Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Consistent Ethic of Life

One of the things that I learned a bit more about this past quarter was having a "consistent ethic of life". This is something that the Catholic church is good at adhering to- caring about people from womb to grave and all the points in between. So this would pan out as being against abortion, euthanasia, war, and capital punishment. It would also be reflected in supporting people at all stages of life, helping deliver from oppression and poverty, and generally valuing the soul of every, single person as a reflection of God's image, no matter how distorted it may be.

On the surface, I can whole-heartedly say, "Yes! Count me in! This describes me!" But every once in a while something comes up where I can tell that it isn't all the way in me. Today I read a news story about a man who put his baby girl in the microwave. THE MICROWAVE. And this is after punching her and putting her in the hotel safe and fridge. My gut reaction is wanting this man to be dispatched to his eternal reward immediately. But is that right? God wants this sicko's soul just as much as he wants and cherishes mine. At the same time, God has historically known and acted when someone is a lost cause. I've been against the death penalty since I first investigated it in high school, but these thoughts I have make me question my loyalty to that. Gimme a break, I was even sad when Sadaam Hussein was executed because that was a human being created in God's image who was killed. I have no idea why I had more sympathy for him than this guy in Texas.

In any discussion of pacifism, there is always the elephant in the room: Hitler. If I believe that war is always wrong, then do I think that we should have just let Hitler go on his merry way, praying that the Christians in Europe would get their heads out of their asses and rise up? (Non-violently, of course). No. I think.

This is where labels fall apart and we realize that as much as we would like to be consistent and never veer towards hypocrisy, we're humans who live in a screwed-up and complicated world. I could just make life easier and say that I'm in the Just-Peacemaking camp (see Kingdom Ethics), which I mostly think is an awesome philosophy. It just seems that the Bible is pretty clear about the whole peace thing and that all of our efforts are to justify our human tendencies towards war and violence. Then again, we are humans, and we cannot possibly live up to all that God wants of us.

Does that mean we give up? Not at all. I will try as much as I can to have a consistent ethic of life and honor the God of Justice and Mercy. Being that I am not personally responsible for executing anyone, I'll stick to what is in my sphere of influence: trying to alleviate suffering, praying, and voting in ways that will decrease poverty and oppression. It's truly is the Best thing I can do.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

I have returned.

Oh, the exciting posts I have in mind!!!
It's really too bad that's not true. I recall having a few deep thoughts over Lent, and I even thought about sending in some posts via e-mail, but those thoughts have fled.

What did I do with my fast? I didn't really clean any more or do all the wonderful things I thought about doing, but I think that I felt more rested. I didn't feel like even my free time was rushed. I noticed it especially when I started researching for my paper, which was a full-time job. I spent so much stinkin' time looking at denominational websites, reading position papers, resolutions, family experiences, scriptural analysis, and insane rants. I read and read and read, finally writing a 23-page paper. That was finished about 12 hours before I left for Mexico, after an all-nighter, followed by the drive to Mexico, building a house, thinking all week and feeling half-stupid/half-smart, driving back, cleaning stuff the next day, Easter the day after that, now day 2 of work post-vacation.

This year's Mexico trip was fan-frikkin-tastic, after a rocky start, that is. Rocky due to near-freezing temperatures the first night in camp, which none of us were prepared for. Knees throbbing and shivering all night, I seriously wanted to be home and never return. Thankfully, the awesome Howie provided an extra sleeping bag to me and two others, and we did not, in fact, freeze to death.

The family we worked with was wonderful, and we will definitely see them again. They were fun to be with and worked their tails off all week. I nicknamed the dad, "Enrique, the Construction Machine". I had a mostly great time with my Spanish, and was particularly pleased that many on our team spoke some Spanish and were able to interact with the family. I'll post some pictures later this week.

I also had a great time getting to know people from church, which I expected. I really like having time out of our normal context to chat with people and talk about things that would never come up at lunch after church or even in a movie evening at a friend's house. (Lots of bodily functions discussed, but that's not all that I mean.) When you're in this type of situation where you get to hang out with people 24 hours per day, sweating and working and cooking together, it almost skips a few steps in the normal friendship ladder so that you're more like family then you were before. I love it. I hope that I was fun to be with and someone people want to be close to.

That paper I wrote for class: it was on gay marriage, and it was very difficult. Reading all the different things that people post on the topic can be emotionally exhausting. In the end, I've decided that I am in favor of equal marriage for gay and straight couples. You can call it marriage, you can call it civil unions, as long as it's equal. Let the government give everyone the same rights, and churches can marry whom they want and refuse whom they want. All fair, nothing forced. Perhaps I'll try to boil my paper down to a blog-appropriate length so you can understand my reasoning. These two spots give you a good idea, though. I don't completely agree with everything said on both, but they really impacted me and made me weep:
Musings On and Justin from

After 2.5 days of being back on the internet, I'm not really sure how I feel. I kind of don't like it, so I may try to set some more restrictions on myself. I've tried before, but it may actually work this time, because I've seen the stark difference between my days with and without hours online.

I do hope to write more, though. It's good for me, and keeps the Slacker's Prince up on my mind's wanderings.