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Wednesday Miscellany: The Freedom, Scope, and Abuses of Religion

A bit of a mixed bag this morning, but here are a few things that have caught my eye over the last few days and have me thinking (and avoiding sermon-writing!) on this crisp September morning.  These are mostly unrelated themes, but if pressed for a connection, I suppose I would say that they deal in turn with the nature of religion, the purpose of religion, and the practice of religion.

——

First, I was very interested to read this article about Canada’s soon-to-be-opened Office of Religious Freedom.  In particular, the following quote from McGill University professor Arvind Sharma stood out:

Everybody has the right to change their religion, but somebody else’s right to ask me to change my religion is a different thing.

Not surprisingly, Christianity, with its proselytizing impulse, was singled out as a potentially awkward fit within this new initiative.  If we’re going to promote and safeguard religious freedom, we have to make sure that we keep a lid on those seeking to convert others.  The project only works if we all agree to leave each other alone—or, at the very least, to keep our beliefs about the nature and purpose of life safely sequestered in their own carefully guarded containers where they can’t be damaged or criticized or insulted, where they can’t do any harm (or good, for that matter) to others.

I am all for religious freedom. Truly, I am.  But is that really what this is?  If the quote above is any indication of this institution’s modus operandi, it seems like what we are saying as a nation is, “we have developed an organization to ensure that you are able to hold any private beliefs you like so long as you promise not to talk about them with others or make any attempt to persuade them that your view might have something to offer or be open to being persuaded by the views of others.”  It seems like the powers that be are saying, “we, as a government, are committed to giving you all a safe place to harmlessly play as long as you promise not to touch each other’s toys and to leave each other alone.  And as long as we are allowed to hold this project up as a shining example of our tolerance and diversity as a nation.”

Maybe they should consider a name change for this institution:  Office for the Advancement of Official Canadian Political Ideology.

——

Second, I enjoyed this exchange in The Guardian between Lawrence Krauss (a physicist) and Julian Baggini (a philosopher) on the scope and limitations of scientific  and philosophical inquiry.  With the ever-expanding reach of science—the questions it can answer and the problems it can solve—it can be easy for philosophers to get what Baggini calls “lab coat envy.”

I was particularly intrigued by the language of philosophical issues “growing up” and “leaving home.”  Philosophy, on this view, is a kind of pre-science or a “holding room” where issues can be abstractly (and fruitlessly) speculated upon by philosophers, metaphysicians (and maybe even theologians!) until science gets around to solving them for us.  The two thinkers dance around this one for a while and gesture toward agreement, but at the end of the day, Krauss seems unwilling to admit that there is a domain of human knowledge and aspiration that science is unfit to pronounce upon.  Baggini argues that there are some questions that simply are not “solvable” by science, chief among them being moral ones.

The example used is an interesting one.  Krauss cites science’s discovery that homosexuality is “completely natural” and therefore “not innately wrong” as evidence that science can and does solve moral problems.  While agreeing with Krauss’s conclusion, Baggini replies that this represents a confusion of scientific and ethical forms of justification.  All kinds of human behaviours are “completely natural,” after all, but this doesn’t automatically make them right.  When Krauss moves from “homosexuality is natural” to “homosexuality is not immoral” he has wandered from the domain of science into the realm of ethics and metaphysics.  Baggini argues that science can certainly inform ethical reasoning, but it cannot determine it.

Not surprisingly, I side squarely with Baggini here.  This isn’t about trying to safeguard some safe space for metaphysics that the greedy scientists cannot touch, or attempting to justify/preserve philosophy or theology or anything like that.  There are simply some questions that are not scientific in nature.  This is not in any way a denigration of science nor is it an unwarranted elevation of metaphysics.  It is simply an acknowledgment that human beings are wonderfully complex creatures who have interests and questions that go far beyond those that can be settled by appeal to “the facts.”

——

Speaking of homosexuality, Fred Clark over at Slacktivist has recently written a series of interesting posts (herehere, and here) about what he calls the “anti-gay clobber verses” of the Bible.  He raises a number of important issues such as what Christians’ usage of these verses say about our view of the nature of Scripture, about how and why and when we use these verses, and about which verses we select to “clobber” with and which we do not.  Fred writes very provocatively (and often very entertainingly!), but whatever side of the homosexuality debate you come down on, the questions he asks are important ones to consider.

Chief among these questions is why we don’t use passages in Scripture that deal with wealth and poverty in the same way that we use those that talk about homosexuality.  This passage, in particular, caught my attention:

When I run afoul of the authority of the half-dozen anti-gay clobber verses I get hate-mail informing me that I’m not “really” a Christian at all, just some anti-Bible, anti-God wolf in sheep’s clothing. And yet I have almost never been criticized or challenged for my lifelong, egregious pattern of brazenly flouting hundreds of those non-clobber verses regarding wealth and poverty.

I have life insurance and interest-bearing bank accounts and investments. I am, perpetually, lending with the expectation of repayment. I have more clothes than there are days in a week, more stuff than I need. Every little bit I clean out the fridge and toss away food that’s gone bad. I am thus—absolutely, undeniably and unbiblically—stealing from the needy, the hungry, the naked and the poor. I am now, and for years have been, in flagrant and indefensible violation of scores of explicit biblical commands—all of which are far clearer, less culturally conditional, and less ambiguous than anything in those six anti-gay clobber verses.

And yet none of the Christians so scrupulously concerned with those six verses are the slightest bit concerned with my behavior in this regard. Most of them can’t be, because they’re violating all of those clear commands too. When the subject is “homosexuality,” and I say “the Bible is not a rulebook,” they are horrified and appalled. When the subject is money, they say “Hey, relax, the Bible is not a rulebook.”

As is so often (i.e., almost always) the case, behind every hot-button issue in the Christian world lies the question of how and why we read Scripture.  Issues around sexual ethics are important.  But at least as important are questions of how we read and use the Bible, of whether or not we apply our views consistently, and, perhaps most importantly, of our willingness to evaluate our own attitudes and behaviours by the same criteria we apply to others.

19 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tyler #

    “Maybe they should consider a name change for this institution: Office for the Advancement of Official Canadian Political Ideology.”

    Big time! Preach Preacher!

    September 12, 2012
  2. Paul Johnston #

    I found the opinions of Mr. Clark to be mostly discouraging. An Ad hominem contextualization i.e “anti-gay clobber” is a poor way indeed to discuss serious moral issues with brethren with whom you disagree.

    The reasonable point being made here is the potential for hypocrisy by selective reading of scripture, good in so far as it goes, but sadly nothing of value, at least to my ear, is advanced regarding the serious matters regarding a right response to poverty or as you allude to, the important matter of sexual ethics.

    I’ve always thought the fragmented evangelical perspective as an approach to an argument and it’s persistent use of poorly contextualized scriptural quotation, was both an insult to Scripture and bad polemic. Evangelicals can rarely reach consensus among themselves much less offer a compelling opinion to others.

    It would be better, in my opinion, to begin with the Roman Catholic Catechism and Article 6 of the canon which deals in a much more coherent and comprehensive way with the broader scope of human sexuality, of which homosexuality is but one expression.

    If one wishes to effectively and honestly refute Christian understandings regarding sexual morality, one ought to confront the better and more complete arguments.

    September 12, 2012
    • Clark is certainly an in-your-face kind of writer. I don’t necessarily endorse everything he says, but, as I said in the post, I do think that the question of biblical consistency he raises is an important one. One can only do so much in a blog post—I don’t think it’s necessarily reasonable to expect him to offer complicated ethical judgments in a post whose main target seems to be how we read and use the bible.

      Re: Article 6, I’m not too anxious to get into an evangelical vs. Catholic debate. I would simply note that, at least based on what I have read, there is no small amount of debate and diversity of opinion within the Roman Catholic church on nearly every major ethical issue, no matter how comprehensive or coherent “official” teaching might be. Evangelicals have many faults, no doubt, but they certainly do not have the market cornered on harbouring a wide diversity of viewpoints.

      September 12, 2012
      • Paul Johnston #

        I’m not anxious for argument, I’m okay with debate. 🙂

        I agree that the primary purpose of Mr.Clark’s post was, as you say, ” how we read the bible” but I don’t think it’s inaccurate to say that it simultaneously disparages those who would reference the Bible in expressing their concern over the present cultural affirmation of homosexual lifestyles in general and opposition to same sex marriage, in particular. More importantly though, I think his priority here is generally unhelpful. Some people will always be inconsistent in their applications and understandings of Scripture. Some will prioritize sexual ethics, some will prioritize poverty, others may prioritize egalitarian/complimentarian issues, still others may prioritize holiness and relationship with God before any and every praxis. ( cards on the table, I’m partial to this group 🙂 )…

        The whole truth and nothing but the truth, is the sole reserve of God. We are called to do what we can, sometimes we get it right sometimes we get it wrong.

        It is not wrong to point out our inconsistencies particularly when the hypocrisy is blatant but in the end the real issues of how we are to be holy and in real relationship with God, how we should rightly deal with poverty, the environment one another and yes even sexual ethics, matter more than, “whose a hypocrite and who isn’t.”

        Sadly, with regard to hypocrisy, at one time or another, we all ” got the t-shirt”, as the saying goes.

        “Jesus Prayer” all around…. 🙂

        His caricature regarding a “rulebook” mentality, utilizing Southpark’s Eric Cartman, is disturbing to me. Does any serious seeker of God and goodness approach the Lord and Scripture with this understanding? Perhaps I’m naive but I’d like to believe that the motivation is based on love of God and mankind, with a certain belief that there is an objective truth/priority, broadly understood as God’s agape, that I can both live in and learn about. And as incredulous as it seems to me, knowing me as I do, even share in it’s dissemination.

        It should never be about rules for rules sake so that some might effect control or in Mr. Clark’s case be used as an excuse for sarcasm and contempt.

        It’s about learning what is true and right and how to live it.

        If I may, I’m going to reserve comment on the Catholic/ Evangelical issue until tomorrow. It’s 1:40 AM here and as I write this comment and I’m getting pretty tired.

        Hope you have experienced the presence of the Lord this day, my friend.

        Paul.

        September 12, 2012
      • Yes, I agree, the language used was disparaging, at times. I would attribute this, at least in part, to the fact that he is writing from an American context where the political and theological discourse tends to be more divisive and polarized (and, at times, downright nasty!) than here in Canada. Based on the few times I have glanced over the comments section of his blog, I think that “anti-gay clobber verses” and “rulebook mentality” would actually be a fairly accurate description of how some of the people he interacts with use the Bible. This doesn’t excuse responding in kind, but it may at least partially explain it.

        And, again, I do think that the issues he highlights (however impolitely) are important ones. I’ve seen what Clark is talking about. People tend to be quite a bit more eager to use the Bible to condemn (or “rebuke in love”) people’s sexual ethics than they are to use it condemn people’s failure to “do justly, love mercy, walk humbly,” etc—issues which, as Clark rightly points out, the Bible actually has quite a lot more to say about (and often in much more forceful language). It’s important, I think, to ask why this is the case. What does it say about us? What does it say about what we fear (and why)? About what we are attempting to justify (and why)? This doesn’t mean we stop talking about sexual ethics (although a moratorium might not be a bad idea) or that sexuality isn’t important. But it isn’t the only thing, and our fascination for this one sphere of human behaviour certainly does not justify our using the Bible badly.

        September 13, 2012
      • Also, just to anticipate where a Catholic/evangelical conversation might head…

        I am aware of both the theoretical and pragmatic benefits of having a unified “official” body of church teaching to appeal to (as Roman Catholics obviously do), and that evangelicals (among others) have no such formal authoritative source to appeal to (sometimes very intentionally, and for theological reasons, as in the case of Anabaptists). My question would be whether or not this “official” teaching actually prevents the kind of fragmentation of viewpoints discussed above on the ground. Some—perhaps even most—adhere to the official position; others do not. I have had conversations about ethical issues with folks who, with a wink, say something like, “well, that’s what the Pope says, but…” It just seems to me that the days are long gone when an issue could simply be settled by nothing more that a straightforward appeal to authority. I think this is true for Protestants, for Anabaptists, and for Roman Catholics (and for human beings in general), even if this is experienced differently in different communities.

        Thank you for the kind wishes above, incidentally. Yours was a timely reminder to daily keep my eyes and ears open and alert to the presence of the God who is “not far from any of us” (Acts 17:27).

        September 13, 2012
  3. Ernie #

    I once had three very opinionated employees working for me on the same shift.The Christian, the LDS and the Jehovah Witness each tried to convince the other of the virtue of their own faith, not realizing that the more they tried the more entrenched they became. In order to get the work done, I eventually had to enforce a rule that no one was allowed to talk about religion at the workplace. I’m not sure if I was more uneasy before or after I made the rule.

    September 12, 2012
    • It is undeniably messy and, at times, very difficult to talk about faith with people of differing convictions. It may even be inappropriate and impractical for a workplace—especially if the wheels are spinning and the temperature is rising, as may have been the case you describe.

      But the option of each faith being “free” to express whatever version of their religion happens to pass through the filter of the state isn’t much of an improvement, in my estimation. It effectively says that the solution to the problem of religious conflict is to reframe this or that religion according to national political ideology, and recast them as nothing more than privately held, subjective beliefs that are of no (or little) social consequence Which, for many religions, is to change them into something that they are not and have never been.

      September 12, 2012
    • Larry S #

      Wonderful story Ernie.
      I wish we could watch it on YouTube

      September 13, 2012
  4. Paul Johnston #

    Hi, Ryan, sorry for the lengthy delay. Couple of reasons; had a very busy week and also I wanted to give myself sometime to consider your question(s) and not just respond viscerally.

    Firstly though I would like to withdraw my earlier comment, …”Evangelicals can rarely reach consensus among themselves much less offer a compelling opinion to others.”… Though it wasn’t a conscious intention of mine at the time, the comment now seems to me to be both unkind and dismissive. I apologize for saying it. I much prefer you contextualization, when you say, …” evangelicals (among others) have no such formal authoritative source to appeal to”…

    As for the question, if I understand it correctly, Does a unified ecclessial body (for Catholic’s the magisterium) better prevent what we’ve loosely defined as “fragmentation on the ground” ?

    May best answer is, theoretically yes but in the end, in terms of outcomes, maybe not at all. In theory I think an organization that speaks with a unified voice is in a better position to convict than an organization that doesn’t find consensus within itself. That being said it remains possible for a unified voice to be colossally and thoroughly wrong, while a voice that seems to be systemically at variance with itself, can at times, regarding certain principals, be wholly and absolutely right.

    I think the point of the magisterium, in the first place though, is to define truth. Getting us and even themselves to live the truth, seems to be another matter entirely. As you have accurately and politely pointed out there is much contradiction within Catholic culture….here’s how I believe it…. In the same way I cannot disparage science when the material truths it reveals are either ignored or misapplied I cannot malign, disbelieve or alter the truth as revealed by our Holy Roman Catholic Church. From a doctrinal point of view it is simply not negotiable. How we get to the right application of our dogma, is and probably always will be, up for grabs.

    With regard to the “nudge, nudge wink, wink” Catholic (and frankly I think me/they are the majority) I can only sadly say we have the “perfect talk and a very broken walk”.

    May we always have the courage to continually work towards repentance and may our glorious God continue to be merciful.

    September 16, 2012
    • Thanks for this measured response, Paul. I’m not sure any apology or retraction is necessary—often times evangelicals do have trouble reaching consensus or offering a compelling perspective to others. This is partly due to the nature of “evangelicalism” itself—it’s a fairly broad movement which has historically tended to draw from folks of all kinds of denominational backgrounds who are focused on evangelism, a high view the Bible, personal conversion, etc. By definition, such a movement will at times struggle to reach “consensus” because it is not governed by any official body. It is not even a “denomination” as much as

      Re: the magisterium, I would largely agree with your assessment of theory vs. praxis dichotomy. I would, however, have a few questions around the analogy with science and the magisterium “defining” truth. Science deals with observable, testable facts about the material world. Religion, by definition, does not. There are many cases, throughout history, whether we are talking about the Roman Catholic magisterium or any other ecclesial body, where those in power have gotten some aspects of “truth” wrong. In other words, I don’t think it is just a matter of failing to live by the truth. Sometimes human beings simply are wrong. We are (all) imperfect human beings who make mistakes and understand things imperfectly. All this is perhaps just another way of affirming what you said above: “it is possible for a unified voice to be colossally and thoroughly wrong.”

      This is an area where, in my obviously unbiased opinion, Anabaptists have something to offer the broader Christian world. Rather than “doctrinal statements” or “official church teachings” we have “confessions of faith.” These are discerned in community and are acknowledged to be provisional in nature and open to revision as the Holy Spirit sheds further light. Of course, some things are not up for grabs—the resurrection, the incarnation, the atonement, etc—but over the years Mennonites have modified, clarified, and expanded upon previous confessions which were deemed to be, if not in error, then at least not as true as they could have been. There are many pragmatic difficulties with this understanding and approach, but chief among its benefits, it seems to me, is an acknowledgment of the simple fact that human beings only ever see in part.

      September 17, 2012
    • I hasten to add that I think there are larger issues at play here than whether or not this or that organization speaks with a unified and authoritative voice. At the top of the list, for me, would be the overwhelming trends toward individualism and consumerism that dominate modern life. These, for me, have far more influence on the questions we are discussing than the legitimacy or coherence of “official” voices, whether these are Roman Catholic, Mennonite, or anything else. In every church I have ever been a part of, people have felt quite free to ignore, defy, reinterpret, or willfully remain in complete ignorance of the Mennonite position on any number of issues. To take just one example, pacifism is a fairly central core historical conviction of Anabaptists, but I have had many people who were happy to worship in an Anabaptist church, but who also felt perfectly free to just reject that part of the package.

      The individual is sovereign, it seems, no matter where or how that individual worships.

      September 17, 2012
  5. Paul Johnston #

    Thanks for this, Ryan. You are a teacher to me in the best sense of the word.

    If faith doesn’t mean that through the grace of God and the Holy Spirit we can come to understand the fullness of the immaterial world just as God provides a methodology for revealing the material world (Science), then I fear I would ultimately have no choice but to side with the atheists.

    With regard to my science/church analogy, it was somewhat vague. I would like to hope I was aware of the obvious distinction (material/immaterial 🙂 ) between the two subject matters but just meant to say that what the Roman Catholic Church speaks ex cathedra (from the chair), I believe with the same vigor I believe the irrefutable proofs of science…well the ones I can wrap my head around…(I’m pretty much down with the earth around the sun thing…. though MC squared alludes me… I’m not really into rap music…)

    The Church doesn’t apply the precept often. Pope Paul VI 1968 encyclical, “Humanae Vitae” was the last such pronouncement I’m aware of. Perhaps surprisingly, the approach you describe regarding the “Anabaptist Confessions” sounds very Roman Catholic to me. Much of what is expressed through the Church could be comfortably qualified by the phrase, “provisional in nature and open to revision as the Holy Spirit sheds further light.” I hope I’m not playing semantic games but I think it can be both/ and, and not, either/or.

    “Ex cathedra” as a certain absolute regarding some issues, and “ex cathedra” but as you say “seen only in part”, regarding others. Unfortunately I cannot not make you a comprehensive laundry list here. I am no canonical scholar.

    What I will also say about about my belief is this. I believe it totally consistent with my understanding of the Spirit and Scripture to say that through His only Begotten Son, Jesus, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, God intended to their to be only one community of believers. One Spirit, One Church, one Canon. The Roman Catholic Church seems to me to be the only Christian church out there with the audacity to make this claim. If it’s wrong, then it’s critics must appeal to the Spirit and expose it as such. It is not enough now or was it in the past, to disregard and separate from it based on it’s human failings or the human desires of it’s critics to form their own communities. Reform always; Separation never.

    If the Christian faith(s) (and I include the RC here) think it appropriate to maintain separate and often conflicting and contradictory approaches to God, they offend God and one another. Conversely if God would call us to communion with Himself through conflicting and contradictory means, He offends Himself and His creation.

    One thing I know for sure, I will always believe that there is only one holy, universal and apostolic church out there.

    I’m going to try at a later date to offer you something of value regarding, ‘the sovereignty of the individual”. I agree that coming to terms with this latest cultural phenomena will be crucial to right understanding and thus right praxis.

    I got to warn you in advance though, I’m pretty there’s going to be some talk about, “sex stuff”.

    September 17, 2012
    • Thanks, Paul. I look forward to your musings on individualism. Feel free to leave the “sex stuff” out :).

      Re: ex cathedra, one church, etc. I suspect we’ve covered that ground enough in the past to know that we are not likely to come to consensus on some of the deeper issues and assumptions there. I am happy to agree that there will always be “one holy, universal, and apostolic church out there.”

      When I walk my dog, we often walk by the local Roman Catholic parish. I also drive by on my way to work nearly every day. It is a beautiful building. People who I know, like, and deeply respect worship there each week. Sometimes when I go by, I mumble a quick prayer for those who meet God in this place. I am happy to consider them my brothers and sisters in Christ, even if I know we don’t agree on everything—even on some very important things. I am hopeful that they would feel the same toward me. I don’t think God would be offended by such sentiments in either case.

      September 17, 2012
      • Paul Johnston #

        Hey, Ryan. Hope things are well with you and your family.

        …lol…I think we both know that I’m trying to bite off more than I can chew here. Not necessarily a bad thing to do, providing a person recognizes their limitations and offers their understandings, however incomplete or at times contradictory, with a conscious effort to be humble and gracious. One might even say that to look to accomplish an end beyond their own means and fail, is a necessary prerequisite to growth. While maybe adding more “smoke than light” and at times an undue amount of stress to conversations in the moment, long term growth in understanding can be achieved.

        Listening and a spirit open to co-operation and correction are essential however. (See above reference to humility)

        So here’s hoping… 🙂

        I begin, somewhat ironically, by affirming my belief in the fact that, even
        from my Catholic perspective, the individual is indeed sovereign. The “rub” so to speak and what distinguishes the secular from the Christian, is in how we would define the words/concepts, ” individual” and “sovereign”.

        It is true that people can use the same words and concepts and present very different and often incompatible definitions of, what on the face of things, seems to be a discussion of the same or similar ideals. I think the phrase “individual sovereignty” , from the secular vs. Christian perspective, is indeed that kind of anomaly. So much so in fact that the interpretations are often anti ethical and at times do great violence to the meaning of each others understanding of the term.

        I’m not going to pretend to be able to provide much detail with regard to the secular definition, or I should say more accurately, secular definitions, other than to say there are so many definitions at play within the secular realm, that making a comprehensive statement regarding secular specifics is, to me at least, impossible. Rather I will identify my Catholic understanding of the term and contrast it with what I believe are the general principals of all human expressions of secularism….

        Forgive me Ryan but I have to stop here and send what I have written to this point. Believe it or not I have taken an hour and a half just to get this far and now have to leave for work. I will pick up where I left off later, unless of course you would object to this kind of approach to commenting, on what is after all, your blog. 🙂

        September 18, 2012
      • No problem, Paul.

        Incidentally, I read this article in our denominational magazine and though it might be of interest to you, as it was to me.

        September 19, 2012
  6. Paul Johnston #

    Sorry again for the delay, Ryan. A very busy and challenging time in my life. Sink or swim times. Funny, I used to get so nervous and depressed in the face of challenges. Not so much anymore. When faith becomes real, the fears become manageable. Praise God. :)…

    This is individualism as I feel it from a Catholic perspective.

    There is no one quite like me, or you or “him” or “her”. We are all unique. We are all special. Only God knows the fullness of each individual’s uniqueness and how we should appreciate ourselves. How we should appreciate others. God wants to share this understanding with each of His children. God chooses to share that understanding with us, through love, in relationship.

    The first task then becomes for each individual to spend time alone with God in prayer, IN relationship. Just let God love you. It is a very, very beautiful thing. 🙂

    A real miracle happens, your individual self begins to conform to God’s true intention for you and bit by bit your focus changes. A great irony of sorts. A self that is, “true” begins the process of become selfless.

    Real happiness just is. It needs no accounting. The individual then finds their real vocation in, “otherness”. This otherness shared among the faithful becomes the “oneness”. One with God, one with each other.

    The key; the “truth”, as I believe it, bears repeating. Your “true” individuality resides with God. Through love and relationship with God and only through love and relationship with God will you come to know the truth about your individual self and the truth about all individuals, the objective of individuality, so to speak.

    That being oneness with God and with each other.

    This is enough for now. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing the link. I was almost brought to tears myself when the author recalled his experience at the Mass. My hope for us all is that through our traditions we might say to one another, “Here He is! Here is the risen Lord! Come share Him with us.”

    September 24, 2012
    • Paul, thanks for articulating a better (and more biblical) view of the individual than the one we see all around us, the one that affects and infects us in more ways than we are probably aware.

      I pray that you will experience the grace and the deep peace of Christ in whatever challenges and trials you are currently walking through.

      September 25, 2012
      • Paul Johnston #

        Thank you for your prayers, Ryan.

        At the end of the day, it is all a blessing. It is all about God’s offer of a “new self” for me. The old self resists though, he won’t go quietly, I’m afraid…but he will go! 🙂

        As for the view of the individual, the one as you say, “we see all around us, the one that affects and infects”…I sense that this discussion may be one of the most important for our times. If you feel similarly perhaps you might leads us in a dialogue here. 🙂

        September 25, 2012

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