Archive | October, 2010

Christian Ethics and Choices

30 Oct

The following survey questions were written with the Christian in mind, and are part of my larger lesson on “Christian Ethics and Choices.”  A fully informed choice is the responsibility of us all.  Ignorance can lead us into all sorts of choices that, at first, seem the only way to decide an issue.  However, the choice measured by “truth,” is the most informed choice.  But do we desire such choices?  Therein exists accountability morally, as well as spiritually and physically.  In a culture that seeks quick decisions and easy answers, I do not believe we always take the necessary time to find the best answers for our choices.  The question is out there . . . What is God’s role in our choices?

As Christians, we are called to live by different standards than those who are not believers.  Society glorifies individual “choice,” and the believer is called to glorify God.  There is serious biblical tension in trying to accomplish both. 

If truth is unchanging, and not subjective to relative changes in culture, then it is lasting beyond each generation, and serves as a measure for all generations.  There are “truths” that each of us live by.  But what are the ultimate principles that are unaffected by belief, or practice?  This remains to be seen.  Welcome to my lesson . . . [smiling].

Feel free to respond to any or all of the 13 questions that follow,  and let me know what you think.  I am not collecting data from this survey.  That is reserved for in-person activity.  Your answers are strictly for blog dialogue.

TRUE or FALSE

_____  1.  Life has value because society has added to its value.

_____  2.  It is morally wrong for a Christian to believe in abortion.

_____  3.  Human life begins at conception.

_____  4.  Being human implies personhood.

_____  5.  Human beings are eternal beings.

_____  6.  Abortion is always sin.

_____  7.  Personhood begins at conception.

_____  8.  There was a time when the Son was not God.

_____  9.  A Christian should have a choice over how he or she dies.

_____ 10.  If a Christian commits suicide he or she will still go to heaven.

_____ 11.  Physician-assisted aid in dying is sometimes the right thing to do.

_____ 12.  God has a plan for our lives and deaths.

_____ 13.  Abortion is murder.

The Political Silly Season

26 Oct

Yes, it is that time again. It’s time for the massive distortions of reality and outright lies and character assasssinations.

It’s time to spend millions on television and cable ads, all while children and senior citizens go without.

Spend, spend spend. (I’ve never met a Democrat who wasn’t able to spend someone else’s money, have you?) It’s time to cajole and persuade the undecided, with promises of this and that.  Indeed, it is the “political silly season.”  There are a few things in this life that trip us up as humans. First and foremost are our natures. We can count on these getting in our ways each and every day.

Second, the expressions of our natures are where we discover our true selves.  Right now, I’d say our true selves are quite vicious and vile. (Reminds me of a friend I had a few years back whose son called her Lucifer, because of her bizarre and vicious actions)  In terms of politics, better angels are not fluttering about these days.  The reason?  Politics is about power and those that have power are reluctant to give it up.  They are also angry that others with similar power have duped them at their own game.  This is precisely the case.

Take for example, the Democrats who are trying to get reelected. None of them are flocking towards the president, or the policies and laws they passed these past two years. Why is that? Many are in the races so tight that their political futures are in jeopardy. One of the biggest reasons for this jeopardy is that they supported a president and his leadership, only to discover they misread the pulse of the American people.  They trusted a cult-figure and were taken-for a ride on the proverbial bus.  Now, they fear that they’ve been thrown under the very bus upon which they’ve ridden.  Essentially, the “power” that they had became an intoxicant and when they sobered up, they had been used and tossed aside like a cheap Chicago harlot.

Those with power will do most anything to retain it. I think we have seen the strategies of the Democrats. Are they even addressing issues? Hardly. Let’s see. There was “Aqua Buddha,” lies about Vietnam service, housekeepers who speak Spanish, Witchcraft, claims of extremism and insanity, and sex–ALWAYS SEX! Personal attacks might provide the most ardent of supporters with back-room high-fives, but they don’t do anything for the American voter–except to make us angry.

 An angry voter is a dangerous voter. Angry voters vote “against” candidates, and not in favor them. Such is the case with the Democrats one week from today. Americans are going to the polls in anger over many things this election season. George W. Bush is smiling, just smiling. I mean, when Bill Clinton shows up at a rally at a high school, and 2/3 of the gymnasium is empty, what does that say?  Come January 2011, there will be a wave of new faces in Washington, D.C., and also at the state levels.  We have had enough of the lies, excessive promises, exorbitant spending, rammed-through agenda, and arrogance.

Time for the adults to retake power frpom the arrogant bullies.  The novelty of change has worn off.  No one is smiling anymore about this.  No one I know is talking positively about the future. No one is claiming our politicians have done right by us.  Our young people are so confused at how they were led astray.  Many of us saw it coming.  Even Democrats in masse have said they feel betrayed by the present administration and power-elite in D.C. And they have been sacrificed by another human intoxicant: NARCISSISM.

Yes, it’s the political silly season. It’s also Halloween, the weekend prior. Off come the masks, once-and-for-all. I don’t know about you, but I cannot wait to hear the “morning-after” spin-meisters explain why the nation has shifted back toward sanity, reason, and maturity–both in fiscal and the political senses.  Yes, America which was drunk on the newbie in D.C., has sobered up.  We are now wondering whether the”cheap trick” perpetrated upon us was worth the few minutes of political pleasure.  I just wish we had used protection.

Happy Voting!

Technology and Temptation

16 Oct

Technology and Temptation:  An interesting topic, to say the least. 

About two-dozen years ago, or so, life and living were vastly different across the land of the free, and home of the Bravo Network.  In our lifetimes things have changed and culture has presented Americans with vast numbers of choices and encouraged certain old-school seductions to present themselves in newer ways. 

Today’s generation through technology has all but sexualized children, made women into objects of lust and abuse, cheapened the character of men and women, and encouraged lifestyles that would make Robin Leach and Andy Rooney blush.

It has been said that technology is a neutral invention.  I disagree.  Yet, aside from the motivation for its invention, and the vision for its practice for which it was created, technology is become known by some as “amoral.” 

However, since humans invented the technology, I argue that technology is not amoral–and neither is its use.  Technology, as such, was invented from the minds of moral creatures–humans!  Purpose has morality at its core.  Is there any such thing as purposeless technology?  How about purposeless morality? 

Technology has its inception in the minds of moral creatures.  Whether used for what we would call “good,” motives and purposes, or what we would call “evil and perverse,” technology is a product of morality.

I don’t know about you, but I adore living in the 21st century, even with all of the temptations.  I feel so modern.  (Smiling here)  But didn’t every generation feel this, to some degree?  Probably so.  Yet, with the speed at which new technologies and improved older ones emerge, one cannot help but conclude that we are definitely in an age unlike any other in the past.  All people have easy-access to opportunities for temptation, almost exponentially.  The ease at which we yield to the temptation is astounding and should tell us a lot about what rules our minds and bodies.  We adults succumb to temptation just as easily as those who are younger.  Things made my humans will be used by humans for all sorts of reasons.  Today, people are fast becoming “things” to be used, as well, and technology is right there sharing in the responsibility for some of these choices.

Here are some of the technological advancements that have arisen in my lifetime and yours–each with its own set of temptations.  How many of us have been tempted to use this, or view that, or buy this thing or that thing, or whatever?   

  • Nuclear technology and weapons of mass destruction
  • Dr. “Death,” aka, Jack Kevorkian became infamous for assisting in the deaths of dozens
  • Emergence of various death technologies
  • Perfecting of life-saving and life-sustaining technologies and devices
  • Birth control (abortion techniques)
  • Conception control (condoms, gels, sponges, wrenches, kitchen sinks, dad’s flashlights shining into back seats . . . just kidding)
  • Pornography and sex appliances (aka “toys” for the unsophisticates)
  • Communications and information/data took on entirely new meanings with the Internet; Social networking sites, dating sites, sex sites, sites for affairs and cheating, etc.
  • Cell phone communications; text messaging, photo and video-live streaming
  • The digital age brought with it new issues with which to contend
  • Artificial intelligence with computers and software driven capabilities in military
  • Medicine
  • Prosthetics
  • Physical enhancements
  • Cosmetic surgeries.
  • Cable television communications and wireless networking

Are You an Average Christian?  When the average Christian reads the title of this blog, he or she will probably draw the conclusion that it is about something sexual.  Aside from the obvious, there is so much more technology out there than adult videos and images. 

Sexual temptation is real.  But so too are many others.  Money.  Goods.  Bullying. Invasions of privacy.  Stalking and power plays.  Saving life at any cost.  On and on it goes.  But I question myself, and i think the reader ought to question himself/herself as well.  Must we hopelessly succumb to the choices presented by technology’s appeals and voices.  Since I am writing this blog as a set of thoughts about a lesson I am teaching, I direct the following thoughts to the Christian.

Temptation is Real!  Regardless the age or gender, all temptations are real to all of us who are human.  No one has a handle on them, and no one can live perfectly without falling for some of them.  Some of us give in at times, some of us don’t–at least for now.  One would have to be God in order to conquer temptation.  There are six biblical truths to consider, in terms of temptation with technology: 

  1. God does not tempt us:  “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God'”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.” (James 1:13)  “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil; For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.  Amen!”  (Matthew 5:13)
  2. Satan is the tempter:  “And the tempter came and said to Him, “If you are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread . . . You shall not tempt the Lord Your God . . . ” (Matthew 4:3-11) 
  3. Humans can be deceived and duped:  “For God knows that in the day you eat from it [tree] your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil . . . The serpent deceived me and I ate.”  (Genesis 3:5-13)
  4. We all sin:  “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”  (1 John 1:8)
  5. We are all tempted, but there is a way of escape:  “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.”  (1 Corinthians 10:13)
  6. Jesus was tempted in all points as we are:  “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.”  (Hebrews 4:15)

Temptation Begins in the Mind.  Temptation is successful only to the extent that we entertain it in our minds and allow our imaginations to begin to feel its presence soulfully.  Once those emotional and soulful transactions occur in our thoughts, it is as if they has already taken place in our lives.  The words of Jesus deal directly with this soulful reality:  “But I say to you, that every one who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery already in his heart.”  (Matthew 5:28)  I have to wonder to what extent technology today causes us to think things we otherwise would not think of.  Curious, isn’t it?

Guiding Principles.  What principles should Christians consider when it comes to the temptations brought about by the existence and use of technology?  I suggest the following list, which is not exhaustive.

1.  Seek higher principles.  We should be seeking the higher principles born of wisdom in all that we do and say, and not simply defaulting to the flesh and its desires.  James 3:15 states, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.” 

2.  Guard against the distractions.  Anything that provides distraction from God, family, and our faith should be examined.  Psalm 139:23-24 reminds us to implore “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if here be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.”

3.  Maintain joy in the Lord.  In Nehemiah 8:10, we find ” . . . for this day is holy to our Lord.  Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  That which supplants our joy should be reassessed.

4.  Deny fleshly lusts.  “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers to abstain from fleshly lusts, which wage war against the soul.”  (1 Peter 2:11)

5.  Seek God’s will.    If God is who He says He is, His integrity is solid and trustworthy.  When we ask direction of God, we must ask rightly, and without selfish motives.  James addresses these concerns in 4:3.  “You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.”  The words of Jesus recorded by Matthew are clear:  “‘Therefore, do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before you ask Him.  Pray then in this way:  Our Father who art in heaven.  Hallowed by Thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done.  On earth, as it is in heaven. . .'”  (Mathew 6:8-14)

6.  Resist the devil.  When it comes to temptation, if we resist the devil he will flee.  And how do we do that?  James provides insight in 4:7, “Submit therefore to God, resist the devil and he will flee from you.”  Allowing our minds to be in submission to God’s perfection, will and character means there is then no room in those moments for temptation to enter.  If we do not entertain temptation it will leave.  Without a fertile grounding, seeds have no place to lay roots.

In conclusion, we must never allow ourselves to be dominated by technology.  Some advancements are not advancements morally, spiritually, and may not be healthy.  Because something is legal and available does not mean it is what the Christian should participate in.  The next time we download a pirated tune, or text something inappropriate, or surf the web onto those site “nudey sites,” we must ask ourselves so serious questions.  How about we begin with the question “why?”

Reversing Negativity

12 Oct

The media are replete with negativity.  Trash-talk, lies and distortions, and verbal abuse are ubiquitous across the airwaves.  Relationships are challenged by negativity, and families are affected by the economic uncertainties of today.  Pessimism and negativity are parts of our culture.  Tactlessness reigns.  Phrases like, “I am only telling the truth,” are found as justification to be negative.  Gripes are easier than positive statements, and feel better more often than not.  I am getting depressed just focusing on writing this paragraph.  No, not really.  But I will tell you what does depress me.

For a few years I had one particular friend, whose friendship with me was born out of severe circumstances in life and negativity.  We were both at similar points in our lives and identified with those points, and our friendship was based on problems and not positives.  Soon, the points of identification became our persona and the friendship turned toxic.  I am so glad I made the break from this person.  Negative friendship is poisonous to the soul and affects more than we know, or see.

At first, as friends, we relied on each other for support.  Yet, in the process, we wound up creating a vortex of toxicity that was inescapable, and it all played out by reliving the past, versus the present.  Let me explain what I mean.

A person’s negative past can never be the grounding for a person’s present, or future friendships.  Receiving counsel from someone who is stuck in the same problem NEVER equates to overcoming.  Seeing the present through the lens of the emotions of the past is not healthy.  Dragging others into those emotions is dangerous psychologically, to say the least–and spiritually damaging. 

There are those who do not see the past accurately, because of one or more major event in their lives.  We know that their “perceptual” mechanism is damaged, yet because of “unconditional love” for a friend, we stick it out.  In doing so, what happens over time, is that an emotional connection emerges that cements people together–all grounded in negativity, and massaged by emotions.  It is almost like a reverse emotional affair. 

Insidious sorts use such connections to manipulate and attract others accordingly.  It happens online and in real relationships in the flesh.  I have spoken with several who have had similar experiences with personality types of this sort.  There were many points of commonality to my past experiences.  This was years ago and I am glad I caught on early enough to see it happening, but some are not so fortunate.  The reason I am writing about it now is because I had a chat last evening with someone who is in the throes of a negative, emotional friendship.  The red flags went up.

I do know a few things about life.  Negativity and pessimism accompany lies and distortions.  Optimism is more difficult to practice, since it is contrary to the very nature of a decaying universe.  Optimism is forward thinking and a threat to a person’s negativity.  When it comes to negative friends, most of us resort to the most comfortable and allow ourselves to get caught up in the easy negativity, including our past.  Once that occurs, the slide has begun. 

I am here to tell you that we are beyond our past, yet products of it.  I am more concerned about living toward the future and reversing negativity.  There are some people who simply choose not to be positive, revert to sarcasm instead of compliment, exude jealousy instead of praise, and reject all positive statements with counter-negative statements.  I say we dust off our shoes and move forward and leave the persons to themselves and God.  Since we can never go back, why not join me? 

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.’  (Philippians 4:8)

2010 Recent Political Giving in Higher Education: The Top 10

9 Oct

I was just catching up on some reading in the Chronicle of Higher Education and came across an interesting table.  This table, listed in the October 1, 2010 issue of the journal, reveals the contributions given to political parties by 10 select universities.  It is equally as interesting to note that “During the current election cycle, candidates for federal offices have so far received about $13.5 million from donors in higher education.”  (p. A2)

The following information is excerpted from the Center for Responsive Politics, as listed in the Chronicle.  Here are the donors and their recent contributions to national political parties:

1.  University of California:  DEMOCRATS ($414,351); REPUBLICANS ($69,630)

2.  Harvard University:  DEMOCRATS ($327,028); REPUBLICANS ($97,450)

3.  Stanford University:  DEMOCRATS ($280,703); REPUBLICANS ($95,850)

4.  Apollo Group (owners of for-profit colleges, viz., University of Phoenix, etc.:  DEMOCRATS:  ($200,950); REPUBLICANS:  ($64,175)

5.  Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities:  DEMOCRATS:  ($148,611); REPUBLICANS:  ($77,500)

6.  University of Texas:  DEMOCRATS:  ($116,487); REPUBLICANS:  ($23,380)

7.  Columbia University:  DEMOCRATS:  ($91,690); REPUBLICANS:  ($35,000)

8.  Full Sail University:  DEMOCRATS:  ($93,400); REPUBLICANS:  ($29,770)

9.  Reiser University:  DEMOCRATS:  ($59,900); REPUBLICANS:  ($29,500)

10.  Princeton (Review):  DEMOCRATS:  ($115,000); REPUBLICANS:  ($0)

So, is there anyone who truly thinks that colleges for profit do not lean LEFT?  Three or four-to-one margins of giving are atrocious.  I challenge why colleges are donating money to ANY candidate during tough economic times, anyway.  Shouldn’t they use that money for students and programs, to educate young people, and NOT to support any political agenda.  They have the temerity to raise tuitions on students, while supporting political causes?

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