Wednesday, June 29, 2005

"Democracy, Whiskey and Sexy!" Part I

This will be a running commentary on how the Gospel is advancing in the world. I'm no prophet, but there are some interesting things happening in the world. Full article.

It comes from a quote by an Iraqi man responding when queried by a reporter about what he expected from a new, post-Sadaam Iraq. A somewhat silly response, to be sure. "Democracy. Whiskey. And Sexy!" But it does reflect a rather profound understanding of what happens when the American military enters a region, say Iraq or Afghanistan, and begins to set up nascent democracies. The locals get a lot of "bonuses" with their sparkling new free society. Namely: they also get some of the less glamorous aspects of Western society (porn, obscene materialism, organized crime, reality TV, etc.).

It could be argued that this is what the fundamentalist governments of the Middle East fear most about American involvement in their region. Totalitarians fear the people, the jihadists fear the West's culture.

In the end, they can't keep the West out, not forever. No one can, and with the West comes all the grotesqueries of our modern culture. But something else seeps in as well: the Gospel. The invincible Gospel. Yes, they'll get their democracy, whiskey and sexy, but they'll also get bibles in the language they think in, medical missionaries caring for their wounded and ill and exploding Christian churches on the corner. The postmillenialist in me rejoices in this truth, for the light of the Christ's Gospel will shine brighter than all else.

Think about that as you read the story below about the Chinese government trying to control the Internet. And this one: about Iran trying to control text messaging.


Marxisoft Goes Pinko

Microsoft has taken a brave stand for human liberty ... er ... of course, that's assuming by "brave stand" you mean selling out human rights to make a quick buck. A regular profile in courage. Microsoft (and others) ban words like "freedom", "democracy" and "human rights" from their blogs at the request of the Chinese government.

These huge corporations have become like transcultural nation-states. What they do and say matters. They have their reasons, of course ... about 1.3 billion of them. Chinese markets and their seemingly limitless supply of consumers have Western companies salivating and apparently bending over backwards to stifle the spread of human liberty. But can they really keep this genie in the bottle? Anyone who has ever tried to stop spam knows it's just not that easy.

By the way, is there a company in the history of man that has benefited more from a free society than Microsoft?

Read the article here, or just go buy a Mac.


The Prince of Preachers

Interesting article about C.H. Spurgeon in Christianity Today.

Especially interesting is the part about the "paradox" between his Calvinist views (though not Calvinist enough for some) and his zeal for evangelism.


Potent Quotables, Part Dos

"You are not only responsible for what you say, but also for what you do not say." Martin Luther


Who's Your Daddy?

This week in Newsweek, a brief article about the documentary "The God Who Wasn't There." From it's promotional website. Quote!
"Holding modern Christianity up to a merciless spotlight, this bold and hilarious new film asks the questions few dare to ask. And when it finds out how crazy the answers are, it dares to call them crazy.

Your guide through the bizarre world of Christendom is former fundamentalist Brian Flemming, who unflinchingly explores the absurdity of belief and believers."

Yawn. When a disciplined son gets mad at his father sometimes he says: "You're not my daddy." This film -- a "merciless spotlight" held up by a "former fundamentalist" -- sounds suspiciously like that.

Actually, I find myself agreeing with this cat on one thing. Again from the website. Quote!
"The beliefs of moderate Christians make even less sense than those of extremists."
This "extremist" says amen to that!

"Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap." Gal. 6:7


Killing in the Name of ... part I

Well, here's a new one. Quote!
"Wealthy Russians are switching from investing their rubles in luxury yachts and designer jewelry to stem cell therapies in an attempt to maintain the vitality of youth into their old age.

The treatments, in which stem cells extracted from aborted or miscarried foetuses are injected into the body, is the latest anti-ageing weapon, following Botox injections and facelifts, to keep Moscow's youth-obsessed high society looking young."

Full article

Can this really be true? Who knows? Though Hitler, on his best day, could not have thought this up. This is like something out of an cheesy alien vampire movie. Lord, be merciful.


Potent Quotables, Part I

"Man with all his shrewdness is as stupid about understanding by himself the mysteries of God, as an ass is incapable of understanding musical harmony." John Calvin


China ... China

"China ... China ..." Remember that song by the Red Rockers back in the 80s? Or maybe it was the Red Rangers? Riders? No? Ok. Anywho ... keep your eye on China, and not because of pseudo-new wave one-hit wonders from the 80s.

This is an inspiring little story about the growth of Christianity in the gargantuan communist nation. It seems they're having trouble keeping some Chinese churches on the straight-and-narrow. Those that swear not to preach "subversive" material or proselytize are A-OK by Beijing. But the smaller house churches are proving harder to control. To paraphrase Napoleon, when China falls to the gospel, the world will tremble.


Run! Books!

A bunch of conservative wags voted on a list of the 10 most harmful books ever written.
The list prompted one liberal wag to ask: why are conservatives afraid of books? Maybe he misheard them? ("Worms, Roxanne! I was afraid of worms!").

It's a valid question, on the surface. On the one hand, one should should never fear ideas, in and of themselves. Especially not Christians, who are armed with the eternal truth of the gospel. On the other hand ... check out that list. There's some scary stuff there. All the world's hateful "isms" are represented. Communism (Mao, The Communist Manifesto, Das Kapital), Nazism (Mein Kampf), feminism (The Feminine Mystique) and many flavors of atheism and humanism (pretty much the rest.)

Put all those social constructs together and you've probably accounted for about 65 or 70 million executions of innocents through the last two centuries or so. Perhaps that's a low guess: add up the deaths from Stalin (a communist), Hitler (a Nazi) and abortions (the end-result of feminism and humanist thinking) and you might well account for more than 100 million dead. However you slice it, that's pretty scary.


Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Chimera!?! Chalupa?!? Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

TheWall Street Journal recently ran an article about chimeras, which I thought was odd. I mean I like chimeras as much as the next guy, those tasty Mexican confections: corn tortillas dough fried in a boat shape and filled with shredded meat, vegetables, or cheese as appetizers or even a meal in themselves. Dee-lish.

What's that you say? That's a chalupa? A-ha. Then what's a chimera?

Turns out a chimera is not a tasty Mexican anything. The aforementioned article: Now that Chimeras Exist, What if Some Turn Out Too Human? describes these animals with human genes and organs, spliced togeher by geneticists. And apparently they're making them in labs all over the world. More than creating them, they are hatching plans to kill them if they show themselves to be "too human." Actually, now that I think of it, some of them could be Mexican but that's not the point.

The first chimera (actually pronounced kymeera) was a creation of Greek mythology. This bad boy was part lion, part goat and part snake. Then, about two millenia later, the name was given to the resulting mostronsities created by scientists mixing and matching embryonic animal cells. The first was a "geep": the result of mixing the fetal cells of a sheep and a goat. (Is it me or is it ironic that these two animals were also used by our Lord to exemplify those going to glory and those going to hell?)

Of course, science couldn't and didn't stop there. In the late 80s, a human-mouse chimera (a house?) was unveiled. The mousy-man creature had internal organs made of human tissue: a human spleen, human liver, human thymus (whatever that is) and human lymph nodes.

Now, scientists are moving to putting human brain cells in mice. Finally, some bioethicists began speaking out (are these guys late to the party or what?). The National Academy of Sciences recommended that some research be banned outright, like experiments that would have a mouse with human sperm mating with a mouse with a human egg resulting in a pregnant mouse carrying a human fetus. Says master-of-the-obvious Henry Greely -- a bioethicist: "We're not very concerned about a mouse with a human spleen, but we get really concerned about our brain and gonads." Well ... I'll sign that memo.

So why create chimeras in the first place? Scientists claim the use of chimeras will give them living models that will help them cure a host of diseases, but most prominently, scientists say, AIDS. That wraps our friend the chimura in a boat-shaped tortilla called politics. Of course, we already have a cure for AIDS: following the law of God. Abstinence before marriage and keeping the marriage bed pure would destroy this dreaded disease in a generation. Fallen humanity is unwilling and unable to access this cure, until quickened by the Holy Spirit (and even then it's sometimes kind of shaky). Perhaps some humanists are hoping that chimeras and other scientific advances will deliver us from the wages of sin ... but don't bet lunch at Taco Bell on it.