Tuesday, January 23, 2007

should we be relevant?

My question in ethics today was, should Christians insist upon social relevance when developing ethics or in responding to social issues. I raised the Question because I was reading a book for class written by John Cobb, and he was fairly insistent upon developing an ethics that was relevant to the world at large, possibly in hopes of guiding the culture toward a Christian end, if not necessarily by Christian means. Of course, one has to ask if unethical means justify an ethical end.
For example, many Quakers voted for either John Kerry, or the Green Party in the last election as a response to the horror of the Bush administration. When questioned about the ethics of voting for someone who would continue the "war on terror" and was totally absorbed in a quest to defend an American way of life that is inherently oppressive to millions, if not totally obscene in it consumerism, many said it was a matter of getting Bush out of office. Oh, I see, the lesser of two evils route.
Yet, isn't participation in the American electoral system participation in an unjust system. Did not a vote for John Kerry undermine any real chance that an alternative voice to the American political spectrum would be heard. And, aren't we ethically wedded to challenging every injustice at the core, such as the illegitimacy of most claims to authority and power made by any government that refuses to value life when it comes at the expense of profit or individual freedoms? and don't get me started on the dope smoking hippies of the Green Party! Ok, some of them are nice folks...
Anyway, if voting for the liberal anti-war agenda personified in the form of Dennis Kucinich is being relevant to our society simply because it is participation in the liberal democracy that holds the world at bay with nuclear weapons and Baywatch, no thanks. I might rather watch Baywatch... or the Super Bowl. Then my opinions will not only be relevant to most Americans because I am culturally informed, but because I hold on tightly to those values that suggest the right to oppress and objectify women ethically trump any woman's right to deprive me culturally mandated bliss.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Business as usual gooood...sectarianism baaad!

The only reality in the world, or so it seems, is that there are three natures of truth. Most folks are oppressed, a few folks are oppressors, and many of us simply underwrite the status quo. Within this context, it my contention that A) there will never be world peace, and B) most Americans have little or no interest in a real world peace, because it would require a great deal of sacrifice on our part. This leads me to the role of the church, which, upon recognition that the world is oppressive, and full of violence all of the time, and reticent about suffering on behalf of others, needs a new game plan.
Oh, we should still try to change the world, or at least recognize that the world was changed drastically by the victory of God over the world's rejection of peace and justice through the resurrection, but we need to do it on Jesus' terms, and not the terms of the world that has accepted the reality that has been stated above. We need to live our lives as though the world has been changed.
It is the church's role to offer an alternative to the injustice and violence of the world by creating a lasting alternative to it, not by coercing the world into an existence that suits a morality that makes sense only to the People of God. Justice and peace are terms used by most Americans only when American interests are involved, and with little regard for how such hopes are achieved. Military might has generally failed to promote a lasting peace of any kind, unless you consider that the welcoming of defeated enemies into the domination system of western powers counts as justice. It's a tentative peace at best, held together by the fact that the US still dominates oil interests and remains the head puppeteer for most developing countries. Wait until Europe gets frustrated again. Well, except for France.
Anyway, back to the point. If we accept that there will never be world peace, then it should be the church's place to be a community separate from the world, yet insistent upon serving a world that rejects the truth of the resurrection because God commands us to relieve the suffering of those who are oppressed.
We cannot relieve suffering, however, by continuing to acquiesce to dictum of socialist nation states or the tenets of liberal democracies. We can only witness against oppression by refusing to benefit from it. They world might refuse to buy into our truth claims, but AC/DC said it best "Prophecy ain't no riddle man, to me it makes good good sense!" Actually, that's a paraphrase, but I don't think they will mind.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Am I really Shrill?

Brian Young once said, "I can't wait for the parousia to happen so you won't have any more axes to grind." Well Brian, parousia is best translated as "royal presence," not "second coming" and if I'm grinding axes now, you can bet I have a thing or two say to Jesus at night about the state of the realm of God. I'm not quite falling for that "almost/not yet" stuff. The Kingdom is now!

Yet, I am more fully aware now than ever that stating there is "no king but YHWH" can offend Quaker sensibilities, primarily because there is no consensus in the ecumenical community that reflects such awkward truth telling. What I have learned now is that truth telling is in fact a practice in shrillness.

Perhaps most folks don't often quote the Hebrew Prophets because - well - they don't want anyone to think they're being shrill. Politicians and MSW's can rely on questionable empirical data to create programs for broken people that never seem to work, but a prophet challenging the whole system as being corrupt and unjust is shrill, not because she makes people feel uncomfortable, but because she challenges their very right to comfort when the culture is responsible for such suffering around the world.

It has been suggested that we all need to quiet down about issues such as same sex marriage because no one is listening. First of all, no one is listening when the state of marriage itself is challenged as a practice in self-centered relational fulfillment. Is the state of most modern marriages the crap that the anti gay and lesbian crowd is fighting to defend.

Communities need to listen to others as a practice in self-awareness and critical reflection. But they should never shy away from claiming truth, such as the truth that all covenant relationships find God's favor when the partners stay faithful to one another, and to God. I'm sorry if stating that same-sex marriages are sanctioned by God, and that those denominations that refuse to accept this as a truth are wrong, is shrill.

I'm sorry that I have so many axes to grind, but blessed are those who thirst for righteousness and justice, and insist upon it as a primary tenet of the realm of God.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Hello Again!

I am very sorry for the length of time it has taken for me to get back to blogging. I am fairly inept when it comes to computer competency, and I could not figure out how to get blogspot to accept my login attempts. Anyway, the holidays are over, we've all been sick at home, even one of the hogs, and I am buried in intensives - Quakers and the Bible. In other words, I not feeling up to enlightening anyone right now, though it feels good to write again. I look forward to more long lost friends like Anne Marie. Anyway, I'll think of something more profound to write over the next few days and get back to you all. Peace and Grace to y'all, as My Greek teacher likes to paraphrase the Apostle Paul, So long