Monday, April 25, 2011

Five myths about church and state in America

One of the neat things about being interested in church-state issues as I am, is that there is never a time when something interesting doesn't come up. And there is rarely a time when I can't blog about it and get more than a goodly number of people ticked off --- good people on all 15 sides of the issue; good people that are normally rational, kind and intelligent, until it comes to matters of faith and politics, that is.

When I found Don Byrd's (Baptist Joint Committee) mention of this Washington Post editorial from David Sehat, assistant history professor at Georgia State University, I knew it was going to be a barn burner with a title of Five myths about church and state in America. I mean, come on! That's like pouring gasoline on a fire and asking for another gallon of gas just for fun.

The article is right on, though I doubt seriously if the Religious Right will be fond of it.

The best part is the comment section, but it is not for the faint of heart.

Good job David Sehat!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

VA is Going to Allow Guns in Churches

While churches in GA are still (thankfully) a Gun-Free Zone, the Commonwealth of VA is going in the direction of serious paranoia and is going to allow parishioners to pack heat while worshiping the Prince of Peace. Of course, that also means other religious groups will be able to do the same, like Muslims in their mosques, for example.

Churches may ban weapons like any other private property owner, a good option for sensible people in rational congregations.

What would Jesus do? I don't think he would arm himself since the Bible never mentions he carried a weapon.

We all know the real reason this is even being discussed: the Religious Right has confused conservative politics with religious dogma, and the Good News is no longer abut the peace of Jesus. Instead, it is now an  excuse to use the pulpit to postulate a political message of God, Guns and American Glory.

Jesus is the All American Boy, and he has no problem with guns. II Opinions 4:12.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

End of Life Care: Will Politicians Finally Act Humanely?

We value life. We work hard to make it better. We sing songs about. Write about it. We even kill each other over the way we think others should live theirs. (I know that last sentence is crazy but war is crazy, is it not?)

But I have yet to figure out why we have not come to the humane conclusion that end of life care should be done with the dignity of the person in mind.

Well, maybe I have figured that out: it's a political tool and no politician will let that sort of issue go by without getting some leverage from it.

I used to have the opinion that life was so sacred, so valuable, so wonderful, that we could do nothing less than everything to keep a life going. I used to believe that since life was God-given, we should make sure life lasts as long as it can for everyone - in every circumstance - until God takes the person by the biological death of the body. After all, God alone gives life and God alone takes life.

Notice, please, I said I used to be of that opinion. Now I believe that life is so sacred, so valuable, so wonderful and God-given, that we should consider the damage we are doing to the value we claim to be protecting.

As I have gotten older, I've watched the families of parishioners and clients go through the awful, heart-wrenching tragedy of their loved ones withering away. Maybe it was the slow, painful death of a cancer. Or the debilitating  effects of Parkinson's. Then there are the diseases like dementia and Alzheimer's, where the person dies long before the body does.

What those sort of diseases do to the patient is, in many cases, not as dreadful as what it does to the family that has to watch the death process go on for, sometimes, decades.

I am not advocating we begin the slippery slope of not treating diseases because of the ultimate end. Nor will I advocate a cost-benefit analysis to determine the value of a life. What I do think we need to do is an honest discussion about the real issues around end of life care.

Real issues. Not faux-ethics. Not political brownie points disguised as the moral high ground. Not philosophical sniper attacks pretending to be concerned "for the value of life."

Let's get real and talk about the actual value of a person's life: when a person is no longer able to care for herself, or is so debilitated or diagnosed that what they believe is her value of life is not worth the financial, emotional or physical costs to herself or her family, why do we not allow a dignified means for the end of life care? As long as the person has/can make such an informed decision, why not allow the gentle and humane passing instead of medically allowing the agony for everyone involved?

I would even see a system in place where a medical team (not a single physician) can attest to a threshold of whatever stipulations we want to add, and have the patient/family petition the court to allow the dignified passing.

What I don't like to see is the system we have now that drains everyone of their finances, emotions and common sense. We treat animals more humanely than we treat people regarding end of life care.

It's time we recognized that God gave us the means and the wherewithal to do a gracious thing possible for a fellow human being at the very time that person may need it the most.

Monday, April 4, 2011

I So Remember "Field of Dreams"

One of my favorite movies of all times is Field of Dreams. There is something about the dream that really is in each of us ... ah, well, never mind about the analyzing stuff. It was just a great movie.

I was having dinner last evening and one of those music channels on Comcast was playing in the sitting area. Even though I couldn't see the screen, I heard the music. I heard a couple of notes and I immediately recognized the piece as The Place Where Dreams Come True by James Horner. I mentioned the piece though no one believed me and then, Lo! Someone checked. Yeppers. That is indeed what was playing. Even though I had not watched that movie in at least 10 years, the music was still there in my mind ... reminding me ... of the way I felt as I watched it all those years ago.

Remarkable it is that a sound or a smell or a touch can remind us of things long ago. The imprint of things not thought of, but not forgotten; the sudden sense of re-living a moment; the fondness of something so simple.

I so remember ...