May 26 2017

This I Know 2.0

About 8 years ago I started writing a series titled This I Know, revisiting the things I learned as a child that I still believe today. The title, if you haven’t guess, comes from the song Jesus Love Me, which just happens to be my foundational belief. Everything I know and understand about God, life, the universe and everything (going one better than Douglas Adams) is based on this presupposition.

As an aside (which I tend to do a lot), I believe we are all presuppositional. That is, we all operate on certain foundational beliefs that are invisible to us for the most part, forming a sort of basic operating system. Philosophers tend to be more aware of their presuppositions than others, because that’s typically what they think about for fun. Some deny that they are presuppositional, but (no humor intended) that’s because of their presuppositions. Yeah, that response tends to drive them crazy…

Anyway, I don’t go around all day focused on the fact that God loves me, because I’d never get any work done. But, how I look at everything, how I react to people, how I live my life, assumes that God loves me and that he is looking out for me–not that he shows me preferential treatment–but that I am important and have individual value. I can say “life is good” because the fact that God loves me is foundational to everything else.

Now, Descartes claimed that all knowledge comes from knowledge of the self–I think, therefore I am. However, I wonder if knowing that God knows me (and cares for me) is more instinctive, and therefore known at a deeper level than a mental awareness of self. Just a thought.

The Lutheran in Me

I was raised Lutheran, which is a darn good way to be raised. That means from an early age I was not corrupted with crazy notions like the rapture or double predestination. I said one of the creeds every Sunday, heard the pronouncement of absolution (forgiveness), and heard a lot of sermons based on the Gospels (the Lectionary is truly a gift). Basically, going to church was a theology lesson. And, Lutherans believe that God loves us, and therefore we should love others because God loves them, too. Pretty simple.

As I think back to what I was taught about who God was and what it meant to be Godly or Christlike, I realize how very little that has in common with contemporary Evangelical teaching. Seriously, it’s like a different religion. I don’t even recognize the Gospel in a lot of what I hear from folks like Franklin Graham or Jim Dobson.

Another aside: Martin Luther actually coined the term “evangelical” (in German, of course) to refer to his movement within and without the Roman Catholic Church. I am actually rather offended that today’s so-called evangelicals have hijacked and perverted the term.

What the Future Holds

Over the years I have attempted to revive the “This I Know” series, but have always become side-tracked. It’s my hope that I can actually revive it now, revisiting the Christianity I was taught, and still hold to, because I think it’s so vary needed. We’ll see.

 

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    Mar 27 2017

    Cell phone provider ads, mic drops, and barriers to communication

    I hate cell-phone ads. Except for AT&T, whose ads are humorous and typically don’t bad mouth any other carrier. I’ve always hated Verizon ads since they got rid of the “can you hear me now: guy, which all come off as “hey, stupid people, we’re the best cell phone carrier!” The comes Sprint, which cleverly hired the old “can you hear me know” guy to say Sprint is almost as good but cheaper. They every are spoofing the “mic drop” ads.  Clever, but still kind of obnoxious. Then there’s Metro PCS, who’s better than Sprint. And so it goes. 

    One thing that particularly bugs me about the current Verizon ads is using the “mic drop” approach. These upset me. For one thing, I appreciate a good microphone, and cringe every time I see someone drop a good mic on purpose. It’s as stupid as Pete Townsend’s guitar smashing thing.

    The second thing wrong with the “mic drop” is that it is an attempt to signal that this is the last word, there’s nothing left to discuss. Or, at any rate, the person dropping the mic is unwilling to continue any discussion. It’s sole purpose is to shut down communication. Many of us like that, actually, but it’s a bad thing.

    Reasons for wanting to shut down a discussion include

    • Insecurity about what you believe
    • Hiding ignorance about a subject
    • Wanting to appear to be the authority (when you’re not)
    • Wanting to push your agenda through because it benefits you more than others
    • A neurotic need to be right
    • Just wanting the pain to end

    These are bad, for the most part. Conversation and discussion, on the other hand, are typically good. It’s good to have your ideas challenged, and to question purported statements of fact (“alternative facts”). You’ll never grow in understanding without this, and you’re likely to live in your own state of alternative facts rather than actual truth.  

    When anyone tries to shut down a discussion via a mic drop moment or some other tactic, you know you’ve hit a nerve. It’s up to you to decide how you are going to respond. Just never accept that it is truly the end of discussion.  

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      Feb 25 2017

      People Are People

      People are people so why should it be
      You and I should get along so awfully
      So we’re different colours
      And we’re different creeds
      And different people have different needs ~Depeche Mode, “People are People”

      There are a lot of things I don’t know and that I don’t understand. But, I try.  Take, for instance, this patent’s story, published in the Washington Post:

      It’s almost impossible to deny a person’s humanity after you’ve shared a cup of coffee with them. Most people in our lives, people all across the political spectrum, had never met a trans person before they met Henry. But after they spend a little time with her, learn a little more about her, not a single one would insist she use the boys’ bathroom. https://wpo.st/Olyd2

      The one thing we need to know about LGBTQ people is that they are… people.  That’s pretty much it.  People are different–I’m different, and you’re different. We all have different issues, different strengths, and different needs. Categorizing someone as a thing, which we’re doing when we relegate them to just a part of a certain group that we can dismiss or judge, is to completely disregard their individuality, and their humanity. 

      In the early days of this country (The United States), only white males had ALL of the rights afforded by the Constitution, and it didn’t even occur to those white males that women and blacks should have equal rights. “All men are created equal…” didn’t apply to those categories of beings that were of lesser status, which also included the Native Americans, which we nearly thingified out of existence.  

      200+ years later, most of America has matured to the point where women and non-whites are no longer thingified. However, while a minority, there are still far too many misogynists and racists still out there, and the rest of us will continue to stand up for true equality.  

      The New Frontier

      True equality, however, applies to everyone. While you may have various views on homosexuality, bisexuality, intersexuality, transsexualism, etc., under the Constitution we should agree that equal rights are for everyone. Equal rights means that all lesser categories of humans have been done away with; there should be no thingification of people who for whatever reason don’t fall into neat categories. 

      I find the whole concept of classification to be an issue. For example, “upper class,” “lower class,” and “middle class” are Marxist terms.  Who needs them? What do they do, except to make people compare themselves against others?   And race–there is really only one race. Do we classify each other as Germanic or Scandinavian or whatever?  The only real reason to classify people groups by our origins is so one group can thingify another group.  People are people. Classes are not.

      With regard to gender and sexuality, we are all individuals, and don’t all fall into neat categories. All humans fall somewhere on a spectrum of male-female traits.  Many men lean toward the feminine in some areas, and many women have some masculine traits. And with regard to gender identity, there is also a spectrum, although a smaller percentage of people are non-cisgendered. That’s just the way it is.  You can deny reality if you like, but that’s just Trumpism.

      The bottom line is this: All people are people. We each have our own strengths and struggles. Some of us have issues that others of us have a difficult time relating to.  Whenever possible, we should try to help people, rather than force them into some thingified category so we don’t have to deal with them.  As the old song goes, “before you abuse, walk a mile in my shoes.” Or as the parent above wrote, “It’s almost impossible to deny a person’s humanity after you’ve shared a cup of coffee with them.”

      GLBTQs are not non-people. They aren’t things, and they don’t belong to some less-then-fully-human category. They are full people under our Constitution and under God, and are entitled to all of the rights and privileges thereof. 

      People… ALL people… are people.

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        Sep 10 2016

        Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Support Hillary Clinton

        I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Democrat. I don’t ever remember voting Democrat–the first Presidential election that I could vote in was when Jimmy Carter was running. Though I liked him as a person, I don’t believe I voted for him.  

        I have never liked Hillary Clinton. In fact, I liked her less than I liked Bill.  I seldom could bring myself to watch or listen to them.  I have been one of those who believe that Hillary is at best a liar, and possibly a criminal.  And, I have been one of those who has secretly hoped that one of the rumors about her would be proven true, and her political life would be over.  It bothered me that she of all people would go down in history as being the first woman to be a major party candidate for President. Like many other conservatives, I was emotionally biased against Mrs. Clinton.

        And then there was Trump, who was funny for a short period until I realized a lot of people were taking him seriously.  I believe that Trump is a liar and a fraud. I also believe that he’s incompetent, ignorant, a bigot, a narcissist, and a loose cannon who is fundamentally dangerous.

        The Turning Point

        One night, I was watching an episode of “Black Sails,” the Starz show set as a prequel to Treasure Island, when there was a very interesting exchange between the characters Long John Silver and Billy Bones.  At this point in the story, both knew than Captain Flint was a liar and a murderer, acting solely out of his own self-interests.  Billy asked Silver how he could serve under and support such a man. Silver’s reply was that even though he hated Flint, he knew that Flint was a more than capable captain and their best hope at surviving the situation they were facing. 

        I immediately thought of Hillary Clinton, and the logic of Long John Silver’s analysis cleared away the fog, and I looked at things logically.  

        Hillary, unlike Trump, has the necessary qualifications to be President. She has 8 years of White House experience, plus having been Secretary of State. She probably has more respect around the world than Obama. And, she’s not crazy. She may have ego issues, but that can work for a leader: She won’t let the country fail, because that will reflect on her.  Trump, at least so far, doesn’t seem to care. His MO is to blame someone else, proclaim his greatness, and move on.

        Bill will also be a great asset as First Man (or whatever). He obviously will have the most experience of any First Spouse, and in spite of my not liking him personally, I always admitted that he was, in fact, a pretty good President. And neither of them are going to dump the country, as it’s not in their best interest.  

        And, Hillary has consistently been the most truthful candidate of this election (that is, of the statements made throughout this election cycle, objective analysis has found her to have been the most truthful).  Then, there is the point that in spite of the myriad attempts by her enemies to find some skeletans in her closets, none have been found. 

        So, this is the process by which I overcame my avulsion to Hillary Clinton.  And considering I find Trump’s policies (such as they are) morally repugnant, I will have no problems voting for Clinton.  And I actually expect her to do a pretty good job.

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