Can America be Saved?

A revolution was started a little over 2000 years ago. Didn't get very far because the political and religious authorities consolidated their power. Ritual elements of the revolutionary creed were adopted by the authorities, of course, to the extent that it kept the masses in line, and twisted to fit their objectives.

It's time we re-started that revolution, but I'm wondering where I'm going to find the revolutionaries.

I haven't posted anything in this blog for several months. Tried to market the blog in social media and ran into unreasonable, bigoted, horrible people. True ignorance. No willingness to consider that their opinion should be based on something other than a party line. Single-issue lemmings relying on a group of politicians to fulfill their hopes and dreams. I knew that the principles of the Extreme Center would threaten those in power, but didn't think their minions were so far gone.

Religious authorities cling to extremes. God can't marry two people in love with the same private parts that God gave them. But the alternate extreme is no better, supporting the ultimate oxymoron, "secular marriage." Really? Who says the government has any authority over who gets married? God is not a secular concept.

"We" elected the first Socialist president and wonder why the economy sucks. This is what a culture of dependence and greed looks like, kids. Grow up.

What the hell is going on here?

The majority of us ought to be outraged. But we're too busy on Pinterest, or watching sports or reality shows, or porn, or drafting our fantasy league teams to realize that we're on a horrible path. Surveys show that a majority agree we're "on the wrong track," but of course the only "other track" is just as wrong. So no matter which of the extreme parties takes control over Congress or the White House . . . it's still just switching to the other track.

There is a third track, folks. America can be saved, but we need to get started saving it or in 30 years or so it'll be too late. Rather than riots in the streets and water cannons - or worse - to quell political dissent (would we be "terrorists" at that point?), we have the tools to do this now. If we keep doing what we're doing, electing extremists, and not doing what we should be doing, putting our energy into building the third track, in 30 years America will no longer be the de Toqueville "experiment." It will have clearly failed.

Zimmerman Debate: Culture and Context, Not Skin Color

So the president has told us that we need to have a "conversation about race" in America because of the outrage (and lack of universal outrage) regarding the outcome of the Zimmerman trial. Predictably, that conversation - just like all of the other conversations on difficult topics - will be dominated by the powerful extremes, leaving us only two wrong positions to support. The typical, easy, polarizing narrative laid before us is that "white" people want "black" people to "respect the process" and basically "get over it," and "black" people want "white" people to stop "profiling" black people as dangerous and threatening.

Let's start out with the most extreme view of the Extreme Center. Like most, this view is factually correct but rejected by just about everyone because it is inconsistent with the false narrative dominated by extremists who depend on it to retain their power, authority, or sense of self-worth. To wit, there is only one "human race," and anyone that believes that the world is populated with different races is, in fact, a "racist." The notion that some human beings are not of the "human race" has always been the refuge of the powerful who need a philosophical, religious, and political basis for denying that they are doing inhuman things to other humans. The most recent and cogent example for the US is the colonial slave trade and the incorporation of slavery in the US Constitution (remember the "3/5ths Compromise"?).

All humans were, in fact, created equal.

So the Voice of the Extreme Center does not recognize the existence of different "races" of humans, and will not use that term to divide people of different ethnicity with variations in skin color into nice neat little boxes to justify a stereotype to suit the extremist narrative.

Now on to the topic of the day. From the beginning, "race" was put at the center of the George Zimmerman killing of Trayvon Martin. The contortions that became necessary to squeeze the facts into the false narrative proved the falseness, requiring very fine distinctions to be made between "white" and "non-white" latinos. When it became obvious that George Zimmerman's race could not easily be extended to people with lighter skin to support the narrative, the "conversation" moved beyond the specific case to the larger problem of "racial profiling" that occurs on a regular basis. And since neither the killer nor the victim were perfect examples of innocence, the particulars of the case don't really help the "law and order" types or those who benefit from a culture of "victimization."

Let's use two situations at opposite ends of the cultural spectrum to demonstrate how "racial profiling" works. First, at the opera, a man with very dark skin, dressed in a suit that clearly communicates wealth, walks up to you and asks for the time. Second, on the street, at night, in a neighborhood with a high crime rate, a man with very dark skin, dressed in a hoody and pants well below his waist, walks up to you and asks for the time. No matter your skin color or ethnicity, your visceral, emotional reaction is going to be different in those two situations. It's not about whether the person being approached has lighter or darker skin, its about context and culture - knowing your surroundings and acting like a reasonable human being.

The "conversation" has to be about culture, not skin color. Because there are communities of people who happen to have light or dark skin that share similar cultures once you disregard skin color and whether they live in urban or rural areas. So the question is: Is a culture of drugs and violence, lack of respect for women, no sense of personal responsibility to one's children, devaluing education, and dependence on government acceptable? If it is, then the result is that anyone interacting with that culture has every reason to fear it, avoid it, and protect oneself when unable to avoid it. If it is not, then anyone - including those who have been supporting it, and especially those damaged by it on a daily basis - has every reason to change it.

So the Extreme Center's challenge to the president is to engage in an honest conversation about culture, not skin color, not "race," and to have the intelligence to understand the difference and the integrity to guide the conversation accordingly, regardless of the political pressure on him to accept things as they are.

Is It Time to Actually "Separate Church and State"?

The decision of the US Supreme Court regarding LGBT equal access to federal government benefits of "marriage" might be the first step in a long, difficult process to "separate Church and State" following over 200 years of Christian dominance of the federal and state legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government. Just for fun, let's look at the First Amendment to the US Constitution to see what it actually says with respect to religion:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . ."

The debate over whether federal or state law should "allow" certain people to "marry" confuses secular relationships with religious (God-centered) relationships, which makes it impossible to have a logical discussion among people with widely divergent views. In theory, and by immutable definition, "marriage" is a religious institution, defined by the various religions for use by their own congregants, and government has no "authority" regarding the "definition of marriage," insofar as government is not controlled by any particular religion, like what is supposed to be the case in the United States. Therefore, the legal right of two people to have access to the same set of secular, legal, government-controlled benefits is not a religious matter, and the right of two people to invite God into their relationship ("marriage"), is not a legal matter. To the extent that the LGBT community wants a "bundle of legal rights," then they should turn to government to get that - a "civil union" or some other secular moniker. If they want to be able to "marry," they should turn to God to get that - they don't need any permission but His. Marriage is inarguably not a secular relationship, so there never has been and can never be anything correctly called a "civil marriage." The oxymoron must be stricken from the conversation.

The problem, of course, is that a huge number of legal rights accrue to the legal relationship called "marriage" as a result of the Christian dominance of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches at all levels of government.

It will take quite some time to disentangle the traditional Christian definition of "marriage" from the "law," but it is the only way to make any sense of the "same-gender marriage" issue. Legislative aides will have a huge job searching the laws to exculpate "marriage" from the books and replace it with the equal-protection-friendly "civil union."

Once we logically separate the two, we can emotionally deal with our individual views of sin and love, disagree accordingly, but accept that all human beings should certainly have "equal protection of the law." If anyone believes that the government should enforce a particular religious doctrine, then there is no way to overcome that radical-right view. Just as there is no way to overcome the radical-left view that two people can be "married" without God. Both extremes fall by the sheer weight of logic, religious principles, and the text of the US Constitution.

The view of the Extreme Center is that, if two people love each other and are willing to accept God in their relationship, it's up to God to ordain that love - and no person - not the government, not a priest, not a book - has the authority or the full knowledge of God's Will to deny them that direct relationship with God. Picking specific biblical passages to support government limitations on legal benefits to same-gender couples is an interesting exercise, and each religion certainly has the right to close its doors to non-believers. But for the Extreme Center, the One Commandment of Christ always controls: Love one another as He loves us.

The US Presidency as the New American Papacy

The resignation of Pope Benedict the XVI reminds us of the failure of Jesus Christ's revolution, at least in America, where we have allowed the US Presidency (regardless of who fills the position) to become the New American Papacy.

The essential difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is that the former requires an intermediary, a priest, to have a complete relationship with God. The principles that guide the One Commandment revolution don't include picking a side in the continuing Reformation, because the commonalities - what C.S. Lewis called the elements of "Mere Christianity" - are far more important than the differences. But key religious power-brokers have constructed a New American Papacy by supporting policies that expand the role of a care-taker government, with bureaucrats (the new priests) determining our fate.

This is not consistent with Christ's revolutionary edict.

One Commandment principles reject the political positions of both the "religious right" and the "religious left." Both extremes support a powerful government that increasingly destroys our Free Will.

The right places its faith in government as Christian Judge, standing firm on old-testament notions of "sin" and valuing principles over people, throwing self-righteous stones, equating "sinful" with "illegal," believing the government should have the power to regulate our behavior and rob us of our right and personal responsibility to discern God's Will for ourselves, directly and without the need for an intermediary.

The left places its faith in government as Christian Charity, creating the false idol of government as the collective spirit of the citizens, displacing the Holy Spirit in each of us, electing the kindest and most "charitable" person to serve as the new Pope and take care of us, believing the government should have the power to tax us into a stupor of dependence and rob us of our right and personal responsibility to Love Each Other, directly and without the need for an intermediary.

Jesus Christ started a revolution against religious and government authorities that was quickly quashed by religious and government authorities. When He said our duty is to "render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and render unto God what is God's," His directive was to separate government and religious functions. The beauty of the US Constitution is that it codifies Christ's edict. So when leading religious organizations, like Sojourners (www.sojo.net) or the 700 Club (www.cbn.com/700club/), adopt either the Democratic Party "entitlement" platform or the Republican Party "law and order" platform without questioning their consistency with Christ's teachings, Christ's revolution remains where it started over 2000 years ago.

We all agree on the importance of charity as a primary duty for all people, but we don't all agree that charity is a government function funded through taxation. Christ certainly didn't. As an educated citizen, he understood that, since the dawn of "civilization," individuals recognizing the authority of others to act on behalf of a group, political authorities have relied on "bread and circuses" to keep the citizens complacent and distracted so that they can increase their power.

From Wikipedia: "This phrase originates from Rome in Satire X of the Roman satirist and poet Juvenal (circa 100 A.D.). In context, the Latin metaphor panem et circenses (bread and circuses) identifies the only remaining cares of a new Roman populace which cares not for its historical birthright of political involvement. Here Juvenal displays his contempt for the declining heroism of his contemporary Romans. Roman politicians devised a plan in 140 B.C. to win the votes of these new citizens: giving out cheap food and entertainment, 'bread and circuses,' would be the most effective way to rise to power."

We also all agree that the price of sin is death, but we don't all agree that punishment for sin is a government function. Abortion must be legal, with all parties personally, directly responsible for their own relationships with God. The death penalty must be abolished, because only God can collect the payment for sin, and every person must be given the freedom to find God until He decides payment is due. Any two people must be allowed to invite God into their Marriage, regardless of biological traits, because God is perfect (doesn't make biological mistakes) and only God can ordain Marriage - the authority of the state ends at determining legal rights.

Render unto God what is God's, stop supporting the New American Papacy, and commit to the revolution of Jesus Christ. We know what happened to the Roman Empire, and it can happen again.

Stop Selling Our Vote - the Moral Cost of High-risk Behavior

One of the most difficult things for us to do is to consider the implications of public policy over an extended period of time - learning from the past 50 or 100 years and projecting 50 or 100 years into the future, at least - in our current culture of "instant." It's much easier to measure the immediate or fairly short-term effects of such things as bank bailouts, industry bailouts, school and home loan guarantees, FEMA clean-up and re-building funds, and extended unemployment benefits to gauge whether these policies contribute to the "common good." When bad things happen, like economic bubbles bursting or murderous rampages or natural disasters, it's much easier to look at the "unfairness" of an individual case and connect emotionally with the "victim" rather than consider the long-term effects of "government action" in the aggregate. We are, after all, good people. We want to help. We want to contribute to the "common good."

The problem is that "tugging at our heart strings" is an easy way for those in power to get us to sell our vote or support a particular government program that benefits them personally and fits our emotional need to help those who are hurting. Here's the thing:

Every time the government expands its charitable role, charity's role shrinks.

Every time the government expands its business role, business' role shrinks.

It is a zero-sum enterprise. After all, there is a finite amount of "need" and "work" in the marketplace. If this country is going to survive as a Republic and a beacon for the rest of the world, we must stop selling our vote - and the price we've set is very, very low. The moral value of our vote should count for much, much more.

Let's look at the recent debate regarding the funding of FEMA related to Storm Sandy. The "package" submitted was for over $60 billion dollars. We can all read the details of where the funds are supposed to be spent and for what purpose, and the "debate" in Washington, DC, has focused on the "appropriate" amount of funding, oversight of the program, and how this need measures against other funding needs. But where is the debate as to the underlying premise for the apparent assumption that FEMA's role is to displace private insurance as the primary funding for losses due to natural disasters and private charity as the primary resource for the uninsured? Every politician is calculating the cost of our vote rather than the moral cost of the long-term effects of the underlying public policy.

It is very, very difficult to look past the here-and-now and reach any other conclusion than, "The federal government must step in to help." But at what long-term moral cost?

Let's apply the above "zero-sum" principle to "risk management":

Every time the government expands its role in risk management, our responsibility to manage the risks of our own decisions shrinks.

There is an actuarial scientific basis for expensive homeowners' and business insurance premiums in coastal areas. Only profitable businesses and wealthy individuals can afford insurance as they locate closer to the coastline. Less profitable businesses and people without sufficient financial resources to pay for private insurance would need to move further from the coastline if the government did not step in and fund the actuarial risk not funded by the private market. With government acting as an insurer, with "premiums" paid by every taxpayer in the nation rather than the individual or business making the risky decision, private insurers are driven from the highest-risk markets and the government pays more to "insure" the highest-risk decisions. The alternative is a period of transition - yes, perhaps 100 years or more - where risks are born by those who manage risk in the private marketplace and charities step in and assist "displaced" people to move into areas where they can afford to manage the risks (like the hundreds of charities who helped in communities hit by Sandy). Not as heartwarming as a savior government, of course.

So there are two distinct visions for our nation:

One vision is where the "common good" is best served when we all, as the collective, through our taxes and expanded government debt (if taxes don't cover the costs), pay for the highest-risk activities of the few. Those activities include mortgages that do not meet private underwriting standards, unhealthy lifestyles, criminal behavior, blowing off school, wasting talents, unplanned pregnancies, and living or operating a business on the beach or below sea level without insurance - in short, not taking personal responsibility for managing our own lives and our own decisions. Every time a high-risk behavior results in something bad, we use government funds to help the victim. Communities are rebuilt with government funds and loan guarantees in the fight to outspend the costs of "acts of God."

The other vision is where the "common good" is best served when we all, as individuals, use our God-given talents to the best of our abilities to take care of ourselves, our families, and those in our communities who are unable to care for themselves. We make personal and financial decisions knowing that they have consequences.

We can debate whether we can financially "afford" a care-taker government, and we are. What we need to do is debate whether we can "afford" it morally.

It's a Moral Avalanche, not a Fiscal Cliff

We are so tired of being beaten over the head by the extremists on the Left and the Right about their "solutions" to the "fiscal cliff" that really do nothing except further entrench their own power bases. In the stop-gap measure passed this week, the Left pushed benefits to their crony capitalist friends in Hollywood and in the green energy business, the Right agreed to an even more complex Tax Code that only the super-wealthy can manipulate (or move their money and their businesses elsewhere), and rich and poor alike were assured by both of the Major Parties that their dependence on government will not be on the table for future discussions.

It's not a fiscal cliff, it's a moral avalanche.

The government is not a charity. Every dollar that flows through the government for the "common good" removes a dollar that could flow through private charity for the "common good." The Left continues to use an altruistic smoke screen to rob us of our will and ability to take care of ourselves and each other, gutting God from public discourse and replacing God with the false idol of The State - Socialism, simply put. The Right insists that the false idol of The Market will produce the most "good" for the most people, so that Capitalism is the true moral choice. The result of this moral avalanche will be spiritual and fiscal bankruptcy, regardless of which extreme "wins."

The truly moral Tax Code would feature a flat rate and no deductions to manipulate financial decisions or credits to reward special interests . . . other than for donations to private charities. That is the battle ground, folks. Are we going to give up our responsibility to care for ourselves and others to an amoral State apparatchik?

Until we have a revolution that tells the Left that amoral state power is dangerous, and tells the Right that a Fascist religious morality is not God's will, we will continue to have only two wrong choices. In the long-term view, all of the gnashing of teeth about the "fiscal cliff" will be meaningless because there is no correct answer among the two we're being presented. Without a strong movement among the people, the avalanche will continue because there is no will among our "leaders" to risk their funding base and their own power and adopt the position in the Extreme Center: sustainable fiscal and social responsibility.

Tolerance is Not Morality

How did we get to this? What does it mean to say we need "God in the classroom"? How was God removed from the public forum in the first place? And can that be un-done, in the context of a secular government? This did not happen over night - it took several generations - and it will take at least as long to get the pendulum back to the center.

The "progressives" have controlled the academic milieu for generations now. How did they succeed in removing God from the public schools?

By teaching that "tolerance" is the utmost ethic in a secular curriculum, and that the US Constitution requires a secular curriculum, under an intellectually-twisted interpretation of "freedom of religion."

Here is what our children are taught in public schools:

If someone does something you think is "wrong," that doesn't make you "right." It means that you have to understand what caused that person to do what you perceive as the wrong thing, and you must consider the possibility that you're wrong. That person is not responsible for their own acts - it was caused by something beyond their control, either bad parenting, or a medical condition that needs to be treated with drugs, or just a misunderstanding or lack of information that could be cured with conversation and education on "the facts." The worst thing a person could do is skip their meds, or be the doctor who somehow didn't properly diagnose and treat a sociopath. Surely we can all get along as long as we have the chance to communicate with each other just a bit more - then we would certainly reach a compromise and understand where we're coming from, man.

But "tolerance" is the opposite of "morality." It means there is no right or wrong, with nothing other than "tolerance" being the "right thing." Why do the progressives elevate "tolerance" as the highest possible guidepost? Because to cross that line, to question whether there may be some higher guide than "tolerance," would immediately open the door to consideration of the possibility that someone might actually be wrong, compared against an abstract, unknown moral standard that humans cannot know - but only seek.

You see, as soon as you accept the notion that there is a "right thing to do," you are invoking a principle that exceeds human knowledge (and the progressives hold human knowledge, based solidly on scientific proof, higher than anything else). As soon as you invoke a principle that exceeds human knowledge, you invoke God - or at least the notion of Conscience - that each of us has a Soul, a piece of the Holy Spirit, that cannot be explained by science, but that we know resides in us. There is such a thing as "good," which is God/Love, and "evil," which is the absence of God/Love. This is not "religion" in any sense of the word used in the US Constitution, which only prohibits the government from "establishing" a single "religion" - it does not prohibit God (everyone's God, the True God, not one religion's notion of God) from being acknowledged by public institutions.

So "tolerance" is amoral, which is why it's the acceptable limit of our curricula in the secular public schools. Discussing morality, how to differentiate between good and evil, right and wrong, by seeking God's Will - what is called "discernment" in the Bible - strikes at the very heart of the progressive's paradigm. Not because of the constitutional prohibition of laws that "establish religion," which is the smokescreen they hide behind, but because they must have a God-less culture in order to elevate the government as a false idol. The progressives are wallowing in their power when the first response in the face of human tragedies and natural disasters is, "What can the government do to keep this from happening again, and what government resources are available to me to make me whole again?"

That is the sickness of a culture of dependence and greed. The sickness will only be cured when our first calling is to utilize our God-given talents and take responsibility for ourselves, our families, and our communities, when we use "discernment" in our daily lives to determine right from wrong, good from evil. So don't pay any attention when a progressive invokes God and then seeks a government solution. A God-centered culture of independence and charity is the only real solution.

Some things really are intolerable.

Government Is Not Responsible for Evil

Wow. We thought it would at least be a couple of days before the extremists would invoke the Newtown massacre as a political opportunity to support their views on "gun control" laws. We were wrong. But we're not stupid, are we? The focus on guns as the "problem" is just too easy - an intellectual, political, and spiritual cop-out.

In a recent post here, we correctly predicted that the "progressives" and the "conservatives" would each ask, "What can the government do to keep this from happening again?" This is the wrong question, and it only serves the interests of those in positions of power. "Hey, we're doing something, vote for us!" The left tells us that the government has a responsibility (and the ability) to protect us from each other, and from ourselves. The right tells us if we were all armed there would be less violence, or that we need to "bring God back into the schools."

The right question is, "What can each of us do in our own families and in our own communities to keep this from happening again?" We cannot delegate our individual responsibility to the government, or put our faith in the government to protect us from evil.

There is no law that will protect us from evil. The use of guns for senseless acts and the popularity of violent movies and games are symptoms of a God-starved culture, not the causes. It is a waste of time to treat symptoms and to leave the sickness untreated.

We don't want the government to "do something" about this - the government is doing too much already. There is nothing the government can do other than give us a false sense of security and support the continuation of our culture of dependence on government for what should be our own responsibility. When you hear a politician boast that they have "introduced a bill" to solve a problem, ask yourself whether it will help us take care of ourselves or help government take care of us.

This is not about "hunting," either. The underlying basis for the Second Amendment of the US Constitution is the threat of the government against the citizens, not the threat of violence among citizens. So the narrative that dominates the "gun issue" - that the legality of a weapon should be based on its usefulness to hunters - is intellectually vacuous and historically ignorant. In order for a government to have total power over us, it will need to disarm us. So the progressive's push in this direction is sadly predictable.

The answer is: Ask God back into our families.

Only then will the academic secularists be forced - by the students, raised by parents who attend church - to include the Truth of God in discussions of "morality" and "ethics." There simply is no such thing as "secular morality." As soon as you claim the "ethical correctness" of an act based on an analysis of principles that exist independently of human knowledge, that is God, the Universal Human Conscience, that piece of the Holy Spirit that is in each of us (the insane notwithstanding) that serves as the guidepost for determining "Right" versus "Wrong." Horrible things will continue to happen, of course. Evil will never be totally defeated - it is part of God's gift of Free Will.

Therefore, government cannot legislate our Free Will away, and government cannot legislate evil away. It's up to us, working every day to love God, ourselves, our families, and others in our communities, so that broken people know there is a path to healing as an alternative to violence.

Where Was God in Newtown?

Those of us in the Extreme Center are not theologians, but we are God-centered, and the evil unleashed in Newtown causes us to question our God. The scene in that school – especially in that classroom – is literally unthinkable for those of us not directly involved. Those who were directly involved don't have that choice. And we know the political and religious narratives that will dominate the conversation in the days and weeks that follow – and none of them will be of much comfort to those families, or to the nation.

In the political world, after a respectable amount of time, or probably before then, the "progressives" and the "conservatives" will ask, "What can we do to keep this from happening again?" and use this tragedy as leverage to support whatever government-centered solution gets them more votes and serves their political authority.

In the theological world, these are the choices typically presented to us by those in positions of theological authority:

"God doesn't exist"

"God created us and left us on our own – God cries when we cry and rejoices when we rejoice"

"God's Will was done in Newtown, we just can't understand it"

"God will judge the killer and send him to Hell, and will reward the innocents with the glories of Heaven"

These typical political and religious "solutions" are simply not helpful to those families or to all of us fighting back tears, and they are certainly not helpful to us as One Nation, Under God.

What does it mean when a parent of a surviving kindergartner "thanks God" and claims they are "blessed"? That God intended for those other children to die? That those families were NOT blessed by God? We understand their relief, but to invoke God in this situation is offensive. Certainly, "something good might come out of this," like a future savior of the world shaped by the slaughter at Newtown – but is that supposed to comfort the families of the children who were murdered? Really? When we are facing difficult times, it is simply no help for someone – usually a "True Believer" – to tell us "not to worry," that "God is in control," and "things will work out, you'll see."

God MIGHT have a plan that includes slaughters of innocent children, but that's not the version of God that can help us live our lives – that approach simply has no meaning for the living, here on earth. We need an approach that brings us closer to God when the most horrible things happen to innocent children.

So how do we deal with this? Where was God in Newtown?

Remember the revolution that Jesus started with his One Commandment, "Love each other, as I have loved you." Here's a logical "argument" that we can lean on in the most difficult times:

God is Love

God is Good

Therefore:

Love is Good

Love is God

Where there is love, there is Heaven on earth. Now. Today. We don't need to live our lives waiting for Judgment Day or hoping that evil will get its due when evil dies. We don't need to believe that it was "God's Will" for our child to die. We don't need to feel compelled to reject God because we're told by "theologians" that God has selected us to experience tragedy or hard times.

In Newtown, God is present in every loving act, every loving relationship, in the Holy Spirit that is within each one of us – the Universal Human Conscience. God is the love of those children for their parents. God is the love between teachers and students. God is the love of those parents for their children. God is the love among families and in the community. Human relationships. The Holy Spirit. Our souls, connecting with each other with every loving act.

There is no benefit in seeking any "good" or any "God" in "evil." Evil is the absence of love. God played no role in this evil, because God is love. The killer was evil - there was no love, no good, no God in him. Evil separates us from God. Love connects us with the Holy Spirit. We can have different views of how "active" God is as a separate "entity" in everything that happens in the universe, but in times like this, we simply have to look to the Holy Spirit in other human beings for solace and strength.

How Might the Supreme Court Really Defend Marriage?

Just about every analysis of the "same-gender marriage" issue is incomplete, limiting consideration to the Equal Protection clause in the US Constitution. The extreme left figures the Supreme Court will have no choice but to require every state to provide its citizens with equal protection of the law, and that the messiness of the state-by-state approach has to be corrected. The extreme right is clinging to the traditional biblical interpretation/definition of "marriage" as between a "man and a woman," but they see their position eroding every day (evident in the ballot box) as more and more "regular folk" understand and accept loving relationships between two people of the same gender.

Both extremes are wrong, and the Supreme Court has an opportunity in 2013 to adopt the position of The Extreme Center and really "defend marriage." How?

Simple . . . but not easy.

There is something that argues against a straightforward equal protection argument - it's known as the Establishment Clause: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion. . . ."

This is difficult because we have been too intellectually lazy to insist on discriminating between "marriage" and a "legal union." "Marriage," by immutable definition, is a religious rite, an agreement between two human beings to invite God into their relationship, until death. So the Establishment Clause really means that the US government cannot "make a law" that "establishes" marriage as a legal right under the Equal Protection clause.

In other words, "marriage" is not subject to any governmental authority, no matter how much the left has tried to secularize it and no matter how much the right wants to use the power of government to limit access to their fascist version of God.

So how might the Supreme Court really "defend marriage"? Here's the approach The Extreme Center would give that would upset both the left and right extremes:

First, to the extent that two people of any gender seek a legal "bundle of rights" that accrue to them on the basis of a personal relationship, the government must give equal protection to those two people, regardless of gender. So if two people fill out an official form stating the nature of their contract and asking for the government's participation in that contract, they get such things as hospital visitation rights, health insurance coverage, and equal treatment by the courts in adoption and estate matters.

Second, to the extent that the relationship is a secular relationship, it is not "marriage," which is a religious relationship between two human beings and God, and that is ordained by God. The left needs to stop trying to secularize marriage (and Christmas, for Christ's sake) and decide if what they are fighting for are "legal unions" or "marriage." They are two different things.

Third, no human being can claim absolute knowledge that God only ordains a loving relationship between two people with certain biological attributes. The right needs to stop trying to use a secular government to enforce the tenets of a particular religion. That argument lacks integrity (it's no different than the atheists trying to do the same thing) and separates loving people from God. The revolution that Jesus started is not over, so stop trying to "conserve" the status quo of 2000 years ago. Remember the One Commandment.

If we can get agreement on these principles and move past the extremist rhetoric, everyone can decide whether to get "married" and what type of "ceremony" they would like to conduct that serves as their invitation to God to join them in that relationship - with no interference in this religious practice from the left (supporting the oxymoronic notion of "secular marriage") or from the right (denying that two people can do this without the "blessing" of an entrenched human institution).

If the Supreme Court does this right, we may just have something worth celebrating in 2013 - a true "defense of marriage."

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