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« August 2008 | Main | October 2008 »

September 30, 2008

Daily roundup

Freedom’s Trial

Wilberforce Fellow Jennifer Roback Morse has an interesting piece about the Bradley Lashawn Fowler lawsuit against Zondervan, and First Amendment rights. 

They don’t call him the little messiah for nothing

The obvious tags for this post are "arts & media," "politics & government," and "youth issues," but I have a strong feeling I should use "religion & society" as well. (Via Dirty Harry's Place)

Update: After a day of appalled reactions from conservatives and liberals alike, the video was made "private"  on YouTube and pulled from its page at MyBarackObama.com. I'm shocked, shocked. However, some far-sighted soul grabbed it and reposted it, so here it is again. If you want to see it, do it quickly, before it gets pulled again. In the meantime, those who just yesterday were proudly announcing that Jeff Zucker had had a hand in making the video are now spinning like a top: "Nooo, not that Jeff Zucker! Not the head of NBC! How could you even think that! Ha ha ha! It was another Jeff Zucker who lives in California and has access to professional video equipment!" Even if that's true, and it may be, they sure weren't in a hurry to announce it before.

A proclamation

Remote200 ABC has declared this "National Stay at Home Week." Ostensibly this is to help us all save gas; in reality, it's to drum up more audiences for their season premieres.

As most of you know, I watch TV, and make no apologies for it; there are still a few "flowers in the wasteland" left, as Roberto puts it, even though they're getting harder and harder to find. Nonetheless, I resent being given orders by a television network. So I hereby declare this "National Go for a Nice Long Walk Week." Enjoy!

(Image © iStockPhoto)

An American House of Cards

Houseofcards Years ago, a pastor friend of mine was in Nigeria on a mission trip. One day, a woman approached him in the hotel lobby to see if he was interested in her, ah, services. Gene turned her down, but escorted her into the hotel dining room and bought her dinner. He asked her why she was working as a prostitute. Her reply: "My mother is dead, my father is blind, and my brothers and sisters have no one but me to provide for them."

They talked about how hard the economic situation in Nigeria was, and the hopelessness that the average citizen felt because there were so few ways to legitimately earn a living.

In the course of their conversation, Gene made a statement that he believed hard economic times were in store for America because we have turned our back on God (this was more than a decade ago). The woman's reply was that she hoped and prayed this would not be the case. Why? Because America has done so much to help poorer countries around the world. Her worry was that, should God remove His blessing from America, the rest of the world would suffer for it.   

This article indicates that leaders around the world fear that, too. Our helter-skelter pursuit of the "American Dream" is not only threatening to bring down our own nation's economy; it may also bring down the economies of other nations. And as we are forced to get our own financial house in order, we will undoubtedly find that we have less and less to share with the world's poor. We have been negligent stewards of the blessings God has given us. We need to repent of our foolishness not just because it's hurt us, but also because it will hurt the "least of these" throughout the world.   

Progressives’ Socialized Business Got Us Into This Mess...

...Why should we think that more of the same medicine will get us out?

That's the fundamental question I've been asking about this proposed bailout. Sure, the bailout's effect on the credit crisis would help in the short term, but is it too much to ask that we make some governmental decisions with the long view in mind? (An outrageous expectation, I know.)

I'm convinced by Amity Shlaes' argument that the New Deal extended the Great Depression. If nothing else, no one has yet made a solid case for governmental anti-market action producing a healthier market economy. Yes, that sounds simple, and thus -- the progressives would have us believe -- it cannot possibly be true. Truth is never simple after all. Right?

Well, I'm afraid it often is -- yes, even in regards to the economy.

All of which is to say that:

  1. I lack the in-depth knowledge on the technical minutae of credit markets and financial tools, and -- unlike a seemingly endless supply of news commentators -- I'm happy to admit it.
  2. Instinctually, it seems that the solution to this credit mess -- which started with two fundamentally imprudent, nationalized (read: socialized), anti-market corporations -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- cannot possibly be MORE public ownership of market entities.
  3. Dick Armey is a whole lot smarter than I am about this, and I find him utterly persuasive.

The bailout's death is welcome news -- the House has some guts after all -- but only insofar as it portends an ultimate free-market reform.

Political shocker

Jon Stewart's not going to like this at all. (Profanity alert.)

The Point Radio: Fact vs. Conviction

Who was the most influential man never to have lived?...

Click play above to listen.

Nick Watt, “Just the Facts, Please, Almanac: Vomiting is World’s Worst Sound and Other Information From Collector Ben Schott,” ABC News, 19 June 2008.

The Indoctrinators

Rorty A couple of weeks ago, Diane Singer posted an article about a professor's abuse of power. Unfortunately, the situation is not uncommon. 

In the September 6/13, 2008, issue of World magazine, Ed Veith has an article about the late Richard Rorty, who admitted to conspirator-type teaching tactics. Rorty openly stated that his intent was to ridicule  "fundamentalist parents," to whom he said, "We are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children." 

Rorty even compared himself to Nazi teachers, with the difference being that "I serve a better cause."

(Image © Hasan Sarbakhshian for the AP)

September 29, 2008

Daily roundup

The Sky Is Falling

Economy0thb201x300 The well known fable of Chicken Little tells the story of a cowardly fowl who believes that the sky is falling and the world is coming to an end. With the present economic crisis, many in the media and in D.C. have been indulging in similar hysteria, believing that disaster is imminent.

However, Dr. Al Mohler has set forth "A Christian View of the Economic Crisis" that I think all who seek to live with faith in the midst of challenging times should read.

It's so easy to think about the negative in the midst of a crisis. Mohler reminds us that

No economy is perfect, but the American economy remains a marvel. The present crisis is an opportunity to rethink some basic questions and restore trust. There are no easy ways out of a crisis like this, and no painless solutions...This current crisis should also remind Christians that we are not called to be mere economic actors, but stewards. Everything we are, everything we do, and everything we own truly belongs to God and is to be at the disposal of Kingdom purposes. This world is not our home and our treasure is not found here. We are to do all, invest all, own all, purchase all to the glory of God.

So instead of running around like Chicken Little, panic-stricken by the oncoming onslaught of economic crisis, let us take a lesson from the wisdom of Dr. Mohler. He realizes that "there is cause for concern, but no justification for panic."

Rather than hit the panic button, spend that energy thinking about how Christians should glorify God in our economic lives. We should watch the developments and debates in Washington and New York with interest, but we should investigate our own hearts with even greater urgency.

(Image © AlbertMohler.com)

Bailout bill voted down

The Wall Street Journal has more.

SAFE: The Time Has Come

In Chuck’s commentary on 9/25, he talked about the need for a bi-partisan blue-ribbon commission to “identify the things we can afford and the things we can’t afford.” In light of the current crisis, I think the time has come for all Americans to realize we can’t continue spending as if there is no tomorrow. For our children and grandchildren, tomorrow will be quite bleak if the spending doesn’t stop.

It is also clear to me that our elected representatives, from both parties, are unable and unwilling to make those tough decisions. They are so wrapped up in pleasing their constituents and getting re-elected that they remind me of parents who want to be their children’s friends and therefore give them anything they want, who won’t say no or provide the discipline these children need.

This commission would be able to provide that rigid examination that is required today, and give the tough love recommendations that will move America in the right direction: Securing America’s Future Economy.

As Chuck said, Congress needs to act and all of us need to do our part by calling our representatives and telling them we support this idea. If the tough decisions aren’t made, then, just like with the spoiled child, someone else will have to set the limits for us.

It’s a bird -- it’s a plane -- no, it’s Fusion Man!

Fusion_man Maybe you've had one of those dreams where you are flying, gliding high above the earth, looking down at the world below as if it were an anthill. For forty-nine-year-old Swiss Aviator Yves Rossy, it's no dream. Rossy used a simple jetpack strapped to his back to fly across the English Channel. Jumping from a plane more than 8,000 feet off the ground, Rossy ignited his own kerosene-powered jet pack to make the 22-mile journey.

Who knows? Maybe soon we won't be arguing over SUVs vs.hybrids. Maybe we'll be debating the fuel-efficiency benefits of one jet pack vs. another.

It reminds me of something I read recently in Environmental Stewardship, a new book put out by the Acton Institute, which has been an incredibly insightful read. In the section called "A Comprehensive Torah-Based Approach to the Environment," the author writes about two extremes in approaching the population panic. One extreme is

to regard no sacrifice today as too much to impose upon ourselves to protect all future generations until the end of time. Had earlier generations followed this perverted logic, they might well have restricted the use of whale oil. One can imagine the decrees emanating from zealous eighteenth-century environmental activists, banning the use of oil lamps past nine o'clock at night to ensure that sufficient whale oil would remain to light the homes of the twenty-first century. In so doing, what they may well have effected is limiting the educational possibilities of the early scientists who studied and experimented late into the night to discover petroleum and its many uses. The paradox revealed by the Torah is that far from solving any problem, following either extreme actually aggravates the underlying situation.

Of course, the other extreme is to ignore the problem and say there is no problem.

Continue reading "It’s a bird -- it’s a plane -- no, it’s Fusion Man!" »

The answer to the financial crisis

Banjo_market . . . isn't the bailout. It's the banjo.

(Thanks to The Bluegrass Blog and my dad for the tip. Image © The Bluegrass Blog.)

The Power of Elections

The International Center for Journalists, which helps to promote quality journalism world-wide, is raising money through an auction of award-winning photos by some of the most talented photo-journalists of our time. Viewing the pictures from elections around the world is a reminder of the freedoms we enjoy here and the cost of voting in other countries.

Take a look at the slideshow on their site. I was particularly intrigued by the photo of Dalit women standing in line to vote in India. The juxtaposition of some of these images is a commentary in itself.

The Point Radio: High Food Costs--A Silver Lining?

Family meals--an upside to the down economy?...

Click play above to listen.

Allison Linn, “Pinching Pennies Like Your Grandparents,” MSNBC, 26 August 2008.

September 26, 2008

Daily roundup

By the way, in case you haven't heard, the on-and-off presidential debate is back on, at 9 p.m. Eastern.

Her cold, dead lips

A great quote from the former mayor of Wasilla.

(Hey, Kim, beat that title. ;-) )

I was hungry, and you threw me out

Some time ago, I wrote about D.C.'s Central Union Mission (which is run by Dave Treadwell, a member of my church), and its struggle to move to a new home. A compromise was eventually worked out:

The mission would turn over ownership of the Georgia Avenue parcels to the District, which would tear down the existing structures and build a mixed-use project that would include long-term housing for the chronically homeless. In turn, the District would give the mission title to a 12,000-square-foot lot on Massachusetts Avenue NW, near Union Station, on which sits the historic but dilapidated former Gales School. The mission would also get roughly $7 million from the District that had been set aside for rehabilitation of the Gales School -- which cannot be razed -- to transform it into a much-needed emergency shelter to house and feed approximately 150 men. The mission has agreed to operate the Gales School as a homeless shelter for a minimum of 40 years.

Not so fast, says -- get this -- the Episcopal Bishop of Washington, D.C.

Don't blink. The Episcopal Church is fast replacing its former motto "The Episcopal Church Welcomes . . . You," with "The Episcopal Church Sues You."

Bishop John Chane's lawsuit is here.

As Dave's wife, Charlotte, says, if this lawsuit succeeds, or even if it drags on too long, the homeless shelter will be homeless itself. Nice work, Bishop Chane.

Where is the Justice Department when you need it?

In the face of the Obama fundraising and media juggernaut, Republicans are worried about losing the presidential election.

They should be even more fearful, however, about being criminally prosecuted by the Justice Department for political speech and activity protected by the First Amendment -- a clear effort by partisan career lawyers within the Civil Rights Division to help the Obama campaign.

With the end of violence targeting civil rights workers of the '60s, the Criminal Section of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division "has not pursued a criminal voting-related case in decades." However, presentations at this year's Justice Department conference confirmed a "green light" for use of these "same criminal statues to harass and prosecute political activists (particularly Republicans) who are engaging in protected political activity."

The issue is so charged, that the author of the article I'm quoting (an attorney who specializes in election law) requested to remain anonymous to avoid being targeted for prosecution by the Justice Department for exercising First Amendment rights.

No matter your party affiliation, this type of justice is infuriating. As the article states, "There are so many things wrong with this abuse of our legal process, I am not sure where to start." So let's start with getting the word out.

Read the full report here.

Occupational hazards

Fireproofposter Have you ever been faced with an ethical dilemma on the job, one that forced you to choose between your beliefs and your career? What would you do: Quit? Compromise? Or maybe, find a creative solution?

That last option seems to be what actor and born-again Christian Kirk Cameron chose for his latest screen role. The former Growing Pains star told the Today Show hosts that he has a commitment to not kiss any woman other than his wife, which created a dilemma when he landed the lead role in the new movie Fireproof. The script called for him to kiss the actress who played his character's wife.

To get around the conflict, the filmmakers employed a bit of movie magic, Cameron explained. They dressed his wife, actress Chelsea Noble, like the movie’s female lead and shot the scene in silhouette.

“So when I’m kissing my wife, we’re actually husband and wife honoring marriage behind the scenes,” Cameron said...

(Image © Samuel Goldwyn Films)

Open book thread

Kristine_booksigning Our own Kristine Steakley recently did a book-signing and reading at PFM. Here's an excerpt from her excellent new book, Child of Divorce, Child of God: A Journey of Hope and Healing:

Even today there is a happy-go-lucky crowd singing the merry party line of "divorce won't hurt the children if you do it right." Not surprisingly, the proponents of this theory are parents who have divorced. I have yet to meet or hear of a child of divorce who has bought into it -- we know better. There is not a "right way" to do divorce so that no one gets hurt. It may be a nice idea, but the reality simply does not work that way. Our actions have consequences, and one of the consequences of divorce is the battered hearts of children whose homes are broken when marriage vows are abandoned.

This book is not intended to be a pity party for children of divorce. It is not a forum to whine about how tragic our lives have been, and it certainly is not a tell-all that airs the dirty laundry of my own family. This is not a sob story about how hard it is to have divorced parents. Rather, it is a story about hope and healing. Coming from a broken home is difficult, but it is not insurmountable. But if all we have are the world's answers to the hurt we experience, then we are in big trouble. It doesn't take long to figure out that the world's answers do not work! There is not enough beer, sex, drugs, perfection, academia, counseling -- in short, not enough of anything -- to dull the pain, much less heal it.

But there is an answer. God provides a firm foundation for healing our broken hearts.

For a copy of Kristine's book, click here. And don't forget to stop by the comments section to let us know what you're reading.

Research Using Tooth Pulp

While the research results are still pending, scientists at the University of Adelaide are "aiming" to repair the damage caused by strokes by using adult stem cells taken from tooth pulp.   

Fasting and Prayer for Victims of Sexual Trafficking

I saw this press release come across my desk and thought it was worth sharing. I'm glad to see a movement emphasizing fasting in the process of remembrance. I hope many will participate.

International Weekend of Prayer and Fasting
Intercessory Prayer and Worship Services
Washington, DC
Sept 26 & 27

Dear Friends:

September 26-28 is the International Weekend of Prayer and Fasting for Victims of Sexual Trafficking coordinated by The Salvation Army and the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking.

For those of you in the Washington, DC, area, you are invited to special intercessory prayer services being held at 7:00 p.m. Friday, September 26, and 10:00 a.m. Saturday, September 27, at the Washington Community Fellowship (WCF) Church located at 907 Maryland Avenue, NE, Washington, DC 20002. Included at these services will be eight thematic displays using photographs, objects, and art to evoke prayer and reflection about various areas connected to sex trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation.

Additionally, there will be a community Prayer Walk on Saturday, September 27, 1:00-3:00 p.m. People wishing to participate in the Prayer Walk should meet at Washington Community Fellowship Church.

These events have been organized through the partnership of Restoration Ministries, The Church of the Resurrection, Washington Community Fellowship Church, The Salvation Army National Headquarters, and the Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking. All events are free and open to the public.

For more information contact Lisa Thompson at 703.519.5896 or 571.263.6647. For Prayer Walk flyer see: http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/trafficking.

This message is forwarded to you by:

The Initiative Against Sexual Trafficking
c/o The Salvation Army USA
National Headquarters

If you don't live in the D.C. area but would like to participate, I found a prayer guide online here. The Salvation Army also has sample sermons, flyers and other helpful resources if you'd like to pull something together, either personally or with your small group or church.

The Point Radio: Identity Theft

Identity theft can harm you more than you think...

Click play above to listen.

September 25, 2008

Daily roundup

A breath of fresh air

Bill Clinton says he understands why Sarah Palin is popular. And furthermore, he refuses to be insanely angry, as others have been, over her being on the Republican ticket: “I get this, my view is … why say, ever, anything bad about a person? Why don’t we like them and celebrate them and be happy for her elevation to the ticket? And just say that she was a good choice for him and we disagree with them?”

I didn't think I'd ever say this, but thanks, Bill, for saying what needed to be said.

Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also

Paris_curve_43452345 So if you were going to jail, what would be the hardest thing to relinquish? Your personal freedom? Your family? Your wardrobe options?

Chuck Colson describes with raw realness in his book, Born Again, the overwhelming feeling of losing control over his physical body after his court hearing declared him guilty following the Watergate scandal back in 1974. Throughout his autobiography, his readers are made personally aware of the losses for those who live behind bars: the limited time with loved ones, the constant fear for one's life, the insufficient clothing, and the complete nullification of personal time and space.

But for some who serve jail time, it seems that there are more material things to be missed. People.com reports that celebutante Paris Hilton declared that the most difficult part of her short time spent in jail was this: "When you have your BlackBerry taken away, it's like the most painful thing ever."

Jesus said in Matthew 6:21 that where our treasure is, there our hearts will be also. Makes one think -- if I were to go to jail, what would I miss most? It's telling, isn't it?

(H/T The Washington Times; image courtesy of Celebrity Blackberry Sightings)

I’m a PC (not)

Sorry, my PC-favoring friends, but to a Mac user, this is a hoot.

A Rare Find

Mozart For the classical music connoisseur, this week's news is music to the ears. In a library in France, a previously unknown piece of church music written by one Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart has been discovered. According to MSNBC, the head researcher at the International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, Austria, has confirmed that this single sheet is undoubtedly by the famous composer: "'This is absolutely new,' Leisinger said in a telephone interview. 'We have new music here.'"

Although the harmony is unwritten, the melody line is intact, giving musicians a good idea where Mozart was heading with the unfinished piece.

(Image © MSNBC)

The Issues That Matter

Check out this video from CatholicVote.com. It doesn't tell Catholics how to vote, but it certainly defines, in a powerful way, the issues that matter most. 

Rest in peace

0924montgomery188 Recent articles by L. M. Montgomery's granddaughter and biographer have put something of a damper on this year's Anne of Green Gables centennial celebration. According to these articles, the beloved author probably took her own life. (Her granddaughter, Kate Macdonald Butler, says she did; biographer Mary Rubio, who had access to more materials than Butler, seems not quite as certain, but concedes that it's most likely true.)

Frankly, having read Montgomery's published journals, I wasn't surprised. The journals record the life of a deeply sensitive, lonely, depressed woman who became increasingly unable to cope with trouble and loss. But aside from feeling sorry for her, I also feel sorry for the fans who have reacted with shock and incredulity. It's always painful to learn that our idols are human and capable of doing wrong.

In a cryptic note discovered after her death, Montgomery asked for God's forgiveness. I pray He granted her the peace that eluded her in life.

(Image © National Archives of Canada/The Canadian Press)

Out, Damn’d Spot, Out I Say!

250pxantarcticadomecsnow As Dave the Swede (not his real name) has told you, I'm fascinated by sun spots -- or more precisely, the lack of them.

Apparently, I'm not the only person so fascinated.The sun's recent quiescence prompted NASA to hold a press conference on the state of the sun and the lack of sunspots in what is called Solar Cycle 24.

At the conference, Dr. Nancy Crooker of Boston University cited the emergence of what is designated sunspot 1002 as evidence that a "Maunder Minimum is not likely.”

Only two small problems: one, number 1002 is apparently kaput. Like its Cycle 24 brethren, it was small and very short-lived.

Two, Maunder Minimum! Did she say "Maunder Minimum?" Did she say that that feeble little sunspot was the only assurance we have that we're not entering another Maunder Minimum? If that's true, we are so hosed! I mean the kind of hosed that will make us look back on the Wall Street financial crisis as the "good old days."

Continue reading "Out, Damn’d Spot, Out I Say!" »

The Point Radio: Fatherhood 101

America is experiencing a crisis of fatherhood...

Click play above to listen.

September 24, 2008

Daily roundup

Breaking: McCain suspends campaign, calls on Obama to follow suit

. . . to work on the economic crisis.

A Movie-Inspired Stabbing

Da_vinci_code Here's a great example of the power movies have when one's moral sense is badly weakened.

(Image © Sony Pictures)

Re: Those Not-So-Rational Rationalists

Alice Regis:

While the Journal piece made some good points, its triumphalism leaves me a bit cold.

It would be more accurate to say that the difference between the "new atheists" and conservative Christians isn't that one group is credulous and the other isn't: instead, it's that they are credulous about different things. After all, conservative Christians' disbelief in Atlantis, Big Foot, UFOs and new-age medicine isn't so much rooted in intellectual rigor and/or skeptical empiricism -- it's rooted in a a belief system that a priori declares such things to be impossible ("the Bible says nothing about life on other planets"), verboten or a kind of culture-war treason. It's, at best, a selective empiricism, just like Maher's exclusion of religion while expressing a belief in new-age medicine.

It wouldn't be very difficult to name ideas with wide circulation in conservative Christian circles that you and I would regard as nonsense: the worst kind of credulity. Some of them have even been the subject of BreakPoint commentaries! In other words, among some Christians, the following passes for catechesis:

"I can't believe that!" said Alice.

"Can't you?" the queen said in a pitying tone. "Try again, draw a long breath, and shut your eyes."

Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said. "One can't believe impossible things."

"I dare say you haven't had much practice," said the queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

I enjoy seeing people hoist on their own petards much as anyone else. Probably more. But, to paraphrase the Sermon on the Mount, I must be careful to first pull the petard from my own pants.

Those Not-so-Rational Rationalists

For the last few years, the media darlings of disbelief—Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett—have argued that irrationality and superstition are the products of religious belief. Now, it seems, not only have they gotten that wrong, but they should have known better decades ago.

As reported in the WSJ, a 1980 study published in the Skeptical Inquirer showed “irreligious college students to be by far the most likely to embrace paranormal beliefs, while born-again Christian college students were the least likely.”

Those conclusions were confirmed in a recent Gallup survey that included questions like: Do dreams foretell the future? Can places be haunted? Is it possible to communicate with the dead? According to Gallup, “While 31% of people who never worship expressed strong belief in these things, only 8% of people who attend a house of worship more than once a week did.”

And while strong religious commitment has a decidedly negative correlation with superstition and paranormal beliefs, contrary to the claims of so-called rationalists, higher education has a slight positive correlation:

Two years ago two professors published another study in Skeptical Inquirer showing that, while less than one-quarter of college freshmen surveyed expressed a general belief in such superstitions as ghosts, psychic healing, haunted houses, demonic possession, clairvoyance and witches, the figure jumped to 31% of college seniors and 34% of graduate students.

Ironically, religious skepticism may also incline one to reject the crowning achievement of modern science and rationalism: Western medicine. Comedian Bill Maher, whose irreverent film Religulous debuts on October 3, has said that he rejects the science of vaccination and germ theory, and believes that aspirin is lethal. I wonder if Mr. Maher has been hanging out with Tom Cruise.

Texas Man Walks Again

Leroy Lee was confined to a wheelchair due to heart disease, but wanted to walk again. By using Lee's own stem cells -- not embryonic ones -- physicians in Thailand were able to successfully treat him, reports the company that developed the technology. 

Here’s Your Chance: A Renaissance in the Film Industry

200pxdukes08poster “Film impacts popular culture more than any other medium,” said Ellen Hubbard, co-founder of the American Film Renaissance Institute (AFR) during a speech for the Conservative Women’s Network.

Movies, arguably, do have more transformative power in popular culture than politics and perhaps books. Hubbard reminded us that the American lexicon is filled with quotes from movies. People quote movies in day-to-day speaking and quotes can be heard in political speeches like President Ronald Reagan’s 1985 speech where he said, “Go ahead, make my day.” Sadly, conservatives and Christians have virtually abandoned this creative industry and tragically lost a wonderful opportunity to influence culture in America and around the world.

What do we need to know about making a quotable and successful movie? Hubbard pointed out, “Film is an emotional medium. Bad filmmaking is throwing a bunch of facts on the table. What’s needed is a compelling story.” 

Compelling stories were the stuff movies were made of during what’s known as the “Golden Age" of film. In the '30s, '40s, and '50s, timeless themes of heroism and honor, sacrifice and self-reliance, family and religion, meaning and purpose, and general intelligibility about the world around us were portrayed. While few and far between, films including these themes are still being made and inevitably, moviegoers flock to see them.   

But for the most part, what themes are being portrayed now? Today’s standard film fare is rife with overtly anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-family, anti-business stories from producers like Michael Moore, George Clooney, and Alan Ball. Predominately, today’s films promote -isms like nihilism, postmodernism, fascism, occultism, and paganism. From the mid-1960s onward, standard fare has included stories which encourage unrestrained lasciviousness and dishonorable conduct.

You might have stopped patronizing movies but your children and their peers haven’t, and they are absorbing these emotionally charged and ultimately poisonous messages. What can we do about it?

Continue reading "Here’s Your Chance: A Renaissance in the Film Industry" »

The Point Radio: Foreclosed But Not Forsaken

Is the foreclosure crisis an opportunity for the church?...

Click play above to listen.

September 23, 2008

Daily roundup


In today's New York Times, David Brooks announces that the "establishment is back." By "establishment" he means the "financial elite," "middle-aged men with names like Mellon and McCloy" who "during the first two-thirds of the 20th century . . . led Wall Street firms, corporate boards and white-shoe law firms and occasionally emerged to serve in government."

Dear Lord, I hope not. If we are entering "an era of the educated establishment, in which government acts to create a stable — and often oligarchic — framework for capitalist endeavor," we are so hosed! Start with the fact that none, zip, bupkes of these establishment-types, who presumably have not been in cryogenic stasis for the past 10 years, foresaw the crisis that has required Brooks' return of the oligarchs.

The establishment has a track record of betraying the enormous trust placed in it, not because it's evil or even venal but because it's myopic and arrogant: it can't admit that that it doesn't know nearly as much as it thinks it does.

Instead it was decidedly non-establishment types like Nouriel Roubini and Nassim Nicholas Taleb, two men from the Levant, who saw what was coming, warned us, and were dismissed by "establishment" types. As Taleb has pointed out, the past few decades have shown that the one thing American banks can consistently make money at is charging your mother-in-law fees on her checking account. Anything else and the soi dissant Masters of the Universe lose their shirts, become bed-wetters, and beg the rest of us to bail them out.

Continue reading "Anti-Antidisestablishmentarianism" »

Faces of GodBlogCon, part 2

Gbc_book_signing Scott Ott, John Mark Reynolds, and Roger Overton sign copies of The New Media Frontier: Blogging, Vlogging, and Podcasting for Christ.

Gbc_ott_reynolds Even at dinner, bloggers can't stop playing with their electronic toys . . .

Gbc_table . . . Though this still leaves them time to play with crayons. If you click to enlarge the photo, you can see the beginning of a poem inspired by Dr. Reynolds's entrée.

This dinner, by the way, was notable for being one of the few times that I've done an actual, literal spit take. (Onto the table, thank heaven, not onto anyone sitting near me.) Too late I learned that it's inadvisable to consume liquids anywhere near these two.

Faces of GodBlogCon, part 1

A few snapshots from my weekend among the bloggers . . .

Gbc_meyers Ken Myers delivers his talk.

Gbc_park_barber Lunch with Christine Park, La Shawn Barber, and Christy Lynn Wilson (who took the photo).

Gbc_barber_joseph La Shawn with Mark Joseph after his talk on "Godbloggers and Hollywood."

More to come. (It's likely any one of the people pictured above could arrange these photos and captions on the page more artfully than I have, but as the technological dunce of the group, I just have to do my humble best.)

In the meantime, Scriptorium Daily is posting podcasts of the speeches. Those of you who liked Diane's post "How Missional Is Your Church?" may be particularly interested in Andrew Jones's talk, "The Missional Church in the Internet Age."

Can’t trust those genes

Skeptics who argue that belief in God (indeed, God's very existence) is nothing more than a genetic artifact of our evolutionary development, may be a little unsettled to hear what John Cleese has learned about such notions.

Search-and-Destroy Mission

Babyscan460_979614c In their "search-and-destroy" mission to eradicate all Downs Syndrome babies, healthcare experts are killing even babies who don't have the syndrome

(Image © Reuters)

A cure for what ails you

Claude_monet_water_lilies_1908 Free of charge. Pass it on.