Posts Tagged ‘Ethics



05
Jul
09

Summer Patriotism

The summer seems to be a great season for patriotism. It begins with Memorial Day and ends with Labor Day, well not officially, but certainly in practical terms. Both these holidays celebrate what has made and still makes the U.S. the U.S. – people. In between these holidays, of course, we have Flag Day and Independence Day. July does seem to represent the peak of summer and, I think, the peak of summer patriotic fervor, perhaps a lasting effect of the fireworks and cook-outs. Between the celebrations of people, we celebrate nationhood, freedom and this great land.

Just like a church, however, a nation does not exist without people. The land certainly does, but it is the people who make it a social, political and communal place. Freedom is an empty concept without people – the freedoms we celebrate are those that are the inalienable rights of the people of this land. But just who are these people, you know, the ones who have had this freedom? Continue reading ‘Summer Patriotism’

05
Jul
09

The Case of the Disappearing Assets

Background:

The BIA was established on March 11, 1824 and is subsumed under the Department of the Interior as the agency that overseas Indian Affairs. What does “oversea” mean? Essentially it is a policy of treating Native Americans as orphaned children. As long as Indians maintain an identity as primarily a member of a tribe, as opposed to an independent US citizen, they are dealt with differently. The BIA, among other functions, is charged with “holding” Indian owned assets (land and the proceeds from the land) for the benefit of the Indians.

The “land” is that which was ratified by the Congress in 1895 as owned by Indians tribes and their members. These assets are “held” in trust – therefore, there is a fiduciary responsibility to maintain the assets solely for the benefit of the owners. In the past, only if Indians removed themselves from themselves from collective ownership of land would benefits accrue to them.

The Bureau administers 43,450,266.97 acres of tribally owned land, 10 million acres of individually owned land, and 309,189 acres of federally owned land held in trust status. The BIA is also responsible for leasing the land for agricultural use and managing the land for the removal of natural resources from the land. The lease payments and mineral right royalties are collected by the BIA and held in trust to be paid to the Indians. At any given point in time $2.5 billion is in the combined Individual Indian Money and Tribal Accounts

On June 10, 1996, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), together with a number of attorneys, representing individual Native Americans, filed a class action lawsuit against the federal government claiming that the government failed to properly manage Indian Trust funds. Continue reading ‘The Case of the Disappearing Assets’

03
Jul
09

Scapegoating & Spiritual Abuse in Churches – Scattering the flock (Part 1)

While a church administrator, I had the unfortunate experience of witnessing profoundly disturbing spiritual abuse – not just once, but twice. In one instance, the abuser was a thirty-something-year pastor intent on maintaining control of what had become his church. In the other, the pastor was the victim of two elders who happened to be related to the former long-term pastor. In both cases, while there were the primary targets of the abuse, there was a system wide fallout upon many other victims. Both churches are recovering, but remain shadows of their former selves. As a result, and after much research, I am offering this paper. Continue reading ‘Scapegoating & Spiritual Abuse in Churches – Scattering the flock (Part 1)’

03
Jul
09

Idolizing Wealth – Luke 12:12-21

Jesus is asked to intervene in an inheritance dispute, and responds by telling a parable about greed. Obviously, Jesus has decided that greed is the underlying motivation of the person who asks for their share of the inheritance … and that this is a good time for a lesson about greed in general.

Quite simple, really. Hardly much point in preaching about it, since it’s just so obvious, eh?

There is more here than is initially apparent, however. To find it we have to delve a little deeper into the text. And my job is to do that without turning this sermon into a geek fest of language and theological study that leaves you groping for the exit door in a bored stupor. We’ll see how I do.

There are many patterns in Luke, but one in particular is how Jesus answers questions. Rarely does Jesus give direct answers to direct questions. Jesus generally answers a question with either another question or a parable, and many times with both… and it strikes me that Jesus does this so people can learn to discern their own answers. Continue reading ‘Idolizing Wealth – Luke 12:12-21’

30
Jun
09

Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 1)

Economic theology, or the place where economics and theology collide, is a favorite topic of mine. It is sometimes cumbersome, as it is an odd mix of subjects. This is an essay from 2005 that seems like it fits the times in so many ways. I may edit it as time permits, but offer it up for your thoughts.

GLOBALIZATION – THE THREAT

One of the primary characteristics of liberation theology is contextuality – the manner in which each specifically incorporates or combats the traditions, experiences, myths, histories and, of course, resulting worldviews of the populations for whom it is developed. Without the specificity of each theology to its beneficiaries, it would remain as foreign as the colonial or imperial theology whose cultural impact it is generally seeking to mitigate. The point of liberation theology is not simply to provide a theological framework within which each population could find its own liberating thought and belief, although undoubtedly a critical first step, but also to free them from the rampant marginalization, oppression and poverty under which they continue to live. Continue reading ‘Liberation Theology and Globalization (Part 1)’

28
Jun
09

More traditional press about same-gender marriage

More and more stories are appearing in newspapers and mainstream internet news sources. Rather than sensationalizing the stories or taking conservative, liberal or biased stands, the stories are generally of human interest and bring real people with real lives into our living rooms. This, I feel, is a very good thing. The more people know others who are not like them, or feel as if they know them, the more accepting people tend to be.

Just as Massachusetts has not experienced an increase in marriage breakups, gay children or the breakdown of society generally, neither will the other states which have passed laws or whose state supreme courts have ordered the allowance of same-gender marriages. Iowa is yet another case in point. The sky has not fallen, although to hear the opposition it is on its way towards earth as we speak.

The following story (excerpted) is about specific people and tells their stories and those of the opponents fairly (even though I could do without the latter). In this case the very children who were supposed to be traumatized and stunted because of having same-gender parents speak about their lives and wishes for their parents. Continue reading ‘More traditional press about same-gender marriage’

26
Jun
09

Addendum to “Oooh – You’re Bipolar”

The original article can be read here.

The last few months have been particularly interesting.  My church, which had decided to close anyway, and my denominational leaders, decided medical leave was necessary because of a particularly bad time I was going through. At first, I resisted. I have always fought to keep my sanity and remain stable – it was a battle of wills which I won more often than not. My father gave into his mental illness and I was vehement about not doing the same thing.

After receiving the notice that not only was I on three months medical leave, but also was “terminated” after that period, I decided my previous approach to mental health was not going to work this time around – I was in too deep. Continue reading ‘Addendum to “Oooh – You’re Bipolar”’

21
Jun
09

The Bread of Life IV

I am having difficulty settling on a sermon for the third section of John 6, so I have decided to move into the fourth segment of John’s continuing Bread of Life discourse. The text for this is John 6:51-58. The sermon for John 6:1-21 can be found here and John 6:22-36 here.

If we read Chapter 6 superficially, it sounds like many, many words saying the same thing. It sounds repetitious and redundant. “I am the bread of life.” Five weeks of sermons saying the same thing.

There are two ways to read virtually any written work, however – literally and figuratively. Most of us don’t stop at the literal wording of John’s gospel – even literal fundamentalists. This gospel defies a literal reading. Jesus is not actually a light, a word or a loaf of bread. We are not literally sheep. The figurative reading, however, can be just as shallow and repetitious – leading many to think that all God expects is to accept Jesus as savior and put him into your pocket as a free “get out of hell” card. Continue reading ‘The Bread of Life IV’

20
Jun
09

Always Baby Steps – One Forward & Two Backward, It Seems

President Obama put out a particular spokeperson to deal with his innaction – actually, offensive action – with regard to LGBT issues. The spokeman ordered to the front line of the debacle initiated by the Justice Dept’s defense of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) was the highest ranking LGBT staff person, John Berry. Now, what the head of the administration’s Office of Personnel Management has to do with the Justice Dept action is anybody’s guess, but it seems pretty clear that Berry gave the interview not primarily because he’s  a member of  Obama’s staff, but because he is gay. Continue reading ‘Always Baby Steps – One Forward & Two Backward, It Seems’

13
Jun
09

The Women’s Media Center

Showing more ignorance than I care to, this website just now came to my attention. Why I have not found it before I don’t know, but I am glad it’s now on my radar screen. The reason I came across The Women’s Media Center in the first place was an article by Debra Haffner,  “Common Ground” is Reducing the Need for Abortion, which is well worth the effort to read. It makes several compelling arguments. I strongly recommend it to anyone – no matter their opinion on abortion.

The Women’s Media Center has many other contributors and, from what I have read, the quality is as high or higher than other mainline publications and websites. I am subscribing to their news feed, simply because this a particular area of interest for me and this website is more informative than most I have found.  Continue reading ‘The Women’s Media Center’

12
Jun
09

Transgender Stories

Two stories. One in the third person – a story about transgender folk. Another in the first person. Both touching and sure to create a little more empathy – with some, anyway.

Born in male body, Jenny knew early that she was a girl

Henry Joseph Madden was a good student and track team member in high school, but he had a secret: He sometimes wore his mother’s pantyhose and underwear under his clothes. Continue reading ‘Transgender Stories’

11
Jun
09

My Recovery From Homophobia

This post was actually written about two years ago, in response to the the musings of a Soulforce member about the nature of sexuality. It includes very personal information, but I think it’s worth the risk for the discussion.

I think Daniel’s notion of a continuum is immensely important. I also think it explains a lot of fear on the part of people who are concerned about where they fall on that continuum. I dare say that if we look at any line that represents a continuum, very few of us are found at either extreme. I am an introvert who is reasonably confortable being extroverted. I am an intellectual who is driven to do physical things – woodworking, gardening – in order to feel complete. There are so many scales that this kind of analysis could go on forever, but hopefully I’ve made that point. Continue reading ‘My Recovery From Homophobia’

08
Jun
09

oh! you’re childless – a new parable

I’m doing something different. This is a story that will develop over time. I’d like to incorporate your thoughts into it – which means, obviously, you have to give me some. I’ll make it sticky for a while – at least, until I think it’s done.

Kim and Leslie were descendents of the original settlers on Terra – the fourth generation to live on this distant planet colonized by the United States. They had been together for over twelve years – years during which they suffered estrangement from “polite society” and were subject to pointing fingers, pursed lips, derision and even a couple of instances of violence. There was no doubt they did not belong, but they knew no other place, no other home, such as it was. They had long resigned themselves to living on the fringe of Terra community. Kim and Leslie were not alone in their plight, being part of a minority that was ignored in demographic research. Continue reading ‘oh! you’re childless – a new parable’

03
Jun
09

Comments on Abortion and Murder from Rabbi Arthur Waskow

Abortion is one of the most decidedly divisive issues in society and religion. Following the murder of Dr George Tiller, Rabbi Waskow issued the following opinion piece – one that is lucid and pleading. I commend Rabbit Waskow’s courage and his thoughts, while acknowledging that there are many who believe abortion to be heinous. I, myself, battle internally with this issue. I believe that abortion is rarely a good option or a good thing, but also agree that unwanted pregnancy can ruin lives and lead to poverty. The solution, in my mind, is to make abortion irrevelant as we tackle the causes of unwanted pregnancies. In the meantime I lean towards allowing, as moral agents, women to exercise discretion with respect to their own bodies. I know many disagree, but encourage them to read Rabbi Waskow’s comments anyway.

Dear friends,

So another physician has been murdered for making it possible for women to actually use their constitutional right to choose an abortion. Continue reading ‘Comments on Abortion and Murder from Rabbi Arthur Waskow’

03
Jun
09

Faith-Based Homophobia: ‘An Appalling Christian Moral Failure’

Lawrence from First Light provided the following article with brief commentary preceding it. At usual, there is no need to add commentary at this point.

You might expect such an evaluation from people in our own community, or from parents, family, friends and allies. But the conclusion comes from an unexpected source.

I’ve spoken about the organization “Faith in America” before, a group that, like Soulforce, attempts to communicate the harm done by faith-based bigotry against TLGB people. And I think I’ve also mentioned “Crisis,” the book compiled by FIA founder Mitchell Gold in support of that effort, which was published earlier this year. Gold has just sent an email alert to friends and members of FIA regarding a review of the book which has appeared — to his surprise — in the publication The Christian Century. The surprise isn’t that this progressive periodical printed the review; it’s that the review was written by a relatively conservative Baptist minister who teaches Christian ethics at Mercer University. Continue reading ‘Faith-Based Homophobia: ‘An Appalling Christian Moral Failure’’




... or, preaching from both ends

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That's too bad - I'm so sorry. Oh, well, just try to make the best of it. What you'll find here is a variety of essays and ramblings to do with things theological, social, whimsical and, sometimes, all three. I don't write to get famous - trust me, I've been told how futile that would be - but to express myself. I love to communicate and browbeat - ummm, I mean dialogue - about the things I find intriguing. Since you're here, and the door's locked, why don't you stay a while. There's a page bar under the header with links to information about us - I mean me. Don't forget to tell me what you think - in a nice way, I mean.

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