Archives for category: Personal

Oklahoma is in crisis.

The unions are reporting increased parental support, but they’ve lied so much already I won’t accept anything they say.

I’m heart torn. I hurt. We homeschool. So, it doesn’t directly affect my family, but we’ve always supported our local schools and the teachers we know. The slogan is the walkout is for the kids, but the only fact establishable by empirical evidence is the teachers walked out on the children. It is abandonment, betrayal.

I don’t understand it. I know so many teachers, friends, family (including my daughter), younger, older, former, and current. I cannot doubt the heart of any one of them. I honor and respect everyone one of them. They each have accomplished so much, given so much. I trusted them, would have trusted them, but they did not remain faithful.

Again, I don’t understand. I know these teachers have the biggest, most giving, most loving hearts of any people I’ve known; yet, they walked out.

Not only did the teachers and their unions warn they would hold the children hostage and extort the parents, the parents (and legislators) believed them that their plight was dire (It was.), and the State paid the ransom. The legislators bit the bullet and raised taxes, a large tax increase. Sadly, the old adage held. Pay the ransom and embolden the extortionists.

It is interesting, even praiseworthy, how the teachers have acted, and, moreover, how many in our community have responded. Many private people and businesses have provided goods, services, and cash. It is with very mixed emotions that I watch it all. Despite being intimidated and threatened, we love our teachers and continue to work with them.

Of course, there is very little of anything good can be said of any politician in this whole mess. (Well, a small few, but that is not of concern here.) It is hard to condemn the politicians being under so much stress, intimidation, and disparagement. Some messed up, some just didn’t act right, and a few grandstanded and put on the show at every opportunity, never shying from any deriding or devise remark.

An oft-repeated chant aimed to deride the legislators was, “Do your job!” while teachers constantly thronged them and posted derogatory reports whenever the legislator was trying to attend business rather than offer a sympathetic ear. Teachers have boasted of overcrowding the legislators. Teachers complained when their disruption wouldn’t be tolerated. Teachers (and the grandstanding pols) pitched royal fits when the legislature adjourned early one day, and started slightly late the next. Lose-lose for all the legislators but the grandstanders.

As to doing their job, what is their job? The teachers seem to think it is to raise taxes and give the failing education system more money. Is it the job of the legislature to penalize the citizens of the state to appease the teachers unions?

No, the job of a legislative representative is to represent the people who elected him or her. Being in the district of the chief grandstander, it just might be that the majority in my district did so want more expensive failure in education, and the majority may very well have thought it right that grandstander-in-chief opposed all tax increases for being too small, until the strike was certain. (I wrote him often asking him to not raise my taxes and to not make such spectacle of himself.)

However, it is clear from recent history that most of the voters in most of the districts wanted their legislators to represent their interest in holding the line on tax increases. Maybe moods have changed, but it is simply disingenuous to assert the representatives were failing in their job. The legislators were, in fact, fulfilling their duties and obligations. Again, there is blame can be handed round all round, but on the whole, the legislators were doing their jobs, even while being railed against by the grandstanders and union activists.

Amongst the railing and intimidation and threats, the legislatures settled on a package of tax increases that drew compromise agreement of the required supermajority. A large, and likely painful, tax increase, and there were celebrations and dancing in the streets, even a high-five from the Governor as she rushed to sign the measure.

Yet, the strike was still on.

Come Monday, with new tax increases and new laws funding education confirmed and in the books, the strike came. The teachers walked out of their classrooms leaving students and their parents holding the bag. Betrayal of trust by any objective evaluation.

Yet, the parents bucked up and voiced support. I’ve heard no estimates of how many people had to take off work. The cost has to be over several millions of dollars, just for that first day of the walkout. In Oklahoma, it is illegal for teachers (unions) to strike against the school board (their actual employer). However, the school boards also believed the dire circumstances, and many authorized the walkout, keeping it legal.

Still, day two. Surely the teachers had made their point. Surely, with the extraordinary raise (16 to 18% per teacher, and more money for this and that) and tax burden tolerated, the teachers would be happy, but no. The unions had started the mantra Monday that it was never about the raise, never about “the money,” but about the classrooms, about education in the state as a whole. Oklahoma already spends half of its budget on education. One can argue particulars, but one cannot claim Oklahoma doesn’t care about education. That fact mattered not to the unions.

Now, we’ve muddled through the week. Some schools have called the teachers back to the classrooms. A few never walked out at all. (At least one small district sent a delegation of teachers to represent them while classes continued. Quite reasonable, I believe.)

Still, most, including all the larger districts, day by day canceled class for want of teachers. I know not what most of the school boards have done, but they face the very real possibility of having to fire, perhaps even prosecute, teachers if they (the board members) grow stubborn and insistent. There is no win, only harm, in that prospect. It is still possible. It may come to it in some instance.

I’ve waxed verbose, and I offer my appreciation for reading and sharing my pain. I aim to express my disappointment in the teachers, even in those who have vehemently supported them, but my primary aim is to end the betrayal. I hope the teachers will return to class. It is a sad fight. It is sad that it is a fight at all.

While the teachers say the government has failed, it cannot be said the education system is better. There are systemic problems of myriad sort in our education system, even more than our government system. Both are flawed from inception, with error compounded upon error over the decades. Our defects have grown for more than a century. No thorough fix is possible in even a few years.

But we can start, but not while teachers raise ruckus and disgraced politicians show no shame. The legislators cannot do their job while teachers hinder them.

While I sincerely hope the teachers will return to class Monday, we citizens of Oklahoma, all of us, must continue to call upon our legislature to address the flaws in our systems, all our state systems. They are badly broken. The problems are clear, but the causes are not. The remedies are even more elusive, but we must. We simply must find repairs, and we really must install workable systems before we make them all more expensive. We may find we need more taxes. We likely must revamp our taxing system overall.

No easy answers. We won’t find any if we get complacent. We will repeat this hurtful, tragic fiasco again in a few years if we don’t keep at honest effort for accountability and solutions.

 

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I’ve been listening to Jordan Peterson @JordanBPeterson #JordanBPeterson, an activity I highly recommend, and he often mentions the big five personality characteristics. His comments suggest I’m high in openness. So, I have been looking into it, and four online tests each rated me medium-high to high in openness.

One of the online tests had other tests, one being “morality.” I took that test too.

I didn’t think the questions were thoroughly thought through, but it seemed legit enough. Here is the oddity, while ~31% liberal and ~68% conservative didn’t surprise me, being listed as low in openness (being listed as quite closed minded) did surprise me. Perhaps there is some prejudice involved.

That will be on my mind for a while.

We, my wife and I, had a run-in with the police today, but it was the good kind.

George passed this weekend, and the home-health services nurse found him Monday morning. She called 911, and then us.

It took us a bit to get over there, and two policemen were patiently, politely, waiting for us. They explained and encouraged us to not go check personally.

A statement over the phone had Mary seeming slightly defensive on our way over, but talking things out helps.

For Mary, it was a difficult situation, she has been rather stressed, George’s passing adding that much more, and these two police officers both stayed patient, considerate, and helpful. We didn’t give them any reason to be otherwise, but Mary isn’t at her best under pressure. (Of course, that statement applies to most of us.) In a few short years, Ethan passed, Mary helped Jeanette take care of it all. Then Jeanette passed. Mary took care of that, with some help from George, and then Mary’s father passed. Thankfully, the family shared responsibilities quite well. So, the burden was not on Mary, but she still felt the pressure. Then Mary’s mother passed. Again, the family pulled together, but it still wore on Mary. Now, while we were out of town for Charlotte’s funeral, George passed, and there just is no one but Mary. So, you can see the pressure had been building. Mary has handled it graciously, and the professionalism and graciousness of the police officers helped in the best way.

I really do appreciate our law enforcement officers. We really need to help them when appropriate, and we need to appreciate them all the time.

My point here is that the police probably were a bit unsure of Mary, yet, professionalism prevailed. I’m having a heck of a time saying what I mean here. Mary didn’t act inappropriately in any way, but I’ve seen similar situations get sidewise, similar situations with different, various people in different (but similarly stressful) circumstances, and little things can be taken wrong, amplified, and less than ideal interactions follow.

The fact is, the death of anyone close affects us. It throws us off. It messes up our innerworkings. We tend to be a little less rational, a little more variable, a little more offensive, and a little more sensitive to offense. Everyone is different, except that we are all affected when someone close dies. (It makes us reassess and reset proportion and perspective. The unbalance takes time to rebalance.)

We expect a lot of our police. We expect too much, really. We have too many laws. We try to enforce those too many laws in different ways in different circumstances. It isn’t fair to them. We need our officers to be able to handle things like happened here. These two officers really did their jobs, handling a hard situation practically perfectly.

I suppose there are many ways it could have all been handled in the absence of the police with eventual adequate outcome. What needed done would have got done because it had to be done. Yet, our police knew the basics and professionally, patiently, and thoroughly helped us get it taken care of.

So, too many words. It wasn’t much of a big deal, but too many bad things have centered around law enforcement in general lately. I just wanted to make sure I recorded a good thing.

Our law enforcement personnel in nearly all regards are better than average where it counts most, in honor, integrity, and professionalism.

Thank you officers!

I sure appreciated our police today.

 

Happy Veterans’ Day.

I am thankful for all who have served, even those who never managed to fit the legal definition, like myself. Those who sign, all, pledge their lives. When I signed, I knew I was likely to never have a dangerous assignment. I knew I would likely never point a lethal weapon at another human being with the intent to kill. However, I knew I might, and I knew I was ready. I would have. I could have.

Remember that when you honor a veteran. That person promised a lot, whether called on your not. That person might have delivered on those promises, perhaps is incomprehensible ways.

I am thankful that HDR will not be Commander in Chief over my son and the rest who serve. Each would have continued to fulfill the oath. Yet, I am glad we will never know the darkness that might have fallen had HDR been Commander in Chief of the most deadly fighting force the earth has ever known.

Again, I am thankful this Veterans’ Day.

In the late 70s, about the time I started driving, I sat in conversation with my mother, explaining how emerging electronic communications and information storage were going to revolutionize the world by making nearly all knowledge readily available to everyone; anyone who needed the knowledge would be able to access it in minutes, instead of spending days at the public library, as I had done a summer or two prior while researching wind-power and realizing even before my engineering training what a pipedream it was. (I rode my bicycle on those excursions.)

While my vision was significantly different from what the internet has become, the central tenet, readily available information and fact checking at a moment’s notice with easily afforded effort has become true beyond my wildest imaginings.

But has it made any difference?

When faced with a lack of knowledge, or when someone challenges an opinion, nearly everyone appeals to whatever authority they find appealing at the moment. They spout something like, “The greatest minds on the subject disagree with you,” and they go merrily along without ever bothering to think, and, especially, without ever bothering to consider the correctness of the objection, never questioning whether or not they themselves might be wrong.

In the late 80s, I wrote a paper for a college writing class extolling the self-evident virtues of email systems that were coming into their own, at least on college campuses and at research centers.

I detailed why the near instantaneous written communications capabilities would let us all respond as quickly or as thoughtfully as was necessary to maximize understanding and minimize confusion. We could respond immediately to urgent information, or respond with thought and deliberation when emotion seemed to be obscuring clarity.

Of course, email, text, video chat, social media, all have all those qualities, with limits, but no one uses them that way.

I eventually learned there was no substitute for the KISS principle in email. Brevity and abbreviation are forced in texting and twitter.

Still, writing used to involve rather thoroughly stated points with detailed information. It still does, but instant communications muddles more than elucidates.

I find that nearly no one uses Facebook for anything substantial.

I don’t understand that.

Facebook has a significant flaw in its apparently random way it calculates who to show posts to, and how it picks what it shows. I don’t blame Facebook for developing and evolving those picking-algorithms per client preference. Of course, they must maximize the user experience to keep them and to keep growing, but it eliminates the effectiveness of Facebook as an actual communications medium.

It is good for keeping track of family, friends, and acquaintances, but it sucks for trying to coordinate most anything, since it cannot be relied on to transfer information to all concerned.

Facebook would follow us if we changed.

If we used Facebook to try to be substantive, and tried to actually communicate, Facebook would figure out how to facilitate.

Sadly, I think it will never be. The decades have taught me that communication is hard. None of us really care enough about it with most people to make the effort.

That is doubly true, and doubly sad, regarding our politicians.

Scott Adams is correct. We don’t care about facts, we care about emotional motivators, and politicians know that and take advantage of it. We all complain about negative campaigning, but every politician knows it works, either because they succeeded using it or lost because of it.

Well, the flow stopped. So, I end. Let’s all try to communicate better.

Especially, when discussing in social media, let’s try to consider context, not just some point we want to make in response to some small aspect of what was posted. Also, try not to take things personal, but never dismiss how much your words can actually hurt. (I too often find I still need to work on these things.)

Mr. Gornoski has hit it.

I add my agreement. I add CS Lewis:

“When the time comes to you at which you will be forced at last to utter the speech which has lain at the center of your soul for years, which you have, all that time, idiot-like, been saying over and over, you’ll not talk about the joy of words. I saw well why the gods do not speak to us openly, nor let us answer. Till that word can be dug out of us, why should they hear the babble that we think we mean? How can they meet us face to face till we have faces?”

Faces. We all have one, and only one, even if we try to present more than one. The gods, our God, only knows the one face. Each of us must present our truest face as truly as we are able, and we must each consider the face of our neighbor, be it black, or any other color. Be it gay, addicted, prostituted, abused, rich, powerful, humble or proud, we must face each other openly and equally.

We must speak in truth. We must try to understand. Sure, we need tolerance to ensure we only bounce, that we don’t break, but we need so much more. We must try to understand, and we must walk in love in the understanding.

——————————

Who among you will carry out the next act of violence against your nonviolent neighbor? We cannot hide behind the veil of the voting or jury booth. Face to face, we must make our choice.

Source: Law Has Become the Anonymous Violence of the Crowd | Foundation for Economic Education

I know I am not the only fatherless child.

I had to listen. I hope you appreciate the share.

What is God? I think that is a good question.

It seems necessary to assume God is who rather than what, but we think of ourselves and others with regard to what we are.

A man I look up to likes to refer to God in the feminine. I’m good with that. I don’t suppose masculine/feminine applies to God, so either convention works for me.

So that is a bit of the what. God transcends gender, and sex certainly doesn’t apply to spirit. However, it is not attributes like that which are prompting me to write. Sometimes we have to write to know what we think.

God is good, just, and merciful. That seems impossible to balance, so the omni-attributes seem essential. I’m still stuck with trying to figure out what that might mean.

I suppose I have an understanding of what is good, and what justice is, and what mercy is. I have to be on guard (thus the title) that I don’t start assuming I really know these thing. Moreover, I must not assume I can figure out God based on these things, and I must not presume in any way with regard to God.

It does seem that there are some things I have to expect, and accept.

God is the reason and the meaning. There just isn’t much point in worry about the notion otherwise. There are several atheistic tenets that assume no ultimate reason or meaning. And, that is what has me writing.

The orthodoxy of Christianity seems mostly required in order for me to hold a cogent and coherent foundational concept of God. The way other religions frame God leaves me flat. I find very little worth supposing. I can see how to build a thorough concept of God from some religions, but Christian orthodoxy seems to come closest. Note that I’m referring to orthodoxy primarily to identify the heterodoxies, the heresies.

When I think of God in the way Calvinists have tried to explain to me, I find a capricious God that fits justice so poorly as to judge it no different from simple atheism in the practical world. The God of Calvin doesn’t actually lead me any better than Richard Dawkins. Either way, nothing I do matters. Since I hold God as the meaning, things have to matter. Unless I want to suppose I’m just a puppet, robot, automaton for God, I cannot accept that what I do ultimately means nothing. What I do means something, even to God.

I can’t accept nothing, and I have to be on guard that I don’t accept my rejection of such as evidence of my beliefs.

To me, the God explained by the Calvinists is devilish and against me. I’ll be better off in hell than with a God like that. Or, if Calvinism is as close to the truth as religion has gotten, then it seems to me that atheism must be even closer to the truth, and I just cannot accept such as possible. Calvinism and atheism are not reasonable.

Similar results obtain when considering universalism. This notion has always been around. Jesus seems to have went out of his way to indicate there are some people he never knew, and since I accept Jesus as an aspect of the triune God, and utterly timeless, the statement indicates eternal damnation in the traditional, orthodox, sense. Some people don’t make it to heaven, and never even tried, even though some pretend to try, even doing what they suppose to be mighty works for God.

Jesus talked of hell a lot, and how the torment there never ends.

People rationalize however they want, but Jesus seemed to be trying to make a point that not everyone enters into eternal life, not ever.

Free will is not an illusion. We are finding at all levels that the nature of the universe is not deterministic. We are finding that if anything at all is real, we have a freedom of will and choice. Being finite and nearly powerless, our choices are limited. I think that is why some rebel against the responsibility of free will. Some seem to find it unbearable that they cannot choose whatever they want, so they reject freedom entirely.  Some prefer to think that a random confluence of strings and quarks happened to interact such that we have an ongoing fluctuation disturbance in the nothingness that seems to give us a momentary illusion of something. In other words, the answer to the ancient question, “Why is there something rather than nothing?” gets answered as, “It is all an illusion. There is nothing, never was.” I reject that notion as nonsense. It assume there is no such thing as reason, and that is not reasonable.

When I try to consider all we know, physical and spiritual, scientific and religious, it is all too much. There is more to it than we can discover. Much more than any one of us can know. It is foolish, simplistic, shallow, and worse to suppose we understand God, but I do think we can know enough to know it matters. Nonorthodox views substitute the meaningful mystery for meaningless platitudes.

If God ultimately, through punishment, or persuasion, or some set of processes and procedures reconciles all souls to Himself, what has been the point?

This life is too small in all regards. What use does an omnipotent creator have for us? We trust that He loves us, and we argue that this life lets us see that for ourselves. Yes, but if we ultimately cannot reject what He gives us, what is the difference of not having it at all? Why have this life-but-a-vapor-vanishing-away, if the end result is the same as not having experienced evil and suffering? Is there some wisdom in knowing how to harm your brother? I don’t see any possibility for it.

I believe there is a reason for this life, and I believe we all get to do with it as we please. I believe God will judge. I believe God will judge based on our choices, not on our sins. There is no choice if there is ultimately only one option. Accordingly, we would could never be judged on choice. There can be no judgement is if there is only one possibility. I choose to view God’s judgement a just, not imaginary. If there is such a thing as good, there is such a thing as evil, and there will be a day of reckoning.

Ultimately, there are two, and only two, possibilities. God, reason, meaning, purpose, reality, are real, or not. If yes is assumed, then two conditions must be real and eternal possibilities, with God, or not with God. None of it makes any sense otherwise. Of course, nothing hinges on whether or not it make sense, to me or anyone, but I just have nothing else to go on. If I assume God gave me this mind, and that reason is real, then I must do my best. My best rejects universalism at all levels.

To suppose the universe is only a few thousand years old makes God out to be a deceiver. I reject that notion and all that leads to it. To suppose universalism makes God out to be trivial and triffiling. Again, I reject that notion and all that leads to it.

There is only so much time. We’ve already used up about 13 billion years worth. That raises all sorts of questions. We don’t know how much more time there is, but a few hundred billion more years, something less than 100 times what has already passed, seems reasonable from what we know so far. And that is an unimaginable amount of time when considering less than a century for us humans.

Eternity is unimaginable even in light of hundreds of billions of years. And orthodoxy has assumed that eternity starts somewhere near the end of this brief moment of breathing. Nearly all of the greatest minds have agreed for two millenia now. Yet some think they know better. They have an easy way, and they are sticking to it. No, nothing is easy.

I believe in justice; I believe in God’s justice, and I do not think anyone is judged unfairly or without all that was needed for a favorable judgement. I don’t believe non-Christians all receive unfavorable judgements. I don’t believe the innumerable souls who died before Jesus, before Abraham, all receive unfavorable judgements. I believe each of us knows what is right, and if we choose to do it, I trust God’s mercy and judgement. Justice will be served, and that judgement comes at some point and eternity follows. There is no more time. No more possibility of appeal or commutation. The preliminaries are complete at that point, and with God or without, the real journey begins. Like the rich man in Jesus’ story of Lazarus, no one can cross over from one side to the other. Distance obviously didn’t matter, but the divide was immutable. Eternity must be immutable, or it is not eternal. (Thus, time, for now.)

If free will means anything, and nothing else can mean anything at all without it, then these are the things I must hold. This is what I must accept if I am to be honest.

This post and the two from christianstudies.wordpress.com are for reference. I’m not commenting at this time.

I will point out that Paul was raised in strict Jewish heritage. He referred to himself as among the best. http://biblehub.com/philippians/3-5.htm It is unreasonable to assume that any of Paul’s references and statements can be taken apart from a context of Hebrew law and history.

http://biblehub.com/jude/1-7.htm

It is important to read exactly and not read in.

http://biblehub.com/1_corinthians/6-9.htm

It is a large statement, not to be abbreviated. http://biblehub.com/text/1_corinthians/6-9.htm

Warning Against False Teachers

3As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine, 4nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the stewardshipafrom God that is by faith. 5The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, 7desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions.

8Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, 9understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, 10the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers,b liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to soundc doctrine, 11in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted.

Context is important.

http://biblehub.com/1_timothy/1-10.htm

Paul’s context:

http://biblehub.com/leviticus/18-22.htm

http://biblehub.com/leviticus/20-13.htm

I will also add that I do not condone any sort of extreme punishment, much less death, for sinners.

I cannot support capital punishment in our modern context, but I assent to it in the general sense. I can only justify capital punishment for aggravated murder, and only when egregious, and for violent rape.

I’m innately optimistic. I’m naturally joyful and not prone to melancholy. Yet, for our time, pessimism weighs upon me.

I truly believe MLK Jr. was right when he said that the arc of history bends slowly, but it bends toward justice. We will see freedoms increase. We will see more justice and more opportunity, and less imposition by state and political forces. The various other PTBs that people worry about will diminish over the generations. That is a long time for us mere mortals.

I see the signs for a cycle, as oft repeated in history, of evil times before more good times.

I hope I’m wrong. I doubt that I am.

Regardless, those of us who claim faith, especially those of us who follow Jesus, we must remain faithful.

Who among us will bow before Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue? No one? What about the POTUS or SCOTUS? What about Apple or Facebook? What about Hollywood or regular old peer pressure?

What about the biblical mammon?

I happened to watch Pale Rider again. That mammon thing, it just won’t work.

Every person has to stand for what is right.

Every person must walk in love, and love in this sense has nothing to do with sex.

The story goes that the three Hebrew children refused to bow.

“…But if you do not worship, you shall immediately be cast into a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you out of my hands?”

16Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king.d 18But if not, be it known to you, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”

The book of Daniel tells us they received a miracle. Miracles are by definition exceptional, rare.

Are we ready to stand anyway?

Are we ready to stand with Job and say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him.“?

I truly doubt that we or our near descendents will every face most of the persecutions of history, but we see today the executions, the beheadings. It isn’t just Christians being killed, and we must never forget.

The saying is “going to hell in a handbasket.”

Recent SCOTUS decisions have made the world a harder place to live for all. Persecutions of churches and ministers will increase. Activism is not sated. The activisms of our era are like the grave, never saying enough. Accomplishing goals is no longer an objective, but destroying all who may oppose or disagree. That is where harm lies, and only blood and suffering will reset. (Again, I hope I’m wrong.)

More worrying to me is the state of science. Science in its several forms are no longer seen as a set of tools, but as ends. The tendency is Scientism, and that is one sad and gruesome religion.

The saddest of all, though, is the apparent willingness of the Pope, the leader of so many faithful believers, to step back to earth-reverence and sacrifice.

Cardinal George’s words may yet prove prophetic:

“I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the church has done so often in human history.”

 

http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2012/1021/cardinal.aspx

http://www.kiplingsociety.co.uk/poems_copybook.htm

And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

 

 

16For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. 17For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith,e as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”f

This is excellent. I agree and support the sentiment fully. I believe in God, by faith, in faith, for faith, unto faith, faith–first and last. It is the power of God. The main point is that it is good news. God is saving us, and Jesus is how He stepped in to ensure we get it. He was proving to us, not demanding of us.

18For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,g in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.22Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.

Here, we first have to ask, “Was God, through Paul, making a universal statement? Or, was Paul simply making an observation of the state of affairs in his day?” We stretch the argument too far if we assert more than the obvious, that Paul was delineating the state of affairs as he knew it in his time and regarding his knowledge of history. For one to universalize and apply to all men through all of history, past, present, and future requires more than is present in the scripture. One can assert the universal as an article of faith, but to claim such based solely on scripture is unwarranted, and would require an improper adding to the scripture.

There are grounds for generalization in the generic, but how far can we stretch it? It is important to note that our clear perceptions of creation are unimaginably different. Paul simply did not understand nature the way we do. He could not.

There has been since Paul, a great deal of truth seeking, both successful and unsuccessful, both within the church and without. There is a great deal of truth known and established outside the purview of religion. I do not allow that Christians have a monopoly on truth; not in matters of faith, not in matters of science, not in matters of fact. The ability to pursue and recognize truth doesn’t depend on some minimum level of correctness in one’s morals and beliefs. Ethics matter, and when ethics run afoul, reality tends to correct the situation. My point is that the abandonment of truth as Paul described is no longer what it was in First Century Rome.

I’m mainly just stating the obvious. I’m not here developing the notion.

24Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

This statement is more about the heart-condition of humanity, and it seems sufficiently generic to suppose at least a general universality. We all know our tendency is toward baseness. We have to work, and we need some help, to be able to rise to nobility. Mostly, it says we are selfish by nature, and God leaves us to our self-centeredness if we insist on it.

26For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.

Again, I assert that we must accept that Paul was describing his observations and not speaking for God as an absolute for all time and eternity.

Note that Paul steps away from that subject and changes tone. Here he gets more general and more inclusive.

28And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Before I can condemn anyone for things related to verses 26 and 27, I must show that I am perfect with regard to the many factors indicated in verses 29 through 31.

Does anyone want to address all manner of unrighteousness or evil?

What about envy? Strife? Deceit? Gossip or slander?

Haters of God? Does that apply only to certain stripes of atheists or some variety of those who fight for “freedom from religion”? We must admit that there is no group that can claim no intrusion of any who could fit a reasonable description of God-haters. The examples are hopefully rare, but there can be found religious leaders who demonstrated a systematic contempt for God and submission to God and His law.

No doubt all of us have failed in all these regards. It is reasonable to assert that some of us, perhaps many of us, do mature and overcome some or several of these failings, but take those last four.

http://biblehub.com/interlinear/romans/1-31.htm ἀσυνέτους, ἀσυνθέτους, ἀστόργους, ἀνελεήμονας

http://biblehub.com/greek/801.htm

Definition: unintelligent, without wisdom, unwise, undiscerning (implying probably moral defect). Generally unwilling to use good reason.

http://biblehub.com/greek/802.htm

Definition: not covenanting, untrue to an agreement, treacherous. Untrustworthy. Faithless.

http://biblehub.com/greek/794.htm

Definition: unloving, devoid of affection.

http://biblehub.com/greek/415.htm

Definition: unpitying, unmerciful, without compassion, cruel.

Does anyone think they meet such a standard? Of course not.

I remember Jesus admonition, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”

There is no rock in my hand.

Regarding a Christian’s responsibility, or responsibility of every good person for that matter, we must live rightly personally.

We must live justly, do justice, walk in mercy, show kindness, and keep sight of the fact that we are not the center of the universe; we are not the judge; we must remain humble.

That seems to me to require that I NOT try to impose what is right on anyone else. Just because certain things are obviously good for society, it does not follow that I, or the government, or any other powerful agent should impose on society.

It is all about relationships. Jesus told us to follow Him. Jesus told us to make disciples. It must be about our daily, personal walk and individual relationships.

It’s not about the President. It is not about SCOTUS. It is not about laws. It is about individuals choosing to do what is right and choosing to be involved in the lives of those around them. Involved relationally, not nosily. Involved lovingly, and considerately, not with an eye to gain an edge or leverage. Understanding, not meddling.

I’m mixed. I have mixed emotions, mixed convictions. I am certain of my love and loyalties.

First, as it is settled for better or for worse, I want to say plainly, Kandy Wyatt, welcome to the family. You and Rachel are always welcome regardless. Always have been for that matter.

That has always been the truth. It hasn’t been easy; still isn’t.

I’m basically Christian orthodox. I found I am Wesleyan. Wesley was rather orthodox himself. I cannot find significant difficulties in the orthodoxy of these last several centuries. It is thorough in all regards. It is self-consistent and time proven, even when it hasn’t been taken seriously by most.

However, my heart is my own. I have to live with it, honor it, and follow as God makes me able. Same goes for each of us. Even you, my daughter Rachel, and my soon-to-be daughter-in-law Kandy.

Uncomfortable?

Well, the important things are never easy.

The important things are never easy.

This is important.

My love and loyalty lies with my family, unshakable.

Some may argue this way or that regarding what it means and how I should act in accord with love, or tough love, but I’ve lived a while now, and nothing rings truer than the words of Micah. I know what is right and good, for the Lord has shown me. I know the Lord requires me to do and live justly (openly and honestly), to act in mercy and show kindness, and to walk humbly before my God. This is what I will do.

 

Truth often hurts, especially for the truth teller.

http://www.acpeds.org/tragic-day-for-americas-children

“Dr. Michelle Cretella, President of the American College of Pediatricians in response to the SCOTUS decision today stated, “[T]his is a tragic day for America’s children. The SCOTUS has just undermined the single greatest pro-child institution in the history of mankind: the natural family. Just as it did in the joint Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton decisions, the SCOTUS has elevated and enshrined the wants of adults over the needs of children.“”

They reference their court brief:

http://www.acpeds.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Amici-Brief-FINAL.pdf

Which begins:

“The American College of Pediatricians (ACP) is a nonprofit organization of pediatricians and healthcare professionals dedicated to the health and well-being of children[…]. ACP’s Mission is to enable all children to reach their optimal physical and emotional health and wellbeing. To this end, ACP recognizes the basic father-mother family unit, within the context of marriage, as the optimal setting for childhood development, but also pledges its support to all children, regardless of their circumstances. ACP encourages mothers, fathers and families to advance the needs of their children above their own, and is committed to fulfilling its mission by encouraging sound public policy, based upon the best available research, to assist parents and influence society in the endeavor of childrearing.”

Note: “…also pledges its support to all children, regardless of their circumstances. ACP encourages mothers, fathers and families to advance the needs of their children above their own…”

We must all pledge to support all children regardless of their circumstances. We must all put the needs of others, especially the needs of our children, above our own. We must take care to not harm ourselves in serving the needs of others, but it is much more difficult to guard against self-serving, than to over serve. It is much easier (even more natural) to be selfish, than to be considerate of others.

Read the brief and decide for yourself. In the meantime, I’ll quote this, “…the four most recent studies, by Dr. Mark Regnerus, Dr. Douglas Allen and two by Dr. Paul Sullins, report substantial and pertinent negative outcomes for children with same-sex parents.”

At this page, http://www.acpeds.org/same-sex-marriage-not-best-for-children, they say:

“While the debate over the legitimacy of same-sex marriage can be viewed from many perspectives, there should be little debate about the effects it has upon children: Same-sex marriage deliberately deprives the child of a mother or a father, and is therefore harmful. The College has sought to defend the child’s position in this debate from an objective, scientific standpoint. Below you will find convincing evidence of the fundamental value of the married, father-mother family unit to the optimal development of the child.”

They provide lots of information and references.

It seems their efforts are in good faith and are well grounded. Common sense supports their assertions. Of course, common sense doesn’t always hold up to scrutiny, but it usually does. It also seems likely the organization is somewhat biased, but facts are stubborn things, and bias either way tends to fall off under scrutiny. It does appear to be an entirely legitimate and qualified organization, acting in good faith. Judge for yourself.

The sad fact is that science, especially the social sciences, are corrupted by power and politics, also by fame and Facebook-likes. Even scientists want to be liked. When there is political pull to be gained, power and prestige, even the simple accolades of reporters and strangers up for grabs, fallible humans, even hardened scientific researches, fall victim of confirmation bias and self-deception. And as Feynman said, we must not fool ourselves, but it is so easy to do so when someone pats us on the back for it.

The fact that is inarguable, people have elevated the wants of adults above the welfare of children. The SCOTUS continues to codify it.

 

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