Thursday, September 25, 2008

Autumn's Eve Pigfest

Autumn’s Eve Pigfest

Sunday night, the day before Autumn, I hosted my second ever pigfest. We held a potluck autumnal feast that looked fantastic laid out on the table. And by the end of the night we had discovered that it tasted fantastic as well.

Our discussion went like this (remember devil’s advocacy may be adopted at any time):

Proposition 1: Slavery is biblically acceptable.
What is slavery? What is the slavery in the Bible? Does the Bible accept slavery, or merely regulate it; is there a difference? Is there slavery today? How does debt come in? Are there advantages to slavery (especially indentured servitude) to an economy, a society, or an individual slave? What makes slavery unacceptable? What role should the church play in a society that utilizes slavery? In history, has the church been successful in enforcing the Bible’s limits to slavery?

Proposition 2: Unmarried adults should be allowed to adopt children.
How is this worse than unmarried people working in orphanages? Isn’t it better for a child to have one loving parent than none at all? What are the legal implications when this is allowed? Is this a selfish decision? Does a one-parent household enable the parent to spend time with children, or are they raised essentially in an orphanage anyway, by being left to daycare? If true religion is caring for widows and orphans, should single people be excluded? How does having children as a single person affect other responsibilities or callings? Is an unmarried woman less likely to get married if she has a child through adoption? What about an unmarried father?

Proposition 3: Cohabitation before marriage is the prudent thing to do.
If everybody does it, how can it be bad? Shouldn’t you test out a marriage before you make a lifetime commitment? Are those advocating cohabitation in successful relationships or marriages? Are they good people? What is a Christian’s witness if he/she lives with their partner before marriage? Many people applaud those who wait until engagement for cohabitation; is there any validity to that? How long a cohabitation is advocated? Does cohabitation actually sabotage the relationship, whereas starting with commitment (marriage) would enable the relationship to thrive and function? Is marriage too big a hassle to interrupt a romance? How should a pastor react to a couple who has been cohabiting? Should he marry them ASAP or encourage them to repent? Ought he to refuse to marry a couple living in sin? Are they still living in sin after a wedding if they have not repented? What role does a pastor have in a marriage? Is it endorsement, witness, mere formality? What about the law? What makes a marriage?

Proposition 4: We (the US government) should kick out illegal immigrants.
Where would we kick them? What would prevent them from coming right back? Who will pay for deportation? (It was suggested that the immigrants themselves should be forced to pay, if they can.) Would this be good for the US economy? Would it be tolerable for the US economy? Has the population of illegal immigrants already hurt our economy (for example in the housing crisis)? How does the lack of border enforcement reflect on our laws? Are illegal immigrants typically otherwise law-abiding citizens? What about language issues? Isn’t America a melting pot? Shouldn’t new immigrants be expected to assimilate just like immigrants from decades and centuries past? Could we allow illegal immigrants to remain in the US if they followed a procedure for attaining legal status and citizenship? Is there a risk to national security? Since the waiting list for legally entering the US is so long, couldn’t we change that to make it easier to legally immigrate? Why do we have limits on immigration? Do other countries limit immigration? Do they deport illegals? Is it illegal to be in our country or illegal to get into our country? Wouldn’t annexing Mexico solve our problem? Would Mexico welcome that?

Proposition 5: There are some situations in which extreme violence is justified.
Who decides? Is self defense the only situation? What about defending others? Defending innocents? What about violent interference with the murder of unborn children? Does defense only cover defense from murder, or can it be defense from torture or rape? What about capital punishment? Is it ever right to take a life? Is it right to do nothing when lives are at risk – do I have the right to refuse to take a life or use violence if myself or other “innocent” bystanders are at risk of death? Can I take an innocent life in order to save other lives? Suppose a two year old is intentionally aiming a gun and pulling a trigger; should extreme violence be used against him? Why is the Mosaic law so confusing: day or night, inside the threshold or outside, defending life, defending property…? Does extreme violence refer only to violence leading to death, or to torture, etc.?

Proposition 6: Reading books written in other languages and other eras should be done to encourage independent thought.
Is independent thought desired? Can translated works count? How is that different from traveling to other parts of the world? Does reading sufficiently immerse you in the culture to widen your perspective? (It was pointed out that language is often imbedded in culture. Language is formed to express a certain way of looking at the world, like the difference in description when emphasis is on texture rather than color.) In what ways does your thought become independent? Is this practicable? What about those who don’t read? Do movies count? Foreign films with English subtitles?

Proposition 7 (which was interrupted before actually beginning by the coming of 9 PM and the need to go home): Idealism ought to be valued over pragmatism.
What on earth is idealism and pragmatism? Do they always contradict? Is it ultimately possible for them to contradict? Which ideal?

Some of my favorite things: People were willing to play devil’s advocate. The time before the debate enabled a lot of people to meet each other (and one family’s tire to be changed). There was a lot of participation. Pigfest format keeps a debate from wearing out the disinterested. Everyone fit in my house. One of my friends brought her two infant daughters. It rained just as the party started, with the sun still shining. Cleaning up wasn’t too hard. People had a good time. I’m able to remember the discussion half a week later.

Things I’ll do differently next time (Nov. 1): Have more chairs. Don’t aim for a main meal, but do lots of snacks instead. Pray by myself ahead of time about my attitude and perspective. Think more about proposition ideas I might offer and how to present them in the most discuss-able way possible. Review the rules before we start.

Considerations: Maybe prescreen propositions. Increase time from 15 to 20 minutes. Enlist a new (louder, more aggressive) moderator.

To God be all glory.


Mike said...

What an interesting world you live in. These are the kinds of discussions I would love to have, but find that people either avoid them, or are given to "quick think." That is, they know what they believe but perhaps not "why"... or they skip the ramifications of their own thoughts, or the those held by others.

Truth is, I knew more of this kind of discussion when I was single. While I certainly appreciate the gift of marriage, it seems that in taking hold of new life dimensions, you also sacrifice others. The kind of time that goes with working through a broad range of thought - and engaging with friends -- is much harder to find when no longer waiting.

Lisa of Longbourn said...

There were several married people at my pigfest, for which I am grateful. In fact, there were probably more married people in attendance than unmarried. Anyway, a two or three hour party doesn't seem to be too much to ask of married people, especially if their spouse wants to come, too.

Blogging is good for this kind of thought and interaction, too. In fact there were some propositions that I thought of which I couldn't use because I'd already blogged them, and felt that would be redundant.

Thanks for the comment.
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn