Monday, December 19, 2011


Sin can usually be defined a separation from God and is thought to be “covered” by Grace. A few evenings past our graduate EFM (aka “Thirsty Thursday”) meeting’s TR was about sIn (original and otherwise), Evil, and Grace; with a healthy helping of politics thrown in for the topic was adapted from two Dennis Prager columns (read them here and here). I had hoped to keep politics out of the discussion but we’re a rather independent bunch and don’t follow anyone’s lead very well. Consequently, a part of our time together was spent on adultery and its relation to qualification for public office, though it won’t be here. However, and finally, we did get onto what I had hoped to consider; that being a differentiation between sin and evil and why the Bible speaks so often toward sin and so infrequently towards evil. A interesting concept, for isn’t evil just really bad sin? I’ve come to believe not.

It’s based on my conviction that the Bible is not history as understood by 21st Century thought processes, but rather an ongoing love story tracing the relationship between God and His creation and should be approached accordingly. Sin and love can, do, and possibly must co-exist. Evil and love don’t. And therein I believe we glean the answer to the question:
“Isn’t evil just really bad sin?”
No way, Jose!

My “ah-ha” moment from last evening came with the realization that to be in sin with God one must in fact know God, while people who are truly EVIL are incapable of recognizing His existence. Seems like a bit of a fine line: “When one recognizes God, one comes to recognize behaviors that are sinful and only then can they receive grace. Without that knowledge of God, they can’t be in sin. One can commit crimes both civil and criminal and be in violation of the laws of the land, just as they can obey or skirt around those laws and still be judged morally bankrupt. As decent human beings they can also rue their mistakes and seek to atone for their errors; however, without acknowledging their belief in God they are incapable of receiving or accepting His Grace. One can not take hold of that which they believe does not exist.

Another question then becomes: “Are all Atheists evil people?” Absolutely not! But all truly evil people are in probability Atheists, for they are devoid of the ability to enter into God’s love story. And in retrospect, that’s probably why the Bible doesn’t spend much time addressing evil per se. It does, however, constantly remind us of our failures to live up to God’s expectations and His desires for us.
Beginning with:
“Don’t eat that apple.” &
“But it really won’t hurt and it will make you like God.”
And even up until today:
“But I don’t want to.”
“I want to do it my way.”
“I know what’s best for me"
God’s people continually attempt to equate themselves with Him. It’s human nature; could that be what original sin really is? When we were given free will was original sin its adjunct? Is sin solely relational and subject only to forgiveness through love?

I’m not sure how I can justify God’s response or lack thereof toward those who refuse to acknowledge Him, but feel it must be contained somewhere within that gift to mankind of free will. We can’t be directed or forced to love Him, it’s a decision each must come to on their own terms. Withstanding a personally held affirmation to be in relation with Him, we are only obedient puppets, under subjection to God rather than being bound to Him by our love towards Him. Time after time the New Testament speaks to love, not obedience. Love God, love His creation and love all whom He peopled it with. Practice charity, treat others as you yourself would be treated, be kind to one another, forgive transgressions. LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! And, that’s something that must be done only from personal conviction. If it’s done from obligation or due by law, it’s not freely given. If it’s not freely given, it’s not done with love.

In the next few days we will again be reminded of that most precious gift of love the world could ever know. God become man, that man might begin to understand the depth of love God holds for each of us. Watch, listen, accept, LOVE!

Merry Texas Christmas, y’all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Faith & Liberty

I suppose most Americans see our Declaration of Independence, Constitution and its Preamble, and Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address as foundational documents of our beliefs as a citizenry. I know I do. ‘Tis strange that each in its own way evokes:
1). A belief in a (one) Supreme Being. And
2). A belief in equality of creation and opportunity rather than an equality of circumstance, and that circumstance being subject to the effort, ability, and fortune of each resident.
Personal liberty seems paramount in our forefather’s writings. Their belief in equal justice before law further enforces thoughts regarding social justice; that: “It is not the obligation of government to insure all its citizens obtain and enjoy the same standard of living.” Unfortunately, however, that is what our system of governance has become and wherein we find ourselves today.

The ideas of those founders created an opportunity for their government’s populace and not the structure itself, to offer a knowledge, understanding and efforts of necessary charity towards their disadvantaged and disenfranchised. A chance for those more fortunate to share of their bounty “by virtue of their human nature and belief; through a heartfelt obligation to their fellow man, rather than by fiat alone”.

Love, and human kindness for that matter, can not be legislated and attempts to do so only doom all to a less selfless nature. When and if we reach the point that individuals concern themselves each with their fellow man as well as those marginalized by society coming to appreciate the efforts on their behalf instead of accepting them as their due, we will have come a long way in solving many of the problems stemming from that inequality of circumstance.

Declaration of Independence
When in the Course of human events, …to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, …

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.-…

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, …. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Preamble to the Constitution
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Gettysburg Address
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. …

… that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom …

Monday, December 05, 2011

"What say you?"

On the 29th of last month I sent this to my kids with the query attached:
"What say you?"
A Response to Oregon's Governor on Capital Punishment
Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, announced last week that he would not allow any more executions in his state during his time in office.

Kitzhaber, a Democrat, gave five reasons for his decision. My response follows each one.

1. "I refuse to be part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer."

This has become one of the most frequently offered reasons for objecting to capital punishment -- that because the system is not equitable, no murderer should be put to death.

This is a reason that is devoid of reason. If a system is not equitable, you don't end the system, you try to end what is not equitable. This is classic left-wing thinking -- destroy what is good if it is imperfect. Documentary-maker Michael Moore was recently on CNN with Anderson Cooper and provided a perfect example of this way of thinking.

Moore: "2011 capitalism is an evil system set up to benefit the few at the expense of the many."

Cooper: "So, what system do you want?"

Moore: "Well, there's no system right now that exists. We're going to create that system."

The utopian streak that is an essential part of the left-wing mind is puerile and destructive: "If it isn't perfect, eliminate it."

2. "I do not believe that those executions (the two that the governor allowed) made us safer."

We all acknowledge that two executions do not make us safer (though they do make it safer for prison guards and for other inmates). Who ever said two executions would make us safer? Overwhelmingly, the reason people give for supporting the death penalty is justice. It is indescribably unjust to allow everyone who deliberately takes a human life to keep his own.

But if you want to talk safety, then yes, we who support the death penalty are certain that, applied with any consistency, it is a deterrent. The late sociologist Ernest van den Haag had an interesting thought experiment. Suppose that murders committed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays carried a death sentence, while those committed on the other days were punishable by a prison sentence. On which days do you suppose more murders would be committed?

The notion that parking tickets deter illegal parking but that death does not deter murder is truly irrational. It shows what happens when people put ideology over common sense.

3. "Certainly I don't believe (the executions of murderers) made us more noble as a society."

Why is it noble to keep all murderers alive? Was Israel less noble for executing Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Holocaust? When two men enter the home of a family of four; rape the wife and two young daughters; beat all four nearly to death, leaving them in the agony of crushed bones and skulls; and then tie them up and burn the three females to death, why is it "noble" to keep the men who did that alive?

4. Oregon has an "unworkable system that fails to meet basic standards of justice."

Opponents of the death penalty make it virtually impossible to execute murderers. They then lament how long and laborious the effort is to execute a murderer.

5. "... And I simply cannot participate in something I believe morally wrong."

Opponents of the death penalty simply assert the death penalty is immoral. That is their prerogative. But "morally wrong" in this context means nothing more than "I don't like it." Indeed, as reported in the The New York Times, "Asked with whom (Kitzhaber) had consulted, he said, 'Mostly myself.'"

Kitzhaber's moratorium delays the execution of a murderer who had raped and brutally beaten to death a woman named Mary Archer. Needless to say, the family and friends of Mary Archer disagree with the governor's action.

"We are just plain devastated," said the man who had been Mary Archer's husband. "This is such a miscarriage of justice."

Indeed it is. And worse. Societies that allow all murderers to live have lost some of their hunger for justice and certainly lost their hatred of evil. They also cheapen the crime of murder. Punishment is society's way of communicating how serious it views a crime, and there is all the difference in the world between the death penalty and life (not to mention less time) in prison.

When all murderers are allowed to live, the evil exult while the victims weep. Why is that noble?
Got a reply back today, following:
My support for capital punishment has waned significantly in the last few years to the point that I would support it being abolished. Of course, I would leave it to the states. But if it came up for a vote, yes, I would vote to abolish it and move to life imprisonment without parole.

As for my reasons, I look to the consensus among economists that putting someone to death costs the state (and taxpayer) significantly more than life imprisonment when all factors are considered (i.e. litigation, cost of holding someone on death row vs. regular prison, etc.). However, perhaps most importantly, I just know that our system makes mistakes. Innocent men and women have been put to death. And that is an unacceptable cost for me.

In the end, I just don't think its a good system, especially given the chance for innocent people being improperly punished. I don't think we as a society need to kill an offender in order to mete out justice. But the idea of justice is different for everybody. Some people are willing to allow the death of a few innocent people in their quest for justice. In this instance, I'm just not one of them.

Love you, and your thoughts as always are appreciated.
To which I offered the following reply:
I saw this piece about more than the Death Penalty. Which (FYI) I only support until such time as there is true Life without Parole available. Suppose that is due to seeing murderers being paroled and then killing again. When the death penalty is applied we can be sure the convicted will murder no more and that society is safe as least from that one person.

Twas sent more to reflect on what I see and believe is a liberal bias towards engineering social betterment and a personal and long held belief in the inability of government to effect it. To the extent I believe equality is a right bestowed by our Creator and afforded by one another to one another rather than to be enforced by a political system. Does government have an obligation to care for its disenfranchised citizens? Absolutely. Does it have an obligation to provide them rights equal to those who are more fortunate? Absolutely again. BUT, does government have the obligation to afford them the same standards of living as those who have worked to better themselves (or whose fore bearers did so for them before their time)? Nope!

If you study genealogical history you find most everyone started at the bottom of the ladder somewhere along the line and then made a choice to better themselves. Hispanic and Asian cultures would seem an example of that ethic in our current time. I've attached a copy of what I said when you got your Eagle Award. Feel like it's still true, everyone gots to pay their dues.