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« April 2007 | Main | June 2007 »

May 11, 2007

Court Orders Sperm Donor to Lesbian Couple to Pay Child Support

Can somebody help me get this straight (pun intended): the gay community wants to be treated just like everyone else, right? They say that you can raise a child with two moms or two dads. They say that this is family too.

So why exactly are they suing a sperm donor for child-support?

Am I missing something?

Stanley Kurtz, over at the Family Scholars blog, has an excellent post on this. Apparently, those prophets who have been preaching that same-sex marriage is a slippery slope to all kinds of odd re-definitions of marriage and family are not so far off.

Slipping into decadence

In an excellent article, Rod Dreher deftly ties together two themes that have been raised on The Point recently: our failure to see the beauty around us, and the increasing grossness and general ugliness of horror films. Thus, "if we don't see the beauty that we should, we don't see the ugliness either."

Dreher goes on to say:

Now, we are afraid to call anything good or evil and no longer have the confidence to assert that standards exist. When people ask if a movie, book, album or play was good or bad, what they're really asking is, "Was it entertaining?" In a culture with an insatiable craving for sensation, boredom becomes the root of all evil.

Thus our moral imagination declines into decadence. A decadent society is one that has lost its hold on standards and denies that they exist. A society in the early stages of decadence loses its sensitivity to beauty and to the good. As it slips further into decadence, it loses its ability to recognize how far it has fallen.

Read more.

(H/T Brewing Culture)

Sometimes an oratorio is just an oratorio

First Beethoven's Ninth expressed the "throttling murderous rage of a rapist." Now Handel's Messiah is all about anti-Semitism. Think I'm kidding? Read today's BreakPoint commentary from Chuck Colson, "Music for Pogroms?: Handel's Messiah and Anti-Semitism."

And then go treat yourself.

May 10, 2007

Death Sentence

Death. For many it represents a chilling concept: the departure from a tangible world into an unknown reality. It's just a part of life. You live. You die. But the intentional loss of life at the hand of another, whether criminal or not, calls for particular notice and the commencement of an internal moral debate.

In one instance, the State of New Jersey is preparing to conduct their own debate over the administration of the death penalty. The recent capture of potential terriorists at Fort Dix begs the question of what to do with people bent on criminal activity. Do we lock them up for life at the expense of the taxpayer, and with the possibility for escape, or do we eliminate them altogether?

Then I stumbled across this recent article on exoneration and can't help but think what this poor soul must have gone through. What a shame. Chuck Colson did a BreakPoint on nearly an identical story back in February. And you wonder about the others who claim innocence, but are unjustly humiliated. What if they're telling the truth? There has been way too many mistakes made, and now I can't help but give ear to every soul behind bars that cries "Foul!"

Thankfully, cases like the one above are daily being reviewed under the watchful eyes of the Innocence Project and over 200 individuals have found freedom through their work. But wouldn't it have been nice for them not to end up there in the first place?!

I'm not necessarily advocating the abolition of the death penalty as a whole. In fact, the death penalty has long been viewed as an appropriate moral response to heinous crimes. But one needn't look far to see where we've gone wrong. Deuteronomy 17:6 commands that only "on the testimony of two or three witnesses shall a man be put to death, but no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness." In this day and age, it is possible for an individuals to be sentenced to death on the evidence received from only one witness -- a grave injustice. Consequently, we see case after case of innocent individuals locked behind bars.

Continue reading "Death Sentence" »

Go Directly to Jail

Kangaroo I try not to view or hear any so-called news shows about celebrities, and the recent Paris Hilton debacle is no exception—I don’t know and don’t want to know the details. 

Despite my quickness to turn the radio station, turn off the television news blurbs, or look at Bon Appétit instead of Newsweek or People in the grocery isles, some junk news always gets through. Today is no exception—this one 30-second blurb caught my attention. It seems people are so fed up with the amount of “Get out of Jail Free” cards Paris uses that there are now a number of websites which encourage people to sign petitions to Governor Schwarzenegger to make sure Hilton serves her time. 

In many ways celebrities are treated differently from mere mortals like you and me. People tend to venerate and despise them at the same time. It is too bad that our court system seems to have further distanced itself somewhat from the ideal of equal justice for all.

What bothers me more is thinking that instead of due justice we seem to be drifting toward guilt and prison time through popular vote—and as a society we are tending to make our minds up about a person’s guilt or innocence through press releases.

I think it a good thing to discuss justice and a person’s responsibility to adhere to legitimate laws in town halls or with our governors; my only hope is that we won’t start considering vigilantism or a resurgence of Kangaroo Courts acceptable.

Perfidious Columbia Watch: The Continuing Saga

From the Arizona Republic (via the textured one):

BAGHDAD - Christians are fleeing in droves from the southern Baghdad district of Dora after Sunni insurgents told them they would be killed unless they converted to Islam or left, according to Christian leaders and families who fled.

Similar episodes of what has become known as sectarian cleansing raged through Baghdad neighborhoods last year as Sunnis drove Shiites from Sunni areas and Shiites drove Sunnis from Shiite ones, but this marks the first apparent attempt to empty an entire Baghdad neighborhood of Christians, the Christians say.

The exodus began three weeks ago after a fatwa, or religious edict, was issued by Sunni insurgents offering Christians a stark choice: to convert to Islam and pay an ancient Islamic tax known as "jizyah," or to depart within 24 hours and leave their property behind. If they did neither, they said, they faced death.

Sunni gunmen have been enforcing the edict with a dozen or so kidnappings, a shooting, by knocking on doors and by posting leaflets on walls - actions that have prompted hundreds of Christians to leave an area that was once home to one of Baghdad's largest Christian communities.

Now, anticipating the conservative complaint about not reporting the good news from Iraq, let me hasten to add that there is some good news here: since the "surge" there has only been one "major incident of sectarian cleansing." The bad news is that, well, this is it and, as Lawrence Kaplan of the New Republic has written, ridding the New Democratic Iraq (TM) of its ancient Christian population is the only thing all the men with guns can agree on.

In case you're wondering what your government is doing about it:

Continue reading "Perfidious Columbia Watch: The Continuing Saga" »

RE: Peter and False Teachers

This thread seems to have picked up again after several days, so I'd like to say thanks to those who have written such thoughtful responses. Martha (a commenter, not our blogger Martha) wrote about "a twisted version of submission in marriage" that I'm sure hit a nerve with readers (at least, it did with me), and Beth talked about the attempts of some churches to normalize homosexuality. Stacey told a disturbing story of a preacher who came to her college campus and started yelling "hellfire" messages to the students -- with predictable (and well deserved) results. The sad thing about such hate mongering is that some people who might have truly been seeking God are put off by such displays. 

Aron hit on the "word of faith" movement -- which sounds suspiciously like what is currently being peddled in the New Age book The Secret (I haven't read the book, seen the movie, or listened to Oprah's promotion, so I can't say for sure). He also touched on a point my pastor sees as a great threat to Christianity in the West -- materialism. Finally, Dan noted the distorted view of pastoral leadership as a one-man show ("if you don't like my decisions, leave").

I think these contributions have been great, and I invite others to send in their perspectives. Peter knew that false teaching was dangerous, so we need to "stay alert" to the many forms it takes -- all the while remembering that God has given us His Word and His Spirit to help us discern truth from error. 

Circuit City Anti-Terror Hero

After all of the recent hoo-ha at The Point about whether or not Circuit City's recent fire-and-hire decision was moral or not, news that a Circuit City employee is to thank for the averted terrorist assault on Fort Dix strikes me as amusing:

A male employee who works at Circuit City behind the Moorestown Mall is the unsung hero that first enabled authorities to foil the Fort Dix terror plot.

Circuit City corporate spokesman Jim Babb confirmed this morning that a current employee was asked by one of the alleged terrorists to dub a Jihadist training VHS cassette into a DVD.

The clerk alerted Mount Laurel police about the video in January 2006, who then contacted the FBI, which launched the investigation.

If I found this amusing (but great!), I nearly laughed out loud when I read this description of the video content yesterday:

Continue reading "Circuit City Anti-Terror Hero" »

Jumping the gun on Spidey

When I steered you toward Gary Robinson's piece on Spider-Man 3 at CT, I didn't realize that he was already working on another piece about the film for us!

All script/plot/character criticisms aside, I’m glad they’re making movies like this. So much of American children’s ethics and morality are formed by pop culture. However, pop culture, formerly home to straight-shooters and fair play, has abandoned them. Sit-coms are smutty, rap music is violent, and the “news” (which is barely disguised entertainment) creates fear and cynicism. It seems that, these days, the only place where young people can find any heroes is in comic books and movies. Despite its flaws, I’d gladly take any church youth group to see Spider-Man 3.

That presupposes, however, my being able to talk with them, setting the movie in the larger context of the Gospel.

Read more.

Sister Act, Gen Y

Nuns Last spring, A&E launched a five-part series called "God or the Girl." Four young men were considering the the priesthood and the subtle whammy--a life of celibacy. Well, now girls are joining the throngs of young Catholics who are forsaking all--that is, money, freedom, and sex--for a life of radical devotion. I just stumbled upon this article from last November about the growing number of younger women who are finding excitement and satisfaction in the monastic fashion.

According to the article, the number of nuns had dropped significantly from 1965 till the present. But now, the trend may be picking up a little. Convents in New York, Tennessee, and Michigan welcomed at least 15 new entrants in the past year, and have responded to hundreds of queries. Former Pope John Paul II is credited, in part, with his emphasis on modern feminism and its role in Christianity.

Aside from the blossoming numbers of twenty-somethings donning the habit (which the article says is actually more popular among younger nuns than older nuns), there's a budding group of Gen-Xers--including divorced moms and working professionals--who have been disillusioned with failing marriages and the like, and have found renewed purpose in a life of radical sacrifice.

They're definitely not of the stuffy variety you'll find in my all-time favorite flick (The Sound of Music). And, I'm guessing even Whoopi Goldberg might approve.

May 09, 2007

Working at Works: A Primer on Works (4 of 8)

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling. Philippians 2:12

The complaint comes up over and over in my Friday men's group: "Nobody wants to work these days." The decline of the American work ethic over the past generation has become the stuff of legend. Everybody's looking for the handout, the easy road, the short-cut to retirement, the life of ease. The work week has grown shorter for most people, while their expectations of what their "work" should provide, in terms of wages and benefits, continue to rise. "Nobody wants to work these days."

You could say the same thing about the works of the Law, which are the expression of love -- the only thing that matters in the life of faith. Paul says these critical indicators of true and lively faith don't "just happen." If we would bring our salvation to completion in works of holiness and love, we're going to have to work at it. Which means dedicating our minds to study and understanding, our hearts to re-directing our affections and aspirations, and our consciences to a whole new set of priorities. And it means learning to practice the works of love that touch others with the grace of God: new ways of speaking to others, a whole new set of skills to be mastered and demonstrated so that what comes through in our actions reflects the holiness and love of Scripture and not just those self-centered ways we come by naturally.

None of this happens just because we spend time in church or a Bible study, or simply as a result of being one year older in the faith. If we're not working at works, our faith is not working. Paul exhorted his readers over and over to give themselves diligently to the pursuit of good works (cf. 2 Cor. 7:1; Gal. 6:1-10; Eph. 4:17-24; etc.). The objective, as he wrote to Titus (3:1, 8, 14), is that Christians should be a people ready and devoted to good works at all times. But if this is to be the case in our lives, we'll have to work at it rather more diligently than most of us are at present. Very few of the followers of Christ today seem to want to work at their faith -- to work at internalizing and expressing a life of obedient love. If we have to work at it, it's not what we want. But if we don't work at it, our faith won't come to light in works, and it will then, recalling James (2:17), be no faith at all.

Would you describe yourself as working hard at works of love?

The McBeal curse continues

Greys As the New York Times reports, for someone so skinny, Ally McBeal -- lawyer by day, nymphomaniac by night (and sometimes day as well), and whiner 24/7 -- cast a large shadow. So large, in fact, that we still haven't got free of her.

Everything wrong with “Grey’s Anatomy” and its soon-to-be spun spinoff is the fault of “Ally McBeal.”

Mary Tyler Moore and Marlo Thomas were early prototypes of the quirky but lovable career girl. David E. Kelley’s hit series about a deeply neurotic lawyer named Ally McBeal marked a turning point in the devolution of women’s roles in television comedy — the moment when competent-but-flaky hardened into basket case.

Thursday’s two-hour episode of ABC’s “Grey’s Anatomy,” in which Addison (Kate Walsh) has an emotional meltdown and flees Seattle Grace Hospital for a fancy wellness clinic in Los Angeles, serves as a prelude to a new, still untitled series centered on Addison and her new life in Southern California. It also suggests that the spinoff is doomed to be even sillier and more sex-obsessed than the original. And that is an achievement, considering that “Grey’s Anatomy” managed to squeeze in love scenes for a disfigured, pregnant disaster victim with amnesia.

Sex isn’t the problem with the new series; it’s the subjugation. Addison looks up her old friend from medical school whose perfect marriage has just ended and finds herself enmeshed with two other mature, reputable professionals: a fertility specialist and a psychotherapist. All three women are lovelorn, sex-starved and prone to public displays of disaffection.

I've said it before, but it bears repeating -- we really do seem determined to sabotage women and girls, don't we?

(Photo courtesy of the NYT and ABC)

The Queen Goes Green

Footprint Anglophilic Washingtonians like me have gone ga-ga over Queen Elizabeth's visit this past week, and while I wasn't as fortunate as my friend, Mary, to actually meet and converse with her, I was in the crowd of 7000 welcoming her at the White House on Monday. BTW, those photos everyone's talking about that show the Queen giving Bush a frosty glare after his 1776 gaffe? Look again. The photo of the Queen's gaze was taken at the beginning of the ceremony before either of them stepped to the podium or made remarks.

Since I've been reading practically every article published about her visit, I was surprised to find out just today that the Queen has gone green! Apparently, a donation of some $20,000 will be made to an environmental charity to offset the carbon footprint of the Queen's visit to the US. The royal entourage of around 35 people hopped the pond on a private Boeing 777 (built to hold between 305-440 passengers) so that's one big old footprint! Oh, and the check for the offset isn't coming out of the Queen's handbags (just what does she keep in there other than her reading glasses and speech notes?), but out of British taxpayers' pockets as part of a fund used to pay for royal travel.

First Al Gore, then the Oscars and now the Queen.

All of this carbon offset business confuses me.

As I've said here, I'm all for creation care, conservation, stewardship of our earth and its resources, etc. But I'm still uncomfortable with the whole idea of carbon-offset payments. As this NYT article says, it smacks of papal indulgences, or at the least, a guilt payment, or a way to try to have what you want (kind of like people who want to lose weight or lower cholesterol by popping pills rather than through proper eating and exercise) without consequences. Doesn't it make more sense to use less, or use more efficiently, instead of paying someone else to find ways for you to keep consuming?

(Illustration courtesy of ZeroCarbonFootprint)

Help for parents in the fight for life

Kristine's and Allen's posts about Down syndrome babies reminded me of a letter I recently received from a former colleague, Cathy Deeds, promoting a new organization called Prenatal Partners for Life. From what little I know, it sounds like it would be a godsend for parents and children alike.

When Don and Mary Kellett were expecting their 11th child in 2004, an ultrasound showed a possibility that the baby had Trisomy 18, a genetic condition similar to Down syndrome, but usually more severe. The medical "experts" encouraged abortion before his birth, and amazingly, after his birth, told the parents to consider the "resources" and simply wrap him in a blanket and let him go! The whole experience was filled with inaccurate and incomplete information and was a dark and frightening experience for them.

Little Peter Kellett was born on January 5, 2005. He is now two years old and a happy little baby, although delayed both mentally and physically. . . .

Mary's profound experience with Peter and the love and support her family received from their Catholic parish community, the Catholic hospital chaplain, family and friends led her to create Prenatal Partners for Life to help other families in a similar situation. The new group has given support to 37 families in 20 states and 2 other countries by connecting parents with other parents. The group's mission is to provide support and resources for families expecting a special needs child and encouragement to make informed decisions involving their child's care.

Visit PPFL's website to learn more.

Re: Fighting for their Lives

Yesterday's Drudge Report highlighted the fact that the abortion rate of Down children is at 90%, which NRO's Jack Fowler notes is "very old news."  In his post, Fowler excerpts an eighteen-year-old essay by Christine Allison:

In one of the most poignant, fierce, and determined battles to live deeply and well, Down syndrome people are breaking through the walls of their own retardation and grasping their world. Yet, as a species they appear to be doomed. Unlike those who would abort them, these Down people have accepted the dare of life, which is to live it. In California, an eleven-year old girl writes her first line on a computer. She painstakingly taps out “I like God’s finest whispers.” In Brooklyn, a Down fifth-grader dashes off the bus to his mother with a report card from his yeshiva; he has earned average grades in all his classes and speaks and writes in three different languages. And then there’s our Chrissie, who last week crawled seven paces for the saltine cracker her dad held outstretched to her. She had been battling for that saltine for two months . . . Chrissie is a blessing in a way a normal child is not.

Columnist George Will, whose 35 year old son has Down syndrome, knows the ignorance of our prenatal decisions all too well:

Jon, a sweet-tempered man, was born the year before Roe v. Wade inaugurated this era of the casual destruction of pre-born babies. And he was born just as prenatal genetic tests were becoming routine. Since then, it has become routine to abort babies like Jon because they are like Jon. Without this combination of diagnostic advances and moral regression, there would be more people like Jon, and the world would be a sweeter place.

A sweeter place indeed.  I believe Will.  How many potential parents of children with Down syndrome even know a child with the condition?  At this rate, none will have the opportunity.  Again, I'm coming to see this more and more as a real loss for us all.

Inmates Come to Guard’s Aid

In an interesting turn of events, five prisoners came to the defense of a Virginia corrections officer when another inmate sucker-punched supervising Officer Charles Sanders last week at the Rappahannock Regional Jail in Stafford, VA. Superintendent Joe Higgs told The Free-Lance Star: "We're very grateful. [Sanders] would have been more seriously hurt or even killed had [the inmates] not done what they did."

Higgs told the press that he couldn't remember another instance in that facility where inmates actually came to a guard's defense. The inmates who intervened told NBC News 4 that they respect the work of Officer Sanders and that they believed the attack was unprovoked, that was why they stepped in to stop it.

I'm very curious to find out more details to this story. If I find out more, I'll let you know. In the meantime, what a great reminder that sometimes our stereotypes need challenging. Prisoners are human like the rest of us: capable of great evil and great good. We would do well to be reminded that we are all glorious ruins. While the image of God has been corrupted through the fall and through our ongoing decisions to commit sin and evil, at the same time we are made in the image of God, and sometimes, by His grace, all of us can image forth our God who rescues, who puts His own life on the line for others. I'm grateful for these glimpses of Him, especially when they come in the most unexpected places.

Fighting for their lives

In January, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended that all pregnant women be offered screening for Down Syndrome. I blogged about the recommendation here.

Now, parents of Down Syndrome children are fighting back. According to an article in the New York Times, they are organizing lectures for health professionals to educate the medical community on the joys of life with a Down Syndrome child. And they are offering to counsel expectant parents receiving a Down Syndrome diagnosis, even letting them come into their homes to see what life with their own child is like.

With no formal financing or organization, parents are arranging to meet with local obstetricians, rewriting dated literature and pleading with health care workers to give out their phone numbers along with test results. Medical professionals have for the most part responded with caution. Genetic counselors, who often give test results to prospective parents, say they need to respect patients who may have already made up their minds to terminate their pregnancy. Suggesting that they read a flyer or spend a day with a family, they say, can unnecessarily complicate what is for many a painful and time-pressured decision.

Well, it would be a shame to complicate a simple thing like killing a child.

While the article in the Times points out that these parents have differing motivations for their crusade, they all want parents facing life with a Down Syndrome child to know the reality and to see that this life can be full of joy and celebration, not just heartache and loss.

Do the Math

Math My brother was forced by his brother-in-law to listen to this sermon, "Home is the Key," by Voddie Bachum, pastor of Grace Family Church in Spring, Texas, available on Family Life Radio. He then forced the sermon on me. Now I’m forcing it on you. It is definitely worth listening to in its entirety or reading the transcript. Here’s the gist. The pastor says:

We're losing somewhere between 75 and 88 percent of our young people by the end of their freshman year in college – somewhere between 75 and 88 percent. For that low number, you can look at Glenn Schultz's work on Kingdom Education; for that high number, the 2002 Southern Baptist Council on the Family. So these are not things just made up or just grabbed out of the air. That's what's been happening over the last few decades. We're losing somewhere between 75 and 88 percent of our young people by the end of their freshman year in college. [My note: This is a sermon from a Southern Baptist pastor to a Southern Baptist audience so I can only assume that the “we” is the denomination. I don’t have time to check these numbers or how they arrived at them, so take this with that word of warning.]

Next, the pastor quotes the statistics that we often talk about here at BreakPoint, that the birth rate here in the U.S. is a whopping 2.1 percent. He refers to a standard attitude that we have in our churches today, that looks down on women who have more than, say, 2 or 3 children. Then he starts with a little number crunching:

Now let me put these two statistics together. We lose 75 – let's take the most optimistic number – we're losing 75 percent by the end of their freshman year in college. We average two children per family – that means it currently takes two Christian families in this generation to get one Christian into the next.

Let me make it even more plain – there's 16 million Southern Baptists on paper.

By these numbers, next generation, 4 million; third generation, 1 million; fourth generation, 250,000 – more than numbers now, aren't they? Oh, but that's okay, we'll just replenish those numbers through evangelism. Interesting – in order to replenish those numbers through evangelism alone, what we would have to do is reach three lost people for every one Christian. Currently, we only reach one lost person for every 43 Southern Baptists.

Now let me make it plain and bring it home – Christianity in America is dying one generation at a time, one home at a time.

Continue reading "Do the Math" »

May 08, 2007

The spirituality of Spidey

Spiderman3 You may have heard that Spider-Man 3 smashed box-office records over the weekend. What you may not have heard are some of the director's thoughts on sin, guilt, and forgiveness. (Personally, I was struck by the portrayal of a church as a catalyst in the transformation of two key characters -- and one of them was not quite the sort of transformation you might expect.) Click here to read Christianity Today's interview with Sam Raimi.

And go here to read Gary Robinson (who's written some great stuff for us as well) on the spiritual themes that have been part of Spider-Man from the beginning.

(H/T Thunderstruck)

Life Without Limbs

Life_without_limbs Australian Nick Vujicic doesn't need arms and legs to make a big splash. He just jumps right in and hopes he'll float to the top of the pool, using his one foot to help him paddle.

But seriously, life his dealt Nick a harsh blow. And yet, he doesn't see it that way. At 24, Nick doesn't doubt that God is using him for great purposes. In fact, he sees his disability as a way to bring God more glory as he travels around the world bringing hope to many, included many disabled. More than most of us, he understands what the Apostle Paul meant when he said, "But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ."

And, for those who encourage parents to abort deformed fetuses, I'd venture that Nick might have something to say about that, as well as Joni Erickson Tada and Gianna Jessen.

No Vacancy

The future still looks bleak for the thousands of sex offenders who walk among us. Big surprise. From Florida to Wisconsin, lawmakers continue to gain momentum in their efforts to purge society of "scum," otherwise known as the common sex offender.

There is a shocking void of positive solutions to the problem of sex offenders in society, which is probably why I love debating this topic so much. Raise your hand if you have a good idea! Anyone? Bueller? Isn't anyone bothered by the lack of positive, rational leadership on this issue?!

Chuck Colson practically got run out of town on a rail when he attempted to present his rational concerns about the treatment of sex offenders in the BreakPoint commentary Neon Green with Anger. I was shocked and appalled at some of the negative comments he received in reply, most which were just short of crying "Crucify them!" I'm not exaggerating.

Their responses gave me a glimpse into the biggest problem of all: misinformed public opinion. Sadly, a majority of Americans are informed by the horror stories fed to them by the media and not the truthful, holistic picture. Anger and fear grips the public as they scream for "justice." Ironically, they don't care what "justice" looks like, they just want the offender as far away as possible. And lawmakers feel the heat of their warpath. But where do we put them? Non-violent offenders can't stay in prison for the rest of their lives... nor would a taxpayer, once accurately informed of the yearly cost to imprison an offender, want them to. So we release them, but lawmakers appease the public by limiting... and limiting... and limiting...and limiting...where they can live, until we limit them right out of town. (As we see clearly in Florida.) One wonders why we don't just establish a penal colony and send them there? I'm sure many would applaud the possiblity. But seriously, what do we expect an ex-offender to do?

Continue reading "No Vacancy" »

A Scandalous Case

District of Columbia business owners beware: Take all signs which say “Satisfaction Guaranteed” and “Same Day Service” off your walls because, like the Chung family, you too could be sued for over 65 million dollars. 

If there is one thing I can’t stand it’s a bully, and it sure looks as if DC’s Judge Roy Pearson will be elected bully of the year. 

It all started when Pearson didn’t get his pair of pants back in time for his first judgeship day. The family-owned cleaners to which he regularly took his clothes misplaced a pair of suit pants, but found them a week later. 

Pearson must have thought his courtly coming out was ruined by not being able to wear that particular suit because instead of accepting a free alteration and cleaning, he demanded the total cost of the suit--a whopping sum of $1,000. Naturally, the Chungs thought this outrageous, and didn’t fork over the money.

Incensed that his demand wasn’t met, Pearson decided to sue all three of the Chungs based on a consumer protection law. You can read the details here. (You can see a picture of the beleaguered Chungs here.)

Continue reading "A Scandalous Case" »

Kryptonite

The Evangelical curia is all a-twitter over an article entitled, "Is There Disdain for Evangelicals in the Classroom?" that ran in Saturday's Washington Post. They're paying special attention to the findings that "53 percent of its sample of 1,200 college and university faculty members said they have 'unfavorable' feelings toward evangelical Christians."

I'll let other people tell you what to make of that number. I'm more interested in the story's lead:

Frank G. Kauffman was teaching a course in social work at Missouri State University in 2005 when he gave an assignment that sparked a lawsuit and nearly destroyed his academic career.

He asked his students to write letters urging state legislators to support adoptions by same-sex couples. Emily Brooker, then a junior majoring in social work, objected that the assignment violated her Christian beliefs. When she refused to sign her letter, she was hauled before a faculty panel on a charge of discriminating against gays.

Now, whoever referred her to that panel should be, well, fired. Coercion has no place in the exchange of ideas, especially in the classroom. And, as the story tells us, "the university quickly settled Brooker's lawsuit by removing the discrimination charge from her record and paying for her to go to graduate school."

Still, I'd like to know more about that assignment: is it true that "contrary to the allegations in Brooker's lawsuit, [Kauffman] did not require them to sign or send their letters to state legislators?" If it is, I don't see the harm in such an assignment. (For her part, Mollie at Get Religion disagrees: she called it an "insane assignment.")

Continue reading "Kryptonite" »

Should jewelry stores post warning labels?

Playfoot Now I really have heard everything.

A 16-year-old Christian student in the United Kingdom is taking her school to the High Court over her right to wear a Christian “purity ring.”

Lydia Playfoot hit the headlines last year when governors at Millais School in Horsham, West Sussex, banned her from wearing a small silver ring symbolizing her Christian commitment to sexual abstinence until marriage. . . .

Following nine months of protracted correspondence and meetings with the school, governors rejected her latest request for permission to wear the ring. She could injure another pupil if she fell over while wearing it, they claimed, and furthermore the ring is not a valid expression of her Christian faith. [Emphasis mine]

Either these governors have been watching too many Three Stooges reruns, or they're reeeeeeeally grasping at straws.

(Photo courtesy of The Telegraph)

King Herod’s Tomb Coming Your Way

Herodium Check it out!

May 07, 2007

Even More Circuit City

Over at Between Two Worlds, Justin Taylor calls my Circuit City post from Saturdaystrange”, which makes me laugh, as he is probably more right than wrong. He’s got some smart commenters to boot. Check it out.

In fact, check out the rest of his blog as well, as it's quite well done. Today, Justin posts on the need for ETS to have a more robust theological statement.

Environmentalist Misanthropy

Jim Tonkowich, President of the Institute of Religion and Democracy, recently addressed the issue of population control and the environment.

With his usual clarity and grace, Tonkowich makes an appeal for a “Christian response that avoids the dangerous misanthropy of modern environmentalist ideology.”

Caring for Losers

Panda I finally -- Finally!!! -- got my copy of Planet Earth: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray. The discs I got featured the BBC version, not the one that aired on the Discovery network. The biggest differences are that the Beeb's version was narrated by David Attenborough, not Sigourney Weaver, and each episode is 7-to-10 minutes longer because of the lack of commercials.

As a result that are entire scenes, complete with jaw-dropping visuals, that never appeared on the American version, as well as extended versions of those that did run. To watch a snow leopard, which is rarely, if ever, seen in the wild by people, chase a Markhor down a nearly vertical cliff face in the Karakoram mountains is amazing.

For many Christians, after exposure to this kind of natural grandeur, some comments about the inadequacy of what I call Darwinism, Straight, No Chaser, would be in order. In my case, though, those thoughts weren't prompted by the pretty scenery -- they were prompted by a scene that didn't appear in the American version featuring everybody's favorite evolutionary loser, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, a.k.a., the Giant Panda.

On top of what we already know about how ill-suited the Giant Panda is for, well, everything, Planet Earth added new details such as the fact that the critters give birth in summer, instead of winter, unlike other bears living in climates with changing seasons. This means that their young, who already face daunting obstacles in the struggle for survival, have to face winter in the eastern Himalayas right out of the womb, unlike other bear cubs who spend their first winter in mom's den.

At one point, Attenborough says that the Pandas' struggle to raise their young was a symbol of how precarious life in the mountains can be. No, it's a symbol of how not to survive anywhere: eat only one thing, which keeps you from doing something like -- I don't know -- going down the mountain when it gets cold, like everybody else in the neighborhood does. Eat only one thing that is so nutritionally meager that your milk is scarcely, if that, adequate to feed your young who, by the way, are exceptionally small and helpless because of -- you guessed it -- what you eat and you are just begging for extinction. 

Continue reading "Caring for Losers" »

Upcoming movie to turn spotlight on sex trafficking

Trade Sunday's New York Times, in an article about up-and-coming actors, describes a film that one of those actors, Alicja Bachleda-Curus, will appear in this fall. Trade "concerns the ordeal of Ms. Bachleda-Curus's Veronica, a young mother from Poland, and Paulina Gaitan's Adriana, a 13-year-old Mexican," who are seized and forced into the sex trade. Read more about the film here (as you'd expect, there are adult themes). 

If I can’t see you, will you stop existing?

If a people are killed in the countryside and no one is there to hear them, do they still make a sound?

Nearly one hundred years ago, the Armenian people living in what is now Turkey were brutally slaughtered in what can very properly be called a genocide. The ruling Turks of the time tried to disguise their actions as deportations, spiriting families and villages off into remote parts of the country where they hoped no one would notice that nearly all the deportees conveniently died. The cover-up continues to this day, as seen in this news article about an author whose appearance at a Barnes and Noble to promote her memoir was disrupted by rowdy men decrying the genocide as a fake.

It's an awfully elaborate ruse, complete with hundreds of thousands of pages of documentation in archives here in America and abroad. In fact, there is nothing false about it. Here's one excellent source online, with scanned images of some of those documents. If you have the stomach to read through just the few documents availabe there, you'll get a sense of the scope and brutality of the atrocities committed against the Armenian people.

Also mentioned in the news article above is a novel by Elif Shafak, The Bastard of Istanbul. I reviewed Shafak's book for the May issue of BreakPoint Worldview magazine. It is a masterfully written piece of literature, full of contrast and depth--and it just happens to tell, in gripping terms, the story of the Armenian genocide. I blogged here about the bizarre trial that Shafak was subjected to in her homeland because of her novel.

Why should we care about a genocide that occurred so long ago? In part because loud voices still insist that no such injustice took place. Injustices will never be righted if we refuse to admit they even occurred. The Armenian people lost so much--lives, culture, homes, history. As Shafak illustrates so well in her novel, all they had left was their memories. We can't stand by and let those be taken as well.

’Life’s Short. Get a Divorce’

That's the tagline being used by a Chicago law firm to promote their divorce "services." The huge billboard, which hangs in Chicago's ritzy Gold Coast neighborhood, features two scantily clad bodies. It screams sex. The law firm is defending the "cutting edge" ad. Divorce attorney Corri Fetman audaciously says, "If you're unhappy, that life is too short to continue in an unhappy marriage, those images provide hope."

Hope?! Hope for what? Why has our society reduced everything down to sex? Why is one's own happiness the supreme goal? What ever happened to sacrifice and commitment?

May 05, 2007

Circuit City (Again)

Oh boy.

I'll assume that CT's Ted Olsen misunderstood my post about Circuit City. To be honest, though, I don't see how one could read my post and comments and conclude that I "criticized" Chuck or his commentary about Circuit City. The sensationalist context set up by Olsen's title "Colson the Socialist?" doesn't help matters, in my opinion. (Who's suggesting Chuck is a socialist, for goodness' sake? Not even Bandow comes close to that.)

I would hope that anyone who reads my month-old post would conclude that I did nothing close to criticizing Chuck, nor even his opinion. I merely respectfully disagreed that we could call Circuit City’s actions immoral with such certainty. I even agreed that capitalism is amoral and, thus, in need of moral constraint. Beyond that, I noted that Chuck’s need for brevity on BreakPoint prevented his presentation of a full argument, and I requested that others make that case (more mainstream than my own thought, to be sure) so that we could discuss it further. In a comment responding to Dennis and Labrialumn, I further admitted that I might be wrong:

I'm more than willing to learn something here and admit that I am wrong. Believe me, then I'm both "for the little guy" and agreeing with Chuck, which solves all of my problems. But I need you to make a winning argument in order for me to acquiesce.

At their best, that is precisely what blogs do -- they facilitate two-way discussions about important matters, so that we can all grow. I wish that this hadn't been mischaracterized as "criticism."

We should all consider it noteworthy that Chuck, Mark Earley and PFM allow for independent thought on The Point. The notion that all must goose-step behind their chosen leader is so widespread in the Christian community that Chuck’s departure from that pattern should be lauded. It should also be noted that Chuck includes Christian worldview thought leaders to lecture in the Centurions program, even when they disagree on important issues (example: Peter Kreeft on Islam). If all Christian thought leaders were more like Chuck Colson in encouraging a marketplace of ideas, in which different opinions are valued, we might find more unity -- and an even richer bouquet of ideas -- in the Church.

For what it’s worth, Chuck and I do agree that Circuit City’s public communications about the layoffs were brazen, if not crass. Ironically, we were talking about that very thing Friday, shortly before CT's post went up.

May 04, 2007

Baptizing the iPod

Diane, no, you're not alone. Nowadays I mostly use mine for these (note: some of the commentaries here would probably be rated PG-13 for language), but I also enjoy being able to cart my music and books-on-CD around with me whenever I want.

For more thoughts on iPods -- including some Christian worldview-related thoughts -- check out a pair of posts from Ted Slater at The Line, inspired by our own Roberto. Ted moves from lamenting what he considers the poor audio quality of iPods (my ear isn't trained enough to notice it) to celebrating its use as a player of Bible software. In other words, the thing goes, rather intriguingly, from tool of Satan to divine witness.

Or could it be that Ted too just got hooked on the new toy after a while?

(Only teasing, Ted. ;-) )

Joining the iPod revolution

Ipod After months of looking and debate, I finally did it: I bought a 30G iPod and joined this amazing technological revolution  I've had iTunes on my home computer for a couple of years, mainly to copy CDs I purchased so I could make my own mixed CDs of favorite songs. Thus, it was a short step to plug in the iPod and instantly have more than 400 songs at my fingertips -- songs (thanks to several accessories) I can play anywhere. The most amazing was the video I downloaded this morning -- the American Idol duet between Celine Dion and Elvis! Next, I'm going to add some free lectures from various Bible teachers that are available online so I can listen during my morning walk -- a nice combination of spiritual and physical exercise.

OK, OK, I know I'm like a kid with a new toy ... but boy, what a toy! How many of you are hooked on your iPod, too?

Cutting Costs One Roll at a Time

I had to laugh when I read this morning that Kansas looks to save a whopping $600 by reducing the amount of toilet paper inmates are permitted to use per month.

"One side effect of the policy could be that toilet paper will become a new form of currency among inmates."

Although being thrifty with day-to-day items is never a bad idea, it seems to me that Kansas and many other states would better serve their communities by cutting costs on a larger level. Say, identifying methods that work to stop the revolving door of crime.

But the Sunflower State is attacking the problem in a different way by employing the practice of charging their inmates "rent" in some locations.  Their message to future lawbreakers is this: prison is "no longer a free ride". Not a bad message in and of itself, but it does nil to actually "rehabilitate" the offender, something desperately needed if they are to become successful, productive citizens. Now we'll release them back into the community ill-prepared and poor. How nice.

TV That Kills

I've been researching a piece on the FCC's report on the effects of television violence on children, both short term (makes them more aggressive) and long-term (desensitizes them to violence in real life). One of the more horrific examples of children imitating media violence that I discovered was of children worldwide imitating the hanging death of Saddam Hussein. Eight deaths have been linked to children having watched this hanging, which was secretly videotaped on a guard's cell phone. Some countries (including the U.S.) replayed it on TV; some children saw the hanging online. The father of a Texas boy who died while imitating the hanging blames television for his son's death. You can still watch the hanging online (no, I'm not going to link to it).

Children clearly do not understand the difference between fantasy and reality. They don't always understand that actions have consequences (especially if they've spent much time watching Road Runner cartoons). So....when are we going to do something to protect kids from on-line violence? (Please don't write in telling me it's the parents' job to keep this stuff away from their kids....one of my kids was hurt once because of something the neighbor's kid had watched on TV, and decided to imitate).

Do U Q?

If you intentionally engage in conversations to share your own story and question how to be an incarnational, impactful, environmental, engaged, relational, relevant, authentic, missional, transformational follower of Jesus, then you are well on your way to authentically, intentionally, missionally, and relevantly engaging, impacting and transforming culture as an incarnational, relational, creative cultural change agent in the 21st century.

Or, like, me, you recently returned from the Q Conference in Atlanta.

Created by 2004 Centurion Gabe Lyons, his wife Rebekah, and Fermi Project teammates Jeff Shinaberger, Danielle Kirkland, Courtney Fahey, and a host of others, Q drew together a group of over 200 "innovators, thought leaders, church planters, cultural creatives and church leaders who are shaping the way the church interacts with culture" to hear from modern-day mentors and models of cultural engagement and to interact with one another, asking questions, sharing stories, and envisioning what the world will look like and how it will communicate in the next generation, and what the role of the Church will be in shaping, speaking to, and engaging that world.

My head is still spinning! As I review my program booklet and notes from the conference I'll share with you here some of what I took away from speakers like Andy Crouch, Donald Miller, Jeff Johnson, David Batstone, Blake Mycoskie, Jon Passavant and others and give you some "Qs" to consider about how you can be a cultural change agent yourself, wherever God has placed you and however He has gifted you.

Hint: full-time ministry/missions ain't what you think it is, and we all are called to be salt and light wherever we are and whatever we do. Oh, and you don't have to use all the buzz-words, but they sure are fun to say and write all in one paragraph, though my goal in changing culture is to rid the world of the incorrect (and ubiquitous) use of any form of the words impact or grow, or the addition of the letters -al to create a new adjective.

The Amazing Disappearing Act

Books In the past several weeks, we've seen a disturbing trend. The Atlanta Journal Constitution eliminated its books editor. The Chicago Tribune decided to move its book review section to the hardly-read Saturday edition. The books editor position was cut at the Raleigh News & Observer, and the Orlando Sentinel and the LA Times have also cut or shifted their attention from book reviews. Why does this matter? Well, to begin with, as one editorial writer points out it's pure folly for newspaper editors:

The truth is that the book and newspaper businesses share the same dreadful fear: that people will stop reading. And the fear may be well-founded. Across the country, newspaper circulations are down — and this is clearly part of the reason for the cuts to book sections. At the same time, the book business increasingly relies on an aging customer base that may not be refueling itself with enough new readers.

In the past, newspaper executives understood the symbiotic relationship between their product and books. People who read books also read newspapers. From that basic tenet came a philosophy: If you foster books, you foster reading. If you foster reading, you foster newspapers. That loss-leader ends up helping you build and keep your base.

What I fear is that this philosophy is disappearing from the boardrooms of our newspapers, that efforts to cut costs now will damage both books and newspapers in the future. Short-term gains will become long-term losses. (Michael Connelly, The LA Times)

Another opinion writer for the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker, cleverly wrote that newspaper editors are playing Taps and are signing their own suicide pact. I think the news is interesting from a Christian worldview perspective because we know that Christians are, by God's design, to be people of the Word. Reading and literacy have flourished where Christianity has flourished. Conversely, during the Middle or Dark Ages of the church, the masses were largely ignorant of the sacred texts from which we come to know God more intimately and personally.

Continue reading "The Amazing Disappearing Act" »

What a 12th-century monk & I have in common

St_aelred Ever hear of Aelred of Rievaulx? I hadn't until I read his book Spiritual Friendship. Aelred, a 12th-century Cistercian monk, and his brothers wrote more about the meaning and importance of friendship than a gaggle of modern-day "tween" girls on Facebook. Says Aelred:

Scarcely any happiness whatever can exist among mankind without friendship, and a man is to be compared to a beast if he has no one to rejoice with him in adversity, no one to whom to unburden his mind if any annoyance crosses his path or with whom to share some unusually sublime or illuminating inspiration. "Woe to him who is alone, for when he falls, he has none to lift him up." He is entirely alone who is without a friend.

Aelred goes on to say:

Friendship, therefore, heightens the joys of prosperity and mitigates the sorrows of adversity by dividing and sharing them. Hence, the best medicine in life is a friend.

As I've mentioned here before, I was privileged to form bonds with an extraordinary group of friends back when life allowed us to work, live, serve and worship together. As the years have passed, distance and life changes keep us from physically experiencing life together to that breadth and depth, or even from regularly gathering for long dinners and chats to pour out what's going on in our hearts, minds and lives. Quick emails, occasional calls and rare times together keep us connected.

Continue reading "What a 12th-century monk & I have in common" »

Widow offers forgiveness in Turkey

Since I've been sharing more details of the tragic death of three martyrs in Turkey and have also been writing about forgiveness in the wake of the Virginia Tech shootings, it seems appropriate to share with you how one of the widows of the Turkish martyrs offered forgiveness immediately following the gruesome deaths. Again from the report of the Maritn Bucer Seminary in Turkey, we are told:

There has been an enormous media storm in Turkey following these events. Many Turks sent letters to the newspapers to express their deep disgust. The widow, Susanne Geske, earned tremendous admiration for her words in a TV interview the day after the massacre. She said she forgave the murderers of her husband, the way Christ forgave his murderers, citing Jesus’ prayer, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” This is the reason why she wants to stay in Malatya with her children. Many letters to the newspapers are saying that now they really want to read the New Testament or even to describe themselves as Christians, since they no longer want to have anything to do with Islam.

When men and women truly live out their Christian faith, especially against such a harsh backdrop, there is no finer apologetic. Praise God for this woman's courage and living faith in Jesus.

The logical next step

At first I thought this headline was a joke. I should have known better.

May 03, 2007

The Dark Side of ’The Secret’

Both Martha and Kristine have blogged here about publishing phenomenon The Secret. Now Mark Earley weighs in with today's BreakPoint commentary:

[Secret author Rhonda] Byrne has scammed millions of people by appealing to their pride and greed, and she is making a fortune. But I will tell you this for free: Byrne’s hot new trend is simply a repetition of the oldest lie there is—“You shall be like God.”

Read more.

Is Urban Exploring Just Another Excuse for Breaking and Entering?

Urban_exploring On the radio yesterday, I heard that a Maryland resident was just sentenced to six months of probation after breaking into a warehouse he thought was abandoned. He pleaded guilty to possession of burglary tools.

Yawning, I thought, "Big deal" until I heard Arndt’s excuse was he wasn’t trying to commit a crime, he was just making his first attempt at a new hobby called urban exploring. I bristled at the idea that he was using “urban exploring” as an excuse for B&E.

But then, curious, I looked up an article about Arndt and urban exploring and found it is a hobby which started in 1991. It is touted as an adventure for people who are bored with living in a “highly controlled world,” and this “inherently dangerous” hobby gives explorers thrills as you can see by reading about Reneé Rogers’s trespassing adventure:

ANOTHER NIGHT, a Saturday. 10 p.m. Back on the town with the Jinxsters. After two hours in the bowels of Grand Central Terminal, navigating maintenance and train tunnels, we make our way to the roof. My adventures with Jinx have me convinced that its members could use a few days in a climbing gym—they are clumsy at best—and I have half a mind to buy them each a good helmet. Still, moving about the roof of Grand Central in the rain, I feel the buzz that comes only from ducking under the safety railings to see what you can see. Looking up at the Chrysler Building, all the while afraid of falling or being caught—it feels like the final moments of Blade Runner. Like I'm 12 years old. Which is to say, I'm having a blast.

After pondering this risky hobby which actually encourages people to break and enter, trespass, and take gambles with life and limb, I think the answer is that we’re raising people who’ve never had the opportunity and thrill of exploring their world.

Continue reading "Is Urban Exploring Just Another Excuse for Breaking and Entering?" »

Participate in the National Day of Prayer

In its "2007 Guide to the National Day of Prayer," the Presidential Prayer Team includes a wise quote from Abraham Lincoln, who in 1863 proclaimed a day of "humiliation, fasting, and prayer" (emphasis mine). May we always remember the need for humbling, or humiliating (perhaps a more powerful and significant word), ourselves before God as we pray for our nation.

You can download the prayer guide here (Adobe Acrobat Reader required).

Students Reenact Slave Ship

Slave_ship Here's another way to remind each other that modern slavery still exists. On Tuesday, more than 200 University of Maryland students lay head-to-toe on the campus lawn, roped off with the dimensions of a slave ship. Wilberforce would have been proud.

Heard of anything else up this alley?

Livin’ the Good Ol’ Days

Northdakotatown Sometimes you happen across stories that make you stop-and-smell-the-roses. This morning I stumbled across this headline: "Woman, 93, Selling Heart of Small North Dakota Town" -- not exactly a headline you see every day. Its uniqueness intrigued me and I took a second to scan through the article. Wow, what a great find.

These types of stories are truly inspirational to me, even if they aren't your typical success & accomplishment story. Why? Because they represent a generation of people who were (are) responsible, dedicated workers. They survived through the Great Depression and two World Wars and didn't need anyone to wipe their noses. If something needed done, they did it themselves. They sucked it up and pushed ahead. I can't help but wonder if I would have the character to live through the same.

(Photo courtesy of Fox News)

Final Hours of the Three Turkish Martyrs

The President of Martin Bucer Theological Seminary in Turkey, Titus Vogt, has led an investigation into the final hours of the three men who were killed in the Bible Publishing House in Turkey two weeks ago, one of whom, Necati Ayidin, was a student at the seminary. According to their report:

Some months ago the murderers gained the trust of their intended victims. To do this, the assassins indicated an interest in the Christian faith and said they wanted more information about the Bible and its contents. What deception could be more powerful to Bible publishers who were themselves adult converts from Islam to Christianity? Under this guise, they met repeatedly with their future victims. Clearly the attack was planned very long in advance.

On the morning of April 18, two of the murderers came to the office of Zirve Publishing House in Malatya, which is an extension of a Protestant publisher based in Istanbul, with distribution offices in various Turkish cities. Among other things, they discussed the Christian faith with Necati Aydin, as they had done frequently in the previous months.

What followed is not only gruesome, but strongly indicates that the attacks were motivated out of religious extremism and coincide with some of the more graphic depictions of the treatment of non-believers in the Koran. (Warning: content which follows is violent in nature and may be inappropriate for some readers). The seminary's report continues:

Continue reading "Final Hours of the Three Turkish Martyrs" »

Peter and False Teachers

Since I am beginning a study of 2 Peter on Sunday, I've spent the last couple of weeks looking closely at this short book. One of Peter's main concerns in what is, essentially, his "last will and testament," was to remind readers of what they knew to be true about Jesus, and to warn them about false teachers who had infiltrated the church. The two specific categories of false teachers mentioned by Peter are those who deny the return of Jesus Christ in power and glory (the parousia) and those who live -- and even preach -- an immoral lifestyle. Of course, the two go hand in hand: if Jesus is not going to return and judge the world, then we can live any way we please, paying little attention to the biblical commands to "be holy."

My goal here is not to attack specific ministries or ministers in our own day (so please don't "name names" -- Peter didn't so we shouldn't). However, I would like to know what areas of false teaching our readers think are most prevalent, and most destructive, today. Aside from the usual attacks on Jesus (He is not fully human, He is not fully God, He did not die on the Cross, He wasn't resurrected), what lies do you hear about Him -- or about how we are to live as Christians -- that you know are deceptive?

May 02, 2007

What I saw at the university, part 3

I wasn't there for Ashland University assistant history professor John Lewis's speech "'No Substitute for Victory': The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism" at the university I attend, George Mason. But judging by this report in student newspaper The Broadside, I missed a doozy of an evening.

Protesters turned their backs in opposition to a presentation by speaker John Lewis based on his article “’No Substitute for Victory:’ The Defeat of Islamic Totalitarianism.” This was only the beginning in an evening filled with heated outbursts and conflict.

Nothing new there; this sort of thing happens at college campuses everywhere. But when you start to look into the students' reasoning, it's a little disconcerting. The syntax alone probably has their English professors weeping; those who teach logic -- or does anyone teach logic at universities anymore? -- must be in despair.

“This is not about freedom or hatred speech,” said Saleh Albamawi, president of the Muslim Student Association, calling Lewis’ message “absolute lies.” . . .

“That’s a message not of ‘we don’t accept your right to speak,’ but of ‘we will not be an audience for your call to violence and your intolerance and your ethnocentric view of the world,” said Jasper Conner of SDS. He continued, saying that he personally does not believe Lewis had the right to speak at Mason.

Continue reading "What I saw at the university, part 3" »

A Mommy Truce?

I've been thinking about E.J. Graff's "The Mommy War Machine" in the Post last weekend, in part because, after 21 faithful years, I will be fired from my mommy job this August when my younger son leaves for college. (No health benefits, no retirement plan, no gold watch, no nuthin'.)

Graff maintains that the "mommy wars" were ginned up by the news media, and in large measure, I think he's right. But I also think that the war, to the extent that it existed, has dissipated because mothers are able to combine work and family in ways that were unavailable just a decade or two ago. It's no longer a case of abandoning the kids for 10 hours a day, five days a week, in order to commute to a full-time job. Technology now allows millions of us to work from home, which means we can combine work and children, as I noted some years ago in Boundless. Happy changes in the corporate culture also allow many moms to work part-time, sometimes job sharing with other moms.

However, I take issue with some of Graff's other assertions. He writes that most mothers work "because they have to" in order to feed, house, and educate their families. That's true enough if women chose to have children out of wedlock, or if they endured a divorce, or if they and their husbands bought a house whose morgage payments require two incomes. But many other mothers plan ahead to take care of their own children. They marry before having kids and buy smaller, simpler houses in untrendy neighborhoods. If the local public schools are bad and they cannot afford private school, they homeschool. They drive second-hand cars. They make deliberate financial sacrifices with the view that nurturing their children (instead of outsourcing their care) is of greater worth than having granite counter-tops and in-ground pools.

I know many mothers who, with their husbands, have made this decision. I know moms who work part-time at less than ideal jobs, partly to get out of the house once in a while and partly to bring in a little extra money. These women are often sacrificing, not only material goods, but also the pleasure of working in the field for which they were trained. Or they sacrifice exciting jobs that requires more time and commitment than they are willing to give while their children are small. Hardest of all, perhaps, is approaching Mommy Retirement to find that one is, astonishingly, no longer young--and that certain employment options have closed down forever.

Here is what I think needs to happen: 1. Young women need to think through this stuff and plan ahead. 2. Taxes on families should be dramatically lowered to make it easer for one parent to give children the care they deserve. 3. Conservative businessmen, and conservatives in government and at think tanks who urge mothers to stay home and take care of their children should put their money where their mouth is: They should be the first to hire middle-aged moms over the cute (and often less experienced) young twenty-somethings.