Friday, July 25, 2008

Personal Responsibility: Off the Hook Again

If you made a top 10 list of the saddest aspects of contemporary American culture, surely somewhere on that list would be the abandonment of personal responsibility. Somehow, we’ve begun breeding generations of people who – once they bring calamity upon themselves – want to blame everything and everyone but themselves. And if not that, there seem to be plenty of people who will re-direct blame for them.

It’s a typical rant coming from anyone right-of-center, to be sure; but I’m not trying to be innovative, here… just lamenting.

This facet of our culture came to mind upon reading Ceci Connolly’s recent Washington Post article, AIDS Among Latinos on Rise. In it, she reports on the alarming rise of HIV/AIDS cases within the Latino community here in United States. Do yourself a favor and read it.

One thing I found even sadder than the fact that people mentioned in the article had this horrendous disease, was the fact that each of them contracted HIV in ways that were 100% preventable. It may not have been convenient for them, but definitely preventable.

For instance, the article mentions a man from Mexico who came to America; though, “the freedoms he sought in California quickly became his undoing.” He “sought refuge in San Diego's gay bars and bathhouses. There, he discovered friendly American men and crystal methamphetamine.”

Is that where we are, now? We need to promote awareness concerning the contraction of AIDS via drug use and bathhouses? Aside from the fact that – according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) – around half of the 1 million (+/-) Americans with AIDS are men who received the disease through “sexual contact” with other men: we really need warnings that drug use, promiscuous sex, and bathhouse visitation will put you at greater risk for contracting HIV? Not to sound to callous or dismissive, but – to whom is this a new concept?

The problem is only compounded when excuses are given for their “at-risk” behavior, as if they were all helpless victims in the matter. The same Mexican man mentioned above said of his Meth use, “I had no idea meth was so addictive… It takes away your inhibitions. I started associating with people I wouldn't normally.” Of course he did! That’s one of the well-known side effects of drug abuse: a lowering of inhibitions.

Further excuse is offered, based on comments by San Francisco State University AIDS expert,

Rafael Diaz (director of the Cesar E. Chavez Institute and author of numerous books on

homosexuality and AIDS within the Latino community):

“Many are "objectified" by white men who view them as exotic. They play subservient roles to partners with citizenship or money. The "triple oppressive experiences of poverty, racism and homophobia" lead many to risky behavior, Diaz said. "People are looking for respite and relief from a sense of isolation, economic deprivation and low self-esteem. Sometimes sex is the place where men find that."”

So what are we to glean from this? That if you’re poor, discriminated against, or lonely, it’s acceptable to engage in unscrupulous – or at least, imprudent – behavior, even if that behavior puts you at greater risk for disease?

What? If I cut a mackerel in two, strap one half to my back, then go swimming through shark-infested waters – should a sympathy case be made on my behalf when a shark attacks me? Of course not… but that’s exactly what is exemplified by this article, I’m sorry to report. Those who brought calamity upon themselves are made out to be victims, instead of responsible culprits.

My wife and I have gay/lesbian friends for whom we care very deeply. We even have a gay friend who lived in San Francisco for years and frequented bathhouses! If this friend of ours were to turn up HIV positive, we would be absolutely heartbroken for him. We would be heartbroken for his pain, and the pain his family and friends would have to endure. But at the same time, there couldn’t be much sympathy concerning how he contracted the disease, because it would be by his doing.

A young girl who gets raped and contracts HIV from her rapist – that’s a victim. A child who’s sexually assaulted by someone with HIV – that’s a victim.

A drug-addict having promiscuous sex in a bathhouse? I’m not sure how that qualifies as a victim; no matter what their sense of “isolation, economic deprivation and low self-esteem.”

God help these poor souls, struggling with such a horrible disease. And God help us all in taking responsibility for our own actions.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

4th Century Greek, Anyone?

(Oh yes)


BERLIN - More than 1,600 years after it was written in Greek, one of the oldest copies of the Bible will become globally accessible online for the first time this week.

This is the manuscript body from which we get the NASB translation. It's the oldest complete New Testament extant. Check out to keep up with its progress.

I know you're stoked.

First Things First

Here's the news:

The God who made this earth, and everything originally found in it - since He's Master of it all - doesn't actually dwell inside anything man-made; no temples, church buildings, trinkets, medallions, books, nothing. Nor is He directly aided by human effort (as if He needed our help, since He’s the One who gives all people life, and puts air in the lungs of every living creature).

This same God [as crazy as this sounds] created one man, and every ethnic group on the face of the earth descends from this one man. The times and places they live were decided by this God, with the desire that they would seek Him, and find Him (though He isn’t too far away from any of us). After all, in Him we have life, movement, and existence; just like many people have written before, “we are His Children.”

And since we’re the progeny of God, we certainly shouldn’t believe that His Divine Nature shares anything in common (substance-wise) with any idol or statue some artist created (even if it were made from gold or silver or even diamonds).

So, God has sort of turned a blind eye towards all of our insane beliefs for quite some time [instead of just sweeping us from the earth for denying Who He is], but now tells us that everyone – everywhere – needs a massive paradigm shift concerning Him.

This is rather urgent, because God has marked a day on the calendar when He is going to judge the world (in His perfect righteousness) through a Man He’s chosen. He’s proven that this will be the case, because this “Man” was tortured to death, and yet was raised from the dead.

Who was this Man? Technically, it’s “who IS this Man,” because – like I wrote before – He came back from the dead. His name was Y’shua, but most English-speakers call Him Jesus. He is the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God, and Lord over all creation. But more directly to our point here – this Jesus died for our sins (re: all that insane stuff mentioned before about denying Who God really is), which was predicted to happen hundreds and hundreds (and thousands) of years before it actually took place, in the Hebrew scriptures.

See, this Jesus is the only Son to come from God (as in, He shares the same Divine Substance as His Father). But God loves us insane humans so much that He sacrificed His Son Jesus, so that anyone amongst us who looks to Him in faith can forgo this coming judgment (mentioned above), and receive eternal life.

That’s the basic message. What you do with it is between you and God. But you will talk with Him about it one day…

… sooner or later…

Sunday, July 20, 2008