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patterns of ink

How fruitless to be ever thinking yet never embrace a thought... to have the power to believe and believe it's all for naught. I, too, have reckoned time and truth (content to wonder if not think) in metaphors and meaning and endless patterns of ink. Perhaps a few may find their way to the world where others live, sharing not just thoughts I've gathered but those I wish to give. Tom Kapanka

Sunday, January 07, 2007

A Better Life

This afternoon I was watching the play-offs, and a PSA (public service announcement) came on in the middle of the endless beer commercials. It was like a Hallmark ad, but instead of selling cards, it was selling values. Randy Travis was singing about a truck driver in the middle of nowhere who decides to remain faithful to his wife. See it here. (Scroll down to the frame called "Truck stop" and click on the your media player.)

While you're there, check out some of the other short spots (30-60 seconds long). It's a user-friendly site brimming with inspiration.

The FAQ link of The Foundation for a Better Life (TFFABL) makes it clear that they are "not affiliated with any... religious organizations" yet it clearly espouses a worldview and set of values. I doubt that the dollars behind TFFAL are from atheists trying to fan the divine spark of humanity, but I could be wrong. Perhaps the foundation consists of private members of a very particular religious group trying to appear non-sectarian in order to reach a larger audience and accomplish a "greater good." Either way, overtly leaving God out of the equation makes man sound pretty capable without Him (a la Pelagianism, explained here). Which raises some questions...

Can actions and attitudes be based only on "personal accountability... regardless of religion..."? As important as human accountability is, can it replace accountability to God? Can values survive in the vacuum of subjective thought? The answers to these questions are important, but my intent is not to start a theological debate.

I wish rather to point out that these values are not "religion-neutral" at all. They appeal to us because they are rooted in the truth the Gospel.

Virtually* every value on the TFFABL site springs from Biblical principles and the teachings of Jesus Christ. I'm confident that I could footnote them with a Bible passage (in context). In terms of self-government (salvation is another discussion), they do indeed represent a better life even for those who do not put faith in the source. For that, I like these TV spots.

Question: I've browsed through the Koran. Can Muslims likewise show how the values modeled in the TFFABL TV spots are explicitly taught in the Koran? (I'm not talking about any parts of the Koran taken from the Bible. Since Mohammed and his writings came at least 600 years later. I'm talking more specifically about the words attributed to their "prophet.") I'm just wondering. Look for yourself. If you find similar values there, what is the ratio of such teachings to the numerous calls for jihad and death to those who believe otherwise? It would be encouraging to hear influential non-radical Muslims explain the compatibility of our beliefs in a pluralistic society.

Make no mistake, the war in Iraq is a clash of values. Ironically, it is primarily between the non-geographic strain of radical Islam that would force its "church" on the State and a nation whose "separation of Church and State" has made it forget the source of its high ideals. Only time will tell how well "self government" in Iraq (or here for that matter) can function without a foundation of Judeo-Christian ethics.

I'll not presume to say either side is fighting for God, but I will say that a better life or a bitter life hangs in the balance of victory. If you doubt it, click here, but to fully understand a differing view you may also which to click here.
(TFFABL also have a billboard campaign that includes this reminder from WWII.)
This post generated many thoughtfully expressed questions and comments and agreement from readers, but due to the nature of the internet, I have chosen to close them for the time being. Thank you. T.K.

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