Archive for October, 2010

Iowa’s Opportunity

October 28, 2010

Iowa has an opportunity on November 2nd to send a message to the judicial world.   Three of the judges responsible for gay marriage becoming a reality in Iowa are on the ballot this coming Tuesday.  If enough Iowans vote “no” on the ballot, these three judges will be removed from Iowa’s Supreme Court.  It will not repeal the law, but it would send the message that judicial activism will not be tolerated.  Why do I call the legalization of gay marriage an example of judicial activism?  Iowa became one of a handful of states to allow gay marriage, not because of legislative action, nor by a vote of the people, but because of the decision of the Iowa Supreme Court.  When something that was illegal for over one hundred and fifty years, becomes legal, by the decree of a small group of judges, that is judicial activism to me.

It should not be tolerated.

 

Advertisements

Hegelian Dialectic

October 26, 2010

The basic idea of the Hegelian Dialectic is that ideas fluctuate through time.  There is a pattern of thesis/counter-thesis/synthesis.  It has been suggested that you can use this pattern to manipulate public opinion.  You simply find someone to advocate a position that is more extreme than the opinion that you actually want held.  The resulting synthesis will be your desired goal.  If the movement is extreme, it may take several steps to get to your desired result.

Currently, there are shrill, extreme, voices on both sides of the political arena.  I wonder if those positions are held sincerely, or if they are an attempt at using the Hegelian Dialectic to sway public policy?  It would be better if we sincerely sought a unified means to a common end, rather than using manipulative tactics to get our own way.

Campaign Crud

October 25, 2010

I am tired of attack ads.

I truly wish that candidates would campaign on what they have done, and what they would try to do if elected.  There are sufficient differences in political ideologies that if people would focus on the different approaches to solving problems then perhaps we could have constructive political interaction instead of half-truths, distorted reports and accusations.

Where do we want to go?

What is the best way to get there?

These are the things that we should be discussing in our electoral campaigns. I would enjoy that discourse.  As it is, I just want the campaign season to end.

Transformers

October 21, 2010

Romans 12:2 says  “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  (NKJ)

As Christians we are in an ongoing state of transformation.  God is helping us to move from what we were, to what we can be in Christ.  It is the Spirit of God, working together with the Word of God that helps us to recognize what is right and what is wrong.  We work together with God as He seeks to transform our lives.  Our spirit, will and reason should be open to the direction that God will give us by His Word, and His Spirit.

Philippians 1:6 says “being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

God’s transforming work continues both in us, and through us.

Humans

October 19, 2010

My class is currently dealing with the question of what it means to be human.  Here are a few thoughts on the matter.

Experience: As humans, we experience a wide range of sensory material.  Some of these exposures are pleasant, some are distinctly unpleasant.  We have control over some things that we encounter, other things are beyond our control.  All experiences contribute to who we are as a person.

Emotions: All humans have emotions, but all humans do not have the same range, or depth,  of emotions.  This is neither good nor bad, it simply is true.  We may try to will our emotions, but generally, they are an uncontrolled response to our current experiences or thoughts.

Thoughts: All humans think, although some more rationally than others.  We have the ability to direct our thoughts.  We can train ourselves to think clearly and rationally.  We can also allow ourselves to simply follow flights of fancy, thinking only of things that were, or could be, or even could never be.  Our thought life is our own to manage.

Expression: The things that we say and do are what other people see.  They do not know our experiences, emotions, or thoughts unless they are able to see them somehow expressed in what we say, or do.  There is a saying that actions speak louder than words, but I wouldn’t underestimate the power of the spoken word.  Sometimes we speak or act as a reflex to what we have experienced, sometimes as an expression of our feelings, and sometimes after careful thought.  It is good to train ourselves to speak and to act in such a way that we will not be sorry when we think about it later.

These are just a few thoughts about what we share as humans, no matter what our race, religion, politics, or anything else.

Syncope

October 18, 2010

I had a new experience the other day.  It is called a syncope episode.  Basically, it means that I blacked out.  My wife and I were out shopping with friends.  I started to feel a little sick to my stomach and sat down on a bench.  Then I passed out.  My head tipped back, my eyes and mouth remained open, my arms and legs went out straight, my face turned gray,  and I was unresponsive for what seemed a long time, but was probably less than a minute.  My wife and friends thought that I had died on the spot.

I didn’t die.  I had a very pleasant dream about a shopping experience with friends.  Then there was an unknown lady yelling in my face.  I sat up, shook my head and the world came back into focus.  I was cold, clammy, and sweating profusely.    911 had been called, the police and EMT checked me out and declared that I was stable enough for personal transport.  I spent the night at the hospital.  My vitals, blood work and EKG’s were all normal so they sent me home, telling me that I could resume normal activities, but that I should follow-up with my personal physician.

Normal will not be quite what it used to be.  Syncope can be caused by a variety of things.   Since they do not know what caused it, how do I know that it is better?

I thank God for today.

This experience has vividly reminded me of how important it is to appreciate what we have in this moment, because in the blink of an eye, this life could be over.

Out of the Darkness

October 14, 2010

The whole world has watched as the thirty-three miners in Chile have waited for rescue.  The waiting is over, and the celebration has begun, as all thirty-three have safely been extracted from the mine.  Now they will have to reenter society and somehow adjust to their new lives.  They will never be the same.

I see parallels to the Christian mission.  There are many people who are trapped in the darkness.  There is only one way out.  That way is straight and narrow.  That way is Jesus.  When people do come out of the darkness, all the angels in heaven rejoice.  We should rejoice with them.  Their lives will never be the same.  They will need encouragement and support as they begin their new lives.

They have come out of darkness, into the light.

Youth Suicide

October 12, 2010

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15-24.  In 2007, (which is the last year that statistics are currently available)  4,140 people aged 15-24 succeeded in committing suicide.   This is a tragedy.

Suicide is an act of hopelessness.  As a country we need to do a better job of offering hope to our young people.  Actually, I would especially call the Christian church to do a better job of presenting its’ message of hope.  God offers us love,healing, wisdom, strength, and other forms of divine assistance.  The church should be a place where people have a support system of people who care for them.  A Christian person should never lose hope.

When a suicide does occur, the family and friends will spend a lifetime dealing with the effects in their own lives.  Here too, God can help.  God understands our pain and is able to offer comfort to those in need.

 

From Me to We

October 11, 2010

When we are having problems in our relationships with other people, whether it is in a church, our workplace, our community, or even in our families, the problem is usually experienced as my dissatisfaction with your actions.  I am unhappy, because you are doing something wrong.  I think that we would be better served if we would shift our focus from our personal perspective to a shared goal.  Instead of asking “How can you make me happy?” or “How can I get my way?”  We should ask “How can we make our situation better?”  How can we make our church better?  Our workplace better? Our communities, and our families better?

In seeking solutions to common problems we need to shift our thinking from me to we, from thinking of our personal needs and goals to thinking of the needs of the group.  Problems that exist in a group setting are not my problems, they are our problems.  Solutions then should focus, not on me, but on we.

Pastor/Teacher/Chi Alpha Leader

October 7, 2010

Tuesday was our first Chi Alpha meeting.  Chi Alpha is a campus ministry sponsored by the Assemblies of God, but open to anyone.  I am happy to be able to have the opportunity to lead this activity at the college where I teach.  I have been a lead pastor of a local church since 1991.  I have been teaching philosophy, ethics, logic and world religions, on a part-time basis at the local community college since 1998.  Chi Alpha allows me to blend the role of teacher and pastor at a secular location.   It is a wonderful opportunity for me, and I look forward to what God is going to do with this new ministry.