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July 06, 2009

Daily roundup

Exploitative TV

25realitytv.480 I normally wouldn't have much to say about reality television shows because I don't watch them, but the dreary news about a certain couple with eight children, and their decision to divorce, has been everywhere, and I haven't been able to escape it. 

Colleen Caroll Campbell, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, maintains that the repercussion of reality shows are far larger than the individual lives of the people being filmed and the kids being exploited.  

Campbell discusses a new book called The Mirror Effect, which shows that the more time a person spends watching this degrading behavior, the likelier he or she will be to "mimic that behavior."

She offers a curative to this effect, but I'll let you read what it is.

(Image © TLC)

Stop the Tweets!

Twitter A few weeks ago I blogged about the perils of Twitter. Nice to know that there are at least 18 possible arguments against microblogging from moral philosophy.

Take a look and have a laugh. 

Glass houses

As Frank Schaeffer continues his quest to distance himself from conservatism and evangelicalism, his tone grows ever shriller:

What are the Republicans in Congress and the other "respectable" leaders on the far right -- from Focus on the Family's James Dobson to Rush Limbaugh, from Laura Ingraham to the leaders of the NRA -- doing to stop the right-wing domestic wave of terrorism exploding in the aftermath of President Barack Obama's election? I ask this as a former evangelical right-wing and "pro-life" leader who quit the right and the Republicans in disgust over their extremism. . . .

There's a biblical story about the stoning to death of St. Stephen, where the yet-to-be-converted-apostle Paul didn't throw the deadly stones himself but stood holding the coats of the people doing the killing. Similarly, the right-wing leadership, are "holding the coats" of present and future violent actors. These coat-holders sow the seeds of hate with their words, then pretend horror when those words are taken seriously.

Here's what I don't get: If Schaeffer truly believes that the language of conservative leaders is inflammatory, and that inflammatory language leads to violence, then why is he using inflammatory language himself?

July 03, 2009

The Johnny Cash song you’ve never heard

Well, maybe you have, but I'd never heard it before the local country station played it the other day, in honor of Independence Day. Enjoy, and have a happy Fourth!

July 02, 2009

Daily roundup

When Python met Spock

I was saving this for a fun Friday video, but we have tomorrow off, so it can be a fun Thursday video instead. (But do stop back in tomorrow morning for a couple of Independence Day posts.) Enjoy!


H/T Roger Overton

As the French might say, this is just a little ’de trop’

H/T Breitbart (vulgarity in comments)

And he didn’t get there by crying in Argentina

Karl Mona Malden Funny the way things work, isn't it? Just when marriages seem to be falling apart left and right, when some are predicting or even calling for the destruction of the institution, along comes a gentle reminder that the death of marriage has been greatly exaggerated.

With the news of the death of acting great Karl Malden, God rest him, came the news that Karl and his wife, Mona, had been married 70 years.

Seventy years.

Thank God, some couples still have it.

(Image © David Livingston for Getty Images)

For our fellow hymn-lovers

250px-'A'_(PSF) The following was printed in my choir bulletin last night. I thought you all would appreciate it.

THANK YOU to our men vocalists and brass players for their inspiring presentation of the great hymns, including "Immortal, Invisible" last Sunday, June 28. The following are additional verses to [the] same tune.

Immoral, impossible, God only knows
How tenors and basses, sopranos, altos
At service on Sunday are rarely the same
As those who on Wednesday to choir practice came.

Unready, unable to sight-read the notes,
Nor counting, nor blending, they tighten their throats:
The descant so piercing is soaring above
A melody only a mother could love.

They have a director, but one wonders why:
No one in the choir deigns turn him an eye.
It's clear by his flailing, he wants them to look,
But each singer slouches with nose in the book.

Despite the offenses, the music rings out.
The folks in the pews are enraptured, no doubt.
Their faces are blissful, their thoughts appear deep,
But it is no wonder, for they are asleep.

(Author, unknown. We will be accepting equally abusive verses for instrumentalists.)

(Note: If anyone wants to take up that challenge, I'll be happy to pass the results along to our music and worship administrator/newsletter editor, Karen Maxfield.)

Please tell me this is not true

Jackson children THIS is why we need to more strictly regulate the whole industry of sperm donors, egg donors, surrogate mothers, whom eggs and babies are given (sold) to, etc. Evidently, one surrogate mother had no idea that the child she was carrying (biologically hers? or somebody else's?) would ultimately be absorbed into Michael Jackson's freak show. Shouldn't she have? Plus, Jackson never filed the paperwork necessary to legally adopt the children?

So--somebody just handed three innocent children over to someone who'd been charged (more than once) with child molestation? Please tell me this isn't true. No, don't bother, because I won't believe you.

(Image © Splash News)

July 01, 2009

Daily roundup

Going Deeper with ’My Sister’s Keeper’

MSK I haven't yet had the chance to see My Sister's Keeper, the new movie based on the bestselling book by Jodi Picoult, but I understand that it is an important film in the ongoing discussion of bioethics.

The film deals with the real issue known as "savior sibling." In the U.S. today it is legal to select an embryo so that it will be most compatible genetically to a sibling who may need medical attention. The first documented case in the U.S. was with Adam Nash in 2000.

Of course, there are not only ethical issues involved with using a child as a donor, but also the ethical issues involved in what happens to the many embryos who are not "selected." We euphemistically dodge those. We'll be featuring a great article on the subject in the next few days from Jennifer Lahl, the Director of the Center of Bioethics. In the meantime, I was reading a fascinating interview with author Jodi Picoult about how she came up with the storyline for the book. Here's what she has to say:

I came about the idea for this novel through the back door of a previous one, Second Glance. While researching eugenics for that book, I learned that the American Eugenics Society -- the one whose funding dried up in the 1930s when the Nazis began to explore racial [hygiene] too -- used to be housed in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Guess who occupies the same space, today? The Human Genome Project… which many consider "today's eugenics". This was just too much of a coincidence for me, and I started to consider the way this massive, cutting edge science we're on the brink of exploding into was similar… and different from… the eugenics programs and sterilization laws in America in the 1930s. Once again, you've got science that is only as ethical as the people who are researching and implementing it -- and once again, in the wake of such intense scientific advancement, what's falling by the wayside are the emotions involved in the case by case scenarios. I heard about a couple in America that successfully conceived a sibling that was a bone marrow match for his older sister, a girl suffering from a rare form of leukemia. His cord blood cells were given to the sister, who is still (several years later) in remission. But I started to wonder… what if she ever, sadly, goes out of remission? Will the boy feel responsible? Will he wonder if the only reason he was born was because his sister was sick? When I started to look more deeply at the family dynamics and how stem cell research might cause an impact, I came up with the story of the Fitzgeralds.

You can read the rest of the interview here. A trailer for the film is below the jump.

Continue reading "Going Deeper with ’My Sister’s Keeper’" »

June 30, 2009

Jack Black, Nietzschean

Jack Black The star of Year One is into that whole "superman vs. the slave mentality" thing. I hope to goodness someone clues him in.

(Image © Columbia Pictures)

June 29, 2009

Waiting on the Lord

707_jmilton You lovers of literature might want to check out my recent piece on John Milton's "When I Consider How My Light Is Spent" over at the Wilberforce Forum's new website. While you're there, check out some more of the most recent pieces, such as this and this.

(Image courtesy of The Wilberforce Project)

’Helllllllp me! Hellllllp me!’

300px-CharlesHerbert2 I couldn't help but think, after reading a recent BreakPoint commentary, of another famous fly in American history. You science fiction/horror film buffs know what fly I mean: This one.

For those not familiar with The Fly (spoiler alert), it's about a scientist named Andre who is attempting to perfect a teleportation machine. Convinced that it will work, after experiments teleporting the family cat and a rodent, he decides to teleport himself. Unbeknownst to Andre, a common house fly flies into the cabin. The horrifying result: Both Andre and the fly became hybrids. The scientist has the fly's head, arm/claw, and leg, while the fly has a human head (although, bizarrely, both the scientist and the fly appear to have at least a portion of the scientist's brains).

In the end, the scientist asks his wife to help him commit suicide, which she does. But  what about the hybrid fly? The scientist's brother, Francois, and Inspector Charas, who is investigating Andre's death, are out in the garden. As Wikipedia puts it, they "hear a tiny voice coming from a nearby spider's web. They make the dreadful discovery of a tiny creature with Andre's emaciated head and arm with the body of a fly, screaming 'Help me! Help me!' as it is about to be devoured by a large spider. The inspector, horrified by the sight, mercifully crushes the prey and the predator with a stone, putting the fly out of its misery."

Francois (played by Vincent Price) tells the inspector that he is as guilty of murder as Andre's wife, who helped Andre commit suicide. Both of them killed a human being.

The same argument cannot be made for Obama's fly, who was....just a fly, destined to die within 20-30 days, anyway. Absolutely no moral equivalence with humans. I'm glad Obama killed it--flies carry germs.

(Image © 20th Century Fox)

Why are TV crime dramas so popular?

L-o-15x01 I'm doing a little research for one of our staff members and I'm curious to hear our readers' thoughts and insights. We are wondering why the genre of crime drama is so popular in current American television (think CSI and its many spinoffs, the various versions of Law and Order, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Bones, Without a Trace, NCIS, etc). What draws viewers to these shows and what does that appeal say about our attitude toward crime and prisoners in general?

I found this study, which offers at least three divergent hypotheses. I'm not sure if I buy them, though.

(Image © NBC)

Scientology: The beginning of the end?

180px-StresstestA devastating exposé of Scientology's "culture of intimidation and violence" has some people wondering if the high-profile cult might not be long for this world.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Good News out of Iraq

Iraq-radiostation

Joel Rosenberg reports this bit of good news about what is happening with Iraqi Christians, who now have their own radio station:

That station -- which can be heard throughout the Kurdish region and thus by more than two million people -- is broadcasting Christian music, original and previously-produced educational programs, original and previously-produced cultural programs, Bible reading programs and radio dramas based on the Bible. All of this is in the Kurdish and Arabic languages.

One Iraqi Christian, and station manager, said, "Growing up under the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, we never thought we would see the day when we who love Jesus could run a radio station in Iraq.... We are excited to see how the Lord will use us to bless the Iraqi people, and particularly the Kurdish people. Please be praying for us that the Lord's favor would be with us and we would make a real impact in people's lives here."

I'm praying. Will you? 

(Image courtesy of Joel Rosenberg's Weblog)

June 26, 2009

Daily roundup

Tipping point for the Teen Choice Awards?

TCA Regrettably, the Teen Choice Awards show has never been in the best of taste, as I've lamented over and over. But this year, it's become truly horrific.

Never mind Twilight and Gossip Girl. We're talking about a nomination for infamous gossip blogger and displayer of semi-pornographic photos Perez Hilton -- yes, he of the Carrie Prejean brouhaha, though that's probably the least of his offenses. No, I'm not linking to him. I'm not even giving out his URL, not even with a warning or disclaimer. That's how bad his site is.

And he's nominated for a TEEN Choice Award.

The people behind the TCAs may have finally gone too far with this one. I saw the news on a secular message board where the general attitude is, shall we say, pretty free and easy. And even there, people were shocked and upset.

There's a petition here to remove Hilton's nomination. You can sign it if you want, but Web petitions aren't generally considered very effective. A better move would be to write to Fox and to the show's official sponsor, TeenPeople. I'll be doing it, and I hope you will too. It may have something of the feeling of rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic -- but it's a start. Who knows? This may finally be the tipping point that changes things at the TCA.

(Image © Teen Choice Awards)

Say ’No’ to ’Transformers 2,’ Too

Transformers 2 Sounds like the new Transformers movie (thanks to Fred for the link) is just as bad as Year One. I love movies, and I don't mind seeing good ones more than once in the theater. But, so far this summer, only Up and Star Trek have earned the right to my repeat business. What about you?

(Image © DreamWorks/Paramount)

King of Pop, R.I.P.

Michael_Jackson_1984

Andrew Sullivan is right on the money in his discussion of the tragic life and death of Michael Jackson:

There are two things to say about him. He was a musical genius; and he was an abused child. By abuse, I do not mean sexual abuse; I mean he was used brutally and callously for money, and clearly imprisoned by a tyrannical father. He had no real childhood and spent much of his later life struggling to get one. He was spiritually and psychologically raped at a very early age - and never recovered. Watching him change his race, his age, and almost his gender, you saw a tortured soul seeking what the rest of us take for granted: a normal life . . .

. . . Of course, he bears responsibility for his bizarre life. But the damage done to him by his own family and then by all those motivated more by money and power than by faith and love was irreparable in the end. He died a while ago. He remained for so long a walking human shell.

Read the entire thing. (As a bonus, Sullivan has embedded Jackson's legendary performance at the 25th anniversary celebration of Motown.)

I have nothing to add about Jackson save "God rest his soul." But I do want to say something about Roberto's Rule #6: no minor child should ever be the principal source of support for his family. Period. Parents are intended by God, natural selection, the Tao, etc., to provide for their children until they can take care of themselves and not the other way around. Departing from this standard inevitably distorts the parent-child relationship to the detriment of everyone.

In some cases, like Jackson's, the deleterious effects are obvious. In other cases, they're (a lot) more subtle but just as real. In every instance, it's a bad idea bordering on the abusive.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

June 25, 2009

Honor their service

Thumb_hts_banner_336x280 The second annual "Troopathon" is being celebrated today, in support of soldiers and their families. Visit Move America Forward's Troopathon site to find out what the event is all about. And don't miss the tributes being published on Big Hollywood, which has devoted the entire day to Troopathon. (Be aware that BH contains the occasional suggestive image and rough language.)

(Image © Troopathon)

June 24, 2009

Daily roundup

Run from ’Year One’

Year One My 10-year-old granddaughter and I saw the preview for the new Jack Black film Year One the other day. We both remarked that it looked funny and might be worth seeing. Thank goodness I read this review first. From Victoria Jackson's description, Judd Apatow & Co. must have written the film on toilet paper!

I'm grateful that Ms. Jackson had the good sense to get up and leave the theater, and was kind enough to warn the rest of us to stay away.

(Image © Columbia Pictures)

If you’re in Britain, you’re in luck

Venushead-mediumThe opera Perelandra, based on the second book in C. S. Lewis's space trilogy, will premiere this week at Oxford. If you get to go, have a great time, and try not to think of all of us over here who are green with envy.

(And Brits are in luck this week for other reasons as well.)

(Image courtesy of The Perelandra Project)

June 23, 2009

Stuff Christians Hate (Or Should)

Barefoot Roberto alerted me to the Stuff Christians Like site and the spinoff called Stuff Christian Culture Likes, which are very funny. But this picture made me wince. It wasn't the bare feet thing so much as the rock band plus the words-up-on-a-screen thing. I think there's a reason God repeatedly tells his people to sing (as opposed to appointing a Christian version of a Greek Chorus to sing FOR us at church). As T. M. Moore writes in "Whatever Happened to Singing," "It's curious, but Scripture gives us no specific guidance in how to listen to music. Music, according to the Bible, is not the spectator sport we have made it to be." 

Even when congregations are encouraged to sing along to the music of the band, there is, inevitably, too much focus on the (very loud) singers up on the stage at the expense of focusing one's thoughts on God. And I can't help but think that being up in front of worshipers performing puts the entertainers' minds on themselves instead of the Almighty. ("Do I look okay? How do I sound?")

I can't think of a scriptural criticism of big screens with verses on them, but I hate them anyway. Why do we need these things? If you can read the words on a screen, why not read them out of a hymnal? Does anyone think a big screen makes a church sanctuary look more attractive? And--as my husband, a veteran of a number of church choirs, has noted--without the musical instructions in hymn books, congregations no longer know HOW to sing anything but the simplest melodies. Brent once began singing the harmony of a famous hymn whose words were shown on a screen (a hymn he was familiar with through following the harmony line in hymn books). He was shocked to find that he was the only man singing the harmony. Nobody else appeared to realize there even was one. And the new "praise choruses" (inflicted on us by "music teams") and other contemporary abominations NEVER offer anything but simple (and often sappy) melodies.

There's been a huge loss of depth in church music, and I am angry about it. In A Severe Mercy, Sheldon Vanauken writes that he and his wife, Davy, while still unbelievers, used to go into churches to listen to the music. Today, I suspect very few churches would draw strangers in with the beauty and complexity of their music.  

Finally--whatever happened to dressing up for church? What we wear reflects our respect for the occasion. When we meet to worship the One who saved us from eternal damnation--shouldn't our clothing reflect it? It occurred to me recently (when confronted with the wrinkled T-shirt and torn jeans of a worshiper in the pew in front of me) that the only thing people dress up for anymore, at church, is weddings and funerals. They do this partly because they know the bride will KILL them if they show up in jeans on her special day, and also because they know a grieving family will never forgive them if they show up in shorts and thongs at a loved one's funeral. In other words, they show respect for the occasion. So who gave them a permission slip to wear, Sunday after Sunday, the grubbiest clothes in their wardrobe when worshiping the King of Kings?

(Image courtesy of Stuff Christian Culture Likes)

A tribute to Neda

Jon (minus) Kate + 8

Gosselins It's official: Jon and Kate Gosselin have filed for divorce. However, they evidently have no plans to discontinue their show: they'll just tape their segments with the kids separately.

Though I have seen only a few of the episodes, I find the news of the Gosselins' impending divorce a cause to grieve -- for these children and for this couple, who seem to think wealth and fame are more important than marriage and family. How I wish Jon and Kate would turn off the cameras, get into marriage counseling, and -- for the sake of their eight children -- act like adults rather than glory hounds.

One thing for certain, I won't be watching any of the "post-divorce" episodes: I can't imagine there being any entertainment value in watching Jon and Kate break the hearts of their children. Pray for them.

(Image © TLC)

June 22, 2009

Daily roundup

June 19, 2009

I was saved by a Christian movie review

The-hangover Well, not exactly. Though I did learn a valuable lesson the other week when a co-worker of mine revealed to me the graphic and perverse content of a movie I ignorantly wanted to see, it’s an overstatement to say I would have lost my soul.

The movie is titled The Hangover. From what I had seen of the previews, it was a movie about a few young men who go to Las Vegas for their friend’s bachelor party. After waking up the next morning from a drunken night of partying, they have a few unanswered questions about the night before, such as how they came into the possession of a baby, why a tiger was in the bathroom, where the groom was, and why one of the men was missing a tooth. I found the strange mix of problems to be utterly hilarious. The movie seemed to hinge on the storyline of these men unraveling the details of their strange circumstances and finding their friend who is expected at the altar in five hours.

The movie is a box-office hit and raked in over $105 million in the first two weeks of its release.

Since the movie is rated R, I should have known there is some inappropriate material, and perhaps writing this post is penance for my willingness to pay and see a movie that lacks integrity and virtue. 

Fortunately for me, I mentioned my intention to see this movie to a co-worker, who decided to search for a review at Plugged In Online, a website and resource of Focus on the Family. In this review the seedy details of the movie were uncovered: a full array of “gratuitously explicit moments” including male and female nudity. I was relieved to have this review at my disposal. Without it I might have found myself on the most awkward date of my life (and that’s saying something). 

Continue reading "I was saved by a Christian movie review" »

Technological revolution

I've been following the events in Iran with fascination, all the more because a friend of mine just returned from a mission trip there. As she pointed out, with such a minuscule percentage of the Iranian population professing Christ (0.2%, according to Wikipedia), the young people who are risking their lives for the sake of freedom are, in most cases, risking much, much more--their eternal destiny and a life apart from God. Pray for the Iranians to know the true freedom of the Gospel.

One of the reasons we know so much about what has been happening in Iran this last week is technology. The kinds of things that become useless time wasters for us (who cares what Ashton Kutcher ate for lunch?) are the very things that have allowed news of the post-election chaos in Iran to make it past government censors and a foreign media ban. NBC Nightly News ran a piece last night on several Iranian youth who are attending school here in the U.S. and are working hard to keep their peers back home online despite government bans.


At the same time, over at the State Department, a leftover from the Bush administration has been the driving force behind keeping Twitter online and working with cell phone providers to develop technology that would allow people to access Twitter without Internet service.

I guess this Time piece on geeks inheriting the earth has finally come true. If nothing else, they may help to make the earth a more hospitable place for the people of Iran. We can all hope.

June 18, 2009

Daily roundup

President Obama Thwarts a Terrorist Attack

President Obama thwarted the attack while he was conducting an interview on CNBC. At first he tried diplomacy by saying, "Get out of here." When that didn't work, he resorted to violence, while the camera was still rolling.

Okay, it really wasn't a terrorist attack, but the way mainstream media is fawning all over the President, you'd think that's what he did.

But not everyone is happy. The PETA folks were in shock. They couldn't believe their admired President had killed a helpless animal. They thought he should have continued his diplomacy effort.

Of course, the Democrats blamed President Bush for introducing the fly into the studio, while Nancy Pelosi, in a hastily called news conference, blamed the CIA for lying to her about whether the fly had any WMDs on it. She also said Americans don't torture flies.*

Despite all of the hoopla, President Obama was quite pleased with himself and said, "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it?"

So look out, Bin Laden. We have a President that will smack you down.

*Not really.

Chastity and, um, not Chastity

Lenny-kravitz__1424496c Dawn Eden, author of The Thrill of the Chaste, has two interesting pieces up on her blog. The first includes a link to this article in The Telegraph on Lenny Kravitz's celibate lifestyle:

"It took years to get it right. To actually do it, and really try to walk the walk and not just talk it. It’s not like it’s not important – I think sex and intimacy and all that is very important. It’s just that I’m going to do it with my wife." He laughs. "And not everybody else."

This summer, not long after he turns 45, it will be four years. The final trigger came after a night in the Carlyle Hotel in New York. (His apartment was under renovation.) "I was doing my normal thing and I was with somebody, and I remember waking up in the morning thinking, 'What am I doing?' It’s not that I was all over the place. It’s not, like, groupies or somebody you’d pick up on the street. I didn’t carry on like that. It was somebody that I know. But it was still, 'What am I doing? And why?' And that morning I was just talking to God, as I do, and I said, 'You got to help me to stop this. I just really want to stop this.' And that was the day that it changed."

The second is a post Dawn has written about Chastity Bono's announcement that she will undergo a sex change and become Chaz. Here's a snippet, but the entire post is worth reading at Dawn's blog:

It seems Chastity has always had a hole in her heart that could not be filled. I know what that is like because I have felt it myself. It is only because of God's grace that I have learned, not without pain, to endure it from hour to hour and day to day; to invite Jesus to enter into it, receiving Him through the Eucharist, and to begin, in His love, to learn how the space in my heart can shelter others regardless of whether they are able to shelter me.

I believe that, rather than live with the vacuum, Chastity is seeking to eliminate what she sees as its source. To her, it will be a physical confirmation of an identity she already possesses. Perhaps, in a sense, she is right. "Chastity the girl" may have died a long time ago.

(Image © Jesse Frohman for the Telegraph)

Tweet Tweet

Twitter Technology updates at lightning speed and gains eager users in droves. New advances seem like the next best thing, but are they really? Mere newness fails to imply "better."

Such is the deal with Twitter. Until recently, I never thought I would Twitter...or is it "tweet"? Now I do, and I like it...to an extent. When used as a tool to deliver important information, the site is a top-notch tool. But what are we doing to ourselves with the constant use of technology and a rarely-ceasing barrage of updates?

Part of being human is interaction with other...um...human beings, not merely with text on a screen sent from a friend far away (or in the adjacent cubicle) who sent the text from another machine. Maybe our pace is too fast.

Rather than pausing to consider what we are taking in, we are pressured to rush rather than reflect. Can we really function this quickly, or have we simply conditioned ourselves to believe this pace is necessary?

I am not advocating doing away with social networking sites. They have their benefits and have potential to spawn great thought and debate. But before we jump in with both feet, maybe we should consider the pace of our lives and how much information is really necessary. Maybe we should pause to reflect about a practice that touches so many people and consumes so much of our daily lives. 

Yes, pause.

(Image © Twitter)

June 17, 2009

Daily roundup

Political schizophrenia

Capt.photo_1245189794287-1-0 A good example of both the speed of the news cycle, and the President's schizophrenic thinking on social issues: When I found and collected this article this morning, it was titled "AP source: Benefits for govt workers' gay partners." When I clicked on it just now to see if there were any updates, it was titled "Obama fends off criticism from gay supporters." The odd thing is, both headlines are true.

(Image © AFP)

Religion in America: The News Isn’t All That Bad

Naysayers are predicting the end of Christianity in America, and since their pessimism is repeated incessantly, many people have come to believe it. Is their prediction true? World magazine editor Marvin Olasky says the predictions don't match reality. Find out why.

June 16, 2009

Daily roundup

All Obama, all the time

Ao The blogosphere is a-Twitter (sorry) with the news that ABC News will be going all-out to publicize President Obama's health-care plan next week. Unprecedented level of access and information-sharing, or ethical violation? What do you say?

(Image courtesy of the Drudge Report; H/T Caffeinated Thoughts)

May the Force be with him

StarWarsIV I don't know why I, a longtime resident of the D.C. area, never heard about Sen. Tom Coburn's "famous Star Wars-themed STD presentation [to Capitol Hill interns] in 2005," but I feel gypped.

At any rate, I hope the Senate Ethics Committee can get this dispute regarding these lectures (over pizza!?) resolved pretty soon. Coburn knows his stuff, and the information he has to share just might save lives.

(Image © Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century-Fox)

Redeeming fiction

My Sisters Keeper Mary DeMuth has a really good article in the current issue of BreakPoint WorldView Magazine on how fiction can bolster our faith, make us think about eternal truths, and generally be in step with a Christian approach to life. Mary just happens to be one of those rare individuals who can successfully write both fiction and nonfiction. I have a copy of her novel Daisy Chain on my reading pile right now and can't wait to get to it. 

I thought about this topic of fiction's impact last night as I finished up a Jodi Picoult novel, Perfect Match. The story involves a parent who kills the man she believes has molested her young son. Picoult manages to walk the reader through the process of thinking about whether something could be morally just and legally wrong at the same time without coming off as preachy and while resisting the temptation to spoon feed the answers. She does this by using a lot of first person narrative and showing her characters wrestling with their decisions.

I picked up Perfect Match because my library didn't have Picoult's book My Sister's Keeper, which is hitting the big screen later this month. My Sister's Keeper tells the story of a girl who was genetically engineered to donate any number of possible things (platelets, bone marrow, a kidney) to her older sister who is battling cancer. It looks like a tear-jerker of a movie, but it also looks like the kind of story that will find moviegoers leaving the theater to find a good restaurant where they can sit and talk for hours about ethics and family and love.

And that, to me, seems to suggest another reason why fiction is important. Imagine debating the topic of medical ethics with your neighbor or co-worker or friend who rejects the notion of a just and good God. Now, imagine how that conversation might be different after reading a book like My Sister's Keeper in your neighborhood book club, or watching the movie with a group of friends.

(Image © Simon and Schuster)

June 15, 2009

Daily roundup

Round up the usual suspects

Liberal columnist and talk-show host Bonnie Erbe suggests that we "round up" purveyors of hate speech before they cause violence:

Not only have we had three hate crime murders within the last two weeks ([Stephen] Johns, as noted above, Dr. George Tiller a week ago last Sunday, and Pvt. William Andrew Long by an American-born Muslim convert outside a recruiting station just before that.)

Now we have this quote from the so-called Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who used to be President Obama's pastor. Hate comes from among all peoples and all religions. He said this about his lack of communication with Barack Obama since he's been elected president, according to the AP:

"Them Jews ain't going to let him talk to me. I told my baby daughter that he'll talk to me in five years when he's a lame duck, or in eight years when he's out of office," Wright told the Daily Press of Newport News following a Tuesday night sermon at the 95th annual Hampton University Ministers' Conference.

It's not enough to prosecute these murders as murders. They are hate-motivated crimes and each of these men had been under some sort of police surveillance prior to their actions. Isn't it time we started rounding up promoters of hate before they kill?

I've been as sickened and disturbed as anyone by the incidents Erbe describes, as you all know, but I wonder if she's thought this through. "Round them up" and then do . . . what? Put them in jail for thoughtcrime? I thought that sort of thing went against everything that the left held dear. (If you'd told me back during the presidential campaign, when we were all being told to pay no attention to the man behind the pulpit, that a prominent liberal journalist would soon advocate his arrest, I'd have done a spit-take all over my keyboard.)

We need to take steps against the encouragement of violence in our society; there's no question about that. But the steps Erbe advocates would lead us in a very dangerous direction.

June 12, 2009

Daily roundup

Father’s Day flicks

Frequency Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse's Ruth Institute is running a Father's Day Movie Poll. You can click here either to vote for one of their choices, or to nominate a favorite "dad movie" of your own. This was my pick (although this is a very close runner-up). What's yours?

(Image © New Line Cinema)

There is nothing new under the sun

Anne Frank On what would have been Anne Frank's 80th birthday, the Holocaust Memorial Museum will present the new play Anne & Emmett, "an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, teenage victims of anti-Semitism and racism, respectively."

The play would have premiered Wednesday, if not for the murder of a black Holocaust Museum security guard by an anti-Semitic, racist killer.

Journalists should cringe

Newspapers While perusing a review of the crumbling state of our nation's newspaper industry, I crossed paths with these chilling words:

The unsettling possibility looms that some big cities could lose their sole remaining daily newspaper – and that the public won't care. If the dead-tree edition of a newspaper falls in a crowded media forest, will it matter, except to the journalists who work there? Are newer, hipper online news outlets poised to fill the void? What, if anything, will be irrevocably lost?

And the public won't care! That's what scares me the most. Even more, that the public won't care if good storytelling follows these newspapers down the drain. In our soundbite-saturated culture, are we forgetting the treasure that daily newspapers bring to us in good stories?

(Image courtesy of ArtsJournal)