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February 29, 2008

Daily roundup

Will I Get Miles With This Purchase?

"There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?"

The other night, I watched Future Weapons on the Discovery Channel HD. This episode featured a personal defense weapon, a Magpul Masada assault rifle, a Bushmaster MK 44 Automatic Cannon and my favorite, the Dillon Aero M134 Gatling Gun, which fires 3000 rounds a minute with, so the audience was told, unprecedented accuracy.

Watching the show, I had mixed feelings: I found myself torn between wanting the Masada assault rifle and getting the personal defense weapon. The host, an enthusiastic fellow named "Mack," made both of them seem very desirable. But I really like the Masada. First there's the name. Then there's the fact that the Masada can fire both standard NATO rounds and, with a quick and simple swap of parts, can also fire the 7.62x39 ammo (I have no idea what that really means) of the Автомат Калашникова образца 1947 года,

more commonly known as the AK-47, or Kalashnikov. It's the world's most popular assault rifle. A weapon all fighters love. An elegantly simple 9 pound amalgamation of forged steel and plywood. It doesn't break, jam, or overheat. It'll shoot whether it's covered in mud or filled with sand. It's so easy, even a child can use it; and they do. The Soviets put the gun on a coin. Mozambique put it on their flag. Since the end of the Cold War, the Kalashnikov has become the Russian people's greatest export. After that comes vodka, caviar, and suicidal novelists. One thing is for sure, no one was lining up to buy their cars.

Continue reading "Will I Get Miles With This Purchase? " »

Nickelback and The Cry For Meaning


If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
We'd see the day when nobody died

~ Nickelback, If Everyone Cared, 2007

My daughter introduced me to the song “If Everyone Cared," released in early 2007 by Canadian rockers Nickelback. Nominated for a Grammy award in 2008, the song is about hope through caring. The band is donating the proceeds from the song to charity.

The song and video pay tribute to the fact that one person can make a difference in the world. The video is well done. I encourage you to watch and listen. It features footage from humanitarians who have stood for peace.

I applaud the message that one person can change the world. History has proven it. I think of William Wilberforce and his campaign to abolish the slave trade and change the moral ethos of England.

The song resonates with a deeper message, however. It is the message of meaning. Everyone seeks meaning. We are driven by a longing to connect to something bigger and transcendent. It is woven into each of our souls. Many pursue causes in search of meaning. Causes are great. But at the end of the day, they are just causes. Without a greater narrative to connect to, they don’t sustain and they don’t last. They come and go. The concert Live Aid in 1984 is a good example of that. It raised millions and purchased food for thousands of Africans. Yet, world hunger remains.

Continue reading "Nickelback and The Cry For Meaning" »

Christian Ramadan -- good or bad marketing?

Thanks to this church marketing blog, I came across this article from the Telegraph. Apparently some Dutch Catholics have rebranded the Lenten season as the "Christian Ramadan" in hopes to appeal and encourage young people to go back to church. The Catholic charity Vastenaktie, which initiated this new twist on Lent, said, "The image of the Catholic Lent must be polished. The fact that we use a Muslim term is related to the fact that Ramadan is a better-known concept among young people than Lent."

I've heard a friend say that Lent, especially Easter, should be described as the “Christian Superbowl” because Christians should be celebrating the resurrection of Christ at a big, Super Bowl-type level. But this is the first time I've heard of a Christian event being expressed or branded in Muslim terms (although maybe this is similar). Their intentions may be good but their execution is poor. Is this the sign of the times or what?

What’s your take on this story?

Where Have All the Men Gone?

It's not only family life, but men have largely disappeared from teaching at public schools too. Here's a story about the dearth of male teachers. 

It was easier than it looked

Maybe you noticed this article, about celebrities writing their own six-word epitaphs (I'm rather partial to Nora Ephron's), in the roundup the other day. I thought perhaps we could do something with it, but never got around to it.

Then Roberto sent around word that Rod Dreher had something about this up on his blog, and he himself had contributed one (scroll down, it's tenth in the lineup). To which I responded, via e-mail, that I wished I could come up with one but that "Alas, conciseness is not my gift."

And then I took another look at what I'd just written and said, "Oh, wait . . ."

So if I can do it -- by accident -- then anyone can. How would you memorialize yourself in six words?

They made a movie for Dave!

Should we be expecting "Sweded" videos to start turning up in the office?

Homeless Christianity

Michael Gerson, writing on young evangelicals trying to find their place in the political spectrum:

If evangelical Christianity were identical to any political movement, something would be badly wrong. It is supposed to look toward a kingdom not of this world, one without borders, flags or end. And by this standard, homelessness is a natural state.

Oprah Winfrey, the High Priestess of New Age Worldview

Oprah Oprah Winfrey is one of the most popular and influential women of today. One of the richest women in the world, she has given away billions of dollars to various charities, building an academy in South Africa for disadvantaged girls and beginning the Angel Network and Christmas Kindness, to name a few. When she mentions a book on her show, it immediately becomes a bestseller. She gives away automobiles to her audience, and I imagine if she mentioned her favorite toothpaste its sales would go through the roof. No wonder she is popular. Who criticizes Santa Claus?

From a childhood of poverty, sexual molestation, and a teenage pregnancy, Oprah has come a long way to become who she is today. She was raised in a Christian church where she was, at one time, nicknamed “The Preacher” because of her ability to recite Bible verses before she was 6. Today it appears she has rejected the faith of her youth and now completely embraces the New Age worldview. (Source: Wikipedia)

Oprah has stated that self-actualization is her primary focus. To back that up she has embarked on a journey that leads her followers down the New Age path. Beginning last January on her XM Radio program, she started a yearlong course titled “A Course in Miracles,” taught by Marianne Williamson, a New Age leader. Each day there is a lesson taken from the workbook for this course. At the end of the course, listeners are supposed to have a redefined spiritual mindset, a New Age worldview.

In addition, beginning next week there will be an online course titled “A New Earth,” based on the book of the same name, written by Eckhart Tolle, another New Age leader. To sweeten it so that people will sign up, both Oprah and Eckhart will be online and you can chat with them live.

Continue reading "Oprah Winfrey, the High Priestess of New Age Worldview" »

China to (Gradually) Scrap One-Child Policy?

If this is true, it could change the course of China's history.

Happy Leap Day!

You're taking the day off, right? If not, it's not too late. Just show this to your boss.

The Point Radio: Buying Cool

How much are you paying the merchants of "cool"?...

Click play above to listen.

Do you agree? Leave a comment and let us know what you think.

February 28, 2008

Planned Parenthood shows its true colors

FRC reports,

Lila Rose, a pro-life student and reporter at UCLA, launched an undercover investigation aimed at exposing the racism of the nation's largest abortion merchant. With the help of an actor, she contacted Planned Parenthood clinics in seven states, inquiring if they would be willing to accept a donation earmarked for the abortion of black babies. The results were jaw-dropping.

My jaw dropped, all right, and I suspect yours might too when you listen to the recordings that Rose made and posted on YouTube. It's not every day that you hear a PP worker gush about how "excited" she is that someone wants to give her money to kill black babies because he doesn't want them competing with his own kids.

It seems Rose is no stranger to this kind of controversy. But then again, neither is Planned Parenthood. They're generally pretty good at getting themselves out of messes -- the "ignore it and it will go away" technique has often worked well for them -- but how they're going to wriggle out of this one is anybody's guess.

Daily roundup

It’s Not Really About Choice...

These two stories from the Daily Telegraph underline an often ignored fact in the abortion wars: Many, if not most, women don't "choose" abortion--someone else chooses it for them: a husband, boyfriend, parents, or the baby's paternal grandparents, who don't want their son to have to deal with a girlfriend's unexpected pregnancy. (As well, abortion clinics often "choose" this choice for young, frightened girls for a different reason: money).

Frederica Mathewes-Green wrote about this phenomenon 14 years ago in her book, Real Choices: Listening to Women, Looking for Alternatives to Abortion. Mathewes-Green, a former BreakPoint writer, famously wrote that "No one wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal, caught in a trap, wants to gnaw off its own leg."

Those who call themselves "pro-choice" should recognize this fact--and offer women some real choices to gnawing off their own legs. The "anti-choicers" have offered such choices for decades.

The Last Lesson of William F. Buckley, Jr.

Buckley Leave it to Bill Buckley to die while writing. Buckley, age 82, was found dead by his cook at his desk Wednesday at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. His son, writer Christopher Buckley, said that he was probably writing one of his famous columns. Buckley was also in the middle of writing another book.

Some on the right hail Buckley as the ultimate intellectual heavyweight, perhaps because he took full advantage of the English language's rich vocabulary, using polysyllabic words that most had never heard before. Yet while Buckley was capable of a clear exposition on conservative political philosophy or his cherished Catholic faith, I think his legacy is more unique than that of a political philosopher or informed layman.

Buckley's family came from wealth--oil and lots of it. As a result, William F. Buckley, Jr., was educated at the finest private schools, some of them in England and France. In an exceptional biography by John Judis titled William F. Buckley, Jr.: Patron Saint of the Conservatives, Buckley opened up about his odd accent, one that made him sound more British than American to many. 

But as it turned out, English was not his first language: French was. He learned it from his nanny. Buckley was teased mercilessly about it when he was a young officer in World War II. On more than one occasion, he had to insist that his voice was no affectation. "This is just the way I talk, OK?" he said. In short, he came by his accent honestly.

I bring this up because so many young conservatives have tried to imitate Buckley over the years, using big words, perhaps some even trying to talk like their patron saint, who predates Reagan and even Goldwater as the founding father of the modern conservative movement in the U.S. But they miss the whole point of Buckley's American life by doing so.

Continue reading "The Last Lesson of William F. Buckley, Jr." »

An Act of Malfeasance

One man in Sweden is now serving time for his criminal act of aggression toward his girlfriend and their baby. 

No Name decided he wasn't ready for fatherhood, and decided to kill his baby by surreptitiously lacing his lover's food with baby-killing drugs.

And he got his way. Subsequently, his girlfriend had an abortion because she feared the baby had been "damaged" by the drugs.

Sharing the Camel’s Secret

Arabiancamel There is a well-known Muslim saying:

Allah has one hundred names. And … he has revealed 99 of his names to the sons of men that they may know and worship him. But one name, the one-hundredth name, he has told only to the camel. And, the camel, he is not talking.

Just like Paul suggested to the Athenians about "the unknown god" in Acts 17, Kevin Greeson, missionary and author of The Camel: How Muslims are Coming to Faith in Christ, proposes to the Muslims he encounters in Asia that the camel's secret is Isa al-Masih (Jesus Christ).

Greeson says that he shares his faith with Muslims by starting inside the Koran and using it as a bridge to the Gospel. For example, showing people that the Koran mentions that Christ was born of a virgin. Others who have taken Greeson's evangelistic advice, refer to God as Allah when speaking to Muslims. After all, that's how early Arab Christians referred to God.

Could this method work in sharing the Gospel with our Muslim neighbors in America, and not just in Asia?

Oh, and by the way, want to know how many Muslims convert to Christianity every year?

(Image © National Geographic)

Out--Or In?

I was lunching with a friend the other day when the subject of illegal immigration came up. Given her strong feelings about illegals crossing the border, I was surprised to discover that she was emphatically opposed to the building of a fence, the erecting of cameras, and all the other security apparatus that would go with it.

Why? Because, as she pointed out, the same fence that would keep illegals out, could one day be used to keep citizens of the United States IN.

I may be naive, but I never thought about that.

Baghdad Prayer Patrol

A friend just sent me this link to a website for the Baghdad Prayer Patrol that I wish I had known about a long time ago. This is definitely not the type of news we hear from the mainstream media. Here's just one encouraging passage from a soldier "on the ground": 

Something happened in June, I (and many others) don't know what it was, cannot quite put our finger on it, but something changed. Good people in Iraq started to stand-up, good people began to join with us. The back of Al Qaida began to break. We achieved a tipping point of sorts, the Iraqi Security forces, long berated for a lack of ability, began to take a pre-emptive role in security operations. Good people [started] coming forward and telling coalition forces where the bad guys and their tools of war were hidden.... [The] more we did, the more the good people of Iraq came forward with even more information.

This message is on the first page, and it's a plea I hope we all take to heart: "There are still bad things happening in Iraq, but because of your prayers, there are some bad things that aren't happening. Stay on Patrol, God is at work."

I Eat Lucky Charms

Martian_child You may not have heard of, much less seen, a film new to DVD and starring John Cusack, called Martian Child. My fiance and I really enjoyed this film.

The premise is this: a quirky science fiction writer named David (played by Cusack) had contemplated adoption with his wife. Now two years a widower, David gets a call that a troubled boy needs a home. Enter Dennis (played by Bobby Coleman). Dennis spends his days with a cardboard box over him; he's scared of the sun and also believes that he has been left behind by aliens.

Despite everyone's discouragement, David decides to take Dennis in. But the road continues to be bumpy. Dennis insists on wearing his gravity belt (so he doesn't float away), refuses to eat anything but Lucky Charms (understandably, right?), steals things from other kids (to study humankind), snaps pictures with his Polaroid camera (again to better understand the human race). What we discover is a boy so afraid of abandonment, so sure no one could really love him, that he has created a fantasy of being an alien to help him cope.

David's unconditional love for this child is so refreshing, particularly amidst so many Hollywood films that love to characterize single men as self-centered, non-committal, and incapable of real sacrificial love. While there were moments in this film where the believability wasn't there and it verged on the overly sappy at times, all in all, I thought it was a beautiful reminder of the joy and reward we find when we lay down our lives for others.

Favorite lines:

Continue reading "I Eat Lucky Charms" »

More on Buckley and Norman

Here's Christianity Today's obituary for Larry Norman (classic line: "He really could've been a star if he were singing about something other than Jesus"), and here's their review of his last concert. Also, here's a message from his brother. At the bottom of this post is a video of one of his performances.

CT is also rerunning an old interview with William F. Buckley, as is Books & Culture, one of CT's sub-publications. (Is that a word? I think I hear the great man turning in his grave. . . .) The New York Times's obituary for Buckley is here.

Many thanks to Martha for helping collect all these.

The Point Radio: Worldwide Religious Explosion

You may have heard that with the rise of modern science, religion is dwindling around the world. Or is it?...

Click play above to listen.

For missionary groups you can support, check out your own denomination's missionary efforts, or take a look at this partial listing of interdenominational groups:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Worldwide Religious Explosion" »

February 27, 2008

Daily roundup

They thought I might not make it

Starbucks_2 It was an ordeal, but the crisis has now passed, and I am expected to pull through.

(Image © AP)

Prostitution: What a Sad, Sad Business

Here’s an eye-opening report about prostitution and its devastating effects on the people caught up in the deadly business. Thankfully, there is one woman, Kathleen Mitchell, who understands their plight because she was a former prostitute, and started a ministry called DIGNITY to help them escape their sexual prison.

If you think you and your children are immune to the real threat of prostitution, think again. A few years ago in a Reston, Virginia middle school, one young 7th grader tried to start a prostitution ring. Thankfully this would-be pimp was caught before anyone was violated. 

On YouTube.com, there is an 11-part series by one ciphertv documenting girls in this and other countries from all socio-economic classes who prostitute themselves to buy items like expensive sweaters. (Link not suitable for children.)

While stories like these are nothing new, there is good news because God is in the redemption and restoration business. A few years ago, I wrote a piece about William Wilberforce documenting London's crime problem. The streets of the city were teeming with prostitutes, and about a quarter of them were no older than sixteen. Wilberforce and the Clapham group set out to right the wrong and started charities like Kathleen Mitchell's DIGNITY to give hope where there was no hope.

Goodbye, good men

William F. Buckley and Larry Norman probably could not have been much more different, but they've both had an incalculable and invaluable influence on the world and on Christians in particular, including many of us here at BreakPoint. And now both are gone: Norman on Sunday morning, Buckley this morning. Hearing them mentioned together this way brings home to me how great it is that God made us all so different, and that He values, uses, and celebrates our differences.

John Fischer's eloquent tribute to Norman is here. Over at The Corner and on NRO's homepage, staffers and friends of Buckley are sharing their reminiscences.

David and North Korea

Symphony For the first time in 55 years, communist North Korea opened its doors to more than 400 U.S. citizens--the New York Philharmonic and their entourage.

While the visit, from the New York Times's description, might be described as well "orchestrated," no one from Kim Jong-il's tight-fisted regime could monitor the tears that welled up in the audience as the strains of “Arirang,” a well-loved Korean folk song, wafted across the concert hall.

New York Times reporter Daniel Wakin said he saw tears in the eyes of his government-appointed "minder," who told him, “My heart is booming. It’s too exciting.”

Now Eric Clapton has an invitation.

After all, David subdued Saul with his music. Could the same thing be happening to North Korea?

(Image © The New York Times)

Can Atheism Explain Objective Moral Values?

Stand to Reason blogger Brett Kunkle makes a good point about atheism and moral values. Namely, atheists can have good moral values. But knowing moral values, and offering a basis for presupposing moral values, are two different things.

For example, Christopher Hitchens loves to offer a challenge to theists. I heard him challenge Mark Roberts in a radio debate hosted by Hugh Hewitt, sometimes called The Great God Debate.

You have to name a moral action taken or a moral statement uttered by a person of faith that could not be taken or uttered by a non-believer. I have yet to find anyone who can answer me that.

~ Christopher Hitchens

While I have seen this challenge adequately answered, the challenge itself misses a basic point. This challenge proves something the Christian theist already agrees with (Romans 2:14,15). Atheists know what good means and atheists can do good things. They can't not know what good is. The knowledge of right and wrong is written on the heart.

Continue reading "Can Atheism Explain Objective Moral Values?" »

Playing telephone

Butterflies I got one of those chain e-mails the other day. Maybe you've seen this one too:

Entries for an art contest at the Hirshorn Modern Art Gallery in DC

The rule was that the artist could use only one sheet of paper.

There followed a slew of images like the one at right, most of them quite beautiful, funny, and/or clever. It's become a habit of mine, though, never to take a chain e-mail at face value, so I turned to my old friend Google for assistance. Here's the real story, courtesy of MetaFilter:

The images were pretty cool; I'€™m not the only one who thought so. Just one thing, it turns out there was no contest and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden has no connection that I could find with the artist, Peter [Callesen]. Still, however you find it, the work is well worth a look.

It was one of the comments at the site, though, that really caught my attention:

What is the deal with people just making stuff up and emailing it to their friends? I mean, I understand why people forward stuff, but why the lies? What motivates people to invent these totally banal untruths?

Continue reading "Playing telephone" »

The God Particle

Thanks to Gina for posting an article for us "science types." To help distill it for the curious masses, I offer the following:

What is the “God Particle?" It is the illusive ingredient, called the Higgs particle after physicist Peter Higgs, in the cosmic soup that gives rise to the property of mass in the universe. So?

The importance of Higgs is in validating the Standard Model -- the traditional model of physics that depicts sub-atomic particles as infinitesimal points of matter, exhibiting properties like mass and electronic charge according to energy fluctuations in the universal quantum field. A long-standing mystery is why some of these particles, like electrons and quarks, have mass and others, like photons do not.

It has been conjectured that the property of mass is due to movement within the Higgs field -- a cosmic “molasses” of Higgs particles that acts as an omnipresent inhibitor for matter particles.

The importance of the Standard Model lies in its tie to the Theory of Everything (TOE) -- science’s holy grail, which is hoped to hold answers to the mysteries of why the world is the way it is.

Continue reading "The God Particle" »

Thought for the day

Helen Mirren, winner of last year's Academy Award for best female actor in a lead role, had a short presentation speech in Monday night's Academy Awards ceremony in which she began by rattling off words from the dark side of human experience such as greed, vengeance, jealousy, and rage, and gradually made her way into more positive aspects of humanity such as hope, love, and kindness. Her point was to show how movies covered them all, because they are all part of the human experience.

It occurred to me that you could say the same thing about the Bible. Greed, vengeance, jealousy, rage, hope, love, kindness... it's all there just like in the movies. But so is Christ. This is what it means that Christ Jesus came in the flesh: the truth was laid into the human fabric. Life goes on in all its human drama, but the light came, and shines into and out of that darkness. . . .

John Fischer, "Just like in the movies"

The Point Radio: Trophy Conversions

Love 'em and leave 'em. That's how some Christians approach non-believers....

Click play above to listen.

Want to learn more about the book unChristian?

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Trophy Conversions" »

February 26, 2008

Daily roundup

Downright Nutty: Jumbo Jet Biofuel

Biofuel When I first read this Reuters piece about a Virgin Airline jumbo jet flying from London to Amsterdam on Amazon rain forest nuts for fuel, I smiled and took note that England isn't that far from the Netherlands. In short, it wasn't that huge of a test for such a nutty idea. And just to be on the safe side, the biofuel constituted only 25 percent of the total fuel mixture.

Then I thought, "Well, maybe chic suburbanites like Prison Fellowship's Communications Director, David Carlson, would feel cleansed by riding on such an aircraft." David has one of those Toyota hybrid cars: a Prius, Yaris, or Spartacus...whatever. He loves it, of course. 50 mpg or more. And I do have to admit to its having surprising room in the back seat when he takes a bunch of us to lunch.

But how can a machine as huge and powerthirsty as a JUMBO JET fly on Amazon nuts?

Somehow, it does, and it doesn't take long to figure out that many South American farmers would benefit from such an arrangement with other airlines, just as corn farmers in America now have more reliable markets for ethanol. A renewable resource like this makes not just a cleaner means of transportation for enviros like Dave but could put food on the table for farmers across the world. It all sounds almost like a godly idea or something.

If it works, what's not to like? Especially if we run out of oil someday.

(Image © Reuters)

A Raisin in the Sun


What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore--
and then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over--
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

-- Langston Hughes, "Dream Deferred"

Last night a welcome breeze blew through the daily mire known as prime-time television. Were you able to view ABC's premiere movie broadcast of the famous Broadway play, A Raisin in the Sun? I'm certainly glad I did. It's been a while since I've watched such a wholesome movie that didn't carry a Hallmark label.

The movie was based on the 1959 play by Lorraine Hansberry, the first black woman to ever have a play appear on Broadway. Although the play/movie is primarily about life as an African-American residing in Chicago's Woodlawn neighborhood, the story presents a plethora of valuable messages on the sanctity of life, belief in God, and the importance of rightly managing our hearts and dreams.

Continue reading "A Raisin in the Sun" »

Celeb for a Day

Goodness knows I have my problems. Well, maybe one. You know, the predictable "I work too hard" answer for a job interviewer's question about weaknesses. And then there's my second problem: I'm too humble. Some say that I'm also disturbingly blind to my own faults.

Point is, I ain't perfect. But I am grateful, hopefully not in the Luke 18:11 sense, that I'm not one of the poor souls who are willing to shell out a couple grand to be hounded by the paparazzi for an hour, in order to experience the celebrity life. I mean, I can't even stand talking to the historical actors in Colonial Williamsburg, because NO YOU AREN'T PATRICK HENRY, KNICKER-GUY, SO JUST PLEASE LEAVE ME ALONE!!! I mean what does a regular joe in a tricornered hat have to do to enjoy his authentic colonial gingerbread cookie and replica musket in peace?? I certainly cannot imagine walking around similarly pretending to "be somebody" while hired paparazzi make a public scene about me, so that gawkers might be envious. That's just sad.

Note: To any of you who *are* historical actors, I do say Thank You on behalf of my kids who eat that stuff up and learn a lot at the same time. It's just not my bag; I mean no offense. But ... if you hire faux paparazzi to follow you around in your ruffled shirt and powdered wig, then, yeah, you really do have problems.

You math-and-science types, enjoy this

Godparticle160 Me, I don't understand one word of it. But it looks like it would be worth reading if I could.

(Via The Corner)

(Image © National Geographic)

Rock Star Conductor

Dudamel Check out this wonderful 60 Minutes piece on Gustavo Dudamel, the 26-year-old conductor set to take over the Los Angeles Symphony. His musical odyssey is testimony to why we need music education in every school in America. Watching him conduct is an absolute delight, and it reminds me a great deal of when I was a child watching Leonard Bernstein on television. It would be worth a price of an airline ticket to LA to see Dudamel in action. 

Image © Guardian Unlimited

The real war against women

When they’re sufficiently hectored by the likes of David Horowitz, [Susan] Faludi and her sisters can be temporarily roused to express some pro forma objection to “honor killings” and the like. But only for a moment, and then it’s back to the usual dreary myopic parochial preoccupations. I appreciate that to Ms. Faludi I will always be as revoltingly patriarchal as a 1950s sitcom dad. Yet there is something not just boring but grotesque in Western feminists’ inability to prioritize. They seem implicitly to have accepted a two-tier sisterhood, in which white, upscale, liberal women twitter about NR columnists’ appalling misogyny in criticizing a female Bush-administration official, while simultaneously the women of the fastest-growing population group in the Western world are forced into clitoridectomies, forced into burqas, forced into marriage, forced into psychiatric wards, forced into hiding — and, if all else fails, forced off the apartment balcony by their brothers and fathers to fall to their deaths, as has happened to at least seven Muslim girls in Sweden recently. This is the real “war against women” being waged across the Western world, but, like so much of the Left, a pampered and privileged sisterhood would rather fight pseudo-battles over long-vanquished enemies.

Mark Steyn, "Hypocrite Sister," National Review (subscription only)

Feed the hungry . . . somewhere else

Unfortunately, this article about Central Union Mission's future move, and possible obstacles to that move, is so confusingly written that I don't quite know all the details of what's going on.

However, I do know executive director Dave Treadwell, a longtime member of my church, and I know that he and the others at the mission are doing wonderful work. I hope the predictable "not in my backyard" attitudes that seem to be at work here won't get in the way of that.

(If you're interested in learning more about the mission or helping with its work, click here.)

The Point Radio: Church-Going Atheists

The Washington Post reports that atheists are going to church, even though they're not believers. What's that about?...

Click play above to listen.

February 25, 2008

Daily roundup

If You’ve Done It Unto the Least of These…

She was caught between two worlds: the realm of her loving mother, and that of her legalistic father and step-mom. One parent had turned her back on the Church, while the other spewed Scripture like a broken sewer pipe. The appealing worldview understood the meaning of forgiveness, while clearly ignoring the call to holiness and morality.

She came to me, her Resident Assistant, for counsel and advice. She was afraid of being shunned and judged by the overly legalistic in our circle. So what was I to tell her? That her mom was wrong? You can’t expect anyone to turn their back on seeming unconditional love; that’s oxygen to any soul. But what of the hypocrisy of those who claimed to know Christ in her life?

This has caused me to ask, what does a true follower of Christ look like? Is it simply walking a line of morality that sets us apart from the world? What is supposed to set us apart?

I believe the answer to that is as old as time itself -- love. The Church is the only place where people can and should be able to be truly and deeply unified. We must recognize that not one of us is holy (1 Samuel 2:2). We are all sinners in need of a righteous God. While we ought to pursue righteousness and morality, and abide by the standards of God, there is room for grace -- much grace. And when in doubt between judgment and grace, I believe grace wins out. For each man will stand before His master and give an account (Romans 14:4, 12), but love is something that we can share, and are called to share, with the world.

Continue reading "If You’ve Done It Unto the Least of These…" »

Topics at the Watercooler: Stories that Scarred Us for Life

Bravelittletoaster In a recent conversation with some colleagues here at The Point, I discovered that there are several of us who harbor a strong dislike for the silly, no, stupid childhood film The Brave Little Toaster. Little did I know when I viewed this film as a small child that it would haunt me for life, right along with Disney's Bambi.

Don't laugh. It's true. Personally, I think that Disney's personification of animals is cute... but dangerous absent a sound reality check. (Gotta love this). Yet even knowing the "truth" of the matter rarely alters some deeply ingrained childhood memories. (No wonder the sheer number of animal rights activists has fairly multiplied like rabbits since Disney's big debut.)

But, let me tell you, things reach a whole new level of absurd when our imagination personifies appliances. If you think I'm being overdramatic, I can assure you, I'm not. I could share lots of stories of how The Brave Little Toaster turned me into an emotional wreck whenever I contemplated our family cars or appliances being taken to a junk yard, but I'd rather not jeopardize what little respect you may have left for me.

In the meantime, I think I'll go burn my copies of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel and the Little Engine That Could in a senseless purge of all things personified. My therapist said such an action would facilitate healing. :-) Just kidding.

(Image © Disney)

Mark of the beast?

Tattoodisplay We report, you decide. One thing's for sure, the real mark of the beast couldn't be much weirder than this.

Via The Corner

(Image © Physorg.com)

Marriage Opens Broad New Vistas

Marriage2 Our friends at the Annie E. Casey Foundation have been referenced in a well-argued column by Patrick McIlheran in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, demonstrating once again that the family remains the best way to help diminish child poverty. A particularly good insight of his comes at the end of the piece:

Marriage skills, say those in the field, are easily taught. Talking up marriage to children is something mothers and pastors and teachers can do right now. Marrying doesn't require a federal grant.

Marriage, no matter how dented, remains the institution that societies have used for ages to create a stable, protected space for children. The underclass stands out, statistically, in eschewing it. If society's looking for some means to break the cycle of poverty, it makes sense to take up the tool readily at hand.

All true. But how to persuade more people to try marriage (after some serious time of reflection before jumping in, of course)?

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Gospel Urgency

In another post, Pointificators were in general agreement with the apparent positions of Chuck Colson, Cardinal Dulles, and Rick Warren regarding the destiny of those “who have never heard the gospel”: namely, that salvation is possible for those who earnestly seek to know God and follow him. By the way--great comments, all! And, in the interest of full disclosure, I agree that people are ultimately judged "by the light that they've received."

Of course, that begs a question suggested by one Pointificator: Is the need or urgency of the Great Commission diminished? In other words, if a person can be saved apart from hearing about Jesus or receiving the gift of his atoning sacrifice, why is sharing the gospel important, especially when it would make a “saved” person accountable for more than he (or she) may be willing to sign on to?

Beauty knows no pain

Swarovski_shoes There's a version of "Cinderella" in which the stepsisters cut off their toes to try to make the glass slipper fit. That version always used to freak me out but good. Nonetheless, those old storytellers knew a little something about human nature.

(Speaking of the Oscars, I just figured out this morning that Daniel Day-Lewis is the son of the man who beat out C. S. Lewis for the professorship of poetry at Oxford in 1951. Small world!)

The last laugh

Dilbert David Steward may have lost his job, but he has the consolation of knowing he's been immortalized by a great artist.

(Image © AP)