Monday, October 31, 2005

Lest We Forget, Part XV

Three Christian schoolgirls beheaded in Indonesia

Three Christian teenage girls were beheaded in an assault that marks an escalation of the violence against non-Muslims in Indonesia's Central Sulawesi province.

The three high school students were found with their heads severed early Saturday in the sectarian-divided town of Poso, said provincial police spokesman Rais Adam.

The girls were believed to have been murdered while they walked to school, Adam said Saturday.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Miers the School Marm?

I don't always agree with Pat Buchanan, but this is a great paragraph ... found in .. Miers May Have Helped Save Bush's Presidency by Patrick J. Buchanan ...

"Like a school marm indulging a teacher’s pet, Miss Miers just gave George Bush permission to retake the final exam he booted badly. She has given him a second chance to succeed where Nixon, Ford, Reagan and his father all failed: To become the president who rang down the curtain on 50 years of judicial tyranny and reshaped the Supreme Court into the great constitutionalist body the Founding Fathers intended. "


Monday, October 24, 2005

Queen of the occult finds God

Anne Rice -- authress of "Interview with a Vampire" and many other dark tales -- is reported to have become a believer.

The Gospel According to Anne ... quote!

"In two weeks, Anne Rice, the chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters, will publish 'Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt,' a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. 'I promised,' she says, 'that from now on I would write only for the Lord.' It's the most startling public turnaround since Bob Dylan's 'Slow Train Coming' announced that he'd been born again."


Sunday, October 23, 2005

Duh Vinci, Part IV

James White's next take on the The Da Vinci Code ... quote ...

The key note in this opening attack on the Word will be expanded greatly in what comes after: just as the Jesus Seminar seeks, at its start, to find a way to present a "new" kind of Jesus that "fits" a secular age, so too Brown seeks to present a radically different view of Christ as well. And what is the sole barrier to such a theory? Well, the Word of God, of course. So, you have to deny the divine nature of the Scriptures before you can ever hope to establish your theories.

But, since Brown hides behind the "fiction" mantle, he can make these bald statements without bothering to provide any kind of substantiation, and this will only become more frustrating with each passing page and each passing denial of the inspiration of the Word of God.


Thursday, October 20, 2005

This is the End ... My Only Friend, The End ... Part II

Earlier in the week, the New York Times put together a fine piece on end-times thinking and gave a good overview of the differing views among various Bible-believing Christians. Check it out, it's worth a read.

Now MSNBC jumps in with a more simplistic take. Their Apocalypse, now? is pretty standard dispensational fare. Quote!

Many evangelical Christians believe these events signal the End Times, as spelled out in the Book of Revelation, which go something like this: First there is the Rapture, in which God's loyal followers suddenly disappear from Earth and enter his kingdom. Then comes the Tribulation, a seven-year period of rule by the Antichrist and severe hardship on Earth. During this time, nonbelievers who remain on Earth will have a chance to convert to Christianity but will be hounded by the Antichrist and his minions. Then comes Armageddon, when God comes back to defeat Satan in a devastating battle. Ultimately, there is Judgment Day, when those who are with God live on in Paradise, and others are eternally condemned to Hell.

There are scores of Web sites that interpret current events through the prism of biblical passages, seeing divine signs not only in the weather, but in the war in Iraq and events at the United Nations. "explains how virtually everything we are seeing, from hurricanes and tsunamis to tensions with Damascus are fulfilling prophesies." The blog strives "to document the final moments of human history as it unfolds and to announce the return of Jesus Christ on earth." The list goes on.

For a counter balance, check out Gary DeMar's Bible Prophecy and the "Good Old Days" here.


Duh Vinci, Part III

James White prepares the faithful for the coming onslaught of the Sony blockbuster motion picture "The Da Vinci Code", starring superstar Tom Hanks ... Heads Up, Folks. It's Coming ... in full ...

May 19, 2006. That's when one of the most outrageous anti-Christian films we've ever seen will explode onto American movie screens. Powered by big stars (Tom Hanks, Ian McKellen) and Oscar winning director Ron Howard, the film adaptation of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code represents the investment of millions of dollars in spreading the clear message that the Bible "was compiled and edited by men who possessed a political agenda-to promote the divinity of the man Jesus Christ and use His influence to solidify their own power base" (234) all at the cost of the truth about the "divine feminine."

If you haven't read the book (unlike more than twenty million others), you may have only heard bits and pieces about its blatant attacks upon the Christian faith. I have had the opportunity of addressing the book in a number of contexts, and will continue doing so in an attempt to equip believers to respond to the onslaught. But I would like to document some of the major errors and the way in which they are presented by Dan Brown here on the blog. I encourage you to take this information and be prepared to use this opportunity to present a strong case for the Christian faith. Yes, you read that correctly. We need to see that attacks upon the faith are opportunities if we are prepared and if we are willing to count the cost and go against the cultural flow. We all know that nothing like this could ever be produced if the main target were, rather than the Bible and Christianity, the Quran and the Muslim faith, or Judaism. No, that would never be allowed, but Christianity is fair game at Sony Pictures, that's for certain. But since it is going to appear, we need to be ready to take advantage of it, and provide not only a strong denunciation of its errors, but a positive presentation of the truth of Scripture. And in doing so, we need to be willing to draw clear lines between those who call themselves Christians and yet are unwilling to view Scripture as Christ did, and ourselves.


Miers = New Coke?

I've avoided the whole Miers kerfuffle, but James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web nailed it too perfectly ... quote ...

The Miers debacle is beginning to remind us of New Coke--a product introduced in an effort to expand market share, which instead infuriated loyal customers. If Bush wants to "save his presidency," the way to do so is clear: withdraw the Miers nomination and reintroduce Court Classic.


Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Where Falcons Fear to Tread, Part III

This is veering into bad parody. The Associated Press reports that Graduate offers to settle with Academy. Quote!

A Jewish graduate of the Air Force Academy who filed a lawsuit alleging officers and cadets at the school illegally imposed Christianity on others has offered to settle the suit if the Air Force bars proselytizing.

Mikey Weinstein said in an interview today with The Associated Press that he wants the Air Force to stop wasting "time, effort, blood, sweat, tears and money" and agree to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

Sam Bregman of Albuquerque, Weinstein's attorney, asked the Air Force today to agree to a stipulated order in federal court that no one in the Air Force, including a chaplain, will "in any way attempt to involuntarily convert, pressure, exert or persuade a fellow member of the USAF to accept their own religious beliefs while on duty." Bregman also asked that the service not permit or advance one religion over another, or over no religion.

He made the offer in a letter faxed to Mary L. Walker, the Air Force's top lawyer in Washington.

"As you can plainly see, we are asking for nothing more than the Constitution already requires of the United States Air Force," Bregman wrote.

An Air Force spokeswoman was not immediately available to take a call from the AP.

Remember, we are talking about chaplains here. In other words, this cadet would like to bar ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ from telling people about the Gospel. The saddest part is that the AFA will probably capitulate to this "offer."

As for "asking nothing more than the Constitution already requires of the United States Air Force" ... the Constitution requires nothing of the United States Air Force other than to comply with the orders of the Commander in Chief. The restriction in the Constitution -- namely, the First Amendment -- is on government, or more accurately Congress. To refresh, the First Amendment says ...

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

"Congress shall make no law ..." Please, atheists in the audience, tell me how an ordained minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ preaching the Word of God violates this.


God in the Dock -- Literally

Oh, heavens! Thug sues God ... in full ...

A Romanian prisoner serving 20 years for murder has sued God for failing to save him from the Devil. The inmate claims his Baptism was a contract with God to keep him out of trouble.

"God even claimed and received from me various goods and prayers in exchange for forgiveness and the promise that I would be rid of problems and have a better life," he wrote in the suit. "But on the contrary I was left in the Devil's hands."

Court officials said the suit will likely be dropped because they're unable to subpoena God.


Killing in the Name of ... Part IV

The Washington Post tackles The Abortion Debate No One Wants to Have ... in full ...

If it's unacceptable for William Bennett to link abortion even conversationally with a whole class of people (and, of course, it is), why then do we as a society view abortion as justified and unremarkable in the case of another class of people: children with disabilities?

I have struggled with this question almost since our daughter Margaret was born, since she opened her big blue eyes and we got our first inkling that there was a full-fledged person behind them.

Whenever I am out with Margaret, I'm conscious that she represents a group whose ranks are shrinking because of the wide availability of prenatal testing and abortion. I don't know how many pregnancies are terminated because of prenatal diagnoses of Down syndrome, but some studies estimate 80 to 90 percent.

Imagine. As Margaret bounces through life, especially out here in the land of the perfect body, I see the way people look at her: curious, surprised, sometimes wary, occasionally disapproving or alarmed. I know that most women of childbearing age that we may encounter have judged her and her cohort, and have found their lives to be not worth living.

To them, Margaret falls into the category of avoidable human suffering. At best, a tragic mistake. At worst, a living embodiment of the pro-life movement. Less than human. A drain on society. That someone I love is regarded this way is unspeakably painful to me.

This view is probably particularly pronounced here in blue-state California, but I keep finding it everywhere, from academia on down. At a dinner party not long ago, I was seated next to the director of an Ivy League ethics program. In answer to another guest's question, he said he believes that prospective parents have a moral obligation to undergo prenatal testing and to terminate their pregnancy to avoid bringing forth a child with a disability, because it was immoral to subject a child to the kind of suffering he or she would have to endure. (When I started to pipe up about our family's experience, he smiled politely and turned to the lady on his left.)

Margaret does not view her life as unremitting human suffering (although she is angry that I haven't bought her an iPod). She's consumed with more important things, like the performance of the Boston Red Sox in the playoffs and the dance she's going to this weekend. Oh sure, she wishes she could learn faster and had better math skills. So do I. But it doesn't ruin our day, much less our lives. It's the negative social attitudes that cause us to suffer.

Many young women, upon meeting us, have asked whether I had "the test." I interpret the question as a get-home-free card. If I say no, they figure, that means I'm a victim of circumstance, and therefore not implicitly repudiating the decision they may make to abort if they think there are disabilities involved. If yes, then it means I'm a right-wing antiabortion nut whose choices aren't relevant to their lives.

Either way, they win.

In ancient Greece, babies with disabilities were left out in the elements to die. We in America rely on prenatal genetic testing to make our selections in private, but the effect on society is the same.

Margaret's old pediatrician tells me that years ago he used to have a steady stream of patients with Down syndrome. Not anymore. Where did they go, I wonder. On the west side of L.A., they aren't being born anymore, he says.

The irony is that we live in a time when medical advances are profoundly changing what it means to live with disabilities. Years ago, people with Down syndrome often were housed in institutions. Many were in poor health, had limited self-care and social skills, couldn't read, and died young. It was thought that all their problems were unavoidable, caused by their genetic anomaly.

Now it seems clear that these people were limited at least as much by institutionalization, low expectations, lack of education and poor health care as by their DNA. Today people with Down syndrome are living much longer and healthier lives than they did even 20 years ago. Buoyed by the educational reforms of the past quarter-century, they are increasingly finishing high school, living more independently and holding jobs.

That's the rational pitch; here's the emotional one. Margaret is a person and a member of our family. She has my husband's eyes, my hair and my mother-in-law's sense of humor. We love and admire her because of who she is -- feisty and zesty and full of life -- not in spite of it. She enriches our lives. If we might not have chosen to welcome her into our family, given the choice, then that is a statement more about our ignorance than about her inherent worth.

What I don't understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I'd like to think that it's time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I'm not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on.

And here's one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but nonetheless significant part of what's driving the abortion discussion in this country. I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families. The abortion debate is not just about a woman's right to choose whether to have a baby; it's also about a woman's right to choose which baby she wants to have.

The writer is a former Post reporter and bureau chief. Her daughter, Margaret, is a student in the post-secondary program at the Riverview School in East Sandwich, Mass., from which Margaret received her high school diploma in 2004. She also takes classes at Cape Cod Community College.


Lest We Forget, Part XIV

Remember, the Word of God IS dangerous ... Bible printing press confiscated in Cuba ... quote ...

Cuban police recently raided a home in the Cuban city of Colon and confiscated what officials later called "subversive and dangerous." But the contraband wasn't drugs, or pornography, or bomb-making instructions. What police confiscated were printed Gospels of John and a small printing press.

It was Sunday morning, Oct. 9, and five plainclothes secret police entered the house. After calling for reinforcements, a truck arrived with 12 armed, uniformed police who seized the gospels and the printing press. Cuban officials called the materials "subversive and dangerous."

... and ...

Police then took Pastor Eliseo Rodriguez Matos, head of an Assembly of God church in the area, to the local police station for interrogation. Police then called Señora Caridad Diego, the minister of religion in Havana – an atheist who supports the Communist government in restricting Christian evangelism. The Ministry of Religion called the confiscated printing press "very dangerous."

"We agree with the government's assessment," responded Tom White, executive director of The Voice of the Martyrs, USA. "The Word of God is dangerous. It can produce eternal freedom in the midst of evil tyranny." White was a prisoner in Cuba 25 years ago after the plane from which he was dropping Christian leaflets crash-landed there.


This is the End ... My Only Friend, The End ...

You can almost hear the snickering in this New York Times piece ... at first: Doomsday: The Latest Word if Not the Last ... quote ...

WORD spread quickly in some conservative Christian circles when Israeli troops captured the Old City of Jerusalem from Arab forces in June 1967. This was it: Jesus was coming.

But Jesus did not return that day, and the world did not end with the culmination of that Arab-Israeli war.

Neither did it end in 1260, when Joachim of Fiore, an influential 12th-century Italian monk calculated it would, nor in February 1420, as predicted by the Taborites of Bohemia, nor in 1988, 40 years after the formation of Israel, nor after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

But after last week's devastating earthquake in Pakistan, coming as it did after a succession of recent disasters, the apocalyptic speculation, bubbled up again with impressive fervor on many Christian blogs, in some pews and among some evangelical Christian leaders.

Combined with fears of a global pandemic of avian flu, the calamitous flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina and last year's tsunami in Asia, the predictions of the end of the world are to be expected, religious historians said. After all, Christians have been predicting the end of history since the beginning of theirs.

"The doomsday scenarios are fairly cyclical," said Randall Balmer, a professor of American religious history at Barnard College. "The theology they are based on is a very linear view of history. They believe we are now ramping up to the end of time."

To paraphrase: "Look at these dopey Christians, getting all Apocolyptic again."

But, then the tone changes. Say what you will about the New York Times, they are thorough ... as evidenced by this ...

Fascination with the end of days is seemingly everywhere, in popular television ministries (like Pat Robertson's), on best-seller lists (the "Left Behind" series) and even on bumper stickers ("In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned").

What could be behind this fascination? Many church leaders and theologians, including evangelicals, give little effort to trying to interpret natural disasters and other events that might portend the end of history. The preoccupation these days stems mainly from the outsized influence of a specific, literalistic approach to biblical prophecy, called dispensationalism, which only came to occupy a dominant place in American evangelicalism relatively recently.

"Dispensationalists have never had the kind of public exposure and the kind of political power that they have now," Mr. Weber said. As a whole, evangelical Christians are united in their belief that Jesus will come back in human form at some point in history. Where they, as well as members of other Christian groups, have differed is precisely how this will occur, depending on how each interprets a single verse in the 20th chapter of the Book of Revelation and its allusion to a 1,000-year reign by Christ.

This difference, in large part, Mr. Weber said, shapes how much they are "players in the end-time game."

Some theologians read the passage and Revelation less literally. Drawing on references elsewhere in the Bible, they say the verse means that Christian influence will grow in the world until it is completely evangelized, leading to a millennial period of universal peace and prosperity. Because they believe Christ will return after the millennium, they are called post-millennialists.

Others, called amillennialists, believe that the millennial age is unfolding now, through the church, but that evil continues to exist and will only be eradicated when Christ returns.

It is those who read the passage most literally - the so-called pre-millennialists - who hold the most pessimistic views. They believe history is irrevocably deteriorating, on its way toward a period of terrible suffering, called the tribulation, which will only be broken when Jesus returns and rules for a thousand years.

Dispensationalism emerged as an offshoot of this last school, owing its spread in large part to the work of a 19th-century British evangelist, John Nelson Darby.

I really appreciate this. Yes, the NY Times is a commie rag (and I mean that in the nicest possible sense), but this is thoughtful tackling of a theological issue that doesn't gloss over the difference between committed, Bible-believing Chrisitans ... from a secular publication, no less. My favorite part ...

Until the mid-19th century, most American Christians were actually post-millennialists. Their fervor for hastening Jesus' return animated many of the era's social movements, like the abolitionist movement. But the Civil War and the succeeding waves of industrialization, urbanization and immigration - and the social problems that came with them - helped cripple post-millenial optimism. Darby, however, won some important converts, including the evangelist, Dwight L. Moody, and his ideas began to catch on. Dispensationalism's tenets were eventually memorialized in the Scofield Reference Bible, which became a best-seller.

... and ...

But the (dispensational) theology has drawn fire from other evangelicals for its narrow reading of the Bible and its tendency to ignore social problems. "It's still considered by many theologians to be somewhat ahistorical and theologically suspect," said Mr. Cizik, who criticized anyone who would interpret the recent calamities as a sign of the end.

"History has taught us not to predict," he said. "I think it's sheer speculation for anyone to place a whole lot of stock in any one particular earthquake or pestilence."

Not that that will stop the prognostications.

Again, is there a better tactic to paralyze the Church than to say things are going to get worse and worse and there is nothing God's people can do about it?


Thursday, October 13, 2005

"Why Pat Robertson is Wrong"

Are we living in the Last Days? Pat Robertson thinks so ... Gary DeMar? Not so much. Bible Prophecy and the "Good Old Days" ... quote ...

WorldNetDaily published my article “Why Pat Robertson is Wrong” yesterday.1 It dealt with Robertson’s claim that today’s earthquakes are signs of the soon coming of Christ. As usual, I received my share of hate mail. Words like “stupid,” “lukewarm,” and “heretical” were thrown about with careless ease. The nastiest letters I get usually come from people who believe we are living in the last days.

... and ...

You say Jesus is coming “very soon.” How many times have we heard that? Oswald J. Smith wrote Is the Antichrist At Hand? The following copy appeared on the cover of his book: “The fact that this book has run swiftly into a number of large editions bears convincing testimony to its intrinsic worth. There are here portrayed startling indications of the approaching end of the present age from the spheres of demonology, politics and religion. No one can read this book without being impressed with the importance of the momentous days in which we are living.”

Sounds a lot like what you are claiming for today. Smith wrote the above in 1927! Nearly 80 years ago! The subtitle to the book is—“What of Mussolini?” That’s right. He used the same verses that people use today to “prove” that the end was near, Jesus was coming soon, and Mussolini was the antichrist. Smith admitted how foolish he had been after Mussolini met his just end.

The world is a mess because Christians have abandoned it. Christians turned back the tide of cannibalism, infanticide, abortion, homosexuality, and so many other evils over the centuries. But since the rapture doctrine, the Church has taken a back seat to evil making it a prophetic inevitability.

The issue is the Bible, not what you or I see in the world today. I’ve made a case from an appeal to the Bible. Show me where I am wrong from the Bible. What five-cent Cokes, marbles, and hopscotch have to do with the return of Jesus is a mystery to me.

Reading this, it occurs to me, if you were Satan, what better tactic could you use than to convince the Church that the rising tide of evil was inevitable and we are headed for a long defeat?


Wednesday, October 12, 2005

How Dare Bill Bennett Insult Aborted Black Babies!

Faithmouse with a fierce ... but true ... cartoon about the recent Bill Bennett kerfuffle ... Toon Ketchup

As sharp and necessary as this cartoon is, I have to admit I have a little trouble looking at it. My wife and I are the proud adoptive parents of an absolutely gorgeous boy who happens to be half black. These faces are haunting because, but for the grace of God, my son could have been one of them.


"Narnia" a Stronger Christian Witness than "the Passion"?

Gene Edward Veith of World Magazine thinks so ... Better than "the Passion"?

Read the whole thing here.

Hat tip: Between Two Worlds


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Christian group may seek ban on Qur'an

Christian group may seek ban on Qur'an ... quote ...

A Protestant evangelical pressure group has warned that it will try to use the government's racial and religious hatred law to prosecute bookshops selling the Qur'an for inciting religious hatred.

Christian Voice, a fringe fundamentalist group which first came to public prominence this year when it campaigned against the BBC's broadcasting of Jerry Springer The Opera, was among the evangelical organisations taking part in a 1,000-strong demonstration against the bill outside parliament yesterday as the House of Lords held a second reading debate on the measure.

This is certainly the wrong way to go. The Gospel of Christ has nothing whatever to fear from the Koran. But "Jerry Springer The Opera"?!?!?!? That's terrifying.


"I'd rather be an Ape than a Bishop"

More on the galactic, all-world clash between God and Nothing ... or, as this article says, "Godzilla vs. Mothra" ... I always preferred MechaGodzilla, but whatever ... The whole world, from whose hands?

Some interesting stuff in here ... like ...

Darwin himself wrote, "The explanation of types of structure in classes - as resulting from the will of the Deity, to create animals on certain plans - is no explanation. It has not the character of a physical law and is therefore utterly useless. It foretells nothing because we know nothing of the will of the Deity, how it acts and whether constant or inconstant like that of man."

So this is the cat all the scientists are so over the moon about? Judging by this quote, he doesn't know his rear end from a hole in the ground when it comes to God. "... we know nothing of the will of the Deity" ... wuh? The Deity -- that's God the Father to you and me -- has been abudantly clear about His will through His Holy Scriptures. I've been giving this clown too much credit.

... and ...

"At one level, scientists are just simply (angry)," says Ruse. "Anybody would feel a certain amount of indignation in being told they don't know what they are doing."

I have to admit, I feel sorry for these guys. First of all, they DON'T know what they're doing. Second of all, they're on a losing pony, and I think most of them know it. They know they'll never "prove" evolution to the satisfaction of believers and, more and more, their theories are falling apart.

If that's the case, they've been angry for a very long time.

In an 1860 debate between the Darwin-doubting Bishop of Oxley and Darwin protégé Thomas Huxley, the bishop asked Huxley which side of his family was descended from an ape.

Huxley famously replied, "If there were an ancestor whom I should feel shame in recalling, it would rather be a man, a man of restless and versatile intellect, who ... plunges into scientific questions with which he had no real acquaintance, only to obscure them by an aimless rhetoric, and distract the attention of his hearers from the real point at issue by eloquent digressions and skilled appeals to religious prejudice."

Strong stuff at the time. The newspapers reported that Huxley said he'd "rather be an ape than a bishop."


Monday, October 10, 2005

Is the Gospel Really This Dangerous?

The LA Times is on the case ... protecting us from reckless pastors ... Documents Show Air Force May Have Pushed Christianity ... quote ...

The Air Force until August provided guidelines to chaplains that officials believe may have encouraged the chaplains to aggressively advocate Christianity throughout the ranks, according to a letter written by a top military lawyer in a lawsuit over religious discrimination.

The Air Force has struggled for years to defend itself against charges of religious hostility and accusations that chaplains at the Air Force Academy regularly proselytize non-Christian cadets.

Just imagine it, people. Ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ ... advocating their religion! And aggressively, no less! The scoundrels. And proselytizing! If there is one thing I can't stand it's a dirty, low-down, no-good proselytizer!

Yes, sarcasm is fun. But, really, is this for real? Again, to review, I went to a secular university (Go Aztecs!) I was proselytized up the wazoo by socialists, communists and atheists. My faith was mocked and derided. Should I go back and sue?

Yes, I know Air Force is funded by our tax dollars, but so was my school. That did not stop the professors there from advocating the religion of Godless humanism. Trust me, it's a religion. Or perhaps, more accurately, a pagan cult. No one could believe that garbage without a tremendous amount of faith.


Friday, October 07, 2005

Live-Blogging John Piper

Two leading evangelical bloggers will be "live-blogging" this weekend from a John Piper event ...

John Piper: Suffering and the Sovereignty of God

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt


Lest We Forget, Part XIII

New Survey Shows Areas of Spiritual Life People Feel Most Confident About – and Those They Want Help With the Most

Americans have a notoriously high opinion of themselves. American Christians, even more so? Perhaps.

New Survey Shows Areas of Spiritual Life People Feel Most Confident About – and Those They Want Help With the Most

The Barna survey explored seven dimensions of spiritual development, asking survey respondents to rate themselves on a five-point scale that included being “completely developed” in the specified area of spirituality, “highly developed,” saying they were “about average” in their development in that area, or that they are “not too developed,” or “not at all developed” in the area in question.

Americans rated themselves most positively in the area of “maintaining healthy relationships.” Close to half of all self-identified Christian adults (48%) said they are “completely” or “highly” developed in that aspect, with 46% saying they are “about average” in this dimension, and just 6% claimed to be below average. An above average rating (i.e., either “completely developed” or “highly developed”) was more likely among people in the South and Midwest than among people living along the east or west coasts.

The second-most favorable rating was for serving other people. About four out of every ten self-described Christian adults (41%) said they are “completely” or “highly” developed in that aspect of their spiritual life, while half said they are about average in this area, and 8% said they are below average. Hispanics and people who attend a house church were the groups most likely to say they are above average (53% and 57%, respectively) when it comes to serving others.

Next came “consistently living out your faith principles,” for which 37% said they do an above average job, 55% claimed to be average, and only 8% admitted to being below average.


Family Seeks Legal Relief So Son Can Read Bible During Recess

You're kidding right, Agape Press? Apparently not. Just when I thought the U.S. public schools couldn't be a bigger train wreck ... A kid's parents have to hire a lawyer so he can read his Bible?

Favorite line: "The district claims the Bible reading jeopardizes student safety ..."

Family Seeks Legal Relief So Son Can Read Bible During Recess ... quote ...

A federal court has been asked to order a Knoxville, Tennessee, elementary school to stop prohibiting a ten-year-old student from reading his Bible during recess.

Luke Whitson and his parents have filed a motion for preliminary injunction against Knox County School officials, who allegedly threatened to punish the boy for reading his Bible during recess at Karns Elementary School. The district claims the Bible reading jeopardizes student safety and that, because recess is not "free time," they can prohibit Bible reading during that time.


God cre8s da world in txt 4m

Because there weren't enough Bible translations ...

God cre8s da world in txt 4m

“IN DA Bginnin God cre8d da heavens & da earth.” Thus begins the latest version of the Bible, translated into text messages for mobile phones. It also tells us “da earth was barren, wit no 4m of life”.

The Bible Society in Australia unveiled yesterday its translation of all 31,173 verses of the Bible in text message, which can be accessed free of charge over the internet.

The aim was to help to spread the word of God, Michael Chant, the society’s spokesman, said. “The old days when the Bible was only available within a sombre black cover with a Cross on it are long gone.

“We want to open it up for people of all ages, backgrounds and interests, and the text message version is a logical extension of that.”

It took one person about four weeks to convert the Old and New Testaments to text. The society used the International Contemporary English Version of the Bible, and remained true to the grammar, changing only the spelling. Sending the entire Bible would take more than 30,000 text messages.


Thursday, October 06, 2005

Lest We Forget, Part XII

Another Republican for Roe?

This one could be titled: "Why Republicans Secretly Love Abortion" ... sadly, this article, in my view, is dead-on accurate. Another Republican for Roe?

James Taranto over at the Wall Street Journal has been saying much the same thing for a while. His thesis is that the vast majority of Republican office holders would never really want Roe v. Wade overturned. Having Roe to kick around is a good thing, so the theory goes, because it allows them to pander to pro-lifers while never having to lose those on-the-fence or pro-choice Republicans. This NY Times piece concurs ... in full ...

STOP me if you've heard this one. A pro-life Republican president nominates a Supreme Court justice. The fate of Roe v. Wade, that momentous, muddled law of the land since 1973, hangs in the balance. Despite the best efforts of Democratic senators to force a confession, the elusive nominee remains mum on Roe and rides overwhelming Republican support to confirmation. (A pro-choice group immediately issues a press release that the sky is, in fact, falling.)

But a funny thing happens once the nominee is safely ensconced on the court: instead of sinking Roe, he supports it.

This, of course, is the story line of both Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, who allegedly suffered knife wounds in the back from high-court appointees who upheld Roe. There are various theories to explain these instances of Sudden Pro-Choice Syndrome but no clear explanation. It's the darnedest thing, but when it comes to the most sacred cause in the Republican canon, the right to life, Republican presidents somehow find a way to mess up. You'd almost think they were doing it on purpose.

Of course, it's possible that Republican presidents are just really, really bad at picking judges who share their beliefs. But try to imagine a reverse situation in which President Bill Clinton opens up the newspaper to discover that one of his two appointments to the court has voted to overturn the constitutional right to privacy and abortion. There's a reason this is hard to imagine: it borders on the preposterous.

Roe v. Wade is not a fine point of law that busy presidents and their staffs overlook. It is the most visceral, emotional and politically contentious issue the court has decided in the past three decades. If you were president of the United States and truly believed abortion to be a modified form of murder, I suspect you would not only nominate someone who seemed to share your view on this paramount issue, but you'd also make damned sure there was no margin for error.

Yet as more than a few abortion opponents have come to suspect, in the Oval Office the "culture of life" is from time to time trumped by the culture of electability. With abortion rights safeguarded by Roe, and Roe, in turn, safeguarded by the court, a candidate's public opposition to abortion is treated by much of the nation's pro-choice majority as a more or less immaterial wish that's unlikely to be fulfilled. For the millions of highly motivated pro-life voters, however, it's much more: it's a statement of solidarity and a solemn vow to advance their special cause.

This lopsided investment in anti-abortion rhetoric has allowed Presidents Reagan, Bush and Bush to collect the votes of the anti-abortion faithful without paying much of a price among the electorate at large. But imagine what would happen if a Republican president actually honored the promise, explicit or implied, to engineer a court majority to overturn Roe. Republican opposition to abortion rights would no longer be theoretical. And moderate voters, who have learned to discount anti-abortion hypocrisy, would surely exact a high electoral price for the Republicans' new sincerity.

Unless President Bush is cut from truer anti-abortion timber than his two Republican predecessors, my guess is we'll discover down the road that he, too, has appointed at least one pro-Roe justice to the court and that the status quo endures.

In her appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the president's latest Supreme Court nominee, Harriet Miers, will surely dodge, duck, weave and stonewall to avoid revealing her thoughts on Roe. Democrats and pro-choice advocates will suspect she is eager to avoid raising alarms in pro-choice environs. Maybe they'll be right.

But no group will have more cause for suspicion than the anti-abortion stalwarts who make up the backbone of the Republican Party. They've suffered multiple betrayals at the highest level. But they keep putting their faith in Republican presidents just the same. And like that most faith-based character of all, Charlie Brown, many of them still seem to believe that, one of these days, their friend in the White House, like a penitent Lucy, really will let them kick that political football named Roe.

Francis Wilkinson is a communications consultant for corporations and Democratic campaigns.


Intelligent Design: 'The Death of Science'

Will ID be the death of science? examines the question in Intelligent Design: 'The Death of Science' ... quote ...

In his highly influential book "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions," science philosopher Thomas Kuhn presented the idea that science is not a gradual progression toward truth, but a series of insurgencies, with scientific theories constantly usurping one another.

That is sometimes true. And proponents of intelligent design love Kuhn's argument.

They see intelligent design (often called ID) as a revolutionary new science and themselves as revolutionaries. They envision toppling Darwinian evolution – once a revolutionary idea itself – and erecting in its place a theory about life that allows for supernatural explanations, a theory that makes God, or some entity very much like him, not just possible but necessary.

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