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October 23, 2007

Comments

"Church groups were among the first on the scene after Katrina, for example, and have been working on the ground there for the two years since."

This is the best statement on this issue i've seen. When we has a president who was committed to making FEMA work, we took care of disasters in short order. Depending on private charity has dragged out recovery in an unconscionable manner. The failure of private efforts to accomplish recovery in a timely manner is just what we would expect - that is why we have agencies like FEMA in the first place. When we elect people who are committed to making government fail, we shouldn't be surprised that government fails.

"Land also pointed out that if fathers would marry the mothers of their children it would reduce poverty more than any government policy."

It would also help if we didn't have policies like the "War on Drugs" that takes millions of men out of the marriage pool.

All this focus on "poor" verses "abortion" is really besides the point. Private charity can only work in the context of a broad safety net that protects the middle class, otherwise charity becomes an empty feel-good exercise for those who need to pretend they are following Biblical injunctions.

Again, would somebody explain how we "end abortion". All I see are proposals to make it difficult and dangerous for some women to obtain abortions while allowing the right sort of women to continue to have access to safe and easy abortions.

Poverty and abortion can both be mitigated with sensible social policies. Allowing ideological and theological considerations to blind one to those simple facts seems both unchristian and unrealistic.

Define - Christian.

Hi Lumbergh. short answer - a person who allows the teachings of Jesus to trump those of Mr. Herbert Spencer.

For a longer answer we might use this as an example:

"think there’s actually more agreement in the church about poverty than abortion, and the lack of cooperation is due to how we understand the roles of the church and the government."

This simply won't do. If Jesus says X and the most efficient and effective way to do X is by implementing Y, yet ones political ideology holds that not-Y is the way to go, then one has to make a choice between Jesus and ones political ideology. If one prefers to hold to an "understanding" of the role of government that results in a less effective delivery of a religiously mandated "good" then one has chosen that "understanding" over that "good".

It's unfortunate that you have only negative to say about Wallis. You pepper him with a couple of positives, but quickly turn on him.

I don't agree with everything that Wallis says, but I will allow his voice to be somewhat prophetic.

You write: "While I agree that the church needs to make care for the poor a chief concern, for some Christians the Gospel often seems to be reduced to this."

The fact is that the Christian right has reduced the gospel to be about two things: anti-abortion & anti-gay marriage. (if you don't believe me, ask James Dobson why he won't support Giuliani) All of us have blinders that reduce the gospel. This is not unique to Wallis's brand of Christianity.

I know what your Y is, Alan, and we have very, very good reasons given the devastating results of past programs similar to Y to believe that Y is, in fact, not the best way to produce X.

Not-Y is the way to go, not because we don't care about X, but rather because we very much *do* care about X and wish to go about producing X via means that will actually succeed rather than those such as Y that are doomed to failure.

And what do you understand to be the teachings of Jesus?

Also, what about the teachings in the Old Testament (10 commandments,etc)? Are those to be followed by Christians?

How about Paul, Peter, John, Matthew, Luke, John-Mark, Timothy, and James?

As far as I can remember, Jesus didn't actually write ANY of the books in the Bible.

So, how do we know which teachings to follow?

"I know what your Y is, Alan"

Sorry Derek, you clearly don't and as your misunderstanding grants my larger point, you are left with your valuing your political ideology over the injunctions of your religion.

Hi Lumbergh, I do feel a little guilty here, as a non-Christian, I have the luxury of pointing to this or that teaching and can leave the exegetical problems to you believers. However the message in Luke 10:25-37 seems clear and allows you all to make a clear choice between your political ideology and core religious teachings.

Alan - thanks for your reply.

So you are saying by pointing me toward Luke 10: 25 - 37 that Jesus taught that people go to heaven through good works and not by faith - right?

I just want to be sure that I am understanding you correctly.

Also, please take a stab at my 2nd series of questions. I would like to get your thoughts on them.

"Sorry Derek, you clearly don't and as your misunderstanding grants my larger point, you are left with your valuing your political ideology over the injunctions of your religion."

You're a non-christian liberal speaking on poverty. What you could mean by Y is so hard to deduce. Right. Gag me.

"However the message in Luke 10:25-37 seems clear and allows you all to make a clear choice between your political ideology and core religious teachings."

I question your literacy if you believe that passage in any way supports a liberal social platform.

Alan,

Hi again. It seems to me Jesus was illustrating the individual's responsibility to help others instead of hiding behind false piety. I find pushing the responsibility for helping the poor onto the rich to miss the point of the parable. Tax-and-spend charity is not really the concern of the church; if these programs get passed, they will have nothing to do with Good Samaritan morality. Jesus was concerned (here) that individuals take care of those in need. Government charity could replace personal charity, which would circumvent personal compassion. Or, it could be a viable supplement to individual charity. Jesus was eminently concerned with people's hearts - that is the concern I see here.

Actually I wasn't thinking of poverty. At some minimum number the poor will always be with us but I would think Christians would favor policies that minimized that number. For most the best cure for poverty is a job and as Henry Ford figured out, jobs that paid a good wage were good for everybody.

I used the example of the Good Samaritan because it deals with a problem that we pretty much know how to solve and one that solved pays dividends across the board. I refer to health care, of course and as the parable indicates we live in a large neighborhood.

I also thought of the parable of the three stewards that would indicate that Jesus understood something about concepts like efficiency and effectiveness.

Dealing with medical problems after the fact is neither efficient nor humane. this is especially true when we know how to provide medical care for all in a better and more cost effective manner than at present.

Hi Sage you've stood things on their head. There is a role for private charity but in a modern nation of 300 million, it can only hope to supplement the kind of social safety net that nurtures a middle class.

It seems to me that Jesus spoke to mens' heads as well as their hearts. In a Republic such as ours, it would seem to me that He would find a collective decision to provide everyone with at least basic health care somewhat admirable.

The notion that only individual charity is a good thing seems to me to be a bug, not a feature, of Christianity. It certainly shows a lack of a moral imagination and a rather limited and mechanical notion of charity.

Our friend Kevin, in referring to the S-chip program as "socialism", chose his political ideology over his religion (assuming Jesus would favor the greatest good for the greatest number - no Spock jokes, please). Extending insurance to an uninsured class is hardly "socialism", but if it was, so what? The program works and saves us money in the process.

I'll assume by the fact that you did not answer my questions - you do not know the answers.

That kind of amazes me in a way, but I guess it shouldn't.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with a guy about the concept of inerrancy. He railed against the idea for 15 minutes.

When I asked him to define it, he had no idea what those who endorse inerrancy believe. My advice to him was to educate himself on the subject before speaking out against it - otherwise it's a straw man argument.

My advice to you Alan is the same. Please don't use phrases like "unchristian" when you don't understand even the most basic tenets of the faith.

It's almost a miracle that you could read articles on this site for as long as you have and still not understand what Christians believe about something as basic as - how to know you are going to heaven when you die. A subject that any grade-schooler who has attended Sunday School more than twice knows backward and forward.

Please educate yourself on this subject. And please don't use the excuse that you are not a Christian. I understand the basic beliefs of all of the major world religions without subscribing to them. There are plenty of matterials available right here on the STR web site.

This does help to explain why - in the past - when you asked a question on this site and Christians gave you an answer - it goes right past you and you repeat the question as if it hadn't been responded to.

Those kinds of gaps in communication happen when you don't have an understanding of the other person's belief system.

I'll get you started. You'll find the answer to the main question I asked in Ephesians 2: 8-9, Titus 3: 5, and of course John 3: 16.

Also take a look at the Sermon on the Mount (beginning in Matthew 5) and see if you can figure out what Jesus was trying to tell his disciples.

God Bless.

Hi Lumbergh, sorry about the questions but I have time constraints at present and will get to them. We all have to prioritize and what I responded seemed more important to me. About which I found this, perhaps someone might try to explain how personal charity deals with things like this:

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/10/23/what-color-are-the-holes-in-your-parachute/#more-5995

Here'a another story for you consideration: Mark 10: 17 - 27.

What did Jesus mean by his statement to the disciples in verse 27?

Alan,

I was trying to establish what the point of the parable is first to see how it applies to health care, social spending, etc.

Personally, my position on social spending programs is not directly informed by my faith; I don't see the Bible speaking directly about it one way or the other. No mandates, no prohibitions. My concern is that individuals not push their own personal responsibility to care for those in need onto Uncle Sam. Health care programs seem fine to me - again, I have no official "Christian" position. I just don't want people saying, "I pay my taxes. The government takes care of health care & charity. I've done my part." Morality is not satisfied by voting and mandatory taxation; it requires personal action.

Follow up:
The Bible is rife with explicit teachings about the status and worth of the unborn: God created us in the womb in His divine image with transcendent worth from conception. Here is where my legislative priorities are directly informed by my faith.

Alan wrote:

>>”Our friend Kevin, in referring to the S-chip program as "socialism", chose his political ideology over his religion (assuming Jesus would favor the greatest good for the greatest number - no Spock jokes, please). Extending insurance to an uninsured class is hardly "socialism", but if it was, so what? The program works and saves us money in the process.”

This is simply illogical. Even if I was “for” this program (as designed by the Dems) what’s Christian about me forcing others to pay for it? (Ignoring the actually policy flaws).

Alan could use Christianity as reason to implement Communism using this logic.

Alan,

By the way, your Good Samaritan comparison would work if the Good Samaritan was threatened with jail time for withholding his charity.

"Also, what about the teachings in the Old Testament (10 commandments,etc)? Are those to be followed by Christians?"

As near as I can tell - maybe. Not too many folks who call themselves Christians would stone gays and adulterers.

"How about Paul, Peter, John, Matthew, Luke, John-Mark, Timothy, and James?

As far as I can remember, Jesus didn't actually write ANY of the books in the Bible.

So, how do we know which teachings to follow?"

Hi Limbergh, I'm simply stipulating to what I have read here by folks who claim to be Christians and following where that seems to lead.

When I see this:

"I think there’s actually more agreement in the church about poverty than abortion, and the lack of cooperation is due to how we understand the roles of the church and the government."

I see a statement that seems to indicate that ones political ideology should take precedence over the injunctions of ones religion. I am merely pointing that out. When a person believes that all it takes to defeat a proposal is to to assign it to the "socalist" category then they are making it clear that they value the ideology that allows them to do that over a rational analysis informed by the values ascribed to the founder of their religion.

Verse 27 would seem to fit with the traditional Judeo-Christian definition of God. The preceding passages describe voting patterns in the United States in recent elections.

We might be having a confusion with concepts of "common ground". Some of you seem to feel that it means using areas of agreement as wedges towards conversion. To moi it means that agreements on goals should facilitate some sort of policy agreement while not necessitating any sort of agreement on more basic levels.

Hi Sage, we all pay taxes and vote so we are the government; "We the People" and all that. Within the framework of our Constitution we have all sorts of options to do good; generally speaking liberalism seeks to use those options and conservatism is ideologically opposed to so doing.

My point is that if I was a follower of a religious tradition that saw value in doing the maximum good, I would have a problem reconciling that with any political ideology. Marxism and American conservatism traditionally have been in the thrall of ideology. The progressive American tradition, not so much.

I have no problem with your focus on the unborn; I do have a problem with the means you all seem to be stuck in advocating. The Irish experience would seem to gainsay your constitutional solutions and history informs us that criminalizing abortion is inevitably class legislation.

Meanwhile folks who were quite vocal with issues like Terri Schaivo were silent when the elected officials they support cut the funding that paid for her care. Likewise, a solid cushion like S-chip is the sort of thing that facilitates the unborn becoming the healthy born, yet the good folks at STR are silent on these things because, I guess, they don't fit their concepts on the role of government. Again, all I am pointing out is that some seem to allow their political ideology to trump their religious values.

"This is simply illogical. Even if I was “for” this program (as designed by the Dems) what’s Christian about me forcing others to pay for it? (Ignoring the actually policy flaws).

Alan could use Christianity as reason to implement Communism using this logic."

Hi Kevin, in a democratic society, any such requirements would be the result of an agreement by a majority of the citizens that this was a good thing. I'll settle for that. Presumably the good Christians would think this a good thing; those in the thrall of a destructive ideology probably won't fare so well come Glory anyway, so who cares?

"By the way, your Good Samaritan comparison would work if the Good Samaritan was threatened with jail time for withholding his charity."

I presume any really good Samaritan would like to see his concerns generalized where that is the most efficient way of dealing with a problem. All you seem to be saying Kevin, is that doing good is subject to the veto of our society's Mr. Burns. I pefer to avoid such a lowest common denominator approach. BTW, do you care more that the program was designed by the Dems or that it is a good thing? Once again politics seems to trump religion.

Your Communist reference is besides the point. If Communism worked, we would all be Communist by now. The flaws in that ideology were clear from the start; national health care schemes work - that is why all other industrialized nations have them. You might better ask yourself why you would force your failed ideology on us?

>>“I am merely pointing that out. When a person believes that all it takes to defeat a proposal is to to assign it to the "socalist" category then they are making it clear that they value the ideology that allows them to do that over a rational analysis informed by the values ascribed to the founder of their religion.”

Does this mean you think any Christian should be in favor of any spending by the government (when the government tells us) it’s for the greater “good”? Blank check? This is asinine. I guess some people are duped by the government more easily than others.

>>Within the framework of our Constitution we have all sorts of options to do good; generally speaking liberalism seeks to use those options and conservatism is ideologically opposed to so doing.

Ahh…very clever. This is great material - Marx would be proud. You could make some big Red posters. It reminds me of an onion article about John Edwards recently. “John Edwards: Against Everything ‘BAD’” He’ll even protect kids from ‘skinned knees!”

>>”All you seem to be saying Kevin, is that doing good is subject to the veto of our society's Mr. Burns.”

When people want to use my money by force, I want to approve of the use. What a horrible thing! And you’re ‘for’ ‘rights’? Right?

Alan - thanks for honestly answering my questions.

Remember my example of the guy I talked with who was criticizing innerrancy and didn't understand what those who supported it believed?

I think anyone would agree that he needed to study the subject and become familiar with its claims before denouncing it.

After reading one of your posts where you claimed something was "unchristian," I asked you to define Christian and asked some follow up questions to see if you understand what Christians believe.

As you know, the Bible has thousands of pages and contains many concepts that are debated by believers. But the main and plain things of the Bible - the essentials - are so simple that a child can understand them and are agreed upon by all Christians.

Your answers indicate that you do not understand the essentials of the Christian faith.

My question is - why?

Wouldn't it be helpful to understand the beliefs of those that you are debating so that conversations don't go around in circles? One talking past the next. I remember reading a post from Amy where she stated that it was kind of depressing that you didn't understand her at all.

As well read as you are, it amazes me that you haven't taken the time to learn even the grade school basics of Christianity.

You could do it in less than an hour. I'm not sure what the downside would be. Are you afraid that you might be converted? If not, I don't see why you would choose to remain in the dark.

I'll help you get started:

"As near as I can tell - maybe. Not too many folks who call themselves Christians would stone gays and adulterers."

You can find the answer to what Christians believe about that quesion here:
http://www.equip.org/site/c.muI1LaMNJrE/b.2776011/k.B1AC/JAH041.htm

So, how do we know which teachings to follow?

Alan, I asked you a question about the Bible and you gave me a political answer. I realize you are more comfortable in that area, but that was my whole point. To find out if you understand what Christians believe while labeling things as unchristian.

What does a quote from the site have to do with the question - what teachings should we follow?

The answer comes from scripture not a comment on this post.

The truth is that you just don't know. Please educate yourself on this subject.

Consider that you were a Muslim and ran a site discussing issues important to Muslims. A man leaves comments everyday on the blog posts and doesn't have a clue what the core beleifs of the Muslim faith are and of course it is obvious to you. Then he leaves a comment saying that something is un-Muslim. What would your reaction be?

"Verse 27 would seem to fit with the traditional Judeo-Christian definition of God. The preceding passages describe voting patterns in the United States in recent elections."

I liked to use this passage to determine if an individual understands the basic principles of Christianity.

In Evanglism Explosion we use something called the Judo Technique in a case like this.

When someone is a little arrogant and condescending, we ask them to explain the main message of the Bible - how to know you are going to heaven when you die. After all, the Bible is the best selling book of all time and considered by most to be important and trustworthy.

When the individual gives the tradional "you have to be a good person answer," you tell them that they are not only wrong but if the target had been in this direction - you shot the arrow 180 degrees the other way. Now, wouldn't it be more prudent to actually learn what the Bible says before rejecting it?

When reading your comments - the lack of understanding you have of Christian beliefs is painfully obvious.

Here are the essentials of the faith on one page:
http://www.equip.org/site/c.muI1LaMNJrE/b.2548387/k.98C0/The_Essentials.htm

Book suggestion:
"A General Introduction to the Bible" by Geisler

Until then, please don't label anything as unchristian before you have an understanding of what Christiand believe.

Thanks.

"Depending on private charity has dragged out recovery in an unconscionable manner."

Nonsense. Here's a link for you to follow for a change :-) http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2007-08-28-rebuild_N.htm

As you can see, privately funded recovery is speedy; publicly funded recovery is slow. Depending on private funds is _precisely_ the way to get the job done quickly.

And it's not for want of public funds, either; the amount spent already is enormous, and the amount committed even greater. The problem is figuring out how to direct those funds. And the solution isn't to hire competent managers; many of the public managers are highly competent, while many of the private ones are incompetent. The solution is to allow the market to work for us.

We've learned the exact wrong lesson from Katrina. We saw that high-level control results in bungling; we therefore centralized more control at a higher level hoping for less bungling. (Meanwhile, neighboring states had a tiny fraction of the problems -- partially because the competence of the local response overwhelmed the impossible arrogance of the centralized response.)

"Does this mean you think any Christian should be in favor of any spending by the government (when the government tells us) it’s for the greater “good”? Blank check? This is asinine. I guess some people are duped by the government more easily than others."

Hi Kevin, of course not. However, the case for a national health care system is overwhelming. Every proposal should be looked at on its merits, not some canned ideological assumptions.

Do you really believe that each person should have a veto on how their tax dollars are spent?

"When someone is a little arrogant and condescending, we ask them to explain the main message of the Bible - how to know you are going to heaven when you die."

Hi Lumburgh, I understand all that; I just reckon the priorities differently. Understand that there are other ways to view the Bible and some (whole religions, in fact) might consider it more a guide on perfecting the world. After all if there is a heaven, and if there is a God, that God would have the final say as to who gets past the pearlies; so follow the rules the best one can and make the best out of this life as opposed to obsessing about a possible life to come (I over-simplify, of course).

I'll check out the links in a while, but p[lease understand that there is more than one valid way to view the Bible.

Hi William, what the story shows, in part, is that if one has assets and the ability to navigate the system one is likely to fare better in any circumstances than one who doesn't, This is hardly remarkable, although I;m sure those with the ability to rebuilt their "affulent" neighborhoods would prefer that their fire and police departments were up to speed.

Did you read the whole story? There are quotes like this"

"Part of the delay in municipal projects stems from FEMA's requirement that the city pay for projects up front, then get reimbursed by the federal government. That's money the city doesn't have, Sylvain-Lear says. There was an estimated $1 billion in damage to city buildings and infrastructure, such as roads and bridges, but only $45 million in federal funds has reached city hands, she says. This does not include funds for public schools or the city's Sewerage and Water Board.

"I can't sign the contract without money, and the state can't give us the federal money without a contract," Sylvain-Lear says. "I have what some would call a cash-flow nightmare."

FEMA officials say the strict rules guard against the misuse of federal money. Projects costing more than $1 million need congressional review, further delaying the process, FEMA's Jamieson says.

"There's a lot that can be done to streamline the process," he says. "The issue is: How much do you want to sacrifice in terms of accountability and control over the funds?"

Emergency federal funding is governed by the Stafford Act, whose rules require cities and states to match a certain percentage of federal disaster funds. The U.S. government quickly waived the match requirement after previous disasters, such as Hurricane Andrew in South Florida in 1992 and the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

But the match requirement — 10% in the case of the 2005 storms — wasn't waived for post-Katrina recovery and rebuilding until May, when Congress passed a bill abolishing it, delaying many projects.

The 10% match requirement nearly wiped out Pass Christian, a Mississippi town of 4,000 residents on the Gulf Coast, says its mayor, Leo "Chipper" McDermott. Katrina slammed into the coastline, sending a wall of water through the town and destroying 70% of it. The town lost most of its property tax base and all of its sales tax revenue, McDermott says.

Pass Christian was flat broke."

Read the whole story and try to avoid the "government is bad" conservative meme. Ask reasonable questions. Why was money dumped in to Florida in 2004 and not Louisiana in 2005? Given the magnitude of the storm, was wasn't the Stafford Act requirements immediately waived? Why could the Japanese Government do in Osaka what the Bush Administration could not do in Katrina? Why did FEMA work very well under James Lee Witt and was incompetent under Bush appointees?

In the 1994 earthquake in Los Angeles, a very large freeway overpass collapsed up the road from me. what followed was a microcosm of how Fema and the Wilson administration handled the damage from that disaster. Normally it takes over a year to build that size overpass. Under FEMA and Pete wilson it took three or four months. That was because Wilson was a competent governor and we had a competent president who made generally good appointments and he took special care to make sure FEMA had an excellent director. If you elect an incompetent fool, at least own that you elected an incompetent fool an maybe you won't elect another the next time.

Alan, conservatives don't have a "government is bad" meme. You're thinking of libertarians or perhaps anarchists.

The fact is that centralized government can't solve problems economically efficiently. That's not what it's good for. I know a lot of people imagine that it's good for pulling lots of money around really fast; but it's not. Take a look at economics to see why; the incentives are all wrong.

This is just another proof of that.

And by the way, the same people who failed so badly during Katrina did acceptably during the Florida landfalls. I guess they did OK during the California wildfires as well (time will tell). The difference? Well, the feds were posturing and moving money; the locals were doing something useful. During Katrina, the locals were doing nothing useful. I don't think the feds are useless, or FEMA ought to be abolished and not replaced; but I don't think we should indict them on the basis of lousy local performance (although we COULD ... reconsider ... their role in pre-disaster planning on the grounds that we should know about bad local planning in advance).

Sorry William, the archives are replete with quotes like this one from recognized conservatives:

"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."

There are a few things that government can do real good - that is why other developed countries national health care programs work better and cheaper than the model we insist on using.

Disaster relief is another one, FEMA proved that during the clinton Administration. One of the problems with FEMA is that Bush sought to downgrade it - a conservative goal. Another problem, to be honest, has nothing to do with conservatism and everything to do with politics. The hurricanes in Florida in 2004 were in an election year in a swing state - the money flowed. Pre Katrina New Orleans was largely Democratic. Now, not so much. The only thing the Bush Administration is competent at is politics and it is not unreasonable to assume a certain political calculus at work here. We will, of course, likely not agree here.

Anyway, we know from recent history that governments that want to facilitate disaster relief can do so quickly and efficiently if the political will is there. Nothing short of that sort of massive aid can quickly rebuild the infrastructure necessary for recovery from a large scale disaster.

Hi William, you might also be interested in the story of a Clinton policy disaster:

http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/10/hoisted-from--1.html#comments

Policy is serious business. I can be done right or it can be a disaster regardless of its being attempted in the public or private sectors.

"Hi Lumburgh, I understand all that; I just reckon the priorities differently. Understand that there are other ways to view the Bible and some (whole religions, in fact) might consider it more a guide on perfecting the world. After all if there is a heaven, and if there is a God, that God would have the final say as to who gets past the pearlies; so follow the rules the best one can and make the best out of this life as opposed to obsessing about a possible life to come (I over-simplify, of course)."

You'll have to excuse me for not having much respect for your opinion at this point Alan.

Because you have not educated yourself on the basics of orthodox Christianity, your default opinion comes from pop-culture (which is also ignorant of Christian beliefs). I can get an oversimplified version like that 24 hours a day just by flipping on CNN.

You are criticized for speaking out against something you don't understand, and your reaction is to continue speaking out before learning what you need to know to criticize it. Does that seem prudent?

And by doing such, you have only proved why you should have educated yourself before speaking out against it in the first place.

It almost seems as if you prefer to remain ignorant so as not to upset your already preconcieved biases against Christians.

I hope that's not the case.

"I'll check out the links in a while, but p[lease understand that there is more than one valid way to view the Bible."

Please explain to me how you could possibly know this when you obviously have not spent any time investigating this subject. Was it a direct revelation from God?

Trying to explain to me valid views of the Bible when I have spent years studying the subject, and you haven't yet had enough interest to click on a link and read a one page summary is comical.

Again I would advise that you qualify your comments by learning something of the subject matter.

Thanks

Lumbergh, yes, Alan doesn't know a lot about Christianity, but I wouldn't expect him to, either, seeing as he's not a Christian! :)

I agree that there's a lot of information on this site, and I wonder why he hasn't checked it out. But isn't that more of an indictment on all of us commenting here? Why is nobody talking to him about these things on the blog? He's been here all this time and nobody has explained it to him or engaged him on the topic?

Isn't his lack of understanding all the more reason to encourage him to talk about Christ with everybody here? Why don't you simply correct the misunderstanding by explaining briefly what the views are. If Alan wants to talk about it, we're fools if we discourage him. We ought to work to encourage Alan to talk more about what's most important, not less.

So if you're going to berate someone for Alan's misunderstanding, then start with me and all the other Christians on this blog.

HI Lumburgh, well for a start we have Christians and we have Jews, and umpteen variations on those themes. You seem to believe there is only one way to view the Bible, the world disagrees. Have you ever heard the phrase "tikkun olam"?

Hi Amy, I read stuff from time to time. I just disagree with most of it. I usually avoid discussions that don't impinge on social policy because (IMHO) if folks are improving the world, other things will likely take care of themselves.

I rest my case.

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