Discussed on #CarmenTalk this month was “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Civil Discourse.”
As a disciple of Jesus who seeks to advance His Kingdom purposes everyday in every way, I am a voracious consumer of the ideas, news, commentary, opinion and conversation swirling around us. You can either think of it as a deafening cacophony that disables your ability to think or you can ask God to give you eyes to see, ears to hear, a mind to comprehend and a voice to help others make sense of the often nonsensical. My hope is to help you connect what seem like otherwise wholly disconnected realities. That exercise begins by pulling out a few dots, examining them, and then connecting them to others until a coherent picture of reality emerges. Once we see where we are, we are able to walk purposefully and lead others who are lost in the veritable fun house of today’s distorted discourse.
You may have read this week about the Ohio investigation into the practices of Planned Parenthood clinics. During the investigation, the state discovered that three clinics were disposing of aborted babies in landfills. While you may be horrified by this on many levels, the question we will consider is why would lawmakers think that people who dismember pre-born humans while still in the womb would then be able to morally interpret and apply a law that expects them to dispose of the remains of that procedure in a “humane manner?”
The use of the word “humane” assumes humanity. It assumes a common definition of human. It assumes someone knows the difference between humane and inhumane, human and inhuman.
Are these reasonable expectations in a culture where The Humane Society advocates the humane treatment of non-humans while an organization whose title includes “Parenthood” keeps people from becoming parents by killing the very “things” that “would be” human?
Does it seem reasonable to expect an abortionist who treats the pre-born as a tumor, parasite, intruder, or other matter that is medically excised from a body, to then treat the remains as human?
Then to the larger question: if the law on the books in Ohio is proven to be inapplicable in this case because the definition of “humane” is sufficiently vague, what other words in what other laws do not mean what we once thought they meant?
If the first freedom sought by those who came to these shores was a land where they would be free to practice the religion of their choice without state interference, then how do we weigh the preservation and application of that freedom in a world where ISIS seeks a global caliphate? In view of the political proposal to ban entrance into the United States of all people who profess a particular faith, we will discuss the nature of religious liberty. How might we balance that liberty with the safety and protection of the citizenry already inhabiting this land? Indeed, how are we both “the land of the free and the home of the brave” today?
What is God’s view of the matter and how can we give voice to the divine and eternal perspective which is rarely, if ever, considered in the current political conversation?
Is it not ironic that some advancing the argument that Muslims should be prohibited from entering the U.S. do so because the U.S. is a “Christian” nation? Are we? What is the difference between a theocracy and a democracy that grew out of a particular theology that all men are created equal by a personal sovereign God?
The Pursuit of Civil Discourse
We also need to be prepare to enter into conversation with others who disagree with our assessment of reality. But how do you tell the truth without coming off as a know-it-all? We’re going to use current issues and the characters currently on the political stage to discern how best to discuss issues and people in ways that are Godly – noble, beautiful and true.
Rules of engagement:
- Treat God as God
- Treat people as people
- Judge ideas based on the merit of their alignment with final personal reality
- Remember: all people are equal, all ideas are not.
In preparation for this portion of the conversation, read this.
And yes, we’ll wrap up the call with a survey of “all things Presbyterian.” You can preview those topics by perusing the “Presbyterian News and Analysis” section of Layman.org.