by Ken Wear, Feb. '00

In serving God's creatures you also serve God. What is the church's role in assisting our service to God's creatures? Of all institutions among men, only the organized church and its missionaries are free to follow the dictates of its people. And I sense that, regardless of doctrine and other teachings, church members wish first to be good people, doing their part in advancing their culture.

So we first inspire individuals to recognize deity (God, Jesus, Allah, Jehovah, Yahweh, Nature, . . .) and seek His face in loving service as He directs them in their personal Walk With God. Acceptance of a limited role for their organization, the church, is inadequate; the need is all-embracing, as outlined below.

The organized churches should be lighting our path in, among other things:

1) Love, family, begetting and rearing of children: Where there is life there must be reproduction. In microbes, in flowers, in vegetables, in worms, in birds and bears, in . . . Human sexuality is simply one more aspect of sex in the design of our world. The church should undertake thorough, detailed, explicit instruction in the nature of sex; the relationship of man and woman; sex as it enters that relationship; sperm and ova and their union; physical, emotional and spiritual needs of infants and children; education of children in sex, its universality and details of human sexuality. Instruction need not be distasteful, sordid, ugly; there is beauty in the harmony of life in all its various aspects. For further, click here.
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2) Atheism is as much an assertion of religious doctrine as any other statement of religious orientation we can enunciate. Atheists have for years been allowed to imply, unchallenged, that Atheism is a statement of religious neutrality and should be the anthem of a religiously non-partisan society. But that is false; Atheism is a statement of religious doctrine and the church needs to ring out in denial of the declaration of neutrality. For political consequences, click here.
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3) Agreement of science with religion and other branches of knowledge. Religion and science are not isolated aspects of life but two sides of the same coin; you can neither deny what your senses clearly tell you nor ignore how your spirit instructs you. Ethics and morals do no quarrel with science, nor does religion quarrel with knowledge of our environment and our stewardship of that environment. There is agreement and harmony; it is our task to seek knowledge and understanding of that agreement.

4) Education dealing with Narcotics and drugs: The manner of their generation and propagation and use; effects on the body and on the mind, what tell-tale signs to look for in a suspected user; smell, taste. Both parents and children have needs for instruction, whether they are users, prospective users or lovingly concerned for the welfare of another of God's creatures.
For information on specific drugs, click here.
For a discussion of drugs and life, click here.
For a suggested national drug policy, click here.
For suggestions on church involvement, click here.
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5) Community of believers: We are all children of the same God. Those who seek to divide us into isolated communities, such as Jehoval Witnesses, some fundamentalist sects of Islam and Christianity, and other religious sects, seek to serve themselves first and only incidentally serve their deity. As children of God, we are a Brotherhood of Man dwelling in a House of Man (click here for more on the House of Man).

There is morality wrapped around economics in such issues as charity and greed. Charity worked well when persons living in close physical proximity to the afflicted were demonstrating their love; it does not work at all well now that the impersonal government has become its principal agent: Private charity works; public charity does not (or is highly questionable in its consequences). And competition is part of life but greed must be moderated by ideals of love, compassion, charity, fairness, respect for the needs of others. For more, click here.
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It is, after all, God's world. We are simply immersed in it for a few years. It behooves each of us to seek God's face, to become intimate with Him. You can't contribute much to God's world if you don't know anything about His world: Seek knowledge. And then, in silence, seek His direction in finding your niche where your service will please Him, where you can help address the needs of His world. Ours are the only hands He has. Study and pray; learn how your hands can move to further His purposes since His works is all that will endure.

But the churches do not light our path in many aspects of life, perhaps due to too narrow a vision of their influence, or due to timidity or to the competition created by dividing religion into denominations, sects and cults.

Religions and their churches should not, as their leaders and missionaries commonly do, end their concern with the relationship between God to the individual member; the needs of His creatures are far too sophisticated for that to be adequate. If leaders won't lead, then members must. I'm sure God recognizes both quality and quantity of service. For elaboration on the limited role missionaries have accepted for themselves, click here.
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As part of the remedy, since today's churches are apparently unwilling or unable to undertake such efforts as these, or possibly unable to reorganize to avert or remedy the problems generated by their programs, I have proposed organization of Rational Theism as a vehicle for carrying out the more extended programs needed today. For more, click here. (For presentation of ideas that recognize science and toward which the church must inevitably move if it is to remain viable, click here.
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Should you have specific thoughts or be engaged in activities leading in the direction of responsible and responsive church involvements, I would be delighted to hear of them. To send a comment by e-mail, have it ready, use as Subject -- I read your post about churches -- exactly as you see it here, and click here for the e-mail form.

To return to Contents of Ken's Web Site, click here.
Should you wish to join others in expressing your appreciation, as either worship or intellectual exercise, for the world in which you are immersed, click here.
An essay on the social contract, touching on several topics of interest to church- and/or spiritually-oriented people, may be viewed by clicking here.
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Sex Education

Reproduction is part of life itself. All living things have their own means of reproduction; they have bodily parts committed to that function and their trip mechanisms for using those bodily parts (as well as their techniques). All aimed at perpetuating a species. That is the design of Nature. And none are exempted.

Human sexuality is a highly developed aspect of life. It has its physical components, to be sure, but it also has its emotional and spiritual aspects. In all the world about us, with its diversity of sex forms and practices, it is only the physical differences between human male and female, and the means of bringing them together, that the adult world tries to shroud in a mystery -- that the young seem to pierce so readily. Here is the kernel of what we call ‘sex education,’ with all the mischief that creates, that bugaboo that divides parents into warring camps about the proper roles of schools and of churches and of parents. But, to my mind, this information should be simply a rational extension of all that has gone before so the developing child sees human sexuality as simply part of the whole sweep of reproduction of all the species that co-inhabit our Earth.

A child should be (and generally is) introduced to reproduction at the very earliest. Kittens. Puppies. Seeds. Birds in their nests. Emotional love between parents. What the child sees is a beautiful world with all these things, each growing after its own peculiar fashion. There is nothing sordid or gory here. Even though there is no necessity for revealing all in one swoop, the idea of male and female permeates the whole of life and each child should be exposed to the context of reproduction and details of methods, each topic in an outline laid out for gradual but complete understanding.

Things too small to be seen (which a child can understand as the reason for washing his hands before eating) are so widespread because they reproduce so readily, by growth and bodily division. Mosquitoes and flies and butterflies lay eggs from which come larvae and finally flying creatures. Plants blossom with nectar (the female part) to attract bees and butterflies so pollen (the male part) can be spread so seeds can form. Birds and fish and frogs lay eggs. Cats and horses and monkeys select mates one-on-one. From the simplest to the most complex, male and female each has its role. And so it goes throughout the full range of living things, plants, animals, fungi: No living thing is immune from a design for its reproduction.

(Personal cleanliness has become an element of sex education in that public attention is increasingly directed to "child abuse." I submit that the needs of cleanliness of the genitals and anus are almost as pressing as cleanliness in food handling and consumption. There is obviously a dividing line between fondling for sexual gratification and manipulating to assure cleanliness. Cleanliness is necessary; it is morally offensive to seek sexual gratification under the guise of encouraging cleanliness.)

We had a discussion about means of reducing the number of abortions in humans -- no thought for pros and cons of abortion -- simply reducing the numbers. We quickly realized there were two major aspects: terminating a pregnancy, and creating the pregnancy. Termination is what creates the public divide; creation is where we concentrated our attention. And it quickly became the concensus that education plays a key role in avoiding unwise or unwanted pregnancies. And it was agreed that putting human sexuality into a context of Nature’s design would dispell the mysteries, at the same time encouraging responsible behavior and reducing the desire for premature sexual explorations.

An organized presentation certainly beats a twelve-year-old boy sneering at his younger friend about lack of knowledge of the mysteries of adult practices, with all the misinformation, curiosity and mischief that engenders.

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Drug education

The primary opportunity for presentation of information in our churches is study courses where an appropriate book is the focus of meetings. There are two needs:
(1) Adults need information in guiding youngsters in their charge, information on names of drugs, effect on the body, addiction, detection, etc., and
(2) Youngsters need information on the consequences of drug use and habits, including much of the same information but in a format directed to their interaction with their peers.
There are today many organizations whose purpose is to deal with drugs; their help and participation should be sought.

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Going beyond simple concern for the immortal soul

At the same time I say the church should be involved, I must add that it should be involved in a useful and constructive manner. It is possible to be on high moral ground and be destructive in pursuit of high objectives. We should seek quality of service and not quantity only.

I understand the zeal to bring Christianity to the heathen; I can applaud the efforts to introduce good public health practices and create health care systems; I agree that remedying illiteracy is vital to the future. But there is another facet of life that has been overlooked in most missionary endeavors: the economy and the efficiency of the economic engine needed to support those same heathen.

Part of what our religious missionaries have done, in addition to improving literacy, is curb infant mortality and improve general health, thus enabling extended life spans and a resultant increase in population. To the exclusion of the economic reforms that make possible the healthy and sustained economic growth necessary to support the larger population. The urgency of food production to feed the larger population, without introduction of improved agricultural methodology to increase yield, has resulted in failing farms and their abandonment and pressing into production marginal lands that cannot sustain production and must in turn be abandoned. And vast areas have been denuded and turned into virtual desert. At the same time local people need local industry, if farming is to become more efficient, in order to give employment to displaced farmers.

But many missionary agencies pursue their one-sided efforts and the problems of famine and poverty worsen. With all good intentions, vast areas and their native populations have adopted a new religion while their self-sustaining way of life has given way to impoverishment of a different and much more cruel sort.

Granted, these results have largely been in foreign lands and in selected pockets in this country, but it should be obvious that the human need extends far beyond the needs of the soul alone.

Possible local industry

Examples that could possibly be of value as local industry, all using solar power and having to do with food supply:
a) Solar stills for production of potable contaminant-free water -- 10-100 gallons per day capacity should serve a large family or small community while 1000 gallons could be a source of income for its operator.
b) Solar shelf units -- 200F or thereabouts -- for heating kitchen and table utensils to kill infectious agents without use of chemicals or large amounts of water
c) Solar ovens -- aprx 400F max -- to cook breads, etc.
d) Solar drying trays (covered for insect protection) for preservation of foods
e) Solar kilns should be hot enough for some clays in production of dishes and other ceramic utensils for local use
A local industry could easily arise for production of these solar-powered devices.

I have wondered at the value of knives -- cheap with durable blades -- in the hands of people generally and fishermen especially -- in preparation of foods for immediate consumption as well as preservation. A small knife in each household would be of tremendous value in elevating a village to self-sufficiency, while a specialized knife in the hands of the fisherman could prepare his catch for distribution and/or preservation.

Selection of agricultural crops, taking advantage of local conditions rather than using chemicals, requires knowledge of the locals, their tastes and their situation. But an increase in food production should have obvious benefits to most communities.

If cooking is used in food preparation, then means of starting the fire, using a magnifying glass, may be a valuable assist.

Garments, ropes and other fiber products might be improved by introduction of locally supportable crops.

Within the limits of local clays, locally produced ceramic cooking and eating utensils could improve local life.

Disposal of bodily wastes may hold opportunities for local industry. Could a multiple-family-size septic tank and leach field serve as both waste disposal and garden fertilizer?

Composting of vegetable wastes and certain other wastes has the potential to both dispose of refuse and provide fertilizers for local agriculture.

Granted, all these would require some level of training of the locals in their use, but for some of these suggestions a single or annual visit by the trainer should suffice without the need for reading skills on the part of the locals. (I do, of course, advocate educating all who have the capacity to receive, but that is a longer-range project requiring training of a corps -- and schools or colleges for that purpose -- who would then spend time locally in educating all who choose to receive.)

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Competition and greed

Has the ambition of the organizers of atheltic activities become more important than the education of the young and innocent in the sweep of knowledge and skills necessary to life beyond their athletic endeavors? Has winning become supreme since it attracts devotees and their money? Are the ideals and values sacrificed to winning simply the cost to the athletes of the organizers' pursuit of personal glory and the wealth that brings?

I have long known that alumni clubs contribute heavily to building a winning team for their school. I had not known of the activities that prepare the athletes to compete. A youngster, once identified as potentially outstanding as an athlete, is herded into camps and other training activities to accentuate his athletic prowess. Ignoring acquisition of knowledge and skills necessary to participate in other aspects of a happy and fulfilling life. Sacrificing the child to the vanity and wealth of the organizers.

It is a system that screams for reform. If every promising young athlete could become an outstanding performer in his sport, thus satisfying his need for success and financial support, the system might be justified. But for every successful athlete there are many who will be forced into other careers; short-changing them in their education is unconscionable. When you compare the cost to aspiring athletes (in lack of preparation for alternate careers) with the gain (on the part of organizers) from building a successful team, the imbalance is apparent. Thus sacrificing the child to the wealth of organizers is a gross distortion of values and a shameful display of greed.

Who, other than the church, can speak out for restoration of balance between competition and greed?

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POLITICS: Overextension of Federalism

To allow any religious group or philosophy embracing Atheism to dictate public policy is as much an affront to our Constitution as allowing the religious conviction of a Christian or Muslim or Hindu or . . . to dictate public policy. Moreover, public buildings not constructed and supported with federal money should be exempted from oversight by the U.S. Supreme Court (in keeping with the First Amendment, which bars only Congress -- and not states or localities -- from certain activities.)

"The Ten Commandments" and various religious symbols (including artifacts of Christmas) should be prominently displayed wherever local peoples wish so long as it is local money funding the presentation. The First Amendment to our Constitution enjoins the U.S. Congress from engaging in and supporting religiously-oriented activities; it does not speak to private efforts or to publicly-funded efforts not involving federal monies. The U.S. Supreme Court should have no jurisdiction over locally-funded religious activities and has greatly over-extended the bounds of its charter. It may require an Amendment to the Constitution to correct this judicial error.

I am greatly saddened by the growth of Political Correctness, using the authority of the Court as its foundation, especially in the suppression of that Christian holiday, Christmas. If it is true that fewer than 15% of the population profess to disbelieve in deity, then refusing to openly acknowledge deity by the 85% in order to avoid offending the 15% is, to my mind, sorely out of balance.

Abortion has become controversial, although to generations past it was a very ordinary activity carrying no moral implications. The Constitution recognizes the authority of states and localities in matters not specifically enumerated in that document; sex and related practices are obviously outside the concern of the U.S. Supreme Court. Rules dealing with marriage and civil unions, except where federal taxes or monies are involved, are outside the realm of federal concerns. It is true local and state authorities have welcomed federal assistance in suppressing interstate criminal activities, and that may be justified by the U.S. Congress' authority over interstate commerce. What the public has witnessed is large scale intrusion of federal authority into local affairs under the guise of almost-trivial federal contributions to local funding. Federal authority ought to be limited (except where authority is obviously granted by the Constitution) to formulating model legislation and offering that to the states, with absolutely no jurisdictional or enforcement activity.

The motto "In God We Trust" has been part of our coinage, "So help me God" in oath-taking, and various acknowledgments of the importance of religion in our country's past have been part of the American fabric from the beginning of the republic -- and even before in motivating people to come here to find a new home. So we have used the name "God" as that of deity. A very small percentage of our population takes any offense at recognizing there may be an authority exceeding their personal boundary. I see no reason to offend the vast majority to avoid offending the few.

Perhaps the need is for another amendment to our Constitution re-establishing the limits of federal authority -- a reiteration of the Ninth and Tenth Amendments. We need to get the federal establishment out of our bedrooms, off the local village square, out of our schools, color blind, and blind to legitimate religious concerns and practices. For a suggested text, click here.

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