The moral crisis of mental illness

When we admit that mental illness has been a factor in many of the mass shootings that have happened, we are confronted with a moral crisis. As someone who takes pills every morning to make my mind work, I have often concluded that the world is divided between people who take mental health pills and those who don’t. People who don’t take these pills live in a world where a morality of individual responsibility works. Good choices get rewarded; bad choices get punished; and there’s no reason to blame anyone else for your bad choices. But when you go through the experience of actually losing your mind, that moral system crumbles and you face a true existential crisis. Continue reading

Sister Simone: the pro-life movement’s best witness

The abortion debate has become a quagmire in which both political parties have latched onto it as a wedge issue to trap the votes of either women or evangelical Christians. Both presidential candidates have ambiguously moderate positions on the issue. Obama says that he believes in the sanctity of life, but has gotten a lot of mileage out of stirring up fear about the more radical pro-life position of Paul Ryan. Romney was pro-choice when he needed to be in Massachusetts and had a change of heart during the Republican primaries after which he backpedaled to the middle this past week. In the midst of a situation in which perpetuating the quagmire is in the best interests of both political parties, it’s time for the pro-life movement to abandon its partisan approach to this issue. This is where Sister Simone Campbell emerges as a hero in this struggle. She is ardently committed to defending the lives of unborn children; she is also committed to the lives of children after they are born. She has been campaigning on a nationwide nun bus tour about poverty, and she was a keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention. If I were a strategist within the pro-life movement, then I would want to find as many Sister Simones as I possibly could to represent my cause because the only way that anything will ever change regarding abortion in this country is if a critical mass of Democrats come to see it as a justice issue for unborn children instead of an individual rights issue. Continue reading

Individualism is an atheist lie

“I am the vine and you are the branches. If you abide in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5

We meditated on this quotation from Jesus yesterday at our Virginia Methodist provisional clergy mentor covenant group retreat. On the side, I have been reading Eastern Orthodox theologian John Zizioulas’ Being and Communion, which has caused me to see the implications of Jesus’ statement in a completely new light. Zizioulas writes that God is the only authentic person in the universe because God is the source of His own being. As creatures, we are completely contingent upon God for our being. Continue reading