Thursday, January 29, 2015

Two Systems Locked in Battle

We have two competing systems of thought for how our nation needs to work, to realize its dreams and fulfill the promises of the Declaration of Independence.

One system focuses on wealth, the building of wealth and the protection of wealth - a system that our Founding Mothers and Fathers knew well, a system from which they sought escape, a system they would not repeat here.

The other system focuses on wellbeing, the mutual responsibility we all have for one another, to maximize the benefits of life here and now and provide protection for those who need it, whatever the reason may be, because at the heart of a wellbeing system is generosity without condition and kindness without questions.

In the wealth-system, some do exceedingly well, many struggle, and a few are plunged into misery. The wealth-system is very good at wealth for the few, and poverty, or near-poverty for the many.

The wellbeing system sees to it that everyone enjoys a minimum of good life - wages, benefits, education and retirement. It's a system that produces lots of wealth, but not at the expense of the many.

Right now, these two systems are locked in mortal battle for the soul of our nation.

Huge amounts of wealth are poured into promoting and protecting the wealth system, telling huge lies about how good it will be for all of us once the wealth system is fully in place, everything privatized, and big government replaced by big business. For the time being, the wealth system has prevailed, and we see its fruits clearly: wealth, great wealth, for the few, a shrinking middle class, and the spread of poverty - here and abroad, as America's gigantic wealth-system sucks life out of the world, for that's how wealth-systems function, like parasites.

There are plenty of people right now, people of faith, various philosophies, politicians and professors who see clearly the goodness and power of a wellbeing system, and they labor mightily for America's better day.

The choice is up to us - to buy the lies of the wealth-system and be cheated of life, or to embrace the wellbeing system and share life, abundantly, with one another.

The wellbeing system is biblical, what the prophets envisioned and worked for, what Jesus offers and gave his life to raise up and what the early church practiced. To be faithful to Jesus is to embrace the wellbeing system - wherein the mandates of creation are honored and the goodness of the covenant practiced - wherein the earth is cared for and all creatures honored, and the biblical "trinity of human need," the widow, the orphan and the alien, is welcomed, loved and cared for.

That's how I see it, and to that end, that's how I live.

Monday, January 26, 2015

At the Foot of the Bridge

At the foot of the bridge ...

Been thinking a lot about "Selma" ... after seeing it last night ... and LBJ's remark that the lowest white man in the world is told by the powerful that their whiteness is still better than being black ... and for many a white person in the South, being white was all they had. Poor as dirt, without a voice, but still better than those "colored people."

I think now of the struggle for marriage equality, another civil right ... and those who stand at the foot of the bridge today and say, "You will not enter here."

I don't know how it all works, but for many a "christian," having something or someone beneath them, a sinner damned to hell, or whatever it or who it may be, is sometimes the only  "real" thing they have. Their faith is convoluted and frightening, shouted at them every Sunday, and they know it, but as long as there are "gays and lesbians" who are "terrible in the sight of the LORD," these poor folks at least have their pride and the pleasure of opposing marriage equality and defending the ways of the LORD.

Very sad ... the folks who stood at the foot of the bridge against Martin Luther King, Jr. still stand at the foot of the bridge ... wherever that bridge may be found, and it's found all around the world, in all kinds of places.

People are always marching across it to enlarge the world of hope ... and for reasons unfathomable, there are always folks who stand at the foot of the bridge, with hatred in their eyes, billy clubs and pipes in their hands ... dangerous as hell, and ready to kill.

They are afraid of a phantom, lies told to them by the powerful.

So very sad ... to be so afraid ... at the foot of the bridge.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

What's Wrong with Creationism?

Creationism confuses the language of faith with technical language.

The language of faith points beyond itself, and leads us to places that cannot be grasped and manipulated, but grasps, and manipulates or changes, us.

Technical language points to an object of interest, enabling us to grasp it, manipulate it, transform it, use it, to enhance our life process.

The language of faith is seen in such words as:
Grace, mercy and peace ...
Faith, hope and love ...

Whereas technical language is revealed in such words as:
Height, length, breadth and width ...
Speed, temperature, density ...

I can use the phrase: The sum of all things ..." in either of these senses.

The sum of all things is faith, hope and love.

That's makes sense, in a faith setting, and everyone realizes the language is metaphorical, poetic, highly and imaginably expressive of things beyond our reach, things that reach us, with surprise and transforming power.

The sum of all things, referring to a list of numbers, or other technical factors, is 382 pounds moving at 23 miles per hour in a vacuum equals thus and so ...

That makes sense, too, in a technical setting, and everyone realizes the language is technical, scientific, expressive of encountered reality here and now, pointing to the object of our concern, which may reveal all sorts of strange and wondrous things to us about the nature of reality, yet the language remains focused upon the object at hand, that we might know something about it, and eventually use it.

Creationism confuses the two languages.

Perhaps, in part, out of fear. As the World of the Middle Ages gave way to the Industrial World, as the language of the poet, the saint, the mystic, gave way to the language of measurement ... as the focus of life shifted from "up there and beyond" to the "here and now," religion grew edgy, as it sensed its world diminishing, its importance shrinking, its influence declining.

Rather than standing firm on the mystery of faith-language, some sought to transform the language of faith into technical language (dogma), and what better place to begin then with the Genesis creation stories - here is the "beginning" of all things, and if these stories can be literalized, given "weight and substance, time and energy," things that can be measured and determined and added up, then we have found a means to yet convince the world that faith has meaning, value, relevance, because now it's "scientific," and not just "faith."

Such confusion destroys the language of faith, robbing it of its beauty, its ability to lift the human mind beyond itself to that which is genuinely mysterious and wonderful, that which transcends us, meets us in the unexpected, and comes to us in love.

Such confusion destroys as well the language of science, turning it into a matter of opinion, as if measurement of weight and height and velocity were now just so much "someone's point of view."

To confuse the two languages, which actually work rather well together when held in their distinctive abilities, is to lose both. Faith becomes something unintelligible to both the believer and those who hold other faith and life perspectives. And science also becomes unintelligible, because its meaning in terms of the measurable is destroyed as if measurement were simply just so many opinions of those who may, in fact, be quite wrong.

Indeed, scientific observations may prove wrong, as it has in the past, but the thrust of science has been accurate, and it has the ability to self-correct itself, which enables us to say what was just said: Science has proven itself to be wrong. But not entirely wrong, but in some of the details. The scientific effort is largely trustworthy and deserves our respect.

Even as the language of faith continues to inspire and lift and motivate. The language of faith is powerful and good - its the music by which dance, even as the steps we employ can be diagrammed on a piece of paper.

To confuse the two languages, both are lost ... and in such loss, the only outcome is more confusion, the loss of meaning, the loss of accuracy and the loss of inspiration.

That's why Creationism is wrong ... it needs confusion to make its point, and in making its point, fosters greater confusion.

We can do better than this, and we must.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Humankind cannot and will not "destroy" the earth ... long before that happens, we will destroy our environment - our water, air and soil, and contaminate our bodies with chemicals, and with that, humanity will destroy itself. And the world will take a deep breath, shower, take a nap, and then get busy rebuilding itself.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Children in the Coal Mines

Worth remembering ... and, worth pondering:
there are some in our world today,
right here in the US of A, who wouldn't blink twice
if we were to return to this kind of world. 
Why? Because corporations are formed
and then develop policy on the 34th floor of
anonymous skyscrapers,
around polished rare hardwood tables,
with plush leather chairs and
bottled water,
with an eye on
a heart for profits,
a mind for profits,
a desire, a dream, a devotion,
for profits,
not people, never people,
nada people,
zip, zero, no-how, people.. 
In such a world, children are just another source of cheap labor.