It's evil, don't touch it!

If you have never seen Time Bandits, you need to run (don't walk) to your local library/video store and get it, bring it home, and prepare to enjoy a fantastic film. Of course, this clip is a bit of a spoiler as it is the ending, but it really doesn't have a ton of bearing on the rest of the movie.

The question I am asking today is, does evil really exist? Is there such a thing as evil? Can evil ever really be "incarnate"?

I was reading a review of The Dark Knight (fantastic by the way... see it in IMAX if you can) and this was the question being asked. There is no such thing as darkness, just the absence of light. There is no "cold" only the absence of heat. Is evil like this? Does it actually not exist in and of itself? What if evil is just the absence of something else?

If that is the case, what is the "something else" that is missing when we experience things that are evil? I think "good" cannot possibly cover it. I have been in plenty of circumstances where good had no presence but I didn't experience evil. Ultimately, evil is the word we attach to anything that lacks love. Love is the thing that, when missing, makes evil seem so real.

But evil has no power of its own. Even if you think of a being like Satan or the devil as being evil, the truth is that he/she/it is actually the absence of God (who defines himself/herself as "Love"). There is no point in combatting evil. It is not a real thing. If we stop focusing on the experience of an absence and simply bring back the presence of that which is missing, evil will cease. As trite as this sounds, love really is the answer. We must choose to respond to the absence of it by bringing it with us rather than simply responding by continuing to dwell in love's absence. War is the absence of love. The way to end war and conflict is through love, not more war.

War: it's evil, don't touch it.

Rocky Mountain High

So Kristy and I are heading for Durango, Colorado in the morning. I have been looking forward to this vacation for 3 months... ever since summer classes started and I had 12 straight weeks of 21 hours of classes to sit through each week, I have been pining to go to my in-laws' house in the mountains and sleep late, eat home-made soup and bread, and play scrabble.

There are two unfortunate parts about this trip.
1) The 'rents still use dial-up! This means posts might be few and far between since the closest town is 20 minutes away. I will write when I can.
2) Our dog can't come. We thought about letting her fly in the cargo section of the plane, but when we looked into it we heard horror stories of the area not being pressurized correctly and the dogs dying or the sheer stress of it killed the dogs. We are not willing to take that chance. She would be so much fun at their house. They are on the side of a mountain and Ellie would love running through the woods and chasing the squirrels. She adores my father-in-law also. But, we opted for having our friend, Guy, come and watch her. He is the one who wrote the post on Animal Theology I linked to a couple of weeks ago, so I'm pretty sure he values creation enough to care for our kid/dog for a week. Plus we paid him.

Hopefully I'll be able to get a couple of posts in this next week. If not, I'll be back on the 25th! Pray that a hurricane doesn't hit Jacksonville while we are gone.



Also known as eucharist or Lord's supper. It is the oldest element of Christian worship. Although there are many Old Testament/Hebrew Bible/Tanakh allusions to the eventual sacrament of communion, it was fully established by Jesus at the Last Supper and has been THE staple of Christian worship for 2,000 years.  Interestingly, in the past couple of hundred years many denominations have shifted the focus away from communion.

Here are a few of the basic disagreements regarding communion: symbol vs. sacrament, necessary elements, frequency, who can partake, and the ultimate purpose of it. 

Again, I will show my hand at the start.  I see communion as a sacrament (a rite that conveys grace, blessing, or holiness to the believer who participates in it). The elements are bread and wine (I am okay with grape juice as long as we understand that unfermented grape juice didn't exist until Welch's invented it). I am a proponent of it happening every week (even though my denomination usually only does it once a month). I think it should only be for those believers who have joined mystically with the Body of Christ (the Church universal) through baptism. I think the purposes of communion are:
1) Renew and strengthen the Church
2) Offer a sacrifice to God
3) Mystically connect with every other believer
4) Mystically connect with Christ
5) Point to the day when we will eat with God at the banquet table

I will now reveal more of my hand. Despite my seemingly strong and somewhat nit-picky beliefs, I also think that we must avoid the temptation to make it too formulaic. While I think there are proper ways of participating in communion, the goal is to participate. If you don't have wine or grape juice, use whatever you have. The point is to eat together. The point is to open up a place for Christ to be present. The point is to be strengthened. The point is to experience some of heaven on earth.

Christ said, "This is my body." Now, I am not much of a literalist, but I do believe that Jesus meant that in some way, he is Truly present in communion. Not just in the way that he is always there, but that in the act of the words being said, the elements being offered, and the people being gathered together Jesus is actually present. This is known as the real presence. Did you know that not only do Catholics and Orthodox believe this (Catholics define it as transubstantiation which means that the elements become the literal flesh and blood... the Orthodox do not have this defined the way Catholics do, but they are similar), but both Luther AND Calvin taught forms of the real presence? Luther taught consubstantiation. This means that Christ is present with the elements. Once the meal is done, he is not longer present. This is why he had a problem with the Catholic practice of eucharistic adoration. I don't have a problem with that practice since they are approaching it from the standpoint of believing that they are worshipping Jesus. If they believed he wasn't in the bread and still worshipped it, that would be idolatry, but it is not the way Catholics do it! Calvin said that Jesus was present in the meal by the preaching of the word and the blessing of the offering.  

All three positions teach that grace is received through communion. Not the "saving grace" we think of when we normally hear the word grace (necessarily), but more the grace of experiencing God more and being further equipped because of the experience to love the world more. The position that it is merely symbolic loses this. It reduces the table to just a mere act of remembrance. While that element is definitely there ("do this in remembrance of me"), it is only the beginning. Again, as with baptism, stopping at the symbols is failing to see the bigger picture.

Because grace is conferred and the meal itself is unifying, there is absolutely no good reason not to do it every week (hell, the Catholics have it even better by doing it everyday)! Do we not want too much grace? Is too much unity unhealthy? 



There are plenty more aspects to this issue than the argument between baptizing infants or baptizing "believers" only.  There are disagreements over the method: sprinkling or full immersion.  There are arguments about what actually takes place: purely symbolic, sacramental, or even actual forgiveness of sins (original sin included).  Some even say that baptism in necessary for salvation while others would say that it is not.

The interesting part is that all of these positions have some biblical support.  I know, some of you just blew a gasket.  "How the hell does the Bible support baptizing babies??!!"  or "HERESY! How dare you say that the Bible says baptism doesn't remove original sin!"  But bear with me.  Before I start any of this, I have to make one point.  Walter Brueggemann (one of the world's foremost biblical scholars) suggests that it is impossible to interpret scripture completely free of bias.  John Wesley said a similar thing long ago as well.  I agree.  Brueggemann says that we all interpret scripture based on 40 verses (or passages).  We find the 40 that we like/agree with/can ascribe to, and then we sift all other passages through those verses.  So, if one of your verses is Acts 2:37-38 then you will probably view all passages talking about baptism as having to do with people who believe, but also having to do with sins actually being forgiven and the Holy Spirit entering the life at baptism.  However, if you like verse 39 more then you might think baptism is for children.  We all have bias when approaching scripture.  I do too.  But this is my blog so I get to say what I think... lol.

First, is baptism for "believers only" or should the church baptize infants?  I will start by revealing my position.  I strongly believe that we SHOULD baptize infants.  The arguments against are purely arguments of omission.  The fact is, baptism is repeatedly compared with circumcision in the NT.  A Jewish baby is traditionally circumcised on the 8th day.  This circumcision makes that baby a member of Abraham's line.  This takes placed based on the faith and heritage of the parents... the baby has no say in it.  Now, if some one converts later in life to Judaism (traditionally speaking here), he is to be circumcised as an adult to enact the same effect.

Now, if baptism is simply an "outward sign of an inward faith" as many like to say, this analogy makes no sense.  If the ingratiation into the Christian family has already taken place and baptism is merely the outward sign of that, then a baby doesn't need to be baptized. Unfortunately for those who believe this, circumcision meant more than just an outward sign. It was that as well, don't get me wrong, but it began the membership in the community.  That boy was now a Jew for the rest of his life.  No matter what, he had been claimed and that claim was based in the faith of his parents.

Nowhere does the Bible forbid infant baptism.  In fact, a strong argument can be made that when "entire households" are baptized, infants would be included. Jesus warns NOT to hinder the little children from coming to him. And the strongest example of God acting in a person's life based on the faith of others is the story of the paralytic.  A man is brought before Jesus by his friends.  It is the faith of the friends that prompts Jesus to heal the man.  The man does nothing! He could have chosen not to get up. He could have gone home and laid back down on his mat. Many who are baptized, even though they have experienced this healing from God based on the faith of their parents and the priest/pastor end up laying back down on their mat. If you lay down long enough, your muscles will stop working. Nevertheless, just because we do not choose to live in the truth, the truth is no less true.

Those who oppose infant baptism most likely ascribe to a more contractual form of salvation rather than covenantal. The problem is, there was no such thought of contractual salvation until Calvin (pretty much). The promises of God were passed from parent to child. Blood carried it, and blood delivered it.  Jesus' blood was the instrument of the new covenant (not contract). A contract can only be entered into by those who are able to understand it. This is where we get an idea of an "age of accountability." A covenant, however, is passed on with or without our consent. Age of accountability is not found anywhere in the Bible. A key argument against infant baptism is that it is not explicitly found in scripture, but the same folks who make this argument ascribe to the "unscriptural" idea of an age of accountability. It is an interesting inconsistency.

But if it is covenantal instead of contractual, and if it actually begins something rather than just symbolize something that had already begun, then what actually happens at baptism and how do we get it to happen? I loathe reducing God (or the actions of God) to a formula.  If I do A and B then God does C.  It's bologna (I would use another word beginning with "b" if I didn't want to keep this family friendly). But, God promises that if, in faith (whether it be a "believer" or an infant brought before the community of believers) some one is baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, then that person receives grace. That grace has many functions: it removes sin, it opens up space for the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, it initiates the person into the community, it begins the relationship with God. Now, again, there is an element of symbolism in this act, but there is so much more as well. The act does symbolize what happens inwardly. It also symbolizes the participant dying and raising again, just like Christ (and with Christ). But grace is present. It is sacramental. Something mysterious takes place and we lose that when we fear what we cannot completely understand.

So, does it have to be by immersion or is sprinkling okay? Well, all of the denominations that use sprinkling agree that the preferred method is immersion. But they all say that it is not the necessary form. What is necessary is: water, faith (again, either of the individual or the community for the individual), and the names of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If immersion is the only way, why are there so many places in this world where that would be impossible? Does God not want people in the Sahara to be baptized? Do we have to spend money on building a pool in our sanctuary, or can we give that money to the poor and just use a little tub and sprinkle the water? God wants us to use our heads. I find it interesting that it is the people who ascribe to a purely symbolic baptism who also demand immersion. Which is it? Is the act just a symbol and thus, not really necessary, or is it more than that? It is more than that which is why God is just fine with freedom in the method.  Again, only 3 things are said to be necessary (Jesus says unless a person is born of water and the Spirit... He does not say immersed in water): water, faith, and the three names of God.  

Overall, when we reduce baptism to a symbolic act, we lose the mystery that accompanies it. When we close it to only those who believe, we block the saving power of the faith of others in our lives (just like the paralytic got to experience). When we limit it to immersion only, we reduce God to a formula. Baptism is about being a part of the new covenant, joining the family of that covenant, experiencing grace, receiving the Holy Spirit, allowing freedom to reign in our lives and the life of the church, and challenging the community to love this new member of their family. A baby dedication (also not found in the Bible the way those who practice it today do it) does not accomplish all of this and certainly does not bind the community together in covenant.  It is just another line in contract. We need to move beyond the legal and into the familial. God is about relationships, not clauses.


Embracing the Past

Christianity has such a rich tradition.  Unfortunately, in an attempt to throw of the rules and regulations of the past in order to usher in a new age of freedom, we have thrown the proverbial baby out with the bath water.

So, for the next few blog posts, I plan on exploring different aspects of Christianity through (my own biased) historical and modern lenses.  I plan on discussing baptism, communion, liturgy, meditation, evangelism (this one will be in a couple of parts: 1. method of salvation we communicate, 2. modes we use to communicate, pros and cons of these), church governance, and some others.  This might be what you see in here for the rest of the month.  I welcome any and all comments, criticisms, and "funnies" (as my wife calls them).


5 years!

Apparently the 5 year anniversary is the "Wood" anniversary.  So, today (August 9th), I am trying to find a good wooden gift to give my wife (view what she does all day here). Well, since marriages don't last as long as they used to, some people have tried to push for a modernization of the traditional anniversary gifts.  Some are saying that 5 years is now the "Silverware" anniversary.  Kristy says if I buy here silverware I won't be sleeping in the bed tonight. 

I can't believe it has been 5 years.  When we first got married, it was weird to sleep in the same bed with some one else.  I had trouble falling asleep for a while.  Now, it's weird when she's not there.  When I turn 55 years old, I will hit the point where I will have been married longer than I was single.  That is a long way off, and I think that my life already feels that real.  She has been such a great partner, friend, confidant, and lover (yeah, I said it!).  I know I am a lucky guy. Happy anniversary, Kristy (if you ever read this...).  ;)


Hello (hello, hello) can anybody hear me?

So that's twice this week my titles have quoted Pink Floyd.  Is there some blogspot award for that?

I don't think even my wife reads this blog.  I know that my friends Mike (formerly Mike-dogg) and Shelley have stopped by, but other than them I am not sure anyone is reading this.

Oh well, it's a good thing I am not really writing in here just about everyday for others.  This has been a great outlet for me so far and my wife (again, who doesn't read this) doesn't have to endure my ramblings quite as much (unless she gets some alcohol in me).  

Well, I will continue writing.  I hope to get better.  If you have any suggestions let me know.
I sure Wish You Were Here (hey, there's another Pink Floyd reference!).

Battle of the Sexes

So I just finished reading Lysistrata and it was pretty good. It is basically a battle of wills between the men and women of Greece. The women are pissed that the men are warring with each other and Lysistrata leads the women in withholding sex from the men until they make peace.  

I heard about an experiment one time where they took mice and put them in a cage with two levers.  One lever would release food.  The other lever would create a sensation similar to an orgasm.  
The mice starved to death.  That being said, I'll let you guess how the play ends.

One of my favorite shows of all time is "Cheers". The cast of characters was fantastic.  I liked it with and without Diane (Shelly Long), but I thought Rebecca (Kirstie Alley... the Jenny Craig woman) got a little crazy towards the end of the series (which ran for 11 years... that makes it the 2nd longest running, non-animated, sitcom of all time... trivia: 1. What is the longest running, non-animated, sitcom of all time? answer at the end of the post... 2. What is the longest running, animated, sitcom? answer at the end of the post).  By far, though, my favorite was Norm.

I think the line that made me laugh the most was when the guys were sitting around talking about Sam's woman troubles and Norm says, "Women, can't live with them... pass the beer nuts." I don't even remember the next scene because I was laughing so hard.

One of the battle cries in Lysistrata is said by the Chorus of Men... their "motto" is: Misogyny Forever!" While it is meant by the author comedically, the line seems to still be lived out today in much of the world, and the church seems to have shaped itself to the world so much that it is no different. Women, in much of the church, are still denied certain positions simply based on what (or what isn't) is in their pants.  Some churches have moved beyond this, but I wonder if they all reached the correct conclusion for the correct reasons. A female Episcopalian Priest said, "I have more respect for some one who denies my ordination based on their strongly held beliefs about tradition and scripture than some one who supports my ordination out of some sense of human rights.  It has to be supported theologically or not at all." 

Obviously she (as do I) feels women's ordination is fully supported biblically, historically, and theologically (as well as simply logically), but I know that I have, at times, slipped into the "human rights" argument and almost a false messiah complex that I need to save women from this oppression.  The argument does not need me.  It is well supported without my help.  I am not the savior women have been waiting for... and neither is any other person (save for Jesus of course).  Our job is to support each other and strive to help each other fulfill God's call on our lives.  That support comes from biblical, historical, theological, and practical places.  It cannot come from feeling sorry for some one.  I confess I have done that in the past... and I apologize.

Answers: 1. The Danny Thomas Show aka Make Room For Daddy (351 episodes), 2. The Simpsons (ca. 420 episodes and still going!)


Money, it's a gas

Well, Pink Floyd almost had it right.  They should have said, "Money, goes to gas."  Holy crap I can't believe how much our household expenses have gone up.  My wife and I have a few dollars remaining to last us the day and then her check is deposited tonight at midnight.  Payday couldn't come soon enough.  Gas and milk both cost $4.  Produce is through the roof. We don't eat meat (just fish sometimes... I am rethinking that in light of animal theology) so that helps, but healthy food (organic, free-trade, etc.) seems to have gone up the most.  Oh well, I am just happy I can open my fridge and know that there will be something in there I can eat.  Of course, it might just be a SmartDog or a SlimFast shake, but it is more than a lot of people get... and for that, I am grateful.


On Belay!

For those of you who have ever worked at a ropes course or gone rock-climbing, you know what that phrase means.  For those who haven't, there are two options for ropes courses.  One is static and the other is dynamic.
Static (left) means that each person in the air is attached with a short tether to the belay cable or anchor point.  The participant/climber removes, attaches, and secures themselves as they move through the course and is only able to move along the lines of the course and the length of their tether (6-8 feet usually).  They are on their own for the most part and this is usually the safest option.

Dynamic (right) means that for each person in the air there is a facilitator on the ground holding their rope (the belayer).  Thus, dynamic courses require a dependence on another person.  They also offer more freedom of movement (side to side, up and down, etc.) for the participant/climber yet are inherently more dangerous.

Static courses are easy and usually don't get a lot of people who want to do them again and again.  They are for beginners.  The are great for getting some one over their fear of heights and for establishing certain principles and ideas in climbing.  Dynamic courses are the most fun. They offer scary moments even for the most seasoned participants.  They have the element of mystery attached to them as every movement can lead to a different path than before.  You can swing your self around an obstacle instead of having to trudge the same path as every other person has done.  

Faith is supposed to be dynamic.  We aren't supposed to know every step of the way.  There are supposed to be constant questions and multiple options.  It's supposed to be scary.  It's supposed to be fun.  A static faith is the one filled with expectations and responsibilities.  A dynamic faith moves past those into freedom.  Granted, that freedom should not lead us to detach ourselves from the rope and the one it is connected to.  It should not cause us to abuse the person holding the rope by jumping off at random points and expecting them to always save us.  We must respect, honor, and cherish the one who takes upon themselves the responsibility and care for us.  But we also get to trust that person and swing and change direction and free fall and experience the freedom that comes with dynamic faith.

The Bible is a dynamic book.  Anyone who reduces it to "Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth" cheapens the danger that lies within.  They abandon the freedom it represents.  And worst of all, they limit its truths to that which is contained between the covers.  They do not allow the experiences of others to shape how we view the narratives (which are just written experiences) within.  The Bible, in a sense, is still being written.  It is living and active and remains so as long as we continue to live it and allow it to live through us.  As we activate it and we contribute to the story, the Bible continues to grow and become more and more relevant to us and the world in which we live.  Those who limit it or claim to understand it or cheapen it to a list of "do's and don'ts" make this dynamic book static.  It will only ever take them 6-8 feet. Those who strive to let it be dynamic will get to experience the wonder and terror of this incredible narrative.  And our stories will continue that narrative.

Bottom line, the Bible is not the course.  It is not the belayer.  It is simply the rope.  The course is our story and the limit we place on the rope will limit our experiences.  The belayer is Christ. And we are the precious ones whom he chooses to attach himself to.  He does it to save us, to free us, and to watch with joy as we swing through the trees.  I pray I move more towards that dynamic faith.  I pray I view the Bible as active.  I pray the static mindset I (and the church in general) have clung to is shattered and adventure comes in its place.


New Math

Yesterday in the mail, I received a newsletter from an old friend.  This guy is a key figure in my spiritual development.  I was in a Bible study that met at his house on Sunday evenings for about 3 1/2 years.  Not only that, I took his class, worked out with him a few times a week, and spent one on one time with him regularly.  

I remember one day, he came to my apartment and said that we were cleaning my car.  I used to be pretty messy.  Not that I am the picture of tidiness now, but I do my share of chores (reluctantly) and generally keep things in decent order today.  Back then it was a different story and for over two hours we cleaned my car.  Mind you, this was a 1986 Mazda 323 so it wasn't a very big car and it took us two hours to clean it.  I was delivering pizza at the time and my car was disgusting.  Evan's point wasn't for me to have a clean car.  His point was that, as a grown up... a "man of God" if you will..., I needed to start being responsible.  I needed to put myself in a position where I could have credibility when representing Jesus.  If I was to impact the world, I had to be in the world AND I had to be some one the world would listen to.  The world I was trying to reach probably wouldn't pay attention to some one who kept 3 week old pizza under their passenger seat.

Evan practiced incarnational ministry.  Although he is a fantastic teacher with a lot of head knowledge, he knows that life-on-life interaction is what really shapes some one else.  The ministry he runs at the University of Cincinnati is the Navigators.  They value discipleship over big programming.  Don't get me wrong, they run meetings and events for people to come check them out, but those are not the focus and certainly NOT where the leaders and staff spend the majority of their time.  It is in meeting with individuals and small groups.  Iron sharpening iron as proverbs tells it.

Evan shared an example with me once and it has stuck (and sticking to it has caused friction for me in ministries that don't have an easy time getting past the big meetings).  This is the new math.  If you take a preacher who runs around and converts 1,000 people a year and compare him/her to a "discipler" who converts 1 person a year but then teaches that person to do the same thing with 1 person the next year (then the two of them do the same thing the next year... etc.), the numbers are astounding.  After 5 years: the preacher has 5,001 (including themselves) and the discipler has 32.  The preacher is kicking some ass!  After 10: preacher = 10,001 and discipler = 1,024 (didn't the preacher have that after 1 year??  Sheesh, what is this person doing??).  After 15: preacher = 15,001 and discipler = 32,768.  What the hell just happened?  The discipler has now impacted double what the preacher has impacted.  The discipler might not be as famous, but he/she is having a far deeper impact on the world.  Incidentally, after 30 years the preacher has reached 30,001 while the discipler has reached over 5 billion.

Now, I know that is an extreme example.  There are very few "preachers" out there who don't desire their converts to go off and  share the gospel with others.  But where are we putting the majority of our time?  Is it in preaching or discipling?  The latter cannot happen in large group meetings.  It is in one on one, small groups, life-on-life, iron sharpening iron, etc.  My friend taught me that and his recent newsletter reminded me of it in a powerful way.


Right to Life

I get so bothered by people who claim to be pro-life but really aren't.  Being in favor of life must mean ALL life.  Not just innocent babies.  Not just those who cannot make life and death decisions on their own.  ALL life.

Here is the list of things anyone who call themselves pro-life must care about.

1. Abortion: I do believe this is an important issue.  I would love to see no more abortions happen in the world.  The problem is that just passing laws or overturning cases from the 70s isn't going to solve the problem.  Did you know that at least 200,000 abortions occur in the U.S. every year because the women have no financial options that they know of?  If they had childcare options, medical benefits, a living wage, etc., there would be 200,000 new lives walking among us each year.  If you care about abortion, you better start caring about women's financial situations.

2. War: For the first 400 years of Christianity, violence and force were completely forbidden... even in cases of defense of others and self.  This changed when the Church and Rome became partners.  Some argue that it had to.  That's fine.  But taking a life is still taking a life and is always wrong... it just might (and I use "might" very loosely) not be as wrong in some situations as others.  Did you know that even during the Crusades, one of the bloodiest legacies of Western Christianity, when a soldier killed an "infidel" (better known as a Muslim today) they were still required to do penance?  Even the thing for which they received an indulgence for was considered wrong... just not AS wrong as letting the Holy Land go.  While I disagree with the priorities, it should still be noted that the taking of a life is always considered wrong and should only be done in the rarest of cases (if at all!).  War should never be entered into by a Christian in my opinion.  I know there is theology out there that disagrees with me.  I also know that my belief has more biblical support.  Either way, even if war is permitted in certain circumstances, Christians must carefully look at the situation.  We tend not to.  It is interesting to me that many of those who supported the Iraq War in the beginning were also vehemently pro-life.  Yet, despite every major Christian denomination (except for Southern Baptists) saying it did not meet just war requirements, they turned a deaf ear and showed they aren't as concerned with some lives as others.  Incidentally, since I started this blog we have spent over $3 billion on the War in Iraq.

3. Death Penalty: It is completely unnecessary in most of the world today.  We can keep some one in prison without parole for the rest of their lives if they are truly a threat to society.  Those who seem to favor the death penalty say that those people are guilty.  Aren't we all?  Don't we all deserve the "wages of sin"?  These are human lives and we are just willing to take them if a jury finds them guilty.  Look up how many innocent people that have been executed and later shown to be innocent.  The number will make you sick to your stomach.

4. Stem-Cell Research: This is a somewhat difficult one for me.  I want to value these human lives.  But what if they are already dead?  Should they be allowed to be used for possible life saving research?  Would that open the door to the manufacturing and killing of these lives?  I would hope not.  It is such a slippery slope.  I would consider myself against the harvesting of living cells from a living being that will die because of it.  I would not be opposed to taking cells from a being who had already died.  But as I think abortions should end (and combatting poverty and the other root causes will be much more effective that criminalization), this issue becomes increasingly difficult because it would lead to manufacturing these embryos and then destroying them.  We should also care about finding cures to disease.  How do we balance the two?  This one requires deep reflection.

5. Euthanasia: Does some one have the right to decide when their own life should end?  Does some one else have the right to help them in their decision?  Legally... I have to say yes.  Morally, I trust God and His timing.  Of course, I am not in a position of experiencing excruciating pain on a daily basis.  I think one way of lessening the need for euthanasia is for the younger generations to start caring for their elders again instead of dumping them in nursing homes.  Even through pain, if family were present everyday and caring for them, pain is easier to manage.  I think euthanasia has a root cause in loneliness and fear of being a burden (this is why most of Dr. Kevorkian's patients have been women... they fear being a burden far more than men do according to most studies).  If the family can eliminate the burden fear and the loneliness, euthanasia will decline dramatically as a desired procedure.

6. Health Care: If we really care about life, we would be willing to sacrifice time and convenience to protect it.  Free-market solutions to the staggering health care problem are NOT the answer.  All they do is say "you are on your own" to millions of Americans.  We fear having to depend on each other.  It is the "American" in us.  We are fiercely independent creatures and it is wrong.  We must ensure that ALL people (beginning here at home and moving outward) have the same access to medical care as the wealthiest currently do.  It is simply anti-life to be anti-health care for all people.  

I know I have sounded harsh, but the time for change is now.  I am sick and tired of being lumped in with anti-abortion zealots who want to arrest women in poverty for exercising the only choice they think they have while the same people cheer as we drop bombs on Iraq and scream foul when the government wants to intervene on behalf of its own citizens' rights to Life by universalizing health care.