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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Rights & Values

Some friends and I were discussing this and I thought it might be interesting for the very slightly wider audience of Prophetic Progress.

Consider the following:
Dixie Chicks being attacked for speaking out against George Bush
Miss California being attacked for speaking out against Marriage Equality
An employer requiring employees to submit to random searches without cause
Non-Americans being held in a prison of foreign soil without charge

The first three certainly don't violate the U.S. Constitution, and I'm not sure, but the fourth might not either. (Seems to me that the Bill of Rights only refers to people.)

But even if none of these things are unconstitutional, are they unamerican? I'm conflicted about this because I am the first person to want to see there be consequences for making outlandish remarks--when they don't match my views. But, shouldn't we encourage people to speak; shouldn't we answer bad speech with good speech? Likewise, we push back when our employers want us to submit to searches without cause?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The God Spot

Here is a fantastic little webessay on God and the Brain. "The research raises the question, is God a delusion created by brain chemistry, or is brain chemistry a necessary conduit for people to reach God?" Indeed. The most provocative bits I listened to came in Part II. One guy says ending our delusion of a god existing independent of humans is the final frontier in our understanding of the universe. And he thinks this research moves in that direction. But then in the same part another doctor points out that if two people who loved each other were in a room interacting with each other there would be unique brain activity associated with that interaction, but does that mean love is not real?

Really pretty cool I think.

Also, watch out for the biology of belief section. There is a blending & mixing of two very distinct ideas. One, invoking the power of God to heal another and Two biological benefits from spirituality. The latter only requires meditative practices to have an impact on our bodies, which is not really a challenge to a materialist. The former, on the other hand, is a big challenge to a materialist--and frankly doesn't seem as supported as the latter.

I'd love to hear reactions.


Rights are limitations on government power. They are Congress-shall-make-no-law-that type things. Once granted I think it is a Christian virtue to ensure they are applied fairly to all. That's a part of justice. However, how does our faith inform us on the topic of what rights we should have?

Rights are really sort of arbitrary. For example, we have a defined right in the Constitution to be from to practice our religion, and to be free from supporting the practice of another's religion. We are free to speak and to assemble. We are free to bear arms. The constitutions does not give us certain rights that courts have given us. So we know have a right to privacy and a right to self-defense. (Although many state constitutions address these more directly.)

Are there other rights we should have? Are there rights we don't need?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another Parable from Pastor Linda

This morning Reverend Linda Miller brought this parable to us:
A daughter is excited to see little Barbie-doll size green grapes growing on the vines. Her mother tells her that those grapes won't amount to anything. The daughter does not give up hope; but, the next time she sees the vines she realizes the mother is right. The grapes have not grown and matured. They've turned dark, but remained small. They look like bunches of pepper corns. She asks her mother if there is something that can be done with those vines. Can they cut them back, or prune the plant in some way? Her mother tells her no. "Those are no good. We'll have to tear down those branches and throw them into the fire."
We don't do apocalyptic stuff very often at Chalice, but that was the message I got from this parable. Christ is the vine, and we are the branches. We are to bear the fruit of Christ. What does that mean? We are to be the incarnation of Joy and Compassion and Hope and Justice. And if we are not, if we fail to bear fruit, well at some point you have to just throw those branches to the fire and start over.

I have a feeling that the Church is at a point when it must bear fruit. Do we stand for human dignity? Do we stand for stewardship of the earth? If we don't, well, you can read the story.