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« November 2007 | Main | January 2008 »

December 17, 2007

Handling Hostile Teachers

Thanks to Gina for the heads up on this article about a high school student who has challenged his teacher for consistently making offensive statements about Christians and Christianity in the classroom. Boy, did that bring up memories.

When I was an undergraduate, I had an English professor who loved to assign books that were anti-Christian, and she routinely made derogatory comments about Christianity in her lectures. Back in those days, I was a quiet student who rarely spoke up in class. I tended to dutifully sit there and take notes, regardless of what was being said.  However, I soon realized that if I didn't start speaking up in her classroom, the unbelievers sitting next to me were liable to swallow her anti-Christian poison. 

So, I mustered my courage and began to challenge some of her statements as respectfully and politely as I could. I know I didn't change her mind, but at least I was able to offer another point of view for my classmates who didn't know any better than to take her hateful comments at face value. 

Now, as a college English teacher, I often have my Christian students ask me how to handle similar situations in their other classes. Basically, I tell them this: 

Continue reading "Handling Hostile Teachers" »

The Point Radio: A Moment of Silence, Please

The father of a 14-year-old Illinois girl is challenging a new state law that requires a moment of silence and reflective prayer at the beginning of every new school day....


Click play above to listen.

Here are some more news articles on this story:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: A Moment of Silence, Please" »

Loving Providence

Cowper Earlier this year, Jonathan Aitken’s biography about John Newton was released, and you can read my recommendation here. No man is an island, and the great things about reading a biography like Jonathan’s is that you can learn so much about other historical figures, like the great but "haunted" (Jonathan's word) poet William Cowper. 

Cowper trained as a solicitor but was unable to continue his profession because he suffered from bouts of debilitating and at times suicidal depression.

The friends embarked upon a hymn-writing project known as the Olney Hymns. Unfortunately, Cowper succumbed to another life-threatening bout of depression and became too ill to continue writing, so it was eight years before the Newton-Cowper project was printed. 

Jonathan writes that before Cowper’s “mind was enclosed in the darkness of depression,” he composed a hymns—a declaration of faith—that we can ponder this Christmas season. Here is the first stanza of Cowper’s last hymn, “God Moves in a Mysterious Way”:

God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.

Continue reading "Loving Providence" »

December 14, 2007

Daily roundup

Who, him?

John Derbyshire, assuming his best air of injured innocence, asks what he's ever done or said that could be interpreted as an "attack" on evangelical Christians or their beliefs.

I can't imagine, can you?

(Derbyshire would probably opine that I'm getting religious beliefs mixed up with scientific beliefs here -- but since that's exactly what he constantly does, the two are difficult to separate when talking about his own work.)

Scoring Points vs. Real Issues in Campaign ’08

With the primary political season is already upon us with early contests in Iowa, New Hampshire, et al., it's easy to get burned out on the unique combination of issues, personal attacks, and schmoozing that politics yields us. The campaign for the Presidency kicked off so early this time around that many pundits have noticed decreased viewership in some of the later debates, even as we draw closer to election time.

While we're within our rights to take a long breather from the more shallow "discussions" between the candidates as they try to score points with different niche audiences, it does still pay to tune in now and then to the larger issues before the country and the world. Each generation has a few issues, moral and otherwise, that really matter--not just for the current times but for all time.

Below is a link to a letter written from John Wesley to William Wilberforce. Both lived in England in the late 1790s; both were Christians concerned about the moral tone of their society. Wesley had spent the bulk of his long adult life trying to uplift with God's help the citizens of Great Britain and Ireland with his Methodist movement, eventually bringing millions to a vital faith in Jesus. 

Along the way, he also cared for the people's physical needs, and so had his societies teach commoners how to read to give them greater upward mobility. He also established scores of orphanages and hospitals. Wesley spent 300,000 miles riding alone on horseback throughout the British Isles with a singleminded determination and joy to achieve his life's mission.

Continue reading "Scoring Points vs. Real Issues in Campaign ’08" »

Corpse of Beauty

In my web-wandering, I came across this beautiful idea by John Masefield, whose book I recently recommended. Masefield's segment is used in a larger piece by Fr. Andrew Phillips, a priest of the Russian Orthodox Church in England, which I also recommend.

However, much as I appreciate Phillips's writing about children and beauty, I can't agree with all his thinking about the Church and Russian Orthodoxy upon which he expounds in an interview with Nadia Shmakova, a Russian Orthodox artist.   

I'm interested in hearing what your thoughts are on both pieces.

God has a sense of humor

It seems James Watson got a surprise in his DNA results.

Speaking of being born . . .

Another blog baby is here! Congratulations to Pointer Holly Small and her husband on the birth of Josiah last Monday. Mom and baby are doing well.

How blogs are born

Now it can be told. Thanks to Dave the Swede for the link.

The Point Radio: I Surrender All

Those who have broken the law are streaming into local churches by the thousands -- to surrender?...


Click play above to listen.

Click here for more on the Fugitive Safe Surrender program.

December 13, 2007

Daily roundup

Claiming Wilberforce

As some of my colleagues know, I have difficulty with much that Michael Gerson writes about “conservatism.” Don’t get me wrong; Gerson – a Prison Fellowship alum – is a gifted writer and a morally serious person, and has perspectives of value to contribute to public discourse on what kind of society we should be. But I frequently quibble with his notions of what does or does not constitute “conservative” public policy.

That said, I liked yesterday's column. I liked it a lot.

Well, at least I did until he neared the end of his piece: 

In some conservative quarters we are seeing the return of Burkeanism -- or at least a narrow version of it. These supposed Burkeans dismiss the promotion of democracy and human rights as "ideological," the protection of human life and dignity as "theological," and compassionate conservatism as a modern heresy.

Gerson never identifies the ruffians from “some conservative quarters” who dare to question the prudence of “compassionate conservatism,” but I’m happy to identify myself as one of those ill-bred Neanderthals. And let me say that I don’t typically find that Mr. Gerson does a very fair job of representing our concerns in his myriad columns which chastise us. In the interest of good will, I (repeatedly) choose to believe that he simply doesn’t understand our objections rather than assuming that he does understand them and dishonestly misrepresents them.

Continue reading "Claiming Wilberforce" »

’Til Death Us Do Part--or El$e

Getting my hair trimmed at a Georgetown salon--one that styles the tresses of many a bride on her big day--I got into a discussion with my stylist about contemporary weddings. He told me of a father of a bride he knew who, disapproving of his daughter's choice of groom, told the couple that he'd be happy to pay for the wedding--but that if the marriage broke down within five years, he'd expect them to refund him his money (more than $50,000). He made them agree to this in a legally binding contract. The couple broke up within two years--and Dad held them to their agreement. When the couple sold their jointly-owned home, they were forced to hand over the price of their wedding to the bride's father.

This story made me think of this BreakPoint script Chuck did years ago, about a pastor who was so annoyed at a couple for breaking up within 18 months of their wedding--which took much time and effort on the pastor's part--that he considered suing them for breach of contract and demanding compensation for the many hours he'd spent on their wedding.

Our culture has largely lost the concept of shame when it comes to marital breakups. And many couples are unwilling to stay together for the sake of their children. There is usually no social penalty, as there was in Victorian days, nor, in many cases today, the "punishment" of alimony. Men used to fear repercussions at work if they abandoned their wives (and children) and moved in with their secretaries. Not anymore, in many (most?) cases.

But maybe, just maybe, couples who refuse to keep their vows for the sake of their children--or the sake of the other spouse, for that matter--might think twice before untying the knot if doing so means it will cost them a bundle of money. Perhaps more parents, before footing the matrimonial bill, should make the same deal with the bride and groom the father in the above story did.

There's also THIS option, which may be the best idea of all.

Sanity about religious holy days: at last!

British_christmas Hats off to genuine tolerance and maturity from some Hindu and Muslim leaders in Great Britain who say that Christmas is a joyful time of the year for them, too.

Britain is still reeling from the shock of a British teacher in the Sudan being jailed for naming a teddy bear "Mohammed." So no doubt this more tolerant sentiment, made independently by some Hindu and Muslim leaders there, comes at a good time.

According to Reuters, Indarjit Singh, a Sikh spokesman, said, "Do I object to the celebration of Christmas? It's an absurd question. As ever, my family and I will send out our Christmas cards to our Christian friends and others."

Similar remarks came from British Muslim leaders. Muslim Council of Britain spokesman Shayk Ibrahim Mogra said, "To suggest celebrating Christmas and having decorations offends Muslims is absurd. Why can't we have more nativity scenes in Britain?"

Continue reading "Sanity about religious holy days: at last!" »

Pontiff Warns against Global Warming Alarmists

Within days after we heard that global warming could cause a complete Arctic meltdown as early as 2012, Pope Benedict XVI warned,

It is important for assessments in this regard to be carried out prudently, in dialogue with experts and people of wisdom, uninhibited by ideological pressure to draw hasty conclusions, and above all with the aim of reaching agreement on a model of sustainable development capable of ensuring the well-being of all while respecting environmental balances.

It is part of a recently released message that the Pope plans to deliver on World Peace Day. The message is being taken to indicate that "while the Pope acknowledges that problems may be associated with unbridled development and climate change, he believes the case against global warming to be over-hyped."

Indications of contemperaneous warming and ice melts on other planets, like Mars, could have something to do with the Pontiff's skepticism about the role of man-made emissions.

Pray for Congo

Congo As Zoe and I stopped to get coffee this morning, before our morning prayer time, our eyes fell on the front-page story of the New York Times, "After Clashes, Fear of War on Congo's Edge." Only miles from where we were this summer interviewing survivors and perpetrators of the Rwandan genocide in the Lake Kivu district, conflict is brewing. While Rwanda continues to make great strides toward healing, many of the most recalcitrant perpetrators of genocide have made their way into the Congo. Years of unrest have plagued this country since Rwanda's genocide, and today it threatens to break into full-fledged civil war. Nearly half a million people are fleeing. One man, Simwirayi Byenda, who spoke with the Times, said, “Running, running, we are always running. It is always the civilians who suffer.” He is fleeing with his two children.

At Christmas, we sing a lot about peace on earth. Please, as you do, remember this troubled region and pray for peace and wisdom for the leaders involved in decision-making.

The Box of Delights

Box_of_delights

Er, he was a bad one. He had a row with his father-in-law, and he got a big sharp knife and cut the poor old man up, put him through the mincer and sold him to the dog’s-meat man.

So writes John Masefield in The Box of Delights. This 1930s children’s book has recently been republished by The New York Review of Books (2007). 

On the first of December, I finished this adventurous tale in time to attend my book club meeting. If you like stories where there are anthropomorphizing animals and are up to a little '30s-style English slang, like me, you’ll be happy to read it for yourself or to your kids. It’s complete with the bad, the good, and the absurd. As C. S. Lewis wrote about Masefield’s book, “The beauties, all the ‘delights’ that keep on emerging from the box—are so exquisite, and quite unlike anything I have seen elsewhere.”

You might find the first part a bit slow, but I encourage you to stay with it because the second and third parts become faster and faster and the ending is quite delightful. The Box of Delights is a sequel so there isn’t much character development, but one character is quite a pistol—oops—now I’m using slang.   

Continue reading "The Box of Delights" »

’Been there, done that’

In a fascinating series of posts at Some Have Hats, Karen Hall -- our favorite devoutly Catholic screenwriter around these parts, for those of you new to her writing -- is providing what few of us realized she had: the perspective of a former Mormon. Since she left us dangling after post #2, I wrote in to beg for more, and she graciously obliged me this morning with a third installment. So now I feel honor-bound to urge you to read all three posts. And then, if you're as interested in this story as I am, write in and pester ask her for more. It clearly gets results, and I'm eager to know where all this is going!

The Point Radio: Women and Power

Women and power. Who comes to mind when you hear those words?...


Click play above to listen.

Want to find out more on the Bible’s picture of what a powerful woman looks like? Check out these resources:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Women and Power" »

December 12, 2007

Daily roundup

Nurturing life amid the brokenness

Juno1 It's the year of the pro-life movie and no mistake. In Juno, we have yet another film about an expectant mother in troubled circumstances -- this time a teenager -- who decides to spare her unborn child's life. (However, this one is probably the first of the bunch written by an ex-stripper.)

Christianity Today
has more on this film that's winning praise from secular and Christian critics alike. Note that Juno is rated PG-13 for mature themes, sexual content, and language.

Oh No They Didn’t...

Dress So just when you thought they'd thought of everything, apparently not. Now there are .....(drumroll please).... inflatable wedding dresses. Here's a bit from the advert:

Inflatable wedding dresses and inflatable ball gowns, these are dresses and gowns that will have an air tight skirt that the wearer can put on and inflate with air to give the large skirt its bell shaped look.
The skirt will be made of pvc or similar material, and have upon it a valve, so that when the lady puts the dress or gown on, she can then inflated the very large skirt with air, to acheive the desire shape of the skirt. The skirt being a self contained unit, that once inflated, will remain inflated, WITHOUT THE NEED OF FANS, but is inflated and sealed with a valve, so that the skirt can be either inflated or deflated at will. The whole dress will be made of pvc or similar, but with only the bell shaped skirt being inflatable.

Look no further, huh? A PVC dress. I guess an added bonus is that in the event of a flood the bride can be saved and perhaps save others too. Or if the bride is traveling by air, no need to use those seat cushions, right? She is her own personal floatation device. I wonder if they come in helium? And no, since all of you are going to ask, I will not be wearing one of these come July, as trend-setting as that might be.

Led Zep is Back

The Rolling Stones started it all, coming back from the dead… I mean from retirement. Other great bands/artists followed, such as The Police, Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band, Eagles, and Blondie’s Debbie Harry. But the most anticipated comeback happened the other day when the three remaining members of Led Zeppelin reunited for a one-night concert in London.

Led Zeppelin still rocks, according to news reports after their concert! The band is regarded as the first and the best heavy metal band in music history. I wasn’t born yet when they were at their peak of their music career but I remember secretly listening to their Fourth or Four Symbol album despite my parents warning that the song "Stairway to Heaven" was straight from hell and drenched with Satanic back masking.

Led Zeppelin, their contemporaries and rock music in general are still controversial in the Christian community because of what their music represents and promotes. I have heard various arguments used against rock over the years and I would be interested to hear from our bloggers and commenters their thoughts on how Christians should relate to the rock stars in our culture, and on how believers can enjoy something like Led Zeppelin.

Re: Speaking of Christmas Shopping

Basket Two weeks ago Catherine mentioned the fair trade peace bazaar our church was hosting. If you still have a few names left on your Christmas list this year, here are a few more suggestions:

  • At Macy's you can find handwoven banana leaf and papyrus baskets made by female survivors of the 1994 genocide. The women will receive one-third of the retail price of the baskets.
  • Send Christmas greetings in pressed-flower cards made by these women in India.
  • Or support a Nepalese family by buying your wife, mother, or sister one of Aveda's spa kits.

For even more ideas, see here.

Now that You Can See Your Future, Should You?

Starting this winter, you can pay $1000 to peer into your future and perhaps a bit of your past. No, I'm not talking about a visit to a palm reader or something like that. In some ways, this is creepier. At www.23andme.com you can send in a hefty sample of saliva and in a few short weeks know the secrets of your own genome. With this comes plenty of potential both for good and for ill. Finding out about your genetic predisposition could mean preventive measures to stave off that condition that runs in your family. But are there some things that are better left unknown? What will be the potential ramifications of such knowledge? Are we prepared to deal with them?

The Point Radio: Feeding Your Idols

You may not be pouring drinks to a statue, but you might be finding other ways to feed your idols....


Click play above to listen.

Here are a couple of resources to help you ditch your idols:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Feeding Your Idols" »

December 11, 2007

Daily roundup

Re: ’Cultural Christians’

Regis, those quotations from Dawkins plus the following one from Philip Pullman -- yes, the Pied Piper of atheism himself -- make me wonder if this sort of thinking is common among British atheists:

I was brought up in the Church of England, and whereas I'm an atheist, I'm certainly a Church of England atheist, and for the matter of that a 1662 Book of Common Prayer atheist. The Church of England is so deeply embedded in my personality and my way of thinking that to remove it would take a surgical operation so radical that I would probably not survive it. . . .

Does atheism benefit from the Christian heritage? Of course it can benefit from the best of it. I would hate to live in a world where all the Christian art, philosophy, literature, music, and architecture, not to mention the best of the ethical teaching, had been obliterated and forgotten. My own background, as I've said many times, is Christian to the core. Christianity has made me what I am, for better or worse. I just don't believe in God.

Dawkins Admits He’s a ’Cultural Christian’

Huh? You read that right!

After Parlimentarian, Mark Pritchard, insinuated on a BBC program that Dawkins was responsible for political correctness that was "undermining Christmas," the world's most recognizable atheist replied:

"I'm not one of those who wants to stop Christian traditions." (Really? But those traditions help sustain the "mental virus" that you so stridently oppose.)

"This is historically a Christian country. I'm a cultural Christian in the same way many of my friends call themselves cultural Jews or cultural Muslims." (Smart move, Richard. If any moniker is less offensive in polite company than "cultural Christian," it's...well, I can't think of one.)

"So, yes, I like singing carols along with everybody else. I'm not one of those who wants to purge our society of our Christian history. If there's any threat these sorts of things, I think you will find it comes from rival religions and not from atheists." (That might be true across the pond, but over here, the likes of Michael Newdow and Barry Lynn could not be said to come from "rival religions.")

The truth will out

Tomcruisevalkyrie Back in July, Catherine noted that Germany was disturbed by Scientology poster boy Tom Cruise's upcoming movie role (Valkyrie, 2008) as a German officer who tried to kill Hitler. It seems the Germans have taken a firmer stand against Scientology, and toward the kind of steady reason we admire in the German people, declaring Scientology unconstitutional and "calling it a cult masquerading as a church to make money."

Finally, someone with their eyes wide open.

A small bit of justice and a dose of conviction

Gracia_burnham Six and a half years ago, Gracia Burnham was an American missionary in the Philippines, celebrating her 18th wedding anniversary with her husband Martin on a special trip to the Dos Palmas resort. While there, they were kidnapped, along with another American and 17 Filipinos, by Abu Sayyaf, a terrorist group linked to al-Qaeda. For more than a year, they lived as hostages, grateful for their lives after some of their fellow kidnap victims were beheaded by their captors. In the military rescue raid that freed Gracia, Martin was killed, along with a Filipino nurse. They were the only hostages left after some escaped, some were ransomed and set free, and others were killed.

More than five years later, last Thursday 14 of the men responsible for this attack were convicted in a Philippine court and sentenced to life in prison.

While Martin has finished his missionary work and entered the rest of the Lord, Gracia is still involved in missions. She has started a foundation to fund missionary outreach to Muslims and tribal people, as well as mission aviation (Martin's specialty) and the persecuted church. She says on her web site that the year she spent in captivity showed her "the plight of the Muslim community." How many people, in the face of mortal danger and extreme deprivation, would be concerned with the spiritual darkness of their captors? But that's the missionary mindset. It's the same determined God-focus that led Steve Saint to go back to the very mission field where his father was killed.

Continue reading "A small bit of justice and a dose of conviction" »

Protecting Life at New Life: Because These Things Do Happen

When 24-year old Michael Murray, twice a murderer already, started shooting New Life Church parishioners attending Sunday services, former police officer and volunteer church guard Jeanne Assam immediately drew her weapon and shot the assailant dead.

Assam described how the gunman, Matthew Murray, entered the east entrance of the church firing his rifle.

"There was chaos," Assam said, as parishioners ran away, "I will never forget the gunshots. They were so loud."

"I saw him coming through the doors" and took cover, Assam said. "I came out of cover and identified myself and engaged him and took him down."

"God was with me," Assam said. "I didn't think for a minute to run away."

Continue reading "Protecting Life at New Life: Because These Things Do Happen" »

Why would a pastor need a bodyguard?

I hesitated to put up this link about the New Life shooting because what it describes (starting near the bottom with the words "This event will cause . . . ") is so very, very sick. I don't mean family-unfriendly or graphic or profane; there's nothing like that in it. I just mean sick.

I overcame my hesitations for two reasons: One, we need to be aware that this kind of thinking is out there, and that it's not in hiding, unless you consider wearing the mask of anonymity on the World Wide Web hiding. I don't, not really. You're still putting your thoughts out there for all to see, whatever name you're using. Two, Lileks's commentary on what he's quoting is so brilliant and so right:

There’s a great deadness in many people, a grim harsh joy in the conviction we are just “moist robots,” to use the cynic’s phrase, living our lives in a vast factory that arose by miraculous random happenstance. Nothing amuses them more than belief, and oddly enough, nothing angers them more.

And more along the same lines. So go read the passage -- but you might want to keep a barf bucket handy.

Postmodern Wells

I've been reading UnChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity...And Why It Matters by Barna Group president David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons. How can we get our unsaved neighbors past all their negative ideas about Christians, to embrace what they now consider a hate-filled, hypocritical, judgmental faith? I don't know, because I haven't finished the book yet, but here's a great idea from contributor Mark Batterson, the pastor of National Community Church in Washington:

"I went into church planting with the traditional mindset: meet in rented facilities until you can buy or build a church building," Batterson writes. "Then God strategically positioned National Community Church in the middle of the marketplace. NCC started meeting in the movie theaters at Union Station.Not only is Union Station the most visited destination in the nation's capital . . .it also has 125 retail shops, a food court, a train station, a metro stop, and a movie theater.

As NCC began to reach unchurched and dechurched twenty-somethings in DC, there was a moment when I realized that even if we could buy or build a church building, there was no way we could vacate such a strategic spiritual beachhead. And doing church in the middle of the marketplace became part of our spiritual DNA.....NCC also owns and operates the largest coffeehouse on Capitol Hill. Ebenezers ...was voted the #2 coffeehouse in the metro DC area by AOL CityGuide.

So why did we build a coffee house instead of a church building? Because Jesus didn't hang out in synagogues. He hung out at wells. Wells weren't just places to draw water. Wells were natural gathering places in ancient culture. Coffeehouses are postmodern wells. To borrow the sociological term, our coffeehouse is a third place where the church and community can cross paths.

Along with serving coffee day in and day out, the performance space at Ebenezers doubles as a sanctuary for two Saturday night services. And most of the attendees are neighbors and customers.

Continue reading "Postmodern Wells" »

The Point Radio: Roots of Evil

Is money the root of all kinds of evil?...


Click play above to listen.

Join one of our discussions about good stewardship:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Roots of Evil" »

December 10, 2007

Daily roundup

Living within the historical understanding of the Church

In an unprecedented move, the diocese of San Joaquin overwhelmingly voted to severe its tie to the U.S. Episcopal Church. It is the first time that a whole diocese has made that decision. In reaction, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori stated, "We deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of comprehensiveness."

To which I thought, "And I deeply regret their unwillingness or inability to live within the historical Anglican understanding of biblical authority and apostolic tradition."

Faith of our fathers, and mothers, and pastors, and teachers, and friends . . .

Speaking of role models and praise . . .

I've just finished singing in six Christmas concerts at my church, running from Thursday through Sunday. (If your editor seems even more scatterbrained than usual today, that's why.) This year's concert was extra special because it was our 25th. Many choir "alumni" came from all over to perform with us, along with our much loved former organist/orchestra director Bob Walters, who literally made the ground shake when he joined in on the organ for the "Hallelujah Chorus."

But the star of the proceedings, not that he would see it that way, was our music and worship pastor, Bob Welch, who was presented with an engraved "crystal thing" by associate music and worship pastor Clint Shondelmyer, along with a memory book to which many of us contributed reminiscences. I've been feeling rather badly about my contribution, though. Feeling tired and loopy brought on such a bad case of writer's block that, while I finally managed to scribble something down, I wasn't at all satisfied with it.

What I really should have said in that book was this: Bob Welch is one of the biggest reasons that my faith is as strong as it is today. In fact, after my mom and dad, I believe he was the strongest and most consistent model of the Christian faith that I had while I was growing up. So I'm rectifying my mistake by writing this where many more people will see it. Blogging hath its privileges. :-) Happy 25th, Bob, and all God's blessings to you and Nancy -- a wonderful role model in her own right -- and your family.

Now, as Jason Taylor wrote in another context, "Christmas is the season of sappiness," so let's spread the nostalgia and the gratitude around. Who's been a major influence on your faith and life that you'd like to pay tribute to? The comment thread is hereby thrown open for your acknowledgments!

What freedom of speech?

The Canadian Islamic Congress has raised a human rights complaint about an excerpt from Mark Steyn's America Alone that was published in Maclean's. (Full details here.) If they really mean to go ahead with this, they and their allies might want to try getting their facts straight. In the meantime, I like this suggestion about how to show our support for one of the great writers of our age.

Let Another Praise You

Tebow When Tim Tebow was a child, one of the lessons his parents taught him was a lesson from Proverbs 27:2, "Let another man praise thee and not thine own mouth, a stranger and not thine own lips.” It seems that the day has come for that other man's praise. I'm thrilled to see the Heisman going to such a worthy young man, and of course, it doesn't hurt that he happens to play on my favorite college team, the University of Florida. Go Gators!

In case you didn't know, Tim Tebow is a devoted Christian. Each summer he travels back to the Phillipines where he serves orphans and helps spread the gospel in the country where he was born and where his parents spent 20 years serving as missionaries.

Tim's parents also encouraged him to choose a role model early on. And Tim picked out then-Florida Gator quarterback Danny Wuerffel. From winning the Heisman himself, to playing in the NFL, Wuerffel has since gone on to serve an integral role in Desire Street Ministries, a gospel-centered outreach located in the heart of New Orleans Ninth Ward until Hurricane Katrina ravaged that section of the city. Wuerffel and Tebow share a number of things in common now, but most importantly their faith.

My friend and fellow blogger, Travis, gave me a poster last week of Tim Tebow with the verse, "With a strong hand and an outstetched arm, for God's love endures forever." Ps. 136:12. It's currently up in my office, er cubicle. I get a chuckle out of it each time I look at it. Tebow's arm is outstretched in a Heisman-like pose and I think the verse, pulled here somewhat out of context, makes me laugh too. Nonetheless, I like remembering how God's arm is stronger than any football star's, and how sometimes God gives us the chance to "feel His pleasure" when we run or pass a football, or do whatever it is He made us to love.

No Room in the Inn

Mangercross I found this passage, adapted from the works of Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), in a little book called A Classic Nativity Devotional, compiled by James Stuart Bell. The reading is based on Luke 2:7:

When all the people of the house of David were thus compelled to go to Bethlehem, the sparse accommodations of the little town were soon exhausted. Doubtless friends and relatives took in their out-of-town guests until their houses were full, but Joseph had no such willing relatives in the town. There was the "caravansary," which was provided in every village, where free accommodations were given to travelers; this too was full, for coming from a distance, and compelled to travel slowly because of Mary's condition, the humble couple arrived late in the day.

The rooms within the great brick square (caravansary) were already occupied with families; there remained no better lodging--even for a woman experiencing birth pains--than one of the crude and rough places appropriate for animals. The stall of the donkey was the only place where the child could be born. By hanging a curtain at its front, and perhaps tying up the animal on the outside to block the passage, the needed seclusion could be obtained, and here, in the stable, was the King of Glory born, and he was laid in the manger.

Now, is there a mystery here in that the Savior is laid where weary animals receive their food? I believe our Lord was laid in the manger where the beasts were fed, to show "that even beast-like men may come to him and live." No creature can be so degraded that Christ cannot lift it up. It may fall, and seem to most certainly fall to hell, but the long and strong arm of Christ can reach it even in its most desperate degradation; he can bring it up from from apparently hopeless ruin. If there is one who has strolled in here this morning whom society abhors, and who abhors himself, my Master in the stable with the beasts presents himself as able to save the vilest of the vile, and to accept the worst of the worse even now. Believe in him and he will make you a new creature.

A lovely reminder that Christmas is actually about Easter....

Enough Is Enough

Yesterday, there were two more shootings: one at the Youth with a Mission (YWAM) center in Denver, and another at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. The shootings occurred twelve hours apart. Colorado police believe the events were linked.

"Violent crimes of any sort are tragic enough, but when innocent people are killed in a religious facility or a place of worship, we must voice a collective sense of outrage and demonstrate a renewed commitment to keeping our communities safe," said Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.

You know how they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity?

They were mistaken.

(Watch for language in comments.)

Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus

Santa I've been reading The Red Suit Diaries: A Real-Life Santa on Hopes, Dreams, and Childlike Faith, by Ed Butchart. A former Marine and medical equipment salesman, Butchart, 72, has spent many years playing Santa Claus in the Atlanta area. He believes God has called him to express his warm Christian faith through playing the role of St. Nick every Christmas. You can read about him here, but I'd like to share one story from his book.

A few years ago Butchart was asked to visit Scottish Rite Hospital and deliver a teddy bear to each sick child. Halfway through his tour--frustrated that he could not do more for the children than simply hand them a bear--he writes:

I walked into the room of a teenage boy. The nurse told me he had been back from surgery for a couple of hours so it was OK to go on in. I pushed open the door and heard the unmistakable sound of violent vomiting. Immediately I saw that his mother was holding him by the back of his head, and he was heaving into a kidney-shaped bowl, filling it up.

Continue reading "Yes, Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus" »

The Point Radio: Too Harsh or Too Tolerant?

Is the church too harsh, or are our kids too tolerant?...


Click play above to listen.

December 07, 2007

Daily roundup

Reactions to Romney

Here's a selection of responses to Mitt Romney's speech on religion, from across the board:

If you'd like to share your own response, you can use the comment section below.

The Emperor’s Club

Thomas2 In the latest issue of the New Republic, legal editor Jeffrey Rosen reviews two recent books about Justice Clarence Thomas.

Well, sort of. Before the words "Clarence Thomas" appear in his piece, Rosen spends 1246 words (!) on a meditation about the role of mystery in Supreme Court jurisprudence. No, not the "mystery passage" from Casey but how the "bubble of mystery that surrounds the Supreme Court" contributes to its legitimacy and, thus, to its authority.

Far more than the other institutions of democracy, the courts continue to be cloaked in impersonal rituals and uniforms--from black robes to red velvet curtains--to sustain the sense of mystery on which judicial legitimacy depends. There is nothing undemocratic about this mystery.

I don't know whether it's undemocratic but I do know that Rosen is using language that just as easily could be used to describe priests in a cult. Thus, when he writes,

[Unlike] the other branches of government, where personal exposure is rampant and almost a requirement for political efficacy, the Court continues to maintain that its members should communicate with the public primarily through formal opinions, and through ceremonial rituals that date back to the nineteenth century . . .

. . . the word "oracular" -- not "legal"  -- comes to mind.

Continue reading "The Emperor’s Club" »

How well do you know ’Roe’?

Mariam Bell sends along this "Roe I.Q. Test," created by Focus on the Family, the Alliance Defense Fund, and others "to measure the current awareness of Roe and its effects, as well as to provide detailed information about the ruling." I got two wrong out of twelve. See how much you know about the landmark decision on abortion (bearing in mind that, as the note on the quiz page says, they use Roe as a blanket term to refer to both Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton).