In addition to what I have already posted for this Memorial Day (https://heartontheleft.wordpress.com/2015/05/21/what-are-we-supposed-to-remember/), I wanted to bring this one back. I was in a conversation the other day with some veterans who were raising funds for the local VA hospital in our area. We seem so ready to send our young off to war but then we forget them when they came home.
This is one of those unique weekends where Memorial Day and Pentecost Sunday are celebrated on the same weekend. On Pentecost Sunday, we remember the birth of the church and on Memorial Day we remember, though honor is perhaps a better term, those who have served this country in the past.
And yet while one of these occurrences is supposed to celebrate life and the other celebrate death, I am not entirely sure today which one is doing which. On this Pentecost Sunday, we hear not of the birth of the church but rather its death and on a day when we are suppose to honor and remember those who have died in service for this country, we seem to be more concern about having another war or continuing the wars in place.
If anything, this weekend should celebrate life. We need to remember those who have died so that others may live and, then, we need to work on ways to make sure that we do not use wars as a way to ensure peace and freedom. I do not think that those who have died believed they died in vain but I also believe that they felt the world would be safer because of what they did.
We need to remember what those gathered together in Jerusalem on that first Pentecost were doing then and find ways to keep doing it today. It is noted in the Book of Acts that they shared all they had, without exception, and they made sure those who had no resources, including those who might be called non-believers, were included. They gathered together in love and their numbers grew because of that.
But today, the money that society spends on destruction and death is far more than what is spent on construction and life. And when I think back to the way life was 100 years ago and 50 years ago and see that not much has changed – we worship war and inequality, the rich seem to get richer and the poor remained oppressed, I have what it is we are supposed to remember this weekend.
I hope that what we remember this weekend pushes us to ensure a better world and not one where war and inequality are the way. What I fear is that unless we resolve to make Pentecost an ongoing expression of our faith, of people living together and sharing all their resources, then we will have more burials of young people who died to ensure that peace and freedom continue will continue.
I know that these are not necessarily associated with the 7th Sunday of Easter or Ascension Sunday but reflect some thoughts about some ideas related to the Bible and Christianity. This is part two of a two part piece and deals with the notion of taxes. The first part (“Some Contrarian Christian Ideas On Taxes”) deals with ideas of taxes.
It goes without saying that I am concerned about the status of science in this country today. There are two major issues facing this country (and this planet) right now – climate change and, for lack of a better phrase, evolution/creationism. Both of these topics require a firm grasp on science, call it scientific literacy if you will but it is an understanding of what is taking place. It doesn’t require that one have a degree in one of the sciences but it does require that you be able to think about what is happening and know what questions to ask (case in point, always remember that not all chemicals are toxic).
And the issue comes down to the idea that being a Christian automatically means that one cannot be a scientist or accept scientific views. And there are those who feel that being a scientist automatically excludes one from being a Christian, or any other believer for that matter.
What I fear is happening is that those who would have us believe that the story in Genesis is the truth and the only truth do not want individuals to develop any sort of thinking process, for that might cause those individuals to begin to question the tenets of their faith (and this is not necessarily limited to Christianity in today’s society). But one’s faith cannot grow if there is no opportunity to question it and, personally, I feel that one’s faith can’t be all that strong if you will not allow questions about it.
I wrote “A Dialogue of Science and Faith” (posted on 31 December 2009) because I discovered a post in which the author observed that Isaac Newton accepted the idea of the Great Flood as described in Genesis and that if the greatest scientist who ever lived believed in the flood, then those who believed in evolution and many others were doomed.
The problem with the logical of this was that Isaac Newton was not aware of what Charles Darwin was going to write almost two hundred years later. It is sort of hard to argue for or against any idea if you are not aware of it.
In the process of writing about the beliefs of Isaac Newton (and his writings on religion were far more numerous than his other writings), I discovered something about Robert Boyle and Joseph Priestley and their respective religious backgrounds and beliefs.
I have alluded to these backgrounds and beliefs and how what I have done in the following pieces:
“It’s About Committment” (posted on 14 February 2011)
“A Brief History of Atomic Theory” (posted on 27 April 2011)
“Guided By The Light” (posted on 31 December 2011 for 1 January 2012)
Message presented and posted on 4 May 2012 – “To Offer A New Vision”
Message presented and posted on 1 July 2012 – “To Honor The Future”
“Removing The Veil” (posted on 11 February 2013); this piece also talks about about Francis Collins and some of the difficulties he has had being both a scientist and a Christian.
Message presented and posted on 1 September 2013 – “Guess Who’s Coming To Breakfast?” (in this I thought about who I would have dinner with, in the manner similar to Steve Allen’s “Meeting of the Minds”; my choices for one dinner were Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, and Joseph Priestley)
There was a discussion on the BioLogos web site concerning the life of “Robert Boyle”; in my posted (posted on 11 November 2013) I provided links to the various parts of the discussion.
I have also discovered that this idea is, that there is a fundamental conflict between science and faith is, in terms of church history, a recent idea. The early church (around 300 C. E.) felt that the opening words of Genesis shouldn’t be taken literally and that Genesis was more of a story about us than they were a science lesson. This thought carried through the years but seems to have disappeared in recent times.
I also discovered that it wasn’t necessarily the church that initially opposed the ideas that Galileo presented; rather it was the academic establishment of his time. They were opposed to these new ideas because their reputation, status, and power were built on maintaining the Aristotelian view of an earth-centered universe. The church was brought into the argument because the academic establishment convinced members of the church establishment that the changes proposed by Copernicus, Kepler, and Galileo would harm the church and threaten their status, reputation, and power (from “The Changing Of The Seasons”).
Similarly, there are those who oppose religion but too often their responses create a religion called scientism (see “Removing The Veil” for a discussion of this idea and links to other notes on the topic).
I am quietly convinced that we are fast approaching a new “Dark Ages”, brought about through ignorance. We are not willing to seek out information on our own and we are unwilling to push the boundaries of the envelope that surrounds our lives. We seem to say that a split exists between science and faith, when, if we look at it carefully, it comes down to a fight between groups who are not interested in either faith nor science but the maintenance of their own power, both secular and sectarian.
One thing about being a Christian is that I must work to remove injustice and oppression from the world. To teach the inhabitants of this world, to provide the wherewithal that will allow us to go beyond the boundaries of our present life through the use of science and what it provides is, I believe, the fulfillment of that task.
I know that these are not necessarily associated with the 7th Sunday of Easter or Ascension Sunday but reflect some thoughts about some ideas related to the Bible and Christianity. This is part one of a two part piece and deals with the notion of taxes. The second part (“Some Contrarian Christian Ideas on Science”) deals with ideas of science.
At least one Presidential candidate is bring back the idea of a flat tax and using the Bible as justification for the idea. Of course, a flat tax is a very regressive tax, meaning that it impacts more on those who have less income. But there is precedence for a Biblical-based tax and I have written about it on a number of occasions.
Message presented on 31 August 2003 – “Do As I Say? Or Do As I Do?” (posted on 28 May 2008). The following messages and posts refer to this particular message as the primary source.
Message presented on 21 March 2004 – “Which Side Are You On? (2004) (posted on 27 May 2008)
“Who Shall Enter The Promised Land?” (posted on 25 October 2008)
Message presented on 14 June 2009 – “The State of Faith” (posted on 27 June 2009)
“To Finish The Journey” (posted on 25 October 2011)
The original reference for a Biblical tax system is found in the first of the five posts (“Do As I Say? Or Do As I Do?”) and describes the work of Susan Hamill, a professor of law at the University of Alabama, whose Master’s thesis was entitled “An Argument for Tax Reform Based on Judeo-Christian Ethics”. In it, she states it states that “Alabama’s tax structure fails to meet any reasonable definition of fairness and violates the moral principles of Judeo-Christian ethics.” (My notes say that I got this information concerning the proposal for reforming the Alabama tax code came from an article written by Bob Allen and posted to Ethics.com on 4/14/03; I cannot confirm this link, though there are several links to the original document out there).
As I originally wrote, many of the churches in Alabama came out for this proposal. However, the Christian Coalition in Alabama, backed by the state’s timber industry, worked against it, probably because it would have increased the taxes on higher incomes and businesses. The Christian Coalition could not defeat the logical of the argument she presented so they attacked her personally.
So, there is a Biblical way to tax everyone that is fair and equitable; it just not the plan being proposed by present Presidential candidates.
I am not sure where Jeremy got the idea for the title of one of his recent blog posts but I have a feeling it was with a sense of two decidedly different science fiction films, hence my title.
With General Conference just about a year away, we will begin to see proposals, counter-proposals, and even perhaps some wild and crazy ideas about how the United Methodist Church will be run and run in the years to come.
I couldn’t re-blog UMJeremy’s blog so I will post a link to it here → PlanUMC – The Phantom Menace in the #UMC. Reverend Jeremy Smith offers some commentary about a reorganization plan that has been submitted for the 2016 General Conference. He points out there is a lot to question about what is being proposed.