Thursday, March 13, 2008

Moral Relativism vs Relative Moralism

Okay...I'm no longer PCUSA, so I should probably keep my nose out of this. But I was startled by the PUPpies challenge to the GAPJC. However, I believe that a pattern being displayed is actually cross-denominational. It's what Dr. Albert Mohler has termed relative moral relativism.

I think Dr. Achtemeier is confused about who are the friends to whom he owes his highest allegiance. He wants to fight for his friends - that's part of what the getting together and dialogging is about - becoming friends. The PCUSA seems convinced that anybody can cross their principles so long as they have friends on the other side. It's the natural result of believing that propositional truth is in reality prepositional truth (whom you're with, whom you're against - rather than hath God said...).

What I mean by this is the silly notion that all of your allegiances and philosophicotheopolitical commitments are a result of the "folks ya run with" and not well-thought out convictions. For a large part of the populace, it is true that bad company corrupts good morals - thus, getting a broader view of the world can help mitigate those inimical forces that keep us ignorant and bigoted. Exposure to different view points, understanding where people are coming from, etc. is of great service in disposing of human bias.

(The same works in reverse - we can become skewed by the company we keep. I remember falling in with a KJV-only group in my early college days. It didn't last, but for about two months I was convinced that the NIV was sending people tah HAY-uhl!!! I got over that - though I still think the NRSV stands for the Nebbish Revisional Substandard Version.)

However, to continually mistake well thought out ethical / theological / political positions for ignorant and/or malicious bias is perhaps the capital obstruction to talking to "the left" on the issue of homosexuality. It's not's biblical. Fight the battle there and nowhere else.

As for who should take precedence in our allegiances? Jesus, the Word written, and the company of saints who have died to get it to us take precedence...not some people that you met in the last 30 years and worked with on a committee for 5. You're going to live in accountability to Jesus for all eternity, so make now count.

h/t Toby

On Expelling Dissidents

Hey Heartland Presbytery! Are you listening?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Anyway you slice it this pie is a lie

When I was a little bit younger, I got taken in by the folks. I thought Ben (of Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream) made a lot of sense when he talked about Oreo cookie allotments and pie apportionments of government spending. In fact, I had lot's of fun pretending that I had the ability to rightly allocate government budgetary processes with this web app. There's only one problem with this whole scenario: It's misleading from the start and leads to an outright lie about fiscal policy.

The chart claims to show the federal budget, but it only shows discretionary spending. Further, if you look at the report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, you'll see that Medicare and Medicaid combined overtake Defense spending - even during this time of war. Not good enough for you? How about Social Security (which includes welfare)? They spend $47,000,000,000 dollars more than the Department of Defense. Why aren't we calling an end to LBJ's "war on poverty" yet? Oh...I remember... we just haven't thrown enough money at it, yet.

Granted, there's plenty to harp about in terms of uncontrolled spending. However, the less than 20% of budgeting during an active state of military mobilization? That's pretty small. I wish it weren't there, but it isn't cause to go nuts the next time someone tells you that the war is spending us into oblivion. We've got plenty of other programs doing that, tyvm.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Out-for-blood Drive

A little background: I'm still on the communitymail email list for LPTS. It's an email listserv where people can announce general interest items. I've had some "adventures" on there in the past, but things got ugly when folks wanted to paint me as the mouth-breathing conservative homophobic woman-beater instead of make an intelligent rebuttal. I generally leave it alone, but when the following came along...well...I couldn't hold back.

Let me set it up: LPTS hosts several blood drives throughout the year. There's always a handful of international students or folks who've gone on mission trips to parts of the world that disqualify them from giving blood. With some recent loosening of restrictions on foreign travel, the office staff person that coordinates these donations sent out a helpful email reminding people to reconsider whether or not they are newly eligible. In response to that information, an student demagogue wrote the following:*

I find it somewhat disturbing that we don't make some statement expressing our concern that (as far as I can see in this email) homosexuals are still summarily excluded from eligibility to donate.

To which I responded, as pastorally as I could:

I find it somewhat comforting that - when you graduate - you're "MD" will only stand for Master of Divinity, not Medical Doctor.

Do you seriously believe that this decision is based on homophobia, heterosexism, or anything other than rational medical science?

Stick to exegesis, and leave the epidemiology to competent critics.

(BTW, "homosexuals" aren't excluded - only men who've actually had sex with another man since 1977. That means a heterosexual who was raped in 1983 isn't eligible but a 20 yr old homosexual who has been chaste is eligible, as would be all lesbians - assuming no other risk factors.)

Abraham Maslow once said, "If the only tool you have is a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. " Mainline seminaries have sold out to the "oppression / patriarchy / issues" ticket, and are creating ordinands that are incapable of reflecting on ethical, theological, biblical, or political issues outside of that framework. And we're the poorer for it.

* Names have been changed to protect the willfully stupid.

PS - This is the kind of stuff that made my CPM say "CPE will cure him!"

Update! Touchy non-celibate gay male responds:

[Student demagogue] was referring to the fact that gay men are not allowed to donate blood. The list includes people who are now allowed to donate who previously were not allowed to do so. He was commenting on the fact that gay men SHOULD be on that list but ARE NOT on that list. I guess the tests they run on the blood doesn't work for queer blood, that is the only reason that I can figure out as to why gay men are still excluded.

Update part deux: I've been reported to the dean of students. shudder What is it about those Holston boys that makes'em so reportable? Anyway, it's not the first time it's happened. It will probably be the last, as I'm moving away (into my first home!) in about a month.

Suggested Hymns for the Feast of Palindromes

"Are We Not Drawn Onward, We Jews, Drawn Onward to New Era?" (Tune: Miryrim)
"Don't Nod, Don't Nod" (Tune: Drowsy Baby's Word)
"King, Are You Glad You Are King?" (Tune: Rev. Onan Over)
"May a Moody Baby Doom a Yam" (Tune: See Bees)
"Amen! Enema!" (Tune: Angelum Smulegna)

H/T: Edward Moran