The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Archive for June 2008

Pagan Abraham, father of three religions (part 1)

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A sermon (and a worship gathering sequence— Proper 8 A), preached in June of ’05 at home at New Oaks Church in Washington, IA.

Monte: [God] brought [Abram] outside and said, “Look toward heaven and count the stars, if you are able to count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your descendants be.” (Genesis 15 NRSV)

But how? And when? Ancients thought of time differently than we do – what did it even mean?  And why millions of descendants?

If you could have one thing from God, would you ask for millions of descendants? Is that what you were aching for as you came in this morning?

Abram’s world, 4,000 years ago, was almost incomprehensibly different from ours. The birth of Jesus, 2,000 years ago, in a world so different from our own, is only halfway back to Abram.

I wonder what God was really saying to Abram. I wonder how Abram understood it.

And now, after 40 centuries, I wonder how it could possibly speak to me?

Pray Read the rest of this entry »

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June 26, 2008 at 3:47 pm

How would drilling offshore affect oil supplies?

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Clamor is on the rise from the right about how drilling for oil along the US coasts would increase supplies and lower gas prices.  But what would we really get?
Juan Cole posted this outstanding graphic to make it clear. Look for the dark blue (you may need to look closely!) to see it. A few salient details follow.
clipped from www.juancole.com

Millions of barrels of oil a day produced by US and by world, with McCain’s proposed increase through offshore drilling. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

June 19, 2008 at 5:19 pm

Posted in Environment, Politics

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US General: Bush Administration committed war crimes, must be held accountable

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MG TagubaYou may remember Major General Antonia Taguba, USA (Retired); he headed up the Abu Ghraib abuse investigation, carefully and openly laying out the details before Congress in 2004.  The Pentagon was not pleased;  Taguba appears to have been coerced into retirement as a result.

Yesterday, Physicians for Human Rights released a new report, “outlining the medical evidence of torture perpetrated by the United States.”  Maj. Gen. Taguba wrote the preface.  His statements of fact—coming, as they do, from a top-level military investigator—are startling.  Apparently, America is long overdue for a reckoning with justice.

I reprint it in full (from Truthout), below.  The full Physicians for Human Rights report can be read at their website.
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Preface to Broken Laws, Broken Lives

By Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, USA (Retired)

This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.

The profiles of these eleven former detainees, none of whom were ever charged with a crime or told why they were detained, are tragic and brutal rebuttals to those who claim that torture is ever justified. Through the experiences of these men in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, we can see the full scope of the damage this illegal and unsound policy has inflicted – both on America’s institutions and our nation’s founding values, which the military, intelligence services, and our justice system are duty-bound to defend.

Bush, Rumsfeld, CheneyIn order for these individuals to suffer the wanton cruelty to which they were subjected, a government policy was promulgated to the field whereby the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice were disregarded. The UN Convention Against Torture was indiscriminately ignored. And the healing professions, including physicians and psychologists, became complicit in the willful infliction of harm against those the Hippocratic Oath demands they protect.

After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts, and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.

The former detainees in this report – each of whom is fighting a lonely and difficult battle to rebuild his life – require reparations for what they endured, comprehensive psycho-social and medical assistance, and even an official apology from our government.

But most of all, these men deserve justice as required under the tenets of international law and the United States Constitution.

And so do the American people.


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Written by Monte

June 19, 2008 at 2:05 pm

If they call me ‘Dungface’… [readings for Sunday, June 22, 2008]

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Proper 7 (12) June 22, 2008
Genesis 21:8-21;Psalm 86:1-10,16-17;Romans 6:1b-11;Matthew 10:24-39

Matthew 10:24-39
24-25″A student doesn’t get a better desk than her teacher. A laborer doesn’t make more money than his boss. Be content-pleased, even-when you, my students, my harvest hands, get the same treatment I get. If they call me, the Master, ‘Dungface,’ what can the workers expect? Read the rest of this entry »

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June 18, 2008 at 9:37 pm

Why science won’t prove God

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A sharp clipper named Lexica left this beautiful graphic at Clipmarks:

clipped from www.sciencebuddies.org

Overview of the Scientific Method

The scientific method is a process for experimentation that is used to explore observations and answer questions. Scientists use the scientific method to search for cause and effect relationships in nature. In other words, they design an experiment so that changes to one item cause something else to vary in a predictable way.

Overview of the Scientific Method
in order for the scientific method to answer the question it must be about something that you can measure, preferably with a number. […]
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Sometimes, people ask me, “Can you scientifically prove the existence of God?” The answer, of course, is “No.” And if we understood the question, we might say, “Why would you want to?” Because as the clip suggests, the “no” isn’t that the existence of God is unconvincing – it’s that the scientific method is an inappropriate test. And the clip shows why:

for the scientific method to answer the question it must be about something that you can measure, preferably with a number.

I can’t use the scientific method to prove most things—my birth date, or that I took a vacation last summer, or that I that I have some really good friends—for none of these are quantifiable, controllable, or repeatable. Yet I gladly and confidently enjoy those realities.  Not a doubt darkens those facts.

And with with similar gladness and some confidence, I have found myself in places where it was more reasonable to conclude God was near than that he was not.


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Written by Monte

June 16, 2008 at 9:21 pm

What if we already have what we need?

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Sermon of June 12, 2005 – Proper 6A

Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7); Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19; Romans 5:1-8; Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)

Worship order summary:Sarah laughed

Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7);
Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19;
Come, Now is the Time to Worship
I Waited
Healing Grace
Prayer
Welcome
Ben and Monte: Romans 5:1-8
Sharon: Sharing
Give Thanks
Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)
Prayer
Giving
I Want to Know You

Worship order working copy:

10:42 flash lights
10:45 cue worship opener
when it’s done, lights 100% except spots off

Monte intro
Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7)

[Remember the promise from last week’s Genesis reading first, and mention the times they gave up on it]

[cue Sarah laughs]

GOD appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre while he was sitting at the entrance of his tent. It was the hottest part of the day. 2He looked up and saw three men standing. He ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them. Read the rest of this entry »

Compassion for “confused and aimless” [readings for Sunday, June 15, 05]

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“Don’t begin by traveling to some far-off place to convert unbelievers. And don’t try to be dramatic by tackling some public enemy. Go to the lost, confused people right here in the neighborhood. Tell them that the kingdom is here. Bring health to the sick. Raise the dead. Touch the untouchables. Kick out the demons. You have been treated generously, so live generously.”


Proper 6 (11) June 15, 2008

Genesis 18:1-15, (21:1-7); Psalm 116:1-2,12-19; Romans 5:1-8 Matthew 9:35-10:8, (9-23)

Matthew 9:35-10:8

35-38Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news, and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives. When he looked out over the crowds, his heart broke. So confused and aimless they were, like sheep with no shepherd. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

June 11, 2008 at 6:04 pm