September 2006


BTW, have you seen this speech by Obama about faith? Here’s a few snippets:

“my Bible tells me that if we train a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not turn from it. So I think faith and guidance can help fortify a young woman’s sense of self, a young man’s sense of responsibility, and a sense of reverence that all young people should have for the act of sexual intimacy.”

“the Sermon on the Mount – a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application? So before we get carried away, let’s read our bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their bibles.”

“Having voluntary student prayer groups use school property to meet should not be a threat, any more than its use by the High School Republicans should threaten Democrats. And one can envision certain faith-based programs – targeting ex-offenders or substance abusers – that offer a uniquely powerful way of solving problems.”

“…the reason the doctor was considering not voting for me was not simply my position on abortion. Rather, he had read an entry that my campaign had posted on my website, which suggested that I would fight ‘right-wing ideologues who want to take away a woman’s right to choose’…. Re-reading the doctor’s letter, though, I felt a pang of shame. It is people like him who are looking for a deeper, fuller conversation about religion in this country. They may not change their positions, but they are willing to listen and learn from those who are willing to speak in fair-minded words. Those who know of the central and awesome place that God holds in the lives of so many, and who refuse to treat faith as simply another political issue with which to score points. So I wrote back to the doctor, and I thanked him for his advice. The next day, I circulated the email to my staff and changed the language on my website to state in clear but simple terms my pro-choice position.”

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I’m stunned to hear good news come out of Washington. Bush has signed a bill by Coburn (who?) and Obama (yay!) to create an online, searchable database of government spending. By 2008 at the latest, we should be able to “Google our tax dollars.” This is the most important bill to pass in a long time, because I think it might actually work.

Rabid political bloggers (millions of ’em) will rush to the database, find the most offensive abuses of Congressional pork power, report them to the masses, and organize public action. Why do I have faith they will do this? Because that’s exactly what bloggers did to get this bill passed in the first place.

The original bill was blocked by an anonymous Senator (apparently, any Senator can block any bill anonymously). However, bloggers rallied together to get people to call their senators, demanding them to go on record that they did not block the bill. When the suspect list narrowed to 4, the Senator who blocked the bill confessed. Guess who it was? That asshole from Alaska who spent $250 million on a bridge to an island populated by 50 people.

I have more faith in the people of America than I have in Congresspeople. While Congresspeople are smarter and more informed about issues, they are also far more corrupted by power. An individual citizen has relatively little power to be corrupted by, but corporately we can assume great power to get good things done. Er something. I’m sure somebody else has said it better.

Power to the people!

Here is a great interview with Bill Clinton on The Daily Show. He’s talking about the Clinton Global Initiative, which gathers the resources of leaders around the world to discuss and, most importantly, commit to doing something about one of four critical initiatives: health security, reduction of poverty, global warming, and racial & religious reconciliation. It’s hard for me to think of more important causes in our world (excepting the movement of Jesus), and things like banning gay marriage or curse words on TV sure as **** don’t approach this list.

I don’t pretend to be a theologian or philosopher (well, not often), but I’ve been thinking about the nature of sin lately and would like to speculate.

Sin is willful action that displeases God. But why does it displease God? Probably, there are two reasons.

First, some sins dishonor God. For example, using his name in vain or worshipping false gods.

But there is another category of sins. Why should it displease God for ancient Hebrews to eat pork? Why should he care if we gamble? Why should he care about sex before marriage (one that occupies my thoughts often)? None of these dishonor God except that he commanded against them, which is circular reasoning: “God commanded against them because they dishonor God because he commanded against them because they dishonor God…”

The reason he hates this other category of sins is that they hurt us (the sinner, and those effected by the actions of the sinner). He loves us very much, and he hates to see us hurt ourselves, hurt others, and fall short of our awesome potential through him.

He told the ancient Hebrews not to eat pork, perhaps, because pork is especially dangerous if not cooked well. Safer to eat fish. Or manna.

He told us not to gamble because he loves us and doesn’t want to see us become a slave to financial debt.

He told us to abstain from sex until marriage because he designed us and knows what will truly enthrall our hearts, and sex outside of a committed relationship will not do that; whatever psychologists and sexologists and any human experts say, God knows us better than them and we must trust that his advice is best. He hates premarital sex not because he was bored and created a list of “thou shalt nots”, but because he knows that it will not fulfill us and that it will distract us from the divine romance our hearts were made for.

This theory of sin is more inspiring and beautiful to me than the “he saved me, so I owe him” theory. It is born of a love for Jesus, and not of religious duty. Fire and brimstone, go to (stay in) hell.

One of my favorite speakers, Erwin McManus, has begun what promises to be an excellent sermon series at his home church, Mosaic, called “Life’s Toughest Questions.” The first question is, “Does God Care?” You can download the audio or the video here. Highly recommended.