Archive for the ‘ethics’ Category

Making Memories

April 13, 2010

As my children were growing up, when we were heading out to do some sort of activity with the boys, especially if Gloria was not going with us, she would say to me “Remember, you’re making memories.”.

That comment would always make me think about my actions.  I would like to say that those memories are all good, but, I’ve been known to have a temper, even been called grumpy a time or two.  Gloria’s comment to me would make me think about how the day would be remembered, and I would try a little harder to make good memories.  I would try a little harder to be patient.  This took effort on my part if things were not going smoothly.

I would encourage each of you with the same thought.  Remember that you are making memories each time your family gets together.  Try to make them good memories.  This does not have to apply only to families, but to other areas of life as well. 

Make some good memories today.

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Live the Dream

April 1, 2010

I believe that we are given the freedom to choose our actions within the natural limits of our circumstances.  If we are not happy with our lives we have the ability to dream, to think,  to choose, and to act.

We dream about what we would like to see different in our lives.  What do we want to see different in our future in comparison with our present?  Dreams have no boundaries.  We can dream about whatever we would like to be true.  It’s our dream, and we can dream about anything that is real, or unreal, possible or impossible.   Our dreams are limited only by our imagination.  Dreaming can be a good thing.  It can provide motivation to propel us into action.  Dreaming can also be a bad thing because we do not live in a dream world but in a world of reality.   Are we living the dream?  Or are we dreaming about living?

If we want to live the dream we must sort out our dreams and determine what dreams are achievable in our real world of limitations.  Now, if we do not want to stay in our current situation, if we want to change, we must think of a way to make our dreams become our reality.

We must choose what we truly want, and what we are willing to do to make those desires become a reality.  It is important to think clearly and to choose well.  This process can, and should be, reviewed regularly.

It is also important that we recognize that the only factors that we can truly control are our own actions and attitudes.  If our dreams are dependent on the actions of others, then we must recognize that we do not have that ability. (Although many try, and to some degree, are successful in controlling others, that is not the point of this article.)   We must learn to control our own lives if we wish to see change.

This process does not have to be done by ourselves.  If we ask God to guide our dreams, thoughts, choices and actions, then God will help us by the presence of His Holy Spirit in our lives.  If we are seeking to be conformed to His will, then His power will work in, and through us, and we can be much, much more than we could possibly be on our own.

 So we dream, think, choose, and act; to make our dreams become our reality.

Cricket in a Skillet

March 25, 2010

Last night in Bible study, a lady referred to a “cricket in a skillet”.  She was illustrating how sometimes people can be very busy, but not accomplishing anything.  We began by discussing what it meant to be lazy.  We had agreed that laziness was difficult to define, but that it could be understood as an imbalance.  On one end of a scale are people who work too much, and on the other end of the scale are people who work too little.  Work could be described, not simply as manual labor, but any helpful, productive activity.  We recognized that “work” would mean different things to different people, and that our type of work would change throughout our lives. 

Then came the question of the person who is busy, but not accomplishing anything.  They are not lazy, but they are misdirected; the cricket in a skillet.  We agreed that it was important that God give us wisdom to properly direct our activities, so that we can be productive.  We want our lives to be balanced, focused; and directed by the Holy Spirit.

The Greatest Pleasure

February 17, 2010

Yesterday I read something in Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics that caught my attention.  “…the activity of philosophic wisdom is admittedly the pleasantest of virtuous activities…”  He goes on to say, basically, that it isn’t for everyone.  Yet, he ranks philosophic reflection as the highest pleasure.

I will admit, that there are times when contemplative thinking has been profoundly pleasant.  This is especially true when you combine philosophical inquiry with theological reflection and prayer.  (I can imagine some of you are rolling your eyes by now, or perhaps have stopped reading, or maybe even have fallen asleep!)

Maybe it is an age thing.  In Hinduism, the third stage of life, from 50-75 is one of slowly withdrawing from the world, spending time with the grandchildren, and increasing your focus on religious and philosophical pursuits.  I have to admit that the idea of increased religious and philosophical meditations is appealing to me.

I suppose that means I’m in the right professions.

Soul Value

February 3, 2010

Last night in ethics class we discussed John Stewart Mills utilitarian approach to ethics.  His view is labeled eudaimonistic because he defines pleasure as other than simple sensory stimulation.  Human beings are capable of pleasures that are different in kind from what mere animals are capable of experiencing. 

He goes a little further in stating that among humans, there are varying degrees of capacity for appreciating the good in life.  This leaves me with the sense that he places a higher value on those people who are capable of the highest pleasure.  “Oh, I am sorry, you are not able to appreciate the opera.”  “Some people just can’t appreciate the finer things in life.”

Some people are snobs.

God does not look at people in that way.  Our value to Him is not based on our intellect, our abilities, our cash value, our looks, our contributions to society, our potential, our past, or any other thing. 

We are all loved by God.  Our value as a soul; a human being, to Him is equal in His sight.  God loves us all equally.     

I take comfort in that thought.

“Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

“All About Steve” a commentary

January 14, 2010

The movie All About Steve starring Sandra Bullock was very different from The Proposal or The Blind Side, all of which came out this past year.  Basically it is the story of a women who creates crossword puzzles for the local paper for  a living.  She loves what she does, but does not make much money, still lives at home, (with a cover story of her apartment being fumigated) and is not in a relationship.  Still, she appears happy with who she is, and her life in general.

One day, after a particularly disastrous appearance at a local schools career day, she literally throws herself at Steve on their first date, which had been set up by both of their parents.  She writes a crossword focussed on him, loses her job and chases him around the country.

At first, I thought the movie was pretty stupid, but then I realized that they were trying to make a point.

Be happy with who you are, don’t let other peoples’ expectations guide your life. 

I like that.  Once I realized that the movie was not just a silly spoof, but a social commentary on how pointless it is to try to fulfill other peoples’ expectations it became much more enjoyable.

Talk to, not About

December 31, 2009

“If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  Many of us probably remember our mothers giving us that piece of social instruction.  It was good advice, and perhaps it needs to be instilled in a new generation. 

There are times when words of correction need to be expressed.  However, these words of correction should be given to the person needing correction, not to general audiences. 

If you have a problem with someones actions then you should speak to that person.  All too often, instead of offering words of correction or rebuke, we will simply talk about that individual to other people.  Did you hear about so and so?  Can you even believe what they did?  Worse yet, some will accept stories that are told to them, pass judgement on the individual, and then repeat the story, without ever asking about the other side.

Talk to people, not about them…unless it’s good of course.  Almost no one minds if you say nice things about them.

Choose to Act?

December 22, 2009

Our actions can be chosen after careful thought.  When we have a decision to make, we have the ability to carefully consider our options, and make the optimal choice.

But do we?

There are many times when what we “feel” like doing at the moment is not the same as what our rational mind would lead us to determine is the best action. 

Do we act according to our reasoning, or our feelings?

It depends on which is stronger at the moment of action.

Then, of course, there are those times when we simply react.  We say or do something without considering the alternatives or the consequences.  These reactions can be fostered by a whole host of various criteria. There are occasions when there is no time to think, simply to act.  Stress, emotions, fatigue,  and other factors can influence our response.

As Christians, we seek to live our lives in  a way that is pleasing to God.  We should ask God to guide our thoughts, our words and our deeds.  If we are “in the Spirit” our actions, and our reactions will be the right ones.

Work Ethic

August 11, 2009

“If you have time to lean, you have time to clean.”

“We’re paying you to work, not read magazines.”

“There is always something to do.”

When I was a teenager my parents owned and operated a couple of small grocery stores.  The above quotes are things that I heard them say many times over the years.  I am sure that it was influential in the development of my own work ethic.  Since I worked for my parents I did not want to have a reputation for getting away with being a slackard, I wanted to be an example of a good worker.

I started working at the stores when I was in the 8th grade.  My first official job was unloading the milk truck three times  a week.  I would price and stock the product.  It took only about an hour an a half each time.  It was good for a little pocket money.  When I was sixteen I started working regular shifts, both as a stocker and cashier.  By the time I was seventeen I was ordering product, making deposits, conducting interviews, etc.  I worked about twenty four hours a week during the school year, and full time in the summers.  After graduating from high school I went to work full time. 

After working for my parents for about a year and a half after high school, I decided that I did not want to work in the family business.  I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, but I knew that I wanted a job that I could just go to work and then go home.  The store was a job that was always present.  It was a topic of conversation at the dinner table and even when we had company. 

It is ironic that I wanted a job where I just punched a clock, because now, many years later I work two jobs, neither of which involve a clock.  I am a pastor and a college instructor. 

There is always work to do.

I am never off the clock.  There is no clock.

The problem is, that since there is no clock, and no end to the work that could be done I have to be careful not to become a workaholic.  Church work, school work, work at home, they all blur together.  Things are done according to priority. 

In eighteen years, there has never been a time when everything was done. 

I hear people say that no one on their death bed ever looks back and says that they wish they had spent more time at the office, and yet, I don’t want to be lazy. 

As in so much of life, the key is in finding the appropriate balance.  Work hard, but recognize that there is more to life than work.

Wrong Answer?

April 23, 2009

During the recent Miss USA pageant,  Perez Hilton, one of the judges, asked Carrie Prejean  (Miss California) if every state should follow Vermont in legalizing same sex marriage.  She responded by saying “No offense to anyone out there, but in my family, I was raised to believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman.”  (This quote may not be exactly correct word for word since I am going by memory, but I am sure that it is close.)

The judge, who is openly gay, was not happy with her answer. 

Recently California had a statewide vote on the issue, and gay marriage was soundly defeated.  It appears to me, that Miss California correctly represented the majority of her state with her answer.  Actually, in every state where the issue has been put to a popular vote, gay marriage has been soundly defeated, so her answer also appears to represent the majority of Americans.  She also remained true to her own personal moral and religious convictions, even though she probably realized that it was not the answer that the judge wanted to hear.  She demonstrated a moral integrity to her personal values that should be commended. 

Or has moral integrity somehow become a bad thing?

I hope not.