Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Putting this to Rest

I will leave this site up, but don't expect any more posting, at least for a while. I don't have the time or the interest right now to explore the things this blog was intended to explore.

I will remain very active at Independent Country.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Values (or, Doctrine, Worship, Morality)

My latest Partial Observer column is here. It mentions religion, as usual:

"[B]ehaviors of religious adherents that may demonstrate the undesirability of the religion are always disowned. Thus, Arab terrorists aren't "real" Muslims, "Islam" means "peace," etc. And both history and the present is full of Christians accusing other Christians of doing unchristian things. But somewhere in there is "real" Christianity. Honest. Have faith."

The article is really about values. Since values are non-negotiable, everything else must be in order to guarantee peaceful coexistence.

That's true for the politics of the State. Can it be true for the politics of the Church? That doesn't seem to work.

Carl Braaten in his letter to the chief of the Evangelical Lutheran Church puts it well:

I am a life-long political liberal, unlike many of my friends. My wife and I opposed the unjust war against Vietnam in the 60’s and 70’s, and we have with equal conviction opposed the foolhardy invasion of Iraq by the Bush administration. We also supported the ELCA in its ecumenical actions to re-institute the episcopal office by means of passing the CCM as well as to adopt the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification with the Vatican. But none of that equates with transforming Lutheranism into a liberal protestant denomination, in terms of doctrine, worship, and morality.

Doctrine. Worship. Morality.

I suppose all a lot can be said about all three, as if in our history we haven't said enough. I'm more or less a neutral - somewhat outside of the box but fascinated by all of it. It seems to me that liberal doctrine and loose morality have a symbiotic relationship - each adds to the other. "Conservatives" seem to object both, yet many conservatives have "contemporary" worship, which can't be honestly interpreted as anything other than "the customer (or "seeker" or "young person")is always right." Individual preference, listening to the "market," often drives worship, especially in the mega-churches.

That's the part I object to most. If there is to be a denomination, it must defined by doctrine, from which both morality and also worship must follow. Yes, many old denominations have lapsed into liberalism, which in this sense means abandoning not just tradition but the very doctrines that founded the denomination.

But it is also with a couple of those denominations, particularly the Evangelical Lutheran and Episcopal churches, that I can rely on most for worship. The order, the readings (and there are readings) and the prayers would be pretty much the same so that in any town you are in, the local church would have the same style and order as any other.

There are some denominations, where you go in to worship, and you have no idea what you're going to get.

What's the point of a denomination if the congregations in it don't worship the same way?

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Individualism and Idealism

My latest at the Partial Observer.

It discusses how people get their moral bearings - from idealism and authority, or individual values and experience. What I do not discuss is the "6th" level, what God's role is in all this. My guess is that people's spirituality are of the same kind - God "in" you or God "above" you. Of course, most people tend to mix the two, but I suspect that people orient one way as opposed to the other.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A Contarian Spirit

My latest at the Partial Observer was provoked by a re-reading of the Genesis account. "God" appears in Chapter 1, but then in Young's Literal Translation, "Jehovah God" comes onto the scene in Chapter 2. In popular translations, "Jehovah" is replaced by "The LORD."

To help in this exercise, wherever "God" appears, read "Smith." And wherever "the LORD" appears, read "Bob."

What will you discover? That "Smith,: whoever or whatever he/they are (Smith speaks in first person plural, like saying "our" instead of "my") created the heavens and the earth, the plants and animals. And created man, male and female, in Smith's image, and that Smith - as Young's Literal Translation puts it - "ceased" work on the seventh day.

But then, beginning with 2:4, we are introduced to "Bob Smith." This "Bob Smith" also somehow created the heavens and the earth - or at least some portion of which, and created a man named Adam, and from Adam a woman named Eve. This Bob Smith, who later on usually just goes by Bob, seems to be a physical person, walking around, talking with Adam and his descendants. We learn in Genesis 5 that Smith named man Man, but it is unclear if Bob Smith, or Adam himself, named Adam.

Bob deals with Cain, but it doesn't say that Enoch walked with Bob; Enoch walked with Smith. The sons of Smith mated with the daughters of men, but it is Bob that places a limit on man's age. Smith saw the wickedness on the earth, but Bob is the one who repents of making man. One striking piece of information: Smith commands Noah to bring one pair of every sort of animal onto the ark, but Bob wants seven pairs of each kind of bird and "clean" beast. Bob shuts the ark. Smith ends the flood. Smith tells Noah to leave the ark with his family and animals and multiply the earth, but Noah builds an altar to Bob, and apparently makes animal sacrifices of clean animals and birds from the surplus pairs that Bob, not Smith, commanded.

Bob resolves to no more curse the ground for man's sake; Smith sends the rainbow.

And unless I am mistaken, Bob, not Smith, is the chief character in the rest of the Old Testament. It is not to be doubted that Bob is a Smith, or "part" of whatever it is Smith is; it is by no means clear that the opposite is true. "Bob" and "Smith" (that is, "the LORD" and "God") may be interchangeable names, but it is far from obvious. The Town Car is a Lincoln, but not every Lincoln is a Town Car. I can be called James or Jim, and I am also Wilson, but not every Wilson is James.

Perhaps translation and conceptual problems lead to confusion. The LORD (Jehovah) in the OT, "Lord" (Jesus) in the NT. Is Jesus Jehovah? Is he the same guy, the same LORD God who hung out with Abraham, Moses, Job, etc? Or is he the son of the LORD God? Is the "Father" the LORD God, or is the "Father" just plain God, of Genesis 1?

This is something I'd like to investigate sometime.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Science of the Paranormal etc.

Much of my blogging of late has been at Independent Country, obsessing about medical marijuana and Peter McWilliams, and have not ventured much into strictly religious themes of late.

One thing I forgot to post here was to note the appearence of "Why Jesus" by Everett Wilson at the Partial Observer.

Also, Jonathan Wilson introduces a new series at the PO, A Mystic Reads Rand.

Finally, as a Coast to Coast AM listener, last night I come upon an interesting conversation between host Art Bell and Dr. Claude Swanson on the science of the paranormal. It points in a direction that I personally have speculated on, and which weeknight Coast to Coast host George Noory often speculates on - paranormal and "supernatural" events come from other dimensions. These graphics help explain some of it, and the page for Swanson's book Synchronized Universe explains some more.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The SUV as Ministry

The new devil is the SUV. It is the symbol of consumerism (having more than you need), status-seeking, and environmental irresponsibility. All three of which plague the church and present a challenge for the Church.

(I'm pausing to let you all nod your head in sober agreement and concern.)

The congregation numbers about 150. On Sunday, a family with small children within the church was moving out of town, and needed help loading the rental moving van. Many came out (I don't know how many) The next day, Memorial Day, another family in the church, living 25 minutes away, was moving into the town.

Take away the elderly, infirm, those out of town for the weekend, and those who simply had other plans. Thirty people took half their day off on Memorial Day to come out, move the family into town. They came with their SUV's, gigantic pick-ups (who needs a vehicle that big?), and trailers, loaded them up with boxes, furniture, and odds and ends, brought them to town, and unloaded them.

So when you see somebody with driving a vehicle far larger than what you believe anyone would need, judge not, lest ye be judged.

Friday, May 27, 2005

On Baptism

Something I posted over at Rev. Lemonholm's spot:

My personal opinion, unbacked by theology, is that an infant's parents ought to be baptized before the infant, as a sign and promise that the baby is actually going to be raised in the Kingdom of God.

Beyond that, did John the Baptist turn away anyone from baptism? (Yes, he tried to turn away one)

"Open baptism" should probably be available to everyone. It might make a better evangelistic tool than preaching and personal "witnessing." The Church could say, "Come, be baptized!" If some come as a lark, that's their responsibility. The Church should not deny anyone a birth certificate in the Kingdom of God.I would view baptism as the very first sign of discipleship, and what comes afterwrds is the responsibility of the disciple.