Saturday, December 13, 2008

Post No. 70: From the Yin and the Yang File

Interestingly, although we are not often inclined to read our local newspaper, we must admit that it always provides ample food for thought. The following two pieces are taken from today’s edition of the News & Record based in Greensboro, North Carolina. We’d be curious as to your instinctive responses, and what they may tell us, if anything, about this nation in which we live.

We’ll lead off with the lighter piece, a letter to the editor from a local woman.

“In response to Tammy Wrenn’s letter (Dec. 1), the fact is this: If a person voted for any politician who supports abortion rights, they and their candidates are in no way Christian. God’s commandment states, ‘Thou shall not kill.’ You can’t follow only the commandments that you like or that fit your lifestyle. God attached no disclaimer to any of them.

“Abortion is not one issue. For true [emphasis added] Christians, it is the only issue. Murder of a human being in their mother’s womb and the support of that act [are] nothing short of spitting in God’s face. The act interrupts the plans he had for his child. It is a mortal sin.

“Please, if you are not willing to walk in the footsteps of our Lord, Jesus Christ, do not take the title of his follower. It is an insult and great hurt to him and all true Christians.”

Jo-Ann Sarti Peck of Greensboro, NC, © 2008, Greensboro News & Record, LLC

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The second article is entitled, "Vatican Issues New Doctrine on Bioethics," and is an Associated Press article which also appeared in the December 13, 2008 edition of the Greensboro News & Record.

“Vatican City – The Vatican hardened its opposition Friday to using embryos for stem cell research, cloning and in-vitro fertilization.

“But in a major new document on bioethics, it showed flexibility on some forms of gene therapy and left open questions surrounding embryo adoption.

“The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith issued ‘The Dignity of a Person’ to help answer bioethical questions that have emerged in the two decades since it last such document was published.

“The Vatican’s position stems from its belief that human life begins at conception.

“The Vatican says human life should be created through intercourse between husband and wife, not in a [P]etri dish. [Isn’t it purer (free of contaminants) and more hygienic in a Petri dish?] The Vatican also opposes the morning-after pill even if it doesn’t cause an abortion, because an abortion was intended.”

What think and say thee readers?

53 comments:

  1. I'm reading a lot of yin, but not so much yang. If you enjoy political satire, you must see The Onion "Miracle Of Birth Occurs For 83 Billionth Time" http://www.theonion.com/content/news/miracle_of_birth_occurs_for_83

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  2. Whether it is yin or yang depends on where you sit my friend. Will check out the Onion.

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  3. I don't argue the ethics of abortion because I do not believe there is any. To me, it is the taking of a life. The fertilized egg cannot become anything other than a human being if no one interferes and no other harm comes to it.
    I cannot, however, speak for anyone else on the matter. Each must make his or her own decision regarding it. If you are religious then you must wrestle with the teaching you follow. If you are not religious then you must wrestle with your own personal code. I cannot judge anyone else's decision or opinion, only my own.

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  4. "Wrestle with one's own personal code..." Nice choice of words Douglas. Any sense as to why the party loyal, on both sides of the aisle, need to impart their values on the other, or make them applicable to all as a matter of right, or even law? Would you agree that this is probably the most contentious issue in American society?

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  5. To jump into the debate over abortion rights would send me on a tirade that could not be contained in just a few inches of commentary. Keeping that in mind, I will struggle to keep my points succinct. Once again religious values encroach on a person's right to safe and legal medical care. If so-called "Christians" are in need of pushing their beliefs on the general public they should do so without dragging in the laws that protect society. Sperm and ova are living cells but we don't grieve every time a woman has her period or a man jerks off. We can debate whether to have a funeral for a miscarried fetus, when a soul inhabits the body, whether a person is a person at the point of conception with just two cells or if it is when they take their first breath outside of the womb. None of the answers are available and even if they were, they do not address the rights of a woman carrying what is virtually a parasite.
    As for stem-cell research, I just sent a card to a man I have never met because his best friend is a Twitter follower. This person I don't know lives in Chicago and is having a ground-breaking treatment to cure his Hodgkin's Disease thanks to stem-cell research. Some people with terrible misconceptions and misinformation would believe that it takes a baby slaughterhouse to do stem-cell research or create treatments "stemming" from the research (sorry - had to go there - it's my warped nature).
    We live in a world with MANY beliefs, many religious perspectives and basing laws on what may or may not be accurate in a church is like reverting to the crusades. The thought of one person thinking their rights are superior to MY rights makes my blood boil. Period.
    For the record, I have two healthy children and a granddaughter. I have never had an abortion. I don't think I could have ever had an abortion. But if I were ever in that situation I would not want some zealot telling me what I could or could not do based on their personal religious beliefs. The decision is for an individual to make. I believe in God and MY belief is that he gave us free will, free choice and the ability to learn things to make our world a better place, such as medicine and technology. If I do something wrong, MY God will judge ME - no one on this earth can tell me what God will say to ME when I finally have the opportunity to meet him face to face.
    I did say I'd be succinct - right? Imagine if I wasn't! :)

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  6. Hmmmmmm, interesting Iris. Any one care to respond? Since we started this discussion, let's see if we can advance the discussion toward resolution. Is there a way that the two factions can reach a consensus? Sort of a "don't ask, don't tell agreement?" Leave it to entirely to doctors? Keep it out of the political and governmental arena? Is there a resolution at the end of the tunnel which satisfies all? Let's see if we can come up with some novel approaches....

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  7. Log, let me see if I can put this in an objective manner. Let's say you see a person in an alley. That person is being threatened by another person with a weapon. Would you turn your head away and say to yourself, "It's a matter between them and none of my affair"? That is how I think those that oppose abortion on religious or moral grounds see it.

    Is it the most contentious issue? Possibly. It certainly arouses the strongest reactions.

    I would agree with the writer that a true Christian would not vote for any political candidate that does not oppose abortion. A life is precious, any life. It is, as I tried to explain, not a matter of a soul but of a life. A true Christian would oppose abortion, the death penalty, and fighting in a war. A true Christian might feel called upon to express his/her faith. Just as Iris felt compelled to express her feelings.

    I think a woman has a right to choose. But I don't think the fetus gets the same right and I see that as unfair.

    But I don't have all the answers. Heck, I don't even have some of them sometimes.

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  8. It just occurred to us: Is this possibly an issue which can not be resolved through compromise and negotiation? Are there other issues of this nature? Does the dispute between the Palestinians and Israelis fall into this category? Is abortion and its possible societal resolution comparable to the abolition of slavery debate waged for hundreds of years? If not, why not?

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  9. That's actually a plausible argument Douglas. Interesting. Somewhat similar to the argument advanced to explain the public's anger at Michael Vick, namely that the animals were defenseless and could not fend for themselves, so society had to step in. Interesting.

    Some years ago, we recall reviewing the construct put together by religious leaders hundreds of years ago to justify war. Without reviewing that doctrine right now, what justification does a Christian policeman put forth to kill a criminal, or a Christian prison warden in putting a death row inmate to death? Couldn't a tranquilizer bullet serve the purpose without killing the human in the case of the policeman?

    How does a Christian soldier justify killing a member of a terrorist organization? How does a Christian President justify sending our youth off to war where there is a high probability of death?

    How can certain Christians pick and choose those lives that they are willing to take and those they are willing to save? Help us understand.

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  10. I still do not understand why anybody who does not have to be involved in the decision to have an abortion would even remotely want to get involved. The decision just sucks, and unless the cheering sections on either side of the issue are willing to shoulder the financial and emotional responsibilities of getting the prospective child from cradle to college, I do not see what their opinions contribute to this horrible dilemma...other than votes...and votes seem to me to be a very, very poor excuse for this sort of invasion of privacy.

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  11. Log, I thought I said I didn't have the answers. People rationalize. The soldier says it is self defense or defense of others. So does the policeman. I used the term "true Christian" for a reason. The "true Christian" could not harm another, regardless of the reason. But could the "true Christian" also turn away when he perceives another is about to be harmed?

    I am not a "true Christian", as I have said before. I am atheist. Yet my personal code says that an innocent life, or potential life, is precious. I won't protest at abortion clinics nor will I criticize someone who wants to have, or has, an abortion. I simply think it is wrong, that it is the taking of a life.

    I'd like to respond to anonymous with this. If a child is about to be severely beaten by his mother, would you step in? Would you interfere with her privacy in that instance?
    Certain abortion opponents see that "privacy" when it comes to abortions. It is not simply the mother's choice. There is another life involved, a life that does not get a choice.
    Log provided the analogy to the slavery argument. It is a good analogy. Was a slave merely "property"? If so, was it not a private matter for his master to decide life or death? Is that "lump of tissue" (as the Pro-Choice folks like to refer to it) wholly owned by its "master", it's mother?

    Put yourself, anon, in the middle. Let's say you are the father of the fetus. Let's say you want the child. Then let's say the mother says, "It's not your choice to make. I will have an abortion." Or, if you like, let's say you do not want the child or the financial burden. And the mother says, "You don't get that choice, I want this child and you will provide for it."

    I don't think it is hard to see the two major sides, or all the varying degrees of them, in this debate. I don't think it's difficult to understand the passions on each side. Unless someone doesn't want to. Unless someone would rather just join a side rather than take a reasoned one.

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  12. We learned something from Douglas earlier in this debate, which quite honestly we had not considered previously, even though some might consider it obvious.

    His “person in the alley needing assistance” analogy is a very strong argument. We unwittingly posed the “slavery abolition analogy” for purely analytical purposes, and it appears that it might be an even stronger argument for the pro-life forces. Is the difference for purposes of analysis, that there is a difference between a living human being and the “fertilized seed” which has begun to evolve into a living being? Is this really all about where one draws the line? Is so, can we reach a national consensus on where the line should be drawn, through the legislative process, as opposed to leaving it up to a court? Is it theoretically possible?

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  13. Folks, since the focus of this forum, an arm of the Institute for Applied Common Sense, is to discuss personal responsibility, we have a question to pose to the pro-choice faction. Earlier this Fall, we heard a very prominent person in the feminist ranks discuss the selection of the debate language, pro-choice versus pro-life.

    We clearly understand the use of the phrase pro-life, and it is easy to understand. It is about the life of the fertilized seed which will evolve.

    What we have never quite understood is why the other faction chooses to refer to itself as "pro-choice." Didn't both the woman and the man have a choice not to engage in sexual intercourse at all, which was a choice that they had early on? In fact, didn't they have numerous choices available to them on a number of occasions prior to engaging in the act?

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  14. Getting back to your most recent comment Douglas, it was not our intention to have you bear the cross with respect to this abortion issue, and thus we do not expect you, personally, to have all of the answers. However, even though individuals make not have individual answers, particularly if their personal philosophies are allowed to come into play, shouldn't society, having the benefit of many minds and many experiences, be able to craft answers?

    As policy makers, aren't we required to step outside of ourselves and craft solutions which address the majority's concerns?

    Additionally, is it really so much about answers, or is it rather about making a choice or decision amongst available options, which all may have a down side.

    As to your statement, which we have seen before, to the effect that "people rationalize." Isn't that a position that can not be legitimately put forth in a debate, argument, or discussion, since it arguably applies to all arguments and all positions? Doesn't inserting that into the mix detract from the strength of one's argument? Shouldn't one's position have internal, logical consistency throughout?

    Help us out Douglas, and craft a consensus / compromise policy statement resolution for us which you would submit to the incoming President to assist our nation in getting beyond this discussion.

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  15. I wish I could do that. I'd like to say that I have "made peace" with Roe v. Wade. I think polling has shown that so have the great majority of the public. The battle over abortion since then seems to have been taken up by the extremes at each end of the argument. Extremes, by their nature, will not compromise so I think there will never be one. To use your analogy, there was no compromise on slavery that worked.

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  16. Does anyone believe that we can reach a resolution concerning this abortion issue, and get this behind us as a nation? Are there issues in society incapable of resolution? Is the Palestinian - Israeli conflict another example of such an issue?

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  17. Unfortunately, I think the woman from the start of this post, the woman writing the editorial, misses the point of being a true Christian. The most important tenet of Christ's teachings is forgiveness. So to hold a decision against someone, even a decision that results in the taking of another life, is anathema to being a true Christian.

    As for resolving this debate through compromise, I think that is as impossible as convincing people of the arbitariness of a label like Democrat and Republican. People shouldn't vote because of party authority, just like people shouldn't vote on one issue, as Jo-Ann Sarti Peck of the editorial proposes. Our duty is U.S. citizens is an extension of a person's duty as a Christian: we are to support and pray for our leaders, even if we didn't choose them; we are to consider the good of the many over the selfish needs of few; and again, I say we are to forgive others of their decisions as we ourselves would wish to be forgiven.

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  18. Beautiful generic brand, absolutely beautiful.

    Works for us, but why is there so much in the way of drawing hard lines, and staking positions that goes on with supposedly religions of compassion and understanding?

    We saw this previously in connection with the same sex marriage / Prop. 8 issue several weeks ago. More importantly, how can anyone define themselves as a "true" anything to the sxclusion of others? Who decided? Do we have to consult God or Jesus (today, not as expressed by King James' Committee some centuries ago) for permission or guidance in crafting the definition? Help us, we don't understand the rules of the dispute!

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  19. There is no easy end in sight for many of the sociopolitical issues of our time. The pro-choice versus pro-life conundrum can be likened to the Palistinian versus Israeli conflict, and both can be compared to the capitalism versus communism argument.

    This is what happens in a world of 6 billion+ people, with just as many worldviews that hold many conflicting ideals. Idealism is a great thing; it can spark revolutions and administer change, and it can give people hope. But when everyone believes their ideals are right and just and superior, then idealism will stall the cogs of peaceful resolution.

    That is the reason terrorism is so prominent today. Some people think their views are so righteous that the only way to enact change is through violence and extreme measures. But again, one's ideals can give them hope in these dark times. A Christian believes that Christ will one day return. Buddhists and Hindus believe that eventually they will be released from the cycle of reincarnation and attain nirvana. I am not familiar enough with the nonfaith of atheists, but I am sure those that claim that title possess their own beliefs that give them hope.

    According to Greek mythology, Pandora opened a box that released all of the evil the world now has. But one good thing came from within that box. Amidst the sickness, death, treachery, debauchery, and everything else contained in that box, hope emerged as well.

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  20. generic Brand: We would agree with you that there is no easy end, but is there at least a theoretical end? Your tone and choice of words suggest that you are a voice of reason, so what do we do going forward? What do we impart to our children so that they might make progress that our adult generations have not been able to achieve? We're trying to affix some tangible trappings to this concept called hope.

    We suspect that many in America agree with you. They voted for Obama. At least he preached a message of hope. Could that be identified anywhere in the message put forth by Palin/McCain?

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  21. Dear,
    I'm Zeno. My link is http://zenoaleko.blogspot.com
    Thanks for your comment. It's strange how people can came across by chance though thousands of miles away. Anyway thank you very much for these beautiful words. I've visited your blog and I've found it very interesting.
    Best regards
    Zeno

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  22. No one has yet to comment on the purity and hygenic nature of the Petri dish conception.

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  23. Zeno: Welcome to our forum. We welcome all input from folks from every culture and experience. It adds depth to the discussion. Do visit frequently.

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  24. So much of the discussion has focused on the fetus itself, or the costs associated with raising the kid. But what about the parenting environment?

    What if the conditions in which the parent or parents find themselves are not the best within which to raise a child? What should a mother in an abusive relationship do? What should a drug addicted mother do? What should a mother without financial resources do? What should a female soldier fighting in a war like Iraq do? Should she immediately resign from the military?

    Another notion came to mind in thinking about the auto manufacturers. We realize that we are talking about a human life here, but we are also talking about second chances. Humans make mistakes.

    Should humans be provided with an opportunity to "correct" their mistakes? If God dictated that the life be created, why was it necessary for the man and woman to engage in the act, and why didn't he simply produce the child without going through the middle-woman? Why is the intermediary necessary?

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  25. I think the theoretical ends are those I put forth as the hopes of different peoples. Human beings are born into conflict, and therefore only know a life of conflict. In sociology, the Conflict Theory is a commonly referenced one that attempts to explain the relationships between classes, genders, and any other differing social groups that conflict with eachother.

    Because of this inate tendency towards conflict, and then children's enculturation of their parents' ideals, I don't see any reasonable end to the major disagreements. One possible outcome, as it has been the case throughout history, is that one prominent conflict will be placed on the backburner for a time while a new one rises up to the forefront. But to me that is not really a welcome answer.

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  26. generic Brand: Your analysis and reasoning reflect an approach to life that probably serves you well, and probably could serve many others well if they could adopt it. It is somewhat akin to the "collaborative" approach about which we often speak.

    Conflict need not manifest itself at every turn. Conflict on certain issues also often distracts us from addressing more pressing issues which we can resolve.

    A good read in this regard is Arthur Schleisinger's "The Dis-Uniting of America."
    In the letter to the editor to which we referred in this post, the writer drew a very distinct line in the sand, thus forcing herself to back up into a box with neither doors nor windows. It's often not about the positioning, but about the ambiance and the timing. Collaboration requires special attitude to both, which are external to the individual.

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  27. While there are many merits to Generic Brand's position, I think he overlooks one thing. His position is no more valid than anyone else's. Especially when one perceives that he is looking down on everyone else's point of view as being self-centered. Each moral position assumes it is right. G.B. assumes that most, if not all, are wrong. And he assumes that merely because they do not agree and the strife that the world endures because of that disagreement.
    The reality is, in this particular case, most do agree that abortion is wrong. There is simply no accepted morality to it. Even pro-choice people tend to argue that abortion is wrong but that a greater wrong is interfering with what is deemed a personal and private matter.

    My actual position is that the pro-life faction is on the side or morality and that the pro-choice faction is on the side of self-centeredness (that is called "privacy").

    A doctor, if he truly believed in his oath, could never perform an abortion, assist a suicide, or an execution by needle. We all know that many doctors do these things and do not feel as if they are violating the oath. in other words, he or she still sees him/herself as a doctor. The True Christian still sees himself as one regardless of how many times he sins. This will not change.

    There can be no compromise on abortion, just as there could be no compromise on slavery. The Israeli-palestinian conflict can presumably be resolved because it not about religion but about ownership of land. If it turns out that it is about eliminating one group or the other then it will also not be subject to any compromise.

    This is why I do not like to get into debates about certain things. All sides believe they are right and all others are wrong, even the ones who think they are objective.

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  28. Before we simply walk away from this issue and assume that no progress toward resolution can be made, let's come at it from another angle. Let's go back to the "disturbance in the alley -come to the rescue" construct.

    We suspect that most of us would agree that we are born into this world free of disease and contamination that are life-threatening. During the course of one's life time, various external environmental "contaminants" pose a threat to the being and may possible invade it through some mechanism.

    Should a passerby approach someone smoking, drinking, using drugs, or otherwise engaged in "unacceptable behavior" and rescue that person from contaminating a body which God created and brought into this world? Should a passerby stop speeders, or others engaged in potentially hazardous or dangerous activities? Is that a responsibility which true Christians should pursue in the name of the Lord? It adversely affects the life of the human. It is a slow destruction, but still a destruction or potential destruction / desecration, isn't it?

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  29. If one were to see a parent improperly raising a child, and not in accordance with Christian dictates, should a true Christian initiate proceedings against that parent to have that child taken away and placed with another family?

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  30. Let me address that in this way: We already do that. Each state has an agency that is dedicated to the protection of children. We have all seen the horror stories when said agencies fail a child. You are not asking if we should do away with such agencies? Of course not. And one does not have to be a True Christian to want to protect the weak or the at risk. The adult who puts himself at risk is another matter. We, currently, still believe in Free Will. But, even there, we have programs and groups offering help to those who wish to be "saved".

    Government should reflect the will of the people. The people express that will in two forms. One is the vote and the other is in free speech. We should always vote in accordance with our belief in how our society should behave. We should not compromise those beliefs if possible. We should also speak our mind and try to convince others that our belief is the correct one so that they, too, will vote in a like manner. We do not, contradicting G.B. here, serve our country well by going along with a majority. If we did, slavery would still be practiced and women might not have the vote, both of these were majority positions at one time. Change to a society comes about because a minority convinces enough people of the rightness of a position and changes the majority opinion.

    We did not, at one time, have welfare, Social Security, Medicare, unions, government watchdogs such as OSHA, and any number of other regulatory agencies. These came about because someone convinced others to change the way things are. In a phrase: Conflict is good. It is how we evolve as human beings.

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  31. Nice article, very fit for the current issues within the globe.

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  32. It is interesting to me that you found the letter to the editor to be the lighter of the two. Vatican pronouncements are so laced with politics that they could never have that much of an impact on me whereas the opinions of "ordinary" folk are of much more interest to me.

    The writer of the letter was approaching the matter of abortion from a Christian perspective. In fact she was speaking of a "true Christian" perspective and with that lost her audience. Not all citizens are Christians or even deists in any way, shape or form so this appeal has certain inherant problems before she can even begin to reach those who do not share her views. At the heart of the abortion issue remains one important question. When does a human life begin? Does it begin at fertilazation? Is that a baby when you can see a head and arms and legs? A heart beating? When he or she can live outside the mother's body? What about Amillia Sonja Taylor who was only 10 ounces and 9 ½ inches long when she was born October 24, 2006. Her mother had only been pregnant for 21 weeks and 6 days. This was the shortest gestation period ever recorded where the fetus survived. Normal pregnancy lasts around 40 weeks so this tiny Florida baby is most definitely considered a miracle to have lived. Before Amillia's birth the youngest surviving preemies were born at 23 weeks. Is Amillia a human being? Was she human at 21 weeks 6 days? If someone murders a pregnant woman do you see that as one murder or two?

    I would never have had an abortion. I could never automaticly censure someone for having an abortion. It is a deeply personal thing. My greatest concern with abortion in THIS nation is that it is used far too often as a form of birth control. That IS disgusting. This is not a trivial act and should not be treated in a casual manner. If you were to subtract from the total number of abortions all those that came about due to rape, incest, statutory rape, fear for the mother's life and health, concerns for the baby who has been diagnosed as having diseases which would make the child's life a living hell such as spina bifida etc; the numbers would still be astonishingly high. In 2005 there were 1,287,000 induced abortions in the United States. Curious about the number of live births in the same year? 4,138,000. Those are sobering numbers.
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    Now about that question you posed "If one were to see a parent improperly raising a child, and not in accordance with Christian dictates, should a true Christian initiate proceedings against that parent to have that child taken away and placed with another family?" How about changing it to "if you see a parent endangering the life and well being of a child", should a person be they Christian or not initiate such proceedings. My answer would be "Yes". As things stand if a parent's religous beliefs endangers the life of a child the State has a right and a duty to intercede on behalf of the child. This is infrequently enforced but there are provisions for it.
    ========================================
    A Christian does not judge the fate of another person's soul but that can and should be able to discern right from wrong. There are some gray areas, some things we may be uncertain about but there are also things of which we are capable of recognizing as being good or evil. If this is disturbing to a world where relativistic ethics are considered to be the norm well than let it be disturbing.

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  33. Thanks Douglas. Perhaps the intent of our question was not clear. We were posing our child in danger / at risk scenario assuming no governmental involvement, or that there is no legal prohibition against the activity on the part of the adult, such as is the case essentially with abortion. Despite the fact that it is a recognized federal right, the religious factions still lobby and picket abortion clinics and such.

    Our question was whether a true Christian feels compelled by religious doctrine to rescue the "body" being treated contrary to purported Christian doctrine.

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  34. Thanks Ayie for paying a visit. We just try to stimulate thought and perhaps urge folks with certain views, on either side of the aisle, to constantly reevaluate them and consider the positions of others. As we always say, reasonable people can differ.

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  35. Thank you Drifter for spending some time with us. Visit on occasion, and let your views be known. We hope to grow through the exchange. Thanks.

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  36. Douglas: To clear up any confusion about my comment, I was stating as you did that every side of an argument sees itself as right. A person's ideals or beliefs are at the core of the person themselves, and are therefore hard to change. It's hard enough to have people listen to an opposing argument, let alone concede ground.

    I may have made the mistake of mixing my personal view--that I don't believe a person can compromise on something affecting their personal ideals--with my statement that everyone believes they are correct in an argument.

    I think we are getting caught up on the phrase "true Christian". Someone has pointed out that a doctor may practice by a code of doing no harm but will still perform an abortion or assisted suicide. Does that make them fall short of being a "true doctor"?

    I wonder if we are holding Christians up to a higher standard, and if so, why? Is it because the original letter in the post referred to a person as such? Or is it because a Christian strives to be Christ-like, who in turn was perfect as the Son of God and the Son of Man?

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  37. Thanks again June. Actually, the letter to the editor was originally intended to be the serious matter. The lighter article was a letter, written to the current editors of Ann Landers, by a 60 year old woman who really enjoyed a gentleman's company, but was repulsed by his filthy and cluttered apartment. She sought advice of a different kind.

    When we came across the Vatican pronouncement shortly thereafter, we could not resist pairing the two together.

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  38. Very nice discussion of a number of factors June. Our of curiosity, do you find this abortion issue to be one which is incapable of "resolution" of some sort in our society, or shall we debate this one ad infinitum?

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  39. Thanks again generic Brand. There is no question in our mind that the use of the phrase "true Christian," by the writer of the letter to the editor, complicated the analysis. The reason that we chose it was because it reminded us of some comments made by some during the recent presidential campaign about real patriots, real Americans, and such.

    It's always interesting when a member of a group or set calls out other members of the same group or set, and distinguishes the so-called "real" members from the "not so real" members. Fascinating.

    Another thing, at some point, the lines drawn may no longer be viewed as theoretical, philosophical, or relativistic per se, but actual character assassination of a sort because of their subjective, judgmental nature. It's as if they are saying, "You're not entitled to be part of our group."

    The line drawn by the writer of the letter was pretty distinct. It's fascinating stuff.

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  40. Hmmm..I do believe that matters of faith and matters of government may be forever at odds with one another yet a person who is a Christian can live under a government that goes against many Christian doctrines and function as a citizen as well as as a Christian. One can render unto Ceaser that which is Ceasers' and unto God that which is Gods'. OTOH, if as in China abortion became MANDATORY then a Christian could and should stand against the State. That is not the case in the United States and so there is no necessity to fight against the government. Members of the Society of Friends pay taxes even though they know a portion of those taxes go to furnishing the military and in fact they are willing to serve in the military as non combatants. Does that make them untrue to their conscience? No it does not.

    Real Christians versus those that call themselves Christians. If a person says they are an American yet attempts to destroy the U.S. are they really American? If a person puts on the outward mantle of Christianity but does not believe in Christ are they a Christian? Why do so many masquerade as one thing but at heart are another? Now I am not speaking of just a difference of practice or even being in agreement on all points but there are certain fundamental things that people of certain groups agree upon else why are they a "group" at all. Please do not think that I agree with the woman who was talking of "true Christians". She was judging "another mans' servant" and that is a very un-Christian thing to do. And I do make a difference between discernment and this type of condemnation which is a call only God can make.

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  41. As we type this comment, we are listening to Washington Journal on C-Span. Just a second ago, a caller lamented that "all politicians lack integrity." He further went on to say that "one can not have integrity if one does not love God." A few months ago, there was an author on C-Span2 Book TV who indicated that politicians, as a group, are not particularly religious as individuals prior to their running for office, but that they become pillars of the religious community once they decide to pursue office. In fact, they disingenuously use religion in their platforms to bring more followers into the fold.

    How did we find ourselves in this situation? What are the contributing causes? "If you don't love God, then...." Do you think that an atheist could get elected?

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  42. June, thanks for bringing a very important phrase into this discussion, namely "matters of faith and matters of government." We'll spin a tad off point here before we come back later and address some of the very good points which you raised in your last response.

    Our news media are beginning to discuss it more and more in the past couple of years, but without the clarification that needs to be made. Theocracy versus secular government explains much about the dispute between radical Islamic fundamentialists and western powers. The current "jihad" goes back at least to the mid-1950s when some very bright and activist Islamic scholars were ticked at Abdul Nasser in Egypt for allowing the American/western infidels to invade their lifestyle and thus potentially adulterate and contaminate their people. Nasser threw them in jail, and things were off.

    It is very important to appreciate the secular nature of our country, and the importance of the clear statement regarding the separation of church and state. The line may often be blurred during the debate, however, we must always keep our eye on the line.

    Douglas very appropriately and thoroughly brought this issue to our attention, but some may have missed it since he indicated that he is an atheist. The separation between church and state should apply in the same manner regardless of the religious positioning of the citizenry.

    At any rate, to better appreciate why many Islamic cultures are in a "war" of sorts with us, simply focus on the theocracy issue. By the way, it is also a central issue surrounding the difficulties associated with Turkey's admission to the European Union.

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  43. Log wrote:
    "Our question was whether a true Christian feels compelled by religious doctrine to rescue the "body" being treated contrary to purported Christian doctrine."

    I would answer "yes." Does a doctor feel compelled to treat a person with a physical ailment?

    The better question might be:

    "Should they intervene?"

    And it also should be asked each time we think government should pass a law, bailout a segment of the economy, provide a service it had not provided in the past, and so on.

    I think the separation of Church and State is misunderstood. Our government should be secular, not endorsing any one religious doctrine. But our culture may be as religious as it chooses.

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  44. You are absolutely right on the money with respect to the mischaracterization of many about the separation of Church and State, and the prohibition against government endorsing or supporting any one particular religious. We suspect that most of our citizens do not fully understand that.

    Here's one for you that we've been waiting to ask for years. Roughly 6 or 7 years ago, police raided a church in the San Fernando Valley portion of Southern California, just north of Los Angeles for practicing prostitution. It appears that this gal was the minister, and her husband helped her manage the operations of the church. Church member made offerings and behaved otherwise like a church, but engaged in more sex than humans should be allowed, at least according to the District Attorney. Should the State have shut down this religious practice as long as it did not involvement children? At one point in our Christian history, sex was more liberal and widespread, and then a certain element decided no more of that. Where do we draw the line?

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  45. The state has an interest in prosecuting laws. Some say that prostitution is a "victimless crime." It can be but it is not always so. A church where blessings are of a sexual nature provided by the minister in return for "donations" or "offerings" is not a church, it is a business. So, yes, it should have been shut down. In that sense, it is not protected. Nevada has at least one county where prostitution is legal and it seems to be working so I would say it is possible. Street prostitution does not work out well for any community. It creates problems for businesses and for neighborhoods, it allows the spread of diseases and legalizing it would help since it becomes more difficult to regulate rather than easier.

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  46. That should have read "would not help" rather than "would help"

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  47. Dougals:

    You assumed, apparently like the D.A., that the sex was "in exchange" for the offerings. Let's assume that everything about this church was just like Billy Grahams' church, on John Hagee's church, but that the minister also had sexual relations with the parishioners. Does that mean that it is not the practice of religion?

    Oh, by the way, there was a piece on the History Channel just last night, on the series,
    Cities of the Underground, discussing the period in the Roman Empire where prostitution was legal, prostitutes advertised just above their doors, and were taxed. Some of the period of legality overlapped with the Holy Roman Empire.

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  48. If we assume that no "donations for diddling" occurred then the DA was wrong. But that was not made clear and, in fact, my assumption was inferred from the way you described it.

    I believe that Sweden, which has allowed "red light" districts for many years has put some restrictions on brothels just recently. We actually had a number of cities in this country where red light districts were legal at one time.

    Tolerance of prostitution has waxed and waned throughout human history.

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  49. Douglas: We were trying to get folks to consider an unusual religious practice, such as the use of poisonous snakes in the ritual, or sacrifice of animals, or the use of sex, which the primary religions in this country do not use. Although the use of sex in a religious setting is unusual, it still could be conceptually possible and the adherents could actually believe in the practice. However, the majority of the people in this country would probably consider it to be so unusual in nature, that they would naturally assume that there was prostitution taking place.

    This question was posed in the context of the purported freedom of people to pursue any religion of their choice, and the separation of church and state in our nation. Should the government prohibit the choice of this particular religion, even though its rituals might be unusual.

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  50. I see. The government has restricted certain religious practices from time to time. The Native American Church (I think) uses Peyote as part of its practice. This has been challenged and allowed but it is still monitored. Rastafarians aren't permitted to practice as they please. There is some question regarding Santeria which sacrifices animals; allowed but monitored. I don't know of any religions claiming sexual practices as part of its doctrine. I suppose, assuming there is, that it would also be monitored to ensure it is not breaking secular law. All this in spite of the 1st Amendment.

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  51. Let's revive this abortion discussion. Right now, C-Span is airing the conference(Roe v. Wade, 36th Anniversary) held by National Right to Life officials held Thursday at the National Press Club. http://www.cspan.org

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  52. Later this evening, Sunday, at 7:00 pm EDST, C-span2 Book TV will air a book discussion featuring author Michelle Goldberg and her book, "The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World." To read a synopsis of the program, click here.

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  53. Very nice discussion of a number of factors June. Our of curiosity, do you find this abortion issue to be one which is incapable of "resolution" of some sort in our society, or shall we debate this one ad infinitum?

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