on nations and “biblical principles”

I wanted to repost a conversation from Facebook here, since words I said in reply to a friend there have dwelt long on my mind.

“The heart of the problem in the US is not the president. The problem lies in each individual. We have forsaken Him as a nation. Some consequences of that are lower values, morality, Godly education and biblical financial principles. How can you expect the government to live within it’s means when individuals fail to live within their means. Most people buy things thinking they can afford the payment, while never really intending to pay more then the interest/smallest payment. They don’t have a reserve to prevent defaulting on their loan if they lose their job. Each person that thought that way went out and bought homes they could not afford and that led to the housing bubble. When times got hard they lost their home. We each need to fight our own financial battle. We cannot expect the government to pick up the tab when we all make the same mistakes. I hear people saying it’s the bank’s fault….They gave out the loans. It’s like saying the store sold me one million suckers and I enjoyed them all. Now I’m sick, my teeth are a mess and my body is falling apart…but it’s their fault for selling them to me. When will we take responsibility for our own lives?!? If we as individuals would follow biblical principles for handling money our country would be in a lot less mess. We need to stop looking to a president to fix everything. We can’t expect a president to fix our own conduct.”   -R.O.

It’s deeply troubling to stop and consider the reasoning behind this pervasive conservative and/or Evangelical mindset, that America has fallen away from God and that is the source of XYZ problem.  Let’s summarize what my friend wrote:  First, Americans have apparently become more sinful and morally-depraved in recent years, turning further and further away from God.  It follows that the government made up of these increasingly-depraved Americans has become more and more morally-bankrupt over time.  Finally, when the government performs functions which seem analogous to personal financial irresponsibility in some loose way, those things are always ill-advised.

These arguments are neither aligned with Scripture nor based in a reasonably-informed view of the world today.

My reply to her was this:

“We are no more sinful than all other men and women on this planet who stagger under the weight of imputed sin and need a Savior. No more, no less. It’s not as though this is a new problem. This country was founded by men just as sinful as those currently in power. Following Biblical principles is also not a guarantee that we will escape suffering in this life. This is a false dichotomy, and a hopeless way to live.”

It is not possible that people or governments today are more sinful than those of the 18th century.  We are merely less aware of the particular sins that plagued people of that time.  Original sin and God’s common grace were both in full effect then as they are today.  If one desires to be a good Protestant, one also ought to hold to the principle of divine restraint of sin — that God has ordained civil authorities as institutions to maintain order and punish wrongdoing.  The Lord has not abandoned this institution, and so we cannot in good conscience say that all is lost yet in any government.

p.s.  If anyone brings up the Hitler argument again, I might have to sic my hackers on you.

year’s end

I finished out 2011 sound asleep in a bed in a hotel on the Mediterranean in Antalya, Turkey.  Why asleep, you ask?  Because I’d spent the previous night uncomfortably tossing and turning on a row of chairs in the Almaty airport, trying to block out the very loud opera music playing throughout the airport.  Three flights, some new acquaintances, and an astonishingly good buffet later, I crashed and slept for 12 glorious hours.

I’ve just been reviewing photos from 2011 and remembering some of the Father’s blessings in my life this past year.  I began the year having newly moved in to Harrison House.  Living with Tiffany, Lindsey, and Kassandra was so much fun.  I miss those girls, and their hospitality, thoughtfulness, and daily grace and care for each other and all the roommates.

In January, KC got pounded with snow, I got snow days, and some fun with friends ensued. Found out I’d be interviewing in February.

In February, I turned 24 and celebrated with dear friends by drinking Christopher Elbow Chocolate Ale [thanks Chris!] and playing laser tag for the first time ever. Interview conference in Virginia.

In March, I found out I’d gotten a job offer and that I’d be moving to Central Asia for the next couple years.

Through the early spring, I taught an 3 month English class for Bhutanese refugees in Kansas City.  Aradhna came and played a show just for them and we danced.

In May, I flew to Pittsburgh to visit my best friend from college, Val.  I was challenged by the way she sacrifices for her family daily.

In June, I traveled to Seattle and Bellingham to meet and visit with friends whom I’d only ever known through the internet until then.  Meeting and hanging out with Luz, Cole, Jana, and Jessi was pretty awesome.  Also unexpectedly met another person in the Northwest who has become quite important to me.

 

In July, I headed to Virginia for two months of training and preparation.  Made some lifetime friends.  Rock-climbed, hammocked, prayed, read, listened, knitted.

In August, more of the same.

In September, I headed back to Kansas City for two weeks.  September 27th was a very nice day.

In October, I moved to the opposite side of the world, started Russian classes, got to know a new city, made new friends.

November passed in a flash as life in Astana began to settle into a rhythm.  I drank my weight in tea several times over.

In December, we said goodbye to Madison and Allison as they headed back to the States.  I celebrated my first Christmas away from my family, but in the company of dear friends.

 
 
   Here’s to a new year of growth and adventure and learning to love more deeply and live more bravely.  

knowing

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

phil 3:8-11

Unworthy as I am to claim to have taken on any suffering, I meditate on these verses and beg the Father that the loss of much I held dear will yield clarity, and reliance on Him, and the surpassing beauty of a deep knowing.

We have been in the city 36 hours now.

tumultuous thought

[excerpted from a very stream-of-consciousness tumblr post]

“there is something profound and precious that can only be discovered in pain and grief. it is a secret commonality, a shared knowing, between those who have experienced more than their share, far too young.  it is an old soul, a tired but hopeful heart.  it is a tear in the clouds, a glimpse of ecstatic beauty, the pink and golden light of a perfect sunset.  after a long journey, it is coming home.”

year one

[because some thoughts can only be communicated in measured words and rhythmic cadences…  one more poem, for the time being.]

year one


i was still standing

on a northern corner.

moonlit winter clouds the color of the desperation of wolves.

proof

of Your existence? there is nothing

but.

franz wright

poems for holy week

I’m going to post some poems by Mary Karr on the topic of Holy Week.  Her ‘Descending Theology’ series from Sinners Welcome are simple and evocative.  A help for directing my thoughts as I enter into the pathos of this week in the Christian calendar.

Descending Theology: The Garden

We know he was a man because, once doomed,
he begged for reprieve. See him
grieving on his rock under olive trees,
his companions asleep
on the hard ground around him
wrapped in old hides.
Not one stayed awake as he’d asked.
That went through him like a sword.
He wished with all his being to stay
but gave up
bargaining at the sky. He knew
it was all mercy anyhow,
unearned as breath. The Father couldn’t intervene,
though that gaze was never
not rapt, a mantle around him. This
was our doing, our death.
The dark prince had poured the vial of poison
into the betrayer’s ear,
and it was done. Around the oasis where Jesus wept,
the cracked earth radiated out for miles.
In the green center, Jesus prayed for the pardon
of Judas, who was approaching
with soldiers, glancing up—as Christ was—into
the punctured sky till his neck bones
ached. Here is his tear-riven face come
to press a kiss on his brother.

-mary karr