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« October 2007 | Main | December 2007 »

November 30, 2007

Daily roundup

Christmas Tree Back at Missouri State University

Tree It's a symbolic victory--no pun intended.

Missouri State University President Michael T. Nietzel stated in a news release Thursday that the Christmas tree that had been removed from Strong Hall will return, along with other religious holiday symbols like the Jewish menorah. The Christmas tree was removed following a complaint by a Jewish faculty member who said that the tree demonstrated a "lack of sensitivity" to those of other religions. 

But according to Lorene Stone, Dean of the MSU College of Humanities and Public Affairs, Jewish faculty members were invited to put up a menorah but declined out of fear that it would be stolen. Apparently, such fears have been substantially put to rest as the Christmas tree will now be joined by other religious holiday symbols, presumably including the menorah. For the original story from KSDK News Channel 5 in St. Louis, go here.

While there is much to be said for the argument that a government of many different peoples should not show undue bias in favor of a particular faith, there is another good argument to be made here: namely, that healthy religions which contribute to society are to be thanked, not shunned, by the state. Whether that takes the form of tax-exempt status or as small a gesture as giving such faiths honor in a public park or state university's student union, the state has many good reasons to befriend those organizations that help teach their adherents respect for the law and for their neighbors.

Continue reading "Christmas Tree Back at Missouri State University " »

Friday Fun--King of Pop Impersonator

Ya gotta check out this moonwalking bird. Wonder if he's been watching MTV?

Another Mohammed-related no-no

First you couldn't draw a cartoon of him. Now you can't name a teddy bear after him.

When Bah Humbug Turns to Ho Hum

Adventcandles Joseph Bottum over at First Things has an excellent piece in the just-released December issue called The End of Advent. Here's a bit of it:

Christmas has devoured Advent, gobbled it up with the turkey giblets and the goblets of seasonal ale.

Every secularized holiday tends to lose the context it had in the liturgical year. Across the nation, even in many churches, Easter has hopped across Lent, Halloween has frightened away All Saints, and New Year’s has drunk up Epiphany. Still, the disappearance of Advent seems especially disturbing–for it’s injured even the secular Christmas season: opening a hole, from Thanksgiving on, that can be filled only with fiercer, madder, and wilder attempts to anticipate Christmas.

To read the full article, you'll need a subscription. But it is truly worth the read.

Another Archeological Find Supporting Biblical Account

It appears that Nehemiah's famous wall has been discovered.

In Kind Contribution

I guess she didn't have a car, boat or RV she could donate, so this was the next-best thing:

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - A Chilean prostitute has auctioned 27 hours of sex to raise money for the country's largest charity during an annual fund-raising campaign . . .

"I've already auctioned off the 27 hours of love," Maria Carolina told Reuters on Wednesday, saying she had raised about $4,000. "One of my clients already paid. It seemed like a good deed to him."

Adult prostitution is legal in Chile. Chile's two-day Teleton fundraiser is endorsed by television stars and aims to raise funds for poor, disabled children . . .

Her response to those who objected to using her ill-gotten gain for charitable purposes?

"There are people who are going to be donating money that's a lot more questionable than mine . . . The only thing I did was publicize it."

The Point Radio: The University Price Tag

In 2006 nearly 78,000 college seniors graduated more than $40,000 in debt. What are you teaching your kids?...

Click play above to listen.

Do you agree? Disagree? Make your point in the comments section.

November 29, 2007

Daily roundup


Former Representative Henry Hyde died today at age 83, just three-and-a-half weeks after receiving his Presidential Medal of Freedom for being "a powerful defender of life and a leading advocate for a strong national defense and for freedom around the world."

FRC and NRO (here and here) have some nice tributes up.


Dorothyday Twenty-seven years ago today, Dorothy Day died. I know this because, as it happens, I finished reading Paul Elie's The Life You Save May Be Your Own, his literary biography of Day, Flannery O'Connor, Thomas Merton and Walker Percy, yesterday.

To the contemporary mind, the opening paragraph of Wikipedia's entry on Day . . .

[Dorothy Day] was an American journalist turned social activist and devout member of the Catholic Church. She became known for her social justice campaigns in defense of the poor, forsaken, hungry and homeless. Day, with Peter Maurin, founded the Catholic Worker Movement in 1933, espousing nonviolence, and hospitality for the impoverished and downtrodden.

. . . might seem, if not contradictory, at least paradoxical. Culture war politics -- indeed, politics in general -- being what they are, we expect people to be either activists for social justice and peace or devout Catholics (or Christians of any kind.)

Of course any paradox is purely of our own making. There was a time, not so long ago, when Day's combination of activism on behalf of those she called "Jesus in his distressing disguise" was, if not typical, at least a lot more common. Sadly, as Elie's book recounts, Day lived long enough to see people like herself and Blessed Theresa become a kind of sign of contradiction to a world that had forgotten that the Son of God was revealed to destroy the works of the devil -- all of his works, not just those of our choosing.

Continue reading "Sanctus" »

Speaking of Christmas Shopping

Bazaar Last year I told you about an event my church hosted called the Peace Bazaar. We're doing it again this year. If you're local, I'd love to invite you to come. If you live far out in cyber space, many of these great organizations are accessible via the wonderful, wonderful worldwide web.

Basically, we've gathered a host of fair trade organization who will be presenting their hand-crafted items. All of the items sold go to support good causes.

Here are links to some of the great organizations that participated last year and here are the details for locals for this year:

Sat. Dec 1st  9am to 3pm

Mark your calendars for Sat. Dec 1st, 9am to 3pm at Christ our Shepherd Church: 801 North Carolina Ave SE, Washington, DC 20003 to do some Christmas shopping to support individuals and groups around the world and in our city!

Bring your friends and neighbors!  These high-quality handicrafts sold by international and DC-based development organizations provide meaningful and unique gifts, as well as the opportunity to learn and share about needs both local and abroad.  Come share with us holiday shopping, festive free food, Christmas carols and the company of friends!

The church is within a block of Eastern Market, another good place to wander through for unique Christmas gifts, fresh flowers, or produce, or just a beautiful day in DC. And it's easily Metro accessible. As an added bonus, if you come I'll see you at the free refreshment table and autograph your free hot cocoa cup. Now wouldn't that make it worth the trip? :-) 

Year of the Ultimate Fighter

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) is big this year. It landed the covers of Sports Illustrated and ESPN Magazine last summer, and the UFC program is very popular on cable Spike TV and is shown in more than 30 countries worldwide.

The UFC is a fighting tournament of mixed martial arts with a limited number of rules, or “no holds barred” bouts between the fighters. The spectacle of what some call “human cock-fighting” can be controversial because of its violence, but because of its popularity one can’t deny that many (me included) find a thrill n the brutality of the sport.

Whether you like this extreme sport or not, I thought this is a good object lesson of what Paul wrote in 1 Tim 6:12, that fighting a good fight of faith is an absolute must for us Christians. Our mission is to advance the kingdom of God against the world and our self-seeking heart. We are called to fight a brutal battle with our main opponent, Lucifer, and our ultimate fighting weapons are prayer, the holy Word, faithfulness and love. What a good lesson to ponder on today. Not all fights are bad after all.

Something Perfect: The Silence of a Candle

Candle In an old joke, a Buddhist monk walks up to a hot dog vendor and says, "Make me one with everything."

For reasons that I understand but I'm not sure I can adequately articulate, this joke came to mind as I prepared to write about one of my top-five pieces of music: The Silence of A Candle by Ralph Towner and Oregon. (In addition, I don't think we've ever used Buddhist humor here at The Point.)

As the New York Times once put it,

The beauty of Oregon's music owes a lot to its sheer improbability. Since 1970, Oregon has blended styles and instruments that rarely intersected elsewhere. Celtic-tinged melodies abut Minimalist permutations and jazzy chromaticism; Paul McCandless's oboe improvisations over Glen Moore's jazz bass and Ralph Towner's classical guitar. Oregon's disparate elements share a peaceable realm of thoughtful, playful inquiry.

This improbability-leading-to-beauty has never been more perfectly captured than in The Silence of a Candle. (Indulge me and stop for a second and meditate -- that is right word -- on the title: The Silence of a Candle. It's a kind of koan: candles are silent but that silence can signify more than the absence of parts that produce noise. Looking into the flame has a way of stilling our minds and making the rest of the world seem silent . . . Anyway, back to Towner's song.)

As one critic wrote, The Silence of a Candle is "an elementally sad sketch that almost suggests the sunset of a life." Like Witchi-Tai-To, Oregon has recorded the song several times, the first time (that I'm aware of) in 1972 on their album Music of Another Present Era and, most recently, on their 1995 album Beyond Words.

Continue reading "Something Perfect: The Silence of a Candle" »

More Conservative Warnings About Huckabee

Jonah Goldberg:

What’s troubling about The Man From Hope 2.0 is what he represents. Huckabee represents compassionate conservatism on steroids. A devout social conservative on issues such as abortion, school prayer, homosexuality and evolution, Huckabee’s a populist on economics, a fad-follower on the environment and an all-around do-gooder who believes that the biblical obligation to do “good works” extends to using government — and your tax dollars — to bring us closer to the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.

My question: Is this true? Is Huckabee truly a Big Government proponent? I don't keep repeating this question on The Point because I have an agenda; rather, I simply want to know. On the one hand, I like much about and in Huckabee; but this question about the degree to which he is dedicated to fiscal conservatism (which is ultimately to say "property rights") seems to linger out there. When John Fund throws darts at Huckabee, I roll my eyes. When Ramesh Ponnuru and Jonah Goldberg pull the alarm, though, I take notice.

All the same, I rarely hear compelling backing for the "Christian Left" claims against Huckabee. ] Sure, they point to Huckabee's fiscal track record as governor, but -- while this is in dire need of some serious explaining -- they never seem to quote anything he is currently saying. His current Fair Tax proposals, however unconventional one may find them, do seem conservative on their face. But maybe I'm missing something.

I'd appreciate any enlightenment any of you could bring to this matter. Upon what basis is Goldberg's characterization fair or unfair?

Re: A Tie You Cannot Steal

But .. but ... but what about The Invisible Hand?? Everyone acting in their own self-interest resulting in a higher common good, greater happiness, Heaven On Earth?

Interestingly, I think the libertarians' case on economic policy matters is still largely the right one, insofar as the concern at hand is governmental policy and scope of power. Which of course is to say that I don't see the attempt to create human happiness as a secular government's role. (Bummer ... guess I'm not a "compassionate conservative.") I realize that this wasn't precisely your point, Roberto, but the matter is ultimately linked, given the government's role in energy policy.

But reliance upon Adam Smith's theory to wholly anticipate future happiness ultimately fails due to the reality of the human appetite, which your Deneen quotes capture poignantly. For, while capitalism may excel at largely enabling the creation of wealth, it cannot do anything to restrain the self-destructive nature of man. So that the more self-destructing humans any society possesses, and the greater availability of the means to so self-destruct (greenbacks, baby!), the more the society will implode due to the pressure of its appetites. ("Implosion" sounds like a final disposition. I don't mean that; hopefully, that's obvious.)

But what can provide happiness by voluntarily shifting one's focus away from oneself? Or Who? Hmmmm ... let me think. Perhaps He in whom, and only in whom, all things hold together?

Anyhow, great quotes and thoughts Roberto. I realize that much of the above is a restatement of the thoughts you express, but it's a topic that fascinates me, so if I find myself merely playing the echo, then so be it.   

The Point Radio: Loving Her Warts and All

Do you love your church?...

Click play above to listen.

Go here for seven ways to serve your church aside from giving money.

November 28, 2007

Daily roundup

A Green Ode to Successful, Young, Enviable, Five-Syllable Ramesh Ponnuru

Ramesh Ponnuru
Is just thirty three. I hate
Ramesh Ponnuru

Update on Antony Flew’s press release

For a commenter who seemed to doubt our information about Antony Flew's press release defending his new book, I promised to find out for certain if there really was such a press release. I now have a copy of it, sent to me by Helena Brantley at HarperOne, who confirms that it also was sent to Publisher's Weekly and other media outlets. An excerpt:

In the New York Times, writer Mark Oppenheimer questioned whether Flew has actually changed his mind and does in fact, believe in God, and whether he actually wrote the book.

“My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions,” said Mr. Flew in a statement this week.

“Tony’s journey to this conclusion began over twenty years ago,” said co-writer Roy Varghese. “For three years, assorted skeptics and freethinkers have hounded the poor man trying to get him to recant.  Believe me, if there was the slightest indication, the remotest suspicion, that he had retracted his new-found belief in God, it would be plastered all across the worldwide web (and beyond).”

If you're interested in obtaining your own copy of this release, you can call (415) 477-4400 and ask for the publicity department.

Re: Welcome Aboard (to ALL of you)

I’d like to clarify, or add to, Gina’s point from my own perspective on this matter of participation.  A few things:

  1. It is no “higher position” to be the one posting. Hardly! Many of the comments we receive from you, our friends, far exceed mine (I’ll speak only for myself) in wisdom, expertise, humor and analysis, and I’m exceedingly grateful for such valuable conversation.
  2. With #1 in mind, I certainly hope that visitors to The Point don’t merely read posts but read the subsequent conversation with Pointificators in the Comments. Not only are the conversation participants smart, but they are fun. While I could get through the day without our conversations, I’m certainly much the richer for interaction with Lee, Farley, Steve (SBK), Jason Taylor, and many others. Without these and other Pointificators, this blog would be a boring echo chamber. It is the conversation which makes and sustains The Point. I know I speak for all of us when I say “Thank you” for taking the time to enrich our lives and the lives of other readers.
  3. We encourage more folks to participate in the conversation. The new and less-frequent Pointificators are as much a treat as the regulars. Wanda Parker’s comment, for me, was a perfect example of a wholly unanticipated but truly wonderful thought, which I, at least, found moving.
  4. In specific incidences and on specific topics, I’ve invited certain Pointificators to email a post to me, which I would place on The Point for me and others to comment upon. If this is something of interest to you, and the topic is one about which I might have responsive thoughts (this excludes, for example, “chick lit”), then by all means do email me and let’s see if there’s a place for it. It’s far more interesting to discuss your thoughts, after all, then it is to link to much of what passes for "news" in the modern yawnosphere.
  5. Finally, I want to thank Gina for the “tough talk” in her last post. You know, the making us weep bit. It reminds me that she is owed some paybacks for a number of public humiliations and misdeeds which I’ve regrettably found myself too busy to fulfill. But this occasional big-britchery, and Lee’s helpful prodding, keep this important duty before me. I am both inspired and chastened; I hereby redouble my efforts!

The End Is Near

Am I alone in thinking this is not of earth-shaking importance?

For the person who has everything

Gastro_200 Steve (SBK) comments on a previous post of mine that James Lileks "seems a witty fellow." He is indeed. I read his blog religiously, and his books have more than once made it onto my Christmas wish list. Interior Desecrations, a celebration of '70s-era home furnishings, was my favorite gift a few years back -- I don't think I've ever laughed so hard in my life.

This year I'm asking for Gastroanomalies, the sequel to the great Gallery of Regrettable Food. Excerpts and an interview with the author are here. If there's someone for whom you're looking for that perfect gift (and by perfect I mean really, seriously weird), give this one some consideration.

But if you're not sure that will fill the bill, there's always this. (Some pages not suitable for kids. As you'll see from the Amazon links, Lileks also uses some bad language on occasion.)

A Tie You Cannot Steal

One-hundred-dollar-a-barrel oil has people talking both about peak oil and/or that combination of market incentives and innovation that will rescue us from, well, whatever happens when oil (and other natural resources) grow more scarce.

Over at his blog, professor Patrick Deneen of Georgetown says that this kind of thinking is proof of just how disordered our souls are:

My constant attention to the problems we face is not intended as a wake up call for innovation and invention: it's rather to insinuate the possibility that we are destroying ourselves by degree because we refuse to govern our appetites or even see these appetites as problematic. I'm highly dubious that we will "invent" our way out of the need to govern ourselves, and am dead certain that nature and the order of the world will not indefinitely brook our misbehavior. We should be mindful that our near-automatic response to the fact of depletions that surround us - that we MUST find other means to continue running our current way of life - is directly the result of our unwillingness to understand that "the disorder of the world originates in disorder of soul". The problem is not intrinsically the various depletions we face (but, boy, are they problems): the problem lies in the more fundamental motivation of our thoughtless response that avoids considering whether our behavior has anything to do with the problems we face, and might in fact further exacerbate those problems, as well as create greater ones, the longer we refuse to face this possibility.

Continue reading "A Tie You Cannot Steal" »

It gives you a little hope for humanity

. . . when you find yourself unable to vote for "Most Inspiring Person of 2007" because there are just too many good candidates.

The Point Radio: Air Force One Solutions

A problem arises in our community. Where do we turn first? Too often, to government....

Click play above to listen.

Want more ideas on how to have an impact on our culture?

November 27, 2007

Daily roundup

Giving and Receiving Train Wreck

Presents Thanksgiving's gone. And though I'd like to weigh in on world peace or other culturally stimulating topics, I must turn my thoughts to the challenges of buying presents before the 25th. For me, part of pacing Christmas is the planning so that we, in fact, don't rush around. However, this is a tortured exercise, at least for my family, because we demonstrate just how lousy we are about giving and receiving gifts.

It seems easy to say "I'm great at receiving gifts! Just try me." But hold on. Who hasn't opened a package and heard the "whawhawha" music in their heads, forced a smile and began lying to prevent a relationship kerfuffle? You give a quick hug and immediately change the subject by inviting the next person to open a gift.

But I find the giving part even more difficult.

The usual questions fly: Can we get lists from people? How do we avoid doubling up between our two families? What's our price per gift? How many folks can we realistically cover on our budget? I married into a large family and we have the added challenge of at least 4 immediate family member birthdays in December, two more if we add close friends. It's an expensive month whether we spend a wad on gifts, or spend of wad of time weaving baskets from the heart (full disclosure: I've never woven; if I did it would NOT be with all my heart).

The problem arises around expectations. What do people expect to receive? Does the gift represent an adequate symbol of how much you care?

Continue reading "Giving and Receiving Train Wreck" »

’The Gum Thief’

Have any Point readers read a Douglas Coupland novel? Here's an interesting review of The Gum Thief.

Are Mental Disorders Really Increasing?

Between the years of 1952 and 1968, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders stayed pretty much as is, but in the 1980s, ideas about mental health and our ability to cure everything took a turn for the worse. Suddenly, there were hundreds of new disorders which needed medication.

With the advent of slick marketing and new drugs, there has been an artificial creation of disorders in need of treatment. Take the classic case of human growth hormone—initially it was created to treat a form of pituitary dwarfism, but companies soon found other ways to market the drug: they simply created a new disorder called shortness.       

In the December issue of The New York Review of Books, cultural critic Frederick Crews reviews three books dealing with this issue.

Welcome aboard!

Please join me in welcoming two new bloggers to The Point! Jeff Peck is Prison Fellowship's director of publishing. Stephen Reed is our grants and foundations specialist. Their bios will be up on the bio page soon.  We're very happy to have them on the team.

A quick word about blogging here: Some of you commenters have occasionally expressed interest in joining us at The Point. While we appreciate your interest, at the moment all our bloggers are people with some connection to Prison Fellowship and BreakPoint -- current and former employees and interns, and Centurions graduates. It's possible that policy could change one of these days; if it does, I'll let you know. But should that happen, those interested in applying would need to bear in mind two things: (1) It would be a volunteer position, and (2) the selection process would be rigorous. They don't call me The Editor Who Makes Writers Weep for nothing, so -- if we ever notify you that the application process is open -- brush up those writing skills and toughen that hide!

Pro-life Subterfuge

Over the past year, controversy has swirled around Bodies... The Exhibition, a traveling exhibit displaying dissected human bodies preserved through a process called the polymer process. Like Faith, I recently had the opportunity to visit the exhibit. And, also like Faith, I thought the exhibit educational, scientific, and tasteful, not vulgar and gory as might be expected.

But what impressed me most were the pro-life messages subtly planted in and around the displays. Next to female and male reproductive systems, a plaque read: Everyone spends one half-hour as a single cell. Everyone? Hmm...

Just beyond, a sign warned the way into the next room: "Please consider whether you want to see the next section of the exhibit. Note: the fetuses died of natural causes in the womb." As I made my way into the room and stopped in front of a case displaying a human placenta, I heard one girl in line ahead of me tell her friend, "I could never have an abortion. That's terrible!" Her friend responded, "Me too. I'd definitely go for adoption."

As I moved through a line of fetuses in the early stages of development, I noticed an 8-week-old. The bones in the hand were dyed to reveal the perfect intricacy of the child's metacarpals. And just eight weeks!

Like I said, there has been much controversy about the way the bodies in the exhibit were obtained. The Pittsburgh Diocese affirms that the people whose bodies were used all died of natural causes and were not claimed by relatives. Still, there are many skeptics (including an employee at the Carnegie Science Center who quit her job when she found out that Bodies was coming to Pittsburgh) who have concluded that the bodies were obtained through less than ideal methods.

I can't claim to know. All I can say is, if I were considering an abortion, that exhibit would stop me dead in my tracks.

Another Nail in Freedom’s Coffin

Medical Of all the insidious encroachments on a person’s inalienable right to exercise their conscience by various arm-twisting organizations, the newest attack by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) wins the prize. Organizationally, ACOG is aggressively pro-abortion, and is actively seeking ways to undermine pro-life physicians’ ability to practice medicine. 

ACOG has decided that if physicians believe in something other than abortion-on-demand, they will no longer be able to defend their principled objections. Please read this document carefully.

In public comments during a session concerning ACOG’s newest statement, Jonthan Imbody from the Christian Medical Association highlights several damning points about ACOG’s latest move.

1. Religious physicians would either be forced out of their ob/gyn profession or forced to disregard their conscience.
2. ACOG’s new limits force pro-life doctors to advance abortion causes despite their conscience, but the same is not true for doctors who practice abortion—they do not have to give alternatives to abortion like information about adoption.
3. Pro-life physicians will be forced to refer patients to someone who is willing to proform abortions and also have to move their practice near an abortion provider. 

Continue reading "Another Nail in Freedom’s Coffin" »

The Point Radio: Fighting Injustice

This November marks the 50th anniversary of the Ministers' Manifesto, a statement by 80 white Atlanta pastors protesting racial hatred. Would you have had the courage to sign on?...

Click play above to listen.

Learn more about standing up for the oppressed.

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Fighting Injustice" »

Altruistic misanthrope

Lileks pithily sums up the woman who aborted her child to save the planet.

November 26, 2007

Daily roundup

RE: Unplugging Christmas

Nativityweb2 Thanks, Anne, for that great recommendation. So speaking of establishing family traditions surrounding Christmas, what are some of our readers' favorite traditions?

In my family growing up, my dad always read aloud from the family Bible the Christmas story on Christmas morning. One tradition I've started is writing a poem each year (no haiku, I promise) about a different character or aspect of the Christmas story. It has become a great way for me to focus my attention on the wonder of Christmas and to slow down long enough to really concentrate on it. Perhaps because I'm a writer, I find this a way of worship, a way of meditation on the character of God really. You can read one of my former poems at the end of this post. I usually include them in my Christmas cards. This one was published in BreakPoint's Worldview magazine (which you can get a subscription to for yourself or a friend this Christmas for free!!) and also in Kindred Spirit, the magazine of Dallas Theological Seminary.

But what are some of the best personal or family traditions you have developed that accompany Christmas? One of my friends tells about their annual family talent show. From the way she describes it, it sounds hilarious and a wonderful way to make family memories and shift the emphasis from consumption to creation.

Continue reading "RE: Unplugging Christmas" »

The Great Thanksgiving

Judas In many Christian traditions, the Lord's Supper is referred to as the Eucharist, or the Great Thanksgiving. This past weekend something struck me about that final meal that hadn't ever leapt out to me in quite that way before.

Can you think back to a time in your life when you felt most betrayed and abandoned? When your friends turned their backs on you?

As I thought about the final meal Jesus shared with the disciples, I realized that perhaps of all the memories Jesus has of His life on earth, aside from the actual crucifixion and trial, this one might be one of the most painful. He sees Judas leave the table. He knows his intentions. He hears Peter's words of promise. He knows they are false.

And yet, this moment He institutes to be remembered to be re-played for ages to come. And instead of a moment of betrayal, this memory becomes one infused with new meaning. The Eucharist is ultimately a reconciliation moment. A moment when those who had been traitors, and we who had also been traitors, come to the table again, this time with the price of our betrayal paid for us. The table becomes a place of former enemies sitting down in reconciled community.

Continue reading "The Great Thanksgiving" »

A ’Golden Compass’ threefer

Goldencompasspic8 Mark Earley weighs in on the upcoming film today: "I suggest that we should do more than just read the e-mail and press 'Forward.' If we really want to be able to speak out against Pullman’s ideas, we must know what we are talking about." Read more.

Tom Gilson also has an insightful piece up on the main BreakPoint site about the trilogy and the film. And at Cinematical, Kim Voynar -- though not writing from a Christian perspective -- asks some thoughtful questions (with a far more respectful attitude than most of her commenters) and offers some pretty wise advice about forbidden fruit: "[New Line] might . . . be counting on that most onerous of human tendencies -- the one where we tend to covet all the more that which our parents forbid us from having -- ask the cosmetics industry how much money it makes from tweens and teens whose parents don't know they buy makeup."

It's a point worth considering: If you're a Christian parent, how would you tell your child about the books and the movies in a way that would help them understand what the problem is, and not make them look all the more enticing for being off-limits?

Poll: Christians and elections

Voters Thanks to all of you who voted in the poll about whether Christians should send their kids to public schools. We had a record-setting 998 votes in this one! The results were as follows:

15.8 percent (158 votes)
Yes, so they can be witnesses.

16.4 percent (164 votes)
Yes, so they can experience a broader community.

22.8 percent (228 votes)
No, they should be kept away from the secular influences.

19.5 percent (195 votes)
No, the academics aren't good enough.

25.4 percent (253 votes)

Our new poll, on how Christians should vote, is in the right-hand column (or should be. If it's on the lower left, you might need to try a different browser). So cast your vote to tell us how you feel about voting! If you want to say more on the subject, you can use the comment section for this post.

Unplugging Christmas

I just dug out a book I purchased 25 years ago called Unplug The Christmas Machine: How to Have the Christmas You've Always Wanted, by Jo Robinson and Jean Coppock Staeheli--a book that is, amazingly, still available, having gone through many printings. It's mostly about simplifying and de-commercializing Christmas and helping people figure out why they don't really enjoy the holiday season, but some of the best advice has to do with children.

What do children really want for Christmas? According to the authors,

While most children are quick to tell their parents that what they want for Christmas are video games, Strawberry Shortcake dolls, Star Wars toys, and makeup kits, they have more fundamental needs than this. From talking with children, parents, and child specialists, we've learned that in addition to a few well-chosen gifts, children really want and need four basic things for Christmas:

1. Relaxed and loving time with the family;

2. Realistic expectations about gifts;

3. An evenly paced holiday season;

4. Strong family traditions.

Continue reading "Unplugging Christmas " »

On the Street Where I Live

We had a pleasant and quiet Thanksgiving, if you don't count the slaughter down the street.

It was horrifying to realize that, as we were collapsed in our living room, recovering from our turkey-and-pumpkin-pie binge, an entire family was being wiped out nearby. We watched the many emergency vehicles racing down the street, and assumed there'd been a bad car accident. I'm a little surprised we didn't hear the rifle shots, but even if we had, we would have paid scant attention. This is a rural community--somebody's always shooting at something here.

May God have mercy on the souls of this family, and on their relatives, who must be in agony.

The Point Radio: Challenging a New American Dream

How do you retire by age 40? Kiplinger’s magazine tantalizes readers with the promise that the secrets are inside. But are we chasing the right goals?...

Click play above to listen.

Re: Thoughts

That's all right, Anne, we had enough poets. :-) Thanks to all who participated in our bit of post-Thanksgiving fun. Perhaps we should take Lee's suggestion and try a Limerick Day sometime. Let's see, what rhymes with Dawkins . . . ?

Thoughts on last Friday’s experiment

I don't do

November 23, 2007

It’s not Boring!

It is not boring
Nor is it tedious or
Safe, but it is so
Refreshingly radical,
Is our Redeemer’s
Grace, because He endured our
Sins upon His flesh
We live because of His death
It cost God so much
But it is easy and free
Our gateway to God
That old costly splintered Cross
Hallelujah Christ!

Trolls from the id

Cyberspace: A place
To have fun? Or a place that
Brings out our darkness?

One Year to Go...

Drowning in cliche
If that's all, maybe they should
Fish or cut debate.

Each life is sacred
But will anybody try
To stop abortion?

Vote for Huckabee?
The alternative could be
A kick to the face.

Election weary,
How will we ever endure
Another twelve months?

You and Your Fancy Meter

Haiku is voodoo
A weapon in well-trained hands
And in idle ones

A Fairy Tale

A prince from frog tale,
where intellect and free will
bubble up from swill.