24 March 2010

Is your God really "pro-life"?

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I realize that I am opening up a very large can of worms here but the time has come for some tough questions.  Believe me, I know the topic is sensitive so I'll try to tread accordingly.

During the recent and present healthcare debate there has been much talk of how many people don't want their tax money (federal funds) used for abortion. Many people of faith, particularly conservative Christians - my background, don't want to participate in what they believe is murder. It disgusts and outrages them that they would contribute to a sort of age-specific genocide that they have, in many cases, actively protested or at least used the power of the ballot to battle. 




Certainly there are varying shades of this view from all abortion being completely morally wrong to exceptions made for life of the mother and/or rape and/or incest. I understand the points of view and have held them all and then some. These folks call themselves "pro-life" and while I have elsewhere gone on about how they should more honestly use the label "anti-abortion", we'll go with "pro-life" for now.


Most folks I know, and I'd imagine generally, who espouse the "pro-life" philosophy base their morality on their religious beliefs. In my experience, those beliefs are based in some fashion on a book (collection of texts). Notice that I say those beliefs are "based" on a book. The beliefs may or may not be spelled out exactly in said book but people, to varying degrees, do the hard work of both reading the texts and extracting beliefs and/or of having a belief and finding a text to back it up. 


No matter how faithful and objective one tries to be, I am convinced that both happen, with all people, regularly. How does one know if the beliefs one is trying to faithful to are founded in real objectivity or just somebody elses proof-texted bias? It's a tough thing.


With that in mind, the Judeo-Christian basis for a "pro-life" stance seems to be that God (Yahweh) is defender of the innocent, advocate for the persecuted, and avenger/enforcer of the moral code that He has given and that His followers should be like Him. All of this is based on His representation in the texts collected as the Holy Bible. There IS plenty of basis for that characterization of God especially if the reader takes said texts literally in every way. 


It seems that most people who base their abortion views on these beliefs fall into the biblical inerrancy and more-so literalism. Wouldn't you agree? Now I realize that there are plenty of people who do the mental gymnastics of not being complete literalists (making exceptions for old world science in texts etc) while maintaining that the intentions and end messages of the texts are still without error. I want to be clear, I know and have lived in the shades between and around them.


In any case, these views don't allow for the influence of culture or the author's own views/biases on the texts' direct characterizations of God's actions and recording of His words. In other words, what God wanted in the texts was written down and it is what we have today. Since those characterizations and recorded words are the inspiration behind said beliefs one has to then take all of it with the same weight. Therein lies the problem.


For all the texts that extol God's greatness, love, creativeness, and loyalty there are plenty of others showing a violent, genocidal, jealous, and vengeful side. Sure those can be creatively reasoned away as the result of being enemies of God or out of covenant, but what about the "innocent" children?


Moses said, “Thus says the Lord: About midnight I will go out through Egypt. Every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne to the firstborn of the female slave who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the livestock. 
Exodus 11:4-5


Thus says the Lord of hosts, "I will punish the Amalekites for what they did in opposing the Israelites when they came out of Egypt. Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have; do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey."
I Samuel 15:2-3

Or worse yet, what about the unborn? Certainly God doesn't punish them does He?


Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a man by sleeping with him [yeah, that includes pregnant women]. But all the young girls who have not known a man by sleeping with him, keep alive for yourselves.
Numbers 31:7-8


Samaria shall bear her guilt, because she has rebelled against her God; they shall fall by the sword, their little ones shall be dashed in pieces, and their pregnant women ripped open.
Hosea 13:16

With an inerrant/literalist reading of the texts, He certainly has ordered the killing of the unborn. Honestly, I found this to be troubling and I think it forces one to make a choice. Either one's view of the Bible needs adjusting or one's view of God is wrong at least on this issue. Either way, it makes the issue much more complicated than any of the sides cares to admit.

Discuss.

21 March 2010

Fun with iPad, Flash, and The Flash

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If you didn't already know: Apple is releasing the iPad in April, comic book companies have been struggling (generally and) to standardize a format for digital comics, Adobe Flash is not supported by the iPad or iPhone, and The Flash (DC Comics charecter) doesn't get enough respect but is my favorite. [FoxTrot]

This, featuring the 1990 CBS television's The Flash, is also funny:


You can find it in the comment section here. Though I almost always hate the use of flash in photography, I would welcome The Flash in any of my photos. 

14 March 2010

RECOMMENDED VIEWING: THE GODS AREN'T ANGRY - Rob Bell

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I haven't been to a church in about a month. Before that it had been at least a month and a half and that was intentional. So this is not a confessional. I burned out, along with plenty of other folks, after the church community we helped plant had its fill of crisis and persecution from the outside establishment. We plan on visiting some places in the near future but tonight we enjoyed a sermon on DVD. Is THAT community? No. Don't be silly, church isn't the only type of community.

Author/pastor Rob Bell has put together a great 90 minute narrative sermon film from his tour of the same name called The Gods Aren't Angry. At times humorous, allowing the concentration impaired a moment to regroup from the monologue's content, Bell is subtly and daringly subversive in his examination of the gods in not only caveman and modern religions alike, he starts to chip away at the widespread understanding of the God of Christianity and Judaism. Ever wonder about the crazy story of Abraham almost killing Isaac? Think that the traditional/orthodox/violent understanding of atonement through blood sacrifice doesn't make sense or seem right? Think Rob Bell can't weave a good argument into an emotional story?

I was commenting to my brother-in-law, Jonathan, about how about an hour in I paused the DVD, turned to Megan, my wife, and said, "You know, he called the ____ belief of the ancient religions ridiculous, and then said how Jesus negated the need for _____, but I bet he's not going to touch then why what Jesus did was even necessary." But he does. I give Rob Bell a lot of credit for it too. I'd have to watch it quite a bit more to see if I'd get to the answer the same way but I find the end product it very satisfying. As Jonathan put it: "He isn't saying that these are my opinions. He is showing them as historical fact." And that my friends makes his point all the stronger.

Is it the best thing ever? No. But it does a good job of answering a big question those outside of Christianity of have been asking for centuries, the same one those inside SHOULD be asking as well.

You can find the trailer here.

Thanks Jonathan for the lend.

12 March 2010

VEGAN PICKS: Amy's Rice Macaroni w/ Non- Dairy Cheese

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This was lunch one day last week: the best vegan mac 'n cheese I've had! It is dairy-free, gluten-free, and soy-free but full of buttery, cheesy, and calorie-full goodness. I recommend it for those looking for delicious Land 'O Lakes style box mac 'n cheese. Amy's Rice Macaroni is just a few minutes and a microwave away!

06 March 2010

CHILDHOOD SOUNDTRACK: Paul McCartney

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My Dad was and is an avid Beatles fan so their albums and their subsequent solo works, particularly McCartney's, were staples of my childhood soundtrack. I remember the big square vinyl cover for albums like McCartney's Wing's Back to the Egg on the living room carpet in front of the stereo. I remembered staring at it in wonder, smelling its magical cardboard and paper sleeve, but I didn't remember the specific sounds.

A few months ago I heard the familiar layered quirky harmonies of my childhood again. Where did I hear them? I don't know. I suppose my memory of the specifics has been overwhelmed with the magic of the moment. A week ago I finally ordered one puzzle piece. Paul McCartney's Tug of War was released in April 1982 a little over one year after my birth. All of the songs aren't gems.... well maybe none of them are completely but I love the thing in all its silliness and sap. This is an album of moments.
 
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