Archive for the ‘Ethics’ Category

Teaching World View

Friday, January 18th, 2013

What is a “world view?”  A world view is a way that a person understands, relates to, and responds from a philosophical position that he embraces as his own. World view is a framework that ties everything together, that allows us to understand society, the world, and our place in it.  A world view helps us to make the critical decisions which will shape our future.  A world view colors all our decisions and all our artistic creations.  In the first Star Wars movie (1977), for instance, Luke Skywalker clearly values a Judeo-Christian code of ethics.  That does not mean that he is a believing Christian–indeed he is not–but he does uphold and fight for a moral world.   Darth Vader, on the other hand, represents chaos and amoral behavior.  He does whatever it takes to advance the Emperor’s agenda, regardless of who he hurts or what rule he breaks.  It is important that you articulate your world view now so that you will be ready to discern other world views later.

Answering the following questions is one way that you, and your children, can articulate a world view:

What is the priority of the spiritual world?

Authority–Is the Bible important to you?  Do you obey God and other authority–your parents–even when it is uncomfortable to do so?

Pleasure–what do you really enjoy doing?  Does it please God?

What is the essential uniqueness of man?

Fate–what/who really determines your life?  Chance?  Circumstances? God?

What is the objective character of truth and goodness?

Justice–What are the consequences of our actions?  Is there some sort of judgment?  Do bad people suffer?  Why do good people suffer?

(Adapted from Carl Henry)


Crossing the Creepy Line

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Google CEO Eric Schmidt made the now infamous remark about Google’s practice of getting very close to the “creepy line” but not going over. With the decision to release an update to Google Goggles that will allow the app to identify human faces Google has arguably crossed “the creepy line.”

            What this would effectively permit is the identification of people on the street or in a public place by simply pointing your phone camera at them.

            Now that is creepy. 

            The need to be anonymous is as basic as human nature. We like to remain unknown in a crowd, or, at least we deserve the privilege to reveal ourselves to whomever we please.  If we commit a crime, perhaps, that right is abrogated.  We may be, even should be, identified and apprehended.  But to be identified by perfect strangers, gratuitously, randomly, is creepy. Joseph Conrad, in Lord Jim warns us, “There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable mystery.” Zip!  With the focus of an I-Phone the mystery disappears.

            Many people “are rightfully scared of it,” one journalist said. “In particular, women say, ‘Oh my God. Imagine this guy takes a picture of me in a bar, and then he knows my address just because somewhere on the Web there is an association of my address with my photo.’ That’s a scary thought. So I think there is merit in finding a good route that makes the power of this technology available in a good way.”

            Interesting thought.  We dare not STOP using the creepy thing—we have to find a laudable reason to do so.  I am Eichmann appreciated that irony when he realized that the technology was there to murder 6 million Jews so we might as well do it.  Do you think so.

            I like Google’s response—a typical Post-Modern response–“I think we are taking a sort of cautious route with this,” Google said. “It’s a sensitive area, and it’s kind of a subjective call on how you would do it.”

            Another signature mark of the times: “Each person decides for himself if he uses a certain thing.”  No, not this time. I don’t want perverts to identify and to visit my grandchildren whenever they like!  I don’t care if the technology is there or not.  Get rid of it.

            Now that is a novel idea—get rid of it.  That is exactly what I am saying.  Get rid of the technology.  Not only do we want never to use it, we need to erase our footsteps and get rid of our ability to do the thing.  There is no good, no possible good, in a perfect stranger being able to identify another private human being.

            Can we deal with that? I doubt it.

            And it is coming folks. Apparently Google got over its concerns and has decided to roll facial recognition out in a mobile context. Science and technology have their own logic and momentum. Because something is possible there’s an impulse to see it realized or implemented in the world. Perhaps there’s such identification at Google with “innovation” that it was “culturally” impossible for Google not to roll this out.

            Creepy I tell you, creepy.

            There is one power, one power who does know me. Always has, always will.  Knows my next thought, predestined my next action.  Someone who is in absolute control of everything—Almighty God.  But He alone deserves this sort of power.  He loves me, He cares for me, He died on the cross at Calvary for me. 

            I do not fear His perusal, but my friend, if you swing your Motorola to my grandchildren and I think you are identifying them, not merely taking a picture, I am going to smack you.

            Not really.  But I am going to think you and Google are creepy.  Take that.


Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Walter Brueggemann, in his book The Land, suggests that there is a pervasive “lostness” in American life. In fact this alienation from one another, threatens all aspects of American culture. The reestablishment of the two-parent home would go a long way to bring back stability into our culture.

In that sense, then, church programs must take into account the broken relationships, the loss of relationships, that an Ellen or Elizabeth are experiencing. For instance, in our church we have a Youth Club, intergenerational experience every Wednesday night. A sort of “family” night, everyone is invited. Everyone is part of a “family” at least once a week. The Church should never lower its standards. On the contrary the Church should unabashedly promote a Christian perspective of family–fidelity to Christian morality.

Likewise, the church must recognize that the actual number of Murphy Browns in America (single mothers by choice with incomes over $50,000 a year) is not even .1% of unwed mothers. The fact is, they need our financial support. They need free childcare provided or all events. And so forth.

But it is true, though, that nontraditional family numbers are growing. Single parents should not be discouraged. We all know inspiring stories of how single parent families have prospered.

Another group that needs our attention is blended families. Now that 46% of all American marriages involve at least one partner who has at least one partner who has been married before, we need to recognize that blended families need special programming and attention.

Next, the church must be unequivocable in its ethical stand that the Word of God must not be compromised. While we celebrate pluralism, without being moralistic or harsh, we need to recognize that not all family forms are right nor equal for the task of raising children.

Churches must accept openly and without prejudice the full range of single families, stepfamilies, and cohabiting families (while making clear such a life style is sinful!).

The church should challenge its families and young people to have higher standards than the world.

Our youth programs should emphasize preparation for life in the egalitarian postmodern family. Since one of the major trends of family life in America is the absence of fathers, boys and young men should be spoken to seriously about commitment and parenting.


Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

If we are confused about what is right and wrong, about individual responsibilities, we are even more confused about toleration. S.D. Gaede, When Tolerance is No Virtue, says . . . “In our culture, there is considerable confusion about how we ought to live with our differences and a cacophony of contradictory justifications for one approach as opposed to another. All appeal to the need of tolerance, but there is nothing like common argument on what that means. The question our culture raises by nature and development is what is truth and what can we believe? Our culture doesn’t know the answers. In fact, we have lost confidence in truth and have come to the conclusion that truth is unattainable. Thus, tolerance moves to the forefront.”

Finally, in the years ahead, there will be real confusion about sexual roles. Sir Arnold Toynbee says . . . In the nineteen forties Toynbee studied civilizations and came to the following conclusions: Based on his study of twenty-one civilizations Toynbee found that societies in disintegration suffer a kind of “schism of the soul.” They are seldom simply overrun by some other civilization. Rather, they commit a sort of cultural suicide. Disintegrating societies have several characteristics, Toynbee argues. They fall into a sense of abandon People begin to yield to their impulses-especially in the sexual area. They also succumb to truancy that is escapism seeking to avoid their problems by retreating into their own worlds of distraction and entertainment. There is a sense of drift as they realize that they have no control over their lives. Consciousness is adrift, unable to anchor itself to any universal ground of justice, truth on which the ideals of modernity have been founded in the past.

Evangelicals, therefore, must not merely talk the talk. They must walk the walk. They are seeking to create an alternative community of hope. We/they are sabotaging the conspiracy of hopelessness and self-centeredness that is so pervasive in our nation. Bring on the revolution!


Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

With General Motors fresh out of bankruptcy new GM CEO Robert A Lutz promises to turn around GM by changing its image. He wants Americans to think it is “uncool” to drive an import.

Indeed. I think, personally, I might buy a new GM when it can match the durability, price, dependability, and efficiency of my Toyota Prius. I hate to say this, because it is so un-American, I don’t really think cars and boats and candy bars have an “image” that makes me want to buy or not to buy them. Hey, GM, I’m sorry, that is the heart beat of America.

If I was to buy American, and I might, I think I would buy Ford, though. They were gutsy enough to stay steady when other unnamed auto companies had bail outs. But, what do I know. Obviously I am a card carrying, radical, dangerous, Fox News Channel Junkie terrorist. What do I know?

You know we have been trying to do this for awhile. Terrorists are not terrorists anymore, they are religious fundamentalists. Like I suppose my Amish friends who are religious fundamentalists? Not! My Amish friends might not want my son to marry their daughters but they won’t drive a horse cart into my house and blow up my family, will they? No, Islamic Terrorists are Islamic Terrorists. Period.

We don’t fornicate anymore either. We “live together” or we “cohabitate” or we “sleep together.” We don’t murder unborn children—we abort them. ; We end pregnancies.

No comment.

Humans cannot bear much reality

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Humans cannot bear much reality . . .The church lies bereft,
Desecrated, desolated.
And the heathen shall build
On the ruins . . .–T. S, Eliot

These haunting words punctuate the lowest point of T. S. Eliot’s MURDER IN THE CATHEDRAL (James P. Stobaugh, BRITISH LITERATURE, Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2005). Archbishop Becket will die, martyred by the selfish King Henry II, but not for any nostalgic reason. Not for any sentimental purpose. He will die in obedience to our Lord God’s purposes. He defies hyperbole.

As we struggle to make sense of all the hard times we face, of all the good things we can do. Let us choose the obedient thing to do, not the thing that may seem right in our own eyes.

There is a crisis of ethics in our time. Only the fool, fixed in his folly, may think he can turn the wheel on which he turns. To do the right deed for the wrong reason . . . in this age of compromises, of good intentions, it is critical that we follow Becket’s example. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Human kind cannot bear very much reality.
The church shall be open, even to our enemies.
We are not here to triumph by fighting, by stratagem, or by resistance,
Not to fight with beasts as men. We have fought the beast
And have conquered. We have only to conquer
Now, by suffering. This is the easier victory.
For every life and every act
Consequence of good and evil can be shown.
And as in time results of many deeds are blended
So good and evil in the end become confounded.
In life there is not time to grieve long.

And the heathen shall build
On the ruins
Their world without God.
I see it.
I see it.

Let us not be of the world; let us be in that world. But let us create a new world!