Why Wal-Mart Sues the Disabled

March 29, 2008

Just finished reading this story, which involves a suit by Wal-Mart against a mentally disabled ex-employee to recoup money that is due under its health benefit plan. Wal-Mart is seeking to be reimbursed for health benefit payments as a result of a sizeable personal injury settlement between the employee and a trucking company.

I hope to have more time to comment on this later, but the issues presented in this story are quite typical of the moral dilemmas and policy issues that are constantly at play within the context of the civil law.

One thing I will say: while this story appears – on the surface – to be a blatantly arrogant move on Wal-Mart’s part, I guarantee you that there is a lot more going on than what you are told.

In the meantime, I am curious: what is your “take” on this story?


Resurrections, Cylon and Otherwise

March 28, 2008

The final season of Battlestar Galactica is just around the corner, and the enticing name of the first episode will be “He that Believeth in Me”

This phrase comes from the gospel of John in the King James bible. It is repeated by Jesus on multiple occasions (about 9 times by my count), but the title is almost certainly intended to quote John 11:25, which reads:

…he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.

The (obvious) double-reference in the context of the start of Season 4 is the surprising return of Starbuck, long presumed to be dead until the frantic, final moments of Season 3.

I haven’t seen any spoilers relating to the plot of the season premiere, but I admit to being more than a little intrigued.

Regular readers are aware that I have been absorbed of late reading up on the history and nature of Christian teachings on the resurrection. In addition, I have noted before that the Cylon concept of “resurrection” – in which a Cylon’s consciousness is “downloaded” into a computer and then placed into a new, identical body – is, at best, a hollow mockery of the resurrection that the first Christians claimed to have witnessed, and which they anticipated themselves experiencing.

In the embryonic Christian community, resurrection was not merely about the resuscitation of a corpse (or, in the case of BSG, the recreation of a new, identical body to host the same “personality”). It was, instead, a means by which God imparted on Jesus – and will, eventually, impart on all people – the gift of a new, immortal physicality which is also free from the imperfections and weaknesses that we experience in our now mortal bodies.

The Cylons – it seems – can sometimes bring people back after they die. But they can’t keep them from dying again, and – to the extent the person who “died” is fraked up in some way – he will continue to be so in his new body. For that reason, Cylon resurrection is a “cheap,” almost disturbing reflection of the idea that is embraced by many Christians.

I’m intrigued by the potentiality for further exploration of this issue as Season 4 opens. It is probably too much to hope that the BSG writers have decided to explore the concept that there could be a more “authentic” resurrection (and I doubt Kara “Starbuck” Thrace has returned in immortal form). Still, the title of the first episode is itself a suggestion that the resurrection motif is far from concluded in the BSG narrative…and I’ll be interested to see where they take it.

Got Ten Minutes…

March 25, 2008

…and want to get caught up on Battlestar Galactica before its fourth and final season? Head over to the Sci-Fi Channel web site and watch this nifty (and amusing) video of clips from the first three seasons.

(More) Easter at the Center

March 22, 2008

In my faith tradition, I came to know Easter Sunday as the day on which the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus was observed (at least, by some of us). I was recently surprised to learn, however, that on the liturgical church calendar, there is actually a period of observance called Eastertide. This period begins on Easter and continues for fifty days, concluding with Pentecost Sunday (a liturgical date which is entirely foreign in my tradition).

The idea of a period of time which, similar to Advent and Lent, celebrates resurrection, is appealing to me. If resurrection is indeed at the center of the Christian faith, doesn’t it make sense that its observance should match – or even exceed – that of Lent and Advent?


On a related note, I am inspired by the respectful, even admiring, words that were written by Deepak Chopra this week in response to a question about resurrection and the Christian faith. I hope that, as a Christian, I can learn to speak to the beliefs of non-Christians with the same tone of generosity and grace.

Easter at the Center?

March 19, 2008

…Christmas itself has now far outstripped Easter in popular culture as the real celebratory center of the Christian year – a move that completely reverses the New Testament’s emphasis. We sometimes try, in hymns, prayers, and sermons, to build a whole theology on Christmas, but it can’t in fact sustain such a thing. We then keep Lent, Holy Week, and Good Friday so thoroughly that we have hardly any energy left for Easter except for the first night and day. Easter, however, should be at the center. Take that away and there is, almost literally, nothing left.

– NT Wright

[ed note: I promise to stop quoting Wright as soon as he agrees to stop writing ridiculously insightful things…]

I am a Fan of Penal Substitution When…

March 18, 2008

…it is used in defense of a victim. When a community singles out a particular sin and decides someone needs to suffer “consequences” for it, the penal substitution metaphor is the perfect remedy.

“We shouldn’t punish him,” one can argue quite convincingly, “because Christ has already paid the price for his sin.”

A great example of the proper use of PSA in this context can be found in the post and comments here.

Of course…PSA is hardly ever deployed in that way, is it?

Three Simple Questions

March 16, 2008

I’m accustomed to covering huge topics by leaps and bounds when I do a teaching series. But, starting in two weeks, I’m going to do a series on the resurrection of Jesus that is exactly the opposite. Only three questions will be posed:

  • The Plausibility of Resurrection: Is there good reason to believe that early Christians shared a remarkable experience?
  • The Meaning of Resurrection: What did early Christians believe had occurred?
  • The Implications of Resurrection: Why did/do Christians believe that the resurrection has changed everything?

Thats it. For five weeks, we are going to drill down into each of these (somewhat simultaneously) in hopes of finding new insight into the remarkable claim that lies at the heart of the Christian faith.