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« October 2008 | Main | December 2008 »

November 28, 2008

A Little Self-Discipline, Please

Thinking about the problems of pornography and sexual addictions that are plaguing nations worldwide, like those I described earlier, I thought it appropriate to post this fable by Aesop.   

The Flies and the Honey Pot

A jar of honey chanced to spill
Its contents on the windowsill
In many a viscous pool and rill.

The flies, attracted by the sweet,
Began so greedily to eat,
They smeared their fragile wings and feet.

With many a twitch and pull in vain
They gasped to get away again,
And died in aromatic pain.

O foolish creatures that destroy
Themselves for transitory joy.

Here's a thought: instead of buying video games for Christmas, go out and buy books like William Bennett's The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories. Your kids might just learn something that would save them a lifetime of pain.

And You Thought It Was Just a Problem for Westerners

Pornography's wretched tentacles have reached into the far corners of the world. India's children are suffering from hyper-sexualization because of the consumption of pornography. As a result, they're becoming addicted to sex. 

It wouldn’t be Black Friday

Lawn_zombie2 . . . without Dave Barry's gift guide.

(Image © Bob Eighmie for the Miami Herald)

The Point Radio: Shopping for Christmas

How much Christmas shopping do you plan to do this year?...

Click play above to listen.

November 27, 2008

’Be Joyful at your Feast’

Jim_tonkowich Jim Tonkowich, BreakPoint's managing editor before Dave the Swede took over, is now the president of the Institute on Religion & Democracy. He sent out a Thanksgiving email yesterday, a portion of which I'ld like to share with Point readers. Jim writes:

The Feast of the Tabernacles is the great Old Testament harvest feast. The instructions about Tabernacles in Deuteronomy contain one of my favorite commandments in the Bible, "Be joyful at your Feast" (Deuteronomy 16:14).

The passage does not seem to allow any exceptions. God's people were to gather each year--regardless of how good or bad the harvest (their economy) happened to be--and were commanded to feast and be joyful as they reflected on the goodness of God toward them.

A good thought for today--a day on which Americans set aside a time of thanksgiving for God's blessings on us. Or, at least, that's what we're supposed to do; many mis-educated children apparently think the purpose of the first Thanksgiving was to thank the Indians for helping them out, and the purpose today is to eat turkey, watch football, and put up with annoying relatives.

Although the Pilgrims set aside three days to thank God for a great harvest, they also honored God during the years when the harvest was not so great--just as the ancient Israelites did.

Knowing what a fabulous cook Jim is, I can't help wondering about the details of his own feast. Jim: Okay if Brent and I stop by on Friday for leftovers?

(Image © IRD)

Hope as We Celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanks to Father Jonathan Morris for his short message of hope. 

The Point Radio: Give Thanks

Gratitude can lead to new blessings....

Click play above to listen.

November 26, 2008

Daily roundup

Posting will be light (but not totally nonexistent) on Thursday and Friday. Have a blessed Thanksgiving.

Over the River and Thru the Woods...

You know, if women ran America, Thanksgiving would take place on Friday, and we'd have Thursday off to grocery shop, vacuum, iron the big white tablecloth, make cranberry sauce and pies, polish the silver, set the table, and make sure we had enough serving dishes to hold the vastly expanded menu items. But SOMEBODY decided we should celebrate on Thursday instead--which means we women (and it usually is women) have to try to jam in all the above-mentioned labor after work on Wednesday. I'm often up until midnight making preparations.

Not that I'm complaining. After all, it's much easier than Christmas preparations, which start the day AFTER Thanksgiving....

Breaking: Terror attacks in India

CNN reports,

Several people have been killed in a series of coordinated attacks targeting Mumbai sites popular with tourists and business people, according to police and CNN's sister network in India.

Ongoing battles between police and gunmen were reported at two five-star hotels by CNN-IBN.

Gunmen armed with automatic weapons and grenades attacked targets including the hotels, a cafe, and a train station, police say.

Maharashtra state government spokesman Bhushan Gagri said 78 people killed and about 200 wounded, while police confirmed 26 deaths.

Please keep the situation in your prayers.

Update: From the AP: "Federal authorities are warning police of a possible terror plot against the New York City subway and train systems during the holiday season, prompting local officials to beef up security at stations."

One for the ’DUH’ Files

"A Japanese zoo puzzled by its lack of success in getting two polar bears to mate has discovered the reason -- both are female."

Thanksgiving Lessons from a Feral Child

Danielle The beginning of this story might make you want to retch, but the ending points to what I'm thankful for this year.

Last July, Lane DeGregory, an exceptional writer for the St. Petersburg Times, pushed investigative journalism to a new height with "The Girl in the Window," a grotesque story of the redemption of a feral girl.

Webster's definition of feral: "of, relating to, or suggestive of a wild beast."

In 2005, some Florida residents reported seeing a child peering out of their neighbors' window. They had never seen the child before, not outside, not anywhere. And the family--a mother and two grown sons--had lived on the premises for three years.

When the police entered the house, they found 7-year-old Danielle in the back room:

She lay on a torn, moldy mattress on the floor. She was curled on her side, long legs tucked into her emaciated chest. Her ribs and collarbone jutted out; one skinny arm was slung over her face; her black hair was matted, crawling with lice. Insect bites, rashes and sores pocked her skin. Though she looked old enough to be in school, she was naked — except for a swollen diaper.

Long story short: the mother was arrested, the girl was put up for adoption, and welcomed by a churchgoing couple, Bernie and Diane Lierow, who said, "She just looked like she needed us."         

Continue reading "Thanksgiving Lessons from a Feral Child" »

In the Words of an Abortion Survivor ...

"If abortion is merely about women's rights ... then what were mine?"

At 7 1/2 months gestation, Gianna Jessen survived a saline-solution abortion. Today, she lives with what she calls the "gift of cerebral palsy" and a fury to fight for women's real rights, most recently bringing Barack Obama to task for refusing to sign Illinois' version of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act (2002), which protects infants who survive abortion. Below, she shares her story on a September edition of Hannity & Colmes.

Pot Calling Kettle, Russian Edition

Over at the Drudge Report, they (he?) are (is?) breathlessly hyping a story about a "leading Russian political analyst" predicting that the U.S.A. is "heading for collapse, and will divide into separate parts."

Writing in Izvestia, Igor Panarin, "a professor at the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian foreign affairs ministry," laid out "how the US would divide along ethnic and cultural lines."

They are: the Pacific coast with its growing Chinese population; the increasingly Hispanic South; independence-minded Texas; the Atlantic Coast; a central state with a large Native American population; and the northern states where - he maintains - Canadian influence is strong.

Alaska could be claimed by Russia, he said, claiming that the region was "only granted on lease, after all."

Last things first, it was a sale, not a lease, Igor. Middle things second: he obviously knows even less about the current U.S.A. than he does about the 19th-century version. Native Americans dominating the Midwest?

More to the point, does the term "projection" mean anything to you, Igor? If it doesn't, here's why you may want to familiarize yourself with the concept:

Continue reading "Pot Calling Kettle, Russian Edition" »

’The Duchess’

Theduchesstrailer I've not seen The Duchess yet, but Nick Pollard from Damaris Trust offers some insightful comments about this movie that you might find helpful before going and seeing it for yourself. 

(Image © Paramount Vintage)

The Point Radio: The Family Factor

Want happiness?...

Click play above to listen.

In the Hands of Thugs

At this moment, our religious freedom is resting in the hands of thugs. 

Following the passing of Proposition 8, militant and violent thugs are persecuting Mormons because they were among the groups that voted for this amendment. Advertising is a powerful tool to whip up desires and passions, and the thugs are using it, as you can see by the disturbing advertisement below.

Here's some suggestions for Christians: If you're in the area, offer to help the victims of intimidation and vandalism. Some might feel called to help defend people against these vile attacks. Those of you with the ability to write, let's hear from you with articles or letters to editors.

It's up to us, through Christ, to speak out against this persecution, in the name of freedom.

Chuck Colson on ’Twilight’

21twil600 The other day, commenter JerryH asked if Chuck Colson had done a BreakPoint commentary on the Twilight movie. He has now. A sample:

The movie Twilight made a staggering $70.6 million at the box office in its opening weekend. To give you some perspective on that, that’s the fourth highest opening weekend for a movie this year. The film website Box Office Mojo reports, “According to distributor Summit Entertainment’s exit polling, 75 percent of Twilight’s audience was female and 55 percent was under 25 years old.”

So chances are if you have a teen or preteen daughter, she’s already seen Twilight. And if she hasn’t, she will want to. That raises some questions for parents: What kind of values is this movie promoting? And how should I talk to my daughter about them?

Read more.

(Image © Summit Entertainment)

November 25, 2008

Daily roundup

Cognitive dissonance

Voting2 At first, I thought Sophia A. Nelson's article about the tense relationship between the black community and the Republican party was a very good, thoughtful piece. But she lost me with "that [party's] message . . . 'has gotten swallowed up by a social conservative agenda that seems obsessed with religion, guns and abortion.'"

Especially when she then went on to advocate that Republicans reach out to black churches. With a religion-free message? Talk about cognitive dissonance! The Republican party's problem with minority outreach isn't that its social policies are unacceptable to the majority of African Americans. (Remember this statistic?) It's that the Republican party has failed to connect with those voters and help them see just how much the two groups have in common on social issues. It's a matter of communication, not substance.

And yet somehow Ms. Nelson has the odd idea that a party can reach new voters by jettisoning stances, priorities, and ideas that matter to those very voters. She ends her article with "The Republican Party has to find its soul again." But you don't gain a new soul by selling the soul you already have.

Death imitates art

Eleven months ago, I wrote that a movie about people who watch someone die via webcam "gets human nature . . . exactly, unerringly right."

I wish I'd been wrong about that.

Simply Horrifying

Centuries ago, the Aztecs routinely practiced human sacrifice to appease their gods. The sacrifices included cutting the heart out of the victim, shooting someone with arrows so their blood flowed freely from a number of wounds, burning people alive and then harvesting their hearts, or filleting victims' skin.

Grisly practices by a bunch of unenlightened people, right? You'd say we've come a long way from such savagery.

Well, not so fast with all the pats-on-the-back. A number of months ago, I wrote about organ transplantation and how people around the world are facing the horror of having their organs stolen. There's plenty of money to be made from this practice.      

Now a new article about the incredible abuse suspected to be happening to prisoners in China is making me wonder anew about the whole issue of transplantation. Mysterious medical tests and disappearances point to the unthinkable: The Chinese are killing religious and political prisoners in order to sell their organs to the highest bidder. 

Do you think Americans are immune from turning down an organ attained from these barbaric methods? Also, do you think we're above allowing this practice to happen here?

Here’s a clue that we’re not as far from stealing organs as you might think. Thankfully, the Prime Minister’s move to make transplantation an opt-out system has been scrapped—for now. But if more people don’t opt in…

The image of God behind bars

Chess_piece Inmates in New Jersey State Prison and students from Princeton University clashed in battle this month -- on chess boards.  A New York Times article describes the "cultural exchange program" that gives men in New Jersey's maximum security facility the chance to compete against some of the brightest brains in the country. In a recent competition, a dozen inmates prevailed.

Their wins shouldn't be shocking. But before I visited a prison, I would not have anticipated those victories. Until I interacted with inmates, I carried the subconscious assumption that they were somehow less than human. That creative intelligence does not exist behind bars. That inmates lose awareness of time and space, making life in the same place with the same routine in the same group of people, for decades, a bearable, seemingly brief experience. Prisoners, in my mind, were like fish in an aquarium.

Talking, listening, and laughing with inmates opened my eyes to their full humanity. I finally understood that being in prison does not extinguish the image of God in a person. God infused our natures with the capacity and craving to explore, to learn, to understand, to develop, to move, to subdue. When a person enters prison, these attributes endure. Only now they are confined to a prison cell and a prison yard.  Prisoners live through their sentences -- not hibernate.

I'm definitely not saying that we should tear down our prisons. Justice and safety demand punishment for crime. But I am arguing that we should do all we can to help inmates celebrate their humanity -- and direct their God-given attributes towards righteousness. We should visit, engage, and teach. Solid academic research even indicates these things dramatically improve public safety by equipping offenders to avoid criminal behavior.

A chess victory may seem trivial. But it points to the divine spark that no shackle can extinguish.   

When Care Bears Attack!

Artpandas I'm a bad person. No, make that a terrible person. Really. I insist.

Why? I find the following story hilarious:

BEIJING (AP) -- A college student in southern China was bitten by a panda after he broke into the bear's enclosure hoping to get a hug, state media and a park employee said Saturday . . .

"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack," the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the official Xinhua News Agency . . .

Last year, a panda at the Beijing Zoo attacked a teenager, ripping chunks out of his legs, when he jumped a barrier while the bear was being fed.

The same panda was in the news in 2006 when he bit a drunk tourist who broke into his enclosure and tried to hug him while he was asleep. The tourist retaliated by biting the bear in the back.

What part of "bear" don't these people understand? Pandas may be stupid unfit creatures well-deserving of extinction, but they are still bears (albeit really inept bears) with teeth and claws to match. They bite and they don't give hugs.

Hugs? What kind of dipstick expects hugs from a wild animal? If you insist on getting emotional validation from wild animals, here are some suggestions:

  • Go up to a tiger, say, in the Sundarbans, and ask it to bounce on its tail for you. Tell it that watching its cousin Tigger made you feel all sorts of warm inside. You will likely feel all sorts of warm on the outside shortly thereafter. Then things will go cold.
  • The next time you need engineering advice, ask a coyote. They're really smart and they seem to have a substantial line of credit with ACME.
  • On your next visit to a national park, pack a picnic basket for a bear. Make sure the bear can smell it. Then pick up its cub and call it "Boo Boo." Make sure momma bear sees you.

(Image © AFP/Getty Images via CNN)

Do you believe in evolution?

Even if you think not, most likely, you do--because the question covers a wide range of possibilities you may not have stopped to consider.

That’s not how you do it

If David Waters truly believes that a good way to go to church is "visiting every possible house of worship from Baptist to Buddhist, from Methodist to Mormon to Muslim, from Catholic to Jewish to Pentecostal . . . [as] an opportunity to make a statement for America's brand of religious tolerance and pluralism," then he doesn't understand why people go to church.

The Point Radio: A Real Thanksgiving Feast

The Pilgrims never saw stocks tumble, but they did see a food scare...

Click play above to listen.

November 24, 2008

Daily roundup

Oh, How Generous!

Over at Culture11, Clint Rainey writes about the "decline and fall of charity." He has a lot of interesting things to say, so read it. Please.

I was especially struck by this part:

Of course, even money given to churches doesn’t always find its way to the needy.

Americans gave an estimated $97 billion to churches in 2006, which is nearly one-third of that year’s $295 billion in total charitable contributions, according to Giving USA Foundation, but lots of churches are pocketing that scratch.

And it shows.

Megachurches are widely credited with getting a Third Awakening of sorts off the ground, with lots of excited members and fistfuls of money, but their wealth also makes them the worst charity offenders—and garish, besides. The average annual income for a megachurch is $5 million. Of that almost $100 billion given in 2006, three-quarters was banked by the original church or went to other churches or religious organizations.

Churches understandably want safe Christian atmospheres, but too many want cafés, skate parks, Xbox-jammed arcades, kids’ sports leagues, not one but four JumboTrons, booming THX sound capable of rattling the walls of the nearby AMC Theaters, staggeringly sophisticated Obi-Wan Kenobi hologram projections of the pastor at satellite campuses—the whole shebang . . .

I've often thought about this -- I've wondered how much actual good (not just material succor, but spiritual life and death as well if you take this past Sunday's Gospel reading as, well, Gospel) a lot of the money given to churches actually does, seeing as how much of it goes into sustaining  local churches' operations as opposed to meeting human needs.

Continue reading "Oh, How Generous!" »

My grandchildren versus field mice

Field_mouse Peter Singer writes in Newsweek that as we move towards a "nonspeciesist" world, we will go from requiring factory farmers to keep chickens and pigs in crates large enough to allow them to "stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs," to relying on scientists to "grow meat in vats," to turning over large swatches of land to animals. In order to accomplish this last goal, human would have to have fewer children.

So--my children will have to sacrifice some of my grandchildren to ensure there's plenty of room for field mice?

Singer also suggest that we may be "ethically bound to prevent animals from killing other animals." But "to contemplate interfering with the workings of ecosystems would be presumptuous, at least for now," Singer notes.

I'm trying to imagine a world where animals don't kill and eat one another. Will we rope off lions from chimpanzees? After we do that, how will we feed them? Because if we take away their food sources, we will be ethically bound to provide food for them. Moreover, It doesn't seem to occur to Singer that demanding that humans bear fewer children is also "interfering with the working of eco-systems."

I can accept the idea that factory farms ought to treat animals more humanely. But why, in all the passionate arguments about equal rights for animals, are human fetuses always left out in the cold?

(Image © ScienceDaily)

Ever wonder what makes up stuff?

Matrix ...You know, the familiar things of this material world? Well, matter, of course. And, as we all learned in high school science, matter is primarily made up of protons and neutrons which, themselves are made up of quarks. But what are quarks made of?

According to this report, "matter is merely vacuum fluctations." In other words, if you were to peer inside a quark to see what "it is," you would find...there is no there, there! 

Looks like Madonna had it wrong--she is a virtual girl living in a virtual world...as are the rest of us. That's right, we're in the Matrix. Now back to my virtual cup of Joe...hmm!

(Image © Warner Bros.)

Scripture on Display

Reference_rainbow A Ph.D. student at Carnegie Mellon has created a rather interesting image that offers a profound testimony of the beauty and intricacy of God's Word. The concept is fairly simple -- a graph that displays thousands of cross-references in Scripture -- but the pattern reveals much about how consistent, how perfect, and how faithful to His promises God is.

It's hard to imagine any work of literature, or any other "sacred" book, that would weave so impressive a tapestry from beginning to end.

As my friends and I agreed (along with Suzanne at Boundless), that is really cool.

(Image © Chris Harrison, Carnegie Mellon University)

’How pro-choice are you?’

Pp_instruments Sunday's Washington Post Magazine may have done the pro-life movement an inadvertent favor by exploring the mind and experiences of a young medical student trying to decide whether to become an abortion provider. While her pro-choice stance never wavers, she has to face questions like "How pro-choice are you? What does it mean for you?" And she has to watch abortions being performed.

This time, the procedure took 10 minutes instead of five. The dilator was bigger; there was more tissue to remove; and the patient, although sedated, was awake and moving with discomfort. Lesley watched as the doctor counted the parts of the fetus, and, to her surprise, she didn't find it jarring. To her, the parts appeared doll-like.

"It was definitely gruesome," she said. "You could make out what a fetus could look like, tiny feet, lungs, but it didn't look like a person." She knew this abortion was an act that her friend Litty considered tantamount to murder. She herself expected to be very upset. She'd felt that way at her first autopsy, that of a teenage boy who'd shot himself in the head. For weeks, she could not shake the image of the boy. But this was different. She didn't regard the fetus as a person yet. She said she was happy to help the woman: "I feel like I was giving [her] a new lease" on life.

Later that morning, though, while conducting a pelvic exam, Lesley noted that she wasn't her usual slow, gentle self. That evening, discussing the second-term abortion with her mother, Lesley described a process that she found disturbingly brutal, especially the stretching of the vagina.

"It's a lot more invasive than I thought," she said. "A papaya [on which she'd practiced the procedure] doesn't bleed and scream." Women do.

Lesley didn't want to have to steel herself emotionally to perform abortions, and she was coming to realize that that's what she'd have to do.

Lesley Wojcik and author Patricia Meisol will be conducting an online discussion about the Post article at 12 p.m. ET today. Submit questions or just follow the discussion here.

Better late than never

Reader Sharon Soderlund sent this story about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development last week. It begins as folllows:

On November 23rd in Catholic churches around the country ushers will pass collection baskets for the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). Millions of trusting Catholics will contribute “to help the poor.” What many don’t know is that their hard-earned dollars will pour into the coffers of liberal organizations promoting causes they oppose and which often hurt the poor.

I had every intention of putting this up on Friday, but unfortunately, it slipped my mind. I apologize. However, though it's now less timely, it's still an important story and many of you will want the information for future reference, so I'm posting it now.

Below is a video that Sharon also sent, which explains more.

The Point Radio: Advertising Atheism

An ad campaign against God?...

Click play above to listen.

November 21, 2008

Daily roundup

Open movie thread, ’Twilight’ edition

Movie_camera Take a teen romance that's simultaneously vapid and dangerous, strip away what little personalities the characters had, ramp up the violence and throw in a gratuitous underwear scene, and you've got Twilight the movie.

As with the book, it's hard to tell which is more of a concern, Edward's stalker-like tendencies or the way in which he and Bella are incessantly portrayed as just a little bit better than the yahoos around them (the same kind of thing that bugged me years ago about the two self-centered brats at the center of Titanic). The movie plays this up even more than the book did. The kids and some of the adults in Bella's town and school are portrayed as inane to the point of brainlessness. By contrast, there's a breathless focus on every word that Bella and her vampire lover utter, as if pearls of wisdom were dropping from their lips. This focus is accompanied by constant, huge closeups of their every facial expression, to the point where the viewer is seriously afraid of disappearing up Bella's nostril. 

This treatment makes even less sense than it did in the book, since there's absolutely nothing that sets these two apart as characters. If you were asked to list their defining qualities or behaviors, aside from Edward's magical vampire powers, you could use one hand and still have a couple of fingers left over. Edward still plays the piano, but movie Bella doesn't even cook anymore, and her love of reading disappears entirely, apart from a one-second shot of a "Reading Is Sexy" bumper sticker pinned to her bulletin board. In a way it's a relief to be spared Bella's reflections on great literature, which were always about as deep as a mud puddle, but that leaves her with no hobbies at all other than listening to her iPod and dreaming about Edward. So there's no real reason for either of them to think of themselves as, or to be treated as, superior beings, unless gazing goopily at each other across the school parking lot as drippy rock anthems blare from the soundtrack is supposed to count as some kind of talent.

I was completely unable to hold back the giggles at highly inappropriate moments, such as when Edward revealed his sparkly self in the sunlight -- looking more like a human disco ball than anything -- and followed it up with an anguished "It's the skin of a killer!" By the mercy of God, however, I was spared death at the hands of outraged fangirls. (There were an awful lot of them for a school morning. This thing is going to make major bucks.)

As a side note, the trailers at my showing included some for particularly nasty-looking horror movies that I wouldn't think were appropriate for high school girls. But then, as you know, I don't really think Twilight is either.

If you've seen Twilight or other recent movies, share your thoughts here!

Robert Novak on Confidence

Robert_novak I've only scanned this interview with Robert Novak, and I'm very much looking forward to reading it in its entirety. But one bit caught my eye. In describing the source and extent of his professional confidence, Novak says (emphasis mine):

It starts if you're an only child. You're told you're wonderful, you can do no wrong. My mother always gave me the impression I was going to be something successful in the world. She didn't know what, and she certainly wasn't happy with the career path I took, but she never criticized me.

A person with a mother like that ends up with a great deal of confidence, which is a good thing to have if you're going to be the kind of journalist I was. If you're just going to report on car wrecks and interview the victims, you don't need much confidence. But if you're going to make proclamations on the state of the world, it helps to have confidence -- even if that confidence is unwarranted.

I love this! I'm no only child, and I have no real opportunity to "make proclamations on the state of the world" (or proclamations to which anyone listens anyway), but ... let's just say that I understand what Novak is describing here. Big time.

(Mom, you rule!)

(Image courtesy of Townhall)

eHarmony Settles and Will Offer Same-Sex Matching

Artmenholdinghandsgi The website eHarmony, which many consider a safe and Christian-friendly dating site, is now developing a same-sex matching service, Compatible Partners, set to launch in March. This is a result of a legal settlement of a lawsuit that claims the dating site violated gay rights for not providing same-sex matching. eHarmony’s legal counsel says:

Even though we believed that the complaint resulted from an unfair characterization of our business, we ultimately decided it was best to settle this case with the Attorney General since litigation outcomes can be unpredictable… eHarmony looks forward to moving beyond this legal dispute, which has been a burden for the company, and continuing to advance its business model of serving individuals by helping them find successful, long-term relationships.

I wish eHarmony had fought harder. The settlement seems a sign of surrender to me, and whether they like it or not, an additional assualt on the traditional marraige that they once strongly promoted. What do you think?

(Image © Getty Images via CNN)

Is smoking going to be cool again?

Cigarette I sincerely hope not. (And since when does regularly drinking water cancel out a nicotine habit?? I don't mean to be rude, but I'm starting to wonder what Mr. Kinsley is smoking.)

Dr. Phil takes on Prop. 8

Doctor_phil So I understand that you might want to tune into Dr. Phil today. Here's the description of the show:

Friday - November 21, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage: Prop 8 Debate
It’s a hot-button topic in California and around the country: The passage of Proposition 8, which reinstated a ban on same-sex marriage. Supporters of this initiative voted to preserve the sanctity of marriage solely between a man and a woman. Opponents of Prop 8 say it violates the constitutional rights of the gay community and that America’s laws should treat everyone equally. Since Election Day, numerous protests and rallies have been organized to overturn the law, and the debates are getting heated regarding this highly personal and controversial topic. Dr. Phil’s guests debate their opposing points of view: Discrimination attorney Gloria Allred, president of the Human Rights Campaign Joe Solmonese, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Pastor Jim Garlow, president of National Organization of Marriage, Maggie Gallagher and co-campaign manager for the Yes on 8 Campaign, Jeff Flint. Whatever your beliefs, you won’t want to miss this show!

(Image © Jerry Avenaim for Newsweek)

Prayer request

U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey collapsed while giving a speech last night. He was reported to be awake and alert this morning, but please remember him in your prayers.

The Point Radio: Defending Life at Home

As Christians we believe in the sanctity and dignity of human life. But how good of a job do we do in teaching our children about it?...

Click play above to listen.

Karen Santorum, Everyday Graces: Child’s Book of Good Manners (Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2003).

November 20, 2008

Daily roundup

Re: CPCs

Regarding the conversation we've been having here about crisis pregnancy centers, I spoke with Kristin Hansen, an old friend who is vice president of communications at Care Net. She knows of no CPCs that actually claim to perform abortions.

She also wrote in a follow-up e-mail,

Many of the horror stories about pregnancy centers are urban legends. Their exit surveys overwhelmingly show that pregnancy center clients are treated with respect and compassion and are satisfied with the level of service received.

If a center is employing a "whatever it takes" approach to justify preventing abortions, it is operating outside of industry standards, as documented in the "Commitment of Care" endorsed by the three largest umbrella organizations -- Care Net, Heartbeat International, and the National Institute of Family Life Advocates (NIFLA).

Care Net, for instance, requires its affiliates to abide by this "Statement of Principle": "The pregnancy center is committed to integrity in dealing with clients, earning their trust, and providing promised information and services. The pregnancy center denounces any form of deception in its corporate advertising or individual conversations with clients." 

Unfortunately, Kristin added, reporters with an agenda tend to treat any clinic that operates outside industry standards as if it were representative of the 2,300 pregnancy centers in the nation (not 3,400, as the GOOD Magazine article claimed). This could not be further from the truth.

What’s Going On in Iran and Israel?

Today's Drudge Report links to an article claiming that Iran now has enough material to build a nuclear bomb. If this is so, it's obviously not good news for Israel.

To put it all in perspective, check out Joel Rosenberg's latest post, "War with Iran?"

National Bible Week: Nov. 23-30

While I'm unsure who designates these things, next week, November 23-30, is National Bible Week. (More resources are here.) Appropriately enough, it coincides with Thanksgiving. Regardless of whether one is reading an adventure, a teaching, or a lament in the Bible, it has a way of centering you, letting the stresses of the day fall off, allowing you to think and feel again. It is indeed a Living Word, speaking to our own situations.

So as the child's voice said to St. Augustine, "Take up and read!"

Ever see a non-sinister attack?

Rss_party Thanks to Roberto for sending along the quote of the day, or possibly the year, from a Times reporter:

A group of Catholic bishops from Orissa believe that the attacks [on Christians] have a sinister objective.

No, really??

(Image © The Times)

’Little Dorrit’: Which Davies will we get?

Little_dorrit I don't know whether to be delighted or distressed that Andrew Davies has adapted my beloved Little Dorrit into a miniseries. As those who've followed Davies's career know, when he's good, he's very, very good, and when he's bad . . . well, you get a proposed Brideshead Revisited without God, or a gratuitous bathtub scene in Northanger Abbey, or something else weird, icky, and totally out of place.

As for Davies's previous attempt at Dickens, the highly acclaimed Bleak House, I'm still working my way through it, so the jury is out for me. But aside from some vertigo-inducing jump cuts, so far that miniseries looks like it deserves all the praise it's received.

For the moment, then, perhaps it's all right to give Davies the benefit of the doubt. I hope.

The Little Dorrit cast certainly looks irreproachable. Anyone who casts a former Mr. Darcy -- no, not Colin Firth, but a Mr. Darcy nonetheless -- as Arthur Clennam (one of the fictional loves of my life) has the right idea. And to choose Gollum to play the villainous Rigaud is nothing short of inspired. A great cast does not always a great miniseries make, but it's a step in the right direction.

I have no idea whether we have any British Point readers. If we do, and you've seen what the BBC has aired so far, how about weighing in and soothing the nerves of an anxious Dickens fanatic?

(Image © BBC)

Just call them Robin Hood

Oil_tanker Evidently, crime in Somalia DOES pay. Here's one mother's response to the "blessings" her town is receiving thanks to these criminals:

Regardless of how the money is coming in, legally or illegally, I can say it has started a life in our town.... Our children are not worrying about food now and they go to Islamic schools in the morning and play soccer in the afternoon. They are happy.

I wonder if those Islamic schools teach that the proper way to punish thieves is to cut off their hands?

(Image © AP)