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Marty Jones

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  1. John- the reason I don't post often is because they become so darn long... For those students who may have forgotten the original question among the rhetoric: "Should governments pass legislation that might encourage behaviour that is contrary to religious teaching. For example, abortion, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, etc." 1. Should governments pass legislation? 2. Can legislation encourage behaviour that is contrary to religious teaching? 1. This is what governments do. It's their job, and they usually do it with great vigor. The quality of the legislation is an entirely different issue. 2a. Can legislation encourage behavior? In my opinion, legislation can at best provide an excuse/justification for behavior, whether positive or negative. 2b. Can legislation be contrary to religious teaching? The five pages of rhetoric [i realize that this can be considered a judgemental word] is an example of how legislation can be contrary to religious teaching. All of the opinions expressed can be considered as religious teaching, even from those who do not agree with the tenets of any particular collection of like minded people called 'religious.' I think the intent of the question implies a government that in some fashion responds to the will of its constituents. Here in the US, this is a generality that doesn't often apply to the individual [me]. In our representative democracy, regarding Presidential elections, we vote for electors [the Electoral College] who vote in relationship to the votes cast within an individual state. Senators and Congressmen are elected based on the [presumed] tally of the votes cast. The concept intends to create a 'balance of power;' I'm not sure it does. The vast majority of election issues are resolved in a manner contrary to my opinions. I like Oregon too much to move to another country, even if I could afford it, which I can't [that's probably an excuse, rather than fact]. I am what is called by many a 'born again Christian;' however, there are many Christians who might question my 'second birth' because it didn't happen in the manner, or with the details they concur with. The President of my country also claims to be a 'born again Christian;' he and I apparently have very strong disagreements upon the subject of loving our enemies, and forgiving those who offend us [as opposed to, 'those we find offensive']. The whole 'born again' distinction is due a statement ascribed to Jesus in a conversation with one of the religious leaders of Israel at that time- that in order to enter God's Kingdom, one needs to be born again [Marty's paraphrase]. "How can one be born again when one is old? One can't reenter his mother's womb.' Jesus' response was that one becomes born of the Spirit of God; which takes us back to the beginning of this paragraph. After 30+ years of this 'born again Christian' stuff, I have come to expect that legislation will not be passed that encourages behaviour I choose for myself. It's an impossibility. If I'm serious about my beliefs, I will be continually ignoring legislated behavior at one time or another; at one extreme or another. It really doesn't matter what the government says about my behavior in response to God's call on my life; I will make the choice that I consider correct. Hopefully I will also accept the legislated consequences of my behavior, if I act in a manner that is true to my conscience but contrary to legislated standards. Here in the US there is a lot of verbiage about our being a "Christian country." This is a load of excrement. There were 'founding fathers' who wanted to bring the teachings of Jesus to this new land; and to bring faith to the 'ignorant savages' living here. They neglected to learn the languages of these 'ignorant' people before making the determination as to their religious faith. The history of America is a history of ethnic cleansing using weapons of mass destruction. That part is ignored by the 'religious right'. Jesus is quoted as saying, "No one comes to the Father but by me." This has been largely interpreted to mean that only Christians get saved at the earlier posted Judgement, which may or may not occur in the way they think it will occur. My own interpretation is that Jesus was God incarnated in human form, sacrificing Himself for my sake, paying whatever penalty there is for my actions that do not serve God. It's a done deal; my actions don't change the outcome. Therefore, if followers of Jesus get to 'Heaven' [which probably doesn't exist in the literal manner the Church describes], it will be because of Jesus; not because of them. This also applies to Buddhists, Hindus, Jews and Muslims; plus all of you who are angry at God for whatever reason. Your anger is probably justified. And if there is a God, your anger really doesn't impact Him/Her/Whatever one iota. God is God, and you aren't. Should my government enact legislation regarding abortion and homosexuality, to use the biggest issues? To the extent that it provides punishment [?] for those who harm others by their actions, maybe; but I doubt its efficacy. If the entire world approves of abortion/opposes abortion, approves of homosexuality/opposes homosexuality it doesn't really impact what I am to believe. My beliefs are to be based on what I learn from God, not on the vote of the people [YIKES]. Since there has yet to be a unified response by all members of all religious groups regarding such issues, I don't think any of us can make a blanket statement on behalf of God. Obviously, if God has made declarative statement on these issues, there are a lot of people who aren't listening [yes, I know about Sodom and Gomorrah, and numerous verses found in the Bible. If it was up to me, I would have had one of the Pharisees or Sadducees ask Jesus those specific questions. However, I am of the opinion that His answer would be similiar to His response to the woman caught in adultery]. Being a Protestant, I have a different opinion regarding papal pronouncements than that held by Catholics. I can't approve of abortion, because of my own beliefs. I also had a vasectomy 20 years ago. I've also engaged in sexual activity with only one woman during the 35-40 years that I've had opportunities to do something else. I also don't use hypodermic needles. Consequently, my behavior makes me an unlikely candidate for AIDS. It would be simpler if the entire world followed my example in this regard [it would be disastrous if the entire world followed my example in other matters]. I can't approve of homosexuality as a lifestyle; neither can I approve of a lot of other behavior [including my dependence upon prescription drugs]. This does not mean that I have an excuse to act in other than a loving and Grace-filled manner to the individuals that come into my life. I don't provide people with a questionaire before I get to know them. Do I have the arrogance to believe that everyone else in the world should believe in the same manner? No. In God's 'outside-of-time-and-the-puny-things-we-fuss-about' sense of humor, I have three adult children by birth and three more adult children by acquisition who either don't, or only marginally share in the beliefs held by my wife and I. We attempted, by far more effective methods than legislation, to influence their beliefs; but darn, we also taught them about Grace and Free Will, and we gave them the opportunity to think for themselves. There is plenty of 'religious' justification for disowning the lot of them; but they are all my children. I love them. That love does not come by legislation, or their behavior; I love because God first loved me. My hope is that with experiences and belatedly-gained wisdom they will come to a better understanding of the Truth as I see it. Regardless, I gave them into God's care a long time ago. I trust that He will be with them through their entire lives, even if they choose not to accept it. You can run an electrical line to a house; there's no rules that say you have to use a light switch instead of candles.
  2. It looks like I'm the closest thing to a political conservative in the discussion, so far; and it isn't all that conservative. For what its worth [and it isn't worth much] I've been a registered Republican for 35 years. I've lived my entire life in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, and most of that has been in Portland, the largest city in Oregon. For those not familiar with the US and/or Oregon, we are often referred to as the State of Portland by those who aren't in Portland. The majority of Oregonians [geographically] are farmers; the majority of Oregonians [population] live in metro Portland and the Willamette Valley. We don't farm. I don't have a political label. I grew up in the Viet Nam era; I missed going to Viet Nam by about 4 hours. Had Mom needed to go to the bathroom four hours earlier, my draft number would have been something like 7; as it was, I got 234. I watched Johnson and Nixon and probably voted for Ford. I've continued to admire Ronald Reagan for his example of leadership; and have been disappointed to find out that his actions as President were far from admirable. I try to ignore the fact that Bush senior was his Vice President. I lived among hippies at college, but didn't do drugs; by definition this means I wasn't really a part of the 60's and 70's. My parents were politically conservative; and devoted to the American Legion. That probably included a Republican agenda by definition. I am a first generation American on my mother's side of the family; third generation on my father's side. Most of my ancestors came from Norway and Sweden; they probably came here seeking 'a better life'. I'm aware that the odds of my particular existence [that one sperm cell] are so small that I am either a meaningless accident or a miracle. I choose the latter. God entered my life while in college in a way that sounds ridiculous to those who've never experienced the presence of God in their life. Consequently I don't often explain it; nonetheless, all of my life since that time has been experienced through a 'God-filter'. Since I believe that my soul will exist for eternity, the events of my life are all temporary occurrences with a limited significance. Thus, how I treat my wife, my children and my neighbors are of greater concern to me than the idiot running the country. Had John not invited my opinion, and had I a deadline to meet, I wouldn't be writing. I don't believe it's my job to change other people's minds about matters of faith. One of the advantages I have as an American, is the knowledge that my country is being officially being run by a few hundreds of individuals, many of whom are idiots. Having worked for City government for 14 years, I realize that in fact, the country is actually run by people who have jobs and lives and who, if given the opportunity, will act in ways that are inclined toward benevolence. A significant portion will act in a manner that is insulting to 'lower' animals. As an American I realize that I will pay taxes all of my adult life; and that the taxes will never be diminished. I also realize that the taxes will be spent on causes with which I disagree. I have an open invitation to leave the country whenever I want. As an Oregonian who already pays taxes on personal property, I will continue to vote against sales taxes; because I know that the property taxes won't go away if a sales tax is initiated. My wife and I generally vote against new taxes for schools; because throwing money at the administration of schools does not improve the quality of education. We volunteer in the schools when we can. In Oregon we have a government based on referendum; we have elections every 6-12 months for a wide variety of concerns. Not being a conservative farmer, most of the local elections don't go the way I'd like them to. Being a metropolitan Oregonian, most of the national elections don't go the way I'd like them to go. I believe politicians have a responsibility to serve the electorate; being a person of faith governed by those who seek power, I don't expect it will often happen. I have an 'adopted' daughter [the daughter whose entrance into the world was supervised by me, 'adopted' a sister a few years ago] who has lived in a wheelchair all of her life. Since her life is greatly affected by public health policy, the 'rules' for her life are inclined to change every 4 years. For the most part, I could have avoided every election that has occurred in the last 35 years, and it would have little impact on my life. I comprehend that political issues are of far greater significance in other countries; but I can't say that I understand that fact. When I look at the world through my adopted daughter's eyes, I see a different country. However, when people look at her, they mostly see the wheelchair, and that doesn't affect their politics. It mostly makes them uncomfortable. On one of the other threads I quote from the Book of Micah- the chief end of mankind is to love justice, show mercy and walk humbly with [my] God. This means that I don't evict my renter from our rental property, even though I legally could, because they haven't been able to pay their full rent. The husband seems to believe that living off of his wife's income is acceptable; to evict him, I also evict her, and their children. I could attempt to reeducate him, but he's in his late 40's or early 50's, and I have little hope that I can influence him. My belief in the teachings of Jesus means that my wife and I spent most of last year caring for my 4 year old mother, after she suffered a stroke while visiting us. My beliefs mean that I quit my job with the City seven years ago, because I had medical people I trusted tell me it was necessary. I trusted them because I believe that God is intimately involved in my life. The starting of a new career has cost me a huge amount of money- the cost of a fully-paid for house that I've mortgaged-- but in many ways it's been a good choice. As long as I don't count material benefits in my measurements. My beliefs mean that I donate ten percent of my earnings to church and charity; and we don't buy a lot of toys. I fully believe that I will work for most of my life, at something; I don't expect to ever live 'the good life,' whatever that may mean. Things don't make for a 'good life'-- they mostly mean more things to worry about. The political questions I face are whether I should join the protestors downtown who oppose the war in Iraq; or whether I write my congressional representatives. I've discovered that there are so few people in a position of power who share my beliefs that it really doesn't matter whether or not they belong to a particular party. I've been blessed to be living where I am; yet I know that if I were to live under an oppressive regime, my fate would not be in the hands of those in power, but in the hands of a Higher Power. I also realize that this is easier to say from Oregon than it is from many other places in the world. I believe that I should be able to keep as much of the money I earn as I can; I also believe that it is my responsibility to help pay the salaries of public employees, and the 'benefits' for those, like my adopted daughter, who live because of the 'kindness of strangers'. I believe those who given many opportunities have a great responsibility to share those opportunities with those less fortunate. I don't believe that will happen in my lifetime. I believe my greatest responsibility is to be as compassionate and caring as I can to all those I allow into my life. I believe I will allow into my life fewer people than God would want me to. I believe that God doesn't keep a scorecard. The fact that God doesn't keep a scorecard doesn't mean that I have any less of a responsibility to act in the best manner I can toward those I encounter. The fact that there isn't a scorecard means that I don't have act out of fear. Jesus was murdered after only three years of actively bringing His message to His world. He claimed to be God in human form, offering a different way to look at life. He was either a lunatic or telling the truth; there really aren't any other alternatives. We don't know what went on in the ~30 years before He 'went public'. He felt that what He did was enough. In that people are still trying to emulate Him, I guess it worked. As near as I can tell, I'm not going to get out of this life alive, at least not in the conventional sense. I can worry about who gets elected; or I can worry about my neighbor. It appears that giving a cup of water to someone who's thirsty is a bigger deal than how much I get out of this life, or who I vote for. I have a son who has just moved to Antarctica. For the next 6 months he will have no political affiliation, since there are none in Antarctica. The 'rules' are determined by his employer; his behavior toward the 800-1000 people he lives among will determine how well he enjoys his time there. Maybe we should all try living as though it really mattered how our neighbor thinks about us. Maybe we should live as though it really mattered how our neighbor thinks of us, in spite of the fact that our neighbor is mostly going to think about themselves.
  3. I think that the primary question is whether a political leader should require their beliefs to determine their actions. It is recorded in the prophet Micah, "He has shown you what is good: what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and walk humbly with your God." If this is used as a yardstick, then I think the question would be answered yes, it's better to have political leaders that believe in God, and who act on their beliefs. Unfortunately, history tells an entirely different story. Most of the evil in the world is a result of battles over religion and political ideology. I personally believe that faith can't be used as a political yardstick; and that government cannot legislate faith. I also believe that a life of faith cannot justify terrorism as a revenge against terrorism. I have a very hard time justifying warfare with a life of faith. Yet, it's been done for millennia. The ancient Hebrew people asked God for a king, so that they could be a people like everyone else; they couldn't handle the notion of acting purely out of faith. Scriptures also explain that they were warned about the results of such a request; and that they wouldn't like the results. They were given a king, and he wasn't much better than all of the other kings. The best of their kings were still full of human weaknesses. I turned my life over to God thirty years ago; I was doing a pretty lousy job of running my life. I'm not a saint, I still screw things up and God does not respond positively to many of my prayers. Yet, I can no more NOT believe in God than I can NOT breathe. The life I see around me does not determine my beliefs; my beliefs are based on what I've experienced since I asked God to take charge of my life. I usually find out that living life by a set of principles that have been around for a few thousand years works better than living life based on television, movies and the media-- the only real alternative that is offered to us in western culture. That lifestyle pretty well explains why the world sucks. A life of faith often involves not giving in to my impulses and whims; and making uncomfortable choices. I just finished watching 'Vanilla Sky'-- an effective proverb without a coherent meaning for the individul watching the movie-- beyond the notion that life isn't made up of what one has; instead it's made up of what one is. If one judges their place in the universe based strictly on externals, then there is little in human behavior that can't be explained. As an agnostic I had little to offer as a political leader-- some ideas learned from my parents, school and television. Some nonsense I was being taught in college. As an atheist, I would be offering antagonism toward religious belief; plus that other stuff. The instructor who was the most antagonistic toward faith was the one that taught the Old Testament as history. As a Christian I would be offering a total revolution of our political and economic system; consequently I'd never be elected, even if I had the slightest desire to do so. I can't justify the vast majority of American governmental policies from a position of faith. So, regardless of the claims made by various political leaders as to their belief in God, most of their actions are based on a secular belief system. Whatever that means. If God told George to fight terrorists in Iraq, He didn't mention it to me. And I have trouble believing that God wanted noncombatants to be destroyed in the process; as with all wars. The Bible records wars mandated by God; I can't explain that; and I don't use it as a justification for our wars. History is usually written by the winning side. I cannot celebrate the winning of a war by the vaporizing of two cities, preceded by the fire bombing of another. As a person of faith I cannot justify napalm and projectiles made from depleted uranium. In college I lived down the hall from a current US Senator. He had aspirations of being President. While I didn't know him well, I knew him well enough to be disinclined to ever vote for him. Ironically, he's been doing some good things for the country in spite of his idiosyncracies. Perhaps religion and politics don't mix well. Belief in God is often used as an excuse for inexcusable actions. Frequently God is given 'credit' for abominable actions. If I have to make a choice between having a President who believes in God and one who doesn't, I'm inclined to vote for the one who isn't inclined to overthrow foreign nations on trumped up excuses supposedly relating to national security. One who doesn't rape the wilderness because he's fond of the oil industry and its beneficiaries. One who is supposedly 'at war' with families he allowed to escape the country on 9/11. The only answer I have is the one offered in Micah.
  4. Like many, I came here because of the JFK Assassination research. I continue to read, here, because for some reason I choose to make myself nuts by reading about the abominations of my corrupt government. Excuse me, Alleged abominations of my Allegedly corrupt government. My background is varied, primarily driven by hunger. My primary area of expertise is the field of Building and Planning Codes; 'why' continues to perplex me. I'm currently self-employed as a Code consultant and as an illustrator; or reversed, depending upon the week. This week I'm slightly more of an illustrator than a Code consultant. My online portfolio can be found at my website, www.mjarts.com I worked for the City of Portland, Oregon for 14 years as a Building Plans Examiner; I left, due to health issues. I thought I retired; I later discovered that the city's insurance carrier had a different opinion. I've been illustrating for most of my life, approximately 40 years, at this point. 'Seriously' since college, where I studied Architecture, and received my degree. My 'target market' is children's books; I have 3 currently on the market; but one can only purchase two of them. I'm in the process of illustrating #4, and will be finished by the end of May. My most recent project was for Yellowstone National Park, an 'electronic field trip. The 75 min audio visual presentation can be seen at www.windowsintowonderland.org However, most of my illustration work is not in the children's market. Children's books don't pay very well. Neither does the illustration market in general, but I'm infected with the disease. I can't NOT draw. I've been married for nearly 30 years; 29 this year, if I'm doing the math correctly. We have three Talented and Gifted children; I'm of the opinion that we have three kids raised on books and imagination rather than television. I was addicted to movies [still am], Hill Street Blues and Cheers; I put the TV in the closet when I figured out that I wasn't getting paid to watch the shows. The kids were raised with an extremely limited televison budget; and they precede XBoxes, etc. They all have virtual worlds now; this lends credence to the notion that they may not be Talented and Gifted, with capitals. They are certainly talented and gifted and still children in many ways; although the calendar says differently. I'm hoping that childlike will remain. I'm an Elder of the Presbyterian Church; they tell me that this is a lifelong appointment. I won't be a member of the PCA as a lifelong commitment. I'm never sure how to describe my relationship with God, beyond it being a relationship, but I rarely use that word. If I use the C word, I tend to get labeled among the right wing conservative element that apparently has never read the Sermon on the Mount, althought they claim to be followers of the teachings of Jesus. I was raised without an involvement in any form of religion. I encountered Evangelical Christians while in college; and successfully ran from them until a small group snuck up on me while I wasn't looking. They seemed reasonably intelligent, except for the God thing; in time I encountered Something Real that I've never been able to leave behind, although I've never really wanted to. I've left a number of churches behind; not to imply that I know more than they. It's mostly because I ask questions that don't have 10 Easy Answers. If you resent the use of the G word, that's ok. I probably don't believe in that god, either. Blessings, Marty
  5. I can't speak to that which is historically considered as Fine Art, since I have little education in that area. In the world of contemporary art and illustration, I'm inclined to say that the majority of artists ARE women. My 'sampling' is somewhat limited in that my connection with fellow artists is primarily through Christian/Judeo-Christian circles. In any gathering of Christians In the Visual Arts, Graphic Artists Guild [more gender-balanced], local Christian arts groups, and the Society of Children's Writers and Illustrators, I am in the definite minority as a male artist. I am of the Opinion that in general, women are far more likely to pick up a brush [or the equivalent] than men. Art is an inner thing, and women in Western society are trained to be more in tune with their inner selves. If the non-artist finds few artists in the world, my guess is that it is because art and marketing use two different parts of the brain. Finding artists who successfully market themselves is a rarity- there are FAR more artists in the world than you'll ever see in the galleries. Women traditionally raised in 20th Century thinking are less likely to impose themselves upon the world. A lot of it has to do with self-image/ego. History is filled with egotistic artists- the ones with enough moxie to make a statement about their gifts. There are countless others, probably many of whom are/were more talented than those who became "successful", who never had the motivation to place themselves in a position to be reviewed by those who supposedly know Art. Maybe one should ask why it is that art produced by male artists has become more accepted as ART. I'm a commercial artist, so I can't speak to Fine Art, but I often wonder why some art is considered GREAT. I've never taken any classes in the subject; no doubt I'd find some answers there. I'm very left-brained as an artist, and I have little understanding of that which I call "modern art," most of which is non-representational. I'm very aware that there are those who consider representational art as merely illustration; and I can't argue with the concept. To me, much of the world's "great" 19th and 20th Century art, is simply wierd. But I don't claim any expertise in the area. Someone decided it was great art. I picked up the movie, "Pollock," having read that Ed Harris was somewhat of an expert on the subject; I thought maybe I could get a 'Reader's Digest' version of the meaning of whatever school of modern art Pollock falls into. What I took away from the movie is that the man was seriously disturbed, and his paintings reflected his mental state. But, hey, I'm only a commercial artist. Van Gogh was also seriously disturbed, and failed as an artist in his contemporary world; history has seen him become a great artist. I'm sure he still chuckles over the oddity of culture. Among the many female artists I've met, many should be making a career of their talent. Many just don't have the gumption to market it. However, all of us who are infected by Art don't really have a choice as to whether or not we produce the workings of our appendages and brains. Pollock could not NOT do his art, disturbed or otherwise. I can't NOT do my art, either. Marketing it as a commercial enterprise took a different set of impulses.
  6. The night I signed up for membership I had watched the first half hour or so of Oliver Stone's "JFK". I've seen the film in the past; that night I was particularly struck by Kennedy's comment that the world did not need a Pax Americana, a peace that was enforced by America's military strength. In the light of the last few years, this comment seemed particularly profound. So, I did a Google search on "who killed JFK" and found my way to your website. What I read there was profound, enlightening, and extremely disturbing. It also caused me to read as much of Michael Moore's F9/11 screenplay as I could tolerate. While I was one of the fools that voted for Bush in his first campaign- deciding that a Clinton-tainted Gore was the poorer choice; I did not vote for Bush in the most recent election. Stupidity occurs among people in large numbers; and I wish I had been more diligent 9 years ago.
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