Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Neo-Desiderata - the new 'things to be desired' for men and women

I want to...stand up to brash, overbearing and prejudiced bullies at work or in school;

I don't want to...make up, read, listen to, re-tell, or harass others with crude or clever jokes and comments that suggest others are inferior or useless.

I want to...follow my conscience;

I want to...extend respect, reach out and help those whose path I come across, but are outside of my race, neighbourhood or familiar social circle.

I want to...be a skilled worker and gainfully employed, rather than depending mostly on a partner or any benefits;

I don't want...the pretence that I love my family more, when I'm really into the sham of self-centred, self-made personal success.

I want to...reduce the amount that I spend on or borrow for non-essentials like designer clothing, bling, prestige holidays, outings and vehicles, endless home enhancements and fake cosmetic accessories, while my extended family, the sick and frail need financial help. 

I want to...be authentic, caring and generous, not selfish.

I want to...stop my food and drink binges for good.

I want to...end my fear of giving up the material gain that boosts my acceptance and pride, as well as the admiration and popularity of friends and acquaintances.

I want to...feel loved for who I am, not what I have or can provide.

I want to...pay off my debts and save funds to help the hospitalised and terminally ill with their medical/family/financial hardships.

I want to...practice personal giving of resources and time to the hospitalised, the very young, the sick, the injured and suffering;

I don't want to...treat the mother/father of my children as an obstacle to my freedom.

I want to...stop carrying grudges over past hurts.

I want to...desire forgiveness for those who hurt me, and from those whom I've hurt, just like God desires to forgive me for hurting Him;

I don't want to...compete for my partner's attention and try so hard to keep my partner's eyes away from anyone else;

I don't want to...maintain my life partner's loyalty by constantly trying to attract his/her attention. My life partner should just love me for me.

I don't want to...be a secret domestic bully.

I want to...fight for a single lifelong loving intimacy with one person and not give in to explicit, or implicit irresponsible sexual behaviour;

I want...a permanent life partner as my friend and confidante, not someone who will either mostly ignore me when I grow old, or just wants me for sex fixes and domestic convenience.

I want to...avoid any TV and internet media that present desperate, misguided or exploited people as objects of lust, ridicule or comedy;

I don't want to...read or relay scandal and gossip about the famous.

I want to...be able to share my Internet surfing history without the shame of greed before God, or my peers and co-workers.

I don't want...my kids playing or acting out violent, or sexually explicit video content;

I want to...fight the indifference towards any programme that praises explicit violence, racism, sexist comedy, contempt for doing right and immediately change the channels.

I don't want to...let celebs, TV personalities, leisure pursuits, fan web-sites and magazines twist my views about my relationship with others, material things and the roles of men and women.

Monday, 1 August 2011

God made simple!

I worry about Marcus Borg's representation of God and it's not particularly because he suggests that the Bible is sometimes wrong. He appears to have built a perfectly sealed box that contains his neatly dovetailed theology of God's responsibilities and human rights. Where the biblical record stands outside of that box, he declares that it's wrong.

In the case of Saul, (1 Sam. 14) Borg suggests that since God, by reason of love, is incapable of wholesale extermination Himself, He could not have commanded Saul to slay the Amalekites, especially as it involved the slaughter of innocent babies. Yet, most of the Old Testament presents the God who exterminates individuals, whole societies and civilisations by various means, including war, famine and natural disasters. Even the reasons seem weak, e.g. punishing by death an attempt to steady a cart carrying the emblems of His presence among His people. Soldiers are burned to death for merely carrying out their orders to capture Elijah. The treacherous schemers who conspired to have Daniel executed, are not punished alone, but with their whole families. The prophets regularly make these events instructive by declaring that what is suffered is not a mere coincidence, but an act of retribution commanded by God.

Should we believe that major disasters involving the indiscriminate loss of life are beyond the purview of an omniscient God? Is it not within His power to devise an ingenious form of suffering (if the theology box allows for it) that magically spares innocent, promising young lives? Oh, and old, frail ones too? Certainly, if I had everything that God has at His disposal, I would...In fact, God should...and if not, He, or those who present Him otherwise are wrong.

The Old Testament writers grapple with uncomfortable ideas about God, including the fact that suffering is not just permitted, but ultimately executed by exclusive divine prerogative. God doesn't give us easy answers to His exercise of prerogative. Theology can't successfully merge God's declaration that He runs the entire universe with the reality that, in many cases, severe suffering, brutality and ruin affects innocent lives. Yet, the OT prophets do move us away from the capriciousness of heathen gods.

My mind can't be privy to most of God's reasoning. If I was, I'd be God and I would magically make everyone good and drop a really big book from the sky called 'God made simple' instead!