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April 22, 2008

A Movie about Bullies

I took my two sons with me to see Ben Stein's Expelled on opening day. After the film was over, spontaneous applause broke out. I felt like I was at a football game and the home team had just scored.

Clearly the issue of evolution is a hot button in our culture. I seriously doubt that this ID-friendly film is going to move the hearts of Darwinists to suddenly question their beloved theory. In fact, it will just make Darwinists more mad. But they were pretty much mad to begin with, as the film makes clear.

The film does nothing to educate you on approaches to detecting design in objects. It is a lot of talking heads and amusing animated film clips interspersed throughout to prove a point. It is highly entertaining. But if you want to understand more about the mathematics of design inference, read a book.

The point is that some people, maybe a lot of people, are being treated unfairly because they have dared to doubt a cherished theory. In case after case, academicians and science professionals were shown who have been blacklisted, unfairly denied tenure, or fired. You walk away ticked off. Injustice makes Americans mad and it should. Americans hate bullies.

Continue reading "A Movie about Bullies" »

Not the question you expected

Prom "Girls love to talk about how they were asked," gushed one young woman in this article in the Washington Post, but the question they're being asked isn't the one you'd expect. Instead, apparently some of today's high school girls need elaborate displays of affection before agreeing to let a boy take them to prom. And not just the surprise-bouquet-of-flowers kind of displays. These are the kind of over-the-top displays that once signified popping a different question.

The Post writer attributes these extraordinary prom invitations to a reality TV show popular with teens, but I have to wonder if it's any coincidence that the teen ritual of prom has gotten overblown even as marriage has been cheapened.

(Image © The Washington Post)

Mea culpa

How often do you read words like these from a politician caught in a mess of his own making?

I'm not being whupped by the devil; I am being punished by my God. I know that my disobedience put me in the situation I am in.

-- Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick

The Point Radio: Domestic Deficit

What's your domestic deficit?...

Click play above to listen.

For more stewardship resources, visit Crown Financial Ministries.

April 21, 2008

Daily roundup

Stein Effectively Torments Intelligentsia

Expelled Expelled might not have been the most moving documentary I saw last week, but for a film that received an astounding 9 percent on the Tomato-meter, it was an overachiever, I'd say. Subtler and cleverer than the Michael Moore rants to which it will no doubt be compared, Ben Stein's defense of intelligent design education offers a biting (but not generally sensational) critique.

The movie's editorial commentary comes largely in the form of newsreel and black-and-white movie clips that amusingly make some profound points. Adding that to interviews with many of the big-name supporters of intelligent design, the film is well-constructed and appropriately paced, and it presents the foundational philosophical, scientific, and logical arguments in the debate.

Far more fascinating, though, are the interactions with some of ID's prominent opponents, who are given plenty of airtime to present their cases. It's an agenda-driven documentary, of course, but the soundbites are way too long to be simply discarded as editing sleights of hand. I can see why Richard Dawkins hates this movie so much -- did the God Delusion author really suggest that maybe intelligent aliens could have planted the first organisms on our planet? If anything, he must wish that the producers had edited out more of his contribution.

In the interviews with Dawkins and others, Expelled effectively reveals that at its most fundamental levels -- particularly regarding the origin of life -- evolutionary theory drifts into a question of philosophy or, ironically, faith.

Continue reading "Stein Effectively Torments Intelligentsia" »

The Stench of Hell

Screwtape_and_toadpipe Acrid smoke drifted up from the lower circles of hell, the floor was crooked and the sound most devilish, and oh my, the wall—but I can’t give it all away. Friday, Gina and I got to attend a dress rehearsal of The Screwtape Letters, starring Max McLean and Karen Eleanor Wight playing at the Lansburgh Theatre in Washington,D.C., till May 18, 2008.

In a past conversation with Max McLean, he told us that 30 percent of the success of a play depended on the scenery. Such a high figure surprised me, so I was doubly anxious to see their set in relation to the actors and story. Max was correct; the stage set works on many levels, and even snagged most of my senses like hearing, seeing, smelling, and for one brief moment feeling.

Sy commented under my last post, “A Sizzling Drama,” it is an “insightful, witty, well-staged play worth seeing.” I second that!

(Image © Gerry Goodstein)

A very special appearance

Do you ever get the feeling that this presidential race is getting a little . . . silly?

Redeeming divorce

It was a different sort of class reunion when David Jefferson gathered classmates from his 1982 high school graduating class. These were all former classmates who shared the bond of having divorced parents. He writes, "In our parents' generation, marriage was still the most powerful social force. In ours, it was divorce. My 44-year-old classmates and I have watched divorce morph from something shocking, even shameful, into a routine fact of American life.”

Jefferson wanted to find out how their parents’ divorces had shaped the lives of his classmates. He details their stories in a Newsweek article.

The stories of David Jefferson’s classmates are not unique. They are almost mundanely familiar to anyone who has experienced divorce as a child or has read about children of divorce. There was Chris, whose parents’ divorce split up his siblings as well, and Laurie who couldn’t get along with either her new stepmother or her new stepfather. There was Elyse, who cleaned house and made dinner and mixed her mom’s drinks, and there was Deborah who became a five-year-old jetsetter, flying cross-country to split her time between her divorced parents.

While some of Jefferson’s classmates wound up divorced, others were able to break the cycle. Jefferson writes, “In many ways, the urge to stay married is stronger in my classmates' generation than the urge to get divorced was in my parents'. Perhaps this was a backlash to divorce; maybe it was the result of reaching marrying age just as President Reagan's New Conservatism was shaping the social order. Whatever the cause, my married classmates seem more clear-eyed than their '50s forebears.”

Still, in the end, the best insight Jefferson can offer Newsweek readers is that their parents’ divorces were “probably for the best” and that children of divorce can find “acceptance of our parents and their life choices.”

Continue reading "Redeeming divorce" »

Have Americans Become More Corrupt?

Mueller When Robert Mueller, Director of the FBI, gave a speech at a conference on April 17, he asked “Have we, as a society, become more corrupt? Or have we in the FBI simply become more adept at rooting out fraud and corruption?"

The short answer is that Americans have always been corrupt. The Bible tells us this in Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?”

The FBI probably has improved in rooting out fraud and corruption, resulting in increased convictions. However, I believe the real reason for the majority of this increase falls at the feet of postmodernism. Postmodernism believes there is no transcendent truth . . . . everything is relative. Once society starts down such a path, as Mueller stated, “it is a slippery slope from behavior that skirts ethical or legal boundaries to behavior that crosses the line completely.”

Today we justify any number of behaviors that not so long ago would neither have been tolerated nor accepted. This country was founded on Judeo-Christian principles that included specific moral restraints to discourage such behaviors. As those moral restraints are removed, the number of corruption/fraud cases can only increase. And it won’t end there, as Americans can no longer differentiate between right and wrong. American society is discarding its virtue and opting for a standard that moves away from light and into darkness.

In How Now Shall We Live? Chuck Colson writes that schools no longer teach right or wrong precepts, leading to disastrous consequences. As Chuck states, “The death of virtue threatens our very liberty as a people.”

Continue reading "Have Americans Become More Corrupt?" »

Take that, John Lennon

I think a healthy society needs both God and guns: it benefits from a belief in some kind of higher purpose to life on earth, and it requires a self-reliant citizenry. If you lack either of those twin props, you wind up with today’s Europe — a present-tense Eutopia mired in fatalism. A while back, I was struck by the words of Oscar van den Boogaard, a Dutch gay humanist (which is pretty much the trifecta of Eurocool). Reflecting on the Continent’s accelerating Islamification, he concluded that the jig was up for the Europe he loved, but what could he do? “I am not a warrior, but who is?” he shrugged. “I have never learned to fight for my freedom. I was only good at enjoying it.”

Sorry, it doesn’t work like that. If you don’t understand that there are times when you’ll have to fight for it, you won’t enjoy it for long.

-- Mark Steyn, "God and Guns," National Review Online

Whose Milkshake?

Over at the New Republic, Jonathan Chait rightly calls bovine scat on some of the mainstream media's remarks to Senator Obama's "bitter" remarks:

I was planning to let it go, I really was, until George F. Will decided to leap to the defense of the proletariat. Yes, that George F. Will. The fabulously wealthy, bow tie-wearing, pretentious reference-mongering, Anglophilic fop who grew up in a university town as a professor's son . . .  had he dwelt for any extended time among the working class, would be lucky to escape without his underwear being yanked up over his ears.

Bill O'Reilly's or Tim Russert's endless invocations of their working-class backgrounds are the equivalent of the campus activist who introduces every opinion by saying "As a woman of color . . . ." (The one difference being that the latter really is a woman of color, while the former are multimillionaires who retain only the most remote connection to blue-collar life.)

Yep, yep, yep. Then Chait, addressing the "substance" of Senator's Obama remarks, continues that

nobody's challenging the validity of caring more about your religion, or even your right to hunt, than your income. The objection is whether it makes sense to vote on that basis.

"Sense" to whom? The whole Thomas Frank thesis that underlies both Obama's and Chait's comments has been pretty much discredited and, in any case, as liberals such as Mark Schmitt have pointed out, who says that economic issues must take precedence over cultural/social concerns?

Continue reading "Whose Milkshake?" »

Faith in six words

First there was the "epitaph in six words" challenge that made its way around the Internet. Now the Washington Post adds an intriguing twist:

. . . We're asking that you define faith in exactly six words, the same number that Ernest Hemingway used in what he is rumored to have called his greatest work: "For sale, baby shoes, never worn." We look forward to seeing what your six-word answers are to one of life's bigger questions.

You can submit your entries to the Post via the link above, and also share them in our comment section if you wish. But bear in mind, two of the best ones have already been taken.

The pope and the disabled

Pope One of Pope Benedict XVI's "most intimate public event[s]" during his trip to the United States was his blessing of a group of disabled youths and their caregivers in Yonkers, New York. He told them:

God's unconditional love, which bathes every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human life. . . . Through his cross, Jesus in fact draws us into his saving love and in so doing shows us the way ahead -- the way of hope which transfigures us all, so that we too, become bearers of that hope and charity for others.

Sadly, according to this Catholic PRWire release, the pope learned this fundamental lesson in an unspeakably tragic way.

As a boy of fourteen, Joseph Ratzinger had a cousin who had been born with Down's Syndrome, only a bit younger than himself. In 1941, German state "therapists" came to the boy's house and probably informed the parents of the government regulation that prohibited mentally handicapped children from remaining in their parents' home. In spite of the family's pleas, the representatives of the Nazi state took the child away. The Ratzinger family never saw him again. Later the family learned that he had "died," most likely murdered, for being merely "undesirable," a blemish in the race, and a drain on the productivity of the nation. This was Joseph Ratzinger's first experience of a murderous philosophy that asserts that some people are disposable.

At a time when children with Down syndrome are once again being systematically slaughtered, may the pope's experience with "a murderous philosophy that asserts that some people are disposable," and his resulting understanding of the value of each human life, help bring us to our senses.

(Image © The New York Times)

The Point Radio: Never Too Late

Her final words were filled with remorse and pain....

Click play above to listen.

For more resources for helping women struggling with the guilt of an abortion, visit the websites for Care Net and Abortion Changes You.

April 18, 2008

Does the Road to Peace Run Through Hamas?

Jimmy_carter Chuck Colson has an important and timely commentary today about the vulnerability of Israel. Important because it discusses the extensive ramifications of a rash decision to withdraw from Iraq. And timely because it directly contradicts this week's actions and statements by former President Jimmy Carter, who has apparently taken it upon himself to conduct "peace talks" with Hamas leaders.

More telling than Carter's questionable decision, however, are the words of a Hamas founder and foreign minister, which were published in the Washington Post (along with an appropriately stern editorial rebuttal). Mahmoud al-Zahar lambastes violence by Israel but ignores or justifies the atrocities of his own organization. He claims a desire for negotiations without preconditions, but then creates a list of demands that must be met.

Such distortions seem to par for the course in Middle East politics, but whatever President Carter's intentions, we don't gain anything by playing along.

(Image © AFP)

Truth in Advertising

With debates raging in New York and California over requirements that might make restaurant owners publish the nutritional information of their fast food items, Daily News columnist Lisa Swan comments that there may be some warning labels that would be a little too honest. Here are just a few:

Label on E=MC2, Mariah Carey's new album: "May contain airbrushing, high notes only dogs can hear, and over-the-top emoting. Oh, and Mariah really doesn't know what E=MC2 means." . . .

Disclaimer on a pair of 5-inch designer heels: "News flash: You do not have feet built like Barbie. No matter how pretty these shoes look, wearing them will have you hobbling like Curt Schilling by the end of the day." . . .

Label on the Juno DVD: "Being 16 and pregnant isn't as fun as it appears to be in this movie. Sorry."

Fine print on Yankees-Red Sox tickets: "Don't expect this game to end in under four hours. Or to get food at the concession stand in under 30 minutes. Enjoy the game."

What would you add?

Pre-? Mid-? Post-? A-? -- Does Our Eschatology Matter?

Back in March, I wrote a post called "Knowing When It's Time to Leave." Yesterday, a Pointificator known as JS indicated that he read that post just after he had walked out of a church he had attended for more than ten years.

He left because of what his pastor was teaching on eschatology: specifically, the view of the endtimes outlined in the Left Behind series. JS wondered if Chuck Colson has ever addressed this issue, which is a question I'm not qualified to answer. It seems to me I remember Chuck mentioning something about the Left Behind books at one of the Centurion residencies, but it may have only been something that came up on our private blog site. I just don't remember. 

But, JS didn't mince any words in expressing his view: he urges Christians to "WALK OUT when they see the abomination speaking from their own pulpit as well as from a fictional book" -- which I found a rather clever turn of phrase regarding the actions of the anti-Christ (the abomination of desolation) in the middle of the Tribulation.

However, JS's words create a dilemma for me. You see, while I have only read a few of the Left Behind books (as works of literature, they bore me to death), I don't personally have a problem with the view of the endtimes that they espouse, probably because I've spent more than 35 years being taught by incredible Bible scholars and pastors who share that view -- including one of my favorites, Dr. David Jeremiah. Over the years, I've studied other points of view, and even had some pretty lively debates with my fellow Centurions over these issues. 

Continue reading "Pre-? Mid-? Post-? A-? -- Does Our Eschatology Matter?" »

Q&A with Brett and Alex Harris, Day 5 of 5

Brett_alex_5 If you've missed this week's interview with Brett and Alex Harris, authors, of the new book Do Hard Things, I hope you'll click back to read installments 1, 2, 3, and 4. Today, I've got one final question for the young authors.

Catherine: Last, what hard things have you both planned on tackling in the next two to five years? What are you setting your sights on?
Alex: We wish we could say we had a full five year or ten year plan for our lives, but honestly, we never could have predicted what God has done over the last two years and we don’t know what He has in store for us in the immediate future either. We will be going to school together this fall at Patrick Henry College in Virginia. We’ll continue to write and speak, running the website and doing conferences, while we’re in school, and we’ll probably remain engaged at some level in our “side interests” of politics and filmmaking.

Brett: Whatever we do, we know we’ll continue to “do hard things” in every season of life we find ourselves, and we’ll be exhorting our peers to do the same.

(Image © Noble Institute)

Who has more fun than Christians?

Seriously, who else gets to hang out with the Closer, the Almost-er, the Gun Slinger, the Rambler, and occasionally even the rare Shot Blocker? If you've spent any time at all praying in a group at church or school, I defy you to get through this one without spraying your coffee all over the computer screen.

A Sizzling Drama

Screwtape3 For 10 brief seconds, during the chat that Gina mentioned to you earlier, actor Max McLean slipped into his role as Screwtape: "My dear Wormwood, Do remember...the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.  Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape." 

With few words but plenty of drama, I was hooked and can't wait to see the play The Screwtape Letters, which opened yesterday at the Lansburgh Theater in Washington, D.C. Max McLean, I am sure, will give a positively sizzling performance as Screwtape. Listening to him talk at our meeting, I thought, wow, he’s got a wonderful ability to take the written word and bring life to it—that's real power.   

Max's creative ability to act is a definite calling. What he is doing is fulfilling our Creator’s call by performing in theater. In this case, he is creating a believable, though fiendish, character from a well-known spiritual drama.   

Drama is important because it gives words flesh. Drama displays the reality in which we live—both seen and unseen. It makes the abstract concrete and joins the “metaphysical…to the physical,” explains English professor Ester Wiens. The perennial drama is the struggle for man’s soul, which always makes a powerful story precisely because none of us have escaped from the struggle between good and evil.

Continue reading "A Sizzling Drama" »

Get ’Expelled’

Expelled Reviewer MaryAnn Johanson of FlickFilosopher wails in her Expelled review (profanity alert), "You need to see this movie because these people are not going away." Excellent advice (and even better prognosticating). Go catch Expelled at a theater near you this weekend, and whether you're one of "these people" or a skeptic, share your thoughts with us in the comment section. We'd like to hear what you think.

If all goes according to plan today, we'll have more on the film and its star later this evening.

The Point Radio: Remember When

Where were you on November 7, 1991?...

Click play above to listen.

Learn more about Brad Williams and his incredible gift.

April 17, 2008

Daily roundup

Our Divine Imprint

...What is the nature of man’s nature? As the Psalmist asked—and philosophers, mystics, and reflective thinkers of every age have pondered—“What is man that you are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4)

Is man a stimulus-response organism that won out over his knuckle-dragging neighbors on the exit from the savannah? Is he a robotic machine blindly programmed by “selfish genes”? Or is he a free-willed being created by God?

In the biblical account, God infuses a clump of clay with “the breath of life” to create beings in His image. That suggests something immaterial about our humanness. The Scriptures associate the incorporeal faculties of heart, mind, and conscience with our “spirit.” For it is there that our religious yearning (heart), rational ability (mind), and moral compass (conscience) dwell. Each is a part of our divine imprint... Continue reading.

It’s Time to Weep Real Tears for Our Society

A Yale art major has stirred controversy after displaying her senior art project. Aliza Shvarts says controversy is exactly what she wanted to happen. Shvarts’ art exhibition is a nine month documentation of how she artificially inseminated herself 'as often as possible.' After becoming pregnant, Shvarts would take abortion drugs to induce a miscarriage...

Update: Thank God, the story turns out to be untrue. Shvarts has acknowledged that she did not actually become pregnant or have any abortions. Go here and here for details. Thanks to commenters Jim and Matt for alerting us. --GRD

Q&A with Brett and Alex Harris, Day 4 of 5

Nc_alex_brett_3_blog The interview continues with Brett and Alex Harris, authors of Do Hard Things. If you missed days 1, 2, and 3, click the links above to read them.

Catherine: I’m guessing that because so many twenty- to thirty-year-olds are “failing to launch” that your message has resounded with a few of them also. Have you had any interactions with people in that age range who have told you that your message has really convicted them personally?

Alex: We have, actually. We speak to teens, because we’re teens ourselves, but the growth that happens when a person chooses to do hard things is not limited to teens, or even to young people. It’s God’s truth for how we’ve been made to grow. So we’ve had parents come up to us at our events and tell us that they needed the message more than their teen did, college students who have been inspired to stop coasting and buckle down. It’s never too late to do hard things, and it’s always worth it.

Catherine: If you could dream out loud for a moment, how would this nation look differently in ten to twenty years if young adults across this country really grabbed a hold of your message and started changing their lives accordingly?

Brett: Wow, I don’t know if we could fully describe what that would look like, but it would be revolutionary. One of our favorite quotes is where G.K. Chesterton said, “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting, it has been found difficult and left untried.” Our dream is that our generation would be the generation that finds it difficult and yet still tries.

(Image © The Rebelution)

Why Do You Love America?

Flag A common mantra by liberals these days (and for the past few years) has been that the world doesn't respect America anymore. They claim that because of the policies of the Bush administration, we have become the most hated nation in the world (or at least, a close second to Israel, depending on the poll). 

Whether this is a myth or the truth is not my concern at the moment. Nor am I concerned with exploring the many problems that we know exist within our nation (what country doesn't have problems and policies that need fixing?). What I would like to know -- from those of you who actually love this country -- is why. How would you explain your love for America to people from places like France, Japan, Kenya, or Argentina?   

Hi, I’m Rigging

My friend Mike Holland, who's spent some time on mission trips to Zimbabwe recently, sends along a list of names of babies born after that country's elections. The Zimbabweans deserve credit for "using humour to deal with the stress," but as Mike points out, life for a kid named Rigging Hamadziripi is probably not going to be easy. (Just the "Hamadziripi" part would be tough enough, I would think.)

Academic Freedom Loses Again

For those who think that the object of science is to follow the truth wherever it leads, there’s this in from the AP: “Some scientists are urging Florida's Legislature to reject a bill that would protect teachers from being fired if they present information challenging evolution.”

If you’re wondering why any scientific theory should be immune from criticism in institutions which are supposedly training young people for critical thinking, it’s because the stalwarts of science orthodoxy have proclaimed, ex academia, that evolution is “a scientific fact” and that its alternative, Intelligent Design, is “religion posing as science.” Neither is true.

ID is a research program to discover, scientifically, whether the design in nature, universally acknowledged in the scientific community, is actual or merely apparent. ID does not deny the validity of evolutionary processes—only that naturalistic mechanisms alone are unable to account for the complexity of life. ID is based on scientific criteria and empirical data, similar to that used in fields like archaeology, to determine the authenticity of human artifacts; forensics, to distinguish death by natural causes from murder; and cryptography, to decide whether a collection of symbols is a random string of characters or a message of human origin. ID does not attempt to answer or address whether the designer is divine or extraterrestrial, mortal or immortal, or of natural or supernatural origin. The only attribute ID is concerned with is intelligence. Hence, contrary to all the fear-mongering since Dover, there is no religion being smuggled in with ID.

Darwinian evolution is another story. Despite the exercised assertions of the evolutionary establishment, Darwinian evolution is not a fact; it's a theory, and not a particularly scientific one at that, for several reasons: 

Continue reading "Academic Freedom Loses Again" »

When good ideas go bad

Raising money to end breast cancer: Great idea.

Raising money to end breast cancer by putting these slogans on infants' and children's clothing: Not such a great idea.

The Point Radio: Searching

Did you know that nearly one half of all Americans leave the faith they were brought up with?...

Click play above to listen.

April 16, 2008

Daily roundup

Q&A with Brett and Alex Harris, Day 3 of 5

Brett_alex_laptops Catherine: One of your five principles is collaboration. I’ve studied a lot about how change happens in this world, and from Clapham to the Inklings, it seems that God unleashes good things when his children quit seeing themselves as solo acts and learn they are part of an ensemble. The community inherent in collaboration also provides a healthy corrective when we may be straying off path. Do you think the Internet and social networking sites have made collaboration easier for young people today?

Alex: Absolutely. Our generation has a greater ability to reach out and touch lives on the other side of the world than any generation in history. Modern technology makes big-time collaboration possible for any teen with a computer. And at the same time, our generation faces more distractions than any generation in history. The Internet and social networking sites can be used to advance world-changing causes, or they can be used to waste an incredible amount of time. That’s why we challenge teens to use technology as tools, not toys. That’s the distinction.

Catherine: While your book is just now releasing, you’ve already been talking about these things on your blog, www.therebelution.com, and at conferences. How have you seen the principles you’ve put forth in this book already start to change people’s lives? Can you tell us a few examples of teens who’ve been inspired by the things you’ve been discussing and have attempted some difficult things?

Brett: Our book is full of stories like that, and I don’t know if I can do them justice here, but let me share a few more recent stories that come to mind. We’ve had twelve year olds go home from a conference with a vision to reach out to the four and five year olds in their church, and now they’re developing a curriculum for teaching kids about God’s attributes. We’ve had hundreds of teens write to us to let us know that they were stepping past their fears to start a Bible study at their school or to speak up for Christ at a church or school event. There have been twentysomethings who have gone from working a job to totally switching gears and going to law school so they could lobby for the pro-life cause.

Alex: What’s exciting is to see how young people who have always felt that there was more to life than what society was giving them are discovering that they’re not alone. What we call the “Rebelution” isn’t something we’ve engineered, it really is something God is doing in the hearts of young people around the world. We’ve been able to put their heart cry into words, and that’s exciting.

RE: Let Go and Let Obama?


I'm not surprised by Obama's remarks. He has been sitting under Jeremiah Wright's Black Liberation Theology teaching for 20 years. As my BreakPoint article on this theological system points out, it has a Marxist bent. While Barack publicly sidesteps Wright, his words reveal the influence of Wright on his views.

However I'm not sure Wright believes what he preaches, as he is building a 10,000 sq ft house in a white gated community right off of a golf course. Not bad for someone who is oppressed by white people.

One year later

Odell On the first anniversary of the Virginia Tech massacre, a student and a doctor share their memories, and their efforts to heal.

(Image © The Washington Post)

So Long to Harmless Note-Passing

I don't mean to pretend that things were better in the "good old days." But still, in the days of note-passing, while a girl might still have propositioned a guy, it wasn't likely that the note would contain a nude photo.

Now, studies are saying, exchanging nude pics via cellphones has become part of modern teen dating rituals. Truly, I feel for parents having to raise kids in this generation and for the teens who are facing these kinds of new dynamics. I think about young men or young women who might receive these kinds of messages unsolicited--as the article discusses--and wish somehow we could protect them.

Let the Games Be Green

Beijing As ever, Chinese citizens are bearing the brunt of bad governmental policy, but this time people around the world are complicit in their suffering.

Chinese officials are siphoning off water from some drought-stricken areas to ensure the Beijing landscape is green--all because the Olympic Games are being held there.   

As the saying goes, "pride goeth before a fall," but this time the people who will be falling aren't the ones being prideful.   

(Image © AP)

Are We Looking at a Second, Trickier Cold War?

It seems that despite our best efforts, Iran is undeterred in its quest for nuclear power. Columnist Charles Krauthammer is warning America to dust off its Holocaust Declaration. 

Let Go and Let Obama?

Jonah Goldberg on Barack Obama's "cling to guns or religion" comment:

I don't mind him saying that small town blue collar workers are bitter over lost jobs. I think that's objectively true in some cases and perfectly defensible as a general statement. The offending word here is "cling." It's a word drenched in haughtiness and condescension. We cling to rocks when we are caught in a current. Obama's imagery suggests that because the economic tide is receding these people are clinging to God and guns, presumably to compensate for the undertow. But he also suggests that if the economic tide were rising these same people would let go of God and guns and ride the currents to happier and more progressive lands where everyone thinks like Obama. In his telling Pennsylvania was once Belgium on the Susquehanna — cheese parties, Sam Harris book clubs etc — and it can be again if only these people get good enough jobs to lay down their guns and bibles. As just about everyone has observed by now, this is a fundamentally Marxist way of looking at the world and Obama deserves to be called on it.

Over-analysis of a candidate's misstatement? Or insightful summary of Obama's fundamental worldview?

A Marriage Proposal Only a Techie Could Love

Bejeweled Guys, seriously, unless your girlfriend is as big a technophile as you are, this is a very bad idea. Had it been me, it just might have been "Game Over."

(Image © PopCap Games)

The Point Radio: Your Life in Just Six Words

Six words to summarize a life?...

Click play above to listen.

Find out more about this idea:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Your Life in Just Six Words" »

April 15, 2008

Daily roundup

’The talk’ gets trickier

Talk Maybe I should be thanking my lucky stars I'm not yet a parent. Sounds like the job is getting more and more difficult. (Adult themes.)

(Image © The Washington Post)

Re: Dave Barry ... tax advice

Thank you Gina. Barry's column was a true laugh-out-loud delight. And I notice that he channels our own dear Stephen Reed:


And this is only one teeny example of the ways in which your tax dollars help congresspersons stay in office. The entire state of West Virginia is covered with a dense layer of federally funded buildings named after Sen. Robert Byrd, who will still be in office centuries after his death, which for all we know has already occurred.

Chump change

Would you turn down $50,000? That's the question discussed in a New York Times article on doctors and researchers who are beginning to turn down the honoraria and other compensation they have long been given by pharmaceutical, food and medical device companies for speaking and serving on boards.

The scientists say their decisions were private and made with mixed emotions. In at least one case, the choice resulted in significant financial sacrifice. While the investigators say they do not want to appear superior to their colleagues, they also express relief. At last, they say, when they offer a heartfelt and scientifically reasoned opinion, no one will silently put an asterisk next to their name.

As the article points out, sometimes the honoraria that taint a doctor's credibility are actually small in the grand scheme of things. But for one of the researchers profiled in the article, making the decision not to accept these payments meant selling his home and moving to more modest digs. This, in an atmosphere where "five years ago, 'nobody paid any attention to taking money from industry. They just took it. In some instances, I think people thought they were suckers if they didn’t.'”

For some of the doctors in the article, the issue was quite simply one of integrity and ethics. For others, however, the decision to no longer accept the money had to do more with peer pressure and public scrutiny. Sometimes the fear of a little public shame can be a good thing.

Isn’t there a happy medium?

Either kids are being sent off on their own for a journey through the urban jungle, or they're being forbidden to play tag.

I'm not yet a parent, but I feel compelled to ask (humbly): Couldn't we maybe find some sort of middle ground?

Whom Do You Want to Meet in Heaven?

This past weekend, I attended a retreat for my Sunday School class. One of the speakers talked about heaven, primarily using information he had gleaned from Randy Alcorn's book Heaven. Along the way, we were asked two questions: 

1.  What would you like to do in heaven that you haven't had a chance to do in this life? 
2.  Aside from Jesus, family members, and friends, who is the first person you want to meet when you get to heaven?

Interesting, nearly 75% of the group said that they wanted to learn to do something musical -- for instance, play the piano or sing. Because we were running out of time, we didn't get around to answering the second question, though my answer would have been Oswald Chambers, whose My Utmost for His Highest has been such a wonderful resource in my spiritual walk. I want to hear "the rest of his story" (I suspect we'll spend a good portion of eternity sharing our stories with one another), and tell him thank you. Perhaps, I should be even more happy and grateful to meet his wife, who recorded his sermons in shorthand: her notes formed the basis of the books that were published after his death. 

Out of curiosity, how would you answer those questions? 

How dare I say such a thing!

Gotta love the wording of this article, in which Richard Dawkins responds scathingly to himself.

In [Expelled], Dawkins offers a surprising admission that Intelligent Design may indeed be the way life started and he's responded with a blistering attack on [Ben] Stein, one of America's most beloved figures immortalized in the classic film "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," for visiting the Holocaust Memorial at Dachau.

Maybe somebody should host a debate between Richard Dawkins and Richard Dawkins.

UPDATE: Steve comments that my link leads to the movie website, not to the article. My apologies. The article was e-mailed to me and I assumed (which I should not have done) that the link went directly to it. We're trying to find a direct link, so stay tuned . . .

Q&A with Brett and Alex Harris, Day 2 of 5

Brettalexbrickwallone Today, my interview with Brett and Alex continues about their new book, Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations. If you didn't catch yesterday's installment, click here.

Catherine: Tell our readers briefly about the five “hard things” you are encouraging young adults to tackle in your book.

Brett: The first kind of hard thing we talk about is “hard things that take you outside your comfort zone.” That’s where everything starts. Everyone’s comfort zone is different, but it’s only when we’re willing to go outside of it, to do something new, to try something we’re not necessarily good at, that we experience growth.

Alex: The second kind of hard thing is “hard things that go beyond what is expected or required.” That goes to the heart of what it means to rebel against low expectations. In a culture of mediocrity, just getting by, or even being “above average” is not enough. The goal is growth and excellence.

Brett: The third one is “hard things that are too big for you to do alone.” The fourth is “hard things that don’t pay off immediately,” what we call “small hard things.” And the fifth is “hard things that go against the crowd.”