Showing posts from January, 2017

Christian Polarities: Liberation theology vs. Evangelicalism

At the end of the Reagan era, I found liberation theology's pragmatism attractive for four reasons: The then prevalent emphasis on self (remember the "me" generation) was increasingly disturbing and repugnant because it is the antithesis to Jesus' teachings. My doctoral research on religious pluralism raised difficult, perhaps unanswerable, questions about the exclusive trustworthiness of any one religion's scriptures. For example, given both a lack of scientific evidence and conflicting scriptural accounts about what happens at death (e.g., the faithful enter new and everlasting life, death is the end, life follows death which follows life in an endless cycle), one's cultural heritage and personal biases arguably determine which, if any, scripture most persons accept as authoritative. Marx's critique of religion as the opiate of the masses poignantly questions individual and institutional motives

Consequences of Trump's inauguration

Tomorrow, Donald Trump will become President of the United States. The day is significant for at least five reasons: The peaceful transition of power according to the rule of law in the world's largest democracy is an important sign that the rule of law still prevails, no small achievement in a world in which democracies tend to have short lives and in which large nation states tend to have authoritarian rather than democratic governance. Protesters of Trump's inauguration in DC and elsewhere are themselves evidence that freedom of assembly and speech as well as the rule of law still prevail in the US. Trump's presidency will usher in an unprecedented era of chaos, reflected in both his idiosyncratic, narcissistic Tweets and his proclivity to disregard facts that contravene his opinions and feelings. That chaos will sometimes become the catalyst for change. For example, Trump's Tweets and other favored forms

My preferred way to die

Having a chronic, fatal disease has been the catalyst for thinking about death. My preferred way to die is a death that is similar to falling asleep, whether that sleep is natural or drug induced. First, I often realize that I am becoming sleepy. I do not, however, know the actual moment at which I fall asleep. Analogously, I want to know that death is near so that I say a final goodbye to those whom I love the most but feel no desire to know the actual moment at which I die. Second, falling asleep is a natural, non-threatening process about which I harbor no fears. Although a tiny minority of individuals may fear falling asleep and never awakening, I know that death is an inescapable and natural part of life. Third, compared to a slow lingering death in which the dying person retains consciousness to the very end, a death similar to falling asleep seems attractive, gentle, and almost familiar because I painlessly fall asleep every day. Fourth, if there is life after death,

Remission and the sword of Damocles

According to the single moral anecdote that mentions him, Damocles – a Greek name that translated literally means fame of the people – was a courtier in King Dionysius' court. Damocles, trying to curry Dionysius' favor, was telling the King how deserving the king was to enjoy such power, wealth, and fame. Recognizing Damocles' compliments as the obsequious behavior that they were, Dionysius offered to switch places with Damocles. Damocles quickly agreed to the swap. Dionysius, however, before exchanging places with Damocles ordered that a large sword be suspended by just one hair from a horse's tail directly above the throne. Once seated upon the throne, Damocles looked around to relish his great fortune. Seeing the sword that hung so precariously over his head, fear displaced pleasure and Damocles begged Dionysius to switch places again, each returning to his original seat. Dionysius agreed, observing that fear always accompanied great power. Remission in the cas

Predictions for 2017

Here are my predictions for 2017. Given my batting average for my 2016 predictions of approximately 50% and my surprise diagnosis of cancer in 2016, which was a poignant reminder of life's inherent unpredictability, my predictions are prognostications rather than factual statements of what will actually occur. National and international affairs Syrian President Assad will remain in power, Iraq will move closer to fragmenting, and the Islamic State will continue to pose a terror threat. Israel, supported by the Trump administration, will continue building settlements on Palestinian territory; Peace with the Palestinians will become more elusive. In short, 2016 will not see major changes in the Middle East. US politics, along with those in several European nations (e.g., France and Italy) will become more polarized. Right wing populist candidates are likely to win in many European elections. The Trump administration will prove

Review of 2016 predictions

At the beginning of 2016, as I have for several years, I made a number of predictions about what would happen in the year ahead . In this post, I assess the accuracy of those predictions. Predictions are in black; assessments are in red. National and international affairs Syrian President Assad will remain in power, Iraq will move closer to fragmenting, the Islamic State will consolidate its hold on parts of Syria and the current Iraq, and Israel will not make peace with the Palestinians. The US will block the Palestinian's bid for recognition as a state by the United Nations. In short, 2016 will not see major changes in the Middle East. Assad remains in power; Iraq is closer to fragmenting; ISIS, however, has lost rather than gained power. Israel still has not made peace with the Palestinian's, although the US failed to block the latest UN resolution calling for a Palestinian state. Overall, 2016 did not see major chan