The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Archive for the ‘human worth’ Category

“Someone’s premiums” bought my lunch on gold-rimmed china

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Wendell Potter, former CIGNA exec, tells of the change of heart that caused him to leave the industry. While visiting family members in Tennessee, he drops in on a medical expedition, staffed by volunteers, at a Virginia fairgrounds, in a county where people have little health care access …
clipped from www.democracynow.org
I had no idea what to expect, but when I walked through the fairground gates, it was just absolutely overwhelming … [P]eople … were lined up in the rain by the hundreds … and they were being treated in animal stalls … They also had set up tents. It looked like a MASH unit. It looked like this could have been something that was happening in a war-torn country, and war refugees were there to get their care […]
It was just unbelievable, and it just drove it home to me, maybe for the first time, that we were talking about real human beings and not just numbers […]
[T]wo or three weeks later, I was [flying to a meeting] on one of the corporate jets … I was served my lunch on a gold-rimmed plate, was given gold-plated flatware […]
it just dawned on me, for the first time, that someone’s premiums … were paying for my lunch on gold-trimmed china […]
I thought about those men and women that I had seen in Wise County … not having any idea that this is the way that insurance executives lived and how premium dollars were being spent … I had to leave […]
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One dollar of every three we send to our health insurance companies goes to something other than healthcare. Those who struggle to pay high premiums to protect themselves and their children buy corporate jets, skyscraper penthouses, and fine china for insurance executives. Those who won’t, or can’t, often die prematurely.

Should we really have choose between paying for corporate luxury or risking an early death?

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G8 balks at fulfilling aid pledges; 10 million to die?

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May result in 11 million preventable deaths; only 2% of G20 stimulus package needed to keep promises. From an article by World Vision:
clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com
Today’s communiqué from the G8 leaders contains neither an acknowledgement they are off track on fulfilling their aid pledges, nor any concrete plans to get them back on track. In fact, there is now no way they can meet their 2005 promise to double aid for Africa by 2010.
This year’s failure is particularly significant as the current economic crisis means up to 2.8 million more children could die by 2015. That’s beyond the 9.2 million who die each year of preventable causes
Any excuse from G8 leaders that aid is unaffordable in an economic downturn is unacceptable. The 2005 G8 pledge of an extra $50 billion by 2010 is just 2% of the G20 stimulus package
Over the 48 hours of this summit 50,000 children will die from preventable causes. At least 50% of these will be in Sub-Saharan Africa. In the absence of urgent action by the international community this means over 9 million child deaths between now and the next G8 in Canada.
when the G8 chooses […]
it can make a real impact on child deaths.
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Homosexuality: a theologically conservative—and inclusive—view

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It’s almost a truism that Christian conservatives see homosexuality as evil.

J. Kenneth GriderBut consider this courageous 1999 paper of the late Dr. J. Kenneth Grider, long regarded as a voice of conservatism among theologians of the Church of the Nazarene* (and of Wesleyans generally).  You just might be surprised.

I’ve reproduced the first two pages to give you the feel of it, followed by a link to the entire 45-page .pdf. And I’ll guess that there are some insights here you haven’t heard before.

He begins with a question of compassion . . .

Grider p1

Grider p2

Click below for the paper in its entirety. Intriguing reading!

Wesleyans and Homosexuality by J. Kenneth Grider

Care to share your thoughts?


*I should probably note the obvious: Dr. Grider spoke (as do I!) for himself and not for the Church of the Nazarene, the WTS, ONU, or NTS.

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And yet we continue to bomb each other

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Found at Uniform Velocity:

Carl Sagan could deliver this line at every college graduation until the end of time, yet the reality of it will never sink [in] for some.

We prance about on this planet, self-important and ideologically bent, discounting the true insignificance of our minor differences. We oppress and murder fellow planetary inhabitants, for slightly different sets of conclusions… humans as a species are tragically arrogant.

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Written by Monte

June 25, 2009 at 10:04 am

Torture: brought to you by white evangelicals

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White evangelical Protestants were the religious group most likely to say torture is often or sometimes justified — more than six in 10 supported it. People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it. Only four in 10 of them did.

—a Pew Forum study reported by CNN.com

Egad.

Aren’t the torturers the bad guys in the stories of Jesus?  And weren’t there religious patriots cheering them on, calling out, “We have no god but Caesar?”

Why have evangelicals traded the imitation of Christ for the ruthlessness of Rome?

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Are they less than dogs?

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Why is it that good kids get prison for pot, but wicked presidents go free after ordering torture?

Why is it that “just following orders” was no excuse at Nuremberg, but the Obama justice department finds it adequate for military abusers in the USA?

clipped from takeaction.amnestyusa.org

Take Action On This Issue

Prosecute torturers

The recent release of memos has made all the more clear what we had previously heard about the last administration’s torture policies. Forced nudity. Slamming detainees into walls. Forced sleep deprivation for days of shackled prisoners, standing in diapers in excruciating pain and filth. Although Attorney General Holder, on April 16, suggested that the Obama administration would not prosecute intelligence agents who carried out interrogations following legal advice, both those who authored the policy and those who executed it must be held accountable. Press your representatives to help establish or support a non-partisan independent commission and urge them to help expose and prosecute those responsible for abuses. Background Information

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As the Michael Vick case demonstrates, we don’t allow most Americans to practice this level of cruelty against dogs. What reason is there for excusing it against fellow human beings?

Is it because they are Muslims that torturing them has no penalty?  Is it because they are not white?  Is it because they are not US citizens?  Is a Muslim life worth less than a Christian or a Jewish or an atheist life? Is a Pakistani or a Uighur less than a dog under American law?

Is it because we don’t really expect presidents to respect the Constitution they swear to defend?  But what good is constitutional government if the privileged are not equally restrained by it?

This ruin of innocent lives will never be addressed unless Americans demand it.  It can be demanded by following the “take action” link, where there is a simple way to email Senators and Representatives.

No life can be trashed at will by lawless government.  Write.  Write until the least influential have equal justice with privileged politicians.

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The End of Exclusion (Sermon of 8 Feb 09)

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Isolation Room
Image by Victor V via Flickr

With the casting out of the demon on that first Sabbath afternoon of Jesus’ public ministry, his obscurity vanished. Like a cannon shot, news of it exploded through the villages. Here’s what happens next.

Mark 1:29-39 (MSG)

29-31Directly on leaving the meeting place, they came to Simon and Andrew’s house, accompanied by James and John. Simon’s mother-in-law was sick in bed, burning up with fever. They told Jesus. He went to her, took her hand, and raised her up. No sooner had the fever left than she was up fixing dinner for them.

32-34That evening, after the sun was down, they brought sick and evil-afflicted people to him, the whole city lined up at his door! He cured their sick bodies and tormented spirits. Because the demons knew his true identity, he didn’t let them say a word.

35-37While it was still night, way before dawn, he got up and went out to a secluded spot and prayed. Simon and those with him went looking for him. They found him and said, “Everybody’s looking for you.”

38-39Jesus said, “Let’s go to the rest of the villages so I can preach there also. This is why I’ve come.” He went to their meeting places all through Galilee, preaching and throwing out the demons.

The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

From The Historical Atlas by William R. Shephe...
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About Peter’s mother-in-law:   Actually, she deacons to them.  For reasons of their own (that look a great deal like gender bias!), translators treat the word to mean “became a deacon in a church” when it applies to men, but “waiting tables” when it applies to women (See Richard Swanson: Provoking the Gospel of Mark; A Storyteller’s Commentary, p 108). “In the context of Jewish understandings of the abundance that God created when making the world, the deacon was in charge of enacting God’s created intentions.”  Peter’s mother-in-law was in charge of enacting God’s created intentions.

Likely she was well known for helping others.  Is this why the crowd knew where to show up at sundown? Some think the women who followed Jesus were the reason women dared approach him. Think of the women at the cross who ministered to Jesus all the way through – perhaps greater heroes than we know, and greater shapers of the story than we know.

She’s up, she’s deaconing, and at sundown, a throng gathers at the door. Who can tell me why they came at sundown? Because that’s when the day after the Jewish sabbath began. Jesus had no problem healing on the Sabbath, but the crowds apparently assumed he would. Read the rest of this entry »