Posts Tagged ‘ethics’

Words and Bits

Wednesday, January 10th, 2018

By coincidence, I preached on Sunday about the power and the burden of all the words in our culture. The next day, I heard a fascinating talk given to the Men’s Group by a banker about bitcoins.

While words and bits are vastly different, they are similar in that they are our major means of communication. Furthermore, they are now conveyed electronically in ways our pre-computer forebears would never have imagined.

Bitcoin was originally conceived as a fraud-proof way of exchanging money; it’s now of course a focus of speculation and likely money-laundering. And of course many of the abusers in the news got in trouble through what they said.

All the more reason to seek honesty in our speech and in the use of our computers. Only then will the truth make us free. —J. Douglas Ousley

Ringing in the New

Tuesday, January 2nd, 2018

Last week, the Wall Street Journal carried three pieces that gave advice on making New Year’s resolutions. Most of the advice was common sensical; for example, if you make your vows public, you’re more likely to keep them.

Many of the ideas presented are applicable to spiritual resolutions. For instance, making manageable vows in the first place–like a reasonable amount of daily prayer–will allow one to keep them.

Also pertinent to both secular and religious life is the difficulty of governing our unruly inner lives. Whatever we decide to do for the sake of body and soul, the word, “resolution” is key. We need to resolve that we will change! —J. Douglas Ousley

Harassed and Helpless…

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

This text contains the best-known use of the word, “harassed” in the Bible. While the context (Jesus regarding his clueless disciples) is quite different from the current use of the word to refer to sexual abuse, the link of the word with “helpless” reminds us of the real underlying problem: those who are abused feel “helpless” in the sense that they feel alone and without power to resist the advances of the abusers.

I’ve never been in such a situation but I can imagine something of the feeling a person has who is being harassed. That Christians condemn such behavior unequivocally should go without saying. So also should we Christians feel the deepest shame when prominent Christians abuse. —J. Douglas Ousley

Life Itself

Tuesday, May 9th, 2017

The newest Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch is the first Episcopalian justice in some time (Justice Stephen Breyer’s daughter Chloe is an Episcopal priest in Manhattan). I have no particular comments on his previous judicial opinions, but I think that his book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia warrants notice by Gorsuch’s fellow Episcopalians.

Gorsuch warns of the slippery slope along which assisted suicide slides into homicide and then murder. If you think that’s extremist, consider that in the Netherlands (the country where euthanasia has been legal the longest), an elderly woman suffering from dementia was held down by her family until a doctor could administer enough drugs to kill her. Also in Holland, a young woman in her twenties was given permission to euthanize herself because she was suffering the traumas of earlier sexual abuse. A new study in Canada advises that the national health care system there could save millions of dollars if people were allowed to kill themselves.

I don’t deny that assisted suicide and mercy killing are complicated issues. I often say that if I become senile or disabled, I want to be put on an ice floe, like the Eskimos. But, still, for Christians, life is a gift of God. Since the Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away, we should be very careful before we do some of the taking. —J. Douglas Ousley