Thursday, January 15, 2015

A Battle Between Two Opinions

Quoting Vicky Somniso-Abraham, Special to ASSIST News Service, RANDBURG, SOUTH AFRICA (ANS) – the “mere mention of the northeast in Nigeria evokes thoughts of terror, abductions, and merciless killings. The northeast is regarded as a troubled region, however those who are familiar with the state reflect positively on the peace that prevailed in the area prior to the genesis of the two Islamic groups, the Maitatsine and Boko Haram.Before the uprising of the Maitatsine in the 1980s which left at least 5000 dead and later the Boko Haram which left over 12 000 dead, the northeast was regarded as a peaceful region. However today it has become a bloodbath for Christians and those who oppose the group”.

Somniso-Abraham describes the journey of fifty-year old Pastor Amakom Hyacinth Peregrine an Igbo man grew up in the Kano State and later moved to the Kaduna State where the Boko Haram has currently gone on rampage, kidnapping and killing innocent lives daily. Peregrine who currently lives in one of the upper class market suburbs in Randburg, South Africa sits on a couch at a lounge in his newly found home. He reflects positively on his beautiful childhood memories on a state that has now become a center of attraction worldwide due to the ongoing bloody massacre. "Everything was very peaceful, perfect and beautiful. You'd feel at home. We played soccer and hockey with homemade sticks," he says recalling his childhood memories.”

Peregrine, now a pastor at one of the Nigerians churches situated in Randburg, South Africa, admits "I wish that place could have remained that way, I would go back there. But I do not plan to go there until there is peace," says distraught Peregrine. Back then he says the Muslims and the Christians were united. "The relationship between us Christians and Muslims was cordial. The Muslims were my best friends, I would visit them at their homes and they would do the same."

He describes how things changed “when the leader of the Maitatsine group, Mohammed Marwa robbed the northerners off their peace. Marwa was known as Maitatsine and his group was named after him.  He was a preacher with a following of 3000. Similar to the Boko Haram, he opposed "secular authority and usage of technology". Ironically, he "rejected Prophet Muhammed".

"In the early 80s we heard people shouting Allah ha Akbar (god is great). They arrived and killed people in the north and nobody knew where they were coming from. They were killing the non-Muslims and Christians helter-skelter. Thousands of people were murdered. Some people ran away from the region for their safety." Christian groups were formed whereby young men including Peregrine were offered training in order to protect themselves and their community. They were also taught how to make homemade weapons …”

During the fights, Maitaitsine was killed apparently by the police and that marked the demise of the group. People believe that the formation of Boko Haram was motivated by the Maitaitsine group. "But the group is only wreaking havoc now. We don't know what is going on. They are against modern technology yet they use the same technology to record themselves. How can you say you don't want western method while you are using their devices?"

I have quoted at length to attempt to repeat a couple of points made by Somniso-Abraham and those she quotes. I would say it this way:
1) These terrorist forces currently battling our world culture are NOT WHO/WHAT THEY SAY THEY ARE: they are civil libertarians carrying their [v]ideological views to the extreme. Civil libertarians are self-oriented at their core; thus, a-theistic (humanistic) in recognizing no powers beyond our humanity, and their self-orientation is purely selfish as contrasted with respecting the rights of people who differ from them.
2) The fact that they use modern technology to gain their right to oppose contemporary culture is RATIONAL PROOF THAT THEY ARE NOT AGAINST CONTEMPORARY CULTURE; THEY MERELY DEMAND TO DO AS THEY PLEASE (civil libertarianism at its ultimate extreme).

These two points are issues for serious minded Christians and Muslims alike to ponder. Libertarianism is a highly popular politic in current American conservative Christian politics (Ron Paul et al) that some "rationalize" as being a "Christian" principle. These people need to deal with the a-theism (humanistism) of their libertarian roots and the core conflict between a-theism and the theism of Jesus that teaches mutual submission and loving one’s neighbor as one’s self … under God.

When Duke University announces it will now ring the Muslim prayer hours, it is acknowledging what Pastor Peregrine recalls from a different context in Northeast Nigeria when Muslims and Christians lived peacefully with one another, before the “libertarian days of the terrorist extremists.”

Global Muslims are still deciding the course of true Islam. They can choose to serve God (Allah) and acknowledge him as Sovereign Creator of all humanity, or they can compromise their "religion" and downsize it to the humanism of civil libertarianism (a-theism) and continue their pursuit of terrorism and committing religious genocide in the name of [ir]religious fanaticism. Here I reference my beloved ethics professor, D. S. Warner Monroe who defined a fanatic as simply “a man with a fan in his attic.”

Elijah of the Old Testament was not very far afield when he challenged the 450 Prophets of Baal (cf I Kings 18): “He came unto all the people, and said, ‘How long halt ye between two opinions? If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him …” (v. 21, KJV). 
From walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com and Warner’s World 
I suggest … that how we answer Elijah’s question, as Christians, Muslims, and otherwise,

will determine the direction of our current battle for human survival.   

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Grace that Saves

I like what Edward Long writes: “The last word of the gospel does not concern the ambiguity of ethical choice but proclaims God’s grace in Christ” (Edward L. Long/Conscience and Compromise/164).

Casuistry is a necessary processs. It presupposes sin and relates God’s ultimate demands upon us to the condition of a sinful world. Long rightly notes that “it can therefore make no sense unless the good news of the gospel goes beyond it. Sin necessitates casuistry (ethics), but it must help men to creative action beyond that sin.

In Plato’s seventh book of The Republic, he pictures humans chained in a cave where they can see only their own shadows cast by the fire against a screen. They mistake the shadows for reality. Outside the cave there is the light of the sun—which is reality. The prisoners in the cave cannot easily look at the light of the sun because their eyes are blinded by its brilliance and so they content themselves with the shadows in the cave.

Commenting on Plato’s story, Long offers this analysis: “The modern Church lives in a secular world. Largely unaware of its condition, it becomes a prisoner in a cave that hides the light of God. It fails to see the light of the gospel because it is preoccupied with the shadows of the cultural conditions it mistakes for reality.”

“Much of the Church,” he suggests, actually resists, by “expelling its prophets or ignoring their preaching, the light of the gospel as it judges human institutions—institutions cherished by men because they can see no other hope. Christians should seek so to change the Church, and subsequently the world, as to let God’s light shine into the darkness” (emphasis added).

It is for us as Christians to seek to conquer that sin that keeps out the light. Moreover, men will never become the source of the light. In fact, the gospel does not promise that they shall overcome the darkness of their souls with their own illumination, the being something unacceptable to the humanist who sees man picking himself up by his own bootstraps.

It does not even suggest, writes Long, “that men will seek to get out of darkness by their own initiative BUT IT DOES PROMISE THAT WHEN MEN REMOVE THE SIN THAT SEPARATES THEIR OWN LIFE FROM THE LIGHT OF GOD, THEN GOD’S LIGHT WILL SHINE IN” (emphasis added, pp 164-165).

Long’s 1954 publication left us an approach to Protestant Casuistry/ethics. Although written more than half a century ago, I found portions of it as current as today’s newspaper. It drove home a new sensitivity to avoiding downsizing to the level of the culture around us, regarding the way we think things through.

There is a shortfall of ethical thinkers today and Christians need a greater awareness of morality and ethics. There are still those black and white issues in which we can stand on truths that remain full of truth at all times and are not simply situational. On the other hand, there are grey areas today where Christians lose their influence by failing to discern properly and think-through ethically.

I'm sharing the substance of the book's conclusion when the author writes “if men cease to seek the best that they know, their repentance is a sham and their casuistry a spurious avoidance of duty. But if men do the best that they can by means of a casuistry that seeks to relate the demands of Christian love to the actualities of life (emphasis added),” he agrees, “recognizing the finiteness and compromise involved, then for them the gospel has truly good news, the news of the gift of grace in Christ by means of which alone men are made whole, and the life that they live is transformed into an acceptable service of God” (166). 

I like that: "gift of grace in Christ…”! 

Ethical living by itself cannot save us or our world. Nor can one live truly ethically without wholeheartedly pursuing an ethic that allows “faith” to guide and govern our behavior (our relationships within our culture). Having said that, when we have done our best and missed the mark, we can cast ourselves upon the SAVING GRACE of the RISEN CHRIST and know that a loving Heavenly Father will be there to acknowledge us as part of His Household.


This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com at Warner’s World.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Targeting Terrorists

While finishing breakfast and morning coffee, my Saturday morning metamorphosed into a delightful but unexpected telephone conversation with a longtime peer that brings this additional bit of reflection.

The phone rang. Millard Knapp was on the other end reading me his email that I had to admit I sent yesterday. My initial email was one of those disgusting messages targeting me for whatever reason the sender had in mind. It was cloaked in the loving words of a strange female who saw my profile and wanted my friendship … for whatever reason.

That alerted me to the massive amount of email I receive from anywhere and everywhere telling me I have won the latest lottery, or that I need to claim my latest “Get out of Jail” card, or whatever product this particular con-artist is using to target me. Ultimately, they all want my personal information so they can “scam” me for their gain.

When my email came yesterday, I simply keyed on “all” and returned the message to everyone on that sender’s list (I thought). I added the message “Scam Alert” and sent it. My message apparently went to my mailing list (I’m not really sure) but I discover that people like Millard received it although I had not seen his name on the senders list.

So while Millard enjoyed reading the fraudulent message back to me I explained what I had done. He confessed “Yes, it says ‘Scam Alert!’” and we each had a good laugh …  updated each other on our current standings … wished each other well … and the day was off to a good start.

That started my wheels turning and I began to consider how individuals in the current culture target and terrorize one another. An unknown individual wants my Facebook friendship so they can offer me illicit female friendship. Or, so they can defraud (scam) me in some other way available to them. Further thoughts reminded me of the thousands of messages that go through my spam file that target me for whatever purpose (Of course, that keeps the Internet Provider in business!).

While this went on, I spent my time monitoring CNN news regarding the French Jihadists who
The Fleeing Terrorist
slaughtered a dozen people while endeavoring to delete free speech at the Charlie Hebdo magazine. Other news includes reports of the teen charged with killing his Massachusetts teacher, four shot dead in San Francisco, the gun shop owner in Shawnee, KS killed by thieves intending to steal guns from him, to Boko Haram targeting infidels for ethnic genocide.

Add to this the massive corporate commercials flooding my TV, attempting to hold me captive while they pick my pocketbook and enrich their corporate bottom line. If these are not enough, “Security” experts peddle their fears that Americans could become the most recent victims of the next planned “Terrorist plot” and the military-industrial complex continues to export war.

Does it use too wide a brush to include such a wide variety of illustrations to suggest that everybody seems to be targeting somebody? Is it going too far afield to gather these all together in the same fishnet and suggest that such “targeting” reveals little difference at its core and makes the common lot of targeters “terrorists”?

I am not blind to the dangers I see of a terrorist plot, but neither am I naïve enough to deny the element of terrorism in the common lot of humanity who target another person for some type of profit. Eliminating Islamic Jihadists does not rid us of the problems caused by multitudes of other forms of terrorism or planned fraud, both violent and none violent.

From the slanted blog that robs another of his or her reputation to the outright murder of hundreds of Nigerians by Boko Haram, it all comes under the heading of violence and scam. Each uses an element –of fraud, slanted to deceive. Each is grounded in a selfish motive. Each expresses the sinfulness of humanity. Each needs redemption!

This is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

at Warner’s World.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Committed Life

A very wise man once wrote,
Trust in the Lord, and do good 
so you will dwell in the land, and enjoy security.

Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act.

He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your right as the noonday” (Psalm 37:3-5).

David says trust or bust.
The committed life frees one to trust. God loves to be trusted and he is trustworthy. Being worthy of our trust, he deserves to be trusted. We can say, “I will trust the Lord at all times,” but trusting means putting our faith into action. Trust is faith in action, so trust and do good. David discovered that when trusting God and doing all the good he could do, God never failed him. God always worked with purposeful love in David’s life.

The committed life frees one from worry.
Have you ever experienced being blindfolded, spun around, and lifted into the air by your friends who then pass you around? It was a harrowing, wasn’t it? It was, until you relaxed and began enjoying the beauty of knowing you were in the good hands of trusted friends. Paul described trust this way: When he lived, he lived unto the Lord, and if he died, he died unto the Lord; so then, whether he lived or died, he was the Lord’s (cf. Romans 14:8).

Commitment to him in whom “we live and move and have our being” makes for trust that minimizes worry (Acts 17:28). Thus, Jesus reminded us that our heaven Father feeds the fowls of the air. Since we are better than they, why should we worry? The root meaning of worry suggests wearing away by friction. The Bible forbids worry; avoid being worn away by the friction of anxiety. Thus, David concludes “fret not yourself; it tends only to evil” (v. 7).

The Committed life guards one from envy.
“Let not your heart envy sinners,” or workers of iniquity, suggested the wise man (Proverbs 23:17). Comfort comes in being satisfied with one’s portion. Envy creates rottenness in the bones. Rather; take delight in the Lord, for he will give you the desire of your heart.

Describing this as heavenly wisdom, James describes it as “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without uncertainty or insecurity” (James 3:17). This suggests satisfaction of soul that money and possessions cannot purchase. Trust in God. He will act in our behalf. He will protect us from the envy that causes us to be dissatisfied with life unless we have as much as our neighbor has.

The committed life produces joy!
“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you…” (Psalm 37:4). Life becomes a delight, a joy, a satisfaction. The Apostle James described the chrome plated chaos many of us live in and wondered, What causes wars, and what causes fightings among you? Is it not your passions that are at war in your members. You desire but do not have, so you covet but cannot obtain.

You desire and do not have; so you kill. You covet and cannot obtain; so you fight and wage war. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions (James 4:1-43).  Those who find real delight in the lord God have this promise: “He will give you the desires of your heart!”
The Psalmist well remembered a time in his life when he went into the sanctuary with what he called slippery feet. He was, he said, envious of the arrogant and prosperous. He felt bitterness of soul that he described in detail (Psalm 73).

In the sanctuary; however, he found new perspective! His negative doubts and hostile feelings fell away, replaced by positive feelings that enabled him to witness “Thou hast put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for thou, O Lord, makest me dwell in safety” (Psalm 4:7-8).

Doubt becomes wrong when we refuse to commit ourselves to him. Paul admonished believers to allow God to transform their lives through the renewal of a committed mind; therefore, commit yourself a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1-2).

Note the order in the Psalmist’s experience:
1. Trust in the Lord.
2. Delight yourself in the Lord.
3. Commit your way to the Lord.
4. Rest in the Lord (Action words emphasized).
Recognize his power and presence. Trust yourself to him. Trust in his ways, Abide in him always. Unbelief gives direction to no man but an honest doubt, pursued by a committed heart, will discover a truthful and loving God along the way (Action words highlighted).

H. F. Lyte discovered he was in the best hands when in God’s care and keeping:

               Abide with me: fast falls the eventide;
               The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide:
               When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,

               Help of the helpless, O Abide with me!

I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com, 
abiding in Him . . .

Monday, January 5, 2015

Christians Living Ethically

“Christianity finds expression in tangible and social realities that include all types of human accomplishment,” suggests Edward Long (Conscience and Compromise/55).  Some of the areas he includes are “the homes men create, the businesses at which they earn their bread and butter, and the clubs and movie houses that furnish their recreation.”

Long defines these as the “realities which the New Testament calls ‘the world’ and which are today commonly referred to as culture.” For us to be faithful to Christ and for us to obey his commandment of love requires that we as Christians be obedient to him in all these different areas of our lives. As He adds, “if the demand of Christian love is a full and unconditional demand for total obedience, then it calls for this obedience to express itself in all aspects of culture” (bold print added).

I raise this point because we moderns have occasionally become victims of a secular outlook that makes religion just one department of life among many. This state of mind generally regards the nonreligious departments of life as beyond the scope and pale of religious influence.  I remember battling this issue back in the sixties when JFK ran for Presidential Office and his Roman Catholic Church membership was being contested as to whether or not he could be a “good Catholic” and disregard the teachings of the Vatican (an independent state) should they conflict with his office.

Too often, we divide life into sacred and secular areas of concern. We forget that religion can find expression only through cultural channels. We divorce our worship experience in church from the life we live outside the church. When this happens, we have a man of the cloth living as a priest in church and a life of pedophilia outside of church. When this happens, we have national statistics telling us divorce is as common among church families as unchurched, and faith makes little difference.  When this happen, we have a church proclaiming the love of God and practicing--even enforcing--racial segregation, as we did for many years following slavery.

“The conflict of interest and loyalties,” writes Long, “both within the earthly city and between the earthly city and the heavenly city, tears the Christian conscience and forces it to compromise. It creates those situations which become stumbling blocks to men of faith.  The world in which men live is both good and evil in its influence, but it seems to compound human sin even more readily than it compounds human virtue”

Quoting Reinhold Niebuhr from his book Moral Man and Immoral Society we read that “what men would never do individually they consent to do corporately…” Although we resist this idea of social sins, there is that thing of being carried along by group pressure and frenzy. There is that individual selfishness that becomes group injustice; there is that personal cantankerousness that breeds social war. There are those cultural groupings that produce class divisions, economic injustices on an exploitive scale, and patterns of organized segregation as well as military conflicts.

We understand that Christians cannot escape from the world and live as Monastics, just so they can perform their duties to God (This may be the most selfish of all individualism and libertarianism because done under the guise of religion). Suffice it to say here that we recognize that duty to God can be performed only by those who seek to do his will in the world about them. Culture merely furnishes the condition within which the Christian ethic must work and to which it must be relevant. Jesus told us we should be “in the world” and that is so we can be relevant, but added that we be not of the world.

Christians, often try to live their lives free from sin, yet frequently find themselves involved in the sin(s) of their social group (culture), as for example in time of war. Sometimes the institutional church compounds it with evil of its own making. Although we live in a nation that some mistakenly regard as a “Christian” nation, we must understand there are still those vitalities and forces that seek to destroy Christian values.

It is here that we must turn to the Christ! Christ calls all of us to acknowledge our sin(s) and overcome it (them). The radical call of love is to share that compelling love with all mankind—even your enemies, and become obedient to Him (Christ) in what is largely a disobedient world. That call must remain uncompromised!

That is to say, we cannot turn to Paul, for example, to accommodate a just war theory, without being seduced by the secular and re-interpreting the teachings and values of Jesus. Anything less than Jesus becomes a downsizing, deluting, rejecting of the real Gospel and living less than ethically.


Intent on taking Jesus seriously, I am walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Determining Right From Wrong

Edward Le Roy Long, Jr. retired as the James W. Pearsall Professor of Christian Ethics and Theology of Culture at Drew University after a long academic career that included Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Oberlin, Purdue University, and Union.
A prestigious lecturer , he served numerous academic Societies, joining Drew University in 1976. In 1984 he was awarded the James W. Pearsall Professor of Christian Ethics and Theology of Culture. In 1981, he received the Will Herberg Distinguished Professor Award for his contributions to Drew University. He retired from Drew in 1985, but continued to teach a variety of courses including: Christian Ethics, Historical Figures in Christian Ethics, Religion and Law, Theological and Related Diagnoses of Culture, The Reformed Tradition, Personhood, Community & Institutions, the Church's Role in Peacemaking.
Between 1945 and 1993 he authored 60 articles and numerous books on The Christian Response to the Atomic Crisis (1950) , Science and Christian Faith (1950) , Religious Beliefs of American Scientists (1952) , Conscience and Compromise (1954) , A Survey of Christian Ethics (1967), War and Conscience in America (1968), Peace Thinking in a Warring World (1983), Academic Bonding and Social Concern: The History of the Society of Christian Ethics: 1959-1983 (1984), and Higher Education as a Moral Enterprise (1992). To Liberate and Redeem: Moral Reflections on the Biblical Narrative (1997), Patterns of Polity: Varieties of Church Governance (2001), Facing Terrorism: Responding as Christians (2004).
His book, Conscience and Compromise, rested in my library quietly undiscovered for many years. I just now read his book, liked it enough that I had to know his pedigree. Now I know that he published in 1954 with Westminister Press and offers an approach to Protestant Casuistry that he defines as the “process of relating the high demands of faith to the perplexing moral dilemmas that appear in daily life” (9). 
He was a heavy weight in his academic world of Christian ethics and the culture. From chapter 13 I have excerpted several quotes of his relating to the limits and dangers of casuistry (I have italicized his quotes).
“Casuistry must be undertaken in the framework of faithful reliance upon God. It must be chastised and corrected by a power beyond itself. This power must keep ethical devotion true to Christian love and recall men when they stray from allegiance to it. To argue this way makes little sense to the advocate of a non-“Christian ethic. It makes little sense to the pragmatists and humanists who, having no resources beyond their own strategies for dealing with human problems, are forced to rely upon the self-sufficiency of their ethic and the self-correctiveness of  its equivalent to casuistry. Whereas the secularist, who believes in no power beyond that of human skill and wisdom, must calculate and scheme with only human resource, the Christian may work as in devotion to God. This devotion may include calculation but can never be reduced to it alone.
“The casuist must recheck each ethical decision against the norm of love and not merely judge it by its practical fruits or short-range results. To this end he must know the master plan. A man who builds a house must cut and fit each individual piece, but if he does so without checking the whole building against the larger guides of square and plumb line, the building will be lopsided and out of true. Likewise, the cutting and fitting process of casuistry will build properly only when checked against the standards of the gospel.
“The gospel ethic never lets us go; it calls for a continual striving after a goal that admittedly will never of itself be attained. We hear much these days from the theologians about the scandal of the gospel in the metaphysical realm, but there is also a scandal in the ethical realm. It is the demand for a total abandon to the unconditional claim of love in order that its conditional claims may be properly managed. An element of intense ethical devotion that lies beyond casuistry is the only power that can preserve casuistry from its errors ... The final word by which men are saved comes from God in his justification of men by faith. This word emphasizes that men are saved by God’s own power and love and not by casuistry or ethical devotion, however strong and valid they may be. . .” 147-150).
As Christians we may enter into the problems of our culture. We need, however, to be aware that the culture may accept our intentions and assistance but call us to compromise by rejecting or reducing what for us is the ultimate demand of our faith—radical commitment to God’s call upon our lives.
Some unwittingly downsize their solutions to cultural problems by accepting the cultural rationale and minimizing, ignoring, or deleting God’s call upon their life. They flirt with a humanistic approach, which is ultimately a-theistic in ignoring, minimizing, or scaling down God’s radical demand of love and grace.
I will end with this quote, which I like: “The meaning of Christian experience is found in the relationship of obedience as undertaken in response to the forgiving love that has been made known to us in Christ. Without the love of Christ to ennoble and redeem it the whole enterprise of Christian ethics is frustrating” and I might add futile.

As Long concludes, “The last word of the gospel does not concern the ambiguity of ethical choice but proclaims God’s choice in Christ” (164). From Warner’s World this is walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Eternal Optimist

Minister Paul Williams once described the Disneyfication of American culture as Disney taking the bite out of children’s literature. He suggested that when Disney finished with a classic story, little of the original remains.By his definition, it might mean J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is no longer a sweet boy and “It is only the gay and innocent and heartless who can fly.” Or as Thomas De Zengotita suggested in Mediated: How The Media Shapes Your World and the Way You Live in It, the key word becomes heartless.

Williams suggested a trip to the playground quickly reveals this lack of heart, children being by nature self-centered and heartless.  We reacted in horror when we saw this play out a few days ago as we watched an adolescent Tulalip Indian lad, who as far as anyone knew, was an angry, confused, mixed up adolescent, and who seemingly lacked adequate moral foundations. The boy invited his friends to join him at his school lunch table so he could take them with him as he killed himself.

One invited guest declined for personal reasons. That pastoral family of one of our ministers still rejoices beause their daughter is still alive. What do we do with a culture that chooses to be gay, innocent, and heartless, while continuing to beckon future generations to join them in their self-absorbed lifestyles?

Numerous studies support findings in which Fortune 500 CEOs make multi-millions annually. And if you are fortunate enough to lead a major oil company, you can multiply that figure several times. One Exxon Executive found himself earning a whopping $144,573 per day. But while the rich get richer, the American church sits on the political sidelines, often as gay and innocent and heartless as children.

Since when is it morally ethical and right for an executive to earn 100-250 times the salary of an average employee, irrespective of the company’s health, while they slash the health and pension benefits of their work force? Is that treating others like we all want to be treated? Or is it that they “deserve” that by right of  their title, status, position, or whatever else they measure life by?

It reminds me of what Stephen Carter said: “If everything we do is protected by ‘my rights’ there is no longer any reason for dialogue or community.” I know; business is business! Nothing personal; it is all about the bottom line! Well, Carter said something else worth noting: “Those who love democracy should love its rules.” He also recognized that “our ability to discipline ourselves to do what is right rather than what we desire is what distinguishes us from animals.”

Nevertheless, this attitude is so culturally ingrained that a neighboring Michigan School Board refused a salary increase to its district teachers for four consecutive years while giving measurable increases to everyone in management. Simultaneously, the Board increased the teachers work load in teaching hours and reduced the benefits on such items as health insurance.

The church too often sanitizes this kind of  injustice by turning blinded eyes to the practiced heartlessness, like a Disney movie that rejoices because “We are so blessed by God.” We believe our American lifestyles is our birthright. Admittedly, the church helps feed the hungry, but it does little if anything about the grossly unequal distribution of wealth in the world that continues to widen to Grand Canyon proportions while economically violating the vulnerable.

If anyone challenges this issue of distribution and calls for more equal distribution, we use very selective words that designate them as political enemies--Communists, socialists, traitors to the American Dream.

All the while, poverty claims 2.7 billion global residents that live on less than $2 per day. Among these are 9.2 million of our neighbor’s children (25,000 each day) under the age of 5 that die annually, mostly from “preventable” diseases. Another 2.5 billion people have no access to safe sanitation, and some 900 million lack access to clean water, resulting in nearly 11,500 additional people dying unnecessarily every day from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

Because I still believe “in the beginning God…” I am forced to ask myself is God just wasting his time with us; or is He really our Creator, Redeemer, and Eternal Optimist. If he is Who we bekieve him to be, what does that require from us?


From Warner’s World at walkingwithwarner.blogspot.com