The Genesis creation account provides a normative basis to critique interhuman injustice or the misuse of power over others, whether in individual cases or in systemic social formations. Specifically, since both male and female are made in God’s image with a joint mandate to rule (Gen. 1:27-28), this calls into question the inequities of power between men and women that have arisen in patriarchal social systems and various forms of sexism throughout history. And since the imago Dei is prior to any ethnic, racial, or national divisions (see Gen. 10), this provides an alternative to ethnocentrism, racism, or any form of national superiority; beneath the legitimate diversity of cultures that have developed in the world, people constitute one human family.—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 52
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Monday, September 28, 2020
What I’m ultimately railing against is compulsion. The compulsion to groom yourself a certain way to meet (usually very white and bourgeois) standards of “respectability.” Why do I feel “better” when I’ve blowdried my hair? What is better about allocating fifteen minutes of my precious day to standing on front of a mirror with a round brush? What I really crave is the same sort of relief I did back as a teen: I’ve met the status quo, and can breathe comfortably, at least for a bit, within it.<idle musing>
But hair, and makeup, has to be redone. Clothes need to be repurchased. The body has to be regimened to maintain its “appropriate” size. Hair needs cutting, blow dryers need replacing, skin care needs refreshing. The work of meeting the status quo is never finished, and depending on your race and class and body and age, the amount of work to do is not just exhausting, but impossible. (emphasis original)
I remember reading a few years ago that most women wear makeup for the sake of how they appear other women. A survey done in Britain actually found that most men prefer women without makeup. I know I do. The natural vitality of a person shows so much better without being hidden by a foundation that is designed to make everything "perfect." Consider joining the women who are experiencing the freedom from vanity!
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
It’s time, and past time, for the adults in the room to step forward, and for those who should be adults to act like it. We cannot keep escalating our toxic discourse, including our toxic social media postings that are just kindling for the fire. Whether our future is authoritarian, or one of Balkanization, or civil war in our cities (which we have already tasted in some places), each signals the death of “the land that we love.” Each signals the triumph of the argument over the game.Are you an adult? Act like it and think before you hit posst! Better yet, post something that reflects the concern for the person(s) involved that reflects the idea that they are created in the image of God, as are you. Get out of the judgment seat and into the compassion seat. Let the Holy Spirit guide you, not vengeance and hate. 'Nuff said.
Some of today's "religious leaders" would do well to heed his advice! It seems that far too many of them are more concerned with amassing things and influence than they are in "aiding a creature." I suspect that is why Jesus said that the last shall be first and the first shall be last—and stressed that the leader should be the servant of all. As usual, we turn Jesus on his head and do the opposite and call it piety! Lord, have mercy!
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
In Man Is Not Alone he wrote: “Evaluating faith in terms of reason is like trying to understand love as a syllogism and beauty as an algebraic equation.” Instead, he argued that piety is a phenomenon that must be described on its own terms, as an attitude, a way of thinking in which the pious person feels God to be always close and present: “Awareness of God is as close to him as the throbbing of his own heart, often deep and calm, but at times overwhelming, intoxicating, setting the soul aﬁre.” Piety gives rise to reverence, which sees the “dignity of every human being” and “the spiritual value which even inanimate things inalienably possess.”—Susannah Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, xxi
Monday, September 21, 2020
Saturday, September 19, 2020
“It is a commonly accepted idea that law was introduced in human societies as a shield against revenge and retaliation, both expressions of disorder. It is assumed that order depends on rigorous respect for the law issued by political authorities or local communities. This is true up to a certain point, inasmuch as a legal rule usually meets the implicit requirement of justice, in other words when it does not contradict the notions of fairness, honesty, and rectitude.
“But the assumption that the rule of law is necessarily and always just is far from self-evident. Examples of unjust laws are numerous nowadays, and lead to popular revolts when the brink of acceptance is reached. Law then reveals itself unable to maintain order. What brings peace and stability is basically justice. A rule of law is just a tool, a technical instrument framing the relationship between individuals or institutions. The purpose of the rule is to follow justice, namely the ethical and moral values that are supposed to underlie it. If not, law becomes nothing but a hollow sham or even worse, a means of oppression.”
 This opinion is summarized in the following statement by Francis Bacon (1625): “Revenge is a kind of wild justice; which the more man’s nature runs to, the more ought law to weed it out.”
 One of the best modern examples is probably the law and order movement that developed by the middle of the 1960s in America, both as a social ideal and a political slogan. See Flamm (2005) [Law and Order: Street Crime, Civil Unrest, and the Crisis of Liberalism in the 1960s. Columbia Studies in Contemporary American History. New York: Columbia University Press.]
Who knew when she wrote those words in 2013 how timely they would be in describing our world today! We can still learn much from the ancient world!
Thursday, September 17, 2020
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Bonhoeffer had a word for that: Cheap grace. Which isn't really grace at all; it is presumption. And it cheapens the cross and makes a mockery of Christianity.
Monday, September 14, 2020
Friday, September 11, 2020
Thursday, September 10, 2020
Army ants will sometimes walk in circles until they die. The workers navigate by smelling the pheromone trails of workers in front of them, while laying down pheromones for others to follow. If these trails accidentally loop back on themselves, the ants are trapped. They become a thick, swirling vortex of bodies that resembles a hurricane as viewed from space. They march endlessly until they’re felled by exhaustion or dehydration. The ants can sense no picture bigger than what’s immediately ahead. They have no coordinating force to guide them to safety. They are imprisoned by a wall of their own instincts. This phenomenon is called the death spiral. I can think of no better metaphor for the United States of America’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.<idle musing>
The U.S. enters the ninth month of the pandemic with more than 6.3 million confirmed cases and more than 189,000 confirmed deaths. The toll has been enormous because the country presented the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus with a smorgasbord of vulnerabilities to exploit. But the toll continues to be enormous—every day, the case count rises by around 40,000 and the death toll by around 800—because the country has consistently thought about the pandemic in the same unproductive ways.
Many Americans trusted intuition to help guide them through this disaster. They grabbed onto whatever solution was most prominent in the moment, and bounced from one (often false) hope to the next. They saw the actions that individual people were taking, and blamed and shamed their neighbors. They lapsed into magical thinking, and believed that the world would return to normal within months. Following these impulses was simpler than navigating a web of solutions, staring down broken systems, and accepting that the pandemic would rage for at least a year.
Do read the rest and ponder it. The US is a broken system (calling it a system, even a broken one, is a compliment!) that is in dire need of overhaul. And that overhaul needs to start in every heart; we need to address the fact that our radical individualism is destroying us, and I mean each one of us. We are not independent entities who can create our own meaning. There is a reality out there that is larger than each person and it can destroy us if we don't work together. Sure you might "sacrifice" a little bit, but it isn't really a sacrifice because in the end all will benefit.
I could go on, but you already know everything I would say—most of you could probably say it better than I anyway. Just crying into the wind in an
Wednesday, September 09, 2020
Tuesday, September 08, 2020
Friday, September 04, 2020
Just another step down the ladder to totalitarianism. He's got his Brown Shirts already in the form of the "proud boys." And he's tried to make the DHS people his personal thugs. The cities are burning (not as much as he would have us think they are) because of his policies and he wants us to think it is because of his opponents?
Sorry. I don't follow the logic there.
Thursday, September 03, 2020
The good news, on the other hand, is that when we participate in worship of the one true God, the result is that we become increasingly sensate and insightful——we see, hear, smell, and touch the God~crafted reality of the created order, and we correctly recognize that it points to truths about God’s very self. And in so doing we are set free to be fully human once again; that is, we are increasingly conformed to the image of the Son, the truly human one, the one who fully images God.—Matthew Bates in Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 155