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Front Page » Table of Contents » Faith & Religion

By Ken Poland on December 22, 2011

Is there no answer to the inequities of life? Is it acceptable to just say, ‘That’s life, get tough and deal with it’? Does ‘culture’ have any bearing on our attitude? If so, what is our culture?

I just read an account of Pvt. Danny Chen’s experience and how he chose to end his frustration and the pain of living. Some of the comments following that account were quite alarming and some were quite encouraging. We don’t know the full story, but my years of living tell me that he was not alone in his inability to survive the atrocities that man is prone to inflict on his fellowman. Can anyone of us, in good conscience, declare that he, Pvt. Chen, alone was responsible for the events that led up to his decision to end his life like he did?

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By Ken Poland on December 17, 2011

Tis the season! What’s the season? It’s the season that motivates all the arguments about proper salutations. It’s the season that merchants hope to make up for the slow economy of the past seasons and years. It’s the season that some hope to reclaim their dominance in setting agendas and controlling the content of programs to celebrate the season. It’s the season that mental and social professionals tell us more people suffer depression than at any other time in the year. (How sad that is!!!) All the bitter battles over whether it’s ‘Merry Christmas’ or ‘Happy Holiday’, a ‘Christmas Tree’ or a ‘Holiday Tree’, whether any particular group has absolute ownership of a particular day, whether we’ll sing my choice of songs or your choice of songs, or all the other battles that rage on don’t benefit any of us.

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By Ken Poland on December 3, 2011

Man is religious by his very nature. In modern history (200 AD to the present) the Western Hemisphere has been dominated by Christianity, as the most popular religion. That doesn’t say that the majority of mankind claimed Christianity as their spiritual guide. It only says, Christians were the dominating public leaders. That doesn’t mean that Christianity was universal in doctrine and theology. The world outside of the Western Hemisphere, was not void of religion. Historical evidence, from the first evidence of there being a difference in mankind and the animal world, shows that mankind in all societies, civilized or uncivilized, had religious rituals and practices. The ancestors of Abraham (Israelites or Jews) and followers of Christ (Christians) labeled any religions other than their own as pagan.

Religion has been the motivating force for most of mankind’s confrontations. Many of our modern history wars were between Christian factions. The dominance of Roman Catholicism was responsible for much persecution of dissidents, especially in the conquest of the New World. Adolph Hitler, the madman who engineered the outbreak of World War II, claimed Christianity as his chosen religion. Albeit, his idea or brand of Christianity didn’t fit the profile of most Christians. He hated anyone that appeared to have any identity with Jewish ancestry. This was based on his blaming the Jews for Christ’s crucifixion and the Jews apparent expertise in acquiring wealth. He indicated that his ‘pure’ German race, with their fair complexion, were the chosen people of God. Hmmm. Do we have anyone today that thinks the U.S. is God’s chosen?

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By Randy Leer on May 22, 2011

I am a Catholic. I was raised Catholic and I’ve strayed at times but always returned home, so to speak. By association I am assumed to be or assumed to believe certain things, as a Catholic. The Catholic Church makes statements and provides guidelines, and inadvertently speaks for all Catholics. Going broader, as a Christian I have even more folks speaking for me. I get associated with extreme factions that do crazy things. That is not me. I do not find those people to be correct in their preachings.

Often we have individuals claiming to know something because the bible told them so. We have seen this with cults and even this last Saturday we saw the faction that was predicting the end of days. Many times these self-proclaimed prophets miss very important teachings in the Bible as they preach their fallacy. For instance, those folks that were saying the Bible guaranteed that May 21st was the day of the rapture. They neglected several instances of the Bible saying that we cannot predict or know when the end is going to come.

"But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone." Mark 13:32

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By Angelo Lopez on May 7, 2011

When I heard that Osama Bin Laden was killed, I had many mixed feelings. On the one hand, I was relieved that this man was no longer around to mastermind terrorist acts that would kill more innocent people. I hope Bin Laden's death put closure for the family and friends of all the people that Bin Laden had a hand in killing. On the other hand, I felt uncomfortable celebrating the killing of a human being, no matter how evil that person has been. In many ways, the way people are acting now is probably similar to the way previous generations reacted to the death of Adolph Hitler or Joseph Stalin.

Osama Bin Laden represents to me the type of extremism that is at the heart of so much terrorism. Because of Bin Laden, Al Queda and the Iranian revolution, most Americans tend to associate religious extremism with Islam, but all religions are plagued with examples of extremism. The three Abrahamic religions, Christianity, Judaism and Islam have had sad episodes of religious extremism where its partisans have used their religion to harass and kill those who do not hold their religious tenets.

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By Angelo Lopez on February 23, 2011

During the 2008 election year, one of the biggest political fights in the California state ballot was on Proposition 8, a proposition against gay marriage. Sadly, the proposition passed. One of the keys to the passage of Proposition 8 was the efforts of the Mormon church, the Evangelical church, and the Catholic church to lobby its members to vote for the measure. A friend of mine told me that two weeks before the elections, the pastor in the evangelical church that he attends in Cupertino had a sermon against gay marriage.

After the elections results, many gay rights activists went on marches to protest Prop 8. In anger, some activists vandalized Mormon, Evangelical and Catholic property. Though I was against Proposition 8, I was also against the vandalizing of Mormon, Evangelical and Catholic churches. I wrote a few blogs that you can read here, here, and here where I describe how there are Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics who support LGBT rights. When I attended an Evangelical church, I met Evangelicals who either supported gay rights or had gay friends and family members and were bothered by how these friends and family members were treated by other people in the church. I worried that in their anger over the passage of Proposition 8, many gay activists would develope a prejudice against Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics, when in fact there are many Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics who support gay rights. I was also worried that attacks on the church would give conservative Mormons, Evangelicals and Catholics ammunition to marginalize their more liberal counterparts.

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By Angelo Lopez on February 3, 2011

A few months ago I had written a post on religious people who have spoken in YouTube against homophobia. Since then, I have found in YouTube various houses of worship who have collectively taken a stand against bullying against LGBT youth. In here I'll post some of those YouTube videos.

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By Angelo Lopez on February 2, 2011

I've always admired the Quakers. I admire the Quakers because they have always been among the first advocates of the various civil rights movements that have weaved its way through our American history: they were in the forefront of the abolitionist movement, the right of women to vote, and the antiwar movement. Around three years ago, I attended two Quaker services in San Jose, California, and found it to be a really meditative service. Though I eventually became an Episcopalian, my admiration for the Friends remains. The American Friends Service Committee is a Quaker group that was founded in 1917 during World War I. Since its founding, the AFSC has continued to put Quaker values into action in our country and around the world.

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By Angelo Lopez on January 27, 2011

Last December I went with my wife to Alabama and Georgia to explore a part of the United States that I didn't know about. I have this plan that before I die, I want to visit all 50 states in this wonderful country. So far I've visited fourteen states. In Birmingham I visited the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. While we were listening to one of the curators at the Institute, I learned about something that I had never known before. While we talked about the campaigns in the South in the 1960s, she mentioned the important role that Jews had in the Civil Rights movement. My close friend, Jan Lieberman, had told me that her rabbi had taken part in the marches, but I didn't realize the extent to which Jews had taken part in the fight for civil rights. I decided to check out some books in the library to learn more.

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By Ken Poland on January 4, 2011

Who knows the real status of the Social Security and Medicare trust funds? I just finished reading a multi page summary of the 2010 annual reports of the Boards of Trustees for those two funds. When I got done, I could only shake my head to clear out the profound conglomeration of percentages of this and that. I’m no genius, but I can understand solid figures and actuarial statistics. I’ve not seen the original reports. But, if they are as full of confusing and confounding repetitions of what the statistics actually show, then someone should demand a resubmission of their report. I seriously doubt if 1% of the general public or even the board members themselves could find a clear bottom line in the report.

When I hear our congressmen complain about the Health Care Bill being so confusing and misleading that they didn’t know what they were voting on, how, pray tell, can they have any clear understanding of the facts surrounding Social Security and Medicare? It doesn’t help any, when special interest groups or individuals are allowed to, intentionally, put out absolutely misleading and false information.

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