Christian Humanism

Just Published: The Gospel of Christian HumanismChristianity without God will appeal to skeptics, agnostics, non-theists, liberal Christians or former Christians who have difficulty with the mythology and the concept of god in traditional Christian theology but find the life and ethical teachings of Jesus compelling as a way of life and a basis for ethics. The author argues that Christian Humanism is essentially Christian, is justified on historical grounds, and is consistent with the teachings of Jesus and the early Church Fathers so far as we can determine with reasonable historical and literary accuracy. He argues for an approach to Christianity based on rational inquiry, human freedom, individual conscience, and a commitment to the values taught by Jesus as a guide to ethical decision-making; and further that these values are not only compatible with Christianity, they are fundamental to a proper understanding and interpretation of it.

Available on Amazon Kindle. Free e-book download July 5-6. Paperback version.

Monday, June 11, 2018

The Children Be Damned

Why did you send your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,  
Your wretched refuse, your homeless, from your shore 
Crossing our border from far across the sea? 
We do not want them here. 
Go away, 
We have shut the door. 
If you sneak in 
We will take your children away from you, 
We will cage them in conditions that  
even murderers do not endure. 
We will not keep track of where we send them. 
We will not facilitate your contact with them. 
We do not care if they are scared and lonely. 
We do not care if parents are worried. 
We do not care if the children are lost in the ICE bureaucracy. 
We are the US government. 
We are turning off the lamp. 
 [with deference to Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus,” 1883] 

Actual Dr. Seuss cartoon from 1941.  Used under "fair use" provision of copyright law.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment

When Jesus said, as quoted in the Gospel of Mark in the translation known as the King James Version, “suffer the little children to come ...”* it seems obvious that he did not mean “make the children who come suffer.” Unfortunately Attorney General Sessions, in obedience to the wishes of his boss, seems to have misread his bible in such a way that he believes that it is his duty, in the name of all Americans, to inflict the maximum amount of suffering on the innocent children who cross the border illegally in the company of their parents, by ripping them from the arms of their parents and sending them to holding pens or detention facilities or to the control of contractors thousands of miles from their parents who have no idea where they are. 

Their tragic stories fill our newspapers, news sites and nightly television broadcasts, so there is no need to repeat them here. We hear our Attorney General and our President say callously that this cruel policy of separation of children from their parents when they cross the border illegally, and the detention of both parents and children under conditions that would be illegal if applied to criminals in our prisons, is intended as a warning to potential immigrants not to cross our borders or that will happen to them also.  
The United States throughout its history has welcomed immigrants. No more. 
There is no question that the immigration problem worldwide is out of control. Many countries in the world have become inhospitable places for their citizens and residents—due to war, terrorism, crime, drought and famine, civil disorder, inequalities and disparities in wealth, poverty and unemployment—consequently there has been a massive migration of people to western countries that typically have been sympathetic to immigrants.  

The receiving countries do not have the will or the resources to continue to absorb the hordes of those who are flooding over their often unprotected borders. The resulting backlash has set neighbor against neighbor in many countries around the world and in our own country it has led to the rise of Donald Trump, who campaigned on closing our country to new immigrants and expelling those who have come here illegally.  
As much as I dislike Donald Trump and his policies, which I strongly believe are destroying the traditional values that have made America great, are dividing Americans and are undermining our democracy, his policies have brought immigration policy to the attention of our political leaders. Our nation needs a sensible, realistic and enforceable immigration policy that limits immigration to numbers that can be accommodated and prioritizes entry on some rational basis and then administers its policies in a humane and respectful way. 
That said, the current Trump policy is cruel, inhuman, un-American, un-Christian and deplorable. It was devised to be cruel. It violates our sense of decency and our American values of compassion and rendering assistance to those in need. It is unnecessarily hurtful. It violates (for those of us who are Christians) our sense of Christian duty. I am not implying that the U.S. is a Christian nation, but I find it ironic that the Republican Party, that has always insisted that the U.S. is a Christian nation and that they were the party of family values should act in a way diametrically opposite to principles they say they espouse. Those who support, engage in, justify or assist this cruel and inhumane policy toward children and families are indeed deplorable.  
*suffer in this context means permit or allow.  A more accurate wording of the relevant quote is: “People were bringing their children to Jesus so that he could bless them, but his disciples were annoyed and stopped them. Jesus said to his disciples, “don’t interfere with them, let them come up to me….and he took the children in his arms and blessed them.” [Mark 10]