Saturday, September 27, 2008
Thanks to Friendly Atheist.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The general hostility toward industrial development that is often evidenced by environmental activists is frequently rooted in a pantheistic opposition to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and is as old as the Tower of Babel. Judaism takes note of how industrial development tends toward the spiritual and away from the merely material. In our own times, this is quite clear as we see development lead societies past the manufacture of steel and large machinery to the creation of data and knowledge. . . . Judaism views this as a movement toward human recognition of the primacy of the spiritual over the material. It is no coincidence that this tendency for society to move toward the spiritual also brings along with it less disruption of nature. Instead of imposing barriers to industrialization upon the developing world, we could be better served to assist developing nations in moving through this early phase of growth. In this fashion, each part of the world can make its own decisions and judgments about how it will balance its own needs . . . . Those of us in the developed world may not want a rubber-tire factory next door. However, if we lived near Cairo and presently were neighbors to the world’s biggest garbage dump, which is populated by ghostly skeletons rummaging through the filth to find food for another day’s existence, we may welcome the arrival of a tire plant to displace the garbage dump. Judaism has great faith in the ability of ordinary human beings to make their own decisions and to find ways to overcome tragic circumstances.
This faith comes from another religious conviction not shared by many environmentalists. Again, if we are nothing but sophisticated animals, it is only right that important decisions should be made of us by an elite group of people playing the roles of zookeeper or farmer. In this view of reality, we are not capable of determining for ourselves just how much prosperity we are willing to sacrifice to halt development. Since nature is the ultimate good, our zookeepers will determine that no burden is too heavy for us to shoulder in service to our god of nature. . . .
The basic Jewish principle of balance and middle path also conflicts with the contemporary environmental doctrine that preserving each spotted owl and each kangaroo rat is more important than any costs borne by humans and any sacrifices made by people. Judaism would never countenance loggers suffering the indignity of joblessness in order not to disturb the nesting habitat of the owl. . . . People need not justify their needs or desires to nature. They are warned only against destroying things for no good purpose. . . .
Our task is, in essence, to subdue nature and redirect it for holy purposes. . . . Your labor is welcome, and its results are pleasing to me, says the Lord. For this reason, Judaism is prouder of man’s skyscrapers than of God’s swamps, and prouder of man’s factories than of God’s forests.
- pp. 24-26
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Here are some more thoughts from the Judaism section of Environmental Stewardship in the Judeo-Christian Tradition (Part 1 of the Jewish view was posted Sunday). In this excerpt, we learn why eating meat is a sacred act and why a good Jew can't be a vegetarian:
The Hebrew for conquering, koveish, clearly distinguishes between annihilating and conquering. The former is a verb for utterly destroying one’s enemy. The latter refers to leaving one’s enemy’s resources and abilities intact, or even enhancing them, but redirecting them for one’s own end. That is what we are told to do with the resources of the natural world. We may not destroy, but we may use them in every possible beneficial manner. Animals are part of the natural world, and their purpose is strictly in the context of human life…
A religious Jew may choose to restrict his diet to vegetables during the week, but come Saturday and most holidays, he is to eat some meat as a religious obligation. The reason for this is that God created a world of hierarchy. Minerals are consumed by a higher life form, namely plants. Animals survive by consuming plants, while the highest life form of all, humans, eat animals. It is interesting to note that those animals permissible to Jews as food are animals that eat only plants. In other words, those animals that violate the hierarchical order, such as wolves and bears, may not be eaten by Jews. Now, for a Jew to attempt to improve on God’s definition of morality by refraining from eating any meat on moral grounds is another way of announcing that one is nothing more than an animal oneself. Animals are supposed to eat only plant life. Thus, a Jew who eats only vegetables is announcing himself to be a very good animal. Once each week, God demands of his people that they leave the moral refuge of vegetarianism. We are then forced to confront the reality that an animal died to provide our meal. That places an obligation upon us to be worthy of the sacrifice…
While always prohibiting cruelty or wanton destruction, Judaism abhors the entire notion of animal rights since it violates the very foundation of biblical belief in God’s sovereignty and God’s role as ultimate arbiter of moral right. Judaism and secularism are fundamentally incompatible, and the doctrine of animal rights is a doctrine of secularism.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Now, rather than admit that he might actually have been wrong on this issue, Obama has fired back with this own ad in which he indignantly makes several false claims in only 30 seconds:
- The McCain attack ad is the sleaziest ad ever (interestingly, the voiceover says "the sleaziest," but the text on the screen says, "one of the sleaziest"). Actually, Gianna's ad wasn't paid for by the McCain campaign, but by her own organization.
- Even the bill's sponsor said the claims about Obama are untrue. Actually, you can read below the entire letter the sponsor wrote (not just the single quoted sentence) and see that Obama has intentionally quoted him out of context.
- "Obama has always supported medical care to protect infants." But he has not ever supported the medical protection of aborted babies born alive. The voting record on this is clear, and the facts clearly contradict his contention that he would have voted for wording that matched the Federal statute. It did, and he didn't.
Watch Obama's 30-second ad below, and then read the rejoinder from Real Clear Politics, which is a Time/CNN blog and not a partisan site:
Now, here's what Real Clear Politics had to say. I've bolded the sentence Obama uses in his ad, just so you can see how he misrepresented the writer:
The Obama ad cites a September 5 letter to the Chicago Tribune written by the Republican co-sponsor of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, Rick Winkel, in declaring, "even the bill's Republican co-sponsor said it wasn't true." To put this in context, here is Winkel's letter reprinted in full:
A storm of controversy has risen in the presidential race concerning Barack Obama and legislation I sponsored in 2003 ("Obama's '03 abortion vote on forefront," Eric Zorn, Metro, Aug. 21). I introduced Senate Bill 1082 because of a nurse's claims that abortions at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn resulted in living infants whom hospital personnel then allowed to die without medical or comfort care.
SB-1082 defined born-alive infants and required that courts recognize them fully as persons and accord them immediate protection under the lawâ€”including statutes outlawing infanticide. Opponents of the bill believed it was an attack on Roe vs. Wade, so I added neutrality language identical to the 2001 federal Born Alive Infant Protection Act that the United States Senate approved 98 to 0.
On March 12, 2003, I presented the neutrality amendment before the state Health and Human Services Committee chaired by then state Sen. Obama. All 10 committee members voted to add the amendment. Nevertheless, during the same hearing, the committee rejected the bill as amended on a vote of 4-6-0. Obama voted no.
I was stunned because the neutrality amendment addressed the concerns of opponents. It was the same neutrality language approved by U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer, Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry in the federal bill.
None of those who voted against SB-1082 favored infanticide. Rather their zeal for pro-choice dogma was clearly the overriding force behind their negative votes rather than concern that my bill would protect babies who are born alive.
In 2005, I joined 116 state representatives and 54 senators in voting for HB-984, which contained the same born-alive definition and neutrality language as Senate Bill 1082, plus some extra language to satisfy the most zealous pro-choice legislators, yet harmless to the bill's purpose. No one voted against it. We had finally accomplished what we had set out to do - protect a newborn baby's life.
- Rick Winkel, Former state senator, Urbana
I used to think Obama was a person of integrity, but I'm over that now. I would like to start calling him all manner of contemptuous names, but I'll save that for another time.
Monday, September 22, 2008
There's a longer video on YouTube of her speaking at an annual Right to Life rally, in which she shares more of her story and more of her heart. If the lousy introduction annoys you, skip the first minute.
Jessen's website is bornalivetruth.org.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
The Torah unhesitatingly prohibits cruelty to animals. This is not because animals also have rights; it is because only human beings have obligations. In the Torah’s depiction of moral reality, nobody has rights – only obligations. Naturally, if everybody discharges their obligations, we all end up enjoying those things we vainly attempted to obtain by claiming them as our rights.More from the Jewish tradition in an upcoming post.
The animal rights movement can best be understood by viewing it as an attempt to undo the opening chapters of the biblical Book of Genesis. The Torah and its accompanying oral transmissions insist that Genesis describes more the beliefs underlying Creation than its facts. This is to say that the Bible’s central premise is that humans and animals are qualitatively different, a contention violently opposed by the animal rights movement. . . .
The Bible teaches that the human person is the apex of God’s creation and that all creation is there for the human person to develop and use as a responsible steward. The principle at work here is, of course, precisely the same biblical principle that prohibits self-maiming, destroying a rented apartment, or even having an abortion. This is to say that tenants do not have the same rights as owners. We, as humans, do not own the world, our bodies, or the habitations we rent. Thus, we may improve them but not destroy them. According to the Torah, not only do women not have the right to do with their bodies as they wish, but neither do men. Our bodies are given to us by a gracious and generous God so that we may occupy them for a certain period of time. During that time they are to be treated with the same deference that a tenant should employ in caring for his rented premises. Similarly, we humans are granted use of the world and all it contains. We may hunt animals for food or clothing, build homes out of the wood we cut from trees, and mine the earth to extract the minerals it holds. However, we may not wantonly destroy anything at all.
- pp. 20-21
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The Five continued to protest, saying that abortion is not an issue that O should deal with much. To which I replied, “Do you want to win, or are you more interested in your principles?”
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
I AM NOT AN IMPOSITION
(Nor Are You)
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
The word entertainment is important here. It means literally “to keep (tain from the Latin tenere) someone in between (enter).” Entertainment is everything that gets and keeps our mind away from things that are hard to face. Entertainment keeps us distracted, excited, or in suspense. Entertainment is often good for us. It gives us an evening or a day off from our worries and fears. But when we start living life as entertainment, we lose touch with our souls and become little more than spectators in a lifelong show. Even very useful and relevant work can become a way of forgetting who we really are. It is no surprise that for many people retirement is a fearful prospect. Who are we when there is nothing to keep us busy?
- Henri Nouwen, Can You Drink the Cup?, p. 94
Monday, September 15, 2008
If you don't see the video above, you can access it here.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I still don't like rap.
(I do, however, like my friend Roy, but I don't understand him, either. He's always using these words . . .in the original languages.)
Thanks to my roommate Eric for pointing out this valuable resource.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"That God predestines, and that man is responsible, are two things that few can see. They are believed to be inconsistent and contradictory; but they are not. It is just the fault of our weak judgment. Two truths cannot be contradictory to each other. If, then, I find taught in one place [in Scripture] that everything is fore-ordained, that is true; and if I find in another place that man is responsible for all his actions, that is true; and it is my folly that leads me to imagine that two truths can ever contradict each other. These two truths, I do not believe, can ever be welded into one upon any human anvil, but one they shall be in eternity: they are two lines that are so nearly parallel, that the mind that shall pursue them farthest, will never discover- C.H. Spurgeon, 1834-1892
that they converge; but they do converge, and they will meet somewhere in eternity, close to the throne of God, whence all truth doth spring." (New Park Street Pulpit, 4:337)
"Men who are morbidly anxious to possess a self-consistent creed, a creed which will put together and form a square like a Chinese puzzle, are very apt to narrow their souls. Those who will only believe what they can reconcile will necessarily disbelieve much of divine revelation. Those who receive by faith anything which they find in the Bible will receive two things, twenty things, ay, or twenty thousand things, though they cannot construct a theory which harmonizes them all." ("Faith," Sword and Trowel, 1872)
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. "Woe unto the world because of offenses; for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.
Sunday, September 7, 2008
I recently read Henri Nouwen's book, Can You Drink the Cup?, and found his description of community to represent one of the things I greatly desire for this new group:
Nothing is sweet or easy about community. Community is a fellowship of people who do not hide their joys and sorrows but make them visible to each other in a gesture of hope. In community we say: “Life is full of gains and losses, joys and sorrows, ups and downs – but we do not have to live it alone. We want to drink our cup together and thus celebrate the truth that the wounds of our individual lives, which seem intolerable when lived alone, become sources of healing when we live them as part of a fellowship of mutual care.”
[Community is] a fellowship of little people who together make God visible in the world.
So often we are inclined to keep our lives hidden. Shame and guilt prevent us from letting others know what we are living. We think: “If my family and friends knew the dark cravings of my heart and my strange mental wanderings, they would push me away and exclude me from their company.” But the opposite is true. When we dare to lift our cup and let our friends know what is in it, they will be encouraged to lift their cups and share with us their own anxiously hidden secrets. The greatest healing often takes place when we no longer feel isolated by our shame and guilt and discover that others often feel what we feel and think what we think and have the fears, apprehensions, and preoccupations we have.
The important question is, “Do we have a circle of trustworthy friends where we feel safe enough to be intimately known and called to an always greater maturity?
Vulnerability, growth, and mission. May they all be true of our new group as we seek to follow Jesus and be transformed into His image.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Not up to speed on particle physics? Need a refresher? Take five minutes to watch this "Large Hadron Rap," and you'll know as much as I do:
Want to know more? Wikipedia has a nice summary.
Thursday, September 4, 2008
But on this point, as in most other areas of philosophizing, he was not consistent: he glorified the spirit of doubt, but failed to see that if there is no such thing as truth, there cannot be doubt either. My act of doubting implies that I believe something to be true, but am unable to decide what that something is. If we get rid of truth, doubt becomes impossible.