Monthly Archives: October 2011

An Institutional Expression of Total Depravity

Randal Rauser concerning corporations.

[The corporation is] …an institution which is singularly focused on return on profits to shareholders. …[T]he corporation, which in legal terms is defined as a person, evinces the marks of a sociopathic personality, including a singular concern for self-interest and an inability to form and sustain longterm relationships with others.

From a Christian perspective the corporation could be described as an institituional expression of total depravity. Everything a corporation does, even the “good”, is tainted by its own systemic orientation toward self-interest.

via If Jesus were a CEO he’d run a B Corporation.

No Ass To Kick

This from the slacktivist, whom I haven’t read until today but who has now made it into my RSS aggregator in that short time. I’m reproducing it here because I like his outline curt assessment of why corporations aren’t people.

Hero Social Worker Barely Survives Tornado, But Workers’ Comp Gets Denied.

That link takes you to a blood-boiling story of a genuine hero getting screwed over by a big company because it saves them a little money and because they can get away with it. This is the sort of inhuman behavior that clarifies that, regardless of what five Supreme Court justices may say, corporations are not people. They have no soul to save, no body to incarcerate, no heart to break and no ass to kick.

They also have no shame. But they’re capable of a facsimile of it if we’re able to convince them that their despicable behavior may wind up costing them money: “After Media Exposure, Insurance Firm Reverses Claim Denial Against Tornado Hero.

via slacktivist » No real than you are.

The Core of the Problem

Discussing a film called “Gospel Without Borders”:

“What part of ‘illegal’ don’t you understand?” is a popular piece of the narrative that supports the hard-line perspective of the legislation.

One wants to reply, “What part of the Gospel’s clear admonition to offer hospitality to the stranger don’t you understand?”

Is it a legal issue, or a faith issue? If both, then which should have priority among people of faith?

Reducing the issue of immigration to a matter of legality (as in the prevalence of referring to our undocumented neighbors as “illegals”) seriously oversimplifies the economic, social and theological dimensions of this arena of our common life.

Then discussing how people tend to favor strict enforcement of laws when it serves ones immediate purposes while conveniently ignoring the same laws when not enforcing them benefits the lifestyle one values:

Much more than a legal problem that can be fixed with new laws, it is a human problem that must be responded to (as the prophets would say) with new hearts. The core of the problem is not with “them” but with “us.”

via Immigration Issue Far More Than a Legal Problem on

Blowing in the Wind

From a columnist in The Guardian answering questions about evolution posed by a creationist. I liked this one:

Q5 How can you have ‘design’ without a designer?

A5 By not being confused by language: you get design without a designer the same way the wind blows without a blower.

via A creationist’s ‘scientific’ disproof of Darwin’s theory of evolution | Andrew Brown

The Rest of the Story

I came across a post tonight that describes “narrative theology”. I’ve never heard of it before but I like point seven of the author’s 8-point explanation of interpreting the Bible as God’s story:

7. The task of the church is to “faithfully improvise” the “rest of the story.”  Christians are not called simply to live in the story; they are called to continue the story in their own cultural contexts.  First they must be grounded in the story.  They must be people for whom the story “absorbs the world.”  Second, they must together (communally) improvise the “rest of the story” faithfully to the story given in the Bible.

via Narrative theology: following up on my review of Smith’s book about biblicism | Roger E. Olson.

Belief in an Evil God

I first came across the concept of offering forgiveness to God in a book by J. B. Phillips — I think — and it was a revelation to me. Not that God is doing wrong things to people that require actual forgiveness, but that people sometimes hold grudges against him that they really should let go. In other words, even if your theology says that God is perfect, your psychology might still be upset with him about something, and you should be willing to forgive those perceived offenses.

Caleb Wilde writes:

“Forgiving God” smacks against the core of what so many of us believe about God: namely, that He is good and that He’s love.  Believing that God needs forgiveness — as though He’s done something wrong — is so far away from our conception about God that we simply don’t talk about it.  …

And whether God actually needs the forgiveness isn’t what I’m talking about here.  Whether or not God needs it is a moot point.  The fact is, many of us need to extend it.

via Forgiving God.

Wilde was inspired to write about forgiving God on the 10th anniversary of a terrible shooting at an Amish schoolhouse. Charles Roberts’ own child had died years before and God hadn’t saved her. Roberts was out for revenge on God. He took the lives of five children before killing himself. I commend the whole article to you.

Justice vs. Revenge

Cognitive Discopants takes a stab at Mark Driscoll’s “God hates you” sermon. The video has been bouncing around the Christian blogs lately like a ping-pong ball, and CD embeds it in his post if you want to view it for context. It’ll help to know that one example Driscoll uses in the sermon to help us understand God’s retributive justice is imagining our own reaction to a thief who had broken into our home.

[W]hat Driscoll is describing is not justice – it’s vengeance.

As a criminal defence lawyer, I routinely represent people who have broken into other people’s homes (and worse). Most have tragic stories of dysfunctional families, physical or sexual abuse, abandonment, and drug addiction. The prosecutor will often invite the victim to submit a “victim impact statement” to the court. Some victims are just like Driscoll’s notion of God. They want “justice”, by which they mean that they want the offender to be punished. They were hurt and they want to see the offender hurt in return. In short, they want revenge.

The nobler of the victims respond differently. Sure, they recognize the need for consequences. But they are more concerned with seeing the offender rehabilitated. They want consequences that serve a purpose, namely, to see the offender restored to society. Sometimes they even offer forgiveness, unsolicited.

via Driscoll and the God of Hate « Cognitive Discopants.

Great tug-o-war here. Nothing is beyond God’s power, so should we imagine him as better than us at getting the revenge he’s entitled to, or better than us at restoring relationships with those who’ve acted offensively?


13 Oct 2011 — I changed the title of the post from “Driscoll and the God of Hate” to “Justice vs. Revenge”. Any prior inbound links were broken as a result.

18 Oct 2011 — I tweaked the last sentence to better compare the aspects of revenge and forgiveness that I’m after.

A Particular Kind Of Receiving The Scriptures

I always have this suspicion that the term “biblical” has been hijacked by some believers as a power move to place themselves over other Christians, when in reality, its just a particular kind of receiving the Scriptures.

via On Alcohol: Jarena Lee, Moderation and @ScotMcKnight | Political Jesus.

Cuff the Duke – Follow Me – YouTube

I think I could spend forever drinking beers and worshiping to vaguely spiritual guitar-driven folk harmonies.

Cuff the Duke – Follow Me – YouTube.

To me lately that seems to have become the point of religion: finding a harmony I can sing that’s in concordance with the creation and its creator.

I’m a Religious Atheist | Unreasonable Faith

Because I agree to pursue truth – if God creates all truth – I accept similarities between Christian narratives and other religious traditions, and realize that how I approach the world is influenced by similar reasons which cause others to approach the world differently.

Because I agree to seek what’s right, I accept the existence of common moral demands between all great religions, pointing to moral demands higher than any creed.

However, I understand how religious people can encounter these same observations and reach different conclusions than I have. I also understand how extensive parts of religious tradition don’t require a black-and-white, literalist idea of truth.

This is another belief I share with my religious brothers and sisters. I understand why someone believes the message of Jesus or the Buddha, not because they know the factual accounts as literally true, but because they carry hope of spiritual truth within them. I also take a leap of faith, and I also carry hope of unseen truth within me.

I carry hope that people of different traditions will peacefully practice their faith, or lack of faith.

I carry hope that all people will recognize the fragile nature of life on this earth, and work together to protect it.

I carry hope that people of faith, or none at all, will pursue social justice – that there’s a moral calling to protect the needy and vulnerable, whether it’s because there’s only one, incomparably meaningful life — or because each person’s immensely valuable in God’s eyes.

I carry hope within me, that people who live after I do … will inherit a better world.

Although none of these hopes may become truths, I understand how I also believe and live through occasional acts of faith. As I live every day to help this faith come alive, I’ve found extraordinary meaning and purpose. While others go, but for the grace of God–I go, but for the grace of hope.

via I’m a Religious Atheist | Unreasonable Faith.