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Discussion in 'Quackenbush's' started by RyanUTAustin, Feb 25, 2008.
Nivek, thanks for the responses.
As for the TV issue, it's more than just a "this is on this channel" type of thing. As more programming infests more channels, I won't be able to watch anything. Even the Super Bowl (family friendly) is to risque for my children to watch. But again, just an example. TV isn't a make or break it for me because now I just record what I want and leave it on the Disney Channel the rest of the day.
But when does that filter into public advertising? Other parts of life? Should I choose not to drive down I-45 because it's suggestive and revealing billboards?
personal note...see y'all tomorrow. time to go home.
In reply to:
As for my personal views, I've always been against the idea of open homosexuality, even before I converted to Christianity at 16 years old (living in a secular household too). I can't tell you 'why', only that it was my view.
I understand that you regard faith as an axiom, but I was curious if you ever asked the question as to why you seem to have an aversion to homosexuality. It was evidently not induced by religion.
p.s I understand this may be a very private matter and you don't owe me a reply by any means.
I have an aversion to the thought of people eating their own boggers. Do I really need a scientific proof of my reason for this aversion?
This has been fun....all of it.
By the way, I, too, believe that Churches should not be given tax breaks. Enjoying tax breaks only furthers the illusion that the State is "religion friendly" when it fact it is not religion friendly and people within the Church should continually strive to make sure that the State is not friendly toward religion.
The Church’s first task is not to make the world more just, but rather is to make the sure the world knows it is the world. In other words, Christians have a duty to live a life that would require them to oftentimes be at odds with the prevailing secular socio-political dynamic.
So Ryan, whether you know it or not, you're actually helping the Church, and I, for one, want to thank you for it.
I am generally opposed to the idea of religious institutions being taxed. ****, I am generally opposed to non-religious organizations being taxed, but that's another discussion.
KE, I like reading your takes on the issue of the church-state relationship, but can I be a little pragmatic?
How would you go about taxing churches? Would we be talking about a tax of their receipts, i.e. stewardship, or would we be talking about a tax on the balance of their books. In other words, if a church had receipts of, lets say $300k, but only broke even after the end of the year, would they have tax exposure? I could tolerate a tax on a church running a profit, but not one breaking even. I think I could live with that, as long as certain concessions were allowed for certain capital campaigns and for tax-exempt transfers of funds to sister churches running at a net loss. I don't think that I could tolerate property tax either, at least for buildings used primarily for worship purposes. If you want to taxe unused land or parking lots, fine, but not a sanctuary. I realize that those are pretty big limitations, but I could see and tolerate baby steps to taxation of religious organizations in order to weed out those who fill their grain bins on this earth in the name of God.
Helping the church eh?
I guess most people on here think I have it out for religion, which I do.
I hope for the downfall of the church and to eliminate these thoughts from human society.
Spirituality is one thing, but the belief in fairy tales is quite another.
I personally don't mind if you want to think these things, sure I think NetSlave is wrong but I still can have a beer with him and talk about these things.
My goal when discussing religion is more focused on individuals who are on the fence or have never really thought about it. I think that this is actually the majority of people who call themselves Christians.
They have never really sat down and thought / talked about what they really believe, because in my opinion if they did they would probably think differently. That is my thought process when I talk about religion.
So my reasoning (as many people ask) for these threads, as I have said before is to not only educate myself but to also stir a conversation. I understand that Netslave will not change, and contrary to popular belief I don't think I can make him change.
Is torturing babies for fun wrong in your eyes? Surely you can see that there are some moral absolutes?
I find this to be a great article that was worthy of interjecting into the discussion.
The crux of the article...
Johnny, what is the purpose of the property tax in the state of Texas?
Okay, I've got a little time so I'm going to write one of my tomes. So what follows is probably going to be rather lengthy.
I don't really care what the tax structure would look like. Truth be told, the more "unfair" it is, the quicker people would come to realize that they are called to be counter-cultural to the prevailing govt. form and have a duty to speak truth to power, not to nestle up to power with the goal of getting power for themselves or the Church.
What I find interesting is that a lot of this discussion taking place by separating ideas of "justice" with economics. Take a look above...the first response and by far the most prevalent response for not taxing churches is b/c they're charities, which is another way of saying that they're in the business of doing social justice. So by saying that churches should be exempt, they're saying that b/c churches do justice they should not be subject to an economic penalty...and to make that argument one has to hold the position that the two concepts are in no way connected.
That “justice” has become a buzzword is apparent from its present use, most often people use the word to describe that this or that circumstance is bad and needs correction. In other words, its use is in the moral meaning of the concept. But as much as it is used in this matter, very seldom is it made clear what is bad about the situation or what we ought to do in response. It may be horrible that people in North Korea are starving, but it is hardly ever clearly stated what we ought to do about it given that we are never told just why it is an injustice that they’re starving. There may well be injustice present, but it could be in the form of bad luck….say, a drought (which, by the way, does not absolve Christians of any duty….bad luck is just as much a reason to act as being a victim of a dictatorial regime). To use the word justice correctly, we need to know more about the concept of justice.
Even in your own post, the implicit meaning is that you'd demand that the state impose a tax that was just and fair...which is another way of saying that state control and imposition upon the church is okay so long as it is not unjust and recognizes the church's own acts of justice.
But here’s the problem with “justice” language: most often people speak in terms of “us” or “we”…meaning Christians…versus “them”….meaning the poor. It’s abstract, disconnected, insulating, and presupposes that Christians have no convictions that might not make them poor….in other words, the “them” will never be “us.” This clears the way for rich Christians to sleep peacefully at night so long as they have a concern about justice for “the poor.” This is the “freedom” side of justice...
On the other hand, it is often claimed that “the poor” (or women, or minorities, etc.) are oppressed and justice demands that they must be given more power. Here we have the egalitarian/equality side of the debate.
Interestingly enough, this is where you and many others on this thread fall.
And with both, if you want to create a social order where everyone is provided with as much “liberty for all”, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to sustain equality amongst the masses. And vice-versa.
But the question that is begged is simple: whose "justice" are we talking about (to borrow from MacIntyre). Ironically enough, Ryan and everyone else on here agree with the fact that there is only one justice, simply different forms. That's where the argument lies. But they're both wrong...."justice" is substantial different when it comes to churches and the state.
There are no doubt many reasons why justice is so appealing to Christians, not the least of which is the belief that the Church is both social and political in its very existence. But, the Church does not have a “social” form, nor does it have a “politic.” Rather, as I've said many times before, the Church IS a politic that is meant to be a counter-cultural alternative to all social life that does not share the same telos (e.g. “ethical end”...which given your own interests in patristics you already knew). And that being the case, why should it be necessary to express that politic in the language of justice?
The reason most often cited is that some Christians feel that it is necessary to remain a decision-maker or actor in the a political realm they feel is “slipping away” from them. More often than not, this leads to Christians trying to find a way to be “relevant” in and to society and, in turn, they are willing to give up certain particularities of the faith in order to be heard (note: the evangelical right and the evangelical left are both here).
That it is preferable for Christians to give up a “purely theological” conception of justice so as to avoid being considered “irrelevant” by modern society flies in the face of what it is that Christians are called to be: a prophetic voice that speaks truth to power wholly refusing to hedge their bets.. Again, notice what has primacy here…that just participating in public discourse is reason enough to vacate the particularities of the faith. But why? Aren’t we supposed to be a “pluralist society”? And if it’s really pluralism, why does one have to let go of their particularities, our “story” so to speak, in order to be “relevant”?
For example, part of the Jewish story is the Holocaust, and part of the story of African-Americans is slavery. If Jews get to come and say “we want you to remember the Holocaust,” and African-Americans get to come and say “we want you to remember slavery,” why can’t Christians get to say “we want you to remember Jesus.” That’s just as public an event as the other two tragedies, the only difference being who says it’s not public. But again, if it’s really pluralism, let it slide.
And that’s the problem….it’s not really pluralism. Pluralism has become nothing more than the continuing presumption that Christians rule by majority, and because we rule we can’t speak authentically as Christians. You see, pluralism has become a code word for “You’re still in control, keep your language mute.” But, we’re not in control…we’ve been “privatized.” My question to Christians is why we’re continuing to buy into this.
So as I said above the assumptions is that we as Americans, Christians and non-Christians, share some concepts of what justice is that is not only distinct and apart from our respective communities, but actually superior to those communities. In other words, our primacy is to our citizenship as Americans, not as citizens of God’s Kingdom (which, in fact, Christians are citizens in). And it is this shared concept that assumes that we no longer need to look back at our Christians convictions to inform us of what justice is,…that is, it makes us nice, helpful people….tingling masses of happiness and empathy who love nothing more than to bury any sonovabitch that happens to cross your path the wrong way. If you don’t believe that, look at how virulent the attacks on Ryan have become even though he represents exactly zero of a threat to the Church and individual Christians (in fact, he actually provides far more good than harm).
But note that if Christians were to rely on a “purely theological notion of justice” we may well be relegated to the fringes of society. Simply put, if one remains theological in their pursuit of justice, then one would have to give up any hope of acquiring and increasing any amount of secular political power. That’s why you have folks like Robertson, Falwell, and now John Hagee willing to back McCain even though they have theological issues with him. To them and their followers, it’s far more important to be close to the hands of power than to be faithful witnesses at the cost of being left out.
Thetax issue works the exact same way. The exemption given to the Church means that Christians still feel that they need to be “connected” to the strings of power, and to maintain a position of tax exemption being given permission by the State not to pay taxes necessarily means that one place the primacy of the State over and above their primacy as the Church. If one gives you permission to do something and you obey, you’re recognizing them as having a superior position and authority over you.
And as I’ve said before and doubtedly say again, the admission that the state has more power to determine one’s actions and beliefs, however subtle it is, is nothing but a form of idolatry. Whatever institution it is that you grant the power to control the Church/Christians over (here, it's the granting of power to the state to continue their tax exemption policy), that institution IS your god to the exclusion of the Triune God we profess to worship.
With all due respect, you’re doing nothing but strengthening the Christian both psychologically and theologically. The former doesn’t matter to me; but the latter does, and again I’ll say thanks.
As for the fencesitter, you’re continual derogation of religious belief is designed…by your own admission…to humiliate us believers. And where you got the idea that your continual humiliation can effect people into seeing things rationally (at least by your own cooked up definition of “rational”) is somewhat befuddling. You fail to understand that the fencesitter is at a point in their life where they see the issue as one of identity, being, and sometimes life and death. To treat that decision making process with the disrespect and scoff that you do serves only to harm your own cause of throwing them into your side of the pasture.
So for the third time in as many posts, thanks again for your help...however unintended it may be...in this area, too. You’re providing a great service to us Christians whether you know it or not.
I was wondering when Kyrie was gonna bust up onto the scene and start wrecking shop.