Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Is there a Heaven? A Hell? Who goes where?

You may have heard about our happy hour Bible study. We call it "Bibles and Beer." We meet at 5:30 each Monday evening at Uncle Charlie's. We have enjoyed the company of a wide range of folks. One is in her 80's, another in his 20's and everything between. One is an atheist, one a Buddhist, there are liberal and conservative Christians and agnostics. We do not permit debate and have created a safe place to ask questions and offer independent thoughts about faith and beliefs.

We have been focused on Rob Bell's controversial book Love Wins. The book discusses concepts of Heaven and Hell. The discussion has allowed participants to go deeper in their thinking about these concepts and the rules that land you in one place or the other.

Today's blog is an invitation to join us on Mondays. It is also a survey. How do you see Heaven and Hell? Is there an afterlife? Is there an afterlife of eternal burning fire for those who live badly? Is there a place in the sky of mansions and golden streets for those who live good lives? What is a bad life? A good life? What are the rules and who gets to make them? Does the acknowledgement of one interpretation of God determine your afterlife? How do the choices we make determine the afterlife for others?

All of us think about those things. We don't very often get the opportunity to listen to others and share out ideas and to think more critically about faith. "Bibles and Beer" affords that time. Give it a try.

Friday, May 27, 2011

An idea from Mother Jones...

Why Not Let the Dead Pay for Medicare?
By Kevin Drum | Wed May. 25, 2011 12:03 PM PDT

So here's an idea: why not reform Medicare by means testing it? Conservatives should love this idea. Here's how it works. Basically, we leave Medicare alone. Oh, we can still go ahead with some of the obvious reforms. Comparative effectiveness research is a no-brainer for anyone who's not part of the Republican leadership. Ditto for some of the delivery reforms on the table. Or allowing Medicare to negotiate for lower prices. It would be great if that stuff works. But if it doesn't, then people will need to pay more for their care. So why not have dead people pay? They don't need the money any more, after all.
So Medicare stays roughly the same, but every time you receive medical care you also get a bill. You don't have to pay it, though. It's just there for accounting purposes. When you die, the bill gets paid out of your estate. If your estate is small or nonexistent, you've gotten lots of free medical care. If it's large, you'll pay for it all. If you're somewhere in between, you'll end up paying for part of the care you've received.
Obviously this gives people incentives to spend all their money before they die. That's fine. I suspect they wouldn't end up spending as much as you'd think. What it does mean, though, is that Medicare has first claim on their estate, not their kids. But that seems fair, doesn't it?
Do you want to make sure to credit estates with all the Medicare taxes that have been paid over the years? Fine. Do you want to exempt a certain smallish amount to account for genuine family heirlooms? Fine. Do you want to pass laws making sure that estates can't be transferred to other people or trusts in order to evade this rule? Or regulate the use of reverse mortgages? Or make special rules for heirs who are minors? Fine, fine, and fine. Whatever.
But I'll bet this would raise a fair amount of money. What's more, that Medicare bill, with its continuously increasing grand total, would give people a pretty good sense of just how much medical care they're really getting. And it wouldn't impoverish the elderly with means testing while they were living. It would come solely from dead people, who have taken advantage of Medicare while they were alive and have no use for their money after they're dead. So what's not to like?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Why do some want you to believe Social Security is on the brink?

I fear the American people are being set up for a huge raid on Social Security and Medicare by those who would prefer to give tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans. The only way they can afford to do that is to persuade us there must be huge cuts in what they call “entitlements.”  When we oppose that, they say we aren’t serious about cutting the deficit.
They have borrowed from the Social Security Trust Fund to pay for tax cuts and wars and now say something has to be done to cut benefits because as Senator Enzi says, “It’s one of those amazing trust funds that the United States has that has no money in it, it has IOU’s.” And whose fault is that?
This morning’s blog is a letter written to Sen. Enzi by the Center for Economic and Policy Research. These are facts you need to know.

The Honorable Mike Enzi
379a Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Enzi,
You were quoted on the NPR news show Power Breakfast saying “Anybody who is saying that Social Security is in good shape is making a political statement that they don’t want to handle it during their term in office... It’s one of those amazing trust funds that the United States has that has no money in it, it has IOU’s in it and that should worry everybody” in reference to the bonds that make up the Social Security Trust Fund.
Thankfully, there is little cause for worry. The government sold U.S. government bonds to the Trust Fund, just as it sells bonds to individuals and private corporations every day of the week. Just as with any funds used to purchase bonds, the money is borrowed by the government, but repaid at the end of the term of the bond. As long as the law is followed and the bonds are repaid on schedule, there is no reason to worry about the Social Security Trust Fund. In fact the Social Security trustees report clearly shows that Social Security will remain fully solvent through 2037 and will be able to pay roughly 80 percent of scheduled benefits from then on even if no changes are ever made.
While it would be unacceptable to have benefits drop by more than 20 percent, Congress has more than a quarter century to prepare for this situation. The projected shortfall is substantial, but nonetheless considerably smaller than other budgetary changes we have seen in recent years. For example, it is more than 20 percent less, measured as a share of GDP, than the increase in annual defense spending than we have seen from 2000 to 2010.
I hope that you will be careful to present the situation more accurately in future public statements. If you would like any additional background on the program, I would be happy to assist you.
Best Regards,
Dean Baker-Co-Director
Center for Economic and Policy Research

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Hello. The lights are on. Is anyone at home?

Yesterday’s Denver Post carried these stories side by side with no acknowledgement of the irony. Congressional investigators learned that business receiving funds from the stimulus funds owed more than 750 million dollars in unpaid taxes at the time they received the government funds. At the same time, GOP House members proposed to cut an almost identical amount from the budget for WIC, the women’s infants and children nutrition and health care program! Hello. The lights are on. Is anyone at home?
The schizophrenia in our beloved nation is palpable. I use that term advisedly. The Mayo Clinic provides this definition.
Schizophrenia is a severe brain disorder in which people interpret
reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of
hallucinations, delusions and disordered thinking and behavior. The ability
of people with schizophrenia to function normally and to care for themselves
tends to deteriorate over time. Schizophrenia refers to a disruption of the
usual balance of emotions and thinking. Schizophrenia is a chronic condition,
requiring lifelong treatment.

The diagnosis is not difficult to make. Delusions and disordered thinking characterize many American voters leading them to vote against their own interests. They hallucinate they are actually represented by candidates they elect. As a result of this disordered thinking, the average middle class person is unable to function normally and care for themselves.

The symptoms include the delusion we can balance the budget without new taxes. Delusional voters believe it is in their middle class interests to protect the uber-wealthy from paying their fair share. This disruption in balanced thinking leads to other wild hallucinations.

They are deluded that when young men and women who volunteer to fight never-ending wars will receive the medical care they require. Yet it took the Court of Appeals to order the Veteran’s Administration to provide adequate mental health treatment to veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who are killing themselves at shamefully high rates.

Politicians have played on the imbalanced fears of voter schizophrenia, convincing them we can wage a war on drugs, taking millions of POW’s without spending the money necessary to lock them up and throw away the key. So this week it took the US Supreme Court to order if you lock them up, you have to pay the bill to provide for their basic needs, like food, shelter and health care.
This communal mental illness allows them to buy tickets to spaghetti dinners and raffles to raise few dollars for cancer treatment while voting for candidates who oppose health care reform. Schizoid masses are up in arms about what they call “Obama-care” even though their icons Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty have supported its keystone provisions. Even in their hallucinations those voters can distinguish black from white and that likely causes many to have other forms of disordered thinking. They nod furiously when Pawlenty says he alone will tell the truth about what has to be done but has only his “truth” to tell to the middle class.
The delusions lead to an expectation they can allow the gap between the rich and themselves to grow ever bigger without assigning their own children to a future as indentured servants.

As a pastor, I don’t even want to begin talking about the delusions they experience while reading the Bible! OMG! Talking snakes and donkeys, search parties looking for the mythical Ark, imagining a burning lake into which those who don’t know magic words are cast. They close their eyes and minds and see a loving God who destroys , hates and pillages.

As the Mayo Clinic advises, Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, requiring lifelong treatment. Without treatment the delusions will worsen and the ability of voters with schizophrenia to function normally and to care for themselves tends to deteriorate.

But as you have been told time after time…the first step is admitting you have a problem. Then you really have to want treatment before it can work!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Want to balance the budget without taxing the rich? I have some ideas!

Just how far will the wealthy go to protect their ill-gotten gains? First they are willing to eviscerate health care for the elderly by replacing Medicare with coupons for seniors. Next they targeted health care for the disabled, blind and the poor by proposing block grants to state legislatures. What that means is that people like Sen. Charlie Scott and others whose disdain for the poor is palpable will decide to whom to ration health care.
These folks are willing to void the social contract on which or nation thrives in order to protect their bank accounts. And now they want to hold a fire sale of the country’s gold reserve rather than enact fair tax laws. Maybe they are on the right track.
Think about it. We sell the gold and then what’s next? We could sell off the national parks and monuments. I’d bet the art work at the National Gallery would fetch a pretty penny. And all those historic items gathering dust at the Smithsonian? If a “Babe Ruth” autograph sells for $10,000, what could we get for the original signed copy of the Declaration of Independence? How about the naming rights for federal buildings? The Department of Energy could be housed in the Halliburton Building, the Department of Labor in the Koch Brother’s Building, and the Department of State could be relocated to the Erik Prince (the bandit formerly known as Blackwater) Xe Services Building. Can you imagine the bidding war to name the Treasury Building?
If we are serious about giving tax breaks to the wealthy, we could auction them to the highest bidder in order to make sure only the truly wealthy get them.  Each time we need money for another war or Wall Street bailout, we could dream up new tax breaks for the rich and hold another auction. Those Wyoming ranchers Cynthia Lummis says were planning to commit suicide if the estate tax increased would have something to live for.
Finally, let’s get serious about this problem and kill two birds with one stone! Let’s auction off seats in Congress. Actually that’s what happens now. There are a lot of fat cats bidding billions of dollars for those 100 Senate and 436 House seats, but the checks are being written but to political action committees as middle men for political consultants, TV stations, etc. What if the government viewed Congressional seats as a “public utility” and claimed a monopoly.  A seat in Congress is valuable enough that if the federal government instead of the political action committees conducted the auction, the people of the United States would finally see some benefit from those assets.
I see a balanced budget in our future, such as that future is.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I close my eyes and easily envision Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah wagging long, bony fingers in the faces of the powerful.

There’s a line between politics and preaching, but sometimes it’s difficult to discern. At times politicians sound like preachers. At times preachers sound like politicians. Some preachers avoid politics. Others become absorbed. For those who involve themselves in offering a theological response to political decisions, there awaits a great deal of criticism about whether it’s appropriate for clergy.
I struggle with this having been ordained after decades of political involvement. My theological reflection revolves largely around contemporary issues and how political choices are informed by religious beliefs or spiritual practices. I firmly believe God calls us to ministry from the place where we have lived, the experiences of our lives. Not all are called from the same spot or for the same purpose.
I find direction in the words of the prophets. I close my eyes and easily envision Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Micah wagging long, bony fingers in the faces of the powerful. The prophets of the Bible uniformly and harshly rejected empty worship by those who failed to feed the hungry and shelter the homeless. They rejected war and violence in God’s name and decried those who clung to a belief in personal salvation while they ignored the suffering of the innocent.
There is something deep in me responding to the impact of a decade of endless war on families in our community, when I hear political leaders proclaim God but cut deals with wealthy friends to the detriment of the weak, as I meet homeless people and see hungry children on the streets of the richest country in America and hear politicians say it is they who must sacrifice even further so that the wealthiest among us can receive tax cuts.
It’s as though the Bible on which they take the oath of office says, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, and then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 3234Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are seriously blessed, inherit even more while you are yet exempt from the estate tax that would have distributed a widow’s mite portion of your ill-gotten gains to those in need…
…f3or you had all you ever needed and we gave you more, I was thirsty and you bought me a drink, I was a lobbyist and you welcomed me, 36I was clothed like a king and you judged me accordingly, when people were sick you created a health care system that profited the wealthy even more, when hard choices had to be made, you made sure those who had no voice were kicked to the curb.’
37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Aw shucks, 3 I’m shocked to learn those political contributions had anything to do with your judgment! Knock me over with a feather. 340And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it for my political action committee, you did for to me. “
The Bible I read tells a different story. The scripture is clear. These are not simply political, economic or social issues. They are deeply spiritual issues implicating our relationship with the Divine and with one another. Preachers must do more than quote scripture, they have a responsibility to fulfill its promise acknowledging the spiritual implications of choices about who is housed, fed, clothed, imprisoned and protected.
Rev. Rodger McDaniel is the pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. He has a Law Degree from the
University of Wyoming and a Masters of Divinity Degree from the Iliff School of Theology in Denver. He may be contacted at rodger.mcdaniel@bresnan.net

Friday, May 20, 2011

"Bodhisattvas teach by example, not by quoting scripture.”

“Politics and spirituality emerge from the bodhisattva commitment to strive for enlightenment so that they may be beneficial to others. Social activism is one and the same with spiritual practice. There is no separation so long as the commitment to benefit all beings never wavers. Bodhisattvas teach by example, not by quoting scripture.”
(In the Shadow of the Buddha by Matteo Pistono
You’re invited to hear Matteo tell the story of his fascinating life journey. He will speak at Highlands Presbyterian Church Sunday May 22nd 10AM-Noon.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wyo’s “Healthy Frontiers” pilot program will never replace Medicaid By Sarah Gorin ESPC health policy volunteer

This morning's blog is a reprint of an excellent blog artilce by Sarah Gorin of the Equality State Policy Council with her permission. Thanks Sarah!

Many Wyoming legislators derisively refer to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the federal health reforms) as “Obamacare.” This would be a humorous addition to the political debate if these same legislators had an alternative proposal, but at the moment the alternative appears to be “No Care.”

Much has been made of Wyoming’s pilot health care reform program, “Healthy Frontiers.” The program was initially funded by the 2010 Legislature, enrolled its first participants at the end of 2010, and received additional funding from the 2011 Legislature to expand to 200 participants.

Currently, Healthy Frontiers has enrolled just under 20 participants from the targeted pool – individuals participating in state job training programs, whose incomes are under 250% of the federal poverty level, and who live in Cheyenne or Casper (where selected medical providers have agreed to begin implementing the program).

Healthy Frontiers is a health care plan. It is important to understand that it is not health insurance. Healthy Frontiers emphasizes primary care and chronic disease management, with the goal of reducing medical costs over time by taking care of conditions before they develop into expensive crises. This logical approach is being implemented in many model programs across the country, and the ESPC has no quarrel with it.

But Healthy Frontiers also requires participants to pay into to a “personal health account” (not a health savings account for tax purposes), based on income. The ESPC has maintained from the beginning that the required contribution is unrealistically high, based on Wyoming’s Family

Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard, which shows the incomes needed to support basic household expenses on a county-by-county basis.

The state also contributes to the personal health account as the client meets certain milestones in the program, such as establishing a relationship with a primary care provider and maintaining compliance with treatment regimens.

Further, the ESPC’s analysis shows that although program proponents hold out Healthy Frontiers as a cheaper alternative to Medicaid, it easily could cost the state more if fully implemented.

rhetoric from some legislators and Governor Matt Mead about Healthy Frontiers is seriously overblown given the current status of the program. With only a handful of participants to date, and zero data on the workability of the financial requirements or on clinical outcomes, it is wildly premature to talk about this extraordinarily modest program as a substitute for anything.

The problem with the program is a microcosm of the larger health care issue. Americans have made a commitment to providing care to everyone, to not let their neighbors die in the street. But we haven’t yet figured out how to pay for that commitment.

The Affordable Care Act is the first step in that direction, trying to get everyone covered with public or private health insurance so they can pay for their care.

Healthy Frontiers clients earn a painfully low income. Since Healthy Frontiers is not health insurance, if its clients need care above and beyond what is provided by the program, the cost of that care will fall – unpaid – on Wyoming’s hospitals and private providers.

By contrast, Medicaid actually is insurance and pays providers for clients’ care. If you were a health care provider in Wyoming, which program would you like to see behind the consumers coming through the door?

Wyoming’s lawmakers need to lay aside political agendas and focus on solutions that will help our residents access quality health care when they need it and keep our state’s hospitals and providers solvent.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Solomon, like his father, like you and me… is a complex character much like the church itself.

Rodger McDaniel is the Pastor at Highlands Presbyterian Church
in Cheyenne. This is an excerpt from Sunday’s sermon.

Our journey through the Old Testament continues. We’ve traveled through the Pentateuch, the first five books of our Bible, and then the historical books of Joshua, Judges, Ruth and 1st and 2nd Samuel, the stories of Creation, the Flood, Abraham and the other patriarchs, Joseph, Moses and the escape from Egypt into the Wilderness and on into the promised land. We’ve witnessed Israel’s struggle to figure out how to rule itself. When Moses couldn’t do it alone, God sent a succession of judges whose sons proved so corrupt the people demanded a king and got what they asked for. Saul to David and on now to Solomon as the first book of Kings opens.
1st Kings begins with the death of David and the enthronement of his son Solomon. Solomon is the last to rule over the United Kingdom. After Solomon there will be a long chain of kings who divide the people and the kingdom.

As we begin David is so old and frail he cannot stay warm. David was old and advanced in years; and although they covered him with clothes, he could not get warm. The King’s servants apparently cannot find blankets so they look instead for a young virgin to let her lie in your bosom, so that my lord may be warm. They find Abishag the Shumanite to tend to the King. The writers are careful to let us know that while she warmed David, they did not have sex.

But the elderly King has more troubles than just body temperature. Adonijah, his son prepared presumptuously to take his father’s throne. But the Queen and the prophet Nathan persuade David he had promised Bathsheba their son Solomon would be the heir. Solomon becomes king (vv. 11-14).

David’s final words are an interesting mix. He charges Solomon to remain faithful to the Lord, and then instructing him to take revenge on those who had been disloyal to David (vv. 5-9). Even on his deathbed, David proves a complex mixture of faithful servant and ruthless avenger. Solomon proves to be David’s match – a complex alignment of ruthlessness and faithfulness. One day faithful, the next flawed.

Early in his kingship, Solomon meets God in a dream. Solomon is given a choice of anything. He begins noting the Lord’s faithfulness and asks only for wisdom to govern the people with understanding and justice (3:7-9).

The Lord, pleased he had asked for wisdom to rule rather than wealth, grants his request (v. 12). Indeed Solomon’s request reveals the very quality God seeks. The Lord also promises the wealth and honor and long life for which Solomon did not ask. God’s promise is conditional. It all depends on whether Solomon will ‘walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments’. It is not so much whether Solomon will observe religious rituals but how he lives as a human being and rules as a king. We’ve already seen how Solomon’s father, David, struggled with that very issue. Now like father, like son, Solomon will continue that struggle. 

In spite of the foibles and the sinfulness of the Lord’s people, the call for loyalty to the Lord and genuine wisdom, the demand to ‘walk in the Lord’s ways’, never ceases. We glimpse the full nature of God’s grace even as we are aware of our human failings.
Solomon, like his father, like you and me… is a complex character much like the church itself. Throughout the ages, on its best days, Christianity has done extraordinary good but on its worst days, evil has been done in God’s name. We would do well to think of ourselves and others holistically… the whole person, the whole institution—the glory as well as the flaws…to think not of Solomon or ourselves or even the church as having a single dimension. We are all so much more complex.
The world is so much more complex, a mixture of good and bad. None of us can be defined by our best days and none of us should be defined either by our worst.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

It’s like the boy who murdered both parents asking the court for mercy because he’s an orphan.

All three Wyoming delegates to Congress have signed on as co-sponsors to a proposed constitutional amendment allowing states to veto federal laws and regulations they dislike.
According the Casper Star-Tribune, Rep. Cynthia Lummis said, “I am fighting to return to the rightful owner — the states and the individuals — the power that the federal government has grabbed,” Lummis said in a media release Wednesday. “That is what our founders envisioned, what our Constitution requires and what the people of Wyoming demand.”

There is a noticeable bit of irony in a member of Congress complaining about a “federal power grab.” It’s like the boy who murdered both parents asking the court for mercy because he’s an orphan. If there has been a federal power grab, haven’t these three fault-finders been accomplices to the crime?

But what really ought to demand some explanation is the claim their radical proposal “is what our founders envisioned.” That is true only if what is meant by “our founders” are those who gave us the original Articles of Confederation.” If historical facts have any value in this debate, it should be recalled these “founders” gave us a fatally flawed system of government lasting only a few years.

The Articles of Confederation were enacted by Congress November 15, 1777, ratified  March 1, 1781 and then replaced in 1791 by the Constitution we have had now for 220 years. So, to which of these “founders” do our Congress-people refer? Their proposal to allow the states to veto federal law would cause one to believe they consider those who gave us the short-lived Articles of Confederation to have been the founders. The Articles read as does their proposal. Article II says, “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every Power, Jurisdiction, and right, which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States, in Congress assembled. Article III continued, “The said States hereby severally enter into a firm league of friendship with each other….” That “firm league of friendship” was a failure.

Tongue in cheek but not without relevance is the possibility our Members of Congress are thinking of those who established the Confederacy in 1861 as “founders.” The Preamble of the Constitution of the Confederate States actually sounds like what they have in mind.
We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent federal government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God do ordain and establish this Constitution for the Confederate States of America.
In a more common view, the term “founders” of course refers most accurately to those who quickly recognized the weaknesses the Articles of Confederation tossing them out along with the bath water after less than a decade. Under the Articles, regional differences among the states left the nation disabled then as they would today. The founders who gave us the current US Constitution did so after quickly realizing state’s rights were distinct from the common needs of a nation.
Perhaps things have changed so much that the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution of the Confederacy make better sense to Senators Enzi and Barrasso and Rep. Lummis. It is, however, a dangerous experiment, a form of Russian roulette. The Tea Party that ultimately gave us a Constitution which survived 220 years of wars, depressions, and Manifest Destiny should not be easily discarded by a Tea Party that has been around for only a couple of long years.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Did you ever wonder what is at stake in beliefs about heaven and hell? Please join us for the discussion at Happy Hour this evening at Uncle Charlie’s!

Did you ever wonder what is at stake in beliefs about heaven and hell? For Rev. Chad Holtz is was his job preaching at a rural United Methodist church in North Carolina. Rev. Holtz was fired for a facebook post agreeing with some of the arguments made by Rob Bell in his book Love Wins: A Book About Heaven and Hell and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived. It should be noted Bell is not one of us “lefty” preachers but rather an Evangelical like those in Holtz’ congregation who shunned their young pastor for daring to believe that a loving God would not relegate “sinners” to eternal fire.
Bell’s book is the starting place for a new Bible study for open minded folks. Called “Bibles and Beers” we will meet each Monday beginning today, May 16th for Happy Hour in the loft at Uncle Charlie’s (from 5:30-6:30). If RSVP’s mean anything, there is a great deal of interest from people of a wide range in ages and beliefs. Bell’s book is the launching pad for this experiment.
Curious thing a book entitled “Love Wins” can become a flashpoint dividing Christians. It says something about the tone of the times and the way in which the cultural wars are being fought by those who claim the Bible as their life’s guide. Bell’s argument is reasoned and thoughtful. His ministry discloses a pattern of well considered, scripturally sound views. I have not stopped at reading his book but have gone on to essays and sermons written by those who reject Bell’s premise. The common thread among those who disagree is their certainty which contrasts irreconcilably with Bell’s embrace of the ambiguity of it all.
Rev. Bell starts with one certainty. He is uncertain! In the final analysis that exposes what is at stake in this and other contemporary debates among Christians and others. On one side of the church are those who are certain…certain about their understanding of God, the meaning of scripture, the path to salvation and the images of Heaven and Hell left behind by Dante and other artists. On the other said are those of us who are not so certain.
We tend to believe that a Creative God is beyond our ability to understand, to grasp. The diversity of cultures and faiths, of beliefs and non-beliefs are a part of God’s design. There is intent in a creation so vast with so many ambiguities. A faith in an enigmatic God demands a high level of comfort with uncertainty. Indeed faith is as antithetic to certainty as chalk is to cheese.
That’s why Rev. Holtz lost his job. That much is at stake. Many Christians are threatened by a belief requiring them to forgo the certainty of literalism. A vast range of revelations in Biblical scholarship as well as science and philosophy seem to them to be a personal attack on the God to whom they cling. Once the certainty vanishes, all that remains is a vague, ill-defined promise.
While I understand the dilemma, I cannot claim I understand God enough to be as certain as some of my fellow Christians. Hence, I must struggle with the ambiguities of it all. Please join us for the discussion at Happy Hour this evening at Uncle Charlie’s!

Monday, May 2, 2011

This retirement gig is getting tougher by the day…

I am taking a little vacation from blogging and all other responsibilities…of which I have very few these days. Pat and I are headed for Paris tomorrow. I am hoping you all will post some ideas for (1) what I should take along; and (2) what I should bring home!
This retirement gig is getting tougher by the day…but I think I can get through it.
Just a couple of reminders…
            Join us for “Bibles and Beers” every Monday happy hour starting May 16th
at Uncle Charlie’s from 5:30 till 6:30.We will be discussing Rob Bell’s controversial book “Love Wins.” (NOTE: Only in these times could a book entitled “Love Wins” be so controversial!)

May 19th at Highlands Presbyterian Church 2390 Pattison Avenue in Cheyenne (Buffalo Ridge area) 6:30 PM an informational meeting on Just Faith http://www.justfaith.org

Sunday May 22nd Matteo Pistono is speaking at Highlands Presbyterian Church about his life’s journey from Lander, Wyoming to Tibet and his acclaimed book In the Shadow of the Buddha. 10 AM – Noon.

Ya’all come now…see you in a couple of weeks.

PS: Do you think we could have a little Spring by the time Pat and I get back?