt that material success was evidence of God’s favor. By implication, those who had struggles must have done something to deserve their condition. He also rejected the whole Jewish concept that because they were a chosen people, they were inherently better than anyone else who didn’t share their beliefs.

His teachings then and now are a radical. We are told to love our enemies and do good to those to treat us badly. That’s in direct opposition to the Old Testament “eye for an eye” revenge culture.

Instead of revenge, Jesus told that God is our only judge. He also warned us that God will judge us harshly if we fail to show compassion to the poor, help the sick, visit those in prison, welcome the stranger, and provide food and drink to those who are hungry and thirsty.

We are told that it is our responsibility to focus all of our attention on our own salvation because it is not assured. Any time that we spend in selfish, hard hearted, or mean spirited endeavors puts that salvation at risk.

Jesus threw those who had attempted to profit from piety out of the temple and called them thieves.

Given all this, why would anyone who truly understood what it means to be a Christian question the faith of someone else?

Why would anyone who had read the Bible and turned their life over to God, for a moment suggest that they know how God would judge someone else FOR ANYTHING?

How could anyone condemn another as a sinner? Jesus told us that this was the height of folly. In no uncertain terms he told us that if we have any issue with anyone, we have to resolve that issue BEFORE we can honestly continue our own journey toward holiness.

There is only one way to resolve the issue of condemning someone else as a sinner. That is to admit your own hubris in making that statement and humbly seek forgiveness from God and those that may have been wronged. Jesus said as much in the story about the Pharisee and the tax collector.

How could anyone who truly understands Jesus teachings suggest that theirs is the ONLY path toward salvation? How could someone really know that those who choose a different path will without question be punished for their choice?

Jesus did say that He is the only way to get to heaven. He did not say that Christians are the only ones who get into heaven. What He did say is that you should follow him. What that means to me is follow His teachings. That’s what following Him in “deed and truth”, means to me. Those teachings contain universal truths that are present in many religions. So I believe that it is entirely possible to follow the teachings of Jesus and not be a Christian.

Whether it is the woman at the well, or the woman who washed Jesus feet, or Jesus eating with the publican, or Jesus healing the servant of the Centurion, the message is clear. No one is separated from the love of God. Goodness and Godliness are not associated with any particular religion. They are attributes that everything and everyone in God’s creation share.

Jesus told us that there were many paths to heaven.

We only have to worry about ours.

Healing Thoughts

Monday, March 18th, 2019

via GIPHY

I hesitate to wade into the abortion debate again because it is so emotional and divisive.

The reason it is so emotional and divisive is because it is in that difficult place between religion and politics that has ALWAYS been a challenge for our country. Some of the first settlers fled religious persecution in England and then proceeded to persecute other religions and native people here. We fought a civil war over slavery because both sides believed that they had God on their side. Even Lincoln recognized that folly when he said, “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.”

Into this toxic brew of religion and politics, we have the horrific image of babies being killed after surviving a “botched” abortion.

The facts are that it never happens. The reason why it never happens is because the abortion process is highly regulated. What Trump described in his State of the Union message is illegal in all 50 states. If any medical professional acted as Trump had described, they would be prosecuted for murder. If any medical professional assisted in that procedure, they would be an accessory to murder. We don’t need more laws prohibiting this practice because the existing laws appear to be working just fine.

Here’s what does happen.

Abortion after fetal viability is rare because most pregnancies progress to a successful end. Abortion after fetal viability also requires medical consent as well as patient consent. In Michigan, multiple physicians have to attest that the pregnancy is endangering a woman’s life. In other states, fetal viability is also an acceptable reason but still requires multiple medical confirmations. Generally abortion this late in pregnancy is the last choice rather than the first.

The main reason why a pregnancy can turn deadly after six months is that something goes terribly wrong with fetal development. The last three months of pregnancy is when the brain and other major organs go through dramatic growth. Physicians can detect these abnormalities. In some cases (holes in the heart), surgery in utero or post-delivery can correct the program. In some cases, the deficiencies are so severe that the pregnancy is unlikely to go full term. In most cases, these pregnancies end in miscarriage. When a natural miscarriage doesn’t occur, the pregnancy is terminated medically.

The laws regarding abortion after fetal viability require confirmation that the fetal heartbeat has stopped before anything else is done.

In some cases where it is possible to have a normal delivery, some mothers ask that labor is induced. They elect to go through a delivery so can provide comfort care as their baby passes.

Do the women who make this choice and the medical professionals who assist them sound like the monsters described by President Trump?

The reality is that no woman chooses this path after six months of pregnancy. Instead this is a family tragedy that should be cause for compassion and empathy.

Here’s the rest of the story.

Only 18% of the country believes that abortion should illegal in all circumstances. That number hasn’t changed significantly in 43 years.

The pro-life movement has failed to make their case for 43 years. The reason that they have failed is not because the rest of America is godless or uncaring. They failed because rest of America rejects being demonized. They appreciate how difficult a choice this is and accept that no one should attempt to make this choice for anyone else. Finally they simply reject the assertion that any group has the right to dictate the beliefs of anyone else.

The crime here is the demonization of those who suffer a failed pregnancy.

It is so simple to create this horrific image of innocent babies being cruelly killed.

For those who have a political ax to grind, it is really easy to fire up the outrage machine by suggesting that a vote for a Democrat is an endorsement of the practice of killing babies after they are born. The reality is that Democrats love babies just as much as Republicans because loving babies is built into our DNA as humans. Democrats find the prospect of killing babies just as repugnant as Republicans.

So why does our President suggest otherwise?

Because it is an emotional issue that creates fear and outrage. Politicians like Trump use fear and outrage to motivate their base to take action.

The “action” generally involves more “ends justifies means” thinking. It justifies treating the “other” (the ones we disagree with) as something less than human. It justifies repeating a lie even when you know it is a lie because that lie supports the larger mission of “getting something done”. It justifies rationalizing hateful behavior in the name of God.

Even though American voters agree on more that 80% of the issues that face us, we have allowed politicians to divide us into warring camps over a small handful of issues.

It is time for this to stop.

Change starts with a willingness to accept that rational people can have reasonable differences and that those differences don’t diminish their humanity, piety, or patriotism or enhance our own.

It continues when rational people admit that words can be used to harm or to heal. When we use words to harm, we attack the very fabric that holds our society together.

Emotional issues like abortion, immigration, race, religion, or sexual preference have the power to divide us when used by people who don’t believe in treating others with love and respect. Change gains momentum when rational people who are willing to treat each other with respect, reject politicians who try to use words to incite hate and violence.

We heal the country by healing ourselves. We heal ourselves when we start to hold our representatives accountable for their failure to model the same sort of behavior we personally aspire to. We heal ourselves when we stand up to defend the rights of others to be treated with respect even when we may disagree deeply with some of the things they believe in.

If we can leave our children anything, let’s leave them an example of how to defeat hate and restore love as the dominant force that shapes our country.

Forgive Me Father For I Have Sinned

Monday, August 21st, 2017

For those unfamiliar with this Catholic meme, it is the opening sentence Catholics whisper to the priest to start confession.

My confession is that I find this particular point in our history fascinating.

We have a President who appears determined to self-destruct, a party that is uncertain they are willing to go down with him, and his supporters who have swallowed the kool-aide and have lost touch with reality.

So here’s a little bonus coverage courtesy of one of my favorite academics, Jonathan Haitt of Righteous Mind fame.  He has a great article in The Atlantic which explains the widespread negative reaction to Trump’s Charlottesville comments.

This IS NOT a political rant.

It is simply an explanation of a taboo that Trump broke.

All societies have taboos.  I won’t go through why, though Haitt does in his article.  Suffice it to say that we use a common set of deeply revered values, people, or places to hold all our citizens together in a shared bond.  That bond is our willingness to sacrifice our individual interests for the greater common good.

Charlottesville was a clash of sacred symbols.

The far right displayed their sacred symbols including swastikas, confederate flags, and guns – lots of guns.  They were marching to defend another symbol – the statue of Robert E. Lee.  The goal of the rally was to bind white people together with a shared hatred of Jews, African Americans, and other minorities using claimed white victim-hood and racial purity. (BTW racial purity is a myth.  Skin color is the result of a not well understood interaction between about 100 genes rather than the presence or absence of a particular set of genes.  Commonly available genetic ancestry tests are causing real problems for those advocating a “pure white” society.)

For UVA students, “the lawn” in the center of campus is also hallowed ground.  Students rushed out, unarmed, to defend the Jefferson statue from the approach of the torch-bearing armed white supremacists.  The marchers weren’t planning on vandalizing the statue, but from the student’s point of view these particular marchers would have “contaminated” the statue if allowed to approach unopposed.  That’s because for a Jeffersonian, neo-Nazi’s are taboo.

That’s what the country saw.  Unarmed students spontaneously opposing an organized group chanting the worst slurs against Jews and African Americans and making Nazi salutes.  It was a desecration of our most cherished American story based on the belief that “all men are created equal”.  We all know that this creed is aspirational, but we demand that all of our political leaders accept this premise as a requirement to hold office.  Denying this premise is blasphemy.  As a result white supremacists, the KKK, and neo-Nazis are widely regarded as blasphemous outsiders.

We treat our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution as sacred texts.  We erect monuments to our martyrs.  We punish or shame anyone who ignores our documents or dishonors our martyrs.  We expect our president to play the role of high priest and chief unifier in times when those texts and martyrs seem under attack.

In Trump’s press conference on Tuesday August 15th, Trump fumbled his opportunity to play the role of the high priest and chief unifier because he failed to condemn the blasphemers exclusively.  In response to the public outcry, the President read a staff-written speech to right that wrong.  If it had stopped there, perhaps he could have recovered.  Instead just 24 hours later, he committed the greatest sacrilege of his presidency by saying that there were “very fine people on both sides”.  That’s because our basic belief is that Nazi’s aren’t just bad – they are taboo.

Trump has become taboo by embracing those that we have decided are taboo.  The moral stain of the blasphemers has rubbed off on him.  That’s why you saw such a scramble by all those who understood what he had just done.  Those who fail to distance themselves from the taboo will also become taboo, just as Trump has done.  That’s also why most people in this country were willing to condemn those who just walked in the march.  They didn’t have to carry a flag, shout a slogan, or salute.  Just being there made them taboo too.  They got fired.  They were disowned by their families.  People won’t want to live next to them any more than they would a sex offender.

You can’t apologize for breaking a taboo, particularly one as deep as the Nazi or KKK.  You can’t even use the excuse of ignorance because that would suggest ignorance of our basic values.  In Trump’s case, it doesn’t matter, because he is not going to admit that he did anything wrong.

the stain, the moral pollution, the taint, will linger on him and his administration for the rest of his term. Business leaders have quit his panels and projects; artists who were due to receive honors from the president have changed their plans. Pollution travels most rapidly by physical touch, so be on the lookout for numerous awkward moments in the coming months when people refuse to shake the president’s hand or stand next to him. It is unclear how far the contagion will spread, but it will surely make it more difficult to attract talented people into government service for as long as Trump is the president.

Further this is going to do generational damage to the Republican Party.

people’s political orientations are shaped for life by events that happen when they are young, particularly between the ages of 14 and 24. The young generation—iGen, as Jean Twenge calls them—is extraordinarily progressive and passionate about matters of race and prejudice. If Republicans stand by their tainted president rather than renouncing him, an entire generation of voters may come to see the GOP as eternally untouchable.

It’s hard to say what will come next, but right now the country is unbalanced.

Extraordinary sacrilege has occurred, but divine retribution has not yet come down from the heavens.  We have no priest and no scripture to guide us.  The country may suffer for failing to remove this apostate.

What I can see in the not too distant future, however, is an emotional pivot toward impeachment as a cathartic recovery of purpose and balance.  Trump will be blamed.  Some in his administration will go to jail.  All will be disgraced.  The country will heal.  I saw this happen with Nixon.  It could very well happen with Trump too.  All that is missing is the smoking gun of corruption or scandal and the game will be over.

 

 

The Enemy Is Us

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016

big pogo

I’ve spent some time writing about the absurdity of Trump.

Now I’d like to spend a little time digging into the two fundamental dangers of his campaign.

First a couple of basic assumptions.

Trump is NOT a conservative in any conventional sense of the word.

Though he managed to capture the Republican Party nomination, his views do not reflect very much of what could be considered Republican Reagan-inspired orthodoxy. He ran against that orthodoxy and the “elites” who represent the Republican establishment.

Trump did not create the pool of white disaffected conspiracy-theory addled voters who support him. He has just become the most recent populist to capture their attention by calling out the establishment, regardless of party, who failed to deliver on the decades of promises that this group feels were made to them.

Conspiracy theories are part of our DNA. They were the source of legend and myth. They are independent of party. Conservatives have been the group that has recently brought them into politics in a dangerous way.

The danger of those who believe in self-serving conspiracy theories is that they are easy prey for those who may seek to turn them against the very institutions that provide them the only opportunity for relief. The best example is the past 8 years of Republican obstructionism. That obstructionism prevented passage of a more robust jobs creation program based on the big infrastructure investments that both candidates are talking about in this campaign.

That obstructionism was based in part on the effective campaign to delegitimize Obama. Though there was no basis in fact for any of those claims, Republican leadership became enablers of this strategy through their silence. As a result, significant percentages of Republicans still believe that Obama was born in Kenya and is Muslim. This made it much easier for House and Senate Republicans to effectively grind government to a halt for six years.

This same scorched-earth policy is being created for Clinton. She’s an historic liar, she should be jailed, she is too ill to be President, and the only way that she could be elected is if the elections themselves are rigged.

The fundamental concern of those unhappy with the direction the country is taking is that government is not working for them. The danger of this conspiracy-dominated strategy is that it erodes faith in the fundamental institutions of government rather than just the party that is in charge. Those fundamental institutions are what are SUPPOSED to work for all citizens. When a significant percentage of the citizens feel that not only elected representatives, but government itself is biased against them; the seeds for violence are being sown.

That brings us to a second danger. That is violence and the extremist in our society that advocate it.

Just like we have always had a segment of our society that believes conspiracy theories, there is also a segment of our society that supports violent overthrow of the government. These segments are also typically racist, nationalist, and libertarian.

The difference is that the hate speech associated with these groups was always relegated to the political fringe. Until recently, political leaders across the political spectrum rejected this bigotry outright.

Over the past eight years, racial hate speech has crept into the mainstream political conversation under the guise of political criticism of an African American president.

In this campaign; racial, religious, and even disability hate speech has been used by Trump. His excuse is that it is “straight” talk. He claims to take pride at speaking off the cuff and rejecting political correctness. His enablers add that he can’t be expected to show the sort of sensitivity that “professional” politicians display.

As a result, the violent extremists are moving from the lunatic fringe into the political mainstream. Right wing tribalism now provides them a cover to spread their hate and lies. Within the Republican Party, you can talk about topics that would have been embarrassing even during the Bush II administration. You need no better example of this legitimizing of the radical right than the appointment of Steven Bannon as Trump’s campaign manager. This guy has been one of the champions of the alt-right. His past history alone would have disqualified him from being involved in any previous Republican campaign. Now he is able to pass with barely a whimper.

Regardless of the outcomes of this election, we are dealing with a new reality. This reality is pick-up trucks with Confederate flags and rifle racks in the cab. It is open carry red-necks looking for confrontations at Black Lives Matter rallies. It is a rise in terrorist acts inspired by white supremacist groups rather than ISIS. It is a full-throated attack on the pluralism that is at the core of our democracy. It is a return of the cancer of white supremacy that has plagued this country from its founding.

My hope is that this is the first step to finally confronting and rejecting bigotry and racism in this country as acceptable behavior by any citizen.



Open Letter to Obama Critics

Monday, December 17th, 2012

This is an open letter to all those who have criticized President Obama’s visit to Newtown, CT.

Some characterized it as a publicity stunt. Some suggested that it was evidence that he was a poor leader shirking his Washington DC duties. Some felt it was hypocritical to express such sorrow over the deaths of these innocents while supporting things like abortion or drone strikes. Some have even suggested that this is part of a larger government conspiracy to take away our guns and leave us vulnerable to invasion by the UN.

If you have entertained or expressed any of these opinions, this is not day for them. Pick another day in another week. But not this day, not this week.

Are you REALLY that cynical and heartless? Have you become so twisted by your hatred of this one man that you are blind to the purpose of his visit?

It isn’t always about you and your issues, and it isn’t always about politics.

This was a NATIONAL tragedy. It tore at the fabric of our society by suggesting that we can’t protect those that we cherish most, those that are most vulnerable.

President Obama was there carrying out his highest duty, which is representing us.

He carried our collective sorrow with him to CT. He was there to represent the empathy that we all feel for those who are grieving. He was there to offer help to those that survived, but now have to learn to live with loss. He was there to give voice to the questions we all have about what can be done to bring an end to these massacres.

This event demands more than a few days of headlines and news reports. It requires more than a moment of silence. In fact silence on the underlying issues of violence and mental illness and easy access to weapons designed to quickly kill large numbers of people lulled all of us into a false sense of security.

He was there to promise that we aren’t going to let this incident fade from our memory as so many others have. He was there to express our collective outrage that this is enough. We are better than this. We are more responsible than this. We are not going to allow our country to deteriorate into armed enclaves and raise a generation of kids who are afraid to set foot outside their door. We have to have a higher concept of freedom than the mutually assured destruction of the wild west or the false security of a police state.

Yet for you, this was just another opportunity to express some petty partisan political snipe.

Shame on you!

 

 

Peacemaker Deficit

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Toss all the bums out.

This is the simple solution for a government that doesn’t appear to be working.  This solution, though, is based on the assumption that those elected to take their place will do a better job.

My view is that the ideological divide that we see preventing progress in our government accurately represents the deep divisions in the voting population.

When the tea partiers, for example, say toss out all incumbents, they aren’t expecting them to be replaced by new liberal Democrats.  What they are really saying is replace them all with people who support the Tea Party agenda.  Republicans are definitely saying toss out all of the Democrats so that the Republicans can regain control.  Democrats counter that suggestion by asking if voters really want reward Republican obstructionism by returning them to power.

So the “toss the bums out” chant isn’t really what it seems.  It is just a simple expression of hope that things would run better if everyone were in the same page.

It’s probably true, but in simplest terms, that’s not going to happen.

Government has been less effective because it has become more representative.  It has become more representative because it has become more ideological.  As it becomes more ideological, it becomes less open to compromise.  As it becomes less open to compromise, it becomes less effective. 

As government becomes less effective, it seems to fan the flames of polarization.  Everyone is looking for someone else to blame.  The easiest and most obvious target is anyone who has an opposing philosophy.  The self-righteous blame sinners.  The sinners claim they are not guilty.  The not-guilty have to prove that they are innocent.  The innocent get punished.  The unfairly punished cry for help.  The self-righteous ignore cries for help because they feel punishment is the best method to teach people to make better choices.  The media mobsters gleefully stir the pot and are rewarded handsomely for their rabble rousing. 

As the ideological differences increase, the fabric of our democracy begins to fray.  We become more interested in our own ideals than the welfare of our neighbors.  We lose the common decency that is the hallmark of our towns and cities.  We justify our hard-heartedness by pointing out the shortcomings of those we disagree with.  We trust only the like-minded.  We value those that we agree with and discount those that disagree with us.  We reward demagoguery and punish the peacemakers.

This is not new news.

This has been happening since humans discovered there was strength in numbers.

Jesus recognized the problem and gave us direction on how to overcome it in His Sermon on the Mount.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” Matt 5:9    

As is usually the case, the way to change the world is to change yourself.  As we can all attest, this is much easier said than done.

Physicians

Thursday, May 28th, 2009

“And a certain woman, which had an issue of blood twelve years, And had suffered many things of many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was nothing bettered, but rather grew worse, When she had heard of Jesus, came in the press behind, and touched his garment. For she said, If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole. And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague” Mark 5:25-29

I like this story in Mark because it talks about the power of faith. Later in the story Jesus seeks out the woman in the crowd and complements her by saying that it wasn’t Him, but her faith that made her whole.

Faith and healing in modern times, however, is a much touchier subject.

The recent case in Minnesota of a child diagnosed with Hodgekins Disease raises a lot of questions about individual rights versus government rights.

I think it is easiest if you extract religion out of it for a moment and simply discuss what choices an individual has.

So should the government have the right to lock up an individual who has a communicable disease?

In general, I think that the simple answer is yes. People should not be allowed to infect other people. The more complex answer, however, is that in practical terms the government doesn’t have the ability to exercise this right on any sort of a widespread basis. Swine flu and AIDS are only a couple of examples. So, though the government has the right, it has very limited ability to exercise that right.

Backing up from there, should the government have the right to intervene and prescribe care for someone who is unable to declare for themselves the sort of care they need?

This is the Terry Schiavo case. The answer from the courts is no. The next closest relative has the right to determine care (or lack thereof) for an adult who can’t decide for themselves, hasn’t left any instructions for the court, and is otherwise in a persistent vegetative state.

Backing up from there, should the government have the right to prevent an adult from enlisting the aide of someone else in order to end their own life?

The courts here say yes. State governments can prohibit or allow assisted suicide.

Backing up from there, should the government limit the medical choices an individual has?

Here the courts say yes. The government has the responsibility to determine what is effective and what isn’t. As a result, individuals have had to go to other countries to get treatments that are illegal here. Clearly there are a lot of issues here. Acupuncture is just one example of an ancient technique that has only recently been accepted by western medicine as effective.

Finally we get to parents and children. The government has a responsibility to oversee the sort of care children receive. So parental rights can only be exercised to the boundaries that the government has described. If parents or legal guardians step over those boundaries, the state can assume custody of the child in an effort to protect them.

One example is whether or not the government should have the right to require children to be immunized?

Again the courts here are fairly clear. In the interests of public health, the government has mandated that children who associate with other unrelated children (school, athletics, etc.) have to be immunized. The greater good here is to prevent outbreaks of childhood diseases and also take steps to eradicate those diseases. The reality is that there is some risk to the injections and those whose parents opt out of immunization only endanger themselves and any other children who have opted out. So as long and the bulk of the adolescent population is immunized, the risks are small.

The government is in a difficult position because they have an obligation to step in where there is evidence of neglect. The challenge in the MN case is that they law has no way of measuring how much the parents love their child, how much the child loves the spiritual concepts that his parents espouse, and what his ability is to really understand the potential consequences of his actions. The court also has no way of knowing how effective the treatment he has chosen will be, so they can only decide based on the opinions of medical professionals who are only familiar with conventional medicine.

The bottom line is that we are dealing with the challenges of the human patterning the divine. Human laws will never reflect the wisdom of the divine. Human constructs work fine most of the time. It is the exceptions to the commonplace where they fail very badly.

In the case of the MN boy, the physician has intervened and offered to expand his treatment to include some of the methods the parents were seeking as well as the more conventional course of chemotherapy. The boy and his mother returned home agreed to follow the direction of the court.

Oops Honey I Changed the World

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

“And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good.” Gen 1:3

This is the basis for the first of the two creation stories in Genesis. In Scientific terms, this was the big bang. There is a second chapter in Genesis that introduces a talking serpent, but has a much less optimistic ending with man becoming a mortal sinful being. This pretty much set the stage for discussions that fundamentalists and progressives have been having ever since.

Scientists working on expanding quantum theory to the operation of the universe have come up with a second chapter of their own.

It wasn’t too long ago that scientists created the concept of dark matter to explain why the universe kept expanding. Based on the matter that we could see, the expansion from the Big Bang should have slowed significantly by now. So these clever guys said that there must be something else out there left over from the Big Bang of creation that we just couldn’t see that kept things running away from each other.

In 1998, scientists actually observed a phenomena which supported the theory of dark matter.

The problem is that another pair of scientists have now concluded that the observation itself may have altered the nature of this matter and as a result altered it’s ability to force the universe to continue to expand. This alteration will ultimately result in the universe collapsing back on itself like the film of the Big Bang run in reverse in very slow motion.

The reason why this argument has interest from a spiritual point of view is that it suggests that those that think the deepest about physical reality are telling us that this reality is actually an expression of our thought. In other words, we through our thought create our reality rather than some absolute reality acting on us to control or influence our thoughts.

If that is true, then where can we turn for dependable truth?

At least for me, the being that made the universe seems like a logical choice.

It also seems logical to me that if He created all to be good, it was good then and should still be good now. So when I see what appears to be evidence of poverty, sickness, war, and hate; where did the good go? Did God somehow change reality, or perhaps has my thought and the thought of millions of generations of humans warped our perception of good into our own human version of reality?

My sense is that God doesn’t change. He is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. We are the ones who have an opportunity to change by figuring out how to be more like Him. As we learn how to be more like Him, our reality changes too. The lame walk, the dumb speak, the blind see, the poor have the gospel preached to them, wars cease, and all men treat each other as brothers.

Jesus proved that it doesn’t take much to change the world. Just an open mind and a willing heart.

Happy Thanksgiving

They shall be your Judges

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

“And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand?  And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges.”
Matt 12:25-27

Jesus ability to heal others really bothered the religious establishment because it went against their understanding of how the world worked and what the Bible meant.  The Pharisees were obsessed with condemning sinners.  They felt that those who were disabled were being made public examples by God for their sins.  They also felt that only God could forgive sins. So when Jesus healed a blind and dumb man, the only explanation they could come up with is that Jesus must be in league with Beelzebub, because only God can heal sin, and obviously this man was a sinner. 

As he always did, Jesus had something for the Pharisees and something for us.  He challenged the Pharisees logic by pointing out that Satan would have no reason to want to forgive sin or heal anyone. 

What he had for us was the promise that he wouldn’t be the only one who would heal.  Our children will be healers too and as such they will also be our judges because they will heal the problems we create. 

Our children today are telling us that they have problems with Christian Churches in the United States.

In a recent survey published by the Bama Group, only 60 percent of 16-29 year olds consider themselves Christian.  That is a dramatic shift from the 77% of 60+ year olds who answered the same question.

Those who don’t consider themselves Christian feel organized religion is hypocritical, judgmental, and too political.  They generally are very favorable to the basic teachings of Christianity (77%), but feel that organized religions no longer represent those teachings and values.  As a result only 16% say that they have a good impression of Christianity.

What is even more eye-opening is that 50% of those in this age group who do go to church share those same views.

One of the key issues separating young people from organized Christianity is the hostile position many churches hold to homosexuality.  80% of those who call themselves Christian and 91% of those who don’t describe organized Christianity as “anti-homosexual”.

Numerous surveys have shown a growing majority of young Americans have a relaxed, tolerant attitude toward homosexuality. A 2001 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that 60 percent of Americans ages 17 to 29 support same-sex marriage, yet same-sex marriage is illegal in 49 of the 50 states.    

One pastor familiar with the study said, “How did homosexuality become such a huge issue for us?  As I see it, it’s no different than any other sexual sin.”

I can’t answer him, because I ask myself the same question.

What I can see is that our children have a better grasp on the basic values and teachings of Jesus than many of us do.  Their love of their brother isn’t blinded by hate or fear.  They will be our judges.  Fortunately, they will also be our healers.

The Perfect Man

Wednesday, October 24th, 2007

“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ.And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:”
Eph 4:7, 11-13

The most perfect man to ever have walked the earth was Jesus. The rest of us are all just pale imitations doing our best to figure out how to measure up to his example.

This post was inspired by a recent column by my friend Tom Treece. Tom is so wonderfully open, honest, and humble in his efforts to work through the challenges he sees around him. In this case, he was openly wondering why we treat those who disagree with us so badly.

That bothers me too. It’s one of the reasons why I write. I hope that if I can express my particular view in a well reasoned way, it will encourage others to do the same.

Here’s my thought for Tom and others that are trying to figure out how to deal with this situation. I think the Bible in general, and this quote from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians in particular, gives us some insight.

None of us are perfect. Those that claim to be are false prophets and should be ignored.

None of us have all the answers. Those that claim to have all of the answers usurp God’s position and so their advice should also be ignored.

All of us are blessed with talents and insights. Those that suggest otherwise are saying that God somehow made a mistake. Who are you going to believe?

Our talents and insights are given us by God to accomplish His purpose. That means that there is a reason for every person on this planet to be here at this time and place. It’s your job and no one else’s to find out what your part in that plan is. You can’t do it for anyone else, and no one can do it for you.  You have to work out your own salvation.

Each of us reflects some portion of God’s perfection because we were all made in His image and likeness. If we could look at everyone all at once, we would glimpse the face of God. If you leave anyone out because of politics, belief, gender, race, or sexual orientation, you are missing some part of God.

If we want to follow Paul’s advice and aspire to at least a measure of perfection, we have to first seek out what we all have in common with Jesus – our humanity. Those of us who are Christians also have the responsibility of coming together in the unity of our faith. Paul is saying we have so much more in common than we have in difference that we are wasting precious time and energy arguing when we should be doing.

It’s very easy to get caught up today in pointing out another’s weaknesses and failures. Whether it is Pete Stark calling out President Bush, Rush Limbaugh calling out war-protesting soldiers and 12 year old kids, or just about everyone attacking Hillary Clinton; none of them are perfect. None are devils. All have the potential to be angels. All of them are made in God’s image and likeness.

If you want to see change, a good place to start is by rejecting the public spectacle of character assassination as entertainment. This is our modern day equivalent of the Roman Coliseum. Instead of watching Christians being eviscerated by wild beasts, millions tune into their favorite media outlet to cheer the dismemberment of a person’s reputation.

If, like my friend Tom, you end up being the one being chewed on while others cheer, there some solice if it is for Jesus sake, He said in the Sermon on the Mount that He feels your pain because He and other prophets were treated the same way and worse.  As a result, there is special place in heaven for your reward. 

If you are one of those who have been cheering the public persecution of your favorite victim, cut it out!  Suppress that blood lust and think about how angry you were when it was your guy getting the same treatment.  Once you’ve got that out of your system, pray to see the world as God sees it. Focus on our shared divine sonship and the world will change. We will all gain a measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.  We can certainly use it.