“The Status Quo Means Change”

Yes, yes, I know that the meaning of “status quo” is to essentially keep things as they are but I think there is a problem with that particular idea. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man.”

There is a feeling in this country today that we need to maintain the status quo. It is clearly an unstated feeling but it seems to permeate almost everything we do, whether what we do is good or bad. It is almost as if we fear change and are unwilling to seek change. In a world and a society in which we willing and boldly went over the horizon and peeked around the corner, we are now reluctant to do so. We now longer wish to venture into the unknown, preferring to stay where we are, thinking that in doing so, we will be safe and secure.

And yet, people came to this country, not knowing what was here because they wanted (and still want) to start a new life. The American Revolution was begun because our ancestors were unwilling to live in society that denied them freedom and they were willing to try a form of government that expressed ideas never before considered.

The exploration of this globe, though driven at times by more ulterior motives, required that we go over the horizon and look around the corner, even when the maps said “Terra Incognita” (or “unknown land”). In when President John Kennedy spoke about going to the moon at Rice University in May of 1962, he noted that it would a difficult task and that it would require metal alloys that had not been invented yet and without knowing what benefits we would receive from the effort.

And he acknowledged that it would not be easy and it would not be cheap. But new hopes for peace and knowledge were to be found by going to not just to the moon but to the planets and stars beyond. So we began the great exploration.

But today, we remain literally earth-bound. No one has stepped on the surface of the moon since Gene Cernan stepped back into the LEM on December 14, 1972, and we are seemingly content to let other countries send individuals into outer space. And our plans for future exploration keep getting pushed back as we consider other activities more important.

But I am afraid that those other activities are the same activities that began to take away the resources of the Apollo program. It was first the war in Viet Nam and now it is the wars and military excursions in the Middle East. And it is not just the military operations but also the mind-set that says we build weapons of war but we forget the people.

How long can we continue to focus on destruction and death rather that construction and life? How long can we continue to send our young off to die or come home injured and then forgotten?

What benefits do we reap today from sending individuals off to war? Perhaps it is the enjoyment that General Robert E. Lee so feared when he wrote to his wife, “It is well that war is so terrible – otherwise we would grow fond of it.” And what parent does not want to bury their child, remember the Herodotus’ quote, “In peace, children bury their parents; war violates the order of nature and causes parents to bury their children.”

If maintaining the status quo means keeping things the same, then we must face the fact that we are doomed. Because what we are doing today takes away our life and our future.

But if the status quo means to seek change, then we have a future. IT is future not only for ourselves but for our children and this planet.

Should we not be sending our young and all the able people to find new worlds or seek new things? It is quite easy to see the benefits that we gained from going to the moon in the 1960s. Our smart phones, our computers, and most of the technology of our lives were developed from the efforts to send people into space and return them safely. What benefits shall we reap tomorrow from what we do today?

We have a choice today. We can hold onto what we have right now, which isn’t much, and see our future disappear, much like water evaporating. It won’t be obvious but then one moment we see there is no water in the container. We try valiantly to hold onto to what we have and then we find that it is all gone.

Or we can seek change, not sure if it will work or not but knowing that if we do not seek change, if we do not see what is around the corner or over the horizon, we will fail.

Yes, there might be a cliff over the horizon but how will we know if we don’t go and look; at least we will know that is not the way to go. Yes, it will cost something to do this but consider what we are spending today and what we are spending it on and tell me that we have better ways to spend our funds.

To seek change is the only way to maintain who we are and what we are to be.

Three Flags

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.

Thoughts From The Heart On The Left

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“What Are We Supposed To Remember?”

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.

“Some Contrarian Christian Ideas On Science”

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 Commitment” (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”.

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.

“Some Contrarian Christian Ideas On Taxes”

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.

“Plan Z From Inner Space”

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.