Moral Contradictions

Monday, October 31, 2005

Jesus' Unconditional Love meets Pharisees

The more I read this article about Southern Baptists in Florida denying water simply because Anheuser-Busch donated it, the more angrier I become. Bob Allen gets what it means to be a Christian - the SBC'ers on the ground do not. We are CHRISTians before we are Baptists - too many lose their focus, and unfortunately, they do this at the worst possible times.

What now? Am I not supposed to go to Busch Gardens? Am I not supposed to go to any restaurant that serves alcohol? Am I not to buy a magazine because it may have a beer ad?

If you carry this line of thinking to its logical end, you'll get bizarre conclusions like I just did. Why take a stand while helping hurricane victims and not take the stands I listed above?

But Nathan, those "bizarre conclusions" are just that - bizarre!

What kind of witness is that? I'll help you, but... If you want to throw that sort of condition on everything in Baptist life, well... let's just say I'll have plenty to keep my blog going if that was the case.

Hey SBC folks, worried about declining numbers? Is it because of homosexuality or the secularization of society? Have you ever looked inward and thought this might be a reason? That you're more concerned with enforcing your view of the Bible, even when that contradicts the most obvious calls of Jesus?

Jesus got in trouble for performing miracles on the Sabbath - did he care? No. The need trumped any law or rule enforced by the Pharisee.

Jesus turned water into wine for a party - My faith contends that He would have done the opposite of that and of the SBC's actions in Florida, especially in a time of need. Unconditional love is just that. Jesus got it - the Pharisees did not.

Friday, October 28, 2005

WWTPD? is original, the other is not.

Why does America love herself so much? You may sense some cynicism here, and if you did, you would be correct. However, the question derives from a very uncynical observation: why all these articles in the national and local press about ruined vacations in Cancun and Cozumel by Hurricane Wilma without mention of the devastation to the locals and their infrastructure? We're so freakin superficial. Nary a mention, or at least none that carries the gravitas of lines like "this newly married couple had their honeymoon ruined." What about folks who had their lives ruined? We heard all about that from Katrina, Rita, and Wilma in Florida - are we that so Anglo-centric that we just don't care about other folks, or only in regards to how our vacations are affected? I know I'm speaking in broad terms, but geez. As someone I respect very much said "America needs to get over herself".

My other point is stolen from Bruce at Mainstream Baptist regarding the Missouri Baptist Convention restricting membership to churches who solely give to the SBC... whatever happened to local church autonomy to give as they see fit?

The new president of the convection, Ralph Sawyer, gets the final quote in the article:

"The focus is now on winning the lost to Christ."

Oh really? Just now? What was the focus before, power? Because wide-sweeping acts and practices like these are notorious for having unintended consequences, such as turning more people off from Christ. How do you justify kicking out fellow Christians in the name of winning more?

"They are the ones that pulled away, that don't believe in the Bible all the way," says messenger Paul Berner.

Ai ai ai... Mr. Berner, in all due respect, you've been duped. You chose to believe what your leaders said, which is a miscontrued notion of what the people you kicked out believe in an attempt to grab power of convention reins.

I'd also like to serve notice to folks who have previously made comments like Mr. Berner's that the CBF and other groups were the ones that pulled away. Let me give you long-standing examples that contradict that notion: Texas and Virginia. Now, let's look at this act passed by the MBC: if these groups chose to stay away, then why pass this strict membership rule? Who's doing the leaving and who's doing the forcing out?

I fully believe that the farther the SBC pulls itself to the right and away from the mainstream, the less effective they will become; in the end, the advancement of God's Kingdom will suffer as these folks attempt to follow "WWTPD?" - What Would The Pharisees Do?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ralph Reed is Jesus?

If he's the "Right Hand of God", then the allegations I've blogged about don't lend themselves to sheer perfection, total love, and a spirit of self-sacrifice.

This Time article, "An Unholy Alliance?", sums up the latest - he does not need to win the Lt. Governor's race in Georgia, as his name, the word "corruption", and God's Holiness needs to stop meeting in the political world.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Dr. Obvious

Here's more justification for my belief that Dr. Dobson will be appearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Seems like there was a bit of an, ah... how do you say?...religious test, put before Harriet Miers, and it seems... it seems that Dr. Dobson approved of her score.

It doesn't matter how qualified she is in matters of Constitutional law, or exploring how she'll vote on other issues like the death penalty or property rights and the like... I don't think a lifetime term in our country's highest court, a court that can and has affected millions of Americans with one pen stroke, should be given to a person solely because they'll vote the preferred way on one issue.

Call it what you will - a religious test, litmus test, whatever - it was a test. I would hope that the President would have quizzed her on a whole host of other subjects to find the best and balanced candidate for the position, but from the controversy generated from Day 1, from the Right I might add, he hasn't. I'm afraid that there are many people out there, given an option of a well-qualified, learned, respected judge who is wishy-washy on Roe versus an unqualified, unknown, and unexperienced candidate who would vote to overturn Roe, they would throw their support to Candidate B.

This has been my concern about abortion all along - yes I'm against it and I don't like it. I do agree with the notion that it will happen whether or not it's legal, so in that vein I would like to narrow its availability and widen the alternatives, including preventative alternatives... yet at the same time, this one issue should not consume our entire political process. There are a whole host of issues that need attention RIGHT NOW that affect ALL OF US.

If one says "I support the culture of life", we shouldn't just focus on those who are unborn or near death - there are a ton of 'quality of life' issues that need addressing... if we really care about the unborn babies, how about simultaneously working toward improving the world that so many want them to arrive in?

Irregardless - should Miers survive the incredibly skeptical eye of the Judiciary Committee, it seems very likely that Democrats will be able to successfully filibuster her nomination as the GOP, as things stand now, lacks the political will to stand up for her.

All I know is what channel will be on my television November 7th.

Utter nonsense

I heard this story on the radio on the way to work... wow. One letter, from a home-schooled child's parent (I repeat - home-schooled), caused the C.D. Hylton High School band to drop Charlie Daniel's "Devil Went Down to Georgia" from it's program because of separation of church and state issues.

If that is indeed true, this is absurd.

I've read people say "how can you be a moderate?". This is how you can be a moderate - the answer is somewhere between the two extremes.

Friday, October 14, 2005

For several reasons...

...some stated here, some not, I'll "replay" a post from July - one that many of my new readers probably haven't read.

We can all learn something from this...

John W. Fountain wrote a column in today's Washington Post titled "No Place for Me - I Still Love God, But I've Lost Faith in the Black Church".

He touches on themes of an unfocused church, ego driven pastors, and the disconnect resulting from token spirituality presented within fundraisers and quasi-fashion shows.

The article is a must-read for all Christians who love and grew up within their respective churches yet feel the pain of disillusionment from discovering its deficiencies. I for one grew up within the Southern Baptist Convention and over-time became pained at the hurtful and needless politics of power exhibited at the expense of the true calling of Jesus. Witnessing too much anger and bitterness challenged me to examine what I believed and how to proceed. Part of that process is typing out this blog.

We all need to re-examine our own hearts and pray for the collective Church. We must pray that politics of power, of hate, of division, of exclusion, of diversion, and of money must not be placed as idols in front of Jesus' teachings. We must not argue about the difference between the word "inerrant" and "true" and condemn each other for not accepting each other's exact theology. We must not concern ourselves of each other's sins and focus on each other's failings.

We are called to purer and higher mission. That mission's over-riding theme is love. To be true Christians, we must act within the bounds of love, which cannot exist within the love of money or power. The desire for perfection and purification is a worthy goal; however, none of us is without blame and we must interact and fellowship with each other in love, not condemnation.

As I look out the window of the store at the beautiful sunset, reflecting on several online and personal conversations over the past few days, I wonder if those, I myself used to be one, who let emotion override reason while debating these differences understand the damage inflicted on Christianity overall. More and more I understand why the CBF pulled out - you can't find common ground with folks who won't listen - who are focused on winning, ethics and Christian love be damned. I remember a youth minister I used to have - I couldn't discuss issues with him because he was too busy preaching to me. I cringe when that happens - I absolutely abhor being told what to believe or "this is how it is, accept it". I want to learn, I'm willing to listen, I'm not too proud to modify my opinion in the face of compelling evidence, but I have my own opinions and beliefs that I bring into the debate which I consider valid. Until my debate partner recognizes that my opinions may actually have some validity and is willing to listen, there is no common ground.

When this happens - when we conduct intra-church squabbles in the public square, we're not the most convincing witness to non-Christians... they can get that same kind of fighting by watching Jerry Springer.

(Note, this is not directed toward any one person, but a general type of several personalities I've interacted with the past few days, some my family has interacted with, and some from my 'growing up' years.)

God bless

Yeah that ain't right...

For Injured U.S. Troops, 'Financial Friendly Fire

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Whatever happened to...

...evaluating a nominee's judicial record and opinions regarding how the Constitution is to be interpreted?

There is a gray line within the next two quotes, yet both sides will argue that their is a distinct line closer to their position. E.g there's a faction who are very adamant about separation of church and state and cringe at these sentiments, and there's another faction sensitive to perceived attacks on Christianity. Both come from a truly American point of view, at least constitutionally, yet the difference arises over how exactly religion fits in the public square.

President Bush:

"People are interested to know why I picked Harriet Miers," Mr. Bush said. "They want to know Harriet Miers's background. They want to know as much as they possibly can before they form opinions.

"Part of Harriet Miers's life is her religion," Mr. Bush went on, in remarks that may be revived during Ms. Miers's confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee several weeks from now. "Part of it has to do with the fact that she was a pioneer woman and a trailblazer in the law in Texas." (Article)

The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States. (Article VI, Clause 3)

Honestly, I see both sides. I don't know the answer, yet many passionately believe their answer is right - naturally devolving into debates and arguments where we talk past each other, both perceived as "anti-Christian" and "anti-American" - yet both are wholly Christian and American. The crux is how Christianity intermingles with our country - thus the debate is fought in churches and in courtrooms alike... every day the issues become more complicated, more emotional, and more towards a vindictive "my side is going to win no matter what" attitude, which only serves to embolden the both sides.

I went to a lecture by Dr. Bill Leonard last night at BTSR - he asked something to the effect of 'how long will it be until people go to jail over this fight?'. The battles are fought on many fronts, covertly and openly, affecting all Americans and Christians in ways we all may not understand for years.

Shouldn't "pro-life" include...

...those that are alive, and not just about to enter the world or leave it?

Do you ever wonder how many people you see each day go through situations like the one described in this diary?

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Dr. Dobson - "fine"

Let's just say I'll be tuning to C-Span when Sen. Arlen Specter and Sen. Chuck Schumer get their wish and have Dr. James Dobson testify during the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings on Harriet Miers.

What will he say? How will he respond in a hostile forum versus his own show's friendly faces? How will America respond? How will Christians respond? Will you be able to tell he's a Christian by his actions? Or will you get a profound sense of arrogance? We shall see.

I'm of the belief that significant history is in the making - I feel the best role is to watch, soak it in, interject my personal comments here on this blog, and observe our country becoming more divided over the definition of America.

Um... let's think this through...

As more folks are divorcing then ever and homosexuals seek unions, the definition of marriage will be in the forefront of issues facing our society for many years to come.

That said, I'm not too wild by the scenarios described in this column "Church-state? It's a bad marriage".

Every time I hear or read the word "religious tribunal" I hear Monty Python "No one expects the Spanish Inquistion!".

Friday, October 07, 2005

If you needed a reason... know why I write this blog, you may glean some understanding after reading this article by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr. titled "Faith-Based Hypocrisy".

One of my pet peeves is the selective use of religion to justify favorable goals, yet throw religion out of the window in regards to the torture issue, for instance, or any other host of "liberal" beliefs that jive with the Bible's teachings yet don't fit the conservative world view.

This particular peeve, unfortunately, frequently arises, providing even more fodder for this blog.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Say wha?

My not-so politically aware boss made a very astute point. Why, in regards to abortion, is the government "state's rights", yet in something such as assisted suicides, newly seated Chief Justice John Roberts is worried about undermining federal laws?

As my boss said, "you can't have it both ways". You can't be for throwing Roe V. Wade back to the states, yet keep something like this out of the states' hands. You can't be against legislating from the bench, yet applaud when the rulings go your way.

"You gotta take the good with the bad - else they're proving their serving their own ideology instead of political principle."

Cloak it in fiscal conservatism or religion, I pray the American people will continue to wake up and understand the incredible arrogance and power abuse of this Adminstration.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

I'm with Senator Salazer... wondering why Dr. James Dobson is so privileged to carry a secret about Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers, a secret that Senators know nothing about.

The president's lead political adviser, Karl Rove, reportedly called Dobson and other conservatives ahead of time to reassure them about the Miers pick.

Afterward, Dobson told The New York Times he supported her because of her religious faith and because he has reason to believe she opposes abortion.

"Some of what I know I am not at liberty to talk about," he told the newspaper.

That statement bothers Salazar, a first-term Denver Democrat who describes Miers as a "blank slate" whose views are little known.

"It's troublesome to me the comment would be made," Salazar said at a Tuesday news conference in Denver. "It seems to me, all of the (information) the White House knows about Harriet Miers should be made available to the Senate and the American people. If they're making information available to Dr. Dobson - whom I respect and disagree with from time to time - I believe that information should be shared equally with a U.S. senator."

Again, the mixture of politics and religion will only serve to corrupt religion... and corrupt and belittle our common faith.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Let the fun begin...

Well, Christians everywhere will get a continuous black eye, whether they know it or not, as Alabama Governor Candidate Roy Moore will make it seem that public posting of the Ten Commandments is all that we're about.

The Pharisees combined government and religion.

Jesus combined salvation with love.

Yet another reassurance that I won't run out of material for this blog.