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« November 2007 | Main | January 2008 »

December 31, 2007

The Point Radio: Changing the World on Your Knees

Can prayer really change our culture?...

Click play above to listen.

Here are more resources on changing the world through prayer:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Changing the World on Your Knees" »

December 28, 2007

Resolved . . .

Things will be extra quiet around here on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day, though we'll still have the Point Radio broadcasts up. So I'll ask now, on the last day of Make the Commenters Do All the Work Week (and thank you for being such great sports!): What's your New Year's resolution or resolutions this year?

The Point Radio: Food Bank Bankruptcy

Christmas may be over, but your gifts are needed more than ever....

Click play above to listen.

December 27, 2007

What’s in the bookbag?

We didn't get around to making a recommended book list for your Christmas enjoyment, but we'd love to know what our commenters are reading right now. What books did you find under the tree, or take with you to Grandma's, or just sit around at home reading, this Christmas?

Also, in the spirit of this rather mind-boggling article that we mentioned in a recent roundup, it's been suggested that we expand the question a little. Along with what's in the bookbag, we'd like to know, what's in the iPod or the CD player?

Breaking news: Benazir Bhutto assassinated

The Pakistani opposition leader was shot while escaping a suicide bomber attack at a political rally.

The Point Radio: Consumer Fast

Abstinence—it’s a word you hear Christians speak about often. But not when it comes to spending....

Click play above to listen.

December 26, 2007

A Christmas meme

I swiped this meme from Karen Hall (and having received it as an e-mail before that, I was all ready with my answers). I've put my responses below -- put yours in the comment section!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags?

2. Real tree or artificial?

3. When do you put up the tree?
During or shortly after Thanksgiving.

4. When do you take the tree down?

5. Do you like eggnog?
A little!

6. Favorite gift received as a child?
The doll I got when I was two.

7. Do you have a nativity scene?
A carved wooden one my dad bought in Vietnam. (CORRECTION: I've just been told it was actually Korea.)

8. Hardest person to buy for?
My grandmothers.

9. Easiest person to buy for?
My sister. Anything with a Coca-Cola or M&M logo will do!

10. Worst Christmas gift you ever received?
I plead the Fifth. It's something too embarrassing to mention in public. Plus there's just a chance that the person or persons who gave it to me might read this.

11. Mail or email Christmas cards?

12. Favorite Christmas Movie?
It's a Wonderful Life.

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas?
Whenever I start spotting things that I know people will like.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present?

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas?
Peanut butter fudge. (Recipe available upon request.)

16. Clear lights or colored on the tree?
Currently clear, though I like either.

17. Favorite Christmas song?
Too many to name!

18. Travel for Christmas or stay home?
Stay home.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeers?
Yes, but if I did that would spoil it for all of you!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star?
Currently a star.

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning?
Used to be Christmas morning, now, for logistical reasons, Christmas Eve.

22. Most annoying thing about this time of year?
The way the stores and the TV commercials invariably use the very ugliest and most annoying Christmas songs.

23. What I love most about Christmas?
Celebrating the birth of the Savior of the world.

Your turn!

The Point Radio: St. Stephen’s Day Revisited

Today's a big sales day, but before you head to the mall, I've got a suggestion for you....

Click play above to listen.

Learn more about Stephen and his holiday:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: St. Stephen’s Day Revisited" »

December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!

      For unto us a Child is born,
      Unto us a Son is given;
      And the government will be upon His shoulder.
      And His name will be called
      Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
      Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

      (Isaiah 9:6, NKJV)

A most merry and blessed Christmas to you all.

The Point Radio: The Real Surprise

It’s finally here! The day you’ve been waiting for all year. The gifts are all unwrapped and there are no surprises left. But wait! There is still one surprise left to come....

Click play above to listen.

December 24, 2007

How well do you know your Pointers?

Welcome to Quiz, Game, and Questionnaire Week, otherwise known as Let the Commenters Do All the Work Week! Today we have a quiz to find out just how well the Pointificators know the Pointers. We've collected some little-known facts about a few of our bloggers, which are listed below. Your job is to match up the blogger with the quirk, and put your answers in the comment section. There'll be a prize for the Pointificator who gets the most answers right. (We'll leave this open for a while to give you plenty of time to participate, so the deadline will be 12:00 a.m. on the morning of January 3. As usual, the contest is not open to PFM employees or their families.)

Note: Three -- or possibly four -- of the answers will be used twice. (One question has two possible correct answers, either of which will be counted for full credit.)

And a very merry Christmas Eve to you all!

Name That Pointer

1. This blogger was the only Poet Laureate in the history of West Virginia University.
2. This blogger once walked about New York City for five days dressed as a clown.
3. This blogger, when opening a can of tuna fish, loves to drain the juice into a cup and drink it.
4. This blogger, while working as a flight attendant, did a cartwheel down the aisle of a plane to impress a fellow flight attendant (and angered the captain so much that said blogger quit the job out of embarrassment).

5. This blogger was president of the Future Farmers of America at his or her high school.
6. This blogger is excited by fine jewelry and bright colors.
7. This blogger once spent an entire day taking apart a tractor motor, but never was able to put it back together.
8. This blogger won the Battle of Nashville Pro-Am Karate Tournament, with Chuck Norris officiating one of the matches.
9. This blogger has twenty-five teddy bears.
10. This blogger taught the Caedmon's Call lead singer his first guitar chords.
11. This blogger won first place in his or her college talent show for a drum solo, and also played drums for Tommy Shaw of Styx before Tommy hit the big time.

a. Jason Bruce
b. Gina Dalfonzo
c. Travis McSherley
d. Kim Moreland
e. Regis Nicoll
f. Jeff Peck
g. Stephen Reed
h. Faith Schwartz

The Point Radio: Key to a Wonderful Life

Christmas Eve: A man walks alone in the swirling snow. He’s broke. The world would call him a failure. But is he?...

Click play above to listen.

December 22, 2007

Rescuing Jesus

If you need a good laugh this Christmas, watch the comic Rowan Atkinson in Mr. Bean: The Whole Bean, especially the Christmas episodes. The one of Mr. Bean shopping at Harrods--and attempting to rescue Baby Jesus from a maurading toy dinosaur--is priceless. Slightly sacrilegious, but very funny.

Not a creature was stirring...

What do people give you for Christmas if you're a veterinarian who works at the National Institutes of Health (as my husband does)?

Little rats wearing Santa hats to hang on the Christmas tree. Also Lab Animal of the Month calendars (featuring mostly rats and mice) and mugs with pictures of--you guessed it--rats.

December 21, 2007

A little light reading

Blogging will be light next week, thanks to PFM's Christmas and New Year vacation. But stop in anyway if you get the chance -- we'll have a few quizzes and a game or two just to keep the interest up and the mood merry. Your opinions and ideas will be solicited, but don't be surprised if it takes a while sometimes for your comments to show up. Even editors need a break. ;-)

In the meantime, we leave you with a bit of vacation reading. The main BreakPoint site has some good stuff up lately; in particular, a couple of my all-time favorite BreakPoint guest writers, Gary Robinson and Alex Wainer, have new articles that I recommend, and there's a Christmas classic by our own T. M. Moore. The new BreakPoint WorldView is already here (told you I was late mentioning the last one!), with articles by Catherine, T. M., and guest writer Jimmy Davis.

Have a blessed Christmas and a very happy New Year.

’What a Heart Is Beating For’: Gain and loss

HeartMy fellow Chris Rice fans, you are so patient and kind. You really are. I promised you a review of What a Heart Is Beating For some four months ago, and aside from the occasional gentle, unobtrusive nudge, you've never complained.

I did want to take time to give the topic some serious thought, and around here we've got about as much time to sit and think seriously as we've got to take up spelunking. Still, four months was an excessively long time to make you wait, and I'm sorry. For those of you who haven't completely given up on me in disgust, here, finally, are a few thoughts.

Some Chris Rice albums knock me right off my feet (Amusing; Deep Enough to Dream). Others take a little longer to grow on me (Run the Earth, Watch the Sky). What a Heart Is Beating For fell into the latter category. Honestly, for a couple of days I wasn't sure what I thought of it. It wasn't until a scrap of melody and imagery -- for in Rice's music the two are usually inseparable -- sneaked up on me and started chasing me around all day ("like a swing set in a graveyard, like a bloom in the desert sands"), that I realized that this one was going to grow on me too.

Why did it take so long? Well, obviously, for those of you who've heard it, this album is a pretty big departure from his usual work. To use the usual term, it's a "crossover" of sorts. But I don't like using the usual term because it gives the wrong impression. It makes it sound like I think, "Oh, there goes another Christian artist watering down his work to go mainstream." And that's not really the case. I don't think counting references to Christ -- literally or figuratively -- accurately captures the spirit of an artist's work, or gives a fair picture of his faith for that matter. Besides, I don't like to pigeonhole artists, Christian or non-Christian, and I'm pretty sure most of them don't like to be pigeonholed either.

Here's what I do think: A large part of Rice's brilliance as a lyricist has always been his colorful, idiosyncratic, completely unique way of writing about God. With fewer of those songs -- though there are still quite a few here -- and more general love songs, his music gains something and loses something. He brings to the love songs an ardent spirit and poetic sensibility that, in my opinion, the modern-day love song -- or heck, the modern-day lover -- is desperately in need of, and makes an important contribution in that regard. It's hard to listen to a song like the title song without thinking that this is exactly what our commitment-phobic age needs to hear.

Continue reading "’What a Heart Is Beating For’: Gain and loss" »

A Newton bicentennial

Messiah Today is the 200th anniversary of the death of John Newton. In honor of this great preacher and writer of "Amazing Grace," The John Newton Project is putting online the surviving transcripts of Newton's handwritten sermon notes, from a series of sermons he preached using the texts from Handel's Messiah. Click here to see the first four transcripts. Thanks to Mariam for the tip!

Man-made Global Warming--a groundswell of scientific skepticism

To those who have been claiming, for some time now, that "the science is in" on man-made global warming, a fresh-off-the-press Senate report has this:

Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.

As to why scientists have been, thus far, slow to come forward,

Many of the scientists featured in this report consistently stated that numerous colleagues shared their views, but they will not speak out publicly for fear of retribution. Atmospheric scientist Dr. Nathan Paldor, Professor of Dynamical Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, author of almost 70 peer-reviewed studies, explains how many of his fellow scientists have been intimidated.

Continue reading "Man-made Global Warming--a groundswell of scientific skepticism" »

Is Antony Flew’s Conversion Real?

After reading the book, researching the public record, and interviewing the co-author, here's my analysis.


Briony I find it oddly appropriate that two movies about atonement have been released so close to Christmas. One of them is actually titled Atonement. The other is The Kite Runner. Each one deals with a child who commits a great sin, the terrible consequences of that sin, and the desire to make atonement.

I haven't seen either film, but I have been reading, or rather listening to on CD, Atonement. Not so much because of the movie, as because the professor of the English novels course from The Teaching Company said it was good. And it is good (though, like the film, most definitely not for children). It's almost -- almost -- good enough to make me forgive that professor for persuading me to read Middlemarch as well. But I digress.

Don't be misled by all the dreamy romantic gazes and whispers between Keira Knightley and her soldier boy that you may have seen in the commercials for the film. At the heart of Atonement is that angelic-looking little blonde girl who takes up just a few inches of space on the movie posters, and the havoc she wreaks on the lives around her. Novelist Ian McEwan, as you may gather from this, hardly subscribes to a Victorian view of the innocence of childhood. The Bad Seed might be a closer parallel to his way of thinking.

But then again, not really. Because this little girl, Briony Tallis, doesn't intentionally cause harm. The thing that makes Briony such a complex and, to some of us, even a sympathetic character is that she's a budding writer with a mania for orderly narratives, for making things make sense. As McEwan writes, she is "possessed by the desire to have the world just so." Over the course of one long day, Briony becomes an involuntary witness to a series of events that her 13-year-old mind is not mature enough to understand. She reacts by composing her own mental narrative to make sense of it all -- the only narrative that appears logical to her -- and imposing that narrative on real life. As Tony Watkins puts it in a thoughtful review of the book and film (warning, it has some pretty big spoilers),

There is something irrational about Briony’s behaviour on the fateful summer day, but the irrationality was the wrong imaginative leap she made. Having jumped the wrong way, she proceeds rationally to expose the truth about the man she had concluded was dangerous. . . . The real peril of hasty conclusions comes when someone rationally, doggedly follows through the implications of a false idea, regardless of what it entails for others, rather than admitting the shakiness of the foundations and allowing others to reflect on them.

So, having convinced herself that she saw something that she didn't really see, Briony proceeds, from (mostly) the purest and noblest motives, to wreck a man's life.

Continue reading "Atonement" »

The look in their eyes

Gift I did my Angel Tree shopping the other night for six children, five of them in a single Memphis family. I waited until the last minute, unfortunately, so I was shopping in a very busy mall, in a department store children's department I'd not set foot in for some years. Plus, I'd never shopped for little girls and was no longer familiar with sizing for either boys OR girls. Plus, all the clerks were really busy. In desperation, I began attacking anybody in the children's department who looked like he might be a parent of young children.

"Excuse me, do you have kids?"

Slightly surprised look from a young dad. "Yes, I do."

"Are they boys or girls?"

Another puzzled look. "They're boys."

"How old are they?"

"Five and nine."

"Great! That's perfect!"

Dad begins backing away from the woman with the strange glitter in her eyes.

Continue reading "The look in their eyes" »

Those Who Major in the Minors

Wise_men Few things in life are more annoying than someone who thinks they know it all, lording it over others.

Enter Dr. Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury, leader of the Anglican Church. Here we are, a week before Christmas, and instead of using his position as an invited guest on certain media programs to advance the Christian faith, Williams wants to make sure everyone knows that he's a really informed guy, an iconoclast even!

On a recent radio program in Britain, Williams debunked the traditional view of the Nativity, saying that the three wise men may not have existed at all, despite the Gospel of Matthew's recording of there being wise men from the East who came to honor the Christ Child with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

While Williams is correct in saying that we don't know for sure of the number of the wise men (the three gifts is where we derive the idea of that number for the visitors from the East), his claim that they probably did not exist at all is more than a stretch. Since he no doubt felt that he was on quite an intellectual roll, Williams couldn't help himself and tried to debunk the Star of Bethlehem's standing still with the observation that "stars just don't behave like that."

Well, typically stars don't. But is there any room at the inn of Dr. Williams' philosophy for the miraculous--at all?

And I haven't even gotten into what he says about belief in the virgin birth not being necessary for Christians.

Continue reading "Those Who Major in the Minors" »

The Point Radio: Just Say No

You've warned your kids about the dangers of smoking, drinking, and drugs, but are you teaching them the big picture?....

Click play above to listen.

December 20, 2007

Daily roundup

A Real Sports Hero: Glenn Cunningham

Cunningham_glenn Travis's post about professional athletes brought to my mind a true sports hero, Glenn Cunningham. I first read about him when I was in the 4th grade, how his legs were so badly damaged in a schoolhouse fire that the doctors wanted to amputate them. He begged his mother not to let them do that, though it put his life at great risk (his older brother had died in the same fire). The doctors predicted that he would never walk, but Glenn was determined to do more than that: he was determined to run! 

In the 1930s, he became one of the world's best runners, participating in both the 1932 and 1936 Olympics. Years later, just before he died, he was named one of the greatest athletes who ever appeared in Madison Square Garden. Along with several other famous runners so honored -- many in their 80s and 90s -- Glenn ran a victory lap at the Garden. 

In 1987, I finally had a chance to meet Glenn, and I learned that his athletic greatness was only a small part of his overall heroism. Over the years, Glenn and his wife Ruth took into their home more than 9000 kids -- either those in trouble with the law or those whose parents simply couldn't care for them. (One of his sons once told me that he remembered a time when they had 84 people living in their house!) Eventually, Glenn and Ruth established a youth home in Arkansas, Glenhaven, which continues today as part of his enduring legacy.

Glenn's motto in life was "Never Quit!" -- a philosophy he passed on to his children and grandchildren, many of whom are pastors and missionaries. He was a great runner, but he was an even greater human being. 

We hear so much in the news about the professional athletes who bring nothing but shame to themselves and to their sport. But I know there are many who exemplify the kind of heroism that Glenn Cunningham possessed. So, readers, who would you nominate as a "real sports hero"? 

Frank Capra and the test of faith

Wonderful1 In a recent BreakPoint commentary, Chuck Colson talks about why It's a Wonderful Life is so special to so many of us -- because it's about faith, not in the midst of ideal circumstances, but in the middle of the real world.

[Frank] Capra was raised a Catholic in a family of Sicilians who, despite grinding poverty, enjoyed great happiness. Capra “was raised to believe in the Christian faith as the way to understand man and his destiny.”

But there is another side to Capra, Bennett notes: the Capra who studied chemistry at Cal Tech, “the [hard,] science of what things are made of if you take them apart and boil them down. This schooling . . . in an atmosphere of skepticism and insistence on hard proof ensured that . . . the cinema of Frank Capra would be the cinema, not of blind faith, but of doubt”—and doubts resolved, just like science experiments.

As a director, Capra “begins dispassionately and systematically turning up the Bunsen burners of doubt, despair, and tragedy,” Bennett writes, until it’s “so hot that the test simply cannot fail to uncover whether this ‘Capra-corn’ he grew up believing can actually stand as a viable picture of the way things really are . . . or whether it [is] . . . nothing but a comforting fantasy.”

Read more. And read the article on which this commentary is based (and which Kim blogged about) here.

Woman Escapes Polygamist Marriage

Carolyn_jessop_1023 We always knew polygamy was weird. Now we know it's frightening.

And check out Carolyn Jessop's interview with Diane Rehm about her new release, Escape.

I Heard It at Radio Shack

While on a quest for electronic gizmos the other night, I heard a newscast about a cheating scandal that might leave a good portion of Florida State’s football players sitting at home for the New Year’s Eve Music City Bowl. 

For some reason, I couldn't get excited about the “scandal” because in our society cheating, at least some types of cheating, just doesn't seem to matter anymore. Is it just me, or are cheaters becoming lazy?   

For the sake of the players, I do hope this discipline hurts financially and socially, but I doubt a players' reformation throughout college or university front lines will happen just yet. Also, one would hope the educators at Florida State would learn to teach its students “thou shall not cheat” before all that is left is bands of roving men (and women) who act more like the Huns than Americans.

How atheists spend Christmas, part 2

First Dawkins goes caroling, now Hitchens gets into the spirit:

Christopher Hitchens brought the secular holiday spirit to Reason magazine's Monday night party. Prevailed upon by his hipster libertarian hosts to entertain, the writer put down his Scotch, climbed up on a chair -- and led the room in a dramatic reading of Tom Lehrer's satirical 1959 song "A Christmas Carol."

Christmas time is here, by golly
Disapproval would be folly
Deck the halls with hunks of holly
Fill the cup and don't say when.
Kill the turkeys, ducks and chickens
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens
Even though the prospect sickens
Brother, here we go again.

Okay, that's fairly funny (except he can jolly well leave my Dickens out of it, thank you very much!). But for anyone who doesn't understand the glory of Christmas, as some of us were discussing yesterday, it's all too sadly true.

Continue reading "How atheists spend Christmas, part 2" »

The Point Radio: What Money Can’t Buy

Retail therapy—now there’s an oxymoron!...

Click play above to listen.

December 19, 2007

Daily roundup

A word about comments

I wrote this under another post, but it bears repeating: TypePad appears to be going all Scrooge-like on blog comments -- not just here, but at a number of its blogs -- meaning that many of yours (and ours) aren't getting through. Our intrepid Travis, however, has discovered that in most cases, it is possible to fish them out of the spam filter and get them up where they're supposed to be, so I'll be doing my best to keep up with that.  Some of these comments actually go back quite a way, so don't be surprised if you see what you thought was a long-lost comment of yours suddenly resurrected!

The issue that unites us

At NRO's Campaign Spot, Jim Geraghty writes:

What it is enormously frustrating to the true anti-Huck folks . . . is that the evangelicals will vote for, as Fred Thompson put it, a "pro-life liberal." These guys look at Huckabee and see conservatism on one area - social issues - and see not much elsewhere: populism on economics, a thin resume on foreign policy, some squishiness on crime, and an open-hearted view toward illegal immigrants that they conclude amounts to amnesty.

True enough. But what these "anti-Huck folks" need to realize -- and I'm not even saying this from a pro-Huck perspective -- is that the key term in that first sentence isn't liberal. It's pro-life. That one issue has made many of us, essentially, into single-issue voters. Roberto and I, for instance, couldn't be much farther apart politically, but this is the issue that unites us. And it unites a lot of other people as well -- more people, perhaps, than the politicians or the pundits are aware.

The simple fact is, while unborn children are being legally slaughtered in this country, many of us don't feel we have the luxury of making any other political issue a higher priority. Republicans forget that at their peril.

Is There a Link?

This is the first I've heard of a link between cancer, artificial light, and a lack of sleep. In his commentary "Loving Darkness," Mike Metzger alerts us to interesting research concerning "our circadian clocks" and Christianity.

What were they thinking?

Just when you're starting to feel a little more optimistic about the state of Christian publishing, you hear this:

Lynne Spears's book about raising her famous daughters Britney and Jamie Lynn has been put on hold, the publisher confirms to PEOPLE.

"The book is delayed indefinitely. It's delayed, not cancelled," says a spokeswoman for Thomas Nelson, which publishes inspirational books and Bibles.

Never mind that it's been "delayed indefinitely": What in the name of all that is holy prompted Thomas Nelson to take Britney's mom's guide to parenting in the first place?

’I Am Legend’

I_am_legend After reading that the new Will Smith film I Am Legend broke box office records last weekend, I decided to go see it yesterday. Though I haven't read the book, I am old enough to remember the Charlton Heston film version (The Omega Man), and I was curious to see how the storyline had been adapted for a new generation.

Overall, I'd give the film 3 out of 4 stars for the acting and production values alone. Will Smith is virtually alone throughout the entire film, and his portrayal of (perhaps) the world's last man is poignant and heart-wrenching. Evidently, he spoke with men who had been prisoners of war, especially those who spent a lot of time in solitary confinement, to figure out the best way to approach his character's isolation. All in all, he does well and should at least receive an Oscar nod for his work.

Next, the scenes of an abandoned New York are a stark reminder at how quickly all man's enterprises can come to naught. Finally, while I'm not much of a horror film enthusiastic, I must admit that the scenes with the mutant humans provide some excellent "jump out of your seat" moments if you like that sort of thing.

(WARNING: Spoiler alert!) 

Continue reading "’I Am Legend’" »

Hold the Juice

Rememberthetitansdvdcover Eugene Robinson suggests that sports has produced a culture of artificial enhancement because that is what people want to see.

Meanwhile, there are improved tests for detecting steroids but not for human growth hormone, which increases muscle mass. Does anyone imagine that there is no professional athlete still using the stuff?

My point is that we, the paying customers, don't want normal-size athletes with normal abilities. We want to see supermen and superwomen performing super feats, and we're willing to pay these gladiators a fortune. Why should they disappoint us? Why should we expect them to?

Unless we have truly lost all love of pure sport, then it's hard to believe that most people really want to have leagues filled with medically inflated biceps or naturally inflated egos. Maybe we'll be tempted to make an exception if such a Hercules is on our team, but what really keeps our attention and inspires our imaginations is much more human -- the hard-working, the selfless, the underdog.

If that isn't always obvious on the sports page, it certainly is at the box office, where Hoosiers, Remember the Titans, or The Rookie will inevitably be more exciting than The Barry Bonds Story, whenever it is made.

Let's hope the pros figure that out soon.

Startling revelations

While the books about the Bible reviewed by Jerome Segal in this past weekend's Washington Post Book World aren't on my Christmas wish list, I appreciated his opening lines:

Surely the Bible can teach and inspire. But has it lost the ability to startle? To make us gasp? In our society, where 90 percent of households possess a Bible and more than a third of American adults say they've read from it in the past week, it's hard to see the text with fresh eyes.

I recently picked up a copy of the Literary Study Bible in an effort to do just that, to see the text with fresh eyes. Reading Scripture with my brain attuned to patterns and story and character is helping me stay focused and aware as I read passages that have become so familiar over time.

But Scripture can still startle me. Just this past Sunday, I was following along in my pocket King James Version while my pastor read a passage from Jeremiah 24. He was using a different translation, but I had to suppress my laughter as I read the Shakespearean prose in front of me:

The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.

Continue reading "Startling revelations" »

The Point Radio: Worth the Wait

Trashy T-shirts and sexually suggestive messages for teens and pre-teens are all the rage these days. But some young people are using their shirts to make a different statement....

Click play above to listen.

Help your children pursue purity:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Worth the Wait" »

December 18, 2007

Daily roundup

Wrapping Our Minds Around the Incarnation

Incarnation C.S. Lewis famously said that, in order for individuals to appreciate what God did in coming as a human being, they needed only to imagine what it would be like if they returned as an earthworm. Eating lots of dirt, not much mobility, and extraordinary vulnerability to getting squashed by any number of other creatures would be unsavory to say the least, not to mention the humiliation of it all.

And many of us have heard the famous analogy asking how best to tell an anthill that impending doom was coming and they all needed to scram! No better way to get the information to the ants than to become an ant oneself, going straight into the anthill, pleading with them to get out before the disaster struck.

The only problem with that is that not every ant will listen to the newcomer. In fact, maybe only a few will. But that one-on-one discussion between the ants is still the best way to try to save as many as possible from the destruction of the anthill.

Our situation here on earth is that our society is trying its best to destroy our anthill from the inside out. We need not look for bogeymen from without, some giant anteater, to come and wipe us out. No, we're doing a fine job of that all by ourselves, and not just through war, either. Through false paths that lead us to dysfunctional lives, through hatred of ourselves and our brothers and sisters, through addictive forms of entertainment that end up owning us, lock, stock, and barrel. 

All these are things Jesus talked about 2,000 years ago and are still quite relevant to this day.

Continue reading "Wrapping Our Minds Around the Incarnation" »

Let’s all send Mr. Pullman a nice thank-you card

Bilbo Partly because of Philip Pullman, who has a disregard bordering on contempt for J. R. R. Tolkien's works , New Line is now moving ahead with the long awaited film adaptation of Tolkien's The Hobbit. In short, The Golden Compass (along with some other New Line films) bombed so badly that The Hobbit might now be necessary to save the chairman's job.

Have I mentioned that God has a sense of humor?

Not just another week at the beach

Artsnowap Thinking of where to take the family on vacation next year? Agonizing over brochures of a Disney cruise or a Costa Rican rainforest adventure? That's so 2001. Welcome to agri-tourism...otherwise known as, some farm kid's brilliant idea to get out of chores.

With pitchforks and heavy coats, three teenage cousins brave below-freezing temperatures and learn how to pitch straw into a sheep pen -- something their teacher, 27-year-old Matt McClain, has been doing since he was a kid.

Bleating sheep may not be the expected soundtrack for a holiday vacation, but some farm families in Nebraska and elsewhere are hoping to change that with an old-fashioned holiday celebration that includes chores, chopping down a Christmas tree, baking cookies and more.

I think this is a terrific idea and I'd like to offer a fresh twist. I don't own a farm, but I can offer families a little together time in suburbia. What could be more fun than, oh, I don't know, raking the leaves in my backyard or cleaning out the closet under my basement stairs? I'm sure I can find plenty of chores, and I'd be happy to accept your suburbi-tourism dollars. Any takers?

Feeling guilty this Christmas

Christmas_story In Sunday's Washington Post Magazine, Liza Mundy provides a rundown of all the classic (and not-so-classic) Christmas specials on television, from Rudolph and Charlie Brown to South Park. Really, it's an act of selfless compassion -- now, we can all save ourselves the agony of watching Ralph get scolded for coveting a BB gun ("you'll shoot your eye out") or listening to the bells in Bedford Falls as an angel gets his wings. Mundy has taken one for the team, watching them all, so we don't have to.

Many of the shows, she notes, revolve around a theme of guilt. They make "you reflect on your own moral shortcomings, and 'no sooner is that problem of guilt created in your head -- and Christmas specials are nothing if not generators of guilt -- than there's a commercial saying, 'Buy this Hallmark card if you care enough to send the very best' . . ."

Guilt doesn't exactly sound like the Christmas spirit.  But, the more I thought about it, the more guilt seemed to be exactly the spirit that Christmas is all about. Sure, we think about family, togetherness, love, joy, giving to others. But the whole thing kicked off because of guilt...our guilt.

Continue reading "Feeling guilty this Christmas" »

Read the latest ’BreakPoint WorldView’

We're a little late getting the word out this time, but a new issue of BreakPoint WorldView is available. Click here to read my interview with Paul Lauer of Motive Entertainment; here to read an essay on Christian author and statesman Philip Doddridge by distinguished historian and author Kevin Belmonte; and here to read Catherine's moving piece on learning to see through the eyes of Christ. There are also new columns by Regis and T. M. To get your own free subscription to our online magazine, click here!

The Point Radio: Pampered Pets

In America, the top 1 percent of pets live better than 99 percent of the world's population....

Click play above to listen.

December 17, 2007

Daily roundup

Lighting a candle for a prisoner’s child

It's not too late to give to Angel Tree this Christmas. Click here to read Chuck Colson's new commentary about how the program has been transforming children's lives for 25 years, and to find out how you can help.

’Lipstick on a Pig’: The rest of the story

Karen Hall finally reveals what spurred her to leave Mormonism behind. It's much more interesting (and yes, dramatic) than she gives herself credit for. Maybe especially to me, because you don't mess with me when it comes to writing, either.

Fighting an obsolete war

Jim Geraghty at NRO has the latest fundraising e-mail from Hillary Clinton. See if you do as big a double take as I did:

When I get to the White House, I'll end the war in Iraq and bring our troops home. I'll stop the cowboy diplomacy and Bush's war on science. I'll reverse the attacks on our Constitution and civil liberties. I'll ask the Congress to send me everything that Bush vetoed, like stem cell research and the Children's Health Insurance Program. From day one, I'll be fighting for you, because America needs a clean and decisive break from seven years of George Bush.

Not one of the Republican candidates is capable of making that happen. They're all promising four more years of the same failed policies. [Emphasis mine]

Um, Senator, speaking of failed policies . . . I think someone forgot to tell you that war is over.