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January 23, 2008

Daily roundup

Why culture matters

How should we as Christians relate to culture? Just in time to help us out with our question from yesterday (though I actually had forgotten this one was coming!), Chuck Colson talks about this subject in today's BreakPoint commentary, talking about the new book Culture Matters by our own T. M. Moore:

Theologian T. M. Moore, in his compelling new book Culture Matters, explains why it is so important that Christians reach a cultural consensus: “All culture,” he says, “is a gift from God. The challenge to us is in learning how to take what is good in contemporary culture, reclaim and retool it, and put it to work in a Christian framework for forming [a] new culture.”

Sadly, Moore goes on, “No consensus exists among the followers of Christ concerning how to approach and make use of the artifacts, institutions, and conventions of culture in a decidedly Christian manner, and this in spite of the fact that we are called to do all things unto the glory of God.”

As T. M. points out, this lack of consensus keeps the Church from effectively engaging and transforming culture.

T. M., who serves as dean of our Centurions program and is a long-time advisor to me, holds out hope that Christians can actually reach a cultural consensus. He suggests “some general principles around which” we can all agree. And he shows how Christians throughout history have transformed culture: from Augustine with his great book City of God, to the Celtic Christians with their artistic endeavors to the glory of God, to the twentieth-century poet Czeslaw Milosz.

Read more and share your thoughts here. (And subscribe today to the free daily BreakPoint e-mail.)

Sweeney Todd: A Casual Look at Revenge and Violence

Sweeney Tim Burton has established quite a unique niche in American film, as has one of the actors in his latest effort, Sweeney Todd, the story of the crazed barber of London's Fleet Street, originally a Broadway musical. Burton does an excellent job bringing Victorian London to life as a suitable backdrop for this disturbing tale.

Without giving much away, Johnny Depp skillfully plays the role of the wronged barber, back after a 15-year work sentence abroad. He has aged and become hardened, his only remaining motivation being to track down the evil judge (Alan Rickman, who always does well as evil types) who stole the barber's beautiful wife and infant daughter away from him. Hearing that his wife poisoned herself rather than be with the judge, Sweeney Todd's simmering rage is stoked some more as he plots his revenge.

Hollywood makes sure to throw in the moral point at the end of such stories--namely that revenge and anger hurt the perpetrator as much as his victim. But oh how these movies glory in the gore and devilish delight of planning, plotting, and executing premeditated murder as the way to satisfy one's longings. Again, there is a moral lesson to Sweeney Todd, but unfortunately it is easily lost, almost a mere footnote at the end of two hours of a usually casual, sometimes flippant view of the dark side of the human heart.

Continue reading "Sweeney Todd: A Casual Look at Revenge and Violence" »

But when WE say it . . .

Juno_2 Remark made in passing in a Cinematical article about Juno and its Oscar nominations: "Say what you will about the dialogue being unrealistically snappy, or how it's not realistic that Juno didn't think about birth control (anyone who honestly believes that has forgotten what it's like to be a teenager) . . ."


Thought for the Day

Because morality has been sublimated into ideology, great numbers of people, the young and educated especially, feel they have an adequate moral identity merely because they hold the "right" views on such matters as ecology, feminism, socialism, and nuclear energy. They may lead narrow, self-indulgent lives, obsessed with their physical health, material comforts, and personal growth, yet still feel a moral advantage over those who actively work to help the needs but who are, in their eyes, ideologically unsound.

-- Christina Hoff Sommers, "Where Have All the Good Deeds Gone?" (quoted in Os Guinness, Steering Through Chaos: Vice and Virtue in an Age of Moral Confusion)

Abortion changes you

Abortion_changes_you Michaelene Fredenburg (whom Chuck once talked about in a BreakPoint commentary) gave a presentation at yesterday's Blogs for Life conference about her new website, Abortion Changes You. The site is designed as a "confidential space . . . for those who are touched by abortion" and "a refuge for those who wish to tell their story and begin the process of healing." Click here to find out more.

(Image courtesy of AbortionChangesYou.com)

Life Verse

It is funny how a particular verse of the Bible can get under your skin. Sometimes it can change the course of your whole life. In the new Life Verse Devotional, a compilation of well-known Christian speakers and writers share that verse that has deeply affected them. Yesterday in the book, Chuck Colson shared his verse:

In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers. Hebrews 2:10-11 NIV

To continue reading why this verse meant so much to Chuck, click on the "Continue Reading" link below. And if you have a "life verse" share it here with us, and tell us why you chose it or how it has impacted your life.

Continue reading "Life Verse" »

The Point Radio: Unplug

iPods, blackberries, laptops: How has technology affected your relationships?...

Click play above to listen.

Want some more ideas for unplugging?

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Unplug" »

January 22, 2008

Daily roundup

RE: Saving Gas, Losing Lives

Pointificators provided thoughtful feedback to my post on CAFE fuel economy regulations and the negative effects on auto safety. I was especially appreciative of the diversity of thought.

James Willis told an interesting story about an MIT project which seems to have a great deal of promise yet is being largely ignored. While I’m sure James’ understanding of the MIT situation is correct, I can’t agree with his first statement that “[t]he problem with the market is that it is not really controlled by consumers anymore, but by the big companies and the government.” Companies are subject to the market, while the government is not. Car manufacturers, then, must react to consumer demand or meet financial ruin. The government continues to take your money whether it governs wisely or poorly. (In fact, the more poorly it performs, the more of your money it is likely to take.)

Walter, too, likely has a differing perspective and challenges the accuracy of the auto safety report:

Did the NAS study discuss increased deaths from SUV roll-over incidents?
I believe a large number of the increased deaths are from accidents between large vehicles and small vehicles. If all vehicles were small and light, the increase would not nearly be as high.
Please provide a link to your study so that we can check your statistics

It’s a completely fair question. That said, it seems to me that were we to proceed down this path, in which I dig up the NSA report and we debate its merits, I will eventually admit that I am no expert in auto safety. So I’d rather save myself hours of research and argumentation and simply say this: I am no expert on auto safety.

Continue reading "RE: Saving Gas, Losing Lives" »

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

Indiana_jones Finally, something to look forward to in 2008, the release of the fourth Indiana Jones film on May 22. You can check out the official website for some great video clips showing scenes from the first three movies as well as some glimpses of the new. I'll actually be in Africa on a mission trip when it debuts, but I'll head to the theater as soon as possible once I return. Any other Indy fans out there? 

(Image courtesy of IndianaJones.com and ReelMovieNews.com)

Hep Cat Romney Gets Jiggy with the Youngsters

Warning: this video is PAINFUL.

I wish I'd never seen it; I may never recover.

A friend sent it along and I've since de-friended this former friend and have placed his email address in my spam filter.

So, with fair warning given, I present to you Mitt Romney, getting Y2K-fresh with the kids of Jacksonville, Florida.

This one just might rival Bob Dole's "Just Don't Do It!" moment.

Still Grieving

There may be many things people regret on their death beds. Palliative care nurses are discovering an unexpected last regret some women have. Mark Earley describes this phenomenon:

A woman—let’s call her Caroline—was 92 years old. She was dying, in agony, but Caroline’s pain was not physical. It was emotional. Caroline, you see, had been carrying a secret for more than 50 years: As a young woman, she had undergone two abortions, suffered terrible guilt all her life—and now, on her death-bed, afraid that God could not forgive her.

As her palliative-care nurse, Jean Echlin, writes, “At the end of her life she shared with me her agony over her lost babies . . . she felt that she had committed murder.”
Caroline is not alone, as Echlin writes in Perspectives 2007, a publication of the De Veber Institute for Bioethics and Social Research. Echlin also tells the story of a woman named Lydia, who was dying of cancer. Even with the use of a pain pump, which gave her steady doses of morphine, Lydia’s pain did not abate.

“I asked her if her faith or prayer could be of any comfort,” Echlin writes. “Lydia remained silent except for her moaning.” But the next day she confided the truth. “I can’t pray—God won’t listen,” Lydia said. “I killed a precious baby when I was 18 . . .” Lydia’s abortion had taken place more than 40 years ago—and she was still grieving over it.

Read more. (And subscribe today to the free daily BreakPoint e-mail.)

Know your culture

A common theme in many of this morning's presentations -- Barbara Curtis, Jill Stanek, and Dawn Eden have all touched on this -- is the necessity of studying and understanding the culture around us. Curtis went so far as to mention movies as being key to this effort, saying that she reads reviews for them all, even the ones she doesn't see. (Nice to know I'm not alone!)

But culture, of course, goes far beyond that; it's a term that covers everything from the news media to the technology that we bloggers rely on. Curtis in particular stressed that isolation in our Christian circles, appealing as that can be, is fatal; we must know what's going on in the mainstream and be able to understand and apply it. All three bloggers named above talked about how they use articles from the mainstream media in their work; in many cases, as Stanek pointed out, all you have to do is link to an article about, say, Planned Parenthood's latest outrage and let it speak for itself.

I think this is such an important topic that I'd like to throw it open for your contributions. Whether you're a blogger or not, how has knowing and interacting with the culture helped you to advance God's kingdom, whether in the pro-life arena or in other areas?

’Pro-life and whole life’

Senator Sam Brownback (R-Kans.) just offered a holistic way to think about the sanctity of life (and a reason why younger people are flocking to the pro-life movement): Life is "sacred in the womb and sacred in Darfur, sacred in prison and sacred in poverty."

Signs of Life #6 (Conclusion)

Dusty shoes, worn-out knees, rolled-up sleeves, and open hands -- these are the first four indicators of an authentic Christian walk discussed in David Jeremiah's book Signs of Life. My little mini-tour of this wonderful devotional ends today with the fifth sign: Outstretched Arms -- Living a Compassionate Life.

On Day 36, Dr. Jeremiah shares these facts about tears: 

Science tells us there are three kinds of tears. Basal tears flow continually into our eyes to lubricate the eyeball and flush away debris, and reflex tears flow as a response to either pain or contact with an irritant .... It is the third kind of tears -- emotional tears -- that only we humans have. And that is because only we humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). Only human beings can look upon the plight of another and shed tears of compassion [a word that means "to suffer with"]; only humans can be brought to tears by the tears of another person..... 

It is clear from Scripture that God expects His children to bring the tears of heaven to earth through the exercise of compassion toward others. The compassion Jesus demonstrated (Matthew 15:32; 20:34; Mark 1:41; 6:34; Luke 7:13) is to be extended through those of us who believe in Him.... It was the colonial Quaker William Penn who said, "Though our Savior's Passion is over, His compassion is not." And the way the world will know the compassion of Christ is by seeing and experiencing the comforting arms of His followers.

I hope this series of excerpts from Signs of Life has been a challenge and an encouragement to our readers, and that you will perhaps purchase a copy and go through the 40-day study for yourself. I've encouraged my pastor to adopt Signs of Life as a church-wide study: in my mind, it's the perfect follow-up to Rick Warren's Purpose-Driven Life that we did a couple of years ago. If that doesn't come to pass, I plan to conduct a small group study using Dr. Jeremiah's book: it's just that rich. 

To echo a famous prayer, may our hearts be broken by the things which break God's heart, but let's not stop there: let's use our hands (open), arms (outstretched and ready to work), knees (worn-out), and feet (dusty) so that others may come to know our incredible Savior.


You can’t make this stuff up: Abortion facility to be blessed

Dawn Eden just offered us Bloggers for Life this scoop: Planned Parenthood officials in Schenectady are celebrating the anniversary of Roe today by having the surgical wing of their new facility blessed by local clergy members. Click here to read the full story.

The Point Radio: Off the Field but Right on Track

Detroit Lions’ quarterback Jon Kitna has done more than lead his team to an unexpectedly good season. His work off the field has been equally impressive....

Click play above to listen.

Want more ideas for making an impact at work?

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Off the Field but Right on Track" »

Blogs for Life

This morning I'll be at the Blogs for Life conference in downtown D.C. If FRC's wireless network is in good order, I'll blog from there; otherwise, I'll give you a summary when I get back. You should be able to see a webcast of the event at FRC's website.

January 21, 2008

The need for Christian activism

Here's Chuck Colson on Martin Luther King, Jr., and Christian activism:

As Americans observe Martin Luther King Day today, I am reminded of the rich Christian tradition of activism in this country. For millions of Christians who have gone before us, activism was considered fruit of the faith. Not only was the civil-rights movement led by evangelical Christians like Dr. King, so too were campaigns for abolition and women’s suffrage heavily influenced by Christians expressing their faith.

But for much of the twentieth century, Christians—especially white evangelicals—shied away from activism. Part of the reason is that from about the 1920s to the 1970s, many evangelical Christians simply withdrew from the public square. Defeats in Prohibition and the discouraging results of the Scopes trial left many evangelicals disheartened. Soon the rich activist tradition was lost or divorced from true faith.

But in the African-American community, Christian principles and hopes prodded the rise of the civil-rights movement. It was not until the ’80s with the rise of the Moral Majority, that activism began to resurface among white evangelicals. Unfortunately, as Tim Stafford notes in his new book, Shaking the System, by then, “The very idea of Christians advocating for public causes created panic among secularists and dreams of utopia (a long-lost Christian America?) among true believers.” 

This is why I like Stafford’s book so much: It draws from the rich history of Christian involvement to revive that lost knowledge of what it looks like to be a Christian activist.

Read more.

Thought for the day

The end of the universe is not to be happy. The end is not to avoid suffering. But the end of life is to do the will of God, come what may.

Martin Luther King, Jr., "Paul's Letter to American Christians," via Leadership Journal

The Point Radio: Human Hinges

As men like Martin Luther King Jr. have shown us, history moves on human hinges....

Click play above to listen.

Here are more resources for standing against injustice:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Human Hinges" »

January 18, 2008

Just a note

Blogging will be light on Monday because of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, but check in and we'll have at least a couple of posts up for you! Have a great holiday.

Virtual book tour

Blogger and author Tim Challies has been doing a "blog tour" to promote his new book, The Discipline of Spiritual Discernment. As I write this, Tim has so far visited nine blogs, including those of our friends at Evangelical Outpost and Jollyblogger, to answer questions about his book and the topic of discernment in general. Here's a post that contains links to all the blogs that have featured these Q&A sessions.

I'm currently giving the book a read and will share my impressions (and possibly interview the author) before long. In the meantime, if you've read it, let us know what you think!

RE: Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Kim, I'm a little late in responding to your post on deaf children. I understand where you're coming from, but growing up around the deaf community (my parents were both, at one time, sign language interpreters), I also understood where the women in the article you referenced were coming from.

An article in New York magazine, written by Lou Ann Walker, whose parents are both deaf, provides a glimpse into the deaf community and the viewpoint that drives some of the discussion about eradicating deafness. (Incidentally, Walker wrote an excellent book, A Loss for Words: The Story of Deafness in a Family, about growing up the hearing child of deaf parents and the unique challenges that scenario presents.) As the author points out, many deaf individuals do not see their inability to hear as the horrible thing that hearing people think it is.

Someone once asked my father what the best thing about being deaf was. His answer? “Being deaf.”

While the article is about sign language vs. cochlear implants and mainstreaming, not genetic manipulation, the author addresses the fears that surround the genetics of deafness:

Organizations such as the Deafness Research Foundation now talk about “conquering deafness,” stinging terms to some deaf people, given the eugenics laws through the twenties and the 1,600 deaf people exterminated in Nazi Germany.

Continue reading "RE: Cruel and Unusual Punishment" »

Does It Mean the War Is Over?

The stem cell rage might become a thing of the past—that is, if everyone cooperates. There is new technology that circumvents the need for killing embryos to produce pluripotent stem cells, and it's getting more and more attention. 

On ToTheSource.com, Wesley Smith covers the new technology as well as the political machinations of public policy makers and biotech companies.

If you’re interested, here is an older list (2004) of successful adult stem cell therapies.

Signs of Life #5

We've arrived at Dr. Jeremiah's fourth sign of life for the Christian: Open Hands: Living a Generous Life. Here's an amusing story from Day 29 that illustrates our need to be open-handed Christians (and no, it's not about giving money to the church): "A trapper in the African Congo devised a clever monkey trap using a hollow gourd into which peanuts were poured through a small hole. The monkey would reach in and grab the peanuts, but the hole was too small to remove his closed hand. Unwilling to release his treasure, the monkey would be caught." 

Dr. Jeremiah asks,

What are you grasping tightly ... trying to keep under your control ... unwilling to give to the Lord? Perhaps it's a relationship? a possession? a plan, a goal, or a dream? Maybe it's an attitude of bitterness you should have released months ago? Perhaps God isn't able to bless you because your hand isn't open to receive His blessings. 

A closed hand is based on the faulty assumption that we know more about what's best for us than our all-knowing God whose wisdom is unfathomable. An open hand, however, reflects the humble awareness that the Lord Jesus can do more than we can do and that His plan for us is better than any we can devise. An open hand says, "Lord, You know how precious this thing is to me, but I acknowledge You as more precious. You have a greater plan for my life, and I don't want to miss it by clinging to my own tarnished treasures. I'm opening my hand to You in surrender and trust."

Are any of you willing to share your story of a time when you realized you had to let go of something important to you so that God could do a work in your life, or so that you could learn an invaluable lesson: the Giver is infinitely more important than the gifts He imparts to us? Certainly, this is the test that Abraham had to pass when he offered Isaac, and I believe that it's a test we all must face on our own path to spiritual maturity. How about you? 

The Point Radio: Peter Pandemic

What would you say is the average age of America's video game players?...

Click play above to listen.

January 17, 2008

Daily roundup

Re: Nyet to Coke

Mr. The Swede,

I know you're new to The Point. Perhaps you should be forgiven for, evidently, assuming that we have a low standard of accuracy. This being a blog and all.

What is the source of my beef? This:

...and not because I'm a Pepsi drinker


I am quite certain that you'd agree that a more accurate description is:

...and not because I'm an incurable, hopeless, bona fide Pepsi addict

For your future care in accurately presenting the facts, I heartily say, as do hip Ukrainian youth, "pacebo."

Nyet to Coke

Russian Good for the Russkis. Seems Coca-Cola torqued off the good Russian Orthodox citizens of Nizhny Novgorod by using photos of Orthodox churches in its advertising. Some photos depicted churches inside Coke bottles. Well, the Orthodox faithful protested the advertising as blasphemy. Coke has pulled the ads, citing that the company only had the best of intentions and has decided not to use religious objects in the future.

I love it--and not because I'm a Pepsi drinker.

Brief story here.

(Image courtesy of RIA Novosti.)

Kids, Careers, Connections

Regarding that Washington Post story, the writer saw a lot of tension when highly educated couples have babies before 30, thus sacrificing career advancement and income. The young guns struggle to connect because they are viewed as having made a mistake and don't have the status symbols of power careers (clothes, vacations). Why would you spend $80G on a degree and then have babies? Get the career in flight, then think about family. Lots of time on the bio clock, right? Typically, those interviewed are glad they had their kids young but were struggling with inevitable comparisons with people who made different choices.

First, as a married father of two, I don't struggle to connect with any parent who has same-age kids as I do. Common life stage trumps just about everything. Don't believe me? Look how modern churches organize--from youth to single 20somethings, to divorced thirtysomethings, to empty-nesters. Once you turn 18, it's your experience status, not career status, that drives associations. I have parent friends young and old, and we find a lot of common ground.

Underlying this whole story is how kids interrupt, delay, or otherwise sidetrack adults' options--to connect socially, to advance professionally. Well, this is true. I do not get to do certain things anymore. But, I do get to do things I longed for when I was on the other side looking in. And the challenge as a parent is to keep my eyes on the priceless moments with those who are bear God's image and mine and spend less time on all the "cool" stuff. In theory I want it all, in reality I can't have it all because the law of priorities says everything can't be priority one at the same time. Parenting is a ton of self-denial and accelerates growing up. The rewards really don't compare with career prestige or a long weekend in Cancun. 

Children Are a Gift

I couldn't help but compare the attitude of this couple who has struggled with infertility for over two decades with an excerpt from the Washington Post about college-educated men and women delaying childbirth until their thirties and forties. This is a twenty-something who is breaking the mold in most metro areas by having a child:

"Am I going to be able to do the things I want to be able to accomplish, given that 90 percent of my time goes to the baby?" she asked. "Having a baby is definitely a risk. You risk losing a devotion to yourself, to other things like a cause. I have one friend who goes in the evenings to get his PhD in social policy. . . . I don't know if I'll ever have time to do that."

It is hard to understand sometimes how people who so long for children are denied, while those who see them as such an inconvenience are granted them. But then again, I suppose God speaks to both in their longings denied.

Here’s One Job I Won’t Be Applying For

Magickingdom Disney has recently announced an opening for CMO--that is Chief Magic Officer. Here's the job description:

A simple dreamer won’t do. If you’re selected, you’ll wear an official costume, and you’ll get some interesting coaching from a bunch of characters. But you’ll have to play the part up to eight times in a 12-month period beginning May 1, 2008 during The Year of a Million Dreams celebration in 2008.

The Chief Magic Official will be tasked with helping create magic for guests, including appearances at Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida and Disneyland® Resort in California.    


Makes magical “decrees”
Creates magic experiences
Interacts with guests
Makes special appearances
Spreads magic and inspiration 

And you have to do all this without gagging?!! Um...obviously, I'm underqualified.

Literally. The. Best. Blog. Post. Ever.

Click here and you'll see what I mean. H/T The Corner (don't miss the hilarious Shatner reference!).

Signs of Life #4

So far, I've reported on two of the signs of life for Christians covered in Dr. Jeremiah's book: dusty shoes and worn-out knees. Let me add a couple of points on these first two signs before I move on to the third.

Dusty Shoes: From Day 8 ...  "Again and again Jesus made it clear that He came to help those who knew they needed help, not those who didn't .... And in order to reach those people, Jesus lived His life where they were. He went to them:  He didn't force them to come to Him.... If we are in the habit of polishing our shoes on Sunday morning, may it be because they are covered with a week's worth of dust from the streets of this world."

Worn-out Knees: From Day 16, consider this quote from Oswald Sanders on how Jesus prayed: "Jesus prayed in the morning at the gateway of the day, and in the evening when the day's work was over. Great crises were preceded by prayer. Great achievements were preceded by prayer. Great achievements were followed by prayer. Great pressure of work was a call to extra prayer. Great sorrows were met by prayer. He died praying." 

Now, for the third sign of life -- Rolled-up Sleeves:  Living an Authentic Life. On Day 22, Dr. Jeremiah encourages us with these words: "In a world that is hungry for a little kindness, the Lord has provided His church, and kindness is our stock-in-trade. When we roll up our sleeves, we hold our Lord up to a needy world." Lest we think that we must take on big projects for God, Dr. Jeremiah offers these simple suggestions about ways to serve: 
(1)  providing a meal for someone going through chemotherapy
(2)  helping a single woman in your neighborhood with her yard work
(3)  visiting a nursing home to chat with the elderly or pray with the lonely
(4)  volunteering to help feed the hungry at your local homeless shelter
(5)  getting a group of people in your church to adopt a section of a local roadway and keep it clean

He lists several more ways to serve, but you get the idea. Opportunities are all around us: we need  to pray that God will enable us to see them, and ask Him to stir up in us the willingness to roll up our sleeves and get to work for Jesus' glory and honor.

I would like to challenge our bloggers and readers to look for simple opportunities to serve Him over the next few days and then report back. I think it will be a wonderful source of encouragement and enlightenment: in seeing how the Lord has led others, we will perhaps wake up to new possibilities in our own circumstances.

The Point Radio: The Pampering Parent

Are you a pushover when it comes to your kids? Of course you're not....

Click play above to listen.

Here are some more resources on the benefit of discipline:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: The Pampering Parent" »

January 16, 2008

Daily roundup

Re: I knew I needed more rest

I had to laugh this morning when I read today's BreakPoint because just last night my husband and I were talking about the importance of sleep. Caught up in a whirlwind of project deadlines and law school classes, my husband has been seeing less and less sleep this month... and consequently, his outlook on life has been less and less positive. Our soon-to-be newborn daughter, who we anticipate arriving in just a few short weeks, has also inspired our thoughts on sleep... or the lack thereof.

All this brings to mind the study conducted for the U.S. Army back in 2003 on sleep deprivation.

The military studies sleep as it pertains to both sustained and continuous operations. During sustained operations, combat soldiers get less than four hours sleep each night for days at a time, which is considered severe sleep deprivation. During continuous operations, soldiers get less than seven hours sleep each night....

Both sustained and continuous operations take their toll, but what complicates deprivation is that sustained operations can occur simultaneously with continuous operations.

As far as the grande triple-shot Americanos go, the Army found that... 

[w]hen looking at different stimulants, it's not surprising that studies have shown caffeine is an effective aid.... For caffeine to be most effective, however, regular users need to minimize their caffeine use so that when they need it, caffeine will give them a boost.


Continue reading "Re: I knew I needed more rest" »

I was a stranger and you took me in

Immigration Illegal immigration is one of the most difficult and contentious political issues we face in the current election -- but how should we handle it on the personal level? This story seems to offer a useful template of what Christians and others can do to help the strangers in our midst. (One of the parent liaisons mentioned here, Duke Butkovich -- second from left in this photo -- is a longtime member of my church, along with her husband and daughter.)

Image courtesy of the Washington Post.

A Spark of Attraction

Fraternaltwins3 The man and woman glanced at each other and felt an immediate sense of attraction, and then sometime later they married. Sounds like they were destined for a lifetime of romance, but then the relationship was shattered by a pesky but pertinent detail.   

This unlucky couple found out they were really siblings—fraternal twins to be exact. They’d been born via IVF and separated at birth. The spark of attraction was really caused by blood ties. But the twins are left with loss—they were first denied the opportunity to know their bio-dad, and then their marriage had to be annulled. 

British lawmakers are wrangling amongst themselves to keep this unhealthy situation from arising again. But unfortunately I think it’s a little bit too late because some donors have a lot of children—like Donor White who has at least 13 offspring, or another donor who has 22. Multiply that by the number of IVF children being born each per year from anonymous donors and the problem becomes enormous. One estimate in the U.S. alone is around a million children born by this procedure.   

Besides the tawdry issue of the commodification of children (some sperm donors can make as much as $900 to $1,500 dollars for a vial of sperm) there is another deeper and very troubling issue. It’s a natural longing to be part of something larger than one “mommy” and a sperm donor. Several years ago, W. Bradford Wilcox wrote a sobering piece in The Weekly Standard about anonymous sperm donors and the pain their anonymity causes their children.

This just reconfirms that we are made a certain way, and when we live contrary to it, someone always gets hurt. As Chuck Colson and Nancy Pearcey write in How Now Shall We Live?, “In every action we take, we are doing one of two things: we are either helping to create a hell on earth or helping to bring down a foretaste of heaven.” In the case of the married siblings, a sperm donor and mother created a little hell on earth. Darn those pesky but pertinent details.

I Knew I Needed More Rest

Red_bull So this morning, I dragged myself out of bed, reached for the coffee, hit the computer, and read Mark Earley's commentary on caffeine and the God of Rest:

From Starbucks, to Red Bull, to No-Doz, Americans are showing signs of addiction to caffeine. Sixty percent of us drink a cup of coffee a day. On average we will drink 52 gallons of soda this year. And Starbucks—they get a whopping $5.3 billion of our collective dough.

Whether we are chemically stimulating because we do not get enough sleep, or whether the caffeine itself is depriving us of precious rest, we are also sleeping less than ever before.

Read more.

Please welcome our newest blogger

Please join me in welcoming aboard our own David Carlson, also known as The Swede and my boss. (Which means I'll probably have to start behaving myself around here. Rats.) Dave will be helping us out with posts on Chuck Colson's and Mark Earley's BreakPoint commentaries, though we hope he'll feel free to post on other subjects as well. Including wallabies. (Sorry, boss. It wouldn't be a proper welcome without a little hazing.)

Tom Cruise, messiah

I'm not sure which is scarier: This Scientology recruitment video starring the world's most famous couch-jumper, or the commenters who can't see any real difference between the alien-centered cult and Christianity. (Watch for language.)

Where have all the Brazilian bovine gone?

Tired of really bad campaigns? Well, it can't get much worse than this. Save the sausage! Poor things. Switzerland really needs some wars to fight.

Breaking the Silence in Alaska

Millstones tied around the neck and drowning seem too small a punishment for such as this.

Signs of Life #3

According to Dr. Jeremiah, the second sign of life in the Christian is "worn-out knees." He opens Day 15's devotional with the familiar story about Levi Strauss and the invention of blue jeans -- which solved the problem faced by gold miners who did most of their work on their knees. Likewise, a Christian's most important work will always be prayer. Here are some "golden prayer nuggets" from Day 15 to ponder: 

  • One of the reasons we're so worn out from life is that our knees aren't!
  • William Cowper wrote, "Satan trembles when he sees the weakest saint upon his knees."
  • Our victories in life are gained on our knees.
  • Worn knees imply obedience. If you want to pull down blessings from above and impact the world around you, you have to be surrendered to God's will, approaching life on your knees, bowing in humble reverence, obedience, and dependence on Him.
  • Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote, "Prayer is beyond question the highest activity of the human soul."

The Point Radio: Bankruptcy -- Easy as 1, 2, 3

There’s a lot of peer pressure out there these days, and it’s not just on your kids....

Click play above to listen.

For more help, visit Crown Financial Ministries.

January 15, 2008

Daily roundup

Trafficking in Children

My piece on the trafficking of children was posted today at National Review Online. As Karrie Delaney, Director of Communications at Shared Hope International, told me, trafficked girls don't necessarily have to be chained. Many are so manipulated and frightened that they don't need to be locked up:

I fear that many people think that if a stripper or a prostituted woman looks willing and excited to be with [the customer], that she must not be a slave, but the reality is the girls will appear "willing" to a buyer as a means for survival. For example, if her pimp requires her to return with $500 (and she will be beaten, starved, etc. if she doesn't) and she knows she can get paid more if she acts interested in the man who buys her, she can earn the required $500 and perform fewer sex acts if she can increase her "tips."

I'll be writing more about this tragedy later, and let readers know what they can do to combat this scourge.