If we all could wander like Luiz!

I am always impressed with Luiz Coelho’s posts on his weblog Wandering Christian. He isn’t political, he isn’t issue driven, he isn’t out to prove a point, he simply writes about God and his encounter with the things of God (with a few exceptions).
I am envious. My hope is that I just might be in that kind of place – that kind of insightful and that kind of humble.
Well, then there is my last post and my wish above is kind of blown out of the water.

What does it all mean…

How have fundamental assumptions of knowledge and truth been changed by the advent and development of the Internet, particularly the Web? We have to be cognoscente of the long-term changes that may be developing within younger people as the Web becomes an integral part of their lives and the primary vehicle in the search for information and truth.
If anyone can post a website and make truth claims no matter how “out there,” and if informational websites come and go, as so many do when the first link we use to find the site no longer works, how does that influence the developmental aspects of how we think about the accumulation of knowledge and the understanding of how to discern truth claims? A website claims “this is absolutely true,” above and beyond the “competition,” and then it is gone. Is the “truth” gone?
This may be a bit fare fetched, but the way the Web is so ingrained in the daily lives of people, especially younger people, it will eventually effect the way they perceive and understand information gathering and truth claims, and particularly with the ascendancy of Post-Modernism as the foundational worldview of young people.
Most young people no longer grow up within a family of faith, no matter what religion or pietistic practice. Either parents have an honest, but flawed in my opinion, intention of allowing their children to choose their own religion when they become adults or the parents are just too lazy to get them off to church, temple, mosque, or whatever house of worship, kids will begin to search for Truth and Meaning. Today, almost of their entire searching process is on the Web. They generally will not visit brick-and-mortar buildings and visiting small-groups is becoming less likely. If they are given no instruction at home or school in how to judge legitimate from illegitimate religious expression or true from false truth claims, the Web provides a vast plain of land mines just waiting for the kids.
The copious amounts of information on the Web is wonderful, but if we are not given the tools to enable us to effectively judge between truth claims and if we are not taught how to effectively navigate through it all, we are preparing a generation for mental/informational chaos. I’m not talking about making declarations that the information on this or that website is false, but the ability to discern and judge prudently, especially when forms of popular post-modernism yell that all points of view are of equal value and truth, all worldviews are accurate and acceptable, or all moral positions are worthy of consideration and respect.
Christian tradition claims that it is the only True religion – Jesus Christ is the only way to God, etc. If our primary assumptions negate such claims of absoluteness, and if knowledge is always shifting and appearing and disappearing, as it does on the Web, how will the Christian faith respond? What will be the anchor point for young people?
I’m just thinking about his stuff. It all is very unformed and unfinished, but still rolling around in my brain.

Need the money NOW

Listening to Morning Edition this yesterday morning, I heard an economics piece on what states are trying to do meet their budget requirements. Most states, unlike the federal government, are required to have balanced budgets year-in and year-out.
The report focused on states that are in the process of selling off their physical assets in order to need budget demands – they need the money NOW, as the reporter emphasized as he spoke of the Illinois plan to sell off its state lottery to private investors.
Several months ago, I heard similar reports about Indiana’s, Michigan’s, Illinois’, and Ohio’s plans to sell of such things as state toll-roads, turnpikes, and bridges – mostly large physical infrastructures. Now, I can understand that there are times when this may truly be advantages and prudent. I don’t think in these cases that we are in such times.
The reporter this yesterday morning said that the opposition in Illinois claims that a private group will do nothing but market the lottery more strongly and the end result will be greater harm for poor folk and those who are addicted to such things. (For some strange reason, I cannot use the “g” word with my host provider. Whenever I use the word for what people do in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, I am given an error message and can’t post. How strange is that? It has taken me a whole day to figure why I couldn’t submit this post.) This kind of have may not result from the sell last year of Chicago’s Skyline bridge-highway system, but it does set up situations where either tolls will be charged or increased or maintenance will suffer because private firms are all about making a profit and not serving the public good. Okay, that’s fine, but when we talk about public works originally paid for by tax funds, there is an obligation of government to manage those projects well.
Selling off state assess because the legislature cannot discipline itself to arrange state budges to meet the basic needs, rather than pork-barrel projects or even niceties when the coffers are flush with money, has become the new M.O. in many states. This is obviously very shortsighted. But, when people are desperate and unwilling to make hard decisions, then what do we expect?
Decisions have to be made: Will the people hold government officials accountable so that they are wise and diligent in the allocation and spending of the people’s money? Will the people be willing to live with less and be inconvenienced more for a little more money in their pockets? Will the people and government be willing to take the long-term view of things? Will people be willing to allow for the further stratification of society – the rich becoming richer and able to afford whatever they want while the middle-class and poor continue to live with less and less? Will the people and government go back to believing in the public general welfare and be less obsessed with their own greed? Will the political parties stop crassly promising the world at no individual cost in order to win elections to gain more and more power for themselves? Will special interests be brought to account? Will people begin to act more altruistically and less selfishly? Will our elected officials make the hard and perhaps unpopular decisions for the benefit of future generations?
To be honest, I think we are at a point in this country where we will act positively to any of the above. It is easier to think in the short term and desperately sell off public assets rather than to answer in a positive direction to any of the above questions.
I’m not a pessimist, but I am becoming much more of a realists as time goes on. The Religious Right talks a lot about morals. They focus on sex and keeping for themselves what they feel is theirs. What about the issues of morality surrounding the Golden Rule, loving our neighbor as ourselves, even loving our enemy, and looking out for the welfare of the least of these? The Church looked far different as portrayed in the Acts of the Apostles by Luke (the Book of Acts in the Bible) concerning the welfare of its members than it does now. They all sold everything they had and laid it at the apostles’ feet so that it could be distributed to all who had need! Personal greed and the fulfillment of personal want have replaced concern for the welfare of the least of these – the very people Jesus said will be the greatest.