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« November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

December 31, 2008

It wouldn’t be the New Year

. . . without Dave Barry's annual roundup. Enjoy, and have a happy New Year!

The Best New Year’s Resolutions

Dr. David Jeremiah's latest newsletter offers these "7 Steps Toward a More Energized Life in Christ." It struck me as the best New Year's resolution list I ever saw, so I'd like to share it with my fellow Pointificators. (I can only hope that I'll be better about keeping THIS list in 2009 than my usual one, which includes such perennially unachieved goals as losing ten pounds.)

1.  Spend time with Him. Relationships are made and fostered by the time we spend functioning within them. Spend time with your Lord in prayer and study of His Word  Reconnect through talking with the Lord of Lords. 

2.  Take obedience to the Lord seriously. The Lord's commands are made out of love for us. He laid them out in His Word so that we might best find His blessings, and to help us avoid the pitfalls of living in this world.

3.  Recognize your sinfulness, and recommit your life to the Lord. Make a spiritual contract with the Lord.

4.  Dive into worship. Worshiping the Lord does not have to be just singing along with the choir on Sunday. While that is good and it honors God, you can also worship Him while going for a walk in His beautiful creation, while marveling at the works He is doing around the world, or recognizing and appreciating the provision that He makes in your life.

5.  Start to tithe. The Lord promises to provide for you and bless you when you are faithful in giving back to Him.

6.  Start serving others. Become the hands of Christ as you serve others and allow the Lord to work through you.

7.  Give thanks to the Lord for all the blessings that He has placed in your life. 

While all these goals are worthy ones, I would suggest that we each start the New Year by focusing on number 7. I've recently started keeping a "Gratitude Journal" to keep track of the many blessings God has poured into my life. I find that it's a great counterbalance to the steady stream of bad news that swirls around me daily -- reminding me that I have much in life to be thankful for and reminding me that God is a good, loving, and faithful Father.   

The Point Radio: How Sweet the Sound

It's time to close the chapter on another year....


Click play above to listen.

Chuck Colson, "Reflections for New Year’s Day," BreakPoint Commentary, 1 January 2008.

December 30, 2008

Fractured Christmas carols

Taken for a Ride
(To the Tune of "Sleigh Ride")

Just hear that cashier jingling,
Ring ting ting-a-ling, ooh!
That will be 16 dollars
For three bananas for you.

Come watch our dollar falling
While friends are bawling "Boohoo!"
Because it's 16 dollars
For five green olives for you. . . .

There's much more where that came from, over at the Reader's Digest site.

The Point Radio: Passing the Plate

How often do you pass the plate?...


Click play above to listen.

Christian Smith, Michael Emerson, and Patricia Snell, Passing the Plate: Why American Christians Don't Give Away More Money (Oxford University Press, 2009).

December 29, 2008

Pray for the Jollyblogger

I don't always keep up with all our fellow bloggers very well, so I didn't know until I ran across a post from La Shawn Barber, via her Facebook page, that David Wayne of Jollyblogger is undergoing treatment for colon cancer. Sending our prayers and very best wishes to David. His daughter has been keeping his blog updated, so you can keep checking over there for news.

Stealing Jesus

Has anyone else heard about this latest bit of sacrilegious entertainment -- stealing baby Jesus figures out of nativity scenes across America? Chuck Norris's article "Jacking Jesus" explains that "skeptics might mock these defacements as negligible crimes, but stealing the soul of Nativities is one more dismal sign of a culture gone awry. What type of world do we live in when hoodlums (young and old) commit sacrilege for entertainment?"

Thank God, no one can "take away the real Jesus of history." Read the entire article for a glimpse of the real, historical Jesus who gives meaning not only to the Christmas season, but to all of life. 

The Point Radio: Family Fitness

Your kids need New Year's resolutions just as much as you do....


Click play above to listen.

Pam Belluck, “Child Obesity Seen as Warning of Heart Disease,” New York Times, 11 November 2008.

December 26, 2008

The Point Radio: Stay In Touch

Your work emails are piling up....


Click play above to listen.

Survey Shows Unhealthy E-mail Addiction,” World Entertainment News Network, 23 October 2008.

Email Addiction Getting Worse,” Intermedia.

December 25, 2008

Good tidings of great joy

Mangercross

Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

--Luke 2:10-12 (NKJV)

The Point Radio: Birthday for a King

Happy Birthday, Jesus!...


Click play above to listen.

John Piper, “Worship is an End in Itself,” 13 September 1981.

December 24, 2008

The Point Radio: The Lord’s Servant

“I am the Lord’s servant, may it be to me as you have said....”


Click play above to listen.

Ralph F. Wilson, “Mary’s First Lesson in Discipleship,” Jesus Walk.

December 23, 2008

Daily roundup

It is TOO a wonderful life

Bedford_fallsAnother Christmas, another revisionist take on It's a Wonderful Life. Actually, this one's not half bad, in that it points out the darkness that's too often ignored amidst the film's sugary-sweet (and inaccurate) reputation. But it goes off the rails when the author takes a moment to extol the joys of the altered town that George sees in his vision:

Not only is Pottersville cooler and more fun than Bedford Falls, it also would have had a much, much stronger future. Think about it: In one scene George helps bring manufacturing to Bedford Falls. But since the era of “It’s a Wonderful Life” manufacturing in upstate New York has suffered terribly.

On the other hand, Pottersville, with its nightclubs and gambling halls, would almost certainly be in much better financial shape today. It might well be thriving.

Maybe so -- but would its people be thriving? Let's turn to my favorite Expert on Everything, Dorothy L. Sayers, for a ruling:

We believe that peace and stability are not attainable if considered as static in their nature or pursued as ends in themselves. They are the by-products of a right balance between the individual and the community. This balance is attainable only by a ceaseless activity directed to a real standard of value.

We believe that liberty and equality are not attainable by considering the individual man as a unit in a limited scheme of society (e.g., "economic man," "political man," "the worker," etc.), but only by considering him as a complete personality, capable of self-discipline in a self-disciplined community; the aim of such discipline being the fulfilment of man's whole nature in relation to absolute reality.

--Quoted by Barbara Reynolds in "The Importance of Being Dorothy L. Sayers"

If human beings can be reduced to nothing but "economic man," then Pottersville may well be a dream worth striving for -- but if they have such things as hearts, minds, and souls, then it's nothing but the nightmare vision that Frank Capra intended it to be.

(Image © Liberty Films)

It’s a Buyer’s Market

Egg It's a sad "sign of the tough economic times" when, according to a Wall Street Journal article, women are lining up to sell their precious eggs, receiving $3,000 to $8,000 per donation. 

Besides the health complications which can arise from of having this type of procedure, there is another issue to consider. In trying to attain a "child of their own," at the very least--genetically speaking--the purchasers are ensuring that the child will belong only to one person. 

Gilbert Meilander says, "The deliberate and willed asymmetry of relation--so unlike the mutual asymmetry that exists in adoption--is precisely the problem." In other words, making a baby becomes a one-sided business.

(Image courtesy of the Wall Street Journal)

Note on comments

Thanks to one of those little "improvements" that make life so much more difficult for all concerned, TypePad will now only display a limited number of comments per page. If you noticed some of the comments vanishing from Regis's recent evolution post, that's why. After Christmas vacation, Travis will set up a link that will allow you to see all the comments on that post. Sorry for the inconvenience.

Thanks to Rolley for alerting us to the problem.

Create your own hideous Christmas sweater

Sweater Got those last-day-at-the-office-before-Christmas-vacation blues? You could always kill a little time enhance your productivity with this useful exercise. (Be careful if you go scrolling through their gallery; some people's sweaters are not quite family-friendly.)

If you want to save your sweater, it looks like the best way is to e-mail it to yourself. Then post the link in our comments section so we can all enjoy your masterpiece!

The Point Radio: Angels Watching Over You

"And behold there were a great multitude of the heavenly host..."


Click play above to listen.

David Van Biema, “Guardian Angels are Here, Say Most Americans,” Time,  18 September 2008.

Julia Duin, “Half of Americans Believe in Angels,” Washington Times, 19 September 2008.

December 22, 2008

Church attendance in Britain: Thriving or dying?

Brompton_alpha_1124 Depends on whom you ask.

(Image courtesy of Time)

The Point Radio: Peace in God’s House

Conflict for Christmas?...


Click play above to listen.

Monks Brawl at Jesus’ Tomb,” Associated Press, 10 November 2008.

Sheera Claire Frankel, “Seven Hurt in Punch-Up at Church of the Nativity,” Times Online, 29 December 2007.

December 19, 2008

Merry Christmas from The Point

Point_christmas_party_1

Point_christmas_party_4

Posting will be light for the next two weeks. There will still be posts going up now and then, just not regularly. But for those who are starting their vacations now and won't be checking in, we'd like to go ahead and wish you a very merry Christmas and all God's blessings in the new year!

Daily roundup

’I am a loser’

Haggard This article has a good update on former pastor Ted Haggard. It is also a good reminder of the dangers of keeping sins hidden, the consequences we pay for unconfessed sins, that sexual sin is a serious issue facing the church today, and lastly, that change is a process and it takes time.

Only God can transform people. May Ted Haggard reach that goal through the healing process he’s in now.

(Image © Andy Rogers for the AP)

The politics of despair

Weyrich Prominent conservative activist Paul Weyrich has died at the age of 66. In his obituary at National Review Online, one passage in particular caught my eye:

Although it takes a faith in the future to start projects such as these, Weyrich’s idealism often was driven by [a] sense of despair. He resigned as president of the Heritage Foundation in order to work on the congressional elections of 1974 — a very bad year for the GOP, in the wake of Watergate. At a time of high anxiety for conservatives, he started yet another group, the Committee for the Survival of a Free Congress. Four years later, it became the Free Congress Foundation. . . .

Weyrich always believed in the promise of conservatism, even when he worried about its prospects. In 1999, he declared the culture war lost, though he urged social conservatives to keep on fighting anyway. Earlier this year, he issued another troubling diagnosis: “Many conservatives appear to be tired, their ideas exhausted.”

I was working for Family Research Council in 1999 when Weyrich made that first declaration, and I remember how upset many people were over it. There were fears that he had gone squishy, and anger that he was being so discouraging to a movement that was working so hard to promote and defend socially conservative values.

Yet looking back now, in the light of this piece, it seems admirable that he was able to keep fighting for these values even with that "sense of despair." As someone who tends to operate from the same mindset -- though, as most Christians do, I try to avoid full-out despair and hang on as hard as I can to my hope in Christ -- I can appreciate now how dedicated he was and much he was able to accomplish.  Despair -- or discouragement, or whatever you want to call it -- is so often a paralyzing force, that we don't always realize it's possible to push through it, or even be "driven" by it.

While I'd much rather be a "happy warrior" like, say, Mark Steyn, I don't seem to have been designed that way. But it's rather inspiring than otherwise, when you think about it, to know that Eeyores can fight too. R.I.P.

(Image © AP)

Room at the hospital

Imagery_christmas Bethlehem has its problems, as Zoe pointed out the other day. But one hospital, "a mere 500 yards from the traditional site of Jesus' birth . . . is committed to seeing that no expectant mother is ever told there is 'no room.'" Visit the Holy Family Hospital of Bethlehem Foundation, and find out how you can donate or even host a baby shower for the babies of Bethlehem.

(Image via HFHBF)

’Where Is Jesus?’

This Christmas season has been a difficult one at my church, as we've been struggling with the loss of two of our members. This month, Bruce Heacock died from complications of what I believe was Trisomy 9. Last month, Carolyn Usher, secretary in our church music office and a loving, motherly presence to all of us involved in the music ministry, died after a month in a coma following a car accident.

With the church's permission, I'm reprinting here a short Christmas essay that Carolyn wrote in 1998. It's a valuable reminder that -- even when Christmas is a season of loss -- reminders of Christ are everywhere we look.

WHERE IS JESUS?
By Carolyn Usher

Christmas is coming but where is Jesus?  Shhh now, we are not supposed to offend anyone!  Dare we even say the “J” word as we celebrate our “Winter Holiday?”  YES, YES, YES!!  If we don’t tell anyone about Jesus’ birthday, no one else will.  And there are people who need to hear the whole story.  In fact, why not start by telling our own children?

Remember how Moses told the Israelites to tell their children about God’s commandments?   In Deuteronomy 6, Moses tells the people to impress the commandments on your children, talk about them when you sit a home, and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you get up.

Let’s translate that verse for today, and tell our children about Jesus.  Perhaps it would go something like this:  Impress Jesus on  your children, and talk about Jesus when you sit at home rewinding the video tape; when you drive your van full of little people to the grocery store or to the soccer practice; and when you lie down and when you get up (after having fallen asleep when you were lying down getting them to sleep!).

We may not see Jesus nestled in a manger scene in the mall, but reminders of Him are everywhere we look.  So let’s look for reminders of Jesus and start talking about Him to our children.

Continue reading "’Where Is Jesus?’" »

The Point Radio: A Sore Loser

Peace on earth, goodwill to men?...


Click play above to listen.

Catherine Larson, "A Voice in Ramah," BreakPoint Online, 10 January 2007.

December 18, 2008

Daily roundup

Holy Days?

T.M. Moore writes in the December issue of BreakPoint WorldView Magazine:

Many people no longer think of even our most sacred seasons as “holy days” but have learned to regard them simply as “holidays” along with “Administrative Workers’ Week” and “Postal Delivery Person’s Day.” The great sacred seasons of the year have been required to put aside their miters and don the party caps of fools. Visitors to discount chain stores are greeted by friendly smiles and “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas.” In Knoxville, where we lived for seven years, a local radio station boasted 24-hour “holiday” music, and it meant it. Plenty of familiar sacred melodies were featured in the mix each year, but only rarely were the lyrics of those songs included, whereas the “holiday” songs were sung nearly always, all stanzas. Public schools and corporate offices observe each holiday season yet studiously minimize any religious component (Winter Holidays, Spring Holidays). Probably the most anticipated aspect of the Advent season by the children even of the Church is the gifts they will receive on Christmas morning, not the candle-light service they might attend the night before.

Read the rest of the article here.

Spreading the message of forgiveness

Mainbook1 Congratulations to Catherine on a great Publisher's Weekly review for her forthcoming book, As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda:

This isn’t an easy book to read or digest, yet its message is mandatory: “Forgiveness can push out the borders of what we believe is possible. Reconciliation can offer us a glimpse of the transfigured world to come.”

Click here and scroll down for more (via the As We Forgive blog).

(Image © Zondervan)

Giving the Gift of Freedom

Wonderfullymade "You can't make the difference for all people, but you can make all the difference for one person," said IJM president Gary Haugen at a recent benefit dinner in D.C.

Maybe you can't free every person from forced bondage in India's rock quarries. Maybe you can't drive out every child exploiter in Haiti. And maybe you can't deliver every girl from sexual slavery in southeast Asia. But maybe you can help one.

If you're still looking for last-minute Christmas gifts, consider giving the gift of freedom. Here are a few ideas:

  • Described at once as "funky and frilly," Wonderfully Made jewelry helps create sustainable jobs for victims of sex trafficking. Eye-catching necklaces, bracelets, and earrings range in price from $25 to $325.
  • Similarly, NightLight provides jobs and aftercare for women leaving the sex industry in Bangkok, Thailand. The jewelry includes everything from colorful pearl designs to elegant wood ensembles.

Another way you can give the gift of freedom is to make sure your stores aren't benefiting from slave labor. Before you head to the mall, send an email to your store of choice letting them know that you value freedom over their merchandise.

(Image © Wonderfully Made)

None of the people, none of the time

Obama_warren President-elect Obama is quickly learning what happens to politicians who attempt to make unifying gestures: They get shot down from all sides. Gay leaders are infuriated by his choice of Pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his Inauguration, because they think Warren is too conservative. At the same time, some of the conservative Christians to whom he was presumably trying to appeal are angry because they think Warren is selling out.

(While I understand what they're saying, I disagree. A Christian leader given the opportunity to stand up and pray for the nation in public on an important occasion should generally take it, I think, no matter who's doing the asking. In case Warren should get up and launch into a panegyric about how Obama is The Most Holy Anointed Faultless Messianic One, I reserve the right to rescind my statement, but for now that's how I feel about it. Besides, it's not like I wanted to see the Reverend Wright up there on that platform.)

(Image © Richard Vogel/AP)

And They Thought Wrong...

Thinking they'd caught a fiendish tree logging scheme in progress, one group of campaigners called police in to investigate the crime scene. The crime fighters in Subkowy, Poland found the culprits, but haven't charged them. Find out why at Uncommon Descent

The Point Radio: Comfort Food

Where are you turning for comfort?...


Click play above to listen.

Health Takes a Hit as the Economy Creates More Stress,” USA Today, 7 October 2008.

December 17, 2008

Daily roundup

The death of civility

Anika Smith sends this deeply disturbing Web page from a group called Bash Back! bragging about their vandalism against a Mormon church. I'd give the page an R rating for language and sexual remarks, so please be aware before you click of what you're getting into, and proceed at your own risk. I post the link because this kind of thing -- not just the attacks, but the crowing over them -- is representative of a trend of which we all need to be aware.

I'm not talking about increasing amounts of violence and vandalism against religious conservatives. I'm talking about the open approval of such tactics by those who oppose them. You don't have to go to the URL above to see it: You can go to mainstream sites to read the comments about the fire set at Sarah Palin's church while people were inside, or to read about the online hilarity that ensued after an Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at President Bush.

Are we witnessing the death of civility and the onset of a new age of intolerance against religion?

Where the Sidewalk Ends: Apocalyptic Edition

Apocalypse Offline, we've just been discussing the impending end of the earth.

The latest news is that the earth may have a hole--not in the ozone layer, but in its magnetic field. We're not kidding -- read here. And we thought the asteroid was bad news. Our good friend Roberto keeps us informed of these things, spreading the holiday cheer we all so desperately need.

It seems we're not alone in bracing for either a) the Apocalypse or b) as Roberto likes to say, not the start of The End Days, but a whole bunch of really crappy ones in a row. (Roberto, it seems, has been reading The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly. He highly recommends it.) Hollywood is pretty sure it's about to happen also. Between the new movies 2012 and Knowing, we're actually a little late around here in getting on the apocalyptic band wagon.

So in hopes that you'll be well prepared and also prepare your children well for what may be everyone's last Christmas, I've worked up a little recommended reading list, BreakPoint style. Here are a few titles to put under the tree or use at bedtime:

  • Goodnight Moon, and Other Stories of Impending Nuclear Holocaust
  • Who Moved My Planet?
  • The Monster at the End of This Book (includes your own envelope of anthrax powder)
  • Chicka-chicka-atomic-boom-boom
  • Horton Hears a Hypercane
  • Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See? (I See Pestilence in 2023)

While you're at it, you might want to go ahead and order a set of rapture preparedness cards for your church or home. They're really a must-have.

(Image courtesy of Evermotion.org)

Finding Jesus in the South Bronx

15presepio480 How do you take a 2,000-year-old event and make it fresh and real for modern eyes?  For writers and artists, the answer is often to inject some imagination. 

That's what Joseph Sciorra has done with his Nativity scene set in the South Bronx of 1975

“The South Bronx always seemed to me to be another landscape suited to the Nativity narrative,” said Mr. Sciorra, a folklorist who has long studied Italian-American religious expression. “God is being born in a humble situation, right? What’s more humble than the South Bronx in 1975?"

(Image © David Gonzalez for the New York Times)

’Life is Short So Have an Affair’

This is the motto of the Ashley Madison Agency, an agency that will help married folks hook up with each other. For a mere $249 they will even guarantee that you will have an affair within 90 days or they will give you your money back.

Hmmmm, this might make me wonder what my spouse sees in me.

According to the article here, 30-60% of married folk have affairs and, as deception begets deception, 2-3% of those affairs result in a child whom the women do not tell their husbands is someone else's.

Ashley Madison makes it sound so inviting, so easy, and hey -- no one will know! What they don’t tell you about is the heartache and betrayal that happens when the affair is discovered. From the innocent spouse to the child that isn’t told who his real father is, there is a trail of tears, broken hearts, and lost trust in relationships.

Study after study demonstrates the disastrous effects divorce has on relationships. How sad it is to promote infidelity and risk the breaking of a marriage and family for sordid gain.

Ashley Madison’s motto reflects its worldview. “Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we may die.” If marriage is simply an arrangement between two people, then why not have affairs and go for all the gusto you can get?

Continue reading "’Life is Short So Have an Affair’" »

Seminary graduates, peacemakers, inmates

Fourteen prisoners in South Carolina received associate of arts degrees from Columbia International University last week. Like the graduates of a similar program in Louisiana, started by Burl Cain, the warden at Angola, these men are being commissioned as peacemakers within the prison system of South Carolina. 

Their theological training will be put to work in a very practical way, as they live out their faith and advocate for nonviolence in the often tense and violence-plagued atmosphere of prison life.  By allowing the program, the state hopes to benefit by seeing lower levels of violent behavior, a hope that has already been realized in Louisiana, where 147 inmates have completed the program run by New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

The broad, systemic change has already begun in the lives of the fourteen men who graduated.

As the men passed [to receive their diplomas], Rebecca Rockholt of Hartsville caught her son Joseph’s eye, gave a little wave and dabbed her eyes as the tears began to fall.

“There have been a lot of prayers,” said Rockholt, accompanied by her husband, Oliver, daughter, Tammy, and niece, Heather. “It’s such a blessing.”

Joseph entered prison in 2000 a disgruntled man, but his family never gave up on him, he said.

“My mother told me this will either make you a better person or a bitter person,” he said, as he smiled and handed her his diploma. He graduated at the top of his class, with a perfect 4.0 grade point average.

Christmas in Small-Town America

Christmas_lights_14 As my husband and I have been driving through rural Alabama and Florida, we've been delightfully surprised to see hundreds of homes and businesses lavishly decorated for Christmas, complete with manger scenes, not only in front of private residences but also in town square after town square.  And when we stop to shop, we've been delighted to hear choruses of "Merry Christmas" nearly every place we go.

I remarked to my husband that it feels more like the America we grew up in, where people and communities weren't ashamed (or afraid of legal repercussions) to celebrate their faith in Jesus Christ. It's been lovely, and has done more to get me in the Christmas spirit than anything else I've done this year. 

(Image © About.com)

The Point Radio: A Christmas Prayer

These parents can’t promise, “I’ll be home for Christmas”....


Click play above to listen.

Learn more about Angel Tree and how you can help.

December 16, 2008

Daily roundup

Abortion and the new administration: Make your voice heard

Baraobam12 A coalition of pro-choice organizations has sent Barack Obama and his transition team a document titled "Advancing Reproductive Rights and Health in a New Administration," which has been posted on the president-elect's website.

The document "urge[s] the next President to articulate and implement a vision for a new, commonsense approach to the nation's and the world's pressing reproductive health needs," and outlines the actions they would like to see him take toward that end -- including improving access to abortion worldwide, increasing funding for comprehensive sex education and defunding abstinence-only programs, pushing for the Freedom of Choice Act, and appointing pro-choice judges and government officials.

The Obama website is accepting comments on this document. Click here to read it and to give your opinion.

(Image © LifeNews; H/T FRC Blog and LifeNews)

From the weird file

Garminnuvi660 This gives a whole new meaning to "seek and ye shall find." Think of all the time the Wise Men could have saved.

The Real Bethlehem

Wallofshame Continuing Anne's theme of debunking myths surrounding the birth of Christ, I thought I'd share a devotional thought from my friend Kevin Morrow who spent a month last year in Bethlehem:

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by;
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee to-night.

Episcopal priest Phillip[s] Brooks penned these immortal lines in 1868, three years after visiting the birthplace of our beloved Savior. If only the Bethlehem of today bore resemblance to the peaceful, stained-glass dream in Brooks' memorable lullaby! Unfortunately, it does not.

Concrete barricades; barbed wire; checkpoints; armored bulldozers; rows of blindfolded, handcuffed Palestinian men squatting in line under armed guard; shuttered, bullet-pocked storefronts; heaps of rubble: such was daily reality in Bethlehem during my one-month sojourn there in 2004.

The local economy had tanked badly, made worse still by travel restrictions recently imposed on the locals. Many Bethlehemites, now prisoners in their own town, lamented to me their frustrated hopes, shattered dreams and lives put on hold. The mood of Bethlehem was bored, restless, angry, desperate.   

Added to this were the perennial catfights between Muslim and Christians, traditionalist, Greek Orthodox and Catholic Christians against evangelicals, and ordinary citizens versus the corrupt Palestinian Authority government. Rumors (some true) circulated of even fistfights, low-intensity gang warfare inside the Church of the Nativity(!) among the clergy of the rival church traditions responsible for its care. The infraction: cleaning floor sections not assigned to them!

Oy…

Violence…conflict…oppression…poverty…despair…You'd think the Light of the World had never dawned in Bethlehem at all.

Continue reading "The Real Bethlehem" »

Chuck Colson on ’reaching rock bottom’

Artchuckcolson Chuck has a column at CNN's website about Gov. Blagojevich's arrest. Here's a sample:

If anyone knows how Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich feels right now, I do.

On Tuesday, the governor was arrested in a glare of publicity and charged with going on "a corruption crime spree," as U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald described it -- including alleged attempts to sell President-elect Barack Obama's Senate seat.

Some 35 years ago that ugly glare of publicity was focused on me as I was charged with a Watergate-related crime, subsequently convicted and sent to prison. The governor hasn't been convicted and is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

In the wake of Blagojevich's arrest, many Americans are left wondering once again how intelligent people can do such stupid things -- especially when they've achieved the pinnacle of power.

The answer comes down to pride.

Read more.

There’s more than one way to buy a Senate seat

Kennedy2 Must be nice to be a member of the Royal Family. It kind of makes you wonder what might have happened if Sarah Palin's name had been Sarah Kennedy.

(Image © Damon Winter for the New York Times)

The Point Radio: Jolly Old Saint Nick

What will you tell your children about Santa Claus?...


Click play above to listen.

Learn more about the St. Nicholas Center.

December 15, 2008

Daily roundup