Monday, November 06, 2006


Tomorrow is election day and

here are some of the people who have called me in the past week:
Laura Bush, John McCain, Pete Dominici, Heather Wilson, Bill Richardson and Martin Chavez. They are all calling to get me to vote for their candidate in the 1st NM district to the U.S. Congress. Heather Wilson made a recording for herself but I have not heard personally from Patricia Madrid. I already voted last week at an early voting site. The wait was two hours but I'm relieved to be done with it.
It will be interesting to see whether those of us who stood in line last week outsmarted ourselves: We were assuming the wait would be even longer tomorrow, but it will be funny if the polling places get everyone in and out more quickly. A good joke on us.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


The question I am on is:

If you think people who believe in a different religion are definitely going to Hell, shouldn't you try to save them?

I've been following a recurring debate between a couple of lay Christians and a Jewish scholar on an Israeli website. A lot of it is pretty dull, and the two Christians don't seem to trust that any of us have Bibles to look at because they include the text of all their scriptural references. What it boils down to is a list of New Testament references from one side proving that the Messiah has already been here, and references from the Old and New Testaments in reply, chosen to prove that he has not.
One point that seems obvious to me is that converting non-Christians by citing the New Testament is like converting non-Muslims by quoting the Qur'an. You have to be able to understand where the other side is coming from, and this brand of Christian has trouble with that.
I admit that I have read only a little of what either side has posted. Based on that little bit, though, I think the Jews have won this particular argument. This has nothing to do with what either faith actually believes, and everything to do with the way these individuals present their case. According to the one who the others all call the "Rabbi," G-d wants us to keep studying, doing good and watching for the mashiach who is still to come. The other side presents the whole deal as being settled, with the standard "Jesus died for our sins" and all that is required is to believe in him.
It's the settled part that bothers me. Which prescription seems more hopeful, the one that says we have the responsibility of improving ourselves and the world around us, or the one that says it has already been done and all we can do is indulge in passive faith? I don't accept this description of what it means to be a Christian, and I certainly don't think faith should be passive. That's not faith anyway, it is fatalism. It seems to me that those who try to provide a "light to the nations" by boring everyone with long repetitive harangues about Jesus are the ones that are missing the point. They need to throw down their fatalism and provide a light through their actions.
Ultimately, what religious discussions require from both sides is personal humility. I hear that was a biggie for Jesus, too.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


Ethical Challenges

Just recently I've been having four different conversations, from four different perspectives, about what constitutes "right" and "wrong." The basic question is really "Who does it hurt?"

First perspective

If you a have a good representative in congress, but you are sick of her political party and its agenda, do you vote her out even if the alternative is not so great?

There is a hotly-contested political contest for the U.S. congress here in Albuquerque between incumbent Republican Heather Wilson and Democrat Patricia Madrid. Madrid is bit of a political hack, and like many politicians who come up through a well-established and dominent party system, she's been involved in numerous ethically questionable situations. Her campaign has been noticably short on concrete suggestions for change, relying mostly on complaints and criticisms of the present national government.
Wilson is a well-liked and trusted Republican in a strongly Democratic district. She is not particularly close to Bush and his administration, but with a few key exceptions she hasn't really repudiated them or their policies either. (The best-known exceptions have been domestic spying and stem-cell research.) She is a graduate of the Air Force Academy and a Rhodes Scholar with a reputation for honesty and integrity.
Neither of them is a great public speaker: Wilson is stiff and soft-spoken and Madrid gets confused if she has to depart from her prepared remarks. In any other year, in fact, she would sound unreliable and lame, but right now dissatisfaction with the status quo is a huge factor. I've already made my decision to vote for Heather Wilson, because I think she is able to do more for the district. But she is a little more conservative than I am, and the Iraq war is the elephant in the room.
I am happy to say that, even as a registered Republican, I have never voted for George W. Bush for any office, including dogcatcher. It was easy in 2000, when the Democrats offered up the capable and politically moderate Al Gore. John Kerry made it a little harder, but I was determined not to give any vote of confidence to an inept and possibly dishonest chief executive. So I understand why, this year, some voters here in the First District are planning to vote for anyone who isn't a Republican. I hope they don't end up cutting off all of our noses to spite Rumsfeld's face.

Second perspective

If you think people who believe in a different religion are definitely going to Hell, shouldn't you try to save them?

This one comes down to respect. I don't just mean respect for other religions, although that is part of it, but you also have to respect God and have some faith that He know what He is doing. Surprising as this might be to the smug and truly arrogant, God may have plans that He hasn't discussed with you.

Gotta go. I'll continue with this one later.

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