the value of human life

What is the value of human life? I shutter to even ask the question, because even the question has an “economic overtone” that seems out of place with the idea of human life. You see, we have lost direction in the world, because we “value” economics and profit over human life. To even ask the question of “what is the value of human life?” means we seek to place a monetary value on the intrinsic reality of life; think about it, when you read the question you were in search of an answer that had a “dollar value” connected to it. When we think in terms of life having an “economic value” we seek to say, “There is a break even point” where a certain amount of human life loses is acceptable, even profitable.

The idea, for me, is not to determine the “value” of human life, but to shift the way we view what is and how we value other humans; we claim life has “value” yet we toss it aside as cheap. You see, we “value” our cars, more then we “value” the air we breathe; we “value” cheap food, more then we “value” the people picking it for us; we “value” our comforts, more then we do the comforts of others. We are willing to make changes as long as they do not “cost” us very much. We value what is good, right and just for us, but not for others; what we value must benefit us and if it causes harm to another it is of no concern to us, it is “the cost” of doing business. When we face issues like war, “illegal” immigration, abortion, poverty, slave trade, child abuse, prison reform, and many other issues facing us as a culture, and a world, the foundation of our answers can be seen in how we view human life.

For example, in the 20th century alone about 300 million people died because of wars, directly or indirectly. Think about that, 3 million people a year died for 100 years. Did you know that about 25 States have less then 3 million people each living in them? Killing 3 million people in one year would be like killing all the people in Hawaii, West Virginia, and Alaska, combined. It would be like killing everyone on the east coast from Vermont to Maine and toss in Maryland for good measure. 3 million people is more then the populations of Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana – and many other Western States. So, what is the “value” of human life? To truly answer this question we need to rethink much of what we know from the 20th century.

Life can not be given an “economic” value, no matter how we try. I asked the question of “what is the value of human life?” to a friend and he quickly answered with the title of Arthur Porges short story from 1985, “$1.98; that is the value of all the chemicals in the human body.” But that is not what I asked. I was not concerned with the “value of the human body” I wanted to know the value of human life. In a society where human life is “valued” there is no trade off between economic gain and human life. If human life is simply added into the equation of “doing business” then we have lost our humanity and replaced it with greed.

When we place an economic value on life we cheapen life, and devalue God and we show future generations that human life is not worth holding on too. We place a “Darwinian” view on human life, and we place it is the same category as the value of a car, a boat, a toaster. As a follower of Jesus I can not, in any way shape of form, place an economic value on human life. Human life is a gift given by God and we should respect it above all else; if not we cheapen the gift and proclaim that God’s gift to us is based simply of the economics of the day. We should hold human life to be the highest of all endeavors we have as a society. As people of “The Way” we should be the loudest voices for the rights of all human life. We should place aside the social, economical, and cultural realities of human life and claim all human life is higher then any “value” placed upon it.

It matters little where you stand on issues being debated in our culture today. If human life is not valued, no change can ever be made. Think of how different a Pharmaceutical Company would be if they valued human life over the “rights of their share holders.” Think how different we would be as a society if we proclaimed that all human life has value and was worth the time to save. Think of where we would be as a people if Hospitals saw the patient over the profit. Think of how different our world would be if we just loved people for who they are, and valued them for just being them. Think how different we would be as a faith if we spent less on building buildings and more on building people.

So, does human life have value? More then anyone can possibly afford.


needing your help

when tragedy hits, our faith is tested and measured. when "something goes wrong" we see how our faith is embedded in our lives. how we react to tragedy is a direct measure of how secure we are in our faith. this is real personally, and this is real collectively. when tragedy hits, we can either gather in support of the injured, or we can simply ignore their hurt and say "there but for the grace of God go i" - my prayer is that we react and we support.

i received an email from keith giles [you know, "keith's voice"] and he shared with me some news i would like to share with you - and see if you can help in some way; on june 20th, "the simple way" house, community center and neighborhood were the victims of a 7 alarm fire - destroying most of what was there. thank God no one seems to have been injured, but the emotional reality of a fire and the destruction that follows can be very traumatic.

if you, your church, your community, your family can help in any way possible - that would be great. our friend tony campolo has set up a donation page for those seeking to give, and the link to that will be at the bottom of this post. also, i have included a link to the simply way's website for those interested in knowing more - and contacting them directly with help offers.

if you desire, you can send checks directly to the simple way at:

The Simple Way
PO Box 14751
Philadelphia, PA 19134.

visit the the simple way website for more info: the simpleway
tony's donation page: click here

here is a 3.25 minute video of what happened:


never hearing our voices

it should not amaze me, but it does; it should not cause me to be concerned, but it does; it should not sadden me, but it does. what can do all that? the reality that the church is simply not hearing the voices of those who are calling for change - and what amazes me the most is how the church puts its collective head in the sand and never even notices that things have changed - and yea, i have to admit that it hurts a little.

recently a friend or mine, bob carlton, posted some very interesting information via my facebook account - he was quoting some recent barna research done on "non-church" people between the ages of 16-29. the servey asked, "what is your current perception of christianity?" here is how they responded:

91% said antihomosexual
87% said judgmental
85% said hypocritical
78% said old-fashioned
75% said too involved in politics
72% said out of touch with reality
70% said insensitive to others

think about this, churches are all that, and more, to those outside the church - man, do we need better pr.

think about this for a second, with the exception of the homosexual issue [and we can debate that at another time - even though some will only focus on that topic] none of those things are "doctrinal" - they are how christians treat others, how christians are seen treating others and how christians interact in the culture at large - with the exception of one thing, this has nothing to do with what christians believe, but how christians act - or does it have something to do with what christians believe? think about that. if you believed in love, how would you act? if you believed in forgiveness, how would you act? if you believed in grace, how would you act?

the idea that christians are seen as judgemental and hypocritical is amazing to me because as a follower of jesus i know he told us not to be either. we are boldly told to not be that way in scripture - jesus, you know the guy we claim to follow, tells us over and over to not judge others and to stop being so hypocritical - but those in the church simply ignore that call and say, "well, we are only human and not able to change" - if that is the case, if there is no change from what you were before you started to follow, why should anyone follow? what value is a faith that does not call us to change, and change us? what value is a faith that simply seems no different from the world around?

what the church fails to notice is that people see those who claim to be christian as "little christs" - when they treat people like crap, others think then that their god is telling them to treat people like crap - it's a reality. if you claim to follow the teachings of jesus, and you treat people like crap then the teachings of jesus must tell others to treat people like crap. how we act is how others define our God - christians do it all the time with muslims, and other faith traditions. even if you don't like the idea, if you call yourself a christian you are an ambassador of God, and people who see you and how you act define God in those terms - if you are judgemental, so is your God; if you are hypocritical, so is your God; if you are old fashion, so is your God; if you are anti-anything, so is your God; if you are out of touch with reality, so is your God; if you are insensitive to the needs of others, so is your God.

well, the stats are in and the church will do as it has done in the past - they will ignore them, deny them, and argue them as meaningless; they will take their collective heads out of the sand for just a moment and then they will close their eyes and pretend it never happened - and as they do, churches will close and the faith will become more and more irrelevant to those it is trying to reach.

what i believe will be the most amazing to me is that many in the church, many in the evangelcial church, will not read any of the stats and they will go about their day as if nothing changed - they will ignore the world around them and in their own way, in their own world, they will think they got it right - while those outside the church are laughing.


the fix is in

it took some time, and there still is some tweaking we need to do - but we overhauled ginkworld - and it was a a process. but we think it looks cool. we are playing with the idea that we desire an "evolution" - so we gave ginkworld a very "cccp" theme - very "1917 revolution" - tell us what you think.

some changes:
we got rid of the java menu - because it gives foxfire people a fit - and replaced our menu with a simple css menu - we think it helps a great deal

we removed many of the "not needed" code so the site loads faster - while the index is php, we kept the back end html - it was a hard decision but one we felt would give us the ability to maintain the feel we desired

we added feeds to our blog, and our community blog [if you are interested in writing for our community blog - let me know] and we added some achieve feeds so past stories and stuff will come up on a random [we like random] basis - ever time you reload ginkworld a bunch of new "more" articles will pop-up.

we have added a youtube play list - and we will be changing this weekly with new videos - either music or just some crazy thing we like - it's like a trip to candy mountain, without the scar :)

some tweaking
we will be tweaking the article area over the next few weeks - we are trying to get the code to do what we need - most of it is going fine - but we are missing some font colors and we are trying to figure out what the deal is :)

we hope you like the new look - we hope you spread the word and tell others about us and what we are striving to do - we are a place where "normal" and radical voices can be heard in the noise that is around us.


the evolution returns

over this past year i have been truly diving into this idea that the church needs to evolve -not just in style, but in theology and heart. i have come to some major conclusions that i think are primary for my sanity and the sanity of those i love.

conclusion one: the church, while in a desperate need for an extreme makeover, is unwilling to look deep into its own heart to see the pain it causes others. you see, for the dysfunction of the church to truly have a deep meaning it needs to feed its dysfunction. in that, the church has closed its eyes to the reality around it.

now, is it possible for the church to pull itself out of this spin? i would say "not at all." for some this would seem negative, and it may be - but for those of us who have been abused by the dysfunction called "the christian church" we see it as a bold, in your face reality.

conclusion two: whenever a person calls the church, or christians, on the table for all the garbage they do and all the hurt they give, the church or the christian calls them negative. while this may have worked in the past, i find it simply another tool of the dysfunction. you see, telling me i am being negative because i point out how hurtful the church is does not change the reality that the church is hurtful. all it does is try to place the conversation on what is and is not negative and off the facts at hand.

now, can the church or christians change this tactic? i think not. it serves their purpose of my first conclusion - so, in that the church, or christians, will never stop crying that others are being negative.

conclusion three: the church in the usa has it good and is in no way shape or form a martyr. i am so tired of american christians talking about how the church is being persecuted. what? because we can't place a plastic jesus in the town square during christmas we claim persecution; because we can't sing "jesus loves me this i know" at a "spring festival."

now, can the church get over this self imposed idea that it is being run down and hurt by others? i doubt it. the fabric of the church is too woven with the idea that we must claim to be a martyr to truly have a voice - so stories are made-up to make the persecution seem real.

i think three conclusions are good for now. i think the church needs to remove its collective head out of its collective ass for it to be able to see the sun and know where the sidewalks are. but i am not sure it can happen. because no institution is ever truly changed from the inside, i am not sure the institution of the church can seek change. the insiders are in control, and they refuse to listen to the voices from the outside - so, the church will die - the church will close it's door and the idea of a "christian" will slowly go to the recycle bin. what comes out of the recycle? hard to tell, but i hope it is nothing like the church today -



ever get tired? i mean truly, in the heart tired? tired of all the garbage shared by the church and those who call themselves christian? you ever get to the point in your faith where you think what's it all for? why be a christian is there is no difference between those in church and those outside church? why deal with the judgments from those who need to look closer at their lives, before they make a call on your life? why take the time to invest in people who backstab, gossip, insult, belittle, hurt, assualt all in the name of christ?

for me, i am past the stage of hearing "we are just human" as an excuse to treating others like shit. i am tired - while i am processing my "tiredness" in light of christ, i know that my tired is not something i take lightly. in my sharing my "tiredness" with another pastor i was told to "shake it off and get over it" - ever get tired?


the honor of a congressional spam

over the past year i have received spam from people wanting my penis to grow and my hair to return; i have received spam from "hot chicks" and russian teens; i have received invitations to buy repo-homes, new cars, cell phones, and even a boat of two; i have received spam for sex, cigars, and even more sex - but today was the very first time i received spam from a member of congress. brothers and sisters, it looks like congress, and the members thereof, have officially entered the realm of sex, penis growth pills, repo-homes and russian teens - that is right, congress is not spaming with the rest of the bottom feeders of the planet.

now i try my hardest to help all the honest people who email me; you know those african lawyers who need my help to embezzle 40million dollars out of some third world country - i always email them back and let them know that there is no need for me to help - they should simply allow the country to take the money and use it to feed the poor. funny, i never get a response, go figure. but today was a rather high mile stone in my enjoyment of reading spam - a congressman actually spammed me - how cool is that?

roy blunt, a congressman from the state of "mo" [7th district] - or "big mo" - well, just "mo" - i know what your thinking, "congressman blunt," sounds like a spoof - but he is truly a member of congress. guess what, he is the "house republican whip" - wow, spammed by the whip - man is that cool. i wonder if the "bluntster" knows that i am not in his party? i wonder of he cares? i wonder who he purchased [actually "rent" - you never really "purchase" email address for spam] from? i wonder if he realizes that his spaming me makes me think far less of him and anything he stands for? i wonder if he cares? i wonder if he realizes i do not live in his district, or state? i wonder if he is sucking up for a prez-run in a few years? i wonder if he realizes that he comes across "funny" in his video for the kids?

he felt it wise to spam me with the following question: [catch the * at the bottom, that one is a kicker]:

"As Congress renews the debate on immigration, do you believe, as I do, it must first put forward a serious plan to secure our borders without offering amnesty to those who continue to enter this country illegally?

Not Sure

*By answering this survey, you are subscribing to my newsletter."

he spammed me with a question that is so stupid, it is funny. besides being a question that simply bates the issue, there is no place for a comment, no place for a true and real dialog - i'm sorry, i was thinking [even for a second] that he truly cared about my views and was actually wanting to have a dialog - my bad, i have to remember he is a politician, and they do not care about things like reality, real, "truth" or even honesty.

for the "bluntster" it is "back and white" world [a "not sure" answer is not designed to show his desire to see gray - he simply would see that as a person not seeing his point of view - and them slam-spam that person with a ton of spam] . he is not interested in honest conversations with people about a topic he knows very little about - you see, i can imagine that in his world a "Hispanic" is simply the guy who washes the dishes he eats off when a lobbyist buys him lunch. he makes zero connection between the human and the world.

i don't know, i found it funny - we are spending millions catching and trying to catch spammers and a member of congress simply can spam all he wants because he was elected to serve people - but then again, i am of the honest opinion that there is no honest politician. i think roy blunt is proof that politicians simply desire to follow their own rules, and they laugh at the rules they make for the rest of us - so to roy "the spammer" blunt, bad from bro