Thursday, December 31, 2009

Not your normal New Year's Post

New Year’s offends me. How an ambiguous day of the year becomes such an enculturated part of our society is beyond my cognition. There are multiple reasons why I think we should abolish this celebration, the primary reason is religious.

Saying “happy New Year” is imposing a governmental religion on my personal view. The only reason this day is significant is the tax implications of it. Very few companies end their fiscal year Dec. 31. The biggest is the government. They try to convince you to have a happy New Year primarily because they are looking forward to the money you owe them from the old year. They choose Jan 1 as the day to make things right with their coffers. Sure you get an extra few months to pay it, but that’s the day it is no longer your own. Should all acquaintance be forgot . . .

Culturally, I find “happy New Year” to be another example of the American Government’s imperialism. They are trying to rob me of my identity. How dare you dragoon your New Year on me. I feel as though my resemblance to the asian persuasion, and my religious roots in Judaism are slowly being robbed by your governmental replacement.

At the same time, every weight room in the country is attempting to hijack your governmental holiday and make it a marketable one. If you choose to celebrate this day, it is your prerogative. But beware, the almighty dollar is out to get you.

Here I sit, another victim of America. I will not reflect on 2009 today, for I am morally obliged to be in constant reflection. My resolution is to . . .

Monday, December 14, 2009

Ode to new life

Isn't it funny.
When the snow fades away.
The grass returns.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Making God in our Image

If you’ve been following my facebook or tweets, you know that I have been viewing a small group curriculum called the Truth Project. This is a 12 session dvd-based curriculum to defend a “Christian worldview”. Like any curriculum, it has its ups and downs. Being published by Focus on the Family should tell you a lot about its agenda. Primarily, that only conservative (esp. politically) Christians have a true Christian worldview. If you aren’t with them, you are against them. Sadly, the curriculum does little to dialog with postmodernism in general, postmodern Christianity in particular. In fact, postmodernism is only referred to negatively by the primary speaker.

I could live with all of this. In fact, I expected as much when I opened the package. One major problem with the Truth Project, though, is that the speaker, Del Tackett, claims to be speaking un-assumptively. That is, he claims that debating with presuppositions is invalid (never mind that he himself does it the entire time). As a result, the program comes off as a group of Christians attacking the culture rather than critically engaging with the postmodern world with gentleness and respect.

So I thought it was ok. That is, until Dr. Del (whose doctorate is a D.M. [management] in Homeland Security) chose to remake the Trinity in his image to support his entire argument for a certain style of social systems.

You see, he uses this diagram to explain the relationship of the Trinity while allegedly maintaining the nicene position of each member being an ontological (in their essence) unity:

So what’s the big deal? Primarily, this diagram leads the reader to believe that God the Father is somehow the bossman over the other two. God the Son is the boss of the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit has nothing to contribute to the equation logistically. If we believe that somehow the individual persons of the Trinity are ontologically subordinate, we destroy the idea that each member is of one essence. In a modern relationship, can we claim that a worker is essentially equal to his boss (at his workplace) if we diagram the relationship thusly? no.

This diagram implies inequality.

It is true that the Trinity submits to itself, but that must also include the Father and Son submitting to the Spirit when necessary (think of Jesus’ miracles, he didn’t do them, the Spirit did). Further, the Godhead can choose to be functionally subordinate to each member (that is, in how they act they submit to each other’s will, which is one unified will), but functional submission is not the same as ontological inequality.

Del needs this view, though, because otherwise his whole view of social systems is ruined.

here’s his view of the family. Clearly he doesn’t expect the children to be equal with the husband and wife, as his only Scriptures relating to children are those that say children should obey. Should the Holy Spirit just obey? become the prisoner of the other two? This diagram also demonstrates the wife as subordinate to the husband. But what about the structure of the church (sorry for cutting off the image)?

Here it is. With this diagram, Dr. Del plays rhetorical pinball, bouncing from one verse to another to support his argument, completely denying any historical context (of course he did that with the above charts too, but this is the most blatant). He substitutes placeholder for placeholder misusing verses until it fits his paradigm. The only problem is that in so doing, his substitution tactic, when taken to its logical conclusion, makes every member of the church ontologically and functionally equal to the Godhead even though Del rejects the New Age notion of becoming God.

Now this could all be fixed by claiming that the first chart is one of functional subordination rather than ontological position. But then, children would have to be equal to their parents, the flock ontologically equal to Jesus, and the state and her leaders ontologically equal to each one of these positions (via substitution). And the very next lesson he argues that there can be no bleedover between spheres of influence.

On the other hand, The Shack, which is a fictional book (rife with its own errors, but fictional) and is incredibly controversial for evangelicals, is far more accurate in depicting the relational aspects of the Trinity in my opinion.

The Trinity is a perfectly equal set of relationships where each member lovingly submits to each other member. Sometimes this causes a functional subordination (i.e. Jesus gave up his divine attributes to become human, or pericoresis) for a specific task. There is not inequality, nor can there be, because

God is like Aquafresh.
One substance, three persons.
Though made of the same God stuff,
Individuals don’t bleed into one goo,
They each have their place.
White red and blue.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Pogo nip

Thanks L.L. Barkat:

"On Belleview Avenue"

Serpentine tree,
Japanese, I suspect,
as in split maple, as in
it takes a hundred years to
snake these arms to such breadth;
anyway, it seems everything
must have been leading to this juncture—
droughts, floods, springs coming
too late and winters too early,
everything conspired towards this:
snow, like white butterflies, laid
over old curves, dead leaves, intersections,
now ready to soft wing the
empty night.

Here are some (bad quality phone) pictures of this morning's pogo nip. unfortunately, I didn't have my real camera handy. I love how nature invades our technological world in the winter months.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sanctity of life (continued)

Jesuscreed is having a discussion on stem cell research. Led by a Christian scientist, it is an interesting conversation. The big question I have always had on this topic:

how do identical twins factor as evidence for or against the beginning of life?

If we argue (either side) about the time of life beginning, we must recognize that having twins creates two lives out of the same raw material (genetically). They create complexity in the debate for several reasons:

1) They are the same genetic material as each other, yet entirely distinct. Even to the point of having different fingerprints, twins are more than just copies of each other. Clearly there is more to humanity than simple genetic material.

2) Identical twins are not formed until after the egg has been fertilized. Two separate lives are eventually created, but not until a few days into conception. Some pro-lifers argue for conception being the start of life, but I’m not sure that argument holds a lot of water given the exceptionality of twin studies. What do you think?

In fact, twins throw a major wrench into the gears of all philosophical discussion about the nature of humanity (especially discussions of how the physicality of humanity interacts with the non-physical attributes of humanity).

I believe that all life is sacred. It is clearly wrong to dispose of human life through abortion as a means of personal convenience. Some situations are stickier than that, though (danger to the mother, for example). I pray that I never have to make a sticky decision.

Stem cell research should be viewed as a completely different question in my opinion, with a different series of conversations about the different nuances to life. Any answers to these questions must deal with all the evidence.