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May 22, 2008

The Point Radio: Tackling Crime

There is one Heisman Trophy winner who's off to prison!...

Click play above to listen.

Read more of Tim Tebow's story and commitment to the Kingdom at ESPN.com

May 21, 2008

Daily roundup

Generational Angst (or 3 Paragraphs Dedicated to Roberto)

Polyester This isn't even what the article from which I'm excerpting is about, but I just loved this section:

Don't moan. I'm not going to "pass the wisdom of one generation down to the next." I'm a member of the 1960s generation. We didn't have any wisdom.

We were the moron generation. We were the generation that believed we could stop the Vietnam War by growing our hair long and dressing like circus clowns. We believed drugs would change everything -- which they did, for John Belushi. We believed in free love. Yes, the love was free, but we paid a high price for the sex.

My generation spoiled everything for you. It has always been the special prerogative of young people to look and act weird and shock grown-ups. But my generation exhausted the Earth's resources of the weird. Weird clothes -- we wore them. Weird beards -- we grew them. Weird words and phrases -- we said them. So, when it came your turn to be original and look and act weird, all you had left was to tattoo your faces and pierce your tongues. Ouch. That must have hurt. I apologize.

Read P. J. O'Rourke's "commencement advice you're unlikely to hear elsewhere." (H/T Thunderstruck)

(Image via CartoonStock.com)

America’s #1 Addiction

Porn_nation I turned on a local radio station’s morning show on the drive in today and was surprised to hear Michael Leahy, author of Porn Nation: Conquering America’s #1 Addiction, on the air. Surprised, because this particular show is more likely to feature a purveyor than a detractor of pornography. For that very reason, Michael Leahy was right where he needed to be (a fact confirmed by the nature of the callers to the show, both male and female sadly enough, defending recreational pornography use).

I haven’t read Leahy’s book yet, but I have to appreciate the surprisingly respectful platform he was given on this particular morning show, and for nearly an hour, to speak frankly and openly about the negative effects of pornography on the culture, media, family, and Church. Yes, without snide remarks from others, he was able to speak about the role of faith in recovery.

One observation he made—which has been made before—is the sad irony about sex in American culture being something no one talks about, with one's kids or spouses or congregation, while at the same time we are steeped in sexual images no matter where we go. Thus, he spoke on this radio show of the need for the Church to lead, rather than turn a blind eye, in talking about the problem of pornography and what healthy sexuality is all about. (Speaking of, Christopher West’s back article on “theology of the body” from BreakPoint WorldView will be posted on our website next week. It provides the perfect starting place for thinking rightly about sexuality and the body.)

Leahy has been speaking on college campuses, drawing in audiences with provocative images and then giving convicting talks about the problem that porn causes for relationships, how it leads us to objectify and disrespect fellow humanity. And the campus is the perfect place to talk about it, since, as he notes in his book: This is “Generation Sex,” the first generation “to grow up with Internet porn.” (He also speaks at conferences, businesses, and churches.)

Continue reading "America’s #1 Addiction" »

Smut Stuff

Iron_man_tony_stark Who would have thunk that BigChurch, a “Christian” dating service, was really a money maker for Penthouse.

And that's only one way that porn producers' flagging sales may be getting a boost. Their influence is also being seen through action-adventure heroes. 

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to see Iron Man, an action movie/comic hero tale. I won't say much about the storyline (evil businessman sells weapons to terrorists--no, I'm not going to get weapons technology now), except the hero was a womanizing whiskey guzzler. 

What made me sigh from weariness was two scenes: our jaded hero, played by Robert Downey, Jr., amuses himself on his private fight by watching strippers dressed like stewardesses. The other moment comes when said hero decides to attend a party and he greets someone who looks a lot like Hugh Hefner with a "Hi, Hef."  (Supposedly the real "Hef" wasn't in on the deal.)

Promoters of smut have long tentacles and the tenacity of a horror movie monster.

(Image © Paramount)

The ’Beloved Community’

There has been a lot of discussion about race lately, particularly regarding this year's election (think Geraldine Ferraro, accused of racism, who's now spitting back that Obama's a sexist -- next the livestock will complain the candidates are all specieists because they're . . . human), but also in regards to the Church.

So it's a fitting time to publish another BreakPoint WorldView back article: "The 'Beloved Community': Race, Reconciliation, and the Multiethnic Church" by Maria Garriott, who founded Faith Christian Fellowship (PCA) with her husband, Rev. Dr. Craig Garriott, in Baltimore in 1980.

A snippet:

The Church was multiethnic and multilingual from its earliest days by divine design, and will be so in heaven. As DeYoung, Emerson, Yancey, and Kim point out in United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race, "the diverse and inclusive nature of early congregations did not occur by accident. This outcome was the result of embracing the vision and strategy of Jesus." On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out not only on Jews from Israel, but also on those "from every nation under heaven," creating a smorgasbord of three thousand believers from Asia, Africa, and Europe. This new faith was so inclusive and radical that a new vocabulary was needed; the word Christian was coined in the multiethnic city of Antioch, Syria. In Acts 6, the apostles intentionally included diverse groups in the distribution of food and in the selection of the first deacons. Paul tells the Ephesians that in purchasing our redemption and reconciling us to God, Jesus has also broken down "the dividing wall of hostility" between formerly separated people groups. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." The book of Revelation describes a heavenly city of worshippers from every tribe and nation.

Pastors who lead multiethnic churches agree that including people from diverse backgrounds is difficult. If you scratch beneath the surface, America’s painful racial history lurks, fueling resentment, anger, denial, and guilt. Differing perspectives on church culture or worship styles can take on a racial subtext. "The struggle to maintain unity in Antioch reminds us that racial reconciliation and multicultural congregations often come at a cost and with sacrifice," write the authors of United By Faith. Nevertheless, they call for a multiracial movement: "The twenty-first century must be the century of multiracial congregations." As Billy Graham said, "No other force exists besides the church that can bring people together week after week and deal with their deepest hurts and suspicions. Of all people, Christians should be the most active in reaching out to those of other races, instead of accepting the status quo of division and animosity."

Read more.

Do I Get Fries With That?

Burgerx This is not your typical McDonald's burger. If you live in NYC, near Wall Street, and are looking for a burger to impress your friends with, then this is for you.

A USA Today article says that at the Wall Street Burger Shoppe you can get this burger for a mere $175. "It's made with Kobe beef, topped with gold flakes, black truffles, a slab of seared foie gras, and aged Gruyere cheese."

Now that's a burger. Think about how many of the victims of the recent cyclone and earthquake could eat with the $175. Of course, if you don't want to pay $175, there is another restaurant in NYC that only charges $150. But hurry because I'm sure that price won't last long.

Only in America.

(Image © Reuters)

The Point Radio: A Hole in One for the Family

Golfing just isn't what it used to be....

Click play above to listen.

May 20, 2008

Daily roundup

The Empire Has No Clothes

Emperor_clothes_01 About Burma, we touched on this earlier: that is, how natural disasters can accomplish what the good intentions of humans cannot, to bring about change. Whether that is God intentionally acting or the expected action of a fallen creation, or both, is a matter of humble speculation. And others are speculating about this "good side" of natural disasters, in regards to China and its earthquake (H/T Thunderstruck):

But an earthquake, according to Chinese tradition, is not a mere act of nature, nor is it simply a matter of fate. Traditionally, every earthquake announces profound changes that will affect the entire society.

The Chinese still remember – as do I, having been in Beijing at the time – that the great Tangshan quake of 1976, which killed more than 240,000, came just before the death of Mao Zedong. It would have been difficult for the Chinese of that era not to link the two events, according to the long-held belief that natural catastrophes always foreshadow the death of the reigning emperor.

Some 40 years later, the Communist Party has succeeded in reducing most religious institutions to dust, wiping out the Buddhist monasteries and the Taoist clergy. Yet popular beliefs remain intact, perhaps even more solid than ever – a last rampart of individual thought against the official totalitarian ideology. . . .

Perhaps the Communist Party will succeed in persuading the population, or at least the literate part of the population, that a natural catastrophe is not supernatural, and that the party is indeed on the side of the people since it comes to their aid. But once the supernatural is driven out, political realism takes its place.

Continue reading "The Empire Has No Clothes" »

21st Century Knights Templar in U.S. Military?

At his blog Free Expression, my atheist friend, Doug, posted this interview with Mikey Weinstein, who evidently heads up a group called the Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Weinstein seriously contends that the military is full of what he calls "Premillennial, Dispensationalist, Reconstructionist, Dominionist, Fundamentalist, Evangelical Christian[s]" who believe that they are to "Christianize" the world by force, if it won't be Christianized without force. And they are suing the DoD.

Without knowing otherwise, I have to believe that Mikey Weinstein actually believes everything he claims in this video, but his claims are, frankly, nutty. I mean, even the thought that "Premillennial, Dispensationalist, Reconstructionist, Dominionist, Fundamentalist, Evangelical" Christians make up 12.6% of the American population ... what?? For crying out loud, I don't even know what "Reconstructionist" is supposed to mean, in regards to the faith.  But the thought that nearly 13% of the entire U.S. population are some kind of Starship Armageddon Troopers ready to march on the Middle East to force-fulfill the prophecies of Revelations strikes me as patently absurd.

Having lived through Barry Lynn's lawsuit against Prison Fellowship and the InnerChange Freedom Initiative, I know better than to simply roll my eyes and laugh. Somehow, bizarre claims from militant atheists with a bent for conspiracy theories can actually get legs in the courtroom. Not good.

Words, Words, Words, Nothing but Words

Human_dignity_small_cover What I particularly noticed about that Steven Pinker piece is that he calls Leon Kass "pro-death." Wow, this scolding comes from a fellow who has spent plenty of time justifying the behavior of mothers who kill their infants. 

In fact, in his diatribe against the report Human Dignity and Bioethics, Pinker proves how adept he is at name-calling by insulting just about every group, except for scientific progressives. These Progressives tend to subscribe to the same monist philosophy and toss all other consideration into the junk-heap of “squishy” thinking. You can read his summation of these groups in paragraph two.

Toward the end of his article, Pinker finally starts to tackles the issue of human dignity and his problems with it. He says “respect” is a better and more concrete word than “dignity.” However much hairsplitting he does, Pinker believes humans are nothing more than physical objects. With his firmly entrenched view of human life, “respect” becomes suspect because he doesn't believe it is a derivative of something greater—the knowledge that human beings possess thought and free will.   

In their chapter “The Nature and Basis of Human Dignity,” Professors Robert George and Patrick Lee state that, “all human beings have real dignity simply because they are persons—entities with a natural capacity for thought and free choice. All human beings have this capacity, so all human beings are persons.” (Emphasis in original.)

Ultimately, Pinker accepts the use and abuse of some for the benefit of others because he believes that free will is an illusion and our actions are nothing more than impulses directed by our genes. 

I haven’t had time to read the Council’s report yet, but I’m issuing a challenge to all Pointificators to read it with me in the coming months. Any takers?

’Bodysnarking’ -- Beyond Schadenfreude

Bodysnarking As if we don't have enough third-millennium-style problems, from sending raunchy photos via camera phones to eating disorders and other body issues among young females, now we have -- thanks to new media like Facebook, blogs, YouTube, etc. -- "bodysnarking":

Earlier this year, Jezebel, the Gawker Media-owned women's blog, resolved to do something about weight. This wasn't a gimmick to kick-start dieting among its loyal band of female readers. This was a resolution aimed at changing the way young women talk about one another.

Anna Holmes, the editor in chief, posted "This Year, Let's Call It Quits on The Nasty Nitpicking," quoting this plea from Erin, a reader: "You know what would be great? A no negative comments on a woman's appearance rule, or maybe even a no negative comments regarding anyone's appearance. I am so sick of reading comments and seeing, 'Oh she's put on weight.'"

Ms. Holmes was blowing the whistle on bodysnarking, the snide, often witty, comments that have become a ubiquitous part of under-30 female conversation. In an age when the digital camera is a must-bring accessory for a night out (how else are you going to upload the pictures to Facebook?), when blogs give everyone with an opinion a venue for comment, and when tabloid culture has made it fine to dissect other women's looks, bodysnarking appears to be a favorite female pastime. . . .

Continue reading "’Bodysnarking’ -- Beyond Schadenfreude" »

Pray for your enemies

There are things about this article that make me snarl. Which probably means that it's good for my spiritual health to post it here.

Let me make very clear that I'm not in the least disagreeing with Michael Long's premise that "[nothing] is gained by denigrating, castigating, Hitler-izing the other side." It's not Senator Kennedy's politics that I have a quarrel with -- well, I do, but no more of a quarrel than I'd have with anyone else of his political persuasion. It's something deeper, older, and more fundamental that bugs me. As one commenter accused, yes, I do tend to hold a grudge when justice is not done. And I have a problem with the all-too-common tendency to extrapolate that "so-and-so was good to me; therefore, so-and-so is a good person." I think that error in judgment often does more harm than we realize.

But does Senator Kennedy need prayer? Yes, absolutely. And that's why I'm posting this here.

Dignity is squishy

So says Harvard's Steven Pinker in reviewing Human Dignity and Bioethics, the latest report from the President's Council on Bioethics:

The general feeling is that, even if a new technology would improve life and health and decrease suffering and waste, it might have to be rejected, or even outlawed, if it affronted human dignity.

Whatever that is. The problem is that "dignity" is a squishy, subjective notion, hardly up to the heavyweight moral demands assigned to it.

Pinker tries to persuade us, with some silly and weightless examples, just how impossible it is to determine the true meaning of dignity, to set up his contention that "dignity is a phenomenon of human perception."

That, no doubt, is why he can't see why members of the President's Council consider such practices as embryonic stem-cell research and "therapeutic cloning" an affront to human dignity. If other humans declare that using embryonic humans for their own ends is okay according to their own notions of human dignity, where's the problem?

At one point in this vague and slippery article, Pinker demands, "How did the United States, the world's scientific powerhouse, reach a point at which it grapples with the ethical challenges of twenty-first-century biomedicine using Bible stories, Catholic doctrine, and woolly rabbinical allegory?" Maybe because the United States as a whole still realizes what Pinker's own "woolly" thinking demonstrates: that science without any acknowledgment of a transcendent moral standard can be a dangerous thing.

(For an opposing take on the report and a critique of Pinker's article, see this article by the former executive director of the President's Council on Bioethics. Both articles via The Corner.)

Big day

Stewart2 As The Point's biggest Jimmy Stewart fan, I would be remiss not to point out that today would have been the great man's 100th birthday. First chance you get, get on over to TCM and check out some of the goodies available today in his honor!

(Image © UPI/The Bettmann Archive)

The Point Radio: You May Now Divorce the Bride

A divorce ceremony? What's next?...

Click play above to listen.

Learn more about this story:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: You May Now Divorce the Bride" »

May 19, 2008

Daily roundup

Pro-Whose Life?

Pepfar There is truth to what Voltaire once said about seeking the perfect or the best . . .

Mike Gerson on the PEPFAR holdup:

. . . It is the nature of the Senate that the smallest of minorities can impede the work of the majority. But it takes a conscious choice -- an act of tremendous will and pride -- for members to employ these powers against an AIDS bill with overwhelming bipartisan support.

The seven, led by Coburn, complain that the reauthorization is too costly. They object to "mission creep" -- the funding of "food, water, treatment of other infectious diseases, gender empowerment programs, poverty alleviation programs" -- as though people surviving on AIDS treatment do not need to eat, work or get their TB treated. And the senators are concerned that AIDS funds might be used for things such as abortion referrals and needle distribution, though the legislation doesn't mention these possibilities. So they are pushing for the extension of a superfluous spending mandate requiring that at least 55 percent of PEPFAR resources be used for treatment, on the theory that this will starve "feckless or morally dubious" prevention programs.

For all of conservatism's evident virtues, it can have one furtive, seedy vice: A justified suspicion of government can degenerate into an anti-government ideology -- rigid, stingy and indifferent to human suffering. Conservative concerns on family planning and abstinence in the PEPFAR reauthorization are not imaginary, but they could be resolved through good-faith negotiations, as they were in the House of Representatives. A generalized hostility toward AIDS prevention, however, is destructive. Given that there are about 2.5 new HIV infections for every person starting on AIDS drugs, there is no way to control the pandemic through treatment alone. And because treatment is less expensive than it used to be, PEPFAR is meeting its treatment goal for less money. The 55 percent treatment floor would force the program to waste money in pursuit of an arbitrary, nonsensical spending target -- the worst kind of congressional earmark.

Continue reading "Pro-Whose Life?" »


Ohara190 I haven't seen the new South Pacific revival on Broadway, but my attention was caught by this thought-provoking article about star Kelli O'Hara -- particularly these lines:

. . . Kelli O’Hara deserves a medal for single-handedly rescuing the ingénue from extinction.

The guile-free young woman in search of love — and almost always finding it — was once a staple of musical theater, when the standard plot of a Broadway show involved at least one happy ending for a boy and girl, and possibly several. But she has virtually become an absent archetype at the theater in recent years, preserved only in pastiche period musicals in which the character is usually dressed in a new frock fringed with irony. . . .

Romance in the 21st-century musical is usually approached with a raised eyebrow, if not an elbow to the ribs (unless it’s accompanied by, say, a cavalcade of Abba songs). Good roles for women in new musicals — not abundant to begin with — tend to favor comedians who can clown it up between the ditties.

It’s not hard to see why. Ingenuousness is almost as disreputable as its opposite today, possibly more so. The new-model female archetype in popular culture is a sexual and financial calculator almost before she has graduated from junior high school. Think of the lusty, upper-crusty schoolgirls in “Gossip Girl,” or the preening soap-operators of “The Hills.”

We could probably all come up with multiple examples to help prove the author's point. I'm reminded of a performance of Shakespeare's Love's Labor's Lost that I attended in Washington last year. When one actress spoke a line about her virtue, she looked at the audience and smirked. Literally smirked. A year later, I still remember that moment because it was so jarring. You could read it on the face of this beautiful, intelligent young Shakespearean actress: Get me! I'm talking about my "virtue." What a scream!

Continue reading "Ingenuity" »

Sex Change Operations....for Kids

Spack Well, it was bound to happen. Once society not only turned a blind eye to the clamors for tolerance of "transgendered persons" but also swallowed whole the justifications by the activist wing of that group, it was only a matter of time before that issue married up with children's rights.

First we hear about NAMBLA's decision to "stand up for the right of boys to have sex with grown men." Now we have another group standing up for the rights of kids to have...sex changes. Read the story for yourself here.

But of course, this "rights" talk has little to do with truly loving one's neighbor. NAMBLA, the "North American Man Boy Love Association," is nothing but a front for older men to corrupt young boys they find sexually attractive. They aren't thinking first of the young boys' rights, that's for sure.

In the case of Boston Children's Hospital and Dr. Norman Spack, I suppose it is possible that they think they are helping those poor, confused adolescents who feel that they are trapped inside the wrong body. But surely this is a decision, if it has to be made at all, that is best left to the children once they have become adults. Some of them may have worked through some of their issues by then and will rejoice that they didn't do something to their bodies they regretted.

Why the rush, Dr. Spack?

(Image via Fox News)

Republicans ’Not Serious About Policy ... Ideas ... Leadership’

One thing that has always bugged me about The Point is that there is far too much Peggy Noonan worship around here.

So here I go adding to that problem.

Truth is, Noonan is spot-on in her analysis of the Republican Party:

Mr. Bush has squandered the hard-built paternity of 40 years. But so has the party, and so have its leaders. If they had pushed away for serious reasons, they could have separated the party's fortunes from the president's. This would have left a painfully broken party, but they wouldn't be left with a ruined "brand," as they all say, speaking the language of marketing. And they speak that language because they are marketers, not thinkers. Not serious about policy. Not serious about ideas. And not serious about leadership, only followership.

A wise friend of mine tempers my political idealism by reminding me that there have only been three great U.S. Presidents: Washington, Lincoln and Reagan. He implores me, convincingly, to stop expecting so much from elected officials in our Commonwealth and in our country. I'm getting there ... but must the City of Man's leadership be quite so constantly pathetic?

History would seem to suggest that the answer to that question is Yes. Whether I like it or not.

Pray for the foster children

Our director of public policy, Mariam Bell, sent along this link to the 2008 National Foster Care Vigil.

Co-sponsored by FamilyLife’s Hope for Orphans, Focus on the Family, and Shaohannah’s Hope, the National Foster Care Prayer Vigil is calling followers of Christ together in cities across the country to cry out to God on behalf of our nation’s foster children.

If there's anyone in this country who's desperately in need of prayer, it's the children stuck in our broken foster care system. There are great foster parents out there, but when the system fails these kids and they get trapped in bad situations, the results can be horrific. Please consider joining in this important weeklong effort for "the least of these."

The Point Radio: Ripple Effect

Parenting may not be the most glamorous job in the world, but it may have a significant ripple effect....

Click play above to listen.

My Name is Inigo Montoya...

Inigo_montoya I get to be the first blogger to comment on Prince Caspian, which I saw with my sons on Sunday evening. We enjoyed the film. However--

Not quite up to the first one, I thought. Deviated too far from Lewis's story, we all thought. And some of the music was truly dreadful, as it was in the first film.

(Spoilers to follow)

Continue reading "My Name is Inigo Montoya..." »

Oh, the Bitter Irony

China_olympics_torch Looked at one way, what a facade of caring China's putting on -- begs the question, "What about the millions of other people, victimized over the years by China's government?" Looked at another way, one wonders if maybe the PRC is cracking a bit under public pressure about its abominable human rights record. . . . Nah.

From the Houston Chronicle:

China declared three days of national mourning for earthquake victims and ordered a suspension of the Olympic torch relay, as the search for survivors of the disaster grew bleak today.

The State Council said the mourning period would start Monday and include three minutes of silence observed nationwide at 2:28 p.m., the time the quake struck.

Beijing Olympic organizers said in a statement that the torch relay would be suspended "to express our deep mourning to the victims of the earthquake."

Read more.

(Image © WHDH)

May 16, 2008

Daily roundup


Burma_aid Maybe it's time for those bulldozers. Pray for Burma. Pray hard, long, often. God have mercy.

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (via the UN Wire):

The official death toll nearly doubled to 78,000 from Myanmar's killer cyclone as heavy rains on Friday lashed much of the area stricken two weeks ago, further hampering relief efforts. . . .

"More than two weeks after the event, we are at a critical point," said U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "Unless more aid gets into the country - quickly - we face the risk of an outbreak of infectious diseases that could dramatically worsen today's crisis."

Jean-Maurice Ripert, France's ambassador to the U.N., criticized the junta for refusing to allow a French navy ship to deliver 1,500 tons of food, drugs and medication to the Irrawaddy delta using small boats.

He said refusing to allow aid to be delivered to those in need "could lead to a true crime against humanity if we go on like that."

Myanmar's ruling junta, meanwhile, put up a security cordon around Yangon to restrict travel to the Irrawaddy delta, where scenes of devastation were rife. . . .

Continue reading "Genocide?" »

With Apologies to C. S. Lewis

I know this has been discussed before, but I can't get away from it. It comes to mind every time I see a poster for Prince Caspian.

Is it me, or when you see this:


Like me, do you think of this??


(Images © Disney and DreamWorks)

Re: Bad Boy List

Ten_books How very odd that The List Universe would release a list of "10 Books That Screwed Up the World" just after Regnery released a book by Dr. Benjamin Wiker called . . . 10 Books That Screwed Up the World.

And how very odd that The List Universe included five of the same books that Wiker covered in his book.

And how very, very odd that The List Universe named a book about intelligent design as its worst book, when Dr. Wiker is co-author of a book about -- wait for it -- intelligent design.

Coincidence? If you believe that, I've got some neo-Darwinist theories about aliens to sell you.

(Image © Regnery)

ID Book Gets on Bad Boy List

The List Universe has released its list of “10 Books that Screwed Up the World.”

According to the list editors “…many times in history books have been written which are misleading or untrue. In some cases this has lead to widescale death and destruction and evil governmental regimes…This is a list of ten of the worst books of this type -- books that have done more harm than good. The common thread in all of these books is deception…”

Books on the list include Adolph Hitler’s Mein Kampf (#7), Magaret Sanger’s Pivot of Civilization (#6), and Karl Marx’s The Manifesto of the Communist Party (#2).

But the top spot, numero uno, goes to…cue up the band…Michael Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box.

You mean in the twelve years since Dr. Behe exposed the irreducible complexity of the bacterium flagellum, his little volume has led to more human misery than all the horrors of Marx, Sanger and Hitler, authors whose ideas are traceable quite literally to Darwin’s “black box?”

Continue reading "ID Book Gets on Bad Boy List" »

’Redbelt’: Personal Integrity Matters

Redbelt Redbelt, acclaimed playwright David Mamet's new film, is unlikely to show up in any suggested guide to modern films by Christian critics. For one thing, the occasional raw violence is probably a bit much for many people to take, and there is nothing particularly "Christian" about it in terms of overt themes.

And yet....

This story is about Mike Terry (played very credibly by Chiwetel Ejiofor), a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor, whose love for his craft has made him into a man of great personal integrity and honor. He is a great teacher, a true master. He loves what he does so much that he keeps it pure by not mixing competition into his equation, even though he could probably win many such contests. "Competition weakens a man," he says repeatedly in this film.

The film is an essay on the painful sacrifices needed sometimes to maintain one's personal integrity. Terry faces financial ruin, a strained marriage, nasty run-ins with people less honorable than himself, and personal heartbreak. David Mamet does a great job of showing the wear and tear on Terry's idealism, making you wonder if he won't finally just break and be done with it.

Whether he finally does is yours to discover. The film has a kind of stage play quality, no doubt because the stage is Mamet's original playground. But its rich characters and morality play dimension make it worth the price of admission.

(Note: Redbelt is rated R for strong language.)

(Image © Sony Classics)

Another book bleg

Thanks to all of you who helped Allen out with book recommendations for his boys. Here's another book request: We're updating last year's recommended summer reading list (which you can see here), and we'd love more suggestions of books for all ages to add to it. Tell us some of your favorites, and we'll consider adding them. I'll be looking again at the suggestions that were given to Allen, too, to see what we can add from those.

Thanks again for your help!

Return to Narnia

Prince_caspian_2 Prince Caspian opens today, and is getting some excellent reviews. Dallas Morning News critic Nancy Churnin writes,

Director Andrew Adamson has scored another triumph by digging deep into the darker, more spiritually challenging direction in which C.S. Lewis took the second of his seven-book series.

For in Prince Caspian, the children and others make mistakes, serious ones. And they must not only recognize them but also realize they cannot change the pain they have caused by those errors, only do better in the future.

A word of warning: The level of violence is said to be too unsettling for younger children. (When Cinematical, which is no family values site, says a PG-rated film should have gotten a PG-13, you know we're talking violent.) Use caution when deciding whether to take your kids.

And if you go, come back here and let us know what you thought!

(Image © Disney)

The Point Radio: Kids Who Give Back

Kids are never too young to start learning to give back....

Click play above to listen.

May 15, 2008

Daily roundup

Sovereignty and the ’Responsibility to Protect’

Burma3 Jason Taylor actually raised a concern I had in mind, but didn't address, yesterday in regards to getting aid to victims in Burma -- the junta be . . . um, ignored. We'll say "ignored." Anyway, much as everyone's desperate to get food and other necessities to the hungry and hurting, with the military junta standing in the way, the question arises as to how we might "go around the junta." That is, what exactly would that look like?

In truth, we know, it would be bloody and ugly. And that's where discomfort and unsureness arise.

The UN recognizes this, as a policy devised after Rwanda -- a legal doctrine of "responsibility to protect" -- is now being debated for actual implementation.

The legal doctrine of "responsibility to protect," established in 2005 to address the failures to intervene in the Rwandan genocide, is being promoted by France, which wants to see more-aggressive action to aid victims of the recent cyclone. Champions of the principle, which authorizes intervention to prevent crimes against humanity, say it could be used to take action against a regime blocking lifesaving aid from its people.

Jason T. says that Applebaum's proposed "coalition of the willing" would be the United States, but as we read in the Wall Street Journal article excerpt above, it's more like France making noise for barreling on through the junta to get to the victims.

Continue reading "Sovereignty and the ’Responsibility to Protect’" »

Re: Another Case of Judicial Overreach

Regis, this is indeed an appalling abuse of judicial authority, but it hardly comes as a surprise. Certainly not in California. Traditional marriage has been teetering on the edge of political and moral collapse in the Golden State for several years now. The San Francisco mayor started his own rebellion a few years ago, and I believe Gov. Schwarzenegger has already vetoed a couple of bills that would have accomplished some or all of what the court has now done.

What is perhaps more distressing, though, is that the statute being overturned by the court is one that was affirmed by a large majority of California voters in 2000. Not that popular opinion is the final arbiter of right and wrong, but it's at least as legitimate as the opinion of four judges.

As for the ruling itself, it seems to be full of the same contrived logic the Supreme Judicial Court used to alter the definition of marriage in Massachusetts (incidentally, though the Massachusetts decision is mentioned repeatedly, it is almost exclusively to note it as the exception to U.S. marriage law). The legal argument is all over the place, and certainly not convincing that such a vast constitutional breach exists. And the extensive moral argument simply restates the notions that traditional marriage is discriminatory out of date and that people should have the "right" to marry whomever they please -- ideas that are unconvincing in the public conversation, and greatly presumptuous coming from a court bench.

Another Case of Judicial Overreach

The State Supreme Court has now made California the second state to legalize gay “marriage.” They did so in a 4-3 vote overturning legislation that placed a ban on “marriage” for same-sex couples. What comes as a surprise for some, is that six of the seven justices were Republican appointees.

The City Attorney who argued the case for the plaintiffs had this to say:

Today the California Supreme Court took a giant leap to ensure that everybody -- not just in the state of California, but throughout the country -- will have equal treatment under the law.

In other words, the injustice of denying gays and lesbians the right to marry has been rectified, at least in Massachusetts and California.

That’s odd. Last time I checked, gays have always had a right to marry, just not with someone of the same sex.

One is left to wonder when “equal treatment under the law” will allow mothers to marry their sons, brothers to marry their sisters, a woman to marry her dolphin (oops!—that’s already been done), and, in light of recent news, a gardener to marry her pogonia.

We Need God…

…just not one of the divine sort. That is the conclusion of Canadian biologist Stuart Kauffman. We need “God” because, in the estimation of Kauffman and increasing numbers of researchers, natural laws are inadequate to account for the complexity of life.

Notes Kauffman, “I do not believe that the evolution of biosphere, economy and human culture are derivable from or reducible to physics. Physicists cannot deduce, simulate or confirm the detailed evolution of the biosphere that gave rise to the organised structure and processes that constitute, for example, your heart.” (Not to mention man’s heart.) Kauffman continues, “There seems to be no natural law sufficient to describe Darwinian pre-adaptations.”

In other words, evolutionary theory provides no way to determine how a physiological feature will change under future environmental pressures, or identify the past transitions and changes that led up to an existent feature.

This is serious. If Darwinian evolution is not fully governed by physical laws, it has no predictive value, beyond a few minor adaptations like pesticide resistance (a charge, it will be noted, often leveled against intelligent design). What is the entrenched materialist to do?

Continue reading "We Need God…" »

Thank Goodness MySpace Didn’t Exist in the ’80s

Fast_track Given the imprudence of my adolescence, I’m grateful that the public World Wide Web didn’t exist in the late 80s. Though one could rack up a more damaging record of regrettable behavior than we did, my friends’ and my sense of humor, far too often at others’ expense, surely would have left a lamentable trail on the Internet, had I been a Gen-Y-er.

For one thing, we would have most certainly set up a MySpace band website for The Screaming Banshees from Hell. Hardly the typical high school band, TSBFH was five guys who didn’t play a single instrument, the anti-madrigals if you will. All we had was a penchant for rewriting lyrics to common songs, voices which could carry a tune well enough, and a $40 Sony boombox for recording tracks.

About those lyrics. They were *terrible*. Comedic in nature, the lyrics either parodied Far Right Wing politics or mocked the schoolmates we regularly targeted. TSBFH, being far less a “band” than yet one more means for hacking others off, had lyrics that certainly weren’t anything you’d want your mother to read. I still vividly recall A.P. delivering the news that his mom had found his master stash of lyric sheets. I decided then and there that I would never show my face around his house again.

Continue reading "Thank Goodness MySpace Didn’t Exist in the ’80s" »

McCain Invokes Wilberforce

This speech did not garner much media attention--at least, I didn't hear anything about it--but I was delighted to hear McCain invoking Wilberforce in a recent speech about human rights. And unless I'm mistaken, this is the first time any presidential candidate has, in effect, made a campaign promise to fight female circumcision.

Quick, hide the Swede!

Big_cow According to the fifth paragraph here, he's in danger!

(Thanks to Wendy for the warning.)

(Image © The Daily Mail)

The Point Radio: Life - An Offering

Quick quiz: Who was the first person in the Bible described as being "filled with the Spirit"?...

Click play above to listen.

Here are a few more ideas on creating culture:

Continue reading "The Point Radio: Life - An Offering" »

May 14, 2008

Daily roundup

Oh, I Love This--

Princecaspian C. S. Lewis scholar Michael Ward writes in the New York Post about the great new "Just War" flick Prince Caspian.

I can hear Lefties grinding their teeth as they decide whether or not to let their kids see this subversive film....

(Image © Disney)

Video Killed the Preacher Man

Flat_screen_tv A church I recently visited used a huge flat screen TV and a video broadcast to deliver the Sunday sermon. The video was a live transmission of the senior pastor’s message delivered from their main church location.

The weekly video format must be effective for this church because they have three fully packed services every Sunday morning. But I am still a bit undecided whether I would recommend this kind of video channeling to my unchurched friends. The method does allow churches to expand quickly and thus reach more people to hear the Word of God in different locales. However, one might argue that video preachers might discourage genuine interaction and could put too much emphasis on the "star" quality of a preacher.

I wonder what Pointificators think of this emerging trend.

Why Do I Find Myself Snickering?

Footprint2 From the London Telegraph:

Sir Paul McCartney is said to be "horrified" that his new eco-friendly car was flown 7,000 miles from Japan.

The Lexus LS600H, which costs £84,000, was a gift from Lexus to the 65-year-old former Beatle, who helped promote the hybrid vehicle.

But instead of arriving by boat as expected, the car was flown to Britain on a Korean Air flight, creating a carbon footprint almost 100 times bigger than if it had come by sea.

A source is reported to have said: "Paul was offered a Lexus as a gift and ordered the hybrid limo because it helps to reduce emissions. . . .

Paddy Gillett of the anti-aviation lobby group Plane Stupid, said: "For anyone to pretend that a private limousine is in any way eco-friendly is like pretending a private jet is. It's total greenwash."

Citizen’s Arrest

So last night my fiancé and I were coming back via the Metro from visiting my brother’s family. Apparently there was a police convention downtown and the Metro was crawling with police officers. The ones in our car were all fairly drunk. One of them had an open container of beer in hand. It was all I could do to contain the Gomer Pyle in me and not yell out “Citizen’s Arrest!” (As Dave the Swede says, it's a good thing I didn't: never confront drunk policemen.) But if you've never seen this classic television moment, this is what was running through my head--accent and all.

By the way, if I were a doctor, I think I would prescribe Andy Griffith Show re-runs quite regularly. I'm fairly confident there is some kind of therapeutic value in them. I'm only half-joking.

Jedi Masters Beware!

Vader_luke This just in from Great Britain, that bastion of Christianity that has given us John Wesley, George Whitefield, and, of course, Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams. Now why can't Williams just go join this Jedi group and help them fend off Darth Vader?