Tuesday, January 6, 2015

It is that time of year--again. GOEs (General Ordination Exam)

I have been neglecting my posting of GOE questions this year.  Sorry.

Set 3 Christian Ethics and Moral Theology


You observe two bumper stickers displayed together on a car in a university neighborhood. One says, "Save the Whales." The other says, "Keep Abortion Safe and Legal.”

Choose one of the following ethical approaches: Virtue Ethics, Feminist Ethics, Teleological Ethics.

1. In your own words, provide a 250-word, working definition of the chosen ethical approach as practiced in a Christian theological context. The definition should be appropriate to what might be given at an adult education forum in a parish.

2. With direct reference to the definition given in 1.), provide a reasoned, 750-word argument for how the messages of these two bumper stickers, taken together, do or do not represent a morally coherent world view, consonant with your understanding of Christian responsibility.

Friday, January 2, 2015

On "Loopers"

With cable companies now offering “on demand” viewing of a host of television shows and major motion pictures, you can find yourself watching something no one else has seen in awhile.  I recently found myself watching “Looper.” In the film (now two years old), criminals send victims back through time to be killed by hit men living in the past.  One of the hit men gets sent back in time to a younger version of himself.  But, the older version escapes “the hit.”  So, the younger version finds himself in the strange position of having to chase and kill his older self.
But, as in all time travel narratives, actions and consequences get all mixed up and are difficult to disentangle.
“Looper” refers to time, but there is also a loop of violence in the film.  They are all caught in a seemingly endless loop, not only of time, but of violence.  Murder, killing, hit men, power, victims that later become perpetrators.  How will it ever end?  It is a circle--a vicious circle.
In a moment of insight, (we pray we all will have such moments), the lead character becomes a most unlikely Christ figure.  He realizes that he can change the seemingly endless circle--if he sacrifices himself for the others.  He realizes that, not by using violence on others, but by allowing himself to be the victim, he can end the loop.  He can make a difference, but only if he gives up power, only if he is willing to suffer, only if he will give his life.
Seeing the religious themes in pop culture is an occupational hazard for me--I am a preacher.  So, I couldn’t help but think about the fact that Christians often quote Jesus: “to be the greatest, you must be the least.”  “To save your life, you must lose your life.”  And I couldn’t help but reflect on it--a paradox full of irony.
There was this way about Jesus: A pouring out of himself for others. Once, referring obliquely to himself but directly to God’s plan for us all, Jesus said,
“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”