Category Archives: Ethics

Fellow Democrats, Please Lend Me Your Ears.

Fellow democrats, we are sounding like our opponents did before the election. Now, maybe we will understand what feeling unheard and powerless does to people’s sense of decency. Please, let’s don’t go there. It will not help anything. The time to protest is when actual laws that we cannot in good conscience support are proposed. And then protest only in the non-violent tradition of Martin Luther King .
Admit it, we ourselves have been disgusted by attacks on President’s wives in the past. Don’t do it. Complain to face book or at least hide vicious vulgarity on your pages. It simply lowers us to the level of everything that we have been against. Wake up Democrats. Fear creates monsters. We know that. Stop now or we will wake up one morning and have to face that we have become the enemy.

God’s Terrible Taste

I had a somewhat amusing, slightly terrifying thought this morning. God loves both Trump and Hillary equally and unconditionally. God loves because of who God is, not because of who we are. I’ve always said God has terrible taste, because God loves everyone. God loves sinners and saints, the smart and the stupid, the kind and the cruel, the sane and the insane, the crook and the law-abiding. Boy! That means if God has His/Her way, heaven is going to be as diverse as earth. I guess I better start forgiving a lot of people, so I can fit in with all of the above. I find I can forgive people if I can picture them as a child with a childhood that was unbalanced between love and the reality of there being consequences of our choices. Often, too much love and no consequences has pretty much the same effect as too little love and unrealistic expectations. Both are impossible to outgrow without the grace of recognizing both God’s love and the consequences of our choices. The present friendship and cooperation between Bill Clinton and the Bushes show how the responsibilities of the office of President obviously challenge Presidents to outgrow their limited viewpoint. So, regardless of whom you vote for, pray for both of them to experience God’s love and be freed to become the person God created them to be, whether they are in or out of political office.

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The Commandments: Humanity’s Keys for Survival/The Beatitudes: Our Handbook for Freedom to Love

I’m pretty sure that law and the concept of sin and consequences were created to try to help us live in the groups we need to survive and prosper. Society is a two edged sword. It keeps us from having to do everything for ourselves from fighting off wildlife, planting, harvesting, to creating clothes and shelter, thus giving us time to think, create, explore, and ask questions about the why, not just the how. But, since humanity is a work in progress…..the old adage, that there’s both a goody and a baddy to everything, holds true for society. Society helps us survive physically, but it also challenges us to learn to love.
The commandments were first of all, simply practical. The laws were aimed at keeping us alive, both as individuals and humanity, long enough to become loving. Whatever the Intelligence called God is, that created and nourishes life, it lives within each of us. It is a source of grace to become more loving, than competitive and combative. And we are like cells in a body. Each of us not only affects those closest to us, we affect the whole for better or worse, even the generations following us.
Self-honesty and understanding, rather than guilt, are the beginning of learning to love. And those take courage and grace. The divorce rate makes it obvious we haven’t become enough like Jesus to even love those closest to us, never-the-less those different from us or even “against” us. The commandments are the basic tools of survival for society. But, Jesus showed us the next level through teaching and living the spirituality of the Beatitudes. They call us beyond the fundamentals of the Commandments and just survival. They call us to freedom, the freedom to love others.
Caring is prayer. Prayer is in the intention, whether expressed in words, thoughts, feelings, candles, symbols, acts of kindness, or forgiveness. There is power in prayer. But both wisdom and love are needed to use the power for others, to understand that all creation, without exception, is one.
Jesus is a turning point in humanity’s journey. He fleshed out a love that sacrifices for not only the weakest physically, but the weakest spiritually. This is not survival of the fittest.
His resurrection also illustrated that this life span isn’t all there is. Jesus is the living example of the potential of God’s grace even within our own humanity.
His resurrection shows us death is simply a door to eternity. When we believe this, it gives us a very different value system than death as the finish line. And His openness and love for all show us the way to overcome the finality of death.

You Are Loved, But You Can Bet Your Sweet Bippy, Bad Choices Still Have Bad Consequences

Just because God loves you, doesn’t mean that whatever God is won’t let you suffer the consequences of bad choices. And I would put money on the reality that God is not a Wizard of Oz with a carrot and a stick. Consequences to choices are simply built in. And, if you keep on ignoring consequences, you can bet your sweet bippy, they will become worse until you learn. Life is about learning to love. And love may not mean having to say you’re sorry, but it sure means you better be sorry enough to change, when your actions hurt others. And unfair as it may seem if you are now, were, or ever will be parents…..the way you treat other people will come back to bite you even through and on your children and your children’s children. I have seen this and suffered it.  It’s a law of nature. It’s built into the system. It’s Universal. Smart/Inspired Hebrews figured that out and tried to pass that information on down. Unfortunately, we are too soon old and too late smart.  Even though genes may in some way be related to patterns of behavior, that is not a “get out of consequences free” card. It simply means most of us have either inherited or chosen new ways to try to escape the normal pain of living, instead of going through it and learning from it. This is addiction! And it has to be overcome. The sooner the better, because addictions quickly acquire their own pain on top of what we used them to dull temporarily. This is the core course in the school of life. Learn it or weep, cause nobody’s sure there’s a do over.

Our Historical Era: Post-Christian or Pre-Christian?

Scholars say we live in the Post-Christian era. I say we still live in the Pre-Christian era. To me Jesus represents a turning point in human growth(evolution) from survival of the fittest to sacrificial love for the weakest. And anyone with eyes to see, can’t help but recognize that we haven’t gotten anywhere near to the kind of spirituality that God calls us to through Jesus. Perhaps, by finally giving up the warped worldly view of Christianity as “top dog” by force, we may finally be entering the bare beginnings of a true Christianity.  That is, a Christianity which doesn’t focus on winning or controlling, but on learning to risk loving instead. The worst set back Christianity has experienced was when the Emperor Constantine converted and made it the “state” religion, a religion of privilege instead of sacrifice.

Freedom of Speech and Freedom from Listening on Face Book

Regarding homosexuality: I want to free any friends and family to un-friend me that are offended by gay marriage. Homosexuality runs in my family at least all the way back to my great-great aunt who was brilliant and courageous enough to manage to become a pediatrician in the 1800’s and loving enough to start a clinic for the poor, but was never mentioned in our family because she lived with the same woman all her life. I think the purpose of life, including the Christian life, is to learn to love unconditionally and to serve others. The best, though not the only, school for learning unconditional love is marriage  (But NOT abusive marriages).

Living with another person and learning to truly love that person, even someone of the same gender, while also serving others meets my criteria for spirituality and I believe with all my heart that it meets God’s. I respect others’ opinions and do not want to offend their sensibilities. I will not be hurt by your choosing not to see my posts.

As to politics: I think any organization, corporate or governmental that gets so big that it is no longer able to be concerned for the individual, even the least of our brethren, will become demonic. There are corporations like AT&T, Banking Conglomerates, Insurance Companies, Oil companies and it’s beginning to look like, Obama Care,that are simply too big. I think the mildest of us has wanted to do physical harm to someone at times when we have had to deal with a bureaucracy of robots. The problem is that when a multinational corporation becomes more powerful than the government and richer than many nations, there are no checks and balances. Very few human beings can make a billion dollars and not fall into the trap of thinking they are above the law (in other words,  equal to God). The government isn’t the only entity that has become too big and powerful. The major problem that needs solving includes, but isn’t limited to the size and complexity of the government.

Regarding the role of religion: Christianity is about using our gifts for others, not about power over others.

I have no answers, but as much heartbreak as irresponsible sex can cause through unwanted and abused children, abortions, or deadly viruses that infect innocent unborn babies, greed is what is our worst enemy. Greed infects CEO’s, politicians, people on welfare, and middle class people who teach their children from childhood to feel entitled to everything anyone else has without any effort of their own. The external trappings of Christianity, such as public prayer, are not what is at the core of our faith. It is love and the willingness to not only lay down our lives for others, but as the very minimum, to be kind. I both respect and struggle with both polarities of political opinion, but think that is the exact problem, polarities. We push each other into extremes instead of working together to find the right balance between personal responsibility and government assistance, corporate or government growth and the value and rights of the individual, personal or corporate freedom and accountability. And finally, the reality is that the viciousness and misinformation used by both ends of the political spectrum do not help or change anyone.

I love and care about all my face book family and friends, but I simply cannot support or be a conduit for the kind of political expression many are choosing to use today. I will not un-follow you, because if I am not willing to print and publicize either the style or the content of your communications, you shouldn’t have to do that for me either. I will happily accept your un-friending me and will also feel free to do the same. I think this is an act of lovingkindness.

Disclosure Form for Counselors to Fill Out and Give to Prospective Clients at First Meeting

If you were seeking a counselor for yourself or a family member, what would you consider important to know about their beliefs and values? Please comment on these possibilities and add any other ones you would include.

Disclosure  Form for Counselors to Fill Out and Give to Prospective Clients at First Meeting

(And for the client to fill out if they choose after reading the Counselor’s answers.)
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure whether I believe) in a higher power, we call God.)
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) in a God of unconditional love
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) in a God who keeps score.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure about) life after death.
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) we must accept Jesus as Savior and Lord to get to heaven.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) the 10 commandments are the basic requirements to be a good person, worthy of heaven.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) all a person has to do to be good is not purposely harm others.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) we are called to love all people the same as Jesus did.
I( believe, don’t believe, not sure) there’s a hell for sinners after life.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) that there is a God that is actively involved in human lives.
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) that God allows consequences for our choices and actions while we are still alive so we will become better people.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) that marriage is valid only between a man and a woman.
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) that marriage is valid only when neither party has been married before.
I (believe, don’t believe, not sure) that sex outside marriage is sinful for anyone.
I( believe, don’t believe, not sure) in abortion.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) in abortion under certain circumstances.
I( believe, don’t believe, not sure) that it is wrong to kill even in war.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) in capital punishment.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) it is all right to kill in defense of my property.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) that mercy killing or assisted suicide is wrong in any circumstances.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) that suffering is part of life for everyone.
I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) in the efficacy of prayer. I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) in what we call miracles because they are beyond our understanding. I believe in (all, most, none, don’t know) of the teachings of (Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus, etc.) I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) we are both forgiven for the harm we do and called to forgive others. I(believe, don’t believe, not sure) a person must belong to a particular religion to have eternal life.

Eleven Year Old Granddaughter Asks about Donald Trump

Her mom’s reply: My 11 year old asked me why people (Donald Trump) were saying we should deport all immigrants, Hispanic and Muslim, why he wanted to start a database or have people wear numbers, why he thinks we should close our borders to an entire race/culture, why he said such angry and ugly words about people. She said ‘a lot of my friends wear scarves on their heads. They are not bad people, they are nice and my friends’. I have tried to explain to her what’s going on. I have told her both sides. That bad people have done horrific things in the name of a perverted view of a religion. That those things keep on happening all over the world. She has seen some of the news coverage about it. She, in her 11 year old head, is trying to understand something none of us will ever understand. She also immediately understood something I think all of us should.
Let’s step back for a moment everyone. Step back and truly listen to what’s being said right now. Hate is rampant and being applauded. This has all gone too far. Do we not remember the holocaust? What’s happening in our country right now, is the beginning. Yes, there are people (monsters) who pervert a religion to justify killing innocents as there always have been. This is not new, nor is it confined to a disgusting perversion of the Muslim faith. Yes, we DO need to do something about it. No, we don’t need to incite fear and hatred.
My 11 year old understands this. Why can’t adults? After I explained, as impartially as possible, which I will admit was difficult for me, why Trump (and others) were saying the things that they are, she looked at me and in all her 11 year old wisdom asked quietly ‘isn’t that what Hitler did?’ She, as a babe, understands the ramification of what is being said. She has little 11 year old friends who are scared because they wear a headscarf or go to the mosque. She sees their fear and hurts for them. Isn’t about time we, as adults, took a page from her book of wisdom and say ‘this is enough! We will defend the innocent, but we will not do it by punishing the innocent!’
My heart hurts and my brain is tired. Please stop this hate. Stop applauding it and spreading it. Stop before it’s too late to bring this freight train of bigotry and racism to a halt.

From Monkeys to Jesus: Has Humanity Made the Leap from Monkey Yet?

I read about a Psychology 101 behavior experiment today that raises some interesting questions.

You start with a cage containing four monkeys, and inside the cage you hang a banana on a string, and then you place a set of stairs under the banana.
Before long a monkey will go to the stairs and climb toward the banana.
You then spray ALL the monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt. As soon as he touches the stairs, you spray ALL the monkeys with cold water.

Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new monkey. The new monkey sees the banana and attempts to climb the stairs. To his shock, ALL of the other monkeys beat the crap out of him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original four monkeys, replacing it with a new monkey. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment – with enthusiasm — because he is now part of the “team.”

Then, replace a third original monkey with a new monkey, followed by the fourth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked.

Now, the monkeys that are beating him up have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs. Neither do they know why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. Having replaced all of the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys will have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, not one of the monkeys will try to climb the stairway for the banana.
Why, you ask? Because in their minds, that is the way it has always been!

My thoughts on this.
Unfortunately this is true of many, if not most, of us human beings. We don’t seem to have made the leap from monkeys.

This is why I so admire the human aspect of Jesus. He responded to the challenge to outgrow his prejudices and even his convictions about the limits of his ministry. It was painful (we see him weep as he has to accept that the people he loved and thought he could save from their blindness reject him).  Over and over we see him change and grow beyond both the limits and misunderstandings of his traditional religion, beyond his own followers, his era and even beyond his own previous assumptions. Often the challenges to His traditional religious attitudes and limits come from disreputable sources: women, gentiles, Samaritans, the military of the hated conqueror, sinners,  and the sick.

That kind of openness is pure grace! And that’s what it takes to become fully human.

A cartoon on Facebook along with my recent immersion in the history of the Cathars while traveling in South Western France resonated powerfully for me along with the story of animal behavior.

The cartoon showed a Knight riding a horse and holding a flag with a cross emblazoned on it while leading long lines of armed soldiers.  One of the soldiers says to the man next to him, ” I hear it’s because we’re right and they’re wrong.”

The Cathars were people who began to question some of the priorities and beliefs within the Christian Church of the 13th century. After failed attempts to convince them of the error or their ways, Pope Innocent III with the support of the armies of the King of France mounted a crusade aimed at completely eliminating the Cathars. It took many battles and involved burning down cathedrals while the Cathars seeking sanctuary were inside them and burning thousands of others at the stake. Some pious Catholics attempted to save their Cathar neighbors and friends and were ruthlessly wiped out along with them.

Who do you think were Christ like in this scenario?