1.12.2008

Judge Others as Ye Would be Judged

This will be a long post. Partly because I get so incensed about this topic at times, and partly because it is quite a serious issue as many "leaders" are expousing hatred toward our fellow man. Whether they realize it or not, that's exactly what they are doing.

Terrorists: http://www.patrobertson.com/speeches/TerrorismEconomicClub.asp
Priests: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17728112

First, the reason for this post. I really HATE when people take a "holier than thou" attitude. I even hate it when I do it. It's not the proper way to behave, besides a little humility will teach you a thing or two. These two stories listed above are mere examples of a much larger picture. As I get into detail, you'll see what I mean.

The article from Pat Robertson points out the basis of Islamic terrorism. Although he points out that he knows many peaceful Muslims, and that he is not indicting an entire religion, the rest of his monolouge says otherwise. For starters, the Quran cannot be translated properly into English. There are too many words and phrases within the Arab language that have no English equivalent. Many have tried to tranlsate, but it loses significant meaning when translated and in some cases says the opposite in English as it would in Arabic (for example, the prophet Mohommed was a businessman, not a warrior). A true follower must learn Arabic in order to understand the Quran. And judging from Pat's bio, I highly doubt he has learned Arabic, let alone has read the Quran in Arabic.

Just for comparison, Catholics did the same thing for many centuries - read and discussed the bible in Latin so as not to lose its meaning. However, unlike Islam, Catholics caved in to secular pressure to translate to English and in the process lost some things in the translation. (Did Moses part the Red Sea or the Sea of Reeds? That's an imporant distinction if we are to understand and believe biblical stories)

The point to this post isn't really to challenge the specific details of each article listed. It is to point out the hypocrisy of the Church. I picked Pat's article at random, but I found many others of the same substance. They all claim to prove that Islam is an evil religion by citing tale after tale of murder and hatred of America, and some twisted interpretation of the Quran. However, I can find nothing in the evangelical world that makes simliar claims about Christians. Not surprising of course, but if I were to use 9/11, the attacks on US embassies abroad, the attack on the USS Cole, the Bali nightclub bombing and daily attacks on US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan as proof that Islam teaches violence and terror, then in all fairness I have to take into account the unending list of priests abusing children, the unstoppable crime and murder in the West, the attack of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, OK, the decades of intimidation by the Klan, as modern proof that Christianity also teaches violence and terror. But Christians, particularly TV evangelists, won't acknowledge those things. And if they do, they write it off as a small segment of people who do not properly represent the faith we call Christianity.

Why then use a small segment of Muslims to represent all of Islam? We cannot and should not.

Holy jihad does not mean holy war. It can include war, but jihad is not a direct translation to "war". It means effort. In other words, "holy jihad" can mean talking, helping through manual labor, campaigning, and yes even war if necessary. Western media unfortunately has solidly connected "jihad" with "holy war" in the American pysyche. The words "by any means necessary" should ring a bell to many older Americans. It was Malcolm X's famous words regarding obtaining equal rights for black Americans. White America intrepreted this phrase to mean war, possibly because that is the only thing they knew of. Black America interpreted this to mean marching, protesting, boycotting, letter writing, speaking, campaigning, rioting, fighting - whatever it took - including war, if necessary. Just like "jihad", Malcolm's words means much more than what mainstream Americans expect it to mean.

Want more hypocrisy? Well staying with the civil rights theme, would you believe that a church in Southeast Missouri used to accept only white people, now accepts people of all colors? Not so strange is it? What is strange is that 50 years ago the pastor of this church told two little black girls that they could not enter the church because it was for people going to "white heaven" and they were going to "black heaven". Now, at what point did God decide to integrate heaven? I didn't realize he was subject to Affirmative Action and Fair Housing laws. This church accepts all colors now because society accepts all colors. You would think a church of all institutions would have accepted all of God's children in the first place.

The point - church, particularly mainstream Christian churches - don't take the lead in our society. It follows whatever wind secular society blows. Another example - women. Not long ago, women in this society were to be seen and not heard. They were told they couldn't be pilots, lawmakers, business owners, stock brokers, athletes, etc. They had to stay at home or do "women's work". The church reflected this sentiment by not allowing women to hold seats of power at the church, let alone become ordained ministers. Society came to its senses and now women are enjoying at least some freedoms to fulfill their potential and now, the church has followed suit. Women are now pastors and ordained ministers and often take leading roles in many churches. Again, why didn't the church allow this in the first place?

I can go even further back.... During the 17th-19th centuries, the church not only turned a blind eye towards the slave trade, but in many cases embraced it. In America it was very common for churches to set up shop on a plantation and try to convert the slaves to Christianity. But instead of highlighting the Exodus, they downplayed Moses' feat and taught slaves it was wrong to run away from their masters. Further, it was abolitionists of the North who took the lead role against slavery in America - not the pulpit. Some churches took an active role, but most mainstream churches in the South wouldn't dare oppose the establishment.

Want more? Well I'll save that for another day. Suffice it to say, examples go all the way back to the 3rd century. In fact it is still happening today. Right now, gays and lesbians are widely considered sinners in most denominations and thus are frowned upon as church leaders. The logic for that disgust is that the bible says explicitly that homosexuality is a sin (unlike racism and sexism where there is no such explicit statement). Sooner or later, as secular society becomes more and more comfortable with gays and lesbians running things, the church will change its tune. It will then turn to the teaching of Jesus who accepted all people, regardless of their past. And once again the church will be a follower, not a leader.

I saved the obvious statement for last. I think the church behaves this way to maximize attendance by making the congregation more comfortable with what it has to say. A church full of Klansmen isn't going to emphasize that all men are create equal and are accepted by God. A church full of Americans isn't going to declare communism as more "christian" than capitalism. The Churh is not terribly interested in solving serious problems. Let me retract that, they are interested, but the congregation isn't interested in making wholesale changes to their lifestyle. They want to do little things, and as a result we get very little results in return.

Thanks for listening.

Supreme Court Weighs in on Voter ID

I found this article interesting. Here we have a state doing what most people want it to do - serve and protect - in this case the voting process. Somehow they wind up at the Supreme Court defending their right to require photo IDs to vote.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=17942818


Although I personally wouldn't have a problem showing photo ID (I carry my driver's license everywhere), I can fully understand how and why some people would take issue with photo ID. Believe or not some of us don't drive - either because they don't want to, can't afford the expense, or not allowed to. They may not have a need for a state ID because they don't buy liquor or if so aren't carded, they don't use checking accounts, or maybe simply don't want any record of themselves in any computer system (a good way to prevent ID theft if you think about it) etc. So why pay the state for an ID they don't need? Therefore requiring a photo ID to vote is tantamount to charging a fee to step into the booth.

So I can accept that, but what really got me going was the argument from one of the attorneys for the plaintiff.

One attorney in this case is trying to make a point that Indiana must prove there is a problem (in this case voter fraud) before passing a law to address it. That's a dumb argument. You lock the doors to your house BEFORE you get robbed, not after. You install a fire extinquisher BEFORE the house burns down, not after. It may seem strange, but even government is allowed to be pro-active.

One thing is for certain, we must have a means to allow only eligible voters to vote and keep fraudsters out. The best way to do that at the moment is with photo ID.

With that said, the state should provide photo ID without charge for anyone who needs it. Proof of citizenship would then be the next issue, which can be resolved either by presenting a birth certificate or a copy of last year's income tax return. Even that may be too complicated for some state workers. If you'll note in the article one woman was turned away 3 times because the birth certificate she presented was not in her married name. I guess that means if she had forged her birth certificate she'd have an Indiana ID card now. It would be funny if it didn't trample on her right to vote.

1.06.2008

News Flash: God Created Evolution

I read this from NBC (was also on Nightly News) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22493477/. It's about a new book produced by scientists who dismiss creationism. It sure won't settle any conflict anytime soon. And that's what I find so silly.....

What is so difficult to believe about God creating life and using evolution to do it? Last I checked (and yes I've read the entire book of Genesis) there are no blueprints, designs, recipes, etc, detailing exactly how God created life. It simply says he did it. No other explanations given or required.

If you still don't believe God created evolution and think that he could ONLY create life the way it is described in countless Hollywood productions, then consider this. The Bible says that God created man and from his side created woman. If you follow that literally, that means God placed Adam on the Earth - a complete being, then chopped him half and used that half to create woman. Using that description, Adam is now dead, having only half of a body. The Bible doesn't say how or if Adam got his side reattached.  Now, considering that the Almighty One does things as he pleases - not just in ways we can understand, it is entirely possible that He produced life this way.....

God could have created a simple protein, incubated it until it became an embryo that featured what we now call X and Y chromosomes.  From that embryo He took half of one set of chromosomes (i.e. Adam's "side"), incubated the X chromosome until it produced Eve. There's nothing I can find in any holy text stating this is NOT possible. If anyone does have proof this explanation is impossible I'd like to see it.

If my contrived process is possible, then it should also be possible that God created life in any of thousands of ways, most of which we cannot comprehend. One of those possible ways is through what we know of as evolution.

First of all, theology isn't science and science isn't theology. If schools are to be required to teach theology next to evolution using the pretext of "alternate theories", then why stop there? Why not also teach the theory that the Earth is actually the center of the universe, that gravity doesn't really exist, and that there are other way to find the length of the hypotenuse of a right triangle other than the Pythagorean Theorem?

Second, let's take the very definition of 'evolution'. The word comes from the base word 'evolve' which means literally "to change". That means it describes the process of going from A to B. But it does NOT describe how or where A came from. It simply says that once A exists then this series of things happened and B was born. I'm simply contending that both the original item A and evolution were each created by The Almighty One.

Third, this entire argument is a very good example of just how poor our understanding of science in general is. I'd bet most people who object to evolution on religious grounds but have never taken anthropology wouldn't know the difference between the common-use word "theory" and the scientific definition of "theory". The differences are very signifcant. What a horrible example for our future scientists!

And so, now that I've had my say, nothing will change... But at least I got this off my chest!

NPR Topics: News