Archive for January, 2016

29
Jan
16

Man sees what he chooses to see.

I mentioned in an earlier post that Christian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe has noted: “We are being told things by people who don’t like the solutions to climate change and have decided that it’s a lot better and a lot smarter to deny the reality of the problem than to acknowledge it exists but say you don’t want to do anything about it.”

Naomi Klein has pointed out something similar, that acceptance of climate change realities would demand actions that some find politically unpalatable – so they choose to reject evidence pointing to the reality of climate change.
Rather than accept the findings of the majority of climate scientists, they prefer to hunt out a few scientists (often not involved in climate science) who deny it.
http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2014/s4104925.htm

In other words, their stance is determined by what they PREFER to believe rather than by the validity of evidence.

I was talking to Gloria about this last night, and she very astutely pointed out that it’s the same situation when it comes to belief in God.
People choose to deny God, not because of lack of evidence, but because they don’t like the inevitable consequences of recognising Him. An acceptance of God requires a response; a consideration that He might require changes that will take us from the path we want to follow.

Some prefer to blind their eyes and block their ears than to see or hear a truth that requires a short-term price to be paid to gain a long term benefit.

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22
Jan
16

What Colour is Oscar?

oscar-statuettesIt’s been many years since I took any interest in the Oscars. At one time I wouldn’t miss the TV broadcast of the awards and I’d do everything I could to make sure I didn’t hear any results before I saw it.
The broadcast in Australia was always delayed so it could be screened in prime time.
But as I said, that was long ago. These day’s I wouldn’t recognise the titles of most the films nominated.

The segment of the awards that kept my interest longest was the tribute to those who’d died during the year, where there could often be more surprises than in the announcement of the winners.
This year, in the lead up to an awards show that I won’t be watching, I couldn’t help being made aware of the controversy regarding the lack of African Americans among those nominated.

It seems there will be some boycotts.

As I said, I no longer take much of an interest in the awards themselves, but the threatened boycott raises one or two issues about race. Maybe it’s time to divide the nominations equally, so out of the standard five nominees for each category there should be one white nomination, one black nomination, one Hispanic, one Asian and one gay.*

Maybe it’s the only way to ensure all appearances of prejudice are avoided.
But then again, maybe it would be nice if race and colour played NO part at all – that ALL could consider others AND THEMSELVES as actors, directors etc., instead of actors/directors of a particular race or colour, and an Oscar category can be populated entirely with “white” names – or entirely with “black” names without leading to claims of racism.
And if only that same attitude could be seen across all sections of the community…

But maybe that’s expecting far too much in a world where racism clearly remains a serious problem, and where some sections of the community can continually be referred to (even by themselves) as “minorities”.

____________________________

* Just to be sure that no one misunderstands. That comment was not intended to be taken seriously. However, despite the intentional flippancy, it can’t be denied that a similar approach is often taken in the casting of TV shows in the US.

12
Jan
16

You cannot serve God and mammon.

In recent weeks I’ve become increasingly interested in political attitudes, but not because I have any hope in political solutions. My interest is in the way that clear political injustices are increasingly, (and sometimes unknowingly) supported by professing Christians, who have been seduced into endorsing ideologies that in various ways can be inconsistent with the gospel of the Kingdom.

Firstly there are policies that favour the ultra-rich over the poor.

In an earlier post I gave links to information about the changes in taxation rates that Ronald Regan introduced in the 1980s that reduced Tax on the richest by around two thirds. The resulting shortfall in revenue was recouped through cutting welfare expenditure.

Unsurprisingly, and not coincidentally, those massive tax and welfare cuts were followed by a skyrocketing rate of homeless rate within the USA.

Regan’s practices were echoed after the 2008 economic crash. The financial catastrophe created by unethical and immoral banking practices led the US and other governments around the world to pay 100s of billions of dollars to bail out the offending banks, while the victims of the bank’s immoral practices continued to be made homeless through foreclosures.

[One only has to google “home foreclosures” to see how the heartbreak of many families is still being exploited as a profit-making exercise by opportunistic business people].

Ultimately THAT is the kind of political practice that many Christians are endorsing when they offer support to the right wing political parties they seem to favour.

A second example is the incredible support given to gun ownership by many American Christians. That’s something else I’ve recently addressed with a link to a video interview with a minister whose ministry lost support when he spoke out against the American love affair with guns.

One only has to see some of the gun-supporting arguments raised by Christians to see how quickly irrationality can strike in relation to this issue.

A third concern is the overwhelming denial of Climate change within the political ideology supported by so many Christians. It’s a denial that Christians have often echoed without giving the matter much thought for themselves.
I’ve read remarks from a few people recently who point out that the denial doesn’t come from an assessment of the available evidence; it comes from an unwillingness to accept the essential political changes that will be required to address the implications of climate change.

As Christian climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe has said: “We are being told things by people who don’t like the solutions to climate change and have decided that it’s a lot better and a lot smarter to deny the reality of the problem than to acknowledge it exists but say you don’t want to do anything about it.”

Again I’ve posted a video interview with Hayhoe in a previous post.

I’m concerned that these things (and similar issues) undermine the credibility of Christians and  the gospel they may try to promote. Some of the policies associated with these issues directly contravene central aspects of the gospel: exploitation of the vulnerable, trusting in violence and denial of the truth when the truth becomes costly.

When I’ve considered all of these things, I’ve come to a conclusion that in summary illustrates a choice between two paths – a choice that at heart is related to a warning Jesus gave; something about the impossibility of serving two masters.

08
Jan
16

The Armor of Light

The Armor of Light: New Documentary Makes the Evangelical Case for Gun Control.

How on earth could ANYONE claiming to be an Evangelical Christian have such a love affair with gun ownership and put so much faith in firearms?

08
Jan
16

Climate Change: Fact and Faith

An EXCELLENT interview – primarily on the issue of climate change, but also revealing the reality of political influence shaping the beliefs of Christians, as well as the motivation behind those influential political ideologies.

Caring about climate is entirely consistent with who we are as Christians, but over the last several decades we have increasingly begun to confound our politics with our faith to the point where instead of our faith dictating our attitudes on political and social issues we are instead allowing our political party to dictate our attitude on issues that are clearly consistent with who we are.

[Katharine Hayhoe]

We are being told things by people who don’t like the solutions to climate change and have decided that its a lot better and a lot smarter to deny the reality of the problem than to acknowledge it exists but say you don’t want to do anything about it.

[Katharine Hayhoe]

07
Jan
16

God’s Word and Correction

part DSCF0891
I’m not convinced of the value of expressing beliefs through lists of “supporting” scriptures. To me it seems more like an exercise in concordance use than anything resembling an understanding of scripture.
It’s something I’ve chosen to avoid doing for some time – although far too often I can still be tempted to take a shortcut by using a search engine to find a verse to support what I want to say. However, most of the time when I do that I find the reference I sought doesn’t really give the support I’d hoped it would. Context can be very inconvenient at times, showing that “memory verses” can be very misleading.

Some people seem to think that if they give you a long enough list of scriptures, then the verses provided will make the validity of their point of view obvious – sometimes they think they don’t even need to express their point of view, assuming that the scriptures alone will make their understanding of truth evident (at least to those who are spiritually minded). But can a truth be made evident through a list of verses tracked down through a concordance or search-engine: a list presented with little attention given to what those verses are ACTUALLY saying within their intended biblical context?

Recently I read the following statement: “if any[one] wants to correct anything, just do it with scriptures, let God’s word bring the correction” .
But what exactly is meant by that? Is correction administered through providing a longer list of proof verses than the one “needing” correction can compile? Or is it a matter of duelling with those texts until a participant is beaten into submission by superior firepower?

Scripture is an essential God-inspired resource, but it can be misused.
It is very easy to find individual parts of the Bible to support almost any idea that man can create. Therefore it is also very easy to “correct” anything that contradicts our own ideas by seeking out a favourable collection of bible statements.
While there is a significant lack of respect for scripture across broad sections of Christendom, the opposite approach, making scripture the prime focus, is no less prone to leading to error. So, in using scripture to prove a point can we actually be missing the point?
In using it primarily as a tool to support or refute theological arguments are we missing the revelation of God that’s at its heart.

Instead of trying to shape our Christian life and beliefs according to isolated “texts” from scripture, maybe we should look more to the Person revealed throughout all of scripture, and see how we relate to Him, His character and His ongoing plans for His creation.

part DSCF0891




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