Is There a Clear Line Between Right and Wrong?

I watched a group of parents with young kids cut the line on our way into the Paw Patrol Live show in Denver this morning. The line was long, and it was confusing to figure out where the end was. At one point the end of the line curved back and merged with another part of the line creating a circle. It was confusing.

But I saw the flickering of analysis in the eyes of these parents, all with young children as they made the decision to cut the line. The show was about to start. Their children anxious because of the crowd and the excitement of seeing the Paw Patrol Live in the fur, contributed to a sense of urgency.  In their defense, they merely gave up discerning where the end of the line was and just merged with its flow.

Watching this happen got me thinking: is this ethical? Was it the right thing for them to do? And, should I have done something in response?

Everyday, we are faced with hundreds of ethical choices. Figuring out the “right” course is not clear, or straightforward, or simple.

To provide guidance during life’s quandaries, humans have constructed diverse theories that aim to instruct us on what it means to live an ethical life. Each of us, no matter if we know it or not, has an internal ethical system — maybe one we don’t even feel good about — that helps guide us.

It could be based around a feeling we get in our bodies. It could be based on the teachings of experts or specific teachers. It could be based on a set of criteria that we apply.

For some of us, these ethical systems are very defined and developed. For others, it’s more emergent or even haphazard. Much of the time we feel content in our evolved ethical system, until it is challenged by life. Sometimes it comes out stronger, other times, not so much.

Despite what fundamentalists on all sides say, there is no one ethical system that can answer all of life’s complexities. Each of them struggles to account for one or more aspects of life.

This doesn’t mean they are all worthless or the quest for an ethical life is pointless. But instead, a grounded humility should guide us in all our ethical endeavors. A humility that can help us surface the core values that consciously or unconsciously guide our own ethical systems.  A humility that embraces our hypocrisies with grace and commitment rather than shame. A humility to wonder how these values contribute or detract from us becoming the people we are called to be.  A humility to encounter the core values at work in others and society, seeking to understand before we chastise.

This Sunday, we will kick off our new series, The Ethical Life, where we will explore core ethical perspectives, their orienting questions, their blind spots, and the way they operate in our society.

It all starts tomorrow at 8:30, 10 & 11:30….I hope to see you there!

– Rev. Sean

Series Spiritual Practice

To explore the themes of this series more personally, we invite you to try out our series spiritual practice, an adaptation from Widening Circles from The Work That Reconnects (with a little mashup of the truth mandala).

Each Sunday at 11:30, we will select a topic that people feel strongly about. People are invited to speak for a short period of time, from 1 of 4 perspectives. On the altar, there will be 4 objects, each representing a different perspective – their own, the perspective of another, the perspective of a non-human being affected, and the voice of a future human.  Over the Sundays, we’ll explore this in three ways:

  • Version 1: FishBowl  A group of 4-6 people will be selected from the group. They will come up to the altar and will participate in the activity while the outer group watches
  • Version 2: Everyone participates People will be invited to come up and speak (with a timer), speaking from each perspective
  • Version 3: Small Groups Divide the sanctuary into groups of 4-5 for small group exploration

Series Featured Ministry

For each series we lift up one of our Foothills ministry teams – both as a way of better communicating all the many ways we fulfill our mission, and the huge impact our community has – and also to invite you to deepen and live out the series themes in partnership with others at Foothills.

This month, our featured ministry is Sanctuary Everywhere.  This team is a core part of Foothills’ immigration justice ministry that seeks to accompany asylum seekers in Northern Colorado in a small-group village model, working in partnership with immigrant-led community organizations. We bear witness to the interdependent web of life and know that the struggle for immigrants to find safety in our community is our struggle. Learn more at foothillsuu.org/sanctuary.

Series Featured Song

We always choose one song for each of our worship series that we sing or perform in every Sunday in the series.  It’s usually something you’ll find yourself singing later in the day, without even realizing it.  Because music connects in the deepest parts of our brains, the idea is that we’ll connect more fully with theme, and bring it into our everyday lives.

For this series, we’ve chosen John Mellencamp’s “Your Life is Now” — which is a really fun way into the theme, and a reminder of how there is always a new possibility for right action offer itself to us, right now.

The Great Wagon by Rumi

When I see your face,
the stones start spinning!
You appear; all studying wanders.
I lose my place.

Water turns pearly.
Fire dies down and doesn’t destroy.

In your presence I don’t want
what I thought
I wanted,
those three little hanging lamps.

Inside your face the ancient manuscripts
Seem like rusty mirrors.

You breathe; new shapes appear,
and the music of a desire as widespread
as Spring begins to move
like a great wagon.
Drive slowly.
Some of us walking alongside
are lame!

Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.

Let the beauty we love
be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies
down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn’t make any sense.

The breeze at dawn
has secrets to tell you.
Don’t go back to sleep.
You must ask for
what you really want.
Don’t go back to sleep.
People are going back and forth across the doorsill
where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don’t go back to sleep.

I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.

Now my loving is running toward my life shouting,
What a bargain, let’s buy it.

Daylight,
full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you,
without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?

They try to say what you are, spiritual or sexual?
They wonder about Solomon and all his wives.

In the body of the world, they say, there is a soul
and you are that.

But we have ways within each other
that will never be said by anyone.

Come to the orchard in Spring.
There is light and wine, and sweethearts
in the pomegranate flowers.

If you do not come,
these do not matter.
If you do come,
these do not matter.