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July 01, 2009

Daily roundup

June 26, 2009

Daily roundup

June 22, 2009

Daily roundup

June 17, 2009

Daily roundup

June 15, 2009

Stephen Johns memorial funds

2009_0610_stephentyronejohns Speaking of Stephen Johns, three memorial funds have been established for his family. Click here to find out how to contribute.

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

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.

June 11, 2009

Seeing Jesus Afresh

Jesus Mafa Years ago, when I was going regularly to Russia and Belarus on short-term missions, I invested in a series of A Beka posters depicting Bible stories. The posters were beautifully rendered and were a great teaching aid, whether I was working with children or adults. The posters, of course, depicted Jesus as either white or olive-skinned.

However, once I started going to Africa, I wanted a set of Bible story pictures that would resonate with Africans, from both an ethnic and cultural standpoint. A couple of years ago, I discovered this wonderful resource -- Jesus Mafa -- and ordered a set of their posters, which show a black-skinned Jesus in settings that look like a typical African village.

If you are a white American, take a look at these images and tell me what you think (click here and go through the seven links to see images from Christ's life). Do they change your perception of Christ? Do they give you a greater appreciation for the passages in Revelation which talk about how heaven will be populated with people from every nation, tribe, race, and language? If you are non-white, do these pictures make you feel more at home with Jesus? Why or why not?

(Image © Jesus Mafa)

’Them Jews aren’t going to let him’

Wright Oh, lovely. Add anti-Semite to the list of Rev. Jeremiah Wright's endearing attributes.

(Image © Charles Cherney for the Chicago Tribune)

Security guard dies in Holocaust Museum shooting

Stephen Johns As you may have seen in the updated Post article at my original post, security guard Stephen Johns has died after being shot in the chest at the Holocaust Memorial Museum. R.I.P. Please be in prayer for his family.

(Image © AP/U.S. Holocaust Museum)

June 09, 2009

Daily roundup

June 05, 2009

Looking Up and Over One’s Fence

OBIT_KEMP_011_r350x200 Lanny Davis is about as enthusiastic a Democrat as one can find. An effective communicator and lawyer, he may be best remembered as one of Bill Clinton's chief defenders during the Lewinsky scandal.

But he found in his diametrical political opposite, the late Jack Kemp, a good friend, one who could vigorously disagree with him on issues while still enjoying him and caring for him as a person. This article by Davis shows wonderfully that the feeling was mutual.

John Wesley once encouraged his followers to note how even a cow will look up over the fence in front of it to see what is beyond it, if only out of curiosity. He encouraged his followers to hold fast to their cherished faith and beliefs while being secure enough in them to investigate what might be worthwhile in another person.  

Lanny Davis and Jack Kemp were able to find common ground on several issues, despite their different vantage points--all because they saw in each other something more than just an opponent.

(Image courtesy of the Washington Times)

June 03, 2009

Daily roundup

How quickly can Sotomayor backpedal?

Rt_sotomayor_leahy_090602_mn Ultimately and completely, Sonia Sotomayor's explanation for her now infamous "wise Latina" remarks are a little hard to believe. Or was she simply implying that a white male judge, ultimately and completely, wouldn't follow the law? I'm confused.

(Image © Jonathan Ernst for Reuters)

June 02, 2009

Daily roundup

Sensitivity

Women's center chicken

It appears the noosed chicken [in the window of an Illinois abortion mill] turned off many of the mill's African-American clients, so staff recently hung it instead on a cross. . . .

Jill Stanek, "Abortion mill replaces Christ with rubber chicken," June 1, 2009 (other disturbing images and profanity at link)

(Image courtesy of Jill Stanek)

June 01, 2009

Voting under Threat of a Wood Shampoo

Perhaps the dropped voter-intimidation charges -- which have been dropped post-judgment, mind you -- are an example of the much-touted "empathy" that is now supposed to pervade our administration of justice? In this case, I guess that would be empathy for baton-wielding Black Panther thugs who hassle potential voters at polling stations? And who say things like "you are about to be ruled by the black man, cracker"?

But Eric Holder's InJustice Department has, as always, an impressive explanation:

The Justice Department was successful in obtaining an injunction that prohibits the defendant who brandished a weapon outside a Philadelphia polling place from doing so again. Claims were dismissed against the other defendants based on a careful assessment of the facts and the law. The department is committed to the vigorous prosecution of those who intimidate, threaten or coerce anyone exercising his or her sacred right to vote.

Ooh, what a victory. You "obtained an injunction," did you? And it prevents the main thug from menacing potential voters in the future, does it?

Um ... I think you already had that. I think it's called The Law.

May 27, 2009

Isn’t justice blind?

Nm_sotomayor_090526_mn Judge Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama's pick for the Supreme Court, has some troubling views on that subject. From the New York Times:

In 2001, Sonia Sotomayor, an appeals court judge, gave a speech declaring that the ethnicity and sex of a judge “may and will make a difference in our judging.”

In her speech, Judge Sotomayor questioned the famous notion — often invoked by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her retired Supreme Court colleague, Sandra Day O’Connor — that a wise old man and a wise old woman would reach the same conclusion when deciding cases.

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” said Judge Sotomayor. . . .

(Image © Win McNamee for GettyImages)

May 18, 2009

Obama, Notre Dame, and the tide of history

Obama Notre Dame An interesting feature of President Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame yesterday (transcript here, video here):

The president spoke of the need "to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity -- diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief . . . [to] find a way to live together as one human family." On some subjects, he spoke as though this need to cooperate -- to find "common ground," as he said elsewhere in the speech -- were the highest goal:

The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved.

But on other subjects, he spoke as if the highest goal were for right to win and wrong to be defeated:

After all, I stand here today, as President and as an African American, on the 55th anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Now, Brown was of course the first major step in dismantling the "separate but equal" doctrine, but it would take a number of years and a nationwide movement to fully realize the dream of civil rights for all of God's children. There were freedom rides and lunch counters and Billy clubs, and there was also a Civil Rights Commission appointed by President Eisenhower. It was the 12 resolutions recommended by this commission that would ultimately become law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under which category does abortion fall? In the president's mind, it appeared to fall under the first: "When we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe -- that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground. . . . That's when we begin to say, 'Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions.'" This isn't how he spoke about the freedom rides and the lunch counters and the Billy clubs.

Considering that, at this moment, the tide of popular opinion -- perhaps even the tide of history -- appears to be shifting against Obama and his view of abortion, he may want to rethink that position.

(Image © Nancy Stone for the Chicago Tribune)

As We Forgive Sightings (and Soundings)

As We Forgive 2 I thought Point readers might be interested in hearing an interview I did recently with theologian and radio personality, Steve Brown, about my book, As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda. You can download it to your iPod or MP3 player or just listen online. I talk about forgiveness, reconciliation and the Rwandan genocide.

If you haven't heard of Steve Brown or his Key Life Radio program before I hope this will be a good excuse for you to get acquainted with him. He's one of the most authentic yet grounded Christian radio personalities you'll find. And he's always delightfully entertaining to listen to.

Also, if you are interested in seeing the film by Laura Waters Hinson which inspired my book, it will be airing on PBS this month on quite a few stations across the U.S. So if you haven't had a chance to attend a screening or buy a copy yourself, you'll get the opportunity to check it out for free.

Lastly, an interview I did with Ed Gilbreath over at Urban Faith is available. Ed used to work for Christianity Today and is the author of the book Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's View of White Christianity.

(Image © Zondervan)

May 14, 2009

Daily roundup

May 11, 2009

Daily roundup

May 08, 2009

Daily roundup

May 06, 2009

Chuck Colson’s tributes to Jack Kemp

Kemp Colson Chuck Colson has been asked to deliver the eulogy for his friend Jack Kemp at the National Cathedral on Friday. But he's already offering a tribute in today's BreakPoint commentary.

Jack might well have been President—and would have been a great one—were it not for two things: He would never compromise his convictions, nor would he attack his opponents. Sadly, it’s hard to resist those things and still get to the White House.

His courage was on display to the very end. During the times I visited him over the last months of his life, I was taken by how he kept his spirit up even as the cancer devastated his body.

Jack was a giant in our midst. He had a heart for the same kind of people Prison Fellowship serves—the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden. His wife, Joanne, has been a board member at Prison Fellowship for many years.

He also shared our Christian commitment to human life, telling the New York Times how a personal tragedy made him “more aware of the sanctity of human life, [and] how precious every child is.”

This and more is why Jack’s death is such a great loss to me personally. Joanne and his four beautiful children—all Christians—are in my prayers. How proud of them Jack was. This family’s Christian witness has touched countless lives.

Read more.

(Image © Prison Fellowship Ministries)

May 05, 2009

Daily roundup

May 01, 2009

The DOJ calls for restoring justice to cocaine sentencing

This week, the U.S. Department of Justice urged Congress to change one of the most troublesome aspects of U.S. drug policy, finally acknowledging the staggering injustice of locking up offenders caught with a few rocks of cocaine for far longer than offenders caught with the same amount of cocaine powder.

Restorative justice requires the harm of the offense to determine punishment. Laws that make prison sentences for crack cocaine 100 times more punitive than sentences for cocaine powder base punishment on scientific myth and paranoia. Sadly, racial minorities in America have borne the brunt of this tragic mistake. The Justice Department's calls for reform are worthy of celebration. 

April 27, 2009

Daily roundup

April 23, 2009

Daily roundup

April 22, 2009

Daily roundup

April 21, 2009

Daily roundup

The nature of the choice

Trig Palin I wondered when something like this was coming. Didn't take long.

I respect Palin's decision not to "make it all go away." She describes her doubts about whether she had the fortitude and patience to cope with a child with Down syndrome, and, with the force of a mother's fierce love, the special blessing that Trig has brought to her life. She speaks as someone who is confident that she made the correct choice.

For her. In fact, the overwhelming majority of couples choose to terminate pregnancies when prenatal testing shows severe abnormalities. In cases of Down syndrome, the abortion rate is as high as 90 percent. 

For the crowd listening to her at last week's dinner, Palin's disclosure served the comfortable role of moral reinforcement: She wavered in her faith, was tempted to sin, regained her strength and emerged better for it. 

As for those us less certain that we know, or are equipped to instruct others, when life begins and when it is permissible to terminate a pregnancy, Palin's speech offered a different lesson: Abortion is a personal issue and a personal choice. The government has no business taking that difficult decision away from those who must live with the consequences.

Alas for Ruth Marcus, the Post unwittingly undermined her argument by running the picture above with her article. When the choice is between a living, breathing, beautiful baby and, well, a pile of bloody little body parts, it becomes more difficult to view both choices as morally equivalent.

Continue reading "The nature of the choice" »

April 17, 2009

Daily roundup

April 15, 2009

Daily roundup

April 09, 2009

Daily roundup

Posting will be light tomorrow because of Good Friday. Have a blessed Easter weekend!

April 08, 2009

Aliens, Yes. But Strangers?

Immigration, as an issue, reminds me a lot of capital punishment. There's a number of poor, sentimental arguments on either side, and a few genuinely good arguments on both sides.

Oddly or not, the best immigration arguments seem to exist in the space where free market economics and Christian love intersect. In general, I think that increased immigration is a good thing, so long as (1) we control our borders, (2) we encourage a Melting Pot more than the Cultural Mosaic (including strict enforcement to address gang problems), and (3) we take a minimalist approach to entitlements. Of course, we quite unfortunately do none of those things today, except perhaps address the gang problems.

Anyhow, this NRO post -- in which Richard Nadler takes on John Derbyshire (and his third degree blackbelt in TaeKwonEeyore) -- is one of the better commentaries I've read on the topic in a while.

April 07, 2009

They’re only words

Obama in Turkey That must have been what President Obama thought when he decided to renege on yet another campaign promise. Ironically, his campaign promise would have addressed just that line of thinking.  

In January, when he was still just a candidate for the presidency, Obama declared, "America deserves a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian Genocide." Fine sounding words. Trouble is, once he set foot in Turkey, the land where this genocide occurred nearly a century ago, Mr. Obama seemed to forget all about the atrocities that once stained the streets and countryside of that nation. 

Lest you think the label we use for an event that took place almost 100 years ago is trivial, modern-day Turkey is still waging this war of words. Journalists and novelists, among others, have been tried, imprisoned and even murdered for calling the systematic annihilation of Armenians a genocide. You can read more about the genocide and some of those who have been persecuted for using this term in an article I wrote for BreakPoint WorldView a few years ago.

It's too bad the man who represents the land of the free and the home of the brave couldn't find the words to denounce tyranny and cowardice. That's a campaign promise that deserved to be kept.

(Image © UPI/Pete Souza/White House)

April 02, 2009

Daily roundup

March 31, 2009

Wilson vs. Loury

Recently we ran Glenn Loury's "A Nation of Jailers" in the Daily Roundup. James Q. Wilson of the American Enterprise Institute has now written a rebuttal. An excerpt:

Glenn Loury rightly directs our attention to the troubling fact that we have put into prison a large fraction of our citizens, especially African American men. No one can be happy with this state of affairs. It is difficult to create and sustain a decent society when many of its members are former convicts.

Worrisome as this may be, Loury says little about why this happened other than to say we are a nation of "racist jailers" who operate a "greed-driven economy" and have created a "so-called underclass" that reflects the "moral deviance" of all of us. He looks askance at those who speak about the "purported net benefits to 'society' of greater incarceration."

I am one of those, and I do not feel inclined to apologize. Loury does not refer to the scholarly work of those social scientists who have worked hard to understand why we imprison so many people and with what results. Let me summarize what Daniel Nagin, David Farrington, Patrick Langan, Steven Levitt, and William Spelman have shown. Other things being equal, a higher risk of punishment reduces crime rates.

Read more. Which writer do you think has a better grasp of the problem and the solutions?

March 26, 2009

Daily roundup

March 24, 2009

Daily roundup

March 20, 2009

Daily roundup

March 17, 2009

Daily roundup

March 10, 2009

Daily roundup

Welcoming the genocidal

Jill Stanek has a post up at her blog about a black Baptist church that invited Planned Parenthood to teach their kids about teen pregnancy.

There are those who argue that conservatives keep voting for those whose policies are against their own best interests. Even if that were true, we'd have nothing on those who extend a hearty welcome to the group that's trying to wipe out their race, one baby at a time.

March 04, 2009

Crossing the line

As I recently wrote, there was plenty of room for disagreement over the meaning of the chimp cartoon in the New York Post.

This, however, is a different story.

In case anyone is about to accuse me of going all PC, I'm not saying there's no room in this world for ethnic humor. I've been on the receiving end of my share of Mafia jokes, and I've found nearly all of them (1) pretty funny and (2) not offensive in the least. But I don't think it's a matter of political correctness to believe that Mayor Grose crossed a line here. I think it's a matter of simple courtesy and respect.

Those of you here who are Christians (which I believe is most of you), ask yourself this: What if the mayor had sent a cartoon making fun of Christians -- like, say, this one -- to a Christian acquaintance? What would your reaction be?

A Desilu Production

Jindal Over at the Daily Beast, Keshni Kashyap assures us that the generally negative reaction to governor Jindal's reply to the president's address to Congress doesn't mean that "we’re a nation of racists." (Good to know.) No, if we felt uneasy with the Louisiana governor it's because we were "observing a man who seems to be uneasy with his own race."

What? I think I liked it better when it was our fault. Actually, after reading Kashnap's "reasoning" I know I liked it better.

Her proof of Jindal's "unease?"

He changed his Indian name during childhood and, against his father’s wishes, he converted from Hinduism to Christianity. When the Times-Picayune tried to go to India to cover his Punjabi roots, his family did not cooperate.

Add this to the fact that the Jindals do not maintain many "Indian traditions" in their home, and no wonder that "Bobby Jindal creates confusion in the minds of Americans who watch him: they sense self-deception."

A condensed version of Keshni Kashyap: a South Asian who converts to Christianity is a self-loathing Desi. She quotes Varun Soni of the University of Southern California: "By changing his name from Piyush to Bobby and by converting from Hinduism to Christianity, Jindal has repeatedly distanced himself from his Indian ethnicity and his family's Hindu faith . . ."

Continue reading "A Desilu Production" »

March 03, 2009

’Amazing Grace’: The musical

AmazingGrace Anyone who lives in the Philadelphia area might want to check out this production next month. The subject matter is hard to beat, and having seen J. Mark McVey as Jean Valjean in Les Misérables, I can vouch for his immense talent. If anyone here is able to go, let us know what you think!

(Image courtesy of the Sellersville Theater)

February 27, 2009

Of chimps and men

Chimp Even though a certain segment of the population happily spent eight years comparing President Bush to a chimp, making such human/monkey comparisons suddenly has become a very naughty thing to do. As you may have heard, the New York Post recently published a cartoon that drew parallels between the economic stimulus plan and the chimp who went on a rampage and mauled a woman. Although the cartoon chimp showed no signs of being a direct representation of President Obama, this cartoon was taken by many as a racial insult. (There's an interesting conversation about this going on at Ed Gilbreath's Reconciliation Blog.) The scandal prompted a breathtaking display of obtuseness on the part of cartoonist Ted Rall -- who blogs at the Smirking Chimp blog (named "in dishonor of [Bush]") and who perpetrated this little gem of racism -- who declared himself a moral authority in these matters.

Of course the comparing of racial minorities to animals has a long and shameful history. (Thanks, Mr. Darwin!) That's why many made the leap that they made in viewing the cartoon, even though I sincerely doubt that any such meaning was intended.

But I think this controversy should get us thinking in broader terms about the way we talk about our fellow human beings, black or white. And along those lines, here’s a question to ponder: In recent years, as we're often reminded, we’ve found out that we and chimps have 99 percent of our DNA "identical in regions that we both share," as Regis wrote. So why are we still propagating negative stereotypes about our simian cousins? (The Washington Post has now apologized for running a chimp cartoon that had no racial implications at all!) Why aren’t we embracing them instead? Are we going to get all high and mighty over 1 measly percent?

Or is it possible that it really does make a difference after all?

February 16, 2009

Daily roundup

Fighting for the Unborn: Lessons from Wilberforce

Wilberforce For every issue, it seems, there is always good news and bad news. For the pro-life movement, the good news is that the U.S. abortion rate has been falling for over a decade and now is at its lowest level since 1974. And the recent raft of life-affirming movies, like Juno, Bella, and Knocked Up, is an encouraging sign about public attitudes.

According to Pew Research, although a slight majority of Americans (54 percent) favor legalization, the vast majority (73 percent) believes that abortion is morally wrong in some, to nearly all, circumstances, with six out of 10 believing that the number of abortions should be reduced. Less than one-fourth consider abortion a non-moral issue. Given that contraception use held nearly steady during the past decade, the falling rate of abortion exhibits a growing uneasiness with the practice.

The bad news is that, even at the reduced rate, an abortion is performed once every 25 seconds, totaling 1.2 million per year. And, with a new administration that is the most abortion-friendly in history, the fight for the unborn just got harder. Continue reading.