Star Trek discovers… Faith?

The rumor, hopefully dispelled, is that the humans of the 23rd and 24th century are religious-less… having escaped the superstition of the previous era (or error?). On the other hand, we see at least remnants of religion in TOS and TNG… notably among the Vulcans, the most evolved mirror of the human species, and the Klingons, our lessor evolved (Soviet?) cousins. And then you have DS9 and well…

You also have now Discovery. In the second episode of second season, New Eden, Pike (who is ratcheting up his Star Trek appearances) seems to deliver some theological pronouncements. I’m not going to get into spoilers, but the entire season is about faith and the wonder of it all. I wonder if we haven’t grown in the last 60 years in our respect of science (fiction) and religion? More so, say, than The Orville will allow? That’s why I find this quote by Jonathan Frakes so… intriguing.

I’m not sure they’re embracing the idea of faith as much as they’re embracing the conversation about science versus faith. It’s like the Scopes trial. The idea we’re all naive to believe there’s not a higher power out there applies to the 24th century as much as it does to the 21st century. We’ve evolved as a culture a lot since Gene Roddenberry was with us. We have to stay current on so many levels, in the filmmaking and storytelling. The moral compass of the country seems to have a bit more of a liberal bend than it did back in the day. Gene comes from the 1960s; he was an old hippie!

Star Trek served to push us into some progressive thought. I wonder if it will not help right the ship, so to speak, and move us to the middle?

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You Are Doing It Wrong.

“Someone just made a comment on one of my posts, and it is actually a very good suggestion. For each elective abortion you have an arm pulled off (and without anesthesia). You can still live. That’s more respect than your child was given. For both mothers AND fathers who are choosing to be irresponsible and heartless. Murder of innocents should have consequences. And usually does. This would be a reminder a life was taken. It would be a good incentive to use birth control to begin with. And hopefully it would slow down your ability to go make the same stupid choices again. Have another, then You are missing 2….Oh and perhaps after charging you, collecting tax dollars, they can profit from your body parts too.”

The above statement appeared on a Christian’s social media account. In the discussion that followed, it did not get much better. Lots of ‘amens’ and agreement. When it was suggested that while abortion is indeed a sin, but suggesting that people have their arms ripped off is equally a sin, well, let’s just say it degenerated quickly into me somehow defending abortion. I’m not sure how that happened, but it did.

Can we just be honest for a minute? Calling people who choose to have an abortion satanic and demonic Moloch worshiping pagans who deserve to have their arms ripped off is not a terribly effective way to convince anyone that they should consider a different choice, never mind that it is not anything even resembling how the Bible, and the example it presents us in Christ, deals with such things. Don’t misunderstand here. There are hard truths tat need to be spoken, and I would not say otherwise, but the hard truth that those of us who are pro-life need to speak is that abortion is a sin, not that those who are considering an abortion are somehow a more heinous monster than we are.

I am as surprised as anyone that I am going to quote a piece written for Sojourners, as it is not normally a go to for me, but it sums up an idea pretty well:
“It’s easy to get caught up in theorizing about God, but within our everyday lives reality is what matters most to the people around us. Theorizing only becomes important once it becomes relevant and practical and applicable to our lives.”  

If you are of a Wesleyan bent theologically, this idea should be recognizable to you as what Wesley called practical divinity. The United Methodist church has this to say on the matter: “Wesley and the early Methodists were particularly concerned about inviting people to experience God’s grace and to grow in their knowledge and love of God through disciplined Christian living. They placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action. This emphasis on what Wesley referred to as “practical divinity” has continued to be a hallmark of United Methodism today.” Nothing about the post I quote above has anything to do with that. Not a thing. You do not invite someone to experience God’s grace by insulting them, threatening them, or dehumanizing them.

If you love calling out sin more than you love the sinner, you are doing it wrong. If your answer to a broken world is to contribute to the brokenness by dehumanizing those who sin differently than you do, you are doing it wrong. If you speak on word about sin without including the mercy and grace of God and His desire to restore the sinner, you are doing it wrong. If you love theology more than you love people, then you are doing it wrong. Frankly, if you think that the way to bring an end to wide spread abortion are the laws of this world, you are doing it wrong.

I fervently believe that we, as Christians, have a responsibility to call sin what it is. I believe fervently that the greater responsibility is to do our part in making disciples and followers of Jesus Christ. Our model is Jesus and the woman caught in adultery (questions about the validity of the story aside). The woman was an adulteress. No one, including Jesus, was arguing that point. The point was not condemnation, or even focusing extensively on her sin, the point was that none of her accusers were qualified to throw the first stone, and that the message of Christ was go and sin no more. When talking about abortion, it is far past time that we put down our stones and start loving sinners a whole lot more than we love talking about their sin.

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A little humor

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Be Upset About Facts

Wesleyan Covenant AssociationMany people are upset about New York’s revised abortion law, and there are many things to be upset about. From what I have seen however, there are many people who are upset over things that simply are not in the law, so here is a quick review of what is different, and what the revised law actually does.

  1. Abortion is no longer governed by the New York State penal code. This removes significant protections to unborn children under law after 24 weeks.
  2. It does allow for abortions after 24 weeks, but it does NOT allow for abortion on demand up to the time of birth. This is not an elective abortion that anyone can get. The law says the following: “According to the practitioner’s reasonable and good faith professional judgment based on the facts of the patient’s case: the patient is within twenty-four weeks from the commencement of pregnancy, or there is an absence of fetal viability, or the abortion is necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.” I know that many will argue that this is to vague and will be twisted to allow for abortion on demand, but that is not what is being allowed for.
  3. The bill does allow for some who are not doctors to perform some limited abortions. Midwives, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants, may perform non-surgical abortions. After the 12th week, it must be at a hospital on an in patient basis, and after 20 weeks, a doctor must be present to handle any live birth.

This source has a fairly decent and objective explanation, along with the text of the bill itself. There are indeed many things in the law to be angry about, but can we at least be angry about the facts. Misinformation is never a valid tool of trying to prove a point, and there is a lot of misinformation about this law. Know the facts, and be angry and concerned, I am after all, just know what you are actually angry about.

I want to be clear. Elective abortion is always wrong. I have not changed on that even a little bit. I think that the New York law is poorly conceived for several reasons as well. I am not saying don’t be upset by these things, or not to stand against these things, I am saying that we need to have accurate information so that we are not spreading falsehoods and so that we know what it is that we are actually opposing so that we can articulate and explain it.

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New York State of Mind

My good God… I had no words to express what I was feeling. Perhaps it is because I am a man and my emotional vocabulary is limited by a generational movement to prevent boys from crying. Or maybe because the anguish we should feel as a nation cannot be placed into words because of the viral way we speak. What words can come close to a state sanctioning the murder of a baby who, just moments before would play peek-a-boo through the stomach of the mother?

I remember when my first daughter was still in the womb. At night, as the pregnancy was approaching birth, I would often feel her push or kick me in the back. At times, I would push my finger into the womb and she would push back.

And now, New York has said that this is not a protected life.

Further, it allows non-medical providers to conduct abortions, among other things.

I still do not know what to say.

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How Luther formed the Canon

Stolen from the internet …

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How the NT Canon was established

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Can We Talk Intelligently Please?

I don’t like a double standard. I don’t really think any of us do, unless of course they favor us, and that is human nature. Our best selves however recognize that we all needed to be treated with the same dignity and respect. We all need to be treated equally in the eyes of the law, and we all need to be able to be treated with equal expectations, at the very least at a base line level, in what is and is not appropriate behavior in society at large. Basically what I am trying to get at here is that the expectation of how we act, what is and is not appropriate to say, etc. should be norms, no matter who we are all in all.  Before I get into this, let me say a few things. Bullying is wrong. Harassment is wrong. Sexism, racism, etc. are all wrong. If you read anything in this that you think says otherwise, one of two things is true. It is possible that you misunderstood what I was attempting to say. It happens to all of us, me a lot in truth, so it’s not a condemnation. It is equally possible (I am being generous to myself as it is much more likely) that I did not do a very good job of trying to explain the point I am trying to make. If, after reading this, you would care to comment, please do. Keep it classy though please, because in the last few days I have had enough of what can only be called unproductive conversation based in ignorance.

Let’s get the ball rolling with the elephant in the commercial, Gillette. In a rare twist, most of my issues with it can be summed up by VOX. Believe me, I was as surprised as any of you who know me are. I am in no way justifying any of the poor behavior that is shown in the advert. It’s terrible behavior. I desperately want to be able to seriously talk about the problem of reducing important social issues to an advertising campaign designed to make a large corporation money. Now, I freely admit that this is my, perhaps overly, cynical view, but it is an educated view based upon the shrinking profits of Gillette over the past several years and their inability to regain market share from competitors, combined with the current social awareness of these matters. Really, the VOX piece describes much of my concern better than I can, so please read it and think about it. The one thing not mentioned is the portrayal. In the advert, the majority of men are portrayed as those who encourage poor behaviors, while it is the minority that stands against them.  No, that is not my fragile male ego talking. I promise my ego is neither fragile nor is it small enough to be bothered by a commercial. It is my concern that the wrong message is being portrayed from that standpoint however as I reject the narrative that the majority of men are somehow terrible. That was the impression that I got from the ad personally. Read the VOX piece, consider it, and give it some real thought. After doing that can we have an intelligent conversation? You know, one that involves a little bit more than ugly accusations spewed and devoid of negative assumptions?
Something else that I found interesting about the people who think that Gillette was brilliant and being socially responsible and that more corporations should do this, and to be clear, I have no problem with holding that opinion, though I do disagree with it, when asked about Citizen’s United, the SCOTUS case that allowed large amounts of corporate money into the political process by declaring campaign donations protected speech, the answer was a resounding no. I do not see a logical consistency here. If corporations should be socially responsible and push for positive, or perceived positive, societal change, then should not those same corporations be able to support the candidates and policies that can bring that about? If not then aren’t we saying you should have a voice, but no influence politically? Isn’t that downright unamerican? Can we have a conversation about that? Can we intelligently discuss this? Can we talk about if we really want a bottom line profit driven corporation to control general societal morality and behavior? Please?

The second story is about a Gm plant in Toledo, Ohio and some overtly racist actions that occurred there. I hope that you take the time to read it as it is disturbing to say the least. Let’ take a few minutes to talk about what this is and is not. This is not about free speech. Yes, hate speech is protected as free speech, however the workplace has policies in place against such language and treatment of individuals that they apparently did not follow as they should have. Your employer has the right to limit your speech, during your on the clock hours. Not only that, an employer is ethically obligated to apply company policy equal to all. What happened here (according to civil action) is continued racial harassment. It’s wrong. Period. That, and under no circumstances is a noose hanging from a rafter free speech when used as an obvious threat. Never. That’s a threat, which is illegal, and likely constitutes a call to action, neither of which is protected speech. Can we have an intelligent conversation about this? Can we talk about how amazing it is that the two gentlemen who were treated so horribly did all that they could, every step of the way, to try and resolve the problem rather than immediately jumping of the cliff of civil actions like so many do? Can we talk about how sick it is that they had to? Please? Intelligently and not trying to cloud the issue with free speech arguments that do not apply? Please?

Finally we get to the piece i came across accidentally by virtue about reading a lot of news regarding sports. It is about a German Men’s Soccer Team. The very first line of the article reads: “The first woman to coach a men’s team in one of Germany’s top five leagues is tackling sexism by sarcastically suggesting her selections are based on penis lengths.” Read the whole article please, it is short. I am perfectly willing to accept that this is a sarcastic remark. Let’s change the first line slightly though by reversing the situation. We will, in our thought experiment, change it to a woman’s team and a male coach. The first line of our imaginary story for the purposes of our thought experiment reads “The first man to coach a woman’s team in one of Germany’s top five leagues is tackling sexism by sarcastically suggesting his selections are based upon breast size”.  Again, this is not my fragile male ego, but rather my research and experience, that tells me that, even if it were an obvious joke and sarcasm, that the imaginary comments in the thought experiments would be called out as at least inappropriate, by some sexist, and by some others to rise to the level of sexual harassment. Now, to me personally, I have no issue with the woman making an obvious sarcastic comment like this. I chuckled honestly. Then it dawned on me that while I would chuckle about the same basic comment made by a man about women, I do not think that many, and maybe most would. I further think that there would be very loud calls for him to quit or be fired. If the comments are inappropriate, then they need to be inappropriate for all. Can we have a serious conversation about how being treated equally includes this? Can we thin have a conversation about some of the “male rights” types that I find basically silly, in this have a point? Please?

Three stories, three topics, and three different types of situations, but they all have one thing in common. We can not talk about them like adults. As an example, in a conversation about the Gillette story, after I had affirmed that the behaviors they are presenting as bad are indeed bad, when I mentioned my concern that such serious topics should not be reduced to profit was suddenly a misogynist idiot that hated women and was simply attempting to mansplain myself. If voicing a concern is reduced that that, we can not talk. Similar things happen in various discussions about the other two stories. The question of being able to have an actual conversation goes far beyond these stories, but let’s start small. Can we talk about this please?


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