Not so much about life as about rules

Opponents of abortion often present adoption as the ideal option for women in situations similar to that of Runkles, or for women in situations where they cannot afford a baby. But consider this: would choosing adoption mean Runkles could walk at her graduation? No. The issue, for the school, is that she had the sex that made her pregnant in the first place, regardless of how she chooses to address her pregnancy.

Those who advocate against abortion rights refer to themselves as pro-life, but, as Runkles’ situation makes clear, their opposition to premarital sex places limits in their ability to celebrate life. … For abortion opponents, it’s frequently not so much about life as it is about rules—and the consequences of not following them.

Source: “You can’t be pro-life, but then refuse to support the girl that keeps her baby”

The Whole Idea of Insurance Falls Apart

Health insurance, like all insurance, works by pooling risks. The healthy subsidize the sick, who could be somebody else this year and you next year. Those risks include any kind of health care a person might need from birth to death — prenatal care through hospice. No individual is likely to need all of it, but we will all need some of it eventually.

Once you start down that road [of paring insurance plans until they cover only the conditions most likely to affect you personally], it’s hard to know where to stop. If you slice and dice risks, eventually you don’t have a risk pool at all, and the whole idea of insurance falls apart.

Source: ‘I wouldn’t want to lose my mammograms,’ male GOP senator says — then immediately regrets – The Washington Post

ObamaCare — Carefully Designed to Preserve the Free Market

Contrary to what conservatives would have you believe, Obamacare actually was a very conservative concept, carefully designed to preserve as much as possible of the free market that conservatives make such a fetish of. Duh.

Most liberals and moderates would vastly have preferred a single-payer system like Canada has, where the government provides the insurance but doctors and hospitals are perfectly free to operate under free enterprise. But conservatives demanded that any system totally preserve the private insurance industry.

So the liberals completely caved to the conservatives and came up with a free-enterprise-based health plan called Obamacare specifically designed to appeal to conservatives. But in a stunning — and totally senseless — turn of events, conservatives (instead of declaring victory) began total warfare against the very plan that was designed to meet most of their free enterprise concerns.

Source: The new Republican health care plan is awe-inspiringly awful – The Washington Post

The Issue Is What We Should Do

The issue is not what God can do. The issue is what we should do based on the best evidence available to us.

Source: Would you advise an abused wife to divorce her husband? – Randal Rauser

I like this dichotomy between what God has the power to do vs. limiting our own options to those available to a human. Some religious people make plans that depend on God to “make a miracle happen.” But that’s God’s option, not ours. I think we’re limited to — and justified in — doing the best we can to produce an actual, workable solution of the non-miracle variety. We decide what we should do by following Jesus’ teaching; we decide how to do it by doing the best we can.

You have lessons to learn

When we fast, we join Jesus in the wilderness. We put ourselves in a place where God can finally get to us; a place where we are not all armored-up and defended. We strip away some of the areas of strength that we rely on just a little too much, and let God in. We actually ask God to mess with us. We invite God to use our weakness to teach us where we need to build strength. It’s an important aspect of our spiritual journey. And, it’s the real focus of Lent.

You have lessons to learn, but you won’t learn them by watching tv five hours a day. You have deep hungers you will never explore if you keep stuffing yourself with food every four hours. You have deep deficiencies that you will never face unless you sit alone in the dark and wait for your demons to show up.

Source: Why Christians Need to Observe Lent

Trump’s hypocrisy is good for America

Every time the Trump agenda is reshaped or refined to better fit reality, even Trump’s most dedicated critics have reason to applaud.

This is a rare ethical circumstance in which realism and good sense take the form of hypocrisy. On a variety of issues, the sincerity of Trump’s current intentions — or the cynicism of his past intentions — should not matter. If the candidate who gave a wink and nod toward white nationalism now repudiates the alt-right and promises to “bring this country together,” so much the better. If the candidate who promised a trade war with China reconsiders, it is all to the good.

Source: Trump’s hypocrisy is good for America

If you understand, I’m explaining wrong…

If you’d like a non-religious example of a divide where each side’s common sense sounds like lunacy to the opposing side, try Scott Alexander’s Survive vs Thrive model of political divides. (In brief: do you think the world is pretty stable, and we’re figuring out how to best share this lasting prosperity, or do you think the world is teetering on the edge of near collapse, and unless we’re very careful, everything will crumble).

Survive vs Thrive has become one of the background assumptions I automatically ask about when I’m in a dispute with someone I already know and respect. It’s turned out to be lurking behind a lot of the disagreements I’d find most repulsive or hard to debate — my interlocutor is usually much farther toward the “Survive” end of the spectrum than I am, and is ready and willing to do last ditch things.  (When I turn out to be the closer-to-Survive one, the Thrive person tends to feel to me like a Jenga player who hasn’t heard of gravity).

Source: Christian Ethics: If you understand, I’m explaining wrong…

This That Darkens My Counsel

For the record, I stand by my contention that the character of Elihu in the book of Job is a proto-Calvinist. His monologue (chapters 34-37) blasts Job for daring to declare himself innocent and righteous, arguing that Job, like everyone, has earned suffering, punishment and the wrath of a holy God. His argument reads like something straight out of “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” or John Piper’s Twitter feed. And Job doesn’t offer any rebuttal to that. Instead, the next line of the play comes directly from God: “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?” OK, then.

Source: 48

Useful and Beneficial

Scriptures are not said to impart right doctrine, but to be useful in training people in living a particular way.Also note that the emphasis is on their usefulness and their beneficial character. Perhaps we ought to start there. Rather than first defining a particular collection of texts as scripture (something 2 Timothy does not do, nor does any other work in the Bible), and then assuming they must be useful and beneficial, perhaps we ought to start with texts that are useful and beneficial, and treat those as not just “scriptures” (which simply means “writings”) but as special, even sacred.This should lead us to ask whether hate-filled texts are useful or beneficial, and if not, what that means for their status as “scripture.”

Source: 2 Timothy 3:16

Love is not In Charge

Because of the way love operates–dying for rather than killing, serving rather than ruling, giving rather than taking–love cannot create a “steady state” in the moral order. Love will not be consistently “in charge” of an evil world because love will not use violence to forcibly keep dissenting others in line.Thus our experience of love–the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven–is experienced as “patchy, intrusive, and unpredictable.” The Kingdom of God is not a location to be defended by arms and high walls. The Kingdom of God is an event.

Source: Experimental Theology: Unpublished: Weakness and the Kingdom