Friday, October 30, 2009

Conversation about God and gay rights

Hey Kids,
I responded to a comment line on facebook, which led to a lengthy discussion that actually got quite interesting! It's about the gay marriage initiative about to be voted on in Washington, which isn't really about gay marriage, but it is, so well, ya' know.
Anyway, too much work went into this on both sides, and I think that with both sides being somewhat reasoned and remarkably civil, (Yeah, I know!) I'd post it here for all to see.

As usual, the other voice (Name withheld so I don't get sued) is in black and my responses can be read in my usual purple prose.

The original post which set off the discussion (and of course became quickly moot) can be viewed here:

Internet Guy:
You correctly state that marriage is a religious institution however, it cannot be an institution AND a civil right. Civil rights are inalienable and given by God (and marriage is not one of them). Unfortunately, This IS a political issue because the debate is over changing the definition of marriage because we gave the government the power to ... Read Moremanage marriage through licences. The government should not be involved in defining marriage. There is little stopping gays from having relationships or "marrying" (they deceive themselves that God recognizes it). I understand the need for government recognized contracts between persons who are not married, and I have no problem with allowing them, but don't call it a marriage.

According to CIVIL: 1. of, pertaining to, or consisting of citizens. 2. of the commonwealth or state...
(It goes on to give 10 definitions and in none of which is God mentioned. So to say that civil rights are given by God is by definition wrong.) What rights we as citizens have are to be determined by us on this mortal coil ... Read Moreand that's the way it always has been. So is the way we define words like "marriage" or "God." If God wishes to chime in on this issue, he will have to register to vote and provide proof of citizenship like everyone else. Until then, let's keep this civil issue planted on terra firma thank you.

Internet Guy:
Brian, Thank you for correcting my mistake. You are correct that civil rights are not from God, the appropriate word would be 'natural' which was my intent, but I erred. It doesn't change my point that marriage is not a right. Additionally, God HAS chimed in on this issue, and given a very straightforward definition of marriage. Marriage is ... Read Morelarger than the state. If it is redefined by the state, it is no longer marriage, it is a corruption. We already fail to apply marriage appropriately, lets not make it worse by pretending to validate corruption with a vote and a false name.

It is curious that you also believe God can be defined by man which implies you don't believe in anything absolute. What do you believe in?

PS - I should have done this earlier, but I actually read the text of referendum 71, it actually states that same-sex relationships are NOT marriages. It gives them the same rights (should be privileges not rights) as married couples. I incorrectly implied from Jennie's "marriage equality" plea that the referendum was on same-sex marriage. I have no objection to the referendum.

If we define rights as "natural" then free speech isn't a right, nor gun ownership, nor voting, as ALL of these rights exist in our society as legislative declarations voted into or out of our constitution. As a free society we are capable and obliged to determine what is and what isn't considered a right for ourselves. A right is not magical gift... Read More, it is a decision made by the populace. Nothing mystical about them, except that they are blessings of history passed down from our founders to us. I hope to create and pass down the right to marry anyone they love to my children and grandchildren as blessings in that same tradition.

As to whether or not God has chimed in on this issue I have to ask, "Whose God?" I am of the belief that God is VERY powerful, and being very powerful he would write any opinions he wishes me to share firmly into my DNA. Since he has not done that on this issue, I maintain that he remains mute. (The bible being a collection of books clearly written by the hands of men attempting to define God--yes I have read it-- I give it no more credence on this issue than on its prohibition of "rounding the corners of ones beard," or "wearing clothes of two different cloths." To use such antiquated guidelines over our democratically reasoned constitution would be "absolute-ly" foolish.)

Internet Guy:
Brian, the point is that marriage is NOT a right it is a privilege. A right is an entitlement for all, a privilege grants a special consideration to a certain group.

I'm glad you believe that God is powerful, that confession gives you hope in contrast to your original claim that we (man) define God is if he does not exist. God is not mute, he has written this on your soul because our DNA is cursed. If you believe that God is powerful enough to create life than you understand that life (and liberty...) is a natural (self evident/inalienable) right given by God. Our government was setup to protect those rights not grant them.

As for your view of the Bible, the laws in Leviticus and Deuteronomy are for the Hebrew nation to remain separate from the idolatry of their neighbors and do not pertain to us Gentiles. We have a better law, the law of Love (Galatians 5:14). I believe a sincere investigation of what the Bible really says and why will clarify what God has already revealed to you.

Um, if you're going to throw away Leviticus, you're throwing away the ten commandments. Does "thou shalt not kill" not pertain to Gentiles?
As far as Love thy neighbor as thyself goes, I married the person I love. I will allow my neighbor to marry the person they love, even if my neighbor chooses to marry a same sex partner. Love is not a "special interest right," love is a HUMAN right. Why? Because I do not wish to live in a world where that is not so.
Marriage is a right most of us have that should not only pertain to a "certain group." This same argument was used to keep women from voting. I don't own fire arms, yet that right is protected. I am not a criminal, yet criminal's rights are protected. Being able to enjoy the same legal status as the majority of people and yes, even calling it the same thing (marriage) is not a "special consideration." It is equality under the law.
Government grants rights. The reason the Bill of Rights was so unique and wonderful is because of the long history preceding it where it hadn't occurred to anyone that people could even have these "inalienable" or "natural" rights. (Curious that the Bible never mentions that "excessive bail should not be required.") When our government granted slaves the right to vote it was wrong to do so? Is it divined by nature that "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." The constitution, including all rights granted therein is simply law, and people make the law. We get to determine what is and what isn't a fundamental right with our votes and voices alone and that is the very most beautiful thing about the United States of America.

And as for sincerely investigating the Bible, I can think of no more sincere investigation of what the Bible says than reading the whole thing, as I have, as well as reading several books on the bible's origins, history and literary critiques. I'm a big bible nerd actually.
Almost named my child "Abednego" in fact. But if you really want to be spiritual you must look past God's supposed "word" and more to God's CREATION. A moderate study of science has taught me more about God than any Sunday sermon ever will. Einstein's definition of God as "the sum total of matter and energy in the universe," helps one function better in society than defining God as the Bible's human writer's did, as some petty tyrant who can't stand to hear his own name in an improper context.
Mark Twain once said, "Never let your schooling get in the way of your education." I would add, "Never let your churching get in the way of your spirituality." Yes, I believe in a powerful God. (The sum total of matter and energy in the universe is at last check, pretty powerful!)

A powerful God does not create "cursed DNA." A powerful God does not rely on an ancient book clearly written by fallible men to "define" him. A powerful God can at the very least "define" himself don't you think? A powerful God does not put a spiritual leader with a political agenda between you and him. Certainly not some spiritual leader who makes up things out of whole cloth like "cursed DNA."

Beware those who claim to tell you how God "thinks" or that they know what is "preordained" or "written." Beware those who would separate our society into "Those who can marry and the other ones." Beware those who claim that you are "cursed" and that "they know the way to fix you." They wish power over you, and if you believe what they say, they have it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Health care in history

Well, President Obama has called upon bloggers to help the health care cause
So since it’s a presidential imperative, time to get back to the blog after what? Half a year? Here we go!

Some high comedy from history: It’s very fun to laugh at those in the past, mainly because they’re dead and can’t punch you for laughing at them.

Roman Emperor Marcus Licinius Crassus is credited with inventing the fire brigade. He was also one of the wealthiest men ever in the history of the world. How did he achieve such wealth and status? From Wikipedia:

Most notorious was his acquisition of burning houses: when Crassus received word that a house was on fire, he would arrive and purchase the doomed property along with surrounding buildings for a modest sum, and then employ his army of 500 clients to put the fire out before much damage had been done. Crassus' clients employed the Roman method of firefighting -- destroying the burning building to curtail the spread of the flames.

Yes, Crassus would pay pennies on the dollar for burning buildings, knowing that he held the only resource they had to put the fire out. (Clients means slaves btw.) And pennies being better than nothing, other Romans were forced to make the deal. Ridiculous huh?

It’s very funny to laugh at Crassus now that he’s gone and can’t march legions to your door, as well as at the hapless Romans who couldn’t see that fire is a PUBLIC problem, and that a private solution to a public problem can only lead to something crass. (Get it? Crass? Crassus? I told you this was funny!) Sometimes you need state-run entities like FDNY just to keep profit speculation out of things like fire prevention.

Anyway, have a good laugh at Crassus, as for thousands of years after we’re long dead, future generations will be laughing at us. And here’s the punch line they’ll use:

In the 20th and early 21st centuries, Hospitals actually ADVERTISED! On television! They literally would advertise to people to come and be sick at THEIR hospital instead of a competitor’s. “Hey, don’t die of cancer over there! No! You’re doing it wrong! Give us all your money and die of cancer over here!” It’s like the line “your money or your life,” but for real, and somehow government sanctioned.

Invented the fire brigade, ran an HMO... Hmm... eerily similar. Future generations will not be lacking for fodder when looking back to cackle at our backward ways.

Well I for one don’t want those jerks of the future joking at me, so President Obama, please, get us some single payer, or anything that’ll be better than this mess we’re in now.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

Thenwhat analysis

All right.

Sorry I’ve not blogged in forever. In my defense, I offer 3 excuses.

  1. I have adorable children whose faces I can’t see whilst gazing into a computer screen
  2. There were holidays and I was drunk a great portion of the time.
  3. There’s only one person who ever reads this anyway. Which reminds me, honey could you stop at the store on your way home and pick up a loaf of bread?

(Actually that’s just a joke. My wife doesn’t read my blog. Nobody reads this. So you can see why it’s hard to motivate.)

Anyway I’ve been getting ready for the big inaugural bash (Jan 20th, 7pm, Jewel Box) and like many others combining New Years’ resolutions and Christmas wishes with dreams for the new administration, I’ve been trying to nail down my one biggest hope for the next four years. And here’s what I’ve come up with.

My hope for the Obama administration is that they learn from the previous administration and do what I like to call the “Thenwhat analysis.” on the issues they must address. It’s very simple to do, but for some reason has been utterly rejected by the current administration.

Here’s how you do thenwhat analysis. Before you do something, you ask yourself, “If we do this… Then what?” Sounds simple right? I bet you do a little of that every day. Yet time after time in American politics, we neglect to do the thenwhat analysis.

Imagine if we’d done it say in Iraq? “Let’s invade Iraq.”

“O.K… (short pause) then what?”

“Well, everyone will live happily ever after?”

(Note, if thenwhat analysis comes back “everyone will live happily ever after” you have not done proper thenwhat analysis.)

“Oh wait, on second thought, if we invade Iraq, a lot of people will be killed, millions will be displaced, people won’t be very happy with us and we will be three trillion dollars poorer.”

“Hmm, let’s maybe not do that then.”

Or had we done a little thenwhat analysis with Bush’s tax cuts.

“Hey, let’s cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans while waging two global wars!”

“OK… then what?”

“Um… Oh, wait, we’ll wind up with the largest budget deficits in American History!”

“Hey let’s not do that maybe then…”

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if we had just done some rudimentary thenwhat analysis?

So that’s my hope for the Obama administration. For every policy, may they just do the requisite thenwhat analysis.

“Let’s give GM a ton of money.” Then what?

“Let’s go to war with Iran/ North Korea.” Then what?

Let us always use thenwhat analysis for all things from here on in.

And that’s my wish for the Obama administration. That and health care. Let’s get us some health care.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Second Christmas

Christmas it has come and gone
But in our land the spirit lives on
I needn't mention in this rhyme
We have but one prez at a time
But soon dear Santa has arranged
That we will get the gift of change
One more gift inside that bag
But waiting for it, what a drag...
Turns us into Christmas kids
Just about to flip our lids
Looking at our nation's stockings
Gaping back, so empty. Mocking
Wishing time could just get moving
Get our nation's luck improving
Naught to do but sit and mope
Until those socks get filled with Hope
Real change. Oh how good for the soul!
No more Rove-spun lumps of coal
I'm so excited, I can't speak
Second Christmas! One more week!
Contact Winlar