So, I just finished three days at Web Design World 2006, an annual usability / web design conference here in San Francisco. Of course, near the end of a three day conference, you start to really get mentally tired of listening, and begin to look for ways to amuse yourself. While listening to Jared Spool wax on about what makes users happy, I began to think about how I would design a church web site.
One of the tools NOT covered at this conference, but essential to an information architect in designing a site, is the persona, a “user archetype you can use to help guide decisions about product features, navigation, interactions, and even visual design.” (uie) As I sat with wandering mind today, I imaged the personas who might interact with a church website.
I have had many discussions about why we make laws, and I am always incredulous when some of my liberal friends contend that laws are not made based on morals or ethics. I think that, probably on principle, they are afraid of the idea of “legislating morality” since they often view morality as almost entirely subjective, and don’t want to have anyone “imposing” their morality on others through law. However, I always counter that I think we make laws based on two ethics – to prevent harm and promote good for individuals, and for society. Prohibitions against murder and theft prevent harm, and setting up the tax code to encourage property ownership, or programs for education promote good.
With this in mind, I thought to record what I believe the functions of legislation to be. I haven’t read any real thinkers on this topic yet (John Locke not withstanding), but here’s my first thoughts.
- All Quiet on the Western Front - facing the horrors of war
- * American History X – racism and redemption for a racist
- Angels in America – heartbreaking and creative look at the struggles and tragedies of gay life, including losing a loved-one to AIDS, and suppressing your sexuality for religious reasons. Even though this is in some ways a “gay apologetic,” it is much more.
- Big Fish – a son comes to terms with his salesman father’s absences during his childhood, and the stories his father spun to make his life seem exciting to himself and his son
- Bonhoeffer - a true Christian hero and martyr of the Nazi era
- * Braveheart – a classic about fighting for your freedom – if you fail to fight, but would rather be enslaved, is it worth it?
- * Chocolat – Nice morality play about the stigma of being a single woman in a town run by a religious legalist, and his fall from legalism to being human – same theme as Babett’s Feast, but more entertaining
A CBS Poll published Oct 23, 2005 shows that most Americans believe in, *gasp*, special creation. Buahahaha! Silly evolutionists – either Americans are a bunch of boobs, or you are… hmmmm.
- God created humans in present form - 51%
- Humans evolved, God guided the process – 30%
- Humans evolved, God did not guide process – 15%
1. How could an all-knowing God be all-loving, since He would create people that He knows for a fact would be damned?
However, I do live by the principle that “what I *am* convinced of is enough for me to believe in and affirm Jesus as the ‘truth, the life, and the way,’ and I live accordingly even though I have outstanding questions and doubts.”
Solving the healthcare problem won’t be easy, for a couple of reasons. First, we don’t have a model that allows us to properly contain costs while providing adequate care. Secondly, and more importantly, there is shared responsibility between the spheres of government.
I believe that we need a tiered, shared model – that is, all spheres of government should be involved, but in a certain hierarchy of responsibility:
1. Self Government
The primary responsibility for a person’s health falls upon the person themselves. If they disregard common responsibility for their own health, they can not expect everyone else to keep or make them healthy. As Jim Carey said to one of his clients in the movie Liar, Liar, “Stop breaking the law, *sshole!” It’s my responsibility to exercise, eat right, drive safely, not smoke, etc.
Another interesting conservative ‘spam’ letter that I thought I’d share.
This is too true to be funny. The next time you hear a politician use the word ‘billion’ in a casual manner, think about whether you want the politicians’ spending YOUR tax money.
A billion is a difficult number to comprehend, but one advertising agency did a good job of putting that figure into some perspective in one of it’s releases.
- A billion seconds ago it was 1959.
- A billion minutes ago Jesus was alive.
- A billion hours ago our ancestors were living in the Stone Age.
- A billion days ago no-one walked on the earth on two feet.
- A billion dollars ago was only 8 hours and 20 minutes, at the rate our government is spending it.
One of the great and tragic myths of our time is the materialist view that faith hinders science, and has largely opposed it in the past. AIG has a nice review of For The Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-hunts and the End of Slavery by Rodney Stark, which addresses the revisionist history of science and faith, and how faith, and specifically the Christian faith, is responsible for the science we see today. And here are some quotes, with my headings inserted in bold brown (bold red is my emphasis on their text):
The Story We’ve All Been Told
Even children know that in 1492 Christopher Columbus proved the world is round. They also know that he … [faced] years of opposition from the Roman Catholic Church, which ridiculed all dissent from the biblical teaching that the world is flat. … Andrew Dickson White, founder and first president of Cornell University, and author of the most influential book ever written on the conflict between science and theology, offered this summary:
“… Columbus’ voyage greatly strengthened the theory of the earth’s sphericity [yet] the Church … stumbled and persisted in going astray
… But in 1519 science gains a crushing victory. Magellan makes his famous voyage. He proves the earth to be round, for his expedition circumnavigates it … yet even this does not end the war. Many [religious] men oppose the doctrine for two hundred years longer.”
As a musician who likes both secular, sacred, and crossover bands, I have often engaged in conversations around what makes christian music “christian.” Last week, I discovered a metal band I really like, Killswitch Engage. As I was listening, I started noticing some Christian codewords – language that was distinctly biblical. So I looked them up, and as it turns out, one of the band members is a Christian, but they don’t really do Christian music – but some of the xian viewpoints show through.
Then, I came across the band Evanescence, whose music I instantly liked, and so I decided to search the web to find out if they were Christian. As it turns out, they have been asked this question so many times, they purchased www.notachristianband.com to explain themselves, since the content of their songs sounds Christianesque. Here’s what they say:
Evanescence is Not a Christian Band, although in their personal lives they are all Christians.
The gay lobby loves to use the accusation of “hate” when they are opposed by those who believe homosexuality to be morally wrong. And while some (many?) Christians may have a condescending and despising view of gays (which is sin), the overuse and misuse of the word “hate” will continue to alienate thinking people from the gay cause. Here’s my view of what hate is and is not.
I was reading up on one of my favorite subjects, reparative therapy of homosexuality, when I came across a decent introductory article on the subject at Parents and Friends of EX-gays (PFOX). The author evaluated the many therapeutic approaches to gay recovery therapy, and found the following six factors as critical to success:
1. Personal choice and motivation to reorient is necessary
This sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s not. Until I seriously want to change something in my life, I’m just going to fail.
2. A detailed history is important
This is to overcome using an oversimplified model like "all gays are that way because they had a bad father." People fail in gender identity formation for a lot of reasons, which need to be explored in therapy.
Stand to Reason has an interesting post on the liberal canard of “imposing your views.” Much legislation is moral/ethical in nature, and as with all moral issues, I think we have a classic black/white/gray problem.
Some legislation may be purely based on an ethic of not harming others - hence, do not kill, do not steal, do not lie. Even though these are all religious commandments, in civil govt discourse, we may consider them on their ethicality alone.
On the opposite extreme are religious morals that are purely religious, and probably should not be legislated – keep the sabbath, don’t eat pork, whatever.
But there is a gray zone where we have difficulty. Is adultery wrong because the bible says so? Does it really harm people? Maybe it harms the person who needs an extramarital affair to criminalize their adultery. That may sound crazy, but proponents of open, group, and polygamous marriage argue that. Does homosexuality harm people? How about teaching our children that homosexuality is ok? What about sexual exploration among teens? What about teens sexually experimenting with adults?
There are the basic world view questions:
1. Origins: Where did life and humanity originate?
2. The Problem: Why is there suffering, sickness, and death?
3. The Solution: What is the cure for man’s suffering, esp. his existential lonliness?
Questions of Meaning and Value:
4. How does an atheist assign meaning to human activity? Is all meaning subjective, or do some activities have self-evident and objective worth and meaning. If so, what are these activities, and how to you arrive at their value?
5. Are humans of more intrinsic value than animals? Why or why not?
6. How does an atheist determine what is moral or immoral, right or wrong. Is there any objective standard or principles?
Questions of Worldview:
7. What type of government does atheistic philosophy translate into? How does it understand the relationship between man and government? What type of government structures flow from an atheistic world view? Does it merely rely on someone else’s system of thought, like the assumptions of naturalistic science?
8. How does atheism view religions and religious faith? What about metaphysics? Is atheism purely materialistic and naturalistic?
9. Who are the authoritative writers/books of atheism? What are the central tenets of atheism, and if they have a “greatest commandment,” what is it? For example, arguably, Christianity’s is “Love the Lord your God with all of your heart, mind, soul and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.”
Questions of Revelation:
10. What happens after we die?
There are three ways to reform bad religion. These methods of reform may be described as modernization, restoration, and liberalization.
Modernization, in a religious context, is to discard exterior traditions while keeping the original, internal content and intent of the moral code. It is to change the outer forms of our communication and practice while still holding to the timeless inner truths they are meant to communicate. Modernism introduces much needed cultural relevance and modern means of communication (both language and technology) by which to deliver timeless, objective truths. While liturgy and tradition are of some value, in and of themselves they are not sacrosanct to a healthy faith (sacraments excluded), and may be abandoned in order to convey the timeless truths they represent.
Restoration addresses the reform of the internals of a faith. Restoration is not so much concerned with outer practices, but rather the internal, timeless truths that have been abandoned or warped by liberalism, fundamentalism, or any other kind of -ism that skews the balance of truth, returning to the original foundation of the faith. Of course, restoration only makes sense if the original foundation was sound in the first place.
Liberalization also addresses the inner truths of faith. Liberalism, however, discards or dilutes the content and/or intent of the original moral code for a new moral code that is usually less strict. And while liberalization is often accompanied by modernization or restoration, it differs in that it modifies the truths considered foundational to a religion. Liberalism rejects foundational objective truths by replacing them with "modern" truths, usually based in subjective morality, thereby throwing out the baby with the bathwater.
One note on liberalism’s opposite analog, fundamentalism. Fundamentalism can skew both the outer and inner expressions of faith – it can prescribe or prohibit outward forms, and it can also warp the inner truths of faith by making them harsh, not balancing truth with love, and misapplying truth in hurtful ways.
Here are some examples of modernization, restoration, and liberalization.
In response to Aaron’s post about Buddhism and the problem of pain, I wanted to echo his sentiments by reposting my tale illustrating the same point.
Once upon a time there were three Buddhist monks who lived in a monastery. Each day, the monks would walk along a lengthy path to fetch water from a local well.
As they were walking one day, the monks met a Christian missionary, and they entered into a lively debate about spiritual principles, and the nature of God. They agreed on many things, including the importance of forgiveness and compassion, and about karma, which the Christian called “sowing and reaping.” However, when it came to the nature of God, and the life to come, they seemed to disagree.