Sunday, November 11, 2018

Surveillance



In a society that does not fear God, the only way to establish justice will be to put everyone under constant surveillance.
                                                                                -Vishal Mangalwadi, Truth and Transformation

Monday, October 29, 2018

Influence




As strange as it may seem, it may happen at times that the church is most influential when it is indifferent to exercising influence.

                                                                 -Richard John Neuhaus, The Naked Public Square

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Adam Smith and Medical Societies

 

“People of the same trade seldom meet together, even for merriment and diversion, but the conversation ends in a conspiracy against the public, or in some contrivance to raise prices.”


                                                          ― Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations

Thursday, October 18, 2018

What Systems Foster


Systems will tolerate and adapt better to trouble-making complainers and incompetents, than to creative thinkers who disturb the status quo or homeostasis. 
                                                                   -Edwin Friedman, Generation to Generation

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Soldiering in a Free State


The problem with a good country, a free country, is that when no one is attacking, the soldiers have nothing to do. They are not assigned to round up citizens, kill for sport, invent torture devices, or any number of things that might keep them better occupied or sharpen their skills. They will always be a step behind when it comes to the initial battle with villains. Yes, strength and abilities are helped by training and will improve with battle. But the true strength of a free country must come from freedom itself. On the surface this may appear weak and the fight hopeless. But goodness and freedom make a deep river that is not soon dried up in the heat, and can be trusted to supply. A mighty force can be made of those who in freedom band together to take down a rising evil.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Marriage Illusions



Most of us get married to the great American marital dream. Marriage is going to be that happy state in which we get all the nurturance and care and love and empathy and even the good advice that we didn't receive in our families. Marriage is going to help us feel better about ourselves; it is going to make life easier and more secure. It does, for a while. We form a very tight, dependent unit, and we help each other in all sorts of ways: advice, sympathy, mothering, teaching, We have a lot to give each other.

But sooner or later this psychotherapy project fails.  The major reason is that the protagonists get very scared that they are each going to lose their individual identities in the dependency. So the couple begins to back away from each other, mistrusting. How can you safely depend on someone with whom you're struggling for dominance in the relationship?

If the partners could stick with the backing away and endure the aloneness for a while, the problem might be solved. They would get over being so dependent, and marriage wouldn't feel so threatening, But it rarely happens that way. Instead, they usually find a substitute for the dependency.

                                                                                   -Augustus Napier, The Family Crucible

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Define Wrong


We have become so conditioned to measuring the rightness of what we do by the quality of emotion it generates that we've developed a new version of relativistic ethics that might be called the Morality of Fulfillment. 
                                              -Larry Crabb, The Marriage Builder

Of course, visceral repulsion to wrong is a very useful check on human sin. But the problem is that these emotions can be swayed, manipulated, numbed, and even used as a form of excitement. Clearly, our feelings are an insufficient sole measure for ethics on a personal and public scale. Thus the goal of "blind justice," in our public court system. This idea that we search for a moral truth apart from ourselves and our feelings, is evidence of a moral being above ourselves. It also supports our question as to what distances us from this moral being. The scriptures say that this is due, in fact, to our moral failings themselves. 

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.  (Isaiah 59:2, NASB)

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Job Security



There is a profound tendency when one attains a position of high power in business to be terrified of losing it and, hence, a profound temptation to sacrifice one's integrity in order to hold on to it.  As far as I am concerned, a prime rule governing the civil use of power in business is: "Forget about job security!"...

By the time a person reaches a position of top management, her heart will either belong to her personal ambition or to a Higher Power. If to ambition, then her primary consideration will be the politics of the situation, her popularity, and what is most likely to make her look good so as to preserve or enhance her position and its power. If her primary allegiance is to a Higher Power, it will be to what is "right."  This does not mean she will give no consideration to politics or that what is right will be clear; it is a matter of the primary orientation of her instincts...

                                                                           -M Scott Peck, A World Waiting to be Born

Sunday, July 22, 2018

I Believe in Science



      The advances of science in the modern age have come at the cost of certain traditional reasons for belief in God. When we had no idea how the universe came into existence, it was easier to ascribe it all to an act of God, or many separate acts of God. Similarly, until Kepler, Copernicus, and Galileo upset the applecart in the sixteenth century, the placement of Earth at the center of the majestic starry heavens seemed to represent a powerful argument for the existence of God. If He put us on center stage, He must have built it all for us. When heliocentric science forced a revision of the this perception, many believers were shaken up.

     But a third pillar of belief continued to carry considerable weight: the complexity of earthly life, implying to any reasonable observer the handiwork of an intelligent designer...Science has now turned this upside down. But here, as with the other two arguments, I would like to suggest that science should not be denied by the believer, it should be embraced. The elegance behind life’s complexity is indeed reason for awe, and for belief in God—but not in the simple, straightforward way that many found so compelling before Darwin came along…

      Now that molecular mechanisms, genetic pathways, and natural selection are being put forward to explain all this, you might be tempted to cry out, “Enough! Your naturalistic explanations are taking all the divine mystery out of the world!”

      Do not fear, there is plenty of divine mystery left. Many people who have considered all the scientific and spiritual evidence still see God’s creative and guiding hand at work. For me, there is not a shred of disappointment or disillusionment in these discoveries about the nature of life—quite the contrary! How marvelous and intricate life turns out to be! How deeply satisfying is the digital elegance of DNA! How aesthetically appealing and artistically sublime are the components of living things, from the ribosome that translates RNA into protein, to the metamorphosis of the caterpillar into the butterfly, to the fabulous plumage of the peacock attracting his mate! Evolution, as a mechanism, can be and must be true. But that says nothing about the nature of its author. For those who believe in God, there are reasons now to be more in awe, not less.
                                                                                      -Francis Collins, The Language of God



Dr Collins is currently head of the National Institutes of Health. He lead the Human Genome Project to map the entire human genome: a wildly audacious goal when initiated, it was ultimately successful by 2003.

My advice regarding the book “The Language of God,” is that you could skip the first two chapters and start with chapter 3. Philosophy is not his field, and others have done a better job saying the same thing (I suggest reading Mere Christianity). But after that, it is really worth the read.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sacrifice


Sacrifice is at the heart of Christian faith. The people of God in Old Testament times offered animals for their sins--lambs, goats, bulls, and pigeons. Jesus offered himself as a perfect, final sacrifice so that the animal sacrifices would not have to be repeated.

Sacrifice, surrender, and suffering are not popular topics nowadays. Our culture makes us believe that we can have it all, that we should demand our rights, that with the right technology all pain and problems can be overcome. This is not my attitude toward sacrifice. I know that it is impossible to relieve the world's suffering unless God's people are willing to surrender to God, to make sacrifices, and to suffer along with the poor.

From the beginning of time the human heart has felt the need to offer God a sacrifice. What is an acceptable sacrifice? One that is good for the people of God. One that is made on behalf of the world.

The words of Jesus, "Love one another as I have loved you," must be not only a light for us but a flame that consumes the self in us. Love, in order to survive, must be nourished by sacrifices, especially the sacrifice of self.

Suffering is nothing by itself. But suffering shared with the passion of Christ is a wonderful gift, the most beautiful gift, a token of love.

I must be willing to give whatever it takes to do good to others. This requires that I be willing to give until it hurts. Otherwise, there is no true love in me and I bring injustice, not peace, to those around me.

                                                                     -Mother Teresa, In the Heart of the World

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Truth


"When you see something, say something. And you say it with the facts and the reporting to back it up. You make the choice everyday to exemplify honest because the truth exonerates and it convicts, it disinfects and it galvanizes. The truth has always been, and will always be, our shield against corruption, greed and despair -- the truth is our saving grace"
                             
                                                                         -Oprah Winfrey 
 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Higher Power



When I read the Bible, I want to stop at Isaiah 11:6: “The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.” What wonderful and comforting and hopeful words are these! They reach across the thousands of years since they were penned to give to us something of truth and value that we cherish today.

But I would rather not continue on to Isaiah 13:9: “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.”

If there must be a judgement, why can’t it be more finely focused? God, can you not remove the bits of me and them and the world that are cancerous with sin and leave the rest to grow and recover? Haven’t you heard of targeted immunotherapy? Why does the whole country suffer in Isaiah 13? I ask with Abraham: why destroy Sodom and Gomorrah? can’t you spare them for the sake of the righteous few? I want to keep Isaiah 11 and discard chapter 13. 

The concept of Hell is repugnant. It must be a failure of God as much as a failure of anyone. And what about the business of making crazy moral standards? What is the homosexual to do with his desires? Where the mercy in campaigns against abortion and euthanasia?

But what does taking a cookie cutter to the messages from God do? What does the book of Isaiah look like with half of it cut out? Full of holes where I take out what I don’t agree with. Much more palatable. Perhaps it was written for a rougher day: those cut-out parts are the first stage rocket that we can now discard in our journey through the celestial, left to burn up on reentry to a world we left behind.

No, I cannot accept this. God is not God with his personality cut in half. Shredded scriptures may be ready for recycle but not for reading. It is a valiant attempt to save something that you no longer want as a whole, but it is dishonest.

What about this approach is dishonest? What is it that we are unwilling to face in our search to bend God and the scriptures to something more acceptable to the modern mind?

It seems to me that the alcoholics have already answered this question in two simple words: Higher Power. Making sure to gather as many as they could on their journey towards sobriety, Alcoholics Anonymous purposely forsook even the word “God” in their terminology back in the 1930’s. While theologians wrestled with what part of God to keep, AA profoundly said: there is someone or something bigger than we are. While the rest of the world made God according to its wishes, the alcoholics admitted they were incapable and needed someone greater than their wishes.

I am dishonest when I say that I want a God but I really do not. I don’t want someone bigger than I am. I don’t want someone to tell me what to think and what to do. I want all the comfort of having a loving celestial being. I want the good feelings and the support of religion. I want a historical connection. I find great things in the Bible and other religious books. But ultimately, I want to be in charge. I will choose what belongs and does not belong in my religion. It is ultimately about me, my friends, and my world.

The question really is not about hell, about homosexuality, about gender, about names, about rich and poor, about scriptures. The question is: is there a God in the universe that demands my respect, my love, my honor, my obedience, my worship? It is the same question that opened the Bible’s account of reality, where the snake asked Eve: did God really say not to eat that apple? It is the question of our lives, and the question that will determine how we think about everything else. Is there a Higher Power?
-->