Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Politics of Satan

Like some other Jesus-folk I know, I've not really been able to bring myself to watch the ongoing GOP convention.  Nor, quite frankly, will I be spending time on the Democratic convention.   Oh, I'll vote, come election season.  I always have.  It's a fundamental duty of every citizen.

But neither party really works for me lately.  For someone who does actually care about both politics and the well-being of the United States of America, this is a difficult reality, but it is reality.

In part, it's the toxicity of the polarized political conversation, but that's always been the case, ever since America's been America.   In part, it's that vision and/or honesty seem significantly absent from the conversation.  In part, it's because we seem to be drifting apathetically towards oligarchy, or some peculiar aristo-capitalism, in which the Lord of the Manor is no longer the guy on the hill who permits us to live on his land for a wee percentage, but a disembodied Corporate Principality that permits us to use the concepts it owns.  

This morning, as my dog snuffled and dithered about on our walk, I found myself wondering if perhaps my malaise has some deeper root.  Ad fons, we reformed types like to say, meaning that to understand something, you need to go to the most basic conceptual source of that thing.  Over the past couple of years, I've had the opportunity to study the two thinkers whose socio-political perspectives have most shaped the current direction of our binary political system.  Here, I'm not talking about Obama or Romney. I'd happily share a beer/root beer float with either of them.

Those two are Ayn Rand and Saul Alinsky, whose writings provide the underpinnings of the Tea Party and the current administration's centrist realpolitik, respectively.   This is a problem for disciples of Jesus of Nazareth who want to be engaged with our political system.  Why?

Ayn Rand's influence over the intellectual heart of the Republican party is well documented, as is the rather fundamental impossibility of reconciling her fevered Nietzsche-lite materialism with the life and morality of Jesus.   The adolescent glazed-eye social darwinism of Atlas Shrugged is intentionally and diametrically opposed to the heart of Christ's teachings.  The rule for objectivists is that maximizing individual power is everything.

Problem is, the approach to community power taught by Saul Alinsky is equally Jesus-incompatible.  And no, it's not just because Alinsky dedicated his seminal "Rules for Radicals" to Lucifer.  Alinsky's bare-knuckles approach to organizing collective power is intentionally and vigorously adversarial.   Articulating compassion for opponents is explicitly forbidden.  Deception and deceit in pursuit of a particular goal is encouraged.  The rule for radicals is that maximizing collective power is everything.

And so we find ourselves asked to choose between an objectivist Scylla and a collectivist Charybdis.  Or, rather, we find that for all of their howling at one another, both sides in our binary political system seem to rest on the same foundation.  

Power being power, that is perhaps no surprise.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Many Worlds and The Meteorite Conundrum

One of the things that I've found most interesting as I've delved into the scientific foundations of the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum theory is the guy responsible for coming up with the concept in the first place.

Hugh Everett III was an interesting, complex human being.   He was a bright, fascinating Princeton physics Ph.D., a polymath with wide ranging interests.   He was also prone to indulging in food and drink, and died relatively young of a heart attack.   Although he was an atheist, he appeared to believe in something that he called "quantum immortality." This involved the belief that because the universe was, in fact, a multiverse, then one could never actually die.

If all probability is materially actualized, then death can never come.  At the last instant, something will happen that continues your consciousness.  Even if that thing is insanely, wildly, impossibly unlikely, it will occur.  Or so the idea in its most essential form goes.  

It made it a whole bunch easier to eat and drink yourself to death.

I've ruminated on related topics before, particularly at the miracle of identity cohesion in such a wildly churning universe.   Being of a somewhat contrarian bent, I find myself thinking about Everett's quantum immortality in the inverse.  Sure, some version of myself could continue infinitely in a multiverse.  But of equal likelihood within this cosmology is the extermination of myself at any instant.

Amid the functional infinity of universes, there is a "me," identical in every respect.  That me is so me it could be me.  I could not tell the difference.

Approaching the back of the head of that "me" at high subsonic speed is a meteor.  It's about four centimeters in diameter, what's left of it after a descent through the atmosphere.   It's mostly comprised of superheated heavy metals.   In a fraction of a second, it will punch through the roof of my little suburban house and down through ceiling of my study.   Splat, will go my head, rather messily.   End of my existence.

If the universe is the functional infinity that Everett, Deutsch, and others have suggested, then this would seem to by necessity happen to some variant of me at every instant of my life, and at every instant of every possible life that I might possibly live.   Taken together, those moments of my annihilation would be endless in and of themselves, a boundless splatter of skull shards and partially ionized grey matter.  

And yet I am s

Kidding.    What strikes me (heh) about this is the remarkable miracle of my own continued existence.  I do not have to still be living in this moment.  And yet I am.  It is remarkable.  Cause for thanksgiving, even.  And for gratitude.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Getting Buzzed at Church

A recent study from the University of Washington provided an interesting but not unexpected reflection on church worship attendance.   Old liners often anguish about meaningful, relevant worship, and find themselves wondering if worship is even necessary for faith.  Are we boring?  Are we inauthentic?  Do we need to move away from ritual?  We fret and worry at our liturgical fingernails until they're bitten to the quick.

The many Jesus MegaPlexes of AmeriChrist, Inc., on the other hand, have no such anxiety. to go to their worship.  Why?  Because it feels good.   The study found that congregants in  Large Venue Churches routinely experienced euphoric states of consciousness.   It was pleasurable.

Being social critters, human beings have a strong reaction to sharing a crowd experience.  Euphoria is common at major sporting events, as your excitement level is amplified by the thousands roaring around you.  It's also a something people at concerts experience, as thousands roar shriek and sing along and hold their in the air.

In the context of a faith event, that sense of collective euphoria is magnified and interpreted through the lenses of faith.

Therein lies the challenge for the little churches that make up the majority of the congregations in the United States.  We just can't give you that buzz.

That was always the challenge in my last congregation, which was young and small.  The definitive worship for that community was the Christ Omlin concert experience.  Folks would come back from Christian concerts pumped up, and psyched to play the new songs in worship.  But despite the fact that the praise they were able to pull off was really rather good, and there was a remarkable range of musical gifts in the little church, folks were never quite satisfied with the feeling in worship.  It just didn't feel right, no matter how loudly and vigorously it was played.

It couldn't.  It just wasn't the same.

That crowd-feeling just can't be replicated by smaller congregations.   Nor should we worry that we can't evoke it.  That's just not what the little church is.

What does work is intimacy, honesty, and mutual support.   Sure, it might not be the most astoundingly choreographed event, but it's real.  And real is good.  Yeah, small and intimate may reduce the social-mammal-opiate-peptide release, but it doesn't have to diminish meaning.

If anything, it can deepen it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Delusions and Faith

Before he left for a few months away, we'd spend many mornings in conversation, my neighbor and I.  He struggles with reality, and with his own anger.

Some days, infrequently, he raged against me personally, for not helping, for only listening and doing noTHING!  This is not quite true, as the yardwork, helping him get plane tickets, and reviewing legal documents kinda sorta counts.  But he is angry, and he is alone, and rage rises so easily in such situations.

I don't let it drive me away.  That would be ceding to my own selfishness and weakness.

In one of those conversations, as one of my measured responses didn't affirm a particular delusion about the wide-ranging conspiracy against him, he took a tack he'd not taken before.  "How can you not believe me!  You believe in God!  You have faith in something that you cannot see!  I see my life!  I know all this is true!  It is true because I believe it to be so!  Why can you of all people not understand that!"

It was an interesting assertion, and not entirely inaccurate.

Faith is not delusion, of course.  But delusion can be faith.  The difference is easy enough to measure.  Faith is the radical orientation of the self towards something.  It is the thing that gives us existential ground and bearing.   When we have faith in something limited, it invariably expresses itself in the same way.  We become trapped by it, unable to see beyond it.

For mon ami, the bitterness of physical illness, isolation, and slights both real and imagined have become the whole focus of his being.  They consume and devour him, and can drive him from others.  I can see the faded remains of competence in him, and intelligence, and a wry continental humor.   But those aspects of himself that would connect with others are subverted and weakened by the delusions that demand the attention of his whole being.

That's the essential character of an idolatrous faith...which is, unquestionably, delusion.   Whether it's materialism, hedonism, racism, nationalism, or any of the other solipsistic -isms, it clouds the human mind.

But a God-focused faith has the diametrically opposite impact.  It does not trap or isolate.  It does not delimit or divide.   Even in inward contemplation, it is oriented beyond the existential boundaries of self.   It drives us to connect, and to see our inherent connection to others, and to grow richer in grace and deeper in understanding.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Taxes and Charity

This Sunday, having returned from a week at the beach, the sermon was to be about communion.  I'd spent much of the week thinking and reflecting on it, and so rolling into the service I was all about the Lord's Supper.  My heart was on the Eucharist, on its meaning, on its transforming power, on how it had come to be a transforming experience for me.

As I moved from the sermon about the Eucharist to the Eucharist itself, I noted my music director giving me some funny looks.   But I was caught up in the spirit of the thing, and so we proceeded.  As I went up to sing the last hymn, she seemed to hesitate, but on we continued.

As I prepared to offer the benediction, one of the elders who'd served communion gave me an urgent signal.  "Offering," he murmured, with some gentle urgency.

Which, being in a communion-focused state of mind, I'd completely skimmed over.


We took it up as we departed, but what struck me afterwards was two things.  First, that sometimes when we come back from vacation we're not entirely back from vacation.  And second, just how vital a part of community the offering is.  Beyond paying my salary, it sustains the shared space that enables us to do ministry together, and supports our mission work and our collective aspirations.

It's not something we want to get out of.  It's charity, meaning it's a gift that we want to give.  It's a good thing, essential to the life of community and a positive part of our individual identity.

Which is why when Mitt Romney recently declared that he considered his charitable giving similar to paying taxes, I found myself nodding in agreement.

Of course it is!  You go, Mitt!

Taxes pay the salaries and training of firefighters and teachers, and equipping them to do their work.   They insure that our police are professional, competent, and honest.  Having been in places in the world where that was not true, I really and truly appreciate that about America.

Taxes build the roads upon which we drive, and the bridges that get us to the beach, and the satellites that monitor weather and give us fair warning when a storm's a-comin'.   Taxes pay our best scientists and engineers to pull off the seriously awe-inspiring landing of a laser-wielding atomic robot on Mars.   Which was, in the event I have not already said so, awe-inspiring.  Epic, as the kids might say.

Not to mention insuring that orphans, widows, and the elderly aren't starving in the streets.

And so, shortly after Paul Ryan got the Veep nod, we now have the Republican nominee for the President of the United States implying...on purpose, I am sure...that taxes are a good thing, as necessary to the bonds of our American community as giving is to the health of a congregation.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Social Libertarian

During a morning conversation with my wife about copyright law...yes, we do live inside the Beltway, how did you guess...I was expounding on one of the things that I find most irritating in our culture.  It's that strain of copyright enforcement that requires Jesus folk to fret and worry before we drop a snippet of a praise song into a church video, or that requires us to check in with an organization before we sing a sacred song in worship.

I've never bought this.  If I buy a song, and I want to give it to all of my friends so they don't have to buy the song, well, then I get the concern of the musicians who created it.   I'm taking bread from your table.  Fair enough.

But if you write a song about Jesus, and you tell everyone it's to give God the glory and to bring more people to know His love, then honeychild?  That song don't belong to you no mo.

Oh, I'll still buy it.  I'll still go to your concert.  Well actually, I won't, because I have never trusted highly-choreographed big-stadium mass-emoting as a legitimate form of religious expression.  Too Leni Riefenstahl for my tastes, I guess.

But I'm be [gosh-darned] if I'm going to feel guilty about using it to spread the Gospel without your permission.  Worship is fundamentally free.   If there's a song about Jesus, we can sing it and share it, because it belongs to him.

Well, anyway, I was up on that favorite soapbox, and my wife said, "Honey, you sound like a libertarian."

I'm not sure that's entirely true.  I know and like libertarians, perhaps because that ethos reflects the actual reality of our created nature.  We are made free.

But, bless 'em, I'm not totally there.   In large part, that's because the American libertarian movement seems driven by an ethos that is often best described as "Don't touch my [stuff]."  And by [stuff], I mean either my guns or my weed or that 1961 Buick I've been restoring in my front yard since 1986.

What American libertarianism has never grasped is that we do not exist in isolation.  Because of this, there are inevitably tensions between freedoms.  You may wish to let your pack of hunting dogs out into your yard at 11:45 at night so you can stream your favorite episode of Walker, Texas Ranger.  I may want my colicky infant son to not be woken up by their incessant barking.  If I ask you to bring them in, you are perfectly free to tell me to mind my own business.

But your freedom is no longer freedom, because you have taken away mine.

That's the great challenge for the libertarian.  As an ethos, it works great if everyone is both radically compassionate and shares the same worldview and interests.  Once Jesus gets back, I'm sure that's how we'll roll.

Until then, though, the libertarian reality is a messy one, and one that can dangerously favor the interests of the powerful.   Ownership implies power over something, and as the libertarian ethos focuses intently on the right of ownership and property, it struggles conceptually as it encounters the ramifications of that power.

"Don't tell me what I can do" means one thing coming from the lips of a man just looking to cut through your property as he hikes through the woods, and another thing from the CEO of a multinational conglomerate whose private security forces have seized your land.  That is perhaps why those with power are so very interested in furthering and developing an ideology that would place no limits on their power.

The purpose of good government is to defend the liberty of the less-powerful.  The best governance is that which acknowledges and embraces the tension between liberty and life together.   It acknowledges and challenges both individual power and state power, and demands that they exist in balance.

So no, I'm not libertarian.  Social libertarian, perhaps?  Hmmm.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

An Evangelical Prayer for Wisconsin

Dear Father God, I just want to praise You for Your glory today!

I just feel so blessed to have such an awesome life, and for giving me a heart to praise you!  I know that it is just because you are such an awesome God!  I have a special prayer I'd like to offer up today, because it's just on my heart so much, and I'm just a little sad.

I'd just like to pray for those Sikh people who all got shot in Wisconsin.  It's just so terrible, and their family and friends all seem so sad and kind.   It is so hard to have your dad die like that, Father God.  I know it would make me sad, and it would be just so horrible to have your life end so early.  I know it was like so horrible when Taylor's dad died, and she was so sad.  He loved her so much, even if he wasn't a believer.

So today I just have a heart to pray about them having to go to hell because they are unbelievers, Father God.

I mean, Father God, it isn't like they hated or hurt or killed anybody, like that horrible man who shot them.  They weren't mean, any more than anyone else.  They weren't evil, I don't think.  They don't seem any different from the Christian people I know.

Is it a sin for me to feel that, Father God?

I know what Pastor says every Sunday, about how we're all evil, and that every sin is the same, and about how we're all sinners deserving of your wrath, and how we have to reach out to the lost unbelievers or they'll never be worthy know You.  I know how we all need to be washed in the blood of the Lamb, especially because we sing that Nothing but the Blood song, and it's just so anointed and awesome, because You are an awesome God!

I guess that I should listen to Pastor, Father God, shouldn't I?  He tries so hard.  But it still makes me sad.  I mean, how could I ever talk to their families about You and the Gospel and the love of Jesus if all I could say was "Too bad, sorry, they're in hell now?"  That wouldn't be loving, even if it was true.

Pastor says some truths are hard.  But this sits in my heart of prayer and just feels hard.

But maybe it doesn't have to be true, Father God?

Because You're so awesome, Father God, can You just maybe not send them to hell forever...or maybe not at all?

It seems like You could, Father God, especially because You're Sovereign and Mighty to Save!  So maybe you could save them?   And you're so loving and you gave us Jesus not because You were mad but because You loved us so much!  And the anointing of the Holy Spirit is just so comforting, and I remember that the Spirit is called the Comforter somewhere, and there's that thing about love being the most important thing that I heard at cousin Emma's wedding, and it was just so great!

So I know I'm totally a sinner too, Father God, but could You just maybe anoint them with Your love and power, and be with them in Your glory?  

I talked to Taylor about this, which You know because You know my heart, but I want to tell You anyway.   She said she would pray it too, and like Jesus said, if two of us ask together You'll really hear us, Father God!

I love You and Jesus so much for all You've done for us!  So maybe could You just please show all those Sikh people that You love them, and hold them in Your arms and comfort them, and help me do the same?  

That would just be so awesome!  And You are an awesome God!

Thank You so much for Your amazing love and sovereign power, Father God, in the Blessed Name of Jesus, Amen!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sikhs and Evil Stupid People with Guns

As I walked my dog yesterday morning, I passed a neighbor.

This neighbor lives up the street, part of a family whose daughter was the Safety Patrol when my 14 year old was getting on the bus for the very first time as a kindergartener.  She's in her last year of college this year.  Man, how time flies.   Back then, I hung out a bunch with the dad from the family, a genial, hardworking guy with a warm smile and an easy laugh.

This neighboring family is Sikh.

We smiled, I said hello, and we walked on.  I found myself...yesterday morning...reflecting on how interesting that faith is.

Guru Nanak, who founded the religion, has always struck me as kind of a brother from another mother, Jesus-wise.  The faith is monotheistic, and though it springs from an utterly different culture, it has powerful spiritual resonances with the core message and ethos of Jesus of Nazareth.  Guru Nanak taught a radically egalitarian approach to social standing, which put it into strong tension with the caste system in the Hindu culture from which it sprang.   I'd been doing readings in both Christian and world mysticism for the class I taught this last week, and Sikh teachings are both potently, esoterically mystic and eminently practical and earthy.

As I read the news this morning, I thought again about my neighbor, and my heart and my prayers went out to the Sikh community.  We don't know much about this particular "shooter" yet, but from what has been gleaned, it appears the reprehensible mass murders in a Wisconsin gurudwara may have been the work of someone who mistook Sikhs for Muslims.

If they'd been Muslim, it would have been no less horrific.  There is, however, the probability that this wasn't just a massacre, but a massacre undertaken by someone too hatefully ignorant to realize he wasn't even murdering the people he thought he was murdering.  Not that he wouldn't have hated them anyway.

From what is trickling out this morning, he was apparently thrown out of the military for misconduct, which isn't surprising.

What also isn't surprising is that he had easy access to firearms.   If the criminally insane can get guns, why shouldn't evil stupid people who are an embarrassment to the uniform?

Lord, have mercy.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

On Not Walking By

He wasn't ready, of course.

I awoke at 3:45 am this morning, threw on my clothes, and drove down the street to get him.   And as he had said several times over the last few days, he just wasn't ready.   He's a neighbor, one who stopped me one morning on my walk, and asked if I could help him.  That was months ago.   My neighbor has all manner of personal challenges.  There are the physical issues, a neurological disorder and some teeth that need fixing.  But mostly, his issues are anger at life, an anger that isolation has turned on itself, seething and festering into a deep rolling paranoid boil.

He sees a world that conspires against him, watches him, and is out to get him.  That means everyone, from the next-door neighbor to the county supervisor to the governor to Homeland Security.  I have gently redirected those conversations to the best of my ability, listening, and then turning us to other things.

The truth, which I have not told him, is harder.  The world does not care.  The world does not notice.

On many days, his anger made my trip down to talk with him something that required effort.  After the Aurora shootings, he became particularly agitated, and being around him was not easy.   But sometimes, we must do what we know we must do, even and particularly if we really would rather just keep on walking.

And so I've been there with him.  

What he's needed these last few weeks is help preparing for a trip to his native country, where free medical care awaits.  I've helped him get his flight, and worked with him finding places to stay.

The Good Lord providentially arranged it so that I had no sermon to prepare or preach today, as the youth of the church are handling the service.  That meant that yesterday I was free to be working with him on last minute preparations, and this morning I was free to be his cab, and during worship I'm free to not fear falling asleep on my feet in the pulpit, or drifting into sleep deprived glossolalia.

I'd gotten there on time, but he wasn't dressed, and had sort of packed.  But he was awake, and it only took a jar of coffee, a cigarette, and around forty minutes before he was ready to hop in the van for the ride to the airport.  He seemed calmer, for all of the rush.

On the way there we talked, about where he would stay, but also about life.  Being men, we talked cars, and the indestructability of mid-1980s Subarus.   I discovered he and I felt the same way about Ronald Reagan, and when I shared a favorite joke, he laughed.   When the anger is gone, there's a brightness to him, a flicker of droll joie de vivre.

I saw him off with hope and trepidation, a gangly figure waving farewell with a cane in one hand and a huge rolling bag in the other.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Attacking Success

One of the soundbites that's been pitched out this political silly season has been catching in my craw whenever I hear it.  Both political parties are responsible for some pretty egregious allegations...the "Romney hates dogs" one being particularly silly...but this one echoes interestingly in my pastorly ears.

This is the charge, leveled by Romney and the GOP, that Obama is "attacking success" when suggesting that perhaps some forms of profit-maximization aren't good for the country, or suggesting that those who have profited most in our society might just have to pony up a bit more so we can keep our collective [stuff] together.

The rich and the powerful are unquestionably materially successful.  Success is good.  In fact, their success is both evidence of and the key to our being successful as a nation.  To argue that the powerful have some larger responsibility for supporting the necessary infrastructure of the nation subverts something basic about America.

Or so that line of argumentation goes.

Herein should lie a problem for conservatives.  Some conservatives, at least.

The Ayn Rand folks'll get along just fine, but the Jesus folk?

It's a bit more difficult.

That's not to say that equating material success with goodness isn't done in certain quarters of the Christian world.  It's a staple of the Word Faith Prosperity Gospel movement, for example.  But "success" in financial dealings or in material well-being has never been and will never be a Christian measure of ethical well-being or national integrity.

You won't, for instance, get any more pungent attacks on wealth than you find in the prophets.   Isaiah rails against the Jerusalem elite who took the bulk of Judah's wealth and threw their culture out of balance.  So does Amos.  So does Jeremiah.   The concentration of political and economic power in the hands of a few has been a big deal since Samuel prophesied about the nature of royalty, or the writers of Torah put in all that debt-forgiveness year-of-Jubilee stuff in the name of preserving the integrity of the Covenant against permanent systemic imbalances.

And that's just the Judeo-part of the whole Judeo-Christian equation.

Then there's Jesus.  Lord have mercy, did he seem to have a problem with the implications of material success.   Oh, we do rationalize our way around those sayings, that "camel through the eye of a needle" and "gaining the world but losing your soul" stuff.  Not to mention the whole "you cannot serve God and mammon" bit.  Or the cross.

Pesky, pesky Jesus.

And then there's Paul.  Paul, well, he doesn't seem to buy into the whole shiny thing.  What matters is integrity in faith, which is proved not by evidence of material success, but by perseverance in the face of suffering and challenge.  That's the whole point of Paul's diatribe against the "super-apostles" in 2 Corinthians, who shone and sparkled and "succeeded" with all the high-gloss-buffed self-confidence of a Manhattan socialite.

In the Greco-Roman world, Christians were often attacked as "sapping the vitality" of the high-energy pagan imperial/commercial synergy.   I'm not sure they used the word "synergy," but they would have if they'd known it.

But what is clear is that the True Gospel challenge to material succeedification remains the stumbling block it has always been.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Saying and Being

What matters is not what you say. 

What matters is who you are.

On Not Eating Gay Chicken

I'm not eating at Chik-fil-A lately, but that's nothing new.  I just don't eat chicken.

As a vegetarian, I try not to be one-a them annoying folks who smugly beam out at the Morally Inferior Flesh-Munchers around them, as I wanly gnaw on my semi-edible organic tofu jerky.   I succeed most of the time.

I've been known to grill meat on occasion for my boys.  Well, on frequent occasion.  In the summer, that's every other day.  I  love grilling, because 1) Me like fire. Fire good! and 2) There's a reason YHWH preferred Abel's burnt offering to Cain's.
 Man, does that kalbi smell good, truly an odor pleasing to the Lord.

But if I ate meat, I'd have an issue with Chik-Fil-A.  Not that they're different from KFC, mind you.  Or Burger King.  Or Wendys.  Or most of the meat we buy and eat.

To be utterly honest, every once in a while the kids do go to BK.  But when I prepare meat for them at home, I try to get stuff that's locally sourced and/or humanely raised.  It costs a bit more, but if I'm going to prepare food, that's the way I want to roll.

Chik-Fil-A chicken is...well...only the finest-quality factory-produced fast-food-standard chicken.  Which means it meets all the self-imposed standards of the factory-farming industry.  Its website also proudly announces that the chicken at Chik-fil-A meets all legal heartening, I suppose.

A quick look at the National Chicken Council lets us know that what is most industry standard are "genetic improvements,"  "automation," and taking advantage of new "pharmaceutical, biological, and production technologies."  There's also a large section on their website hailing the merits of "vertical integration," which is buzzword-speak for "the multinational conglomerate that now so generously lets you still work your family-farm which it now basically owns."

Checking out Chik-Fil-A's  own materials on the subject, we hear that their producers only give antibiotics to their chickens to prevent illness. But their chickens are raised packed conditions, which makes illness easily spread.

It also means, if some old studies about significant overcrowding in animal populations are to be believed, that most of the hens could well be lesbian.  Such studies aren't definitive, of course, particularly cross-species.  But that is sort of ironic, in a horrible way, given the subject at hand.

The long and the short of it is that they pump 'em up with animal drugs, which we then ingest.

We also hear that they only feed their chickens a carefully selected mix of grains, chemicals, and animal byproducts.  Meaning, bits of whatever happens to be left over in the rendering process.  Yum!

And then, of course, having raised these creatures by the hundreds of millions in remarkably unpleasant conditions, they're killed and breaded and served to us, the apex predator.

This, for me, raises another interesting irony.

Here we have a chain that espouses biblical values, yet is as a business by necessity entirely governed by the values of industrial meat production and distribution.   Those latter values...which leave no sabbath for the creatures they create and destroy, and which treat animals not as vessels of the Creator's breath just as we are, but as inanimate objects...are utterly alien to scripture.

Such strange, strange ironies, our culture serves up.  With waffle fries, no less.