July 19, 2007
July 21-22, 2007, weekend

July 20, 2007

COMING INTO THY COURTS

Members of some churches in Kentucky are spending time as volunteers in courts of law to try to help cut down on drug use and trafficking in their area. Isn't this exactly the kind of life-affirming action that faith communities should engage in? Or do you think that in this case they're going beyond what's appropriate?

* * *

RELIGION AND NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES

I cannot recall having a near-death experience. Well, unless you count the time when I was a teen-ager and my parents came home before we had cleaned up from an unauthorized party.

NdeBut NDEs, as they are called, have become the source of much conjecture and attention. Even Newsweek devoted part of the current (July 23) issue to the subject.

Caution, however, is the right theological stance to take, I think, when pondering NDEs. In that, I pretty much agree with this online Newsweek commentary from Rabbi Marc Gellman.

Science, Gellman writes, is about how we are here. Religion, by contrast, is about why we are here. Although there are areas of mutual interest for the two fields, it's finally true that there are some questions science can't answer and there are different questions religion can't answer.

Still, it's fascinating to hear about what people report about their NDEs. And I think we would do well to listen to these stories and to try to make sense of them in the context of the broad range of human experience. There might be even something theologically significant that NDEs can help us learn.

But Gellman is right to suggest that we not fall into the trap of thinking that science can figure out all of the death questions that religion wrestles with. Religion should not get seduced by science, nor should science imagine that it has ultimate religious answers.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here. (My column tomorrow is about how religion and politics should interact, based on a new book by a Kansas City native.)

Comments

Dolores Lear

Combining our High Tech Science Knowledge today, with the 'supernatural' writings of religion and myth, can give us the answers about EternalHigh Tech Pure-bred Human Life on planets and in spaceships. Is there Eternal Life After Death as we know it?
Before the Noah/Atlantis Flood, they had some answers about High Tech Supernatural Knowledge. They did have airplanes that humans rode in, up in the air. They did pollute the Eco System with their Unbalanced atomic, nuclear, and laser weapons, and a Killing Lifestyle, as we have today, that caused the Planetary Flood. GOD nor God did that catastrophe.

In the Christian Bible, the Lord flies up in the air and sits on thrones up in the air, like we do today, and as Atlantis did. The epic of Soddom and Gomorrah was the use of atomic bombs like we have done today. They used them on 2 cities as we have done today. Histry does repeat itself. I wonder what High Tech information is in other writings, that were not used in the Christian Bible.

In the Bhagavad Gita (Song of God), a Holy Book in India, is a battlefield discussion about the Mahabarata epic, about warriors that flew up in the air in battle. And when they landed, they washed in the river.
One reference on the web: A description of the Brahma-Madhve-Gaudiya rampradaya and avataras of Krishna."
The 'avataras' sounds like our aviators today.

When we can realize Life began on Earth as Pure-bred Human Clones, and did not evolve on our Earth, then we can see all the High Tech activity of Our High Tech Peace God, and the activity of the Noah/Atlantis Society, a High Tech Killing Society, also translated Lord, like we have today. They set up the Judgement Day Water Catastrophe on Earth, and today we are setting up the Judgement Day Fire Catastrophe, not GOD or God.

A couple more hymns of the Lutheran religion and probably others, is Martin Luther's 'A Mighty Fortress is our God' and "Onward Christian Soldiers" by Sabine Baring-Gould.
Hymns and Creeds do influence us, and seem to make Killing for God OK, only instead of marching to spread Jesus' teachings and 'living' these teachings, of Peace and Equal Sharing for All, and Turning The Other Cheek, we do go to war with our Brothers/Sisters of Life. Who else do we fight? Unseen enemies of flesh lust, the Devil and Satan?
But killing God's Fallen Children, by God's Fallen Children, and Polluting God's Eco System, by God's Children, does Kill All Life on a planet. Fallen Children teach that there is 'Life' After Death in pagan religions.

It is time to join Scriptures and Myth today, with our High Tech Science Knowledge to Prove the Truth of Eternal Pure-bred Physical Life After Birth.
We can use our High Tech Knowledge, to 'prove', that there is Eternal Physical Life as we know it, After Birth, not After Death. And that Jesus is Alive in a physical body, and will return, in the same physical body that he left Earth in, not a Spirit Body.
High Tech Power Knowledge is the 'supernatural' power knowledge in the Christian Bible, and in all Scripture and Myth.

Patricia

I'm going to spend the rest of my morning being impressed that you were a wild enough teen to throw a party while your parents were gone, Bill. : )

The role of churches should not be to oversee community punishment: shades of Puritan dunking chairs and stocks or Catholic burning at the stake.

Drugs are an especially delicate issue, as the punishments tend to be the same for he who commits crimes and drives while on chemicals and he who gets caught using them for occasional recreation.

I agree with the minister who advocates for......ministering to those who have a drug problem.

Just Thinking

I see no problem wanting to make sure that drug dealers are jailed. That's a good goal, and a reasonable Christian objective.

On the other hand, the jails and prisons in this country are so poorly run that putting a non-violent drug offender into jail could land them straight in the middle of horrific violence. Personally, I'd rather see a drug offender set free than raped and beaten in jail or prison.

Christians should be interested in trying to clean up the jails and prisons in this country.
http://hrw.org/english/docs/2003/09/26/usdom12983.htm

Seeker

Why is making sure drug dealers are jailed a "reasonable Christian objective?"

Just Thinking

I don't want to see people using drugs, and drastic legal action may be required to deal with someone who becomes a serious threat to themselves or others through their drug use. But drug dealers fall into an entirely different category of people who purposefully exploit others--as far as I am concerned they are always a threat. It is a "reasonable Christian objective" to stop those who purposefully prey on others, especially those who deal drugs.

Stephen Lewis

Just thinking, I find you comments interesting. Have you watched TV lately? People selling fat drugs, life insurance to old people, sugar to children, and those who outright lie in their ads are all preying on people. Yet our social system gives those companies pats on the back and lots of riches. It appears that our churches then re-affirm their actions.
I am not saying that drug dealers are good people, but maybe we need to look at the log in our societies eyes before we attack the sliver in our neighbors actions.

Just Thinking

It's not a matter of looking at the log in someone's eye. That would be the case if we were looking at individual behavior that didn't affect others. That's not the case with drug dealers.

Just Thinking

Anyone who purposefully exploits others to their detriment operates in the wrong. Someone can argue that their behavior is no worse than someone else's, but their case to be left alone is nullified when they start exploiting others to their detriment.

Patricia

You just can't declare that one crime is bad enough for church intervention and another is not, JT. Basically, all crime is an exploitation of or causing pain to others.

Stephen has an excellent observation about the rewards churches shower on other "exploiters of human beings."

Just Thinking

Seeker,

As I said, when you start exploiting people to their detriment, then you lose your right to be left alone, regardless of degree. You make it someone else's business when you purposely exploit others. Criminal behavior becomes everyone's business.

openmind

"As I said, when you start exploiting people to their detriment, then you lose your right to be left alone, regardless of degree"

JT, while I agree with you, the Advertising industry may have a problem with your stand :)

What is your opinion about locking up people for possession of marijuana, or its illegality in the first place?

You may not like to see people on drugs, but can you cant make everything illegal that you dont want to see. My experience with both alcohol and marijuana abusers makes me infuriated with arbitrary nature of our laws. I know first hand which one can cause more harm to others, and it sure aint pot.

Just Thinking

It's part of loving your neighbor that obligates Christians to intervene when they see those around them being harmed by exploitation of others. If you want your neighbor doing that for you and yours, then you should do it for them and theirs. That is God's litmus test for taking action. In other words, treat those being exploited as you would your own family. If you wouldn't step in for you own family on a matter, then don't bother for others either in such a matter. No matter what, of course, your actions should be within the law.

There's no circumstance under which I would want someone selling drugs to my family, except for medical marijuana for a chemo/radiation patient. So there's no circumstance under which I think that a drug dealer should avoid punishment by law, unless they're selling marijuana to a family member undergoing chemo/radiation therapy.

My action against advertisers would be to make sure that family is informed about such nonsense. Commentary does the job. That's about all I'd ever do there.

Seeker

JT,

I wasn't arguing that making sure drug dealers are jailed is not the right thing to do (that is a whole 'nother can o' worms). My question is more related to your saying it is a reasonable Christian objective. What makes it any more Christian than, say, Islamic or Hindu or atheistic? It may or may not be a reasonable societal objective, but one's religion really has no bearing on it. Nor are there any commandments or directives within Christianity that support oversite of a secular legal system being a proper religious mission.

Just Thinking

I explained how "do unto others as you would have them do unto you," would be applied. This is a Christian principle, but I never said it was exclusively Christian. In fact, this is probably about as close to a universal truth as you can get, crossing all religions and cultures.

Christians are obligated to look after one another in this way, and to work against the behavior of those who exploit others, but subject to what I wrote about earlier.

Everyone in this country, Christian or not, has the right to oversee criminal court proceedings. Christians have the right to monitor court proceedings, too. That's not a violation of Christianity or of the law.

Most of our laws were derived from the Old Testament, Seeker, even including our labor laws. God's justice includes treating all people in a fair manner, too, the very basis of a secular government. So I tend to disagree with your statement that there is no religious mission to oversee a secular legal system.

Patricia

The article, JT, is about Christians who have a definite AGENDA as regards the law. They are out to see that drug offenders get prosecuted to the full extent.

It isn't as though this group simply is pressuring their own flock to follow the law. They also aren't monitoring the punishments for spousal abuse or missing child support payments or drunkeness or Saturday night brawls. This being Appalachia, you think they don't have a problem with those behaviors?

There's no way to know, from the information given by the article, if police weren't showing up and judges weren't levying major penalties because they deemed the infraction to be minor. In other words, were they simply allowing the college kid with a little pot in his backpack to skate or were they letting hardened drug peddlers and raging dope fiends to remain on the streets?

And THAT'S the problem with religion getting involved. Suddenly we've got Rev. Bill Bob pressuring a secular court to dunk those old sinners until they near drown in the dunking chair because everybody knows that all drugs are evil and all who use are nasty evil sinners. After all, he's got a personal dog in the fight because of his druggie relative.

Just Thinking

Believe it or not, those judges are big boys and girls and they can take care of themselves.

From the article:

"They know they're welcome in my court anytime I'm there," said District Judge Renee Muncy.

Yet, she added that she doesn't feel pressured by the presence of Court Watch participants.

Neither does Circuit Judge R. Cletus Maricle, who said, "Some judges probably feel they are there to intimidate him. If the judge is intimidated, that's his fault."

Patricia

Even big boys and girls can feel political pressure. What did you expect the judges to say, "I simply love it when the fundies show up in my court to pressure me to throw the book at drug offenders?"

Why Is This So Difficult

Patricia,

You raise some interesting questions, but provide nothing in the way of alternatives or answers. You give the impression the church can do no good in your mind.

As a follow-up then, what do you propose the church should do (if anything) with respect to the courts? Are you proposing they should be forbidden to get involved until they meet your standards of fairness? Should they be forbidden from participating at all? Or what?

Patricia

I think that if you read all my posts, WITSO, you will see that I do agree with the quoted minister and advocate church involvement in drug rehabilitation programs, as opposed to punishment advocacy. Churches can also be remarkably effective in drug deterrent programs.

And, yes, I think that churches who cannot meet standards of fairness, are better not to be involved. I'm not necessarily accusing the featured church of being unfair. I note that we don't have the information to really know.

Look, churches and any individual have the right to sit in a courtroom and advocate for their individual interests. I don't propose to deny anyone their civil rights. It is just simply my personal opinion that churches fit better into their roles in ways other than putting people in stocks or advocating for same.

Why Is This So Difficult

"It is just simply my personal opinion that churches fit better into their roles in ways other than putting people in stocks or advocating for same."

Fair enough.

And I can't say I disagree with that at all.

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