Monday, March 28, 2005

30 Hour Famine

Alright, I meant to write something about this a week ago, but, well, I didn't. So here it is now.

On March 18-19, we (we being the Sr. High group at church) participated in the 30 Hour Famine. There were nine high schoolers, myself, and two of our volunteer high school advisors. Mad props to all those that participated. My prayer is that we all (myself most definitely included) came away more sensitive to the struggles of the majority of our brothers and sisters around the world. Don't know how much money we raised yet (and even if I did, I probably wouldn't post it...), as many of the kids are still trying to collect some support from people. in place of dinner, breakfast, and then lunch, we had devotions for everyone to do. I think those went pretty well. For our 'breaking the fast' dinner Saturday night, my wonderful wife and one of the high schoolers that was unable to participate fixed us our dinner. Rice, black beans, and oranges. We sat on the floor, and had no utensils (didn't take them too long to realize that after you ate an orange, the rind could be used as a spoon for the rice and beans). Also, we stipulated some rules: you could not serve yourself, nor could you ask for food. So the only way you could get food was if one of your peers saw that you didn't have any and offered to get you some. That was to drive home the point that we need to be watching out for each other, both locally and globally. Also, it was one last reminder that much of the world is often at the mercy of the few of us who have been blessed with so much. The kids were helpless unless someone noticed their plight and offered to help. I was unsure how that would work out in practice (would they revolt after not eating for 30 hours...or 32 in some cases?!), but it went over well. No fighting, no cheating, just a pleasant, simple meal around a lone candle. All in all, a good way to spend a couple of days.

I think the funniest time of the Famine was Saturday afternoon. Our church was having an Easter egg hunt for the community while we were there fasting. Most of the kids volunteered to help, which meant we had many faminished high schoolers hiding candy, and then helping little ones find the candy. Several of them weren't sure if they could do that without giving in to temptation...but they all did! One even dressed up as the Easter bunny for the entertainment of the young children, playing with them and letting them have their picture taken sittin on her lap. I know she was grumpy, tired, hungry, and hot under that costume, but the children loved it. Just another simple way they found to serve the local community even while serving the global one. High fives all around.

It's amazing how much we have. To never have ever had to worry about getting enough food...we are so spoiled and we don't even realize it. This computer that I am typing on could have paid to feed several starving kids for a year. Is the answer as simple as not buying crap I don't need?

Just Asking

So, just out of curiosity, what would our reaction be if there was a college campus group called "Campus Jihad for Allah"?

Such a Slacker

Man, it's been almost 2 weeks since I've posted. I'm such a slacker. I started this thing so I would be motivated to write more, but that doesn't seem to be happening. Oh well. It's not like anyone looks here...or do they? If you do, leave comments so I know you were here.

Anyway, I'll try to come up with stuff to write about since I have some free time at the moment...

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Morality? Part II

Thinking about the last post has caused me to think more about morality. We Christians seem to get quite caught up in labling what is moral and what is not. And perhaps we should, at least to an extent. But it does seem like sometimes, and maybe (probably?) even more often than that, the purpose of doing so is not so much because it is a good thing to determine what is beneficial and what is not, but instead we like to be able to quanitify who is moral and who is not. That is, when thinking about the coming and very present Kingdom of God, we want to be able to say who is in and who is out. Of course, we would never claim to "know" who is in and who is out, but really, isn't that the real purpose behind much of our carrying on about what is moral and what is immoral? We tend to think of immoral actions (at least certain ones...) as eliminating one from being a part of God's people.

But I think the truth of the matter is that the issue of "morality" is much more shallow than we like to think. And the very truth of God is so much deeper than we allow when we continuously focus on morality. Not that I think we should act immoral. But sometimes I just wonder if we take it too seriously. Or, put another, and maybe less confusing, way: our sin (ie immorality) is a sympton of our separation from God. Perhaps we are not separated from God because of all these sins that we run around worrying about, but instead, maybe the truth is that we act out these sins because we are separated from God. It's a matter of confusing the product with the cause. If that's true, then, the crux of the matter is not to get people to stop sinning, the crux of the matter is to get them to God, whether they stop sinning or not (who does?). Maybe I am not a sinner because I sin, but in fact I sin because I am a sinner. And that is how, maybe, we can know that we in Christ still sin, and yet we are no longer declared "sinners", but instead are declared "righteous". Maybe?

What if Christians began treating sin in this way? What if we stopped treating sin as something that needed to be fixed/contained/managed/whatever, and instead began seeing it as a sympton of our separation? What would change?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


So last Friday night, I settled in to watch a favorite show, Real Time with Bill Maher. While I often disagree with what Bill Maher says (as well as most of his guests -- ok, the truth is that sometimes I think I disagree with most everybody, but that's another topic for another time), I do find him funny at times and I respect anyone who at least has the guts to just speak their mind. Ok, now that I've justified watching the show on a regular basis, here's what caught my thoughts. The discussion turned to the controversy over the Ten Commandments in federal courthouses. The slant on the roundtable discussion was whether or not the 10 Commandments were moral precepts.

Bernadine Healy (former NIH administrator) argued that the 10 Commandments was the moral and legal ancestor of our current judicial system. Therefore, the fact that they were prescribed by a particular religion is immaterial to the issue of whether or not they should be displayed in our courthouses. Because they are the very history of our judicial system, they should be allowed. They are, then, more of a social statement than a religious statement.

Bill argued many were not, in fact, moral in nature. For example, Thou shalt have no other gods before Me, Bill argued, was not a moral precept. It is, instead, strictly religious in nature. Therefore, even though some of the precepts contained in the Commandments are moral (e.g. Thou shalt not steal, etc.), the fact that others are strictly religious in nature entails an endorsement of a particular religious tradition by the State.

What caught my attention in this debate was not, oddly enough, the argument over whether or not displaying the 10 Commandments violates the establishment clause (personally, I am inclined to agree that it does violate the establishment clause, but that too is another argument for another time). What I did find interesting was the premise that the Commandments dealing specifically with God (i.e. Thou shalt have no other gods before Me, Thou shalt not make any graven image..., Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain, and Remember the Sabbath, and keep it holy...) are not moral in nature.

I, however, would argue that those 4 Commandments are moral in nature. I suppose I can see how someone could argue that they are not. When we think of morality, we often think of "the basics", that is, whether or not someone is honest, whether they cheat, maybe whether they are nice to others, and, of course, we seem to immediately think of sex (aren't we maybe a little to preoccupied with this?). All of these things have to do with how we interact with others. And those things are moral issues, certainly. But are there others? I think one of our problems is that when we think of morality, we think in terms of lists of things that we are supposed to do and lists of things that we are not supposed to do when dealing with other people. And I'm not sure that it goes much deeper than that, at least in our minds.

Living morally, very generally speaking, used to be equivalent to the good life (by "generally speaking" I refer to what I take to be an accurate generalization of how classical philosophy - think Socrates, Plato, et al - thought of ethics and morality). The desire for all of us, the ancients would argue, was to find out what the chief end of life is, what is our purpose. This chief end, it was argued, is to fulfill our nature. Anything that was part of fulfilling our nature, was then by definition moral. And morality is then acting in a way that fulfills our nature. Morals are the way in which we fulfill our nature.

So what of God? How do the "religious" precepts of the 10 Commandments fit into this?

If the theistic arguments that there is a God is true, and if the narrower Judeo-Christian arguments that God created us and instilled in us the need to worship Him are true, then these "religious" precepts become moral ones as well, for they give us the parameters by which our nature can be fulfilled, the parameters by which we can live morally; if true, our nature involves not only how we act towards others, but also how we act towards God (and towards all of His creation). So these Commandments are, in fact, moral Commandments.

This first argument ignores the other two arguments that must come later. It still must be debated 1)Whether or not these moral Commandments are in fact true (i.e. is it true that there is a God Who created in us a need to worship Him?), and 2)If true, whether or not they belong in our federal courthouses. These are all separate and unique arguments; one can rationally agree with the argument that they are moral precepts, and that they are true, but then argue that they still do not belong in our courthouses.

Personally, I leave it for another day to argue whether these are true moral Commandments and whether, if true, they belong in our federal buildings. But to argue that they are not moral statements is simply incorrect. You may think them false and not in keeping with the true nature of things, but to argue that they are not moral in nature, that they are not statements of morality is simply false.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Terrify No More

Just finished reading Gary Haugen's (of the International Justice Mission) new book Terrify No More.


One of the most powerful books I have read in a long time. Do yourself a favor and read it. But just be aware that it may very well cause you to become angry, to cry, to become angry, and hopefully become motivated to do something (did I mention it may make you angry?).

Sara McLachlan Video

World On Fire Video

I first saw this video at the CORE last weekend.


Since we have been discussing God's view on Injustice and Oppression in our Sr. High Youth Group (thanks IJM!), this hit me hard. Made me feel like a jerk, too. Hopefully, though, it will be an inspiration to me, the other leaders, and the kids to look at our lives and what we spend money on, and then think of how we can use that to help bring about God's will on earth (as it is in Heaven). That's the plan anyway.


first. post. ever.