Weekly Meanderings, 16 November 2013

Weekly Meanderings, 16 November 2013 November 16, 2013

Dear Mr Photographer, move before this happens. Elks aren’t pets.

Patrick Mitchel proposes the NT is “gender lite” — I like it!

I have a confession.

I don’t really ‘get’ Christian single sex get togethers – whether Women’s Conferences (admittedly have only been to these in drag) or Men’s Conferences (been to some, never really enjoyed them) or to a lesser degree, men’s or women’s ministry meetings of various sorts.

While you can’t make the NT a blueprint for every contemporary ministry model, it does seem to me that within the new covenant ministry of the Spirit, it is quite remarkable how ‘gender lite’ the NT is. (Not getting into details here of those most controversial of very occasional texts addressing specific gender related issues – see elsewhere.)

[I guess you could also say how remarkably ‘leader lite” the NT is, but that’s another discussion.]

What every parent needs to know — ten studies.

Karen on Obamacare:

Two of my four children are in that hurting place as a result of the disaster that is Obamacare. Responsible to their very core, they were already covered through private policies that they picked and paid for themselves. They had done their due diligence and researched different options. One of them has a small child who has to be covered as well. They already had affordable health care that covered things like immunizations and well-baby checks.

Under Obamacare, both girls will see their monthly healthcare cost double, while their coverage will decrease. And they aren’t the only ones. Check out this article in the LA Times.  In fact, both girls fall into that category where they won’t be covered at all until Obama’s people get the great cluster-fluck that is Obamacare straightened out.

Not that I have any hopes at all that’s ever going to happen. There is something Orwellian about this notion of entrusting our health care to the very same authority that has been spying on all of us.

What Obama hasn’t yet figured out is that this cluster fluck isn’t a matter of failure of technology. It isn’t a matter of a failure of information. It isn’t a matter of resistance from the GOP. Obamacare is a failure because of every other failure of this administration: It’s a failure of leadership.

Is Pope Francis I a signal of change? Cahill says No:

But in his first American appointment, one that was not in the pipeline before his papal election, he named Bishop Leonard Blair as the new archbishop of Hartford, Connecticut.

Blair is a true believer culture warrior and former Vatican official who led the charge against the Leadership Conference of Religious Women last year and earlier joined in the condemnation of Notre Dame University for having President Barack Obama as a speaker. And in light of Francis closing the door on female priests, many women theologians and lay leaders are wondering about his emphasis on a new role for women in the church.

Jamie Manson, a Yale trained theologian and a writer for National Catholic Reporter, suggests that we should not get too excited. For her, the bottom line is that in spite of the warmth and sincerity of the Pope’s words, he is not indicating any change in church teaching.

Atonement thinking from the Internet Monk:

As I was driving today, the verse heading this post came to my mind. It immediately struck me as yet another clue to the unfathomable love and grace of God toward you and me:

“…love covers a multitude of sins.”

These words were written to suffering followers of Jesus Christ, encouraging them to show deep love for one another. The author reminds them what love does — it covers sins. That is, it overlooks them, it regards them as of no account. Love is generous with others and releases them from expectations of sinless perfection. If you love me, you will not hold my sins against me. You will accept me in spite of my weaknesses, failures, and offenses…

If this is what love is, and if God is love, why then can’t we factor in this same attitude in our thinking about how God views us and deals with us in our sins?

Are humans, who show this kind of love to each other, more gracious and loving than God?

I don’t think I’ve ever heard a Christian preacher or teacher say,

“God loves you, and he overlooks your sins.”

“God won’t let your sins stand between you and him.”

“God values you too much to hold your weaknesses and failures against you.”

“God loves you so much that not even sin can separate you from him.”

Perhaps he is like the father of the Prodigal Son, and not just like a righteous judge upholding the law.

Love covers a multitude of sins.

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  • With the regard to atonement, thank God for Christus Victor. :-p

  • Ted M. Gossard

    Yes, I was afraid lack of experience might hurt President Obama before he was elected in the first time. I think Karen’s point seems valid to me: over and over again, this administration has not done well in the work of governing.

    I agree with Karen’s point about the wars and healthcare in her post. I also think that this task of including private insurance companies operating for profit and government mandated coverage, from what I heard yesterday, is much more complicated than they had figured out. But that’s on them, those who propose and are to set up and implement it, in the first place.

  • Not being punny, but I LOVE the thought by Internet Monk!

  • Tessie Jane

    Internet Monk should read and listen to Tullian. There’s at least one preacher teacher out there saying these things. See, One Way Love.

  • gapaul

    I could listen to Karen’s rant a little more sympathetically if I wasn’t also reading plenty of stuff that debunks and explains many of these “horrible situations.” You had low cost insurance before –and many of those were junk plans. Cash cows for insurance companies, because they didn’t actually do much. They appealed to people who would otherwise not spend anything on their insurance. Reading that LA times article, to go from $98 a month to $236 (if I’m remembering numbers correctly) for a family of 4 and an income of $80,000 a year doesn’t seem so horrible — especially if its real coverage. Yep, there are problems. But see this recent CNN analysis of myths on both sides. http://www.cnn.com/2013/11/05/politics/obamacare-debunking-myths/ That LA Times family may have more coverage, and their coverage lets the rest of us off the hook if and when they actually needed care.
    I could also give Karen a fuller listen if I heard any sympathy, any concern for a family who couldn’t get any coverage in the past. I know those families. In one, a child became horrifically ill, family was dropped from coverage and couldn’t get anything to cover the rest of them. Which meant one member went without needed medication for far too long. That was the world of health care for the self-employed. Or come meet my friend who, because of no insurance, filed for bankruptcy and lost everything after breast cancer. By all means, be critical, but let’s look at the whole picture.
    For all the government haters — Medicare hasn’t been so bad, and things seem to be working pretty well in Canada and most major industrial nations. We aren’t comparing kingdom of heaven with earth, we’re in the realm of better than/worse than. I still think this is in the category of better than it was before, and I have hopes, without lies and intransigence, that it could get better.

  • Kyle J

    So what would a health care reform plan that showed true “leadership” look like? Where is the plan that brings people with pre-existing conditions into the individual market but results in no disruption for anyone else? The serious conservative plans would scale back the tax exemption for employer provided health insurance, which would be a good thing in the long term but would be much more disruptive in the short term. Or should we go back the status quo? Is that leadership?

    Karen seems to have some major complaints about our nation’s foreign policy, which is fine, but she needs to step back and decide whether a world in which people go bankrupt because they get sick and hit a lifetime limit in their insurance policy or delay treatment at all because they couldn’t access the market in the first place is really preferable to what we’re going to have a year from now, when the technical issues are worked out and millions of people can newly access the security of health care coverage.

  • Luke Tegeler

    Just a thought in regards to atonement theory: The sins of the prodigal cost the father greatly. Love costs, especially when covering the failings of another. Think of the time, energy, money, reputation, focus, relationships spent to repair sin. Merely saying that love covers a multitude of sins lacks explanation on the how. Letting someone off the hook comes at great personal cost.

  • As one of those who share the story mentioned, insurance being cut, it’s interesting how the response is to reject our stories as valid or to make it seem like what we were using was inherently junk. It’s interesting because it involves dismissing or denigrating the actual experiences of some for the sake of political consistency.

    Who cares if you give Karen a fuller listen at this point. Your note here clearly shows you don’t really seem care about people, you just care if they toe the line on the preferred politics. Your attitude is abhorrent in the same way you find other people abhorrent. It’s just as dismissive.

    That’s the trouble with this whole debate on both sides. Some didn’t listen before to people’s stories, some don’t listen now to people’s stories. You’d show care if people had the right politics before but now? Screw ’em, they deserve it?

    Maybe this whole situation would have been better if instead of politics and hate of our own favored Other we started listening to everyone’s stories as being real and valid experiences worth considering in light of how to construct substantive answers.

  • Brother John

    While it is certainly true that God is most like the father of the returning prodigal son and is not *only* a judge, in light of the context (especially note 1 Pet. 4:1-7 and 4:15-18), the idea that God ‘overlooks’ sin and doesn’t hold sin against the sinner clearly cannot be the meaning of the phrase in v.8, that “love covers a multitude of sins.” It seems more likely that this is in the same vein of reasoning as our responsibility to forgive as we have been forgiven, just as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven us. In other words, we should love because we have been so loved. But again, it is simply not the case that God ‘overlooks’ or ignores sin. Forgiveness and reconciliation are meaningless if sin doesn’t matter.

  • Brother John

    Oh yeah…I am not a believer in the PS theory of the atonement.

  • Wolf Paul

    On Pope Francis: Change yes, but obviously not the sort of changes the writers you quote are hoping for. I think he will clean up the mess that is the Roman curia, but he will no lead the Church in a more liberal direction. And unfortunately from a “catholic Evangelical” perspective he is still just as stuck in Marian piety as the last two popes, consecrating the world to the mother of Jesus, and adressing her with words the NT uses of Jesus himself.

  • gapaul

    Patrick, you read a lot into my response, but maybe I deserved it. I was trying to say, “maybe,” meaning, “maybe this is a real problem, and I’d hear more, but I’m jaded.” Jaded by outright lies and exaggeration, jaded by the use of the word, c-fck in her post, and really and truly needing to ask, why are we so upset about insurance companies canceling policies now — where was the outrage when people were getting their coverage cut all the time? Because they were sick. One doesn’t make the other okay, but you know, it should make us say, “hold on. Let’s try for a big picture.”
    So I hear you. I’ll be careful not to overstate my next comments, if you’d try to imagine that “I don’t seem to care about people,” might be a stretch. “S-them they don’t deserve it,” — would not have been my though. Ever.. But fair enough, I’ll listen to stories. The CNN piece I added seemed fair minded — willing to state myths on both sides.

  • Marshall

    So what would a health care reform plan that showed true “leadership” look like?


  • Westcoastlife

    Canada doesn’t sell insurance to the citizens, it covers them all. Premiums are based on one’s ability to pay (make under a certain amount/ be a student, etc. and you don’t pay premiums).

    If Obama would copy Canada, a lot of these headaches would disappear. We have insurance for things not covered by healthcare. But healthcare (hospital stays, doctor visits, lab work prescribed by a doctor) is covered for everyone.

    Basic healthcare is covered. Families pay premiums (about $100/mo.) and everyone gets basic coverage. Some provinces also cover medicine after a certain amount is paid/family, there are no extra premiums for pharmacy plans. Dental, Eye exams are not covered for adults, so we use insurance for that. But walking into a doctor’s office, getting a lab requisition, going to see a specialist or having a baby, having surgery, going to emergency are all 100% covered for every resident with a health care card and no one needs to go shopping for insurance for that.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Was not and is not politically possible.

  • Andrew Dowling

    “If Obama would copy Canada . . ”

    You honestly think with all of the hoopla about “socialism’ and “government takeovers” that accompanied what was essentially a conservative healthcare reform bill in Obamacare that single payer could have EVER passed Congress?

  • Andrew Dowling

    So let’s hear it then Patrick. You liked your health plan and will now have to get it new one, correct? Is your salary above the threshold for subsidies? How big is your family? The ACA like any major reform does not produce equal benefits to everyone, and a minority will even be in a worse place in terms of monthly premiums. But public policy is forced by necessity to look at the greater overall benefit. If you will have to pay more for insurance because of the ACA, my condolences but the law is done so that if you are experiencing what would be considered a significant premium increase, you can likely afford it.

  • Marshall

    That would be because this country doesn’t acknowledge any actual “leadership”, only demagogery. It seems lately that the only thing that is politically possible is [bad language omitted]. And who is responsible? “Not Me!!”

  • Phil Miller

    If you will have to pay more for insurance because of the ACA, my condolences but the law is done so that if you are experiencing what would be considered a significant premium increase, you can likely afford it.

    Statements like this make me think that the conspiracy theorists who say that the supporters of this law actually want it to fail so single-payer is forced in through a end-around are actually on to something. It seems awfully arrogant to simply say, “you can likely afford it” to someone. Just personally, I’ve heard plenty of stories of people facing some pretty big premium increases. My boss’ daughter who’s in her 20s is facing a premium increase of 150%. That’s not chump change.

  • Samuel Burr

    I read Karen’s article and found little helpful in it. I didn’t find it helpful..

    I also read the article at the LA Times that she linked to. It is a short article but still there are several things we can choose to focus on. I chose the quote by Peter Lee who is the executive director of Covered California. :[Peter] said the state and insurers agreed that clearing the decks by Jan. 1 was best for consumers in the long run despite the initial disruption. Lee has heard the complaints — even from his sister-in-law, who recently groused about her 50% rate increase. [Lee said], ‘People could have kept their cheaper, bad coverage, and those people wouldn’t have been part of the common risk pool,” Lee said. “We are better off all being in this together. We are transforming the individual market and making it better’. Lee said consumers need to consider all their options. They don’t have to stick with their current company, and higher premiums are only part of the cost equation. Lee said some of these rate hikes will be partially offset by smaller deductibles and lower limits on out-of-pocket medical expenses in the new plans.”

    We are attempting something quite wonderful as a nation. We are trying to provide a way so that everyone has accessible health care. This has been something that we have been working toward since Franklin Roosevelt. This is finally a first step. To expect this not to be difficult is unreasonable. We have a plan that is now law that we will have many opportunity to improve on if we will work together to do so. I would appeal to our better natures and encourage us to think of the millions of people who will finally have health care insurance and then continue to work until everyone has health care. What an opportunity we have to come together to help others. Perhaps we do need to think of this as a war on poverty and reallocate our efforts toward victory.

  • Andrew Dowling

    If it’s 150% and none of that is lessened through subsidies, she makes far more than most people in her 20s. I don’t think its arrogance its just knowing how the subsidies work per annual income in the law. Yes on average younger healthier people will pay some more, which is the cost of having a system which can cover the older and the sick. It’s not some socialist conspiracy; that’s the basics of insurance economics.

  • Guest

    Andrew, very arrogant and shows hatred of people in your response. Your politics insist that people either fit into your categories or they should bear your judgments. How dare you? Who are you to pronounce such judgments and declare what people can and must afford. Talk about legislating your morality. It’s very Puritany.

    My part time job did not provide benefits. Adjunct professor. We were making ends meet in Southern California, thus a very high cost of living. My salary covered the costs of our brokered plan quite well.

    So, the increase would have meant a very sharp dent in our monthly expenses, in which we had no car payments, or smart phone data plans, etc.

    But, your response shows a hatred towards such stories, an insistence that rejection puts us into the category of the Other who must bear the weight of our status. Which is not a new perspective, but it’s certainly not a Christian one.

    Don’t hate people or be dismissive because people’s stories don’t match what you reading in HuffPo.

  • Tanyam,

    Thanks for this gracious response. I apologize if I misread or read too much in my response.

    It’s hard to navigate these conversations as we hear such heated rhetoric on both sides. I too have a tendency to overstate and maybe I did as well here. I’m jaded too. Maybe too much time in the progressive side of things and I recognize such similar attitudes I heard on the right. I think I’m sensitive to not only the differences but the assumption of righteousness I hear in so many, both on the right and the left, as though someone who doesn’t share their views on the issues is somehow horrible.

    I think learning how to respect and listen to the many stories is the way forward. Those on the right need to make sure that people aren’t left out. People on the left need to do the same. And the supporters of each side need to make sure that rhetoric of progress aren’t shields for corruption and mismanagement.

    Your response here gives me hope this is possible.

  • Phil Miller

    If it’s 150% and none of that is lessened through subsidies, she makes far more than most people in her 20s. I don’t think its arrogance its just knowing how the subsidies work per annual income in the law. Yes on
    average younger healthier people will pay some more, which is the cost of having a system which can cover the older and the sick. It’s not some socialist conspiracy; that’s the basics of insurance economics.

    I don’t know how much she makes, but I don’t believe she makes a whole lot. It’s probably enough that she doesn’t qualify for much of a subsidy, though. But you generally have to pretty poor to get a big subsidy. She lives in Colorado, and I looked up the limits, and if single person in their 20s makes $30,000 a year, they can expect to pay a premium of $4500 – $5000, and maybe receive a subsidy of $900. So $4000 out of pocket, or $333 a month isn’t really chump change.

    And really, it does have to do with how insurance economics work, but the problem with health insurance in the US is that we treat it like no other insurance we buy. We buy car insurance or homeowner’s insurance, we pay the premiums, and we hope to never have to use it. We don’t use our car insurance to pay for our car’s oil changes or new brakes. We just use those other insurances if there a major event. And if you have your car insurance for a long time without having any claims, your premiums go down. For some reason, though, we expect our health insurance to work differently. We expect to cover everything. It’s a totally backwards system, if you ask me.

  • “If you will have to pay more for insurance because of the ACA, my
    condolences but the law is done so that if you are experiencing what
    would be considered a significant premium increase, you can likely
    afford it.”

    This makes me sad. It’s exactly how Empires justify oppression. The law is done, it was necessary, and if you bear the pain for it, don’t blame the leaders, just pay up.

    It ignores and dismisses people’s experiences for the vague generalities of a poorly implemented policy. It’s not Christian, even though it poses with an attitude of righteousness. It justifies oppression through either blaming the victims or insisting they must be able to bear the weight. If they can’t… dismiss and alienate them.

    When politics are prioritized over real people, it’s not the way of Jesus, it’s the way of Rome.

  • Andrew Dowling

    For any system based on private insurance to work that enables affordable coverage for the sick or poor, those who are wealthier and/or healthier will have to pay a little more; that’s just an economic fact. To cover the 15 year old girl with leukemia or Hodgen’s whose mother works at a job that pays above the Medicaid threshold but doesn’t offer employee insurance, private insurance companies will need to charge higher premiums so that the wealthier and younger/healthier pay more than they did previously. The law insures fairly generous subsidies for those whom such increases would have a negative financial impact.

    It saddens me you label your situation as “oppression” rather than a consequence of a system that can now provide affordable care for that sick girl. Would the “christian” response be to just hope charity found its way to her?

  • Andrew Dowling

    That you interpret my post as “hatred” and your defensive posture is telling. Is the ACA how I would’ve reformed the healthcare system? No, but it’s better than what we had. Forgive me for not shedding tears for your struggle to pay for smart phone data plans while the status quo ensured that numerous families were driven into bankruptcy because their children or spouses were diagnosed with a terminal disease (and I personally know a couple of families who were in that situation).

  • Ha! That’s exactly what I was saying. Of course, the Christian response is that the girl is helped. The Roman response is that some are helped by forcing others to carry the burdens. That the Roman peace.

    When you only listen to stories from others, it makes it so easy and pretty to condemn and judge. When you dismiss people’s own testimonies to do so, assuming their complaints are somehow necessary burdens, that’s what Empire does. It saddens me that you dismiss my story and so many other stories for the sake of your political allegiance to those whose main goal is to make immense profit off of all involved. The “law insures” is part of the problem. That’s the point of the point above. Real people are not finding that the law assures anything. It’s rhetoric and people are taking advantage of your idealism to bring real harm to people whose lives are much more affected than you can imagine. It’s being mismanaged and instead of bringing affordable health care to all it is creating answers for some and causing major problems for others. If you dismiss the problems you show you don’t really care for people, you just want to punish some for not fitting into your ideal.

    You insist on knowing everyone’s details and lives and choices to avoid passing judgment. You dismiss people’s lives for the sake of a policy–and it’s the very management of the policy (not the goal of providing health care) that is under discussion.

    I could give you all the details of my life but you would parse out reasons why my story doesn’t matter. Because there are people who serve as the Other to you, and they must bear the weight for your sense of being on the right side politically.

    Meanwhile, real choices have to be made and real issues have to be faced in families that are already stretched.

    The way of Rome is very attractive, because it provides real peace to some people. It provided safety for some and health for some. That’s the way of Empire. That’s the way of oppression, justifying hurting some in order to help others. Bringing up the hypothetical girl as justification, when you don’t know what others are bringing to the table, what their costs or experiences are. And demanding they prove it to you by telling you details of their lives, or you’ll condemn them.

    The “Christian” response would be to find a way of bringing hope to all, and being willing to critique even the Emperor rather than those who are suffering under the policies. So that all stories are heard and all people are valued, so that all find help and renewal of life.

  • Andrew Dowling

    Sorry, we don’t live under Rome; we live under a representative democracy. There is no significant public policy that doesn’t create winners and losers . . .the goal is to devise policies that create more benefit than not. That’s the real world.

    Per usual you don’t tell me how realistically society (which is what government is . . how society decides to order and run its society) would have a system in which middle and working class people did not get financially ruined from getting sick.

    I’m not dismissing your story. I said I send my condolences . . honestly it does suck you have to pay some more. But your statement that “real people are not finding that the law assures anything” shows me you are the one with partisan blinders on. That’s simply not true . . there are already many people with pre-existing conditions that would’ve been dropped and haven’t been because of the law, and will be millions more who previously couldn’t get insurance but now can through the expanded Medicaid and exchanges. See the numbers by this time next year.

    Your response about a vague “bringing hope to all” . what is that? The christian response is to save lives and prevent hardship. There is no fantasyland solution that doesn’t require sacrifice from some that still involves private insurers (if you support single-payer just say it). But your “christian response” appears to be “I want to help them . . just as long as I’m personally not affected.”