Wednesday, May 26, 2010

What Sort Of Christian Are You - OT or NT?

      I first published this post on November 7, 2009, with the title “A Christian Dichotomy.” I think it bears repeating.

      In 2007, Jamie Leigh Jones testified at a Congressional hearing that she had been gang-raped in 2005 by as many as seven co-workers while working in Iraq for KBR, a subsidiary of Halliburton. After an Army doctor examined her and gave forensic material to her employer, she was placed under guard in a shipping container, where she remained without food or drink for 24 hours. Finally a friendly guard gave her a cell phone which she used to call her father. She was released only after her father asked the US embassy to intervene.
      When Jones tried to take legal action, Halliburton/KBR used a clause in her contract, which required disputes to be settled by arbitration, to block such action.
      In 2007, Jones filed a joint civil suit against Halliburton/KBR and the only assailant she could identify. According to the legal papers, Jones was given a knockout drug while drinking with KBR firefighters.
      “When she awoke the next morning still affected by the drug, she found her body naked and severely bruised, with lacerations to her vagina and anus, blood running down her leg, her breast implants and pectoral muscles torn, which would later require constructive surgery. Upon walking to the rest room, she passed out again,” according to the papers.
      Jones' account was confirmed by U.S. Army physician Jodi Schultz. Schultz gave the rape kit she used to gather evidence from Jones to KBR/Halliburton security forces, after which the rape kit disappeared. It was recovered two years later, but missing crucial photographs and notes. Jones’ lawyers said that 38 other women have contacted her, reporting similar experiences while working as contractors in Iraq, Kuwait and other countries.
      On September 15, 2009, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Jones, and found that her injuries were not in any way related to her employment and thus, not covered by her contract. She is now cleared to have her case heard in open court.
      Senator Al Franken has reversed the usual career path: he became a comedian first, then went on to become a Senator. Jones testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in October, 2009, concerning Senator Franken's amendment to the FY 2010 Defense Appropriations Bill. The amendment restricts contracts between employees and companies which use mandatory arbitration in their employment contracts. This measure was passed by the Senate by a vote of 68 to 30. In order to get 68 votes in favor of passage, there must have been at least eight yea votes cast by Republicans. The votes against were all cast by Republicans.
      I am certain that most of those Senators, both for and against, are good, practicing Christians. How, then, could they in good conscience have cast such widely divergent votes on such a heinous subject?
      One of the descriptions of the Christian God is God, the Father. But the Bible tells us of two fathers with opposite characteristics: (1) the old Testament’s jealous and vengeful God and, (2) the loving God of the new Testament.
      The Roman god, Janus, was depicted as having two faces because it was believed that he could see transitions from an old vision to a new vision. I believe that modern day Christians see the difference between the jealous God and the loving God not as a transition, but as a split, which determines their outlook and approach to life.
      Thus a father who identifies with the old Testament’s God tends to lay down a set of rules, let his children alone as long as they follow the rules, and punish them severely when they break the rules. A father who follows the God of the new Testament is more inclined to take his children’s responsibilities upon himself, reward them when they do the right thing, and quickly forgive them when they transgress. Both fathers are following the Bible.
      By itself, either approach has its problems. The old Testament father can be too harsh; the new Testament father can be too easy. After all, Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” He did not say, “Love your neighbor better than you love yourself.” I am quite sure He meant the golden rule to include children as well as neighbors.
      The old/new Testament approach applies not only to children, but to life in general. Republicans, who tend to identify with the old Testament (although they may not realize it) sometimes appear to be somewhat heartless, and even vindictive. And Democrats, normally new Testament followers, often tend to relieve people of responsibilities they should assume personally, while at the same time giving away the store.
      I want to be quite clear on this: any given individual tends to follow one or the other description, but may vary his or her approach in a particular situation. I can’t say whether the 8+ Republicans who voted yea normally follow the old Testament, but they followed the new Testament on this occasion. The 30 nay voters fit the old Testament profile.
      The yea voters in this case apparently decided that protection in a situation such as that undergone by Jones was a responsibility that should be assumed by the employer. As for the nay voters, John McCain explained that he did not think that the government should come between employers and employees. Apparently he and his fellow Republicans decided that neither Jones nor KBR had committed any wrong, thus they should handle the situation without interference.
      Both the yea voters and the nay voters are all believing Christians who just happened to fix upon opposing descriptions of God, the Father.
      Questions for the yeas: To what extent do you think an employer can and should control employees who are not on duty? To what extent do employees have any responsibility for their own actions?
      Question for the nays: If you actually believe that the government should not interfere in the employer/employee relationship, are you ready to roll back wage and hour laws, child labor laws, OSHA, hazardous material laws, and many others?
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      The classification system built into the young language soon enabled man to divide the world into subjective categories: good vs. evil, fast vs. slow, dangerous vs. safe, green vs. red, friend vs. foe, clan vs. everyone else, etc.
      Drawing upon the growing inventory of words, the Spirit, as the saying goes, jumped on its horse and rode off in all directions. Man could contemplate objects and events which had no referent in the real world. Imagination was born!
      The Growth of Language – The Spirit Runs Through It.

      The book and/or a free look inside is available in paperback or on Kindle at Amazon.

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