Sunday, October 24, 2010

France: Riots Against Reality

I have found another article from World Magazine entitled, Riots Against Reality. Just recently the students and workers of France have been on protest because of the plan in place that is suppose to help France get out of its possible $44 billion shortfall. President Sarkozy has proposed raising the retirement age from 60 to 62 which caused weeks of protests.
Apparently, France's European neighbors have gone through financial crisis and their reactions were not the same. Britain is $243 billion in debt and is implimenting a plan to decrease 131 billion dollars in 5 years with the cost of 490,000 jobs by 2015.

From a psychological perspective, it is interesting to note the reasons why France has acted differently to their financial crisis than the other European countries. Did France protest because they didnt agree with the plan implimented or was it a reaction to their anxiety of possibly going into serious debt? What makes people hold onto their ways and not move into a direction to be rid of debt- has France been in reality with their debt crisis? do they believe everything will be fine by only protesting and not moving forward with a solution?

These questions raise the point that there can be two groups of people going through a similar crisis and yet react differently. I believe it has something to do with each groups worldview. What one believes comes out and this is especially evident when a crisis comes into reality.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tragically, there have been too many news stories recently about young gays who have been unwillingly outed and bullied. Consequently, these young individuals decided to commit suicide because they perceived that the situation was too much to handle. Unfortunately, Christianity has been accused of contributing to these horrific events.

It is sad that Christianity is being viewed in such an ugly way. How can it be that there is such a misrepresentation of Christianity when one of the core beliefs is to love others? Certainly people cannot possibly believe that Christians could-and would-condone the harmful mistreatment of another brother or sister? This goes against so much of what the Bible teaches and how God calls us to act.

The article also makes a very important point-we are all sinners living in a fallen world. No sin is considered above another. Gossip carries the same weight as any other sinful behavior. The article is also quick to point out that believers are just as guilty as nonbelievers in failing to act Christlike to those that are different. I believe this definitely serves as a critical reminder since too often we catch ourselves pointing our own fingers at one another.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Viewpoint Discrimination

What is life? What does it mean to have life? How precious is life to us as human beings? These are all important questions, but somehow, in today's culture, we have found a way to refrain from answering these questions directly or make them seem irrelevant. As I was trying to figure out what to write about this week, I came across this article about pregnancy centers. The title of the article is viewpoint discrimination. It talks about how the New York city council is considering the strictest regulations yet for pregnancy centers. In the article, it states how these crisis pregnancy centers (CPC) has a hidden anti abortion agenda. It also states in the article that the CPCs manipulate and trick the people that come in for advice to give birth rather going into abortion. One thing I do not get is that why are certain people so bent on making abortion legal or trying to encourage others to get it. What makes a man to say that abortion is the only way out in the cases where the pregnancy was not planned. I am not by any means saying that it is right to trick people into giving birth than going into abortion. I am not even sure if what the CPCs is being accused of is called tricking. Some of the reasons cited by the council that the CPCs are saying to the pregnant women are breast cancer, future infertility, and post-abortion syndrome. I am not sure about the breast cancer side effect, but the other two are very much possible. Life is too precious and for some reason, we are failing to see that as humans. How can trying to save babies who cannot talk or protest for themselves be an act of discrimination? I do not get this. I guess sometimes we underestimate the amount of evil that can take place in a man's heart or else I do not see how a whole state's council will try to stop organizations dedicated to saving lives of unborn babies rather than aborting them.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Glee's Episode, "Grilled Cheesus," Raises Religious Questions

Last week I watched an episode of Glee which highlighted a number of questions on religion and spirituality. Fox News provides an adequate review of the episode for a frame of reference. On the one hand, I found it very frustrating as a Christian watching this episode. Often, I am disgusted with the way television portrays Christianity, usually because lifestyles and beliefs are never consistent in the characters. However, the debate here is not on how television portrays Christianity. The episode of "Grilled Cheesus" not only focused on Christianity, but also included characters who were Jewish, Messianic Jewish, ambivalent, and atheist.
On the other hand, I found it very intriguing that this episode raised a number of vital questions that Christians and nonChristians alike struggle with pertaining to faith. There are obviously many dysfunctional beliefs and behaviors in this episode (like praying to an image of Jesus in a grilled cheese sandwich and believing you have a direct line to God), but that is not the point of this blog. Alternatively, the aim of this blog is to identify the hard questions Glee writers proposed pertaining to the role of faith, spirituality, and religion in the lives Christians and nonChristians alike. The following questions (not necessarily from a Christian perspective) I gleaned from the episode were:

How do we have access to God?
To what degree do schools allow religious diversity and expression?
How does one's experiences shape their opinion of God, faith, and/or religion?
What makes a person spiritual or unspiritual?
What is the role of religion in coping with difficult circumstances?
What do people put their faith in if not in God?
If God were a "spiritual being" why would he create someone homosexual?
Why does God create people with disabilities?
Why do bad things happen?
How does God speak to us?
Is God personal or distant?

As a disclaimer, I am not condoning or encouraging all the messages of this episode or show, but I am pointing out that nonbelievers are asking these questions. While Glee did not seek to provide these answers, my question is: Who or what is going to answer them?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Friday, October 8, 2010

The Good Samaritan, a Person who Connects with Community

Recently, a Good Samaritan once again obeyed Jesus' command to love others more then himself. As describe in the below video and CNN article, Victor Perez selflessly, and in many respects, against what common sense would have advised, rescued a young girl from her abductor. Victor believes the a "higher power" was at work in this situation, allowing him to be at the right place, piece together the facts and ultimately bring what could have been a tragedy to a happy ending. Victor is quoted in the article as saying that "God works in mysterious ways."

In the above clip, a panel raised some questions that relate to our discussion from last class, the idea of broken community and disconnect in relationships. Why do some people act in reckless and selfless ways to save another life, while others will just allow the suffering to continue? As in the parable of the Good Samaritan, many people just walk by, figuratively and sometimes literally, while someone is hurting and in need of help. In the video, when the psychologist claimed this was because of a lack of community between people, the priest immediately stated that he felt that it was because of his spirituality that allowed him to care for humankind. This would support our discussion that without salvation, people are broken in their relationships to each other and with God. But once they allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives, a connection is formed over this relational gap and a community is rebuilt; with that a love and concern for others.

This lead me to wonder, are all "Good Samaritans" Christians? Or, do they at least believe in the "higher power" that Victor referred to? Do people without a connection to the spiritual, care for others in the selfless way that Victor exhibited in this story? And if so, where does the motivated for this compassion come from?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

At Flagging Tribune, Tales of a Bankrupt Culture

I was shocked while reading this article. The title of a Bankrupt culture was right on, my shock came as to it being our culture; the image that formed in my head was a media industry version of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the article, David Carr, tells of how controlling shareholder, Sam Zell, of the Tribune Company has run the company bankrupt. Mr. Zell along with his top executive Randy Michaels have not only run the company into financial bankruptcy but moral bankruptcy as well. Mr. Carr's report has pages of accounts of morally wrong and even illegal acts that where done and endorsed by the executives of the company. The Tribune Company is a collection of company's including The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Baltimore sun, The Orlando Sentinel, The Hartfor Courant, WGN America and until recently The Chicago Cubs. Mr. Michaels was a former radio shock jock before becoming the executive. After receiving his position he hired on many other radio "friends" in the higher executive positions. One of their first steps was re-writing the employee handbook, which basically told everyone to expect and accept that they "might" hear things that they wouldn't like or attitudes that they don't share because it was going to be a loose, fun, nonlinear atmosphere. They also included that this should be of no surprise and not considered harassment.
It is remarkable, the amount of influence the leaders of this company have on their employees. I can not imagine the amount of pain that the leaders have cause and are still causing their employees. It reminds me of Wilson's chapter on help and healing leaders. It is always upsetting to hear about leaders stealing the trust of those who follow or employees, by permitting sexual act, but to the extent that this company permits is alarming.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Sister Wives

I recently heard about this show called Sister Wives. It is about four women who are married to the same man. I saw a preview for the show on television and then came across the article on the CNN website. The women adamantly insist that they are a completely normal household. I struggled to understand how these women could possibly think that their life constituted normal. Do they actually not realize how far from normal their lifestyle actually is? Then I felt I was being too judgemental. After all, these women believe they are in a loving family, complete with children. Something about this show is drawing me in. What qualifies as normal in today's world anymore? Clearly, these women do not see anything wrong and they are happy. They also said that their children benefit from the situation.

I found the comments below the article equally as interesting. One woman proudly stated that she would not mind having several husbands. Another individual claimed that they are grown women and nobody has the right to tell them how they should live their lives. Two other individuals wrote that these women's definition of normal does not make sense.

I have not seen the show yet, but I find the article-and the entire concept-intriguing.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Judgment or Compassion?

On Thursday, an article came out about a high school teacher from El Paso, Texas, who taped himself having sex with children. Probably up to 70, according to the article. Later in the article I read that he had been sexually abused as a child. Because of that, he said he felt relief after being arrested. But, does the fact that he was sexually abused as a child justify his actions? Does him feeling relief mean that he regrets or has repented from what he did?

There are two ways to respond to this type of situation. One, we can feel complete hatred and eternally condemn that person to hell by not showing mercy. Or two, we can try to understand why that teacher did what he did and why he is the way he is. In other words, we can show compassion. Some people place tons of emphasis on being compassionate and showing love while others emphasize judgment and no toleration for horrendous acts such as these. I fall into the latter category. I would have a very difficult time trying to understand why this teacher did what he did. I mean, to think, that a full-grown man tapes himself being involved in sexual acts with children is certainly grotesque and disgusting. If it wasn't because I knew the Lord, I would respond with extreme hatred towards this man, and not even want to help him because he "deserves" to go to hell.

How are Christian counselors supposed to help these difficult people who have their own background of bad things done to them? Just to clarify, I am not saying that we should justify this teacher's actions. I feel it is never right to justify what the Bible defines as wrong, even though I probably have justified myself many times. But I do believe that mercy can and should be extended to people who have done wrong. As difficult as it may be, Jesus does not ask us to justify why we feel anger towards certain people--no matter how right we may be--but instead, He commands us to forgive. God says, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay!" I think many times we try to play God's role in choosing who deserves forgiveness and who doesn't, when in reality, none of us deserve it. We all deserve eternal condemnation. However, God showed us mercy by sending His Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for you, me, and yes, even this teacher and many like him. Since one of the main factors in helping people change is accomplished through the relationship between counselor and client, it is important for the counselor to accept that what the person did is wrong, but then be able to put his/her negative feelings towards the client aside to help bring that client closer to God. For Christian counselors, the ultimate goal is draw people closer to God, and away from their sin. Easier said than done, but that is what God calls every Christian to do. Read Ephesians 6:1-10 to see how we should respond to people who fail, and how to protect ourselves from not falling into the same sin.