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« February 2008 | Main | April 2008 »

March 13, 2008

Calling All Good Samaritans

Samaritan Looking for a way to put your Christian worldview into action? How about something that involves a little bit of sacrifice for potential great gains for your fellow man? Interested? Read more here. Sign up here.

Inside the world of women’s exploitation

Temeka Rachelle Lewis dialed her boss in late January, fed up with the headaches of small-time business. She had spent more than three years coordinating prostitution appointments across the globe for the Emperors Club, and the job often kept her on the phone solving problems until after 11 p.m. There were rookie hookers who expected $5,000 an hour, mothers who left clients early to fetch their children, high-priced call girls who were clueless about how to imprint a credit card.

Now, Lewis called her Emperors Club boss Mark Brener with the latest tale of employee incompetence. On Jan. 29, she explained, one of the club's regular prostitutes had missed an appointment and sent "crazy text" messages. Lewis surmised that the prostitute was probably using drugs.

"A lot of these girls deteriorate to this point," Lewis observed.

So says the Washington Post, which goes on to refer to Ashley Alexandra Dupre's (the prostitute known as "Kristen" in the Eliot Spitzer case) "MySpace page that describes an abusive childhood and drug use."

So much for the myth of the prostitute as independent, confident "sex worker."

Update: Lisa Schiffren at The Corner has some good thoughts on this.

Out of the Clear Blue

Plane I ran across a really amazing story on MSNBC from the Associated Press. It's the story of a WWII pilot shot down over Papua New Guinea and cared for and protected by villagers. The fellow was a Christian and the villagers who cared for him had been reached by missionaries. It is a beautiful reminder of God's sovereignty--not even a sparrow--much less a pilot--falls outside of God's view. Read it and be encouraged.

Clean desk, conservative mind?

Messydesk Let's just say that the people who conducted this study have never seen my office.

(Image © PDQ Services)

Free from Booze and Drugs, Best Rock Song Intros

I was stuck in traffic for 2 hours the other day, and to pass the time I called the local rock radio station hoping to win some concert tickets. Instead, the person on the other line asked me to participate on their radio poll of the best rock song intros of all time. The first song that came to my mind was The Cure’s “Boys Don’t Cry.” I'm not sure if that was the best song to suggest, but the radio station’s poll reminded me of a study I read last month that finds popular U.S. songs are dominated by lyrics about booze, sex and drugs. The information about explicit song lyrics is nothing new, but the study just confirms how important it is for us to be discerning of what we and our children are listening to nowadays and be concerned about redeeming the music industry back to decency and true artistry. If this trend continues and song lyrics becomes even more indecent, there may be a time when all of us who listen to Billboard rock and pop music will have nothing to listen to but the lyric-less intros alone.

So music producers should make their song intros worth listening to! Here’s my list of rock songs which I think have the best intros minus the explicit lyrics: (1) "Smoke on the Water" by Deep Purple; (2) "Sweet Child of Mine" by Guns 'n' Roses; (3) "The Final Countdown" by Europe and (4) "Walk this Way" by Aerosmith. Now I feel like growing my hair long... no spandex please! Feel free to send in your song suggestions.

I Guess He Won’t Be Getting the Elderly Vote

Man, I wish someone would pull the plug on this election.

The Point Radio: Facebook Frenzy

What do Governor Huckabee, Senator Clinton, and your high schooler have in common?....


Click play above to listen.

Here are more ways people are using Facebook, and ideas on how to share your faith:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Facebook Frenzy" »

March 12, 2008

Daily roundup

Standing athwart the Sexual Revolution

CNN tells us that one in four teenage girls is infected with a sexually transmitted disease, the most common being the one that can cause cervical cancer.

Two thoughts on this: P. D. James's dystopic vision of a world in which humans are no longer capable of reproduction seems increasingly likely--or, at least, a world in which huge numbers of people are unable to reproduce because they've acquired multiple viruses that damage their fertility, leading to a huge rise in the kidnapping of infants, and enormous fees being paid to women to have babies for infertile couples.

Second thought: How blind, or stubborn, or stupid does the medical community have to be to recommend for this health crisis "screening, vaccination, and other prevention strategies for sexually active women" instead of, or in addition to (as William F. Buckley might have put it), standing athwart the sexual revolution yelling "STOP!"

When it is going to be socially acceptable to tell teens, "Wait until you're married"? After every single one of them is too diseased to reproduce?

No longer a ’brain-dead liberal’

As my husband and I were watching the election news last night, I complained, "I'm so sick of this election." Yet, here I am today, reading more about .... you guessed it, the election. However, prestigious playwright David Mamet's article "Why I Am No Longer a 'Brain-Dead Liberal'' (language warning) is -- for a change -- a refreshing, hopeful voice in the midst of the never-ending election of 2008. Why? Because he makes me believe that Americans will, somehow, manage to muddle along no matter who ends up in the White House for the next four years.

Mamet's essay on the government, business, military and people in general is filled with pithy little squibs that are just too good to miss. Here's just a taste:

I'd observed that lust, greed, envy, sloth, and their pals are giving the world a good run for its money, but that nonetheless, people in general seem to get from day to day; and that we in the United States get from day to day under rather wonderful and privileged circumstances--that we are not and never have been the villains that some of the world and some of our citizens make us out to be, but that we are a confection of normal (greedy, lustful, duplicitous, corrupt, inspired--in short, human) individuals living under a spectacularly effective compact called the Constitution, and lucky to get it....

The Constitution, written by men with some experience of actual government, assumes that the chief executive will work to be king, the Parliament will scheme to sell off the silverware, and the judiciary will consider itself Olympian and do everything it can to much improve (destroy) the work of the other two branches. So the Constitution pits them against each other, in the attempt not to achieve stasis, but rather to allow for the constant corrections necessary to prevent one branch from getting too much power for too long. 

Continue reading "No longer a ’brain-dead liberal’" »

The Second Chance Act Passes the Senate

There's good news today for public safety! As a result of a timely move by Senate leadership, the Second Chance Act of 2007 (S. 1060/H.R. 1593) unanimously passed the Senate late yesterday evening! Hurray!

With the bill having passed the House overwhelmingly in November, advocates have worked diligently to facilitate its passage in the Senate over the past few months. And their efforts were finally rewarded. Now it's on to the Oval Office, where President Bush has ensured he will quickly sign the bill into law.

The Second Chance Act's passage follows on the heels of an eye-opening report that one in 100 adults are currently behind bars, costing U.S. taxpayers more than $55 billion a year. Thankfully, the Second Chance Act will provide the public a significant savings while still improving public safety. This certainly is good news for all.

For more information on the bill and other issues relating to ex-offender reentry, please feel free to visit the Justice Fellowship website. Also, feel free to visit our Legislative Action Center where you can join many others in sending a note of thanks to your Senator for passing this very important bill.

Where’s Chuck?

Waldo All over the place!

How Not to Attack Evolution

Tom at Thinking Christian writes a thoughtful post called "How Not to Support 'Expelled;' How Not to Attack Evolution."

The intelligent design versus evolution debate is often filled with cringe moments. I cringe when I hear evolutionists put their ignorance of intelligent design on full display in their attacks. It becomes obvious that they have not researched ID because of the fallacies embedded in many of their arguments.

Unfortunately, the same is true on the other side. Sometimes ID defenders and creationists make arguments that cause me to cringe as well. I recently had someone tell me that she has trained her kids to laugh whenever someone tells them that evolution is true or the earth is millions of years old. She then asserted that the scarcity of moon dust proved evolution was wrong.

Rather than mocking the other side, Tom has a better idea. Avoid the three most serious mistakes:

1. Speaking Of What We Do Not Know
2. Speaking Without Respect and Courtesy
3. Not Speaking of What We Do Know

Continue reading "How Not to Attack Evolution" »

College students on love

Hearts While cleaning out old e-mails, I came across this sentence in my college alumni letter: "The New York Times is holding a 'Modern Love' essay contest for undergraduate students."

I confess that my first thought was, The mind reels. Then I realized that's not fair. There are plenty of thoughtful, mature, moral college students around -- including some right here at The Point -- who could do a terrific job with an essay on the topic: "What is love now, in this age of 24/7 communication, blurred gender roles and new attitudes about sex and dating?" In fact, those are precisely the kinds of students the Times should be hearing from. So if you're a college student, why not give it a whirl? Or if you're not a college student but know one who'd be interested, pass this info along. Details are here.

Say it ain’t so, Mary Ann!

Dawn_wells For my generation, the question was always, "Ginger or Mary Ann?"

I was solidly in the Mary Ann camp. She was so . . . grounded . . . so real . . . so . . . stoned.

Sigh.

If only she'd seen the Vatican's new list of sins in time.

(Image © AP)

The Point Radio: Robo-Gospel

Robots sharing the Gospel? Please -- Scotty, beam me up!....


Click play above to listen.

Here is more on this story, and ideas on how to share your faith:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Robo-Gospel" »

There are a few heroes left

Kendall From now on, whenever I get that increasingly frequent feeling that the number of decent people left in the world could be counted on the fingers of one hand, I'll remember Dave Kendall and feel better.

(Online discussion of this article is here. It's worth a read as well, especially the remarks about Ephesians.)

(Image © The Washington Post)

March 11, 2008

Daily roundup

’Open Embrace’: A Follow-Up

When I went to get the Amazon link for your post on Open Embrace, Anne, I found this link to a "five years later" update at the Torodes' own website.

The update reads in part:

Five years down the road from writing Open Embrace, we’ve inevitably changed somewhat. Since we still get letters from people assuming that we haven’t changed at all, we wanted to give a brief update.

We've become parents of three children, and experienced many joys and struggles (from postpartum depression to whooping cough). While we still believe in the importance of family, we're more mellow about encouraging others to have more children.

Our personal experience in the past five years has shown that we had a lot to learn about NFP, and that there is a dark side we weren’t aware of. Though Open Embrace said that it only involves a short period of abstinence, we didn’t know that during breastfeeding cycles it often involves month-long periods of abstinence and dehabilitating stress. During such times (as well as during menopause and stressful life seasons), strict NFP reaches a point where it is more harmful for a marriage than good. We think that Jesus' words in Luke 11:46 apply: "And you experts in the law, woe to you, because you load people down with burdens they can hardly carry." . . .

You can read the rest at the link above.

While this change of heart has earned some jeers from Amazon reviewers, I find it totally understandable -- not because I've ever been married or had children, but because I've written so many things myself that now make me cringe whenever I look back at them. It's one of the writer's many occupational hazards, to the extent that I can say no more than "There but for the grace of God . . ."

Open--or Closed?

Pill I just finished reading a book called Open Embrace: A Protestant Couple Rethinks Contraception, by Sam & Bethany Torode. You may well wonder why, after nearly 30 years of matrimony, I'm consulting such a book: It's because I want my sons to think about the subject of contraception seriously, in a way Protestant couples were not encouraged to do in my day. And I want to do it before they are married or engaged or even seriously dating, when giving them such a book would smack of Marie Barone-style meddling.

The Torodes' view appears to be pretty similar to the traditional Catholic view, and I'm not going to start a war here about what is the proper Biblical view of contraception (I'll do that in a later post). I just want to mention a couple of things.

First, this book (like other books of its type) includes anecdotes about Christians who once used artificial contraception, saw the light, and now are much happier using Natural Family Planning. This sweet young couple seems to forget that Christian couples who are perfectly happy using contraceptive devices (and there are probably millions of them) tend not to write books and articles about it.

Second, while I believe this little book is thoughtful enough that I plan to give a copy to each of my sons, I (strongly) question some of its conclusions. For instance, what bothers me about NFP--which is apparently a quite successful approach if used faithfully--is that it allows couples to avoid pregnancy using a modern understanding of how the female reproductive system works--an understanding unavailable to every other generation in history. Is God really giving a special gift of knowledge to our generation only?

Continue reading "Open--or Closed?" »

Naked Sushi Bar: A Tasteless Experience

No doubt any critic of a relatively new form of hedonism to hit our shores will be dismissed as an unsophisticated puritan. Yet, let's take a closer and, yes, critical look at the fine culinary "art" of nyotaimori, which in Japanese means "female body presentation." You can read all about a Minneapolis restaurant that is getting some notoriety over this in this story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. (Warning: Story contains images of "human sushi platter[s]" that, while not really explicit, are still pretty disgusting.)

A similar restaurant in Seattle had to close down in 2003, following some protests by local feminist groups.

This is a great example of the age-old division in feminist camps. On one hand, there are those feminists (and Christians) who are concerned with the total objectification and exploitation of the woman for other people's purposes. Any activity that degrades or devalues women--be it pornography, prostitution, abuse, or lower wages--are called what they are: outrages, sin, or just simply wrong.

But there's the other branch of feminism, which is really more of a kind of radical individualism or hedonism masquerading as a concern for the rights of the woman, when nothing could be further from the truth. This is the line of thinking that tries to justify prostitution by lifting up subjective decision-making as the highest moral authority. "If she wants to make a living and says that she doesn't feel degraded, it's her call."

Continue reading "Naked Sushi Bar: A Tasteless Experience" »

Re: China to (Gradually) Scrap One-Child Policy?

Tragically, it doesn't look like it, despite earlier indications. According to Zhang Weiqing, minister of the National Population and Family Planning Commission:

[Two hundred] million people [will] enter childbearing age during the next decade and . . . prematurely abandoning the one-child policy could add unwanted volatility to the birth rate.

That's just about the same as requiring all of the "boomlets" (children of the baby boomers) to check in with the abortion clinic on their way to get their driver's licenses.

We can only pray that China's "boomlets" will have the courage to stand up against the evil of their predecessors.

Who do you say that I am?

Jesus queried His disciples, "Who do you say that I am?" I often forget that the answer to that question is deeper and harder than any I would want to answer. How do we go about getting to know the Lord, so that we can adequately answer that question? I don't think the answer is what most Christians want to hear.

I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Philippians 3:10-11).

Why would we want to share in Christ's sufferings and become like Him in His death, in the moment of his deepest agony and affliction? This seems the opposite of what we should aspire to. And yet, Paul writes that this is the way to know Christ.

On Sunday, Eric Simmons came and spoke to my church on Luke 9: 18-27 on picking up our crosses. The things that the disciples of Christ then and today share in common, is an expectation of God that is contrary to the will of God. We want a kingdom that endures forever. (Remember Jesus' rebuke of Peter--"Get behind me Satan"-- when he spoke of who God was accurately, and yet Peter's mind was on the things of earth.)

Continue reading "Who do you say that I am?" »

Freedom through Singing

Singing For a true story of hope and inspiration, you might be interested in watching and listening to this documentary trailer for The Singing Revolution.

It never rains but it pours

And Planned Parenthood is starting to get awfully wet.

(H/T FRC)

The Point Radio: Open Minds, Open Hearts

Parties, hooking up, and Greek life -- is that what college life has come to? Think again....


Click play above to listen.

Learn more about college students who are searching for truth, and ways to minister to them:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Open Minds, Open Hearts" »

March 10, 2008

Daily roundup

Is Atheism a Religion?

Army Specialist Jeremy Hall has filed a religious freedom lawsuit concerning a promotion that was blocked because he tried to hold a meeting with other atheists and non-Christians.

Atheists have been saying for years that their beliefs do not constitute a religion. Austin Cline states it this way:

The idea that atheism is a religion is one of the most common and ridiculous myths that religious believers try to spread. What’s especially annoying about this which separates it from just about all the other myths is that it requires such desperate twisting of logic and language that one has to wonder what is wrong with the people who repeat it.

If atheism isn’t a religion then how can Hall state his religious freedoms were restricted?

Then again, if it is a religion then why doesn’t Freedom From Religion file suit because atheists promote evolution? So, atheism isn’t a religion except when an atheist says it is. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

Continue reading "Is Atheism a Religion?" »

Tony Blair’s Faith

Check out this video about Tony Blair's faith, and why he was reluctant to speak about it while in office.

Do you think he was wrong or right to keep his faith private? Why?

Client 9

Breaking: Governor Eliot Spitzer of New York has been linked to a prostitution ring.

Re: Sell Me A Song

Gina,

Your post reminded me that I've been intending to ask you and others for a symphony recommendation.  I asked you months ago to recommend a Beethoven symphony other than the 9th (can anything beat the 9th? Doubt it.) and you came back with the 7th. I did buy it, and I do like it a great deal, even as I think you're nuts to think it better than the 9th.

My question to you and The Point's other Snooty Music Lovers is: What symphony -- of any composer -- do you think best stacks up to Beethoven's 9th? I've ruled out Beethoven's 7th. What else might have the majesty, the power, the emotion, and the beauty of The Symphony Too Wonderful To Be The European Union's Theme Even Though They Did In Fact Choose It?

Persecuted Christians

Two articles from Christian News Today are worth our attention and prayer. The first is "Christian Missionaries in Uzbekistan Accused of Being in League with Osama bin Laden": it alerts us to the rapid growth of more radical forms of Islam in places which used to be only "mildly" Islamic, and the growing threat this represents to the Christians living in those places. There's a new law in Uzbekistan, for instance, that labels anyone with two Bibles as a "missionary," a charge which carries a penalty of 3-5 years in jail. 

In the second article, "Persecution Increases for Jordanian Christians," the author remarks on the changing fortunes of Christians in what used to be a fairly tolerant society.  As Muslim radicals in Jordan work to bring about Sharia law, more and more Christians -- both native and foreign-born -- are being arrested if they do not agree to stop going to church. 

Reading articles like this shames me: like most comfortable, safe American Christians, I tend to spend entirely too much time focused on my own life, or to get caught up in the rabid political debates now consuming our attention. It's good to be reminded that there are bigger battles to be fought and Christian brethren who badly need our prayers and encouragement.   

Sell me a song!

Trebleclef2 I recently won an iTunes card, and I'm trying to figure out how to spend it. I've already picked out a few country songs and a show tune, and I may go for a classical piece (you all know my weird and wide-ranging tastes by now -- perhaps something from these guys would be fitting?). But that still leaves a dollar or two.

So I'm taking suggestions. Recommend some songs for me -- as many as you like, from any genre you like, though I reserve the right to snort at all rap and heavy metal choices. Tell me what's so great about them and let me know, if possible, if there are any free samples available online. I may not use any of the recommendations, but if I do use one of yours, there may be some free tunes in it for you too! (PFM employees and their relatives are welcome to make suggestions, but as always, prizes go only to those outside PFM. Thanks for your understanding.)

Reading for Holy Week

Man_born Having been justly taken to task by LeeQuod at Christmas for "reminding [him] . . . of DLS's 'The Man Born To Be King' **after** it's been checked out of the local library," I want to avoid the same mistake again. Actually, Dorothy L. Sayers's play cycle makes even better Holy Week reading than Christmas reading, as  the example of her friend and correspondent C. S. Lewis shows. Much like him, as many times as I've read my tattered and much-bookmarked copy, I've never failed to learn from it and to experience spiritual renewal.

In fact, given all this, maybe the library isn't the best option for this one -- maybe it's time to splurge! (And yes, that's yours truly gushing away in the Amazon review.) There's a preview available online from Google Books.

I found while researching this post, by the way, that the BBC just broadcast this play cycle in December -- but of course there's no recording available at this time. Darned Brits have all the luck!!

Roberto & Dave, Help Me Avoid Hell

Is the media properly understanding the announcement by the Vatican that "polluting the environment" is a mortal sin? And by "mortal sin" do they simply mean the same things that Protestants mean by "sin"? And what of the fact that "polluting" can be a subjective matter? After all, Gore-ists will consider certain acts to be "polluting" which I do not, due to our differing judgments of the science as presented by those we respectively find more reliable.

I'm just saying that if the Vatican is *seriously* saying, as the Telegraph claims, that telling the grocery clerk "Yes, plastic is fine, thank you" is a mortal sin, I'm just going to have a hard time suppressing a hearty guffaw.

A Bend in the Road

Road_c One of the most inspiring books I've read in recent years is David Jeremiah's A Bend in the Road, a record of many of the lessons Dr. Jeremiah learned when he was battling cancer. 

All of us, the book proposes, go through "disruptive moments" when life takes a sudden -- and mostly unwelcome -- turn.  It's in those moments, however, that God can draw us more closely to Himself than ever before if we will let Him. Dr. Jeremiah explores many facets of such a time of testing, and he frequently quotes from other writers to enhance his message -- for instance, these lovely, encouraging words from Warren Wiersbe: "When God permits His children to go through the furnace, He keeps His eye on the clock and His hand on the thermostat. His loving heart knows how much and how long (1 Peter 1:6-7)."

Dr. Jeremiah offers these Five Principles to Remember when you are going through a season of suffering:

1.  Disruptive Moments Are Often Divine Appointments

2.  Progress without Pain is Usually Not Possible

3.  The Promise of God is the Provision of Grace

4.  Disruptive Moments Produce Dynamic Growth

5.  What We Receive from Disruptive Moments Depends Upon How We Respond

If you are in the midst of a disruptive moment in your life (or know someone who is), I encourage you to pick up this book, or contact Turning Points ministry for an audio CD of the message.  I know many hurting people -- including members of my own family -- who have been greatly comforted from this particular message. I know you will, too.

(Image © 2pi.info)

Theology Puzzler #1: One Hack’s Response

If you haven’t noticed, there’s been a great discussion brewin’ among armchair theologians on The Point. It centers on a “puzzler” I trotted out on heaven: Will we have free will there? If so, will sin be possible; if not, should we expect a divine lobotomy upon our arrival?

That’s all it took to kick off some spirited dialogs. The exchanges between Rolley and Steve have been particularly thoughtful. Others including Jason, Mark, LeeQuod, and Steve (SBK) weighed in with their sage theological insights. You guys have been rockin’!

As for me--I’ve been hiding under my desk for fear of catching a stray arrow. But now it’s time to come out, stand tall and break the silence…

As I see it, this mystery involves three things: God’s character, cosmic history, and our glorification.

Continue reading "Theology Puzzler #1: One Hack’s Response" »

The Point Radio: The Politics of Peace or Panic

In a year already dominated by politics, how are you doing?...


Click play above to listen.

Here are a couple of resources for facing the political season with a biblical worldview:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: The Politics of Peace or Panic" »

March 07, 2008

Daily roundup

Malaria, Anyone?

Mosquito This news story gave me the willies: I can't imagine sitting in a hotel room allowing blood-sucking mosquitoes to bite me, let alone those I know are carrying malaria. But Seattle Biomedical Research Institute is paying volunteers to be bitten by malaria-laden mosquitoes. 

After contemplating the whole medical trial, one blessed by the FDA, I have some questions for medical professionals:

1. Why would this company want to conduct studies in the U.S. where it has largely been eradicated when there are other countries/people who are more likely to contract this disease?

2. I know there are preventive medicines for malaria, but is there really a cure for malaria once someone has contracted the disease?   

She Who Must Not Be Named

Here are the results of our poll on politics (thanks to Travis).

Total votes: 396

29.0% (114) would vote for the "lesser evil" of the popular candidates
58.1% (230) would vote for the most perfect candidate, even if he/she has no chance
1.8% (7) believe if there are no candidates good enough, Christians should sit it out
1.0% (4) said that Christians should not participate in politics
10.1% (40) voted for other

We have a lot of idealists around here! Thanks to all of you -- idealists, cynics, and everyone in between -- who took the time to participate.

As you may have noticed, we got our new poll up the other day. Here are a couple of articles to go with it:

I realize I just took my life in my hands. There's something about a Britney reference around here that seems to bring out a good deal of anger. But what's a little anger among friends?

Continue reading "She Who Must Not Be Named" »

They’re Not Buying What We’re Selling

In the book UnChristian, which has been discussed here before, David Kinnaman (President of the Barna Group) reports that between the "Elder" generation (60+) and the "Mosaics" (18-41), the unchurched population has increased three-fold from 12 million to 34 million. Interestingly, this isn't because we aren't sharing the gospel. To the contrary, in the typical year, according to Barna, around 50% of born-again Christians share their faith with unbelievers. That suggests that the problem is not because we're not evangelizing; rather, they just aren't buying what we're selling.

According to Kinnaman's data, one of the major reasons younger generations aren't "buying" is the hypocrisy they observe in Christians. Because "the man and message" don't match, evangelism is viewed as little more than a strategy to gain market share. And, like it or not, (as I’ve mentioned elsewhere), except for the 9% of Christians who embrace a biblical worldview, their observation is "spot on."

What this tells me is that our failure to reach the unchurched, is the result of focusing on our breadth (church attendance, budget and baptisms) rather than on our depth (spiritual maturity). We can't give to others what we ourselves don't have. 

So here are some questions: How does a church gauge its spiritual depth? What measures should it assess and monitor? How should it gather assessment results? And what should it do with the results it gathers?

A different kind of romance

Daisies Despite my liking for Kristin Chenoweth, I've never seen her show Pushing Daisies. It always looked overly cutesy, and cutesy shows make me want to run off and join Dorothy Parker's Society for the Abolition of Charm (or start a new one, if hers has gone defunct). Plus, I couldn't imagine how anyone could sustain for very long a conceit about a romance where two people can't even touch each other. I'm the last person on earth to advocate more sex on television, but maintaining a permanent six-inch rule with the love of one's life is a bit of a stretch even for me.

But Christianity Today's description of the show, with its emphasis on "love [that] requires work, compromise, and commitment," has me thinking twice. Am I maybe missing something good here? If you've seen the show, what do you think?

(Image © ABC)

Virtual book tour update

Tim Challies's question for Chuck Colson -- about the theological divide between Catholicism and Protestantism -- and Chuck's answer are up at Challies.com. In case you missed my post from last night about what this blog tour is all about, here's the scoop.

More Wisdom from Chuck Norris

My thanks to our Pointificator Rich Moore for providing a link to Chuck Norris's webpage. Here's another great commentary by Chuck, this time regarding school shootings. Aside from offering some pretty sound advice on what schools can do to help protect students and faculty from attack, he offers a larger perspective on the root of the problem:

As I've said in different ways in different settings, we teach our children they are nothing more than glorified apes, yet we don't expect them to act like monkeys. We place our value in things, yet expect our children to value people. We disrespect one another, but expect our children to respect others. We terminate children in the womb, but are surprised when children outside the womb terminate other children. We push God to the side, but expect our children to be godly. We've abandoned moral absolutes, yet expect our children to obey the universal commandment, "Thou shall not murder."

Well said, Chuck! I, for one, will be checking out more of his columns.   

CA: ’All Your Base Are Belong to Us’

Parents in the Socialist Republic of California should never forget to whom their kids belong. Them? Um, no. God? Oh please. No. The State? Finally -- yes, of course (duh).

[California] statutes require children ages 6 to 18 to attend a full-time day school, either public or private, or to be instructed by a tutor who holds a state credential for the child's grade level.

"California courts have held that ... parents do not have a constitutional right to homeschool their children," Justice H. Walter Croskey said in the 3-0 ruling issued on Feb. 28. "Parents have a legal duty to see to their children's schooling under the provisions of these laws."

The kicker:

"A primary purpose of the educational system is to train school children in good citizenship, patriotism and loyalty to the state and the nation as a means of protecting the public welfare," the judge wrote, quoting from a 1961 case on a similar issue.

Continue reading "CA: ’All Your Base Are Belong to Us’" »

The PJB

What's a PJB, you ask? The Poverty and Justice Bible, a new special edition being published by the Bible Society of the United Kingdom. I heard about it just the other morning as I read Bob Burney's article "Keep Your Green Thumb Off My Bible!"

At first, a Bible that spotlights the "'over 2000 verses that spell out God's attitude to poverty and justice'" didn't sound like such a bad idea: Americans are notoriously weak in this area. However, as Burney elaborated on the PJB's study guide, I began to understand -- and share -- his ire.

The "Do" section for Amos 5:21-24 offers this "challenge to a deeper walk with Christ": "'Cultivate a relationship with your garden (or window box). Show it you care.'" Right, I need to run out to my garden right now and kiss the dirt. That ought to do it!

It gets worse. The "Discover" section related to Romans 13:8-10 has this to say about Paul:

"Paul was a great traveler. It is estimated that he traveled more than 10,000 miles during his ministry. I wonder, if he were alive today, would he be zooming around Turkey on the Asia Minor equivalent of EasyJet? Would he be insulating his tent and reducing his carbon footprint?"

Burney sarcastically observes, "Do you remember the last time you closed your Bible and meditated on how much insulation Paul should have put in his tent?"

It gets even worse. 

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No @$#&!@* Zone

Sign2 When George Kelling and James Q. Wilson stumbled upon a social science breakthrough in the early 1980s, it helped turn New York city around. As local authorities fixed broken windows, cleaned up graffiti, and enforced consequences for petty crime, they found overall crime rates changing for the better in the city.

Now a 14-year-old boy is trying to do to public civility and discourse in Pasadena what the Broken Windows Theory did to crime in New York City. A high-schooler by the name of McKay Hatch has helped to start a no-cussing week in Pasadena, California. Could such a little action have a ripple effect? Stranger things have been known to happen.

Signs and Wonderings

Groucho So you'll recall Joseph's dream about the 7 fat cows and the 7 skinny cows; you'll remember the vision Daniel had of the four beasts, or maybe Ezekiel and his valley of dry bones.

A few days ago when I was leaving work, I found crushed beneath the back wheel of my car a pair of Groucho Marx glasses. Like Dorothy, who didn't despise a pair of ruby-red slippers poking out from her home tossed into Oz by a tornado, I picked them up. Isn't there some saying about not letting sleeping Groucho Marx glasses lie? But now I'm just wondering what the glasses mean or what special powers they may hold for me in the future.

Anyone have the gift of interpretation? I would love to hear your attempts at meaning. By the way, you'll be relieved to hear that unlike in Dorothy's situation, the glasses weren't attached to anyone in particular.

The Point Radio: You Never Asked

That neighbor you assumed will never attend church? You may be jumping to the wrong conclusion....


Click play above to listen.

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