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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

Thoughts On Religion - Dangerous Ones At That

Category: Religion
Posted: 06/24/12 13:52, Edited: 06/24/12 13:56

by Dave Mindeman

Well it's Sunday. Time for a sermon.

So the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, Until the nation avenged themselves of their enemies. Is it not written in the book of Jashar? And the sun stopped in the middle of the sky and did not hasten to go down for about a whole day. -- Joshua 10:13

I was raised in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. Don't mix that up with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. No. No. Whole different ball game.

One of the main things about Missouri Synod is that they are adamant about the literalness of the Bible. Every word is true. Every single one. Faith means nothing if the Bible is not literally quotations from God.

I quoted the Bible verse above because that verse is the key reason I am not a member of Missouri Synod anymore. So, I'll explain.

As I grew up and got my college degree, the conflicts between science and literalist Missouri Synod teaching always bothered me. Pastors never talked about those conflicts much....of course, God was always above those arguments and His (always the male pronoun) power was an explanation for everything.

But that Joshua verse kept coming back to me. Why would a God who had set up such an intricate and complex universe with physical laws that made it all work and allow us to exist.....why would that God take one particular day in history and simply break all of His universal laws for a 24 hour period? Why would He add one more day to one annual cycle of the earth around the sun? Why suspend the laws of gravity for one full day? Why suspend an entire universe and stop time (so to speak) to allow a somewhat inconsequential battle on one planet, in the middle of a desert on that planet, continue?

And why would a God, who is the God of all people, allow this seemingly impossible act in the universe, happen so that His "chosen" people can slaughter and kill another group of human beings to the last one?

The Bible talks of miracles and great deeds...and I am sure a lot of them are based on oral histories and events that were described with a certain bias, but nevertheless, with some basis of truth. But events that are counter to the scientific knowledge, we now know about, are just not possible to me. We need to look at these events in a broader context and meaning, because they are not literally true events.

Of course, I have just spoken heresy in Missouri Synod terms. The Bible is written without error, therefore the earth did stop revolving and somehow we did keep gravity without earth movement to produce it....for that one day.....to continue the slaughter of one group of human beings.

I have family and friends who are lifelong and dedicated members of LCMS. My sister is married to a minister in that church. Other family members are dedicated to their local church and dedicated to their faith. They are good people and are respected and admired in their communities.

But we don't talk about religion much. There is little to be gained to discuss a point and have the Bible brought out as the final say. LCMS people use it as final arbiter. All of my arguments are based on the premise that it is not the final arbiter.....that logic dictates a further examination. That is a discussion that goes nowhere, obviously.

I understand how this mindset works....more than most people. As I grew up, it was comforting to know things in an absolute sense.... and LCMS people do. Everything is black and white. In LCMS we don't have to explain the actions of God, we just accept them.

It is easier in LCMS to deal with complicated issues. Abortion is simply wrong....no nuances. Gay people will be going to hell.....people in LCMS feel bad about that and hope they will change, but there is nothing they can do. Women cannot be ministers -- not because they don't have the skills or aptitude --it's because God said they couldn't.

It is a way of thinking with a bedrock premise. Everything in the Bible is absolute and true. If that were to be questioned.....if one were to be convinced that even one idea was not factual....then the house of cards comes tumbling down.

LCMS and churches like them need that bedrock foundation. Without it, there would be far too many thoughts and questions and discussions to be had.

And that would be dangerous.

Side Note: Just in case, like me, your inquisitive mind noticed the reference in the verse to the Book of Jashar - here is what I found out. No one is absolutely sure the book existed. Scholars assume it was a hymn book dedicated to Jewish military exploits. One supposed copy was out there in the 17 or 1800's, but it was proved to be a forgery. No help there.
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And Another Thing About Contraceptives In The Work Place

Category: Religion
Posted: 02/10/12 11:03

by Dave Mindeman

As President Obama and some of the Hill Democrats begin to cave on this recent contraception issue, I'd like to elaborate on what I see happening here.

I lived in a rural area of North Dakota and the nearest hospital was just over the Red River in Breckenridge, Minnesota. It's name was St. Francis Hospital and was started by the local Catholic diocese.

I was born there...as well as most of my family. Some Catholic nuns worked in the hospital, but a large number of non-catholics also worked there. They served the entire community...not just the Catholic community. And they received government funding through various public programs -- Medicare, Medicaid, etc.

An institution like that may have religious preferences but since they receive public money, service the public, and hire openly from the public....then why would they be allowed to have a religious restriction on their health plan? A health plan that deals with all of their employees, not just the Catholic ones.

When I look at Freedom of Religion, I see the individual right to practice your religion as you choose. It is not an institutional right. If institutions can control every aspect of the sphere of influence they have, then we are moving toward what is prohibited in the Constitution - higher authority imposed religion.

President Obama may have wobbly knees on his order, but it is most certainly the correct one. What the Catholic groups are demanding is not freedom of religion...it is imposed religion.

One would assume that any Catholics that work for a Catholic institution would abide by the tenets of their religion and not request birth control. However, non-Catholic employees should be given the same availability to family planning options that any other employer based plan must do when following federal guidelines.

Obama and the Democrats are trapped in the wrong argument.

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The 12 Biggest Lies...Explained....Sort Of...Part 3

Category: Religion
Posted: 09/03/10 11:23, Edited: 09/03/10 11:24

by Dave Mindeman

Let's take the next phase of the "12 Biggest Lies". They are getting tougher.....

7. Americans are greedy and self-centered.

I will be curious to see how this group defends America's role in the world. Granted, we are a generous people and are the first on the scene for any major disaster. But even at that, there is always a political reason for what we do. We do not want any country or region to descend into chaos. It would be bad for "business" and bad for political stability.

Even our beginnings are seeped in self-centeredness. We didn't like being used by King George as his ATM machine, even though we considered ourselves English subjects, and the taxation imposed without any say in the matter finally broke the tenuous bond.

But once we threw off our obligations to the mother country, we rapidly moved into Manifest Destiny and expanded our sphere of influence across the continent. Wars with Mexico and Spain were purely self indulgent expansionism, but it mattered not.

Our pride in being a super power is extensive and we expect the world to respect us unconditionally. We established Wall Street as the world's financial market base and expect the world to recognize that as well.

To assume that Americans are NOT greedy and self-centered lacks honest self-analysis. We are a country that wants it all....and we have become a country that wants it all without having to pay for it.

You can try to make a case against this self-centered greed but in the end it is really who we are.

8. Islam is a religion of truth.

I have trouble with this ongoing animosity that is growing towards Islam. Maybe Islam is not a religion of OUR truth, but it is truth to its followers. Why can't we leave it at that?

Religions always seem to want to compete with each other. Followers of each various type get uncomfortable when their own "truth" is questioned by another version. And since each religious basis of thought requires the contention that it is the only true meaning of life's absolute questions, conflicts will ensue.

Islam and Christianity have different factions which range from tranquil to very violent. Our ancient history is littered with wars fought for religious reasons. All religions can move to a tendency to usurp ultimate truth into ultimate death.

This particular "lie" is probably included, not so much to negate Islam's truth seeking, but to more or less, mollify Christianity's sensitivity to any challenge of its own validity.

It is all very curious, because Christianity itself is, by contrast, a very "young" religion and is completely dependent on Judaism to extend it heritage back to ancient times.

9. The Jews stole Jerusalem.

The makers of this DVD are going to have to delve into a lot of historical background to back this one up. And, again, it will be a matter of interpretation of events. We forget that Jerusalem is a sacred city to other religions as well as our own. Everybody has their own version of "rightful" claims.

To call this a "lie" is, in this case, strictly a religious opinion. I would prefer to let each interpretation to stand within its own context. To say that the Jews "stole" or conquered or were awarded Jerusalem is all a matter of semantics. It was more of a political decision than a religious one.


See how complicated this is? Look for part 4 at the Roundtable...
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