Morality and DNA

What if a century from now we have such a detailed knowledge of genetics that every crime is traced to a specific sequence of genetic instructions?  What if we find a genetic instruction for murder, for lying, for theft, and for rape?  Does that change our judicial system?  Does that change morality?

It seems this scenario is very possible, even most likely.  We will have to create new philosophical and legal systems to deal with this problem.  What will those systems be?

We will need a simple system, with a simple way of thinking about law and morality.  We may have to decide as a society that even if a person has a genetic dispostion which drives them to murder, that doesn’t give them the right to murder.   The judicial system, then, may be less about ‘judgement’ and more about protecting society from the person from ever committing another murder.

Where, then, does this leave our moral and religous sytems?


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The speak-to-the-mountain-theology-of-glory is a tempting and seductive message. It packs churches and raises money. It is happy, upbeat, fun — but empty.

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Your story is missing a chapter

Sometimes the story of your life is missing a chapter.  Those around you are aware of pieces of your story, and they make decisions and judgements in their relationship with you based on that story.  It is not only about your story, they also project their own story onto yours.  They use the merging of stories to determine all aspects of the relationship, from basic conversation to important issues of trust.

No one really knows all your story.  Even those closest to you only know pieces of your story.  Each of your relationships makes decisions based on the story they have available.

Sometimes, your relationships have very large gaps in your story.  Perhaps you moved away from your hometown as a young adult, and you have been gone for many years.  If you reenter the lives of those in your hometown, they are missing a big part of your story.  They only have the stories available to them from your childhood and their projections of that story into the present day.  Their perceptions miss the changes in your story, no matter how dramatic those changes may be.

This is yet another challenge, how do you interact with those who are missing large chapters of  your story?


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Red and Blue No More

It is time for a fundamental shift in the United States.  It is a shift that will effect politics, religion, and social structures.  The days of conservative and liberal, red and blue are all but over.  The current alignment is a holdover from 1960′s-1970′s liberalism and the 1980′s Ronald Reagan conservatism that was the response.  The problem is that so many, especially the young, do not fit into these old definitions.   The next generation will not fit into these stereotypes.

As often happens, the established power structures have not picked up on this fundamental change.  The day will come when the shift will be obvious, and then the old power structures will try to adapt.  At this time, they still rest in their old ideologies and habits.

I have a feel for where I will fit in this paradigm shift, how about you?

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My Grandma

This was originally posted in July, 2011.  On March 13, 2014, my grandma went to be in paradise and is awaiting the resurrection.

This weekend, my extended family traveled from throughout East Tennessee, Alabama, Maryland, and Florida to celebrate my grandmother’s 90th birthday.  It was so wonderful to see my grandmother so happy as she was able to spend time with all her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.  Most special to her was being able to spend time with her surviving sister.

My grandmother is a special person, handing down a wonderful heritage of faith.  By personality she is quiet and usually not assertive.  She has always lived a quiet life while raising her family, working a job, and studying her Sunday School lessons.  Above all, she is steady and consistent.  She has lived her entire life of 90 years within 5 miles of where she currently lives.  Of those 90 years, she has spent almost 70 of those years at a single Baptist church that she joined when she married my grandfather who passed away nine years ago.  Of those 70 years at the Baptist church, she spent 60 of them teaching Sunday School classes from children to senior citizens.  Before marrying my grandfather, she was baptized into membership of the Methodist church down the street, at a time when Methodist churches in the rural areas of the South were almost identical to Baptist churches.

So much has changed in 90 years.  I feel sure the pastors of both Methodist and Baptist churches of 1921 would not recognize the many changes.  Some changes have been for the better, but I fear some have been for the worse.

The one constant throughout those 90 years has been my grandmother.  Regardless of political, theological, and organizational changes over the years, my grandmother kept going to the same church.  While the world and the churches around her kept changing, she kept going to the same church each week, and teaching the same Bible stories to each generation.  In looking at my grandmother’s life, I realize the backbone of Christianity is not based on the latest church growth fad or book, the latest music style, the outgoing and charismatic pastor, the cool youth group leader, or the latest political or social statement.   The backbone of Christianity is based on those quiet and unassuming people of faith who consistently provide the stories of faith to the next generation.

I celebrate not only my grandmother, but also the pastors and leaders of the church who never tried to cast her aside for the latest fad or a younger and more ‘cool’ teacher. I have seen too many pastors and leaders cast aside teachers who were not ‘fun’, ‘cool’, or ‘entertaining’.   The pastors who allow quiet people of faith to consistently deliver the wonderful story of Christianity to the next generation are few, and I praise those who supported my grandmother.

The seeds of faith planted by my grandmother can be seen not only in her children, grand-children, and great-grand children but in all those who have went through her care in Sunday school for all those years. For over 2000 years, Saints like my grandmother have passed the wonderful story to the next generation, and it is now our job to pass it down to the next generation.

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Love tied to emotions

I am still thinking about the word love.  The word has been misused so much, I am considering my own definitions.   For my purposes, I exclude both erotic love and  the overly casual use of the word.  My definitions have some similarities to the traditional Greek words for love, but they are adapted to a modern Westernized society.

First, consider love between family members or between very close friends.  This is a love that endures over time and distance.  Even as jobs change and people move, these relationships continue.

Second, consider love that changes as life changes.  This could be relationships between co-workers or classmates. They could be neighbors or classmates.  They could be short term dating relationships. We may know (and even trust) these relationships, but they may not survive time and distance.

Third, consider our emotions towards those we know casually.  These are usually people from our own social and economic class.  We may know their faces and their names, but we may know little about their lives.

Fourth, consider our love towards all humans.  Regardless of social or economic class, we have emotions (and hopefully goodwill) towards all.

Back, to my original problem, how to map love to a system of ethics.  It is possible to map an overall system of ethics to love? or tailor it each kind of emotion?



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More problems with love

Love is such a common word.   It is used by the religous and by the non-religious.  It used by parents and by celebrities.  But, I am confused.  It is confusing to me how to take this one word and map it a system of ethics.   Many say we should love everyone, but I don’t understand how to use that overall philosophy to make ethical decisions on treating those around us.

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