Moral Contradictions

Friday, September 30, 2005

Talking past one another...

I really like Joseph Phelps column in Ethics Daily ominously titled "Learning From Our Adversaries".

We talk past each other - we can learn from each other. "My way or the highway" may be acceptable to the SBC because they "won" and they control the seminaries and boards, but it doesn't make it right - or make it work.

I think we can all learn from honest articles such as this.

Torture

Bruce over at Mainstream Baptist links to a great column concerning how torture is a controversial topic.

Call me a liberal, but I grew up reading stories about Vietnam and World War II where the enemy tortured us... yet as I read those I kept my head up high because I knew as Americans, we were above that. The enemy appreciated us once we they were taken prisoner and realized that they were in better conditions than before. Maybe I filled my head with propaganda, but that's what I was led to believe.

I am perplexed that those who seek to turn this country into a Christian Nation aren't saying anything about the systematic tolerance and even encouragement of the use of torture. Just because they terrorists are trying to do something bad doesn't justify torture. Sure, I'll be the first to admit it, my gut reaction, if pressed enough, might even support torture. I still remember the feeling that overwhelmed me as my dad drove me to the airport in DC and we crested a hill on 395 where all of DC and the Pentagon can be seen - of seeing that gaping hole in the side of the Pentagon, a place where my dad, in his capacity working for the Navy, frequented. I seethed inside as the question played over and over in my mind of "how dare they?".

But what part of Christianity is based on our gut reaction?

I'm proud to be an American - I consider myself blessed to have been born here. However, I grew up thinking that we held ourselves to a higher standard - that no matter how depraved an action was taken against us, we would not stoop below that standard. Yet I was wrong.

Jesus calls us to a higher standard - to overcome our natural instinct of revenge and supplant that with grace. Grace doesn't come naturally, yet standing against torture should.

I certainly thought that the idea would repulse most Americans, especially Christians - yet I was wrong.

As I commented over at MB, God will not judge us on how good an American we were. He also judges sins for actions that we did not do - and I truly believe that implicitly supporting terrorism by not coming out against it is wrong.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Credit where it's due...

I must commend Sir Mohler for getting it right: speaking out against FEMA's plan to reimburse churches and faith-based organizations for their hurricane aid.

This is a horrible precedent that distorts Christian charity and wrongfully entangles churches and the government. With the tax-funded reimbursement will inevitably come government intrusion and all the rest. Christians should give the aid out of love and concern, without expectation of reimbursement. The reimbursement plan threatens to turn the Christian agencies into extensions of state action -- mere service agencies functioning on behalf of the government.

I wonder what Dr. Richard Land thinks...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

I have a simple question...

I've been catching up on my round of blogs lately - moving into a house and a wide array of church commitments has kept me quite busy - and I couldn't help but wonder:

When did Paul join the Trinity?

It seems like he took Jesus' place. I've seen reference in certain comments that Paul's writings shouldn't be discarded because they are "God-breathed". I agree - but I believe there's two categories of Scripture: Those that are God-breathed and those that are God-spoken.

The Gospels, to me, are God-spoken. Those who wrote each book physically interacted with Jesus - He spoke to them, He touched them, they shared meals together, etc. Our deity was physically present.

Paul, along with every other prophet and person in the Bible, experienced God (although Paul had an intense experience) - thus the texts that they wrote and were recorded about them are classified as God-breathed.

We all order passages and books of the Bible in significance. For example, I'd venture to say that most modern Christians eat pork, thus that part of the Bible has now taken a back-seat.

Since we routinely pray to Jesus, not Paul, please pardon me for my "moderate" or *gasp!* "liberal" belief that the Gospels hold a place of significance slightly higher than the rest of the Bible.

You know, that whole "CHRISTian" thing. Does this belief prevent me from fellowshipping with Southern Baptists?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Politicians are evil...

...and I'm using nice words.

I grew up thinking that if you looked "Evil" up in the dictionary, "Democrat" would show up as a synonym. I have since learned that politicians, as a whole, are evil. If they aren't evil, then the people that worked behind the scenes are. Case in point, here's some weekend reading:

From the Washington Post: Tyco Exec: Abramoff Claimed Ties to Administration. Ralph Reed's friend. It just gets worse for Abramoff and everyone around him.

Second piece comes via Wonkette: Future Borgias of America. The College Republicans at OU made themselves known while I was there... At the time, I thought about joining them, but got turned off by their smugness and their antics. Let's just say they were a factor in my overall disenchantment with the GOP.

For those who believe that the Republicans are saints and are going to bring God's Holy Kingdom here to America, I would ask you to wake up. There is nothing Christian about the actions described in these two articles.

Again I say: Politics corrupts everything it touches - even religion.

What better way to spread the love of Jesus...

...by expelling a student because her 'parents' are lesbian lovers.

According to this article, the Ontario Christian School confirmed that they expelled 14 year old Shay Clark Thursday, September 22.

"Your family does not meet the policies of admission," the school's administration wrote to her mother.

Two schools of illogic that need to be explored: 1. Why punish the student for their parent's action? 2. Going along with this type of rationale, wouldn't it better to have the student in a Christian school? Or is it because officials are worried what the other student's parents will think?

I thought Jesus loved all the little children...

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The commercialization of our faith...

Just when those who prefer marrying our common faith with the corruption of politics, there are some who seek to commercialize that which is sacred.

According to this article headlined "Hollywood Marketing Films Through Churches", large influential churches are serving as test audiences for films that aren't overtly Christian.

Yes, I agree with the overall theme that Christians need to take stronger action when it comes to what our children watch - yet I fear that the church is at risk for exploitation all in the name of money.

Increasingly there's a realization among businesses that the "Christian Market" is underserved. I think that this is a good thing overall as there are more movies for Christians to watch and enjoy, as opposed to all violence and crap on tv.

There's a very fine line, and going with everything I've observed, read, and learned while operating this blog, the potential for abuse is ever-present.

I don't want my faith bottled down to the lowest common denominator to sell more movies. My faith isn't cheap, nor is it a commodity. I'm not sure I want to be viewed as a Christian consumer - as someone to specifically sell goods too.

I'm not terribly sure that's how Jesus would view Himself.

What can wash away the sin of money?

According to a Mexican church, drug money can be purified. Who would of thunk it? I didn't know drug dealers tithed.

Maybe Ralph Reed did the same thing when he accepted gambling money from Jack Abramoff?

And maybe once again the notion that politics corrupts everything it touches is proved, even Christianity?

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

A movement, not an institution...

Last night my wife read me a passage from a book she's reading for seminary. The passage said something to the effect that Jesus wasn't looking to start a new religion or institution, but rather a he wished to effect a movement, which is more inspiring and more powerful. I know I horribly paraphrased that, but essentially I wonder if Jesus looks at today's church and shakes His head. So many of us are content to fill our space in the pew for an hour and go home. Where in the Bible are we commanded to do that?

Not too long ago, a large and wealthy church here in Richmond launched a single mother ministry. Those who had been divorced, widowed, or alone could find strength from fellowship with one another and experience God's love. After a year, the church evaluated the success of the program, which was growing and quite popular.

Yet, at the end of the staff meeting, the ministry was canned. Why?

Church members were upset their BMW's had to park next to Ford Escorts and the like.

How is that Christ-like?

Friday, September 16, 2005

All the pain and none of the sacrifice

...is a bit of a stretch, but follow me here.

First I heard earlier in the week Tom DeLay, in yet another example that he does not hail from Planet Earth, pronounce the government's budget free from fat. That's crazy in and of itself. The last few major bill, mainly the energy and transportation, are full of pork and completely wasteful. Our budget deficit is, well, how do you say... quite large and any fiscal conservative who believes this Administration has adhered to this policy lives with Tom DeLay.

Then I saw a headline that said President Bush is unwilling to raise taxes to help with Katrina relief.

I'm tired of this "we're in a rough situation, but we'll pull through" followed by fiscally irresponsible decisions and no calls for sacrifice. How are we going to pay for this? I know we should, but are we looking for short-term satisfaction in exchange for long-term gain?

Folks... we have a government that is unprepared, unconscious, and overwhelmed by a major disaster, yet it's willing to drive that same government into the ground. Not to mention all this talk of repealing the estate tax and some calls for even more tax cuts.

It's like we, the American people, own a nice car... a very nice and precious car. The only one we'll ever have. Every four years we entrust a driver with whom we share a vision and dream to guide our car where we want to go. Sure we're divided as to the direction, but this is a democracy, and the leader has agreed to take us where he believes the majority of people want to go... a nice stroll in the mountains. Sure the inclines will be tough, but at the end of the journey we'll enjoy nice vistas and we will enjoy the fruit of the car's hard work and the driver's direction.

We gave President Bush and his team the keys and now he's joyriding our country rougher than Farmer Joe trying to get home before the cows. Potholes and guardrails don't matter - we hit them. Food wrappers are all over the seat. The transmission is shot... and, it seems the car's been in some shady places and carried people who don't respect the car like the rest of America.

When President Bush hands us the government back January 20, 2009 for us to give to someone else, we'll be worse off then than we were January 20, 2001. We'll have to deal with the consequences of his Administration's actions for years, all while we thought he was cleaning up the consequences of Clinton's administration.

All that to say - sure, we want to help Katrina victims, but are we going to pay for it later?

I'm not an economist - but something doesn't seem right at all.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Kilgore draws a hypothetical laugh...

...only at his expense.

Scenario: Virginia and New Jersey are the only gubenatorial races this year. Jersey's is pretty much rigged and all eyes are on Virginia because the race is competitive. Virginia's current governor, Democrat Mark Warner, who cannot run this year due to state law not allowing successive terms, is widely talked about as a potential 2008 Presidential candidate. Republican Senator George Allen is as well. Thus, each one has a vested interest in this campaign to bring their party to the Executive Mansion in '05 to pad their '08 resume.

Another focus is the fact that we are a fairly red state with a very popular Democratic governor who raised taxes without political fallout. In this day and age... that just doesn't make sense to anyone.

Hence, we're being viewed as a unique microcosm of the national mood, especially in light of Katrina and the Supreme Court nominations which ultimately revolve around Roe v. Wade.

Thanks to JBD over at Charging RINO for the video where former Attorney General and Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore is pressed to answer a simple yes or no question in a debate with Lt. Governor Tim Kaine by moderator Tim Russert.

Mr. Kilgore, you may want to special order your shovel, cuz you're trapped in a mighty big hole.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Dear Administration...

While the 'blame game' around Katrina continues, one thing is for certain... it will be quite difficult to defend the lackadaisical and dilatory federal response. Oh, fingers can be pointed at the state and local level, as always, but ultimately, we are all Americans. State's rights shouldn't interfere with saving lives.

Even if the Mayor and Governor acted quicker, which many of the pro-federal supporters claim, I'm not sure that would have made a difference. It wasn't like the federal government was waiting outside the border of the state, awaiting permission to come in.

President Bush was on vacation and focused on Medicare, immigration, and playing the guitar; Vice-President Cheney was on vacation in Wyoming and didn't return until days after the levees broke; DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff praised the federal response; Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice was on vacation in New York; Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was at a Padres game in San Diego; and last of all, President Bush praised now fired Michael Brown.

They didn't have a clue as to the potential of the disaster or the magnitude of the suffering in the New Orleans area, regardless of the local and state's actions in the days immediately after.

Think Progress has a timeline - following is some key points (and note that the levees broke Monday... this is 2-3 afterwards):

First, I would ask that you all peruse the October 2001 Scientific American article "Drowning New Orleans". The water comes from a different direction, yet the potential has always been there.

Secondly, another article via National Geographic which further invalidates President Bush's claims below that "no one knew this would happen". I'm sorry sir, but yes, they did.

Now here's excerpts from the timeline:

Monday, August 29


LATE MORNING – LEVEE BREACHED: “A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north.” [Times-Picayune]

8PM CDT — RUMSFELD ATTENDS SAN DIEGO PADRES BASEBALL GAME: Rumsfeld “joined Padres President John Moores in the owner’s box…at Petco Park.” [Editor & Publisher]

Tuesday, August 30

U.S.S. BATAAN SITS OFF SHORE, VIRTUALLY UNUSED: “The USS Bataan, a 844-foot ship designed to dispatch Marines in amphibious assaults, has helicopters, doctors, hospital beds, food and water. It also can make its own water, up to 100,000 gallons a day. And it just happened to be in the Gulf of Mexico when Katrina came roaring ashore. The Bataan rode out the storm and then followed it toward shore, awaiting relief orders. Helicopter pilots flying from its deck were some of the first to begin plucking stranded New Orleans residents. But now the Bataan’s hospital facilities, including six operating rooms and beds for 600 patients, are empty.” [Chicago Tribune]

2PM CDT – PRESIDENT BUSH PLAYS GUITAR WITH COUNTRY SINGER MARK WILLIS [AP]

Wednesday, August 31



7PM CDT – CONDOLEEZZA RICE TAKES IN A BROADWAY SHOW: “On Wednesday night, Secretary Rice was booed by some audience members at ‘Spamalot!, the Monty Python musical at the Shubert, when the lights went up after the performance.” [New York Post, 9/2/05]

8PM CDT — FEMA DIRECTOR BROWN CLAIMS SURPRISE OVER SIZE OF STORM: “I must say, this storm is much much bigger than anyone expected.” [CNN]


Folks, remember, one of the downsides of a democracy is we voted for these guys.

Thursday, September 1

7AM CDT — BUSH CLAIMS NO ONE EXPECTED LEVEES TO BREAK: “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.” [Washington Post]

CONDOLEEZZA RICE VISITS U.S. OPEN: “Rice, [in New York] on three days’ vacation to shop and see the U.S. Open, hitting some balls with retired champ Monica Seles at the Indoor Tennis Club at Grand Central.” [New York Post]

CONDOLEEZZA RICE GOES SHOE SHOPPING: “Just moments ago at the Ferragamo on 5th Avenue, Condoleeza Rice was seen spending several thousands of dollars on some nice, new shoes (we’ve confirmed this, so her new heels will surely get coverage from the WaPo’s Robin Givhan). A fellow shopper, unable to fathom the absurdity of Rice’s timing, went up to the Secretary and reportedly shouted, ‘How dare you shop for shoes while thousands are dying and homeless!’” [Gawker]

Friday, September 2

ROVE-LED CAMPAIGN TO BLAME LOCAL OFFICIALS BEGINS: “Under the command of President Bush’s two senior political advisers, the White House rolled out a plan…to contain the political damage from the administration’s response to Hurricane Katrina.” President Bush’s comments from the Rose Garden Friday morning formed “the start of this campaign.” [New York Times, 9/5/05]


And the one that should give us all pause...

EARLY AM — BUSH WATCHES DVD OF THE WEEK’S NEWSCASTS CREATED BY STAFF WHO THOUGHT BUSH “NEEDED TO SEE THE HORRIFIC REPORTS”: “The reality, say several aides who did not wish to be quoted because it might displease the president, did not really sink in until Thursday night. Some White House staffers were watching the evening news and thought the president needed to see the horrific reports coming out of New Orleans. Counselor Bartlett made up a DVD of the newscasts so Bush could see them in their entirety as he flew down to the Gulf Coast the next morning on Air Force One.” [Newsweek]


I would recommend reading the entire timeline... my earlier 'blowjob' post was entirely emotional, but in effect, both the Lewinsky and Katrina scandals do have one thing in common: Both are a disgrace.

Again I repeat, the one difference? Katrina cost lives.

So much for compassionate conservatism. When's the next election?

Thursday, September 08, 2005

What are you doing? (and how can we help?)

I'm curious to know what other's responses to Katrina have been. I know Marty has volunteered at her church as it was turned into a shelter and that zenmomma had to evacuate and is helping others even though it's greatly affected her. My wife and I donated to the Virginia Baptist Mission Board, yet the more time that goes on, the more I feel like I need to do. My mother in law is going for 10 days with a team down south to help rebuild here in a week and a half or so.

Feel free, if you want, to post how you are serving those in need. I don't want to turn this into a judging thing - I want to keep a humble spirit about it so we as a Christian body can pray and support each other. What needs aren't being addressed by the media? What are the short-term needs and how will they evolve into long-term needs? Has anybody welcomed refugees into their houses?

I guess I'm just looking for ideas of how I may serve more besides making a donation. I hope others will be inspired as well from putting personal spins to the pictures on tv.

A thought...

As you may well know, I'm of the belief that sin is sin is sin. Period. . .

So... on the one hand, 7 years ago we impeached a president who got some on the side and didn't own up, and on the other hand....

I'll let you fill in the blank.










Okay, I'll spell it out - let's just say a blowjob didn't kill thousands of Americans - on American soil as the country watched.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

An update...

I know I haven't posted as often as I normally do, but with everything going on with Katrina, what this blog focused on seemed trivial. I even haven't had time to really dwell on such issues or research them. One thing keeping me busy is working on my church's website. One Sunday I didn't have much to do in the church besides show up - the next I found myself responsible for the site and for resurrecting the sound ministry. All worthy projects, yet both are very time-consuming. I'm just happy to be serving again.

For a sneak peek, check out http://hbchanover.org. It's rough and isn't quite ready yet, but it's getting there. I hope to have it ready by the 18th. The current site is that http://hillcrestbaptistchurch-va.org - a mouthful. Any feedback, advice, and (well-intentioned) criticisms are welcome!

Friday, September 02, 2005

In all of this...

...these kind of op-eds are the last thing we need. However, I'm sure the themes expressed are currently popular: how could God allow such a tragedy? Where is he now?

I pray that as we and others question our faith and cope with this disaster, in the end our faith will be strengthened and will act in His name to provide comfort and relief. I pray that as some may feel God has abandoned them that we as the Church will provide shelter, food, and care to demonstrate that they're loss of faith is unfounded.

This is a dark time - more than ever our world needs the light of Christ's mercy and love demonstrated through our faith and actions.