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« November 2008 | Main | January 2009 »

December 04, 2008

Prop. 8 the Musical

Prop_8_musical Here's another attempt to stereotype, ridicule and mischaracterize Jesus Christ and people of faith, all in the name of tolerance. Warning: This video contains very offensive material. Proceed at your own risk.

I agree with my friend Randy Thomas, who said on his blog, "This is a perfect example of how different the gay culture war is compared to the true civil rights movements of the past. Martin Luther King would have never condoned this type of protest or characterization of an 'opponent.'” I’m not shocked or surprised. But I know many gays and lesbians will disagree with the blatant mockery of Christians -- some of whom in the past have also done poorly in showing grace to the gay community.

My criticism of the video and those who developed it is that they are committing exactly the kind of offense that when done to the gay community is considered foul and intolerable. I wonder what the past civil rights leaders and the true followers of Jesus Christ will think now.

(Image © AP/FunnyOrDie.com)

Half-vampire babies and the werewolves who love them

Just the other day, I was remarking upon the distasteful element of "imprinting" in the Twilight series -- especially distasteful when it applies to teenage boys and baby girls. As the L.A. Times points out (scroll down to point seven), that's not going to come across too well onscreen. (Adult themes.)

Happy solstice

Solsticesign Zoe pointed out that atheists as a whole haven't done much of a job organizing charitable efforts. Now it appears they're also a little behind when it comes to arts and symbolism. According to this article, the Freedom From Religion Foundation won the right to have their own holiday display at the state Capitol in Olympia, Washington. So now there's a Nativity scene, a decorated tree -- and a sign with some writing on it.

Keep working on it, guys. You may be a couple of millennia behind, but I'm sure with some effort you can come up with some sort of heartwarming holiday depiction of hardened hearts and enslaved minds.

(Image © Brent Nicastro for the Freedom from Religion Foundation)

The Point Radio: Taking Risks

Are you playing it safe with God?...


Click play above to listen.

Tim Johnston, “Flying Syringes and Other Bold Ideas,” Washington Post, 23 October 2008.

December 03, 2008

Daily roundup

Wheezing: A Christian Art Form

Laughter Not enough consideration is given to the several passages in the Scripture that deal with laughter. When old Sarah was told that she was going to have a child in her dotage, she laughed out loud. But God had the last laugh, though, when little Isaac was born. And what does "Isaac" mean? "Laughter," of course.

Another example comes from the gospels, when Jesus sends his disciples out for the first time on their own. They perform a few signs and wonders and excitedly rush back to tell their master. In what some say is the only time the gospel writers express Jesus' hilarity, we are told that he laughed uproariously, saying that he saw the devil fall from the sky while his disciples were out trying their hand at declaring the Kingdom of Heaven being at hand.

I am reminded of the good tonic of laughter just about every day at work when hearing (from halfway across the room) the wheezing laughter of fellow Pointer Allen Thornburgh. No matter how gray the day, Allen can be heard having fun with someone, and remarkably, it always seems to be work related. Such bursts are contagious and make even those of us who aren't in on the joke smile as we go along our day.

So find something to laugh about today. Laughter is one of God's best gifts for dispelling the gloom that the devil loves to have us imagine is enshrouding us. That's when he gets us, of course. And that's precisely the time to punch our way out of it with a good, strong guffaw.

In the meantime, wheeze on, Thornburgh!

Not so NICE

03nice_190 From today's New York Times:

RUISLIP, England — When Bruce Hardy’s kidney cancer spread to his lung, his doctor recommended an expensive new pill from Pfizer. But Mr. Hardy is British, and the British health authorities refused to buy the medicine. His wife has been distraught.

"Everybody should be allowed to have as much life as they can,” Joy Hardy said in the couple’s modest home outside London.

If the Hardys lived in the United States or just about any European country other than Britain, Mr. Hardy would most likely get the drug, although he might have to pay part of the cost. A clinical trial showed that the pill, called Sutent, delays cancer progression for six months at an estimated treatment cost of $54,000.

But at that price, Mr. Hardy’s life is not worth prolonging, according to a British government agency, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. The institute, known as NICE, has decided that Britain, except in rare cases, can afford only £15,000, or about $22,750, to save six months of a citizen’s life. [Emphasis mine]

Anyone else having That Hideous Strength flashbacks right about now?

(Image © Hazel Thompson for the New York Times)

New laws can keep ex-offenders from church

Yes, we need to protect the children. But this is ludicrous.

New laws governing all registered sex offenders released in North Carolina took effect yesterday. The restrictions are so tough that they can prohibit these people from attending church. According to a story in the Charlotte Observer, at least one sheriff is notifying those in his district that they can no longer go to church because they would be within 300 feet of the Sunday School children.

Because only the smallest percentage of sex offenders pose a risk for reoffending, harsh restrictions that cover every type of sex offender are ridiculous. They do not enhance public safety. And they are especially outrageous when they keep these people from the communities of care that build a spiritual and moral foundation for their lives. When we give a sheriff authority to force a free, currently law-abiding citizen away from his place of worship, we have made a mockery of both justice and wisdom.    

Rewritten in Stone

Cvc So the longstanding debate on the unchangeable nature or living identity of the Constitution has been decided in stone for all to see, in the newly constructed Capitol Visitor Center. Not surprisingly, this monument Congress built to itself also pushed a message of expansive government. Matthew Spalding, director of the Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation, says the visitor center selectively cut passages from the Constitution. "The dominant message when you walk through the doors in this exhibit you're hit with is the role of Congress is to fulfill our greatest aspirations." And this is the message that we'll be giving to millions of visitors each year: "the Constitution really isn't what we thought it was; it's . . . up to Congress to decide what it means."

Furthermore, the center cost twice its original budget and is opening four years late. What a great use of tax dollars, to educate our society that Congress is unlimited and will define our highest ideals and aspirations. "When you think about that," says Spalding, "that's a radical message." And with these seeds of enlightenment etched in stone for all to see, Spalding is definitely right.

Read more here.

(Image © Joseph Silverman for the Washington Times)

The Day the Earth Stood Still

The_day_the_earth_stood_still I still remember being scared out of my wits as a kid when I first saw The Day the Earth Stood Still on television, so I'm looking forward to seeing the remake when it comes out December 12.

What about you? Is this a film you are planning to see?

(Image © 20th Century Fox)

The Point Radio: Blessed to Bless

How do you treat God’s blessings? When $1000 fell into one child's hands, she had the answer....


Click play above to listen.

Girl Finds $1000 in Richard Simmons Tape,” MSNBC.com, 29 October 2008.

December 02, 2008

Daily roundup

Race relations: Right back where we started?

160_ap_obama_0811242 That didn't take long. Barely a month after the presidential election, the Washington Post editorial page ran two gigantic side-by-side headlines announcing "I'm Not Post-Racial" and "He's Not Black." The second article, despite the sensational title, at least has something like a valid point -- most of our racial categories are too simplistic to take into account our complicated heritages -- but the first reads as if its author is scrambling for something to gripe about (which, granted, is not an unusual attitude for the Post): "The term post-racial itself has become disconcerting. It means moving beyond something -- and I don't want to move beyond everything it suggests. . . . My aim is not for us to be post-racial but to embrace our cultural heritages while refusing to be confined by them."

Oh. Well, that clears that up.

(Image © Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP)

A classless little Christmas

Lawrence This Christmas story aptly sums up eight years of arrogance, spitefulness, and rudeness directed by significant portions of the left at President Bush, his family, and his administration.

When one is asked to contribute to a person or cause one finds objectionable, the sensible and classy thing to do would be to decline. Unfortunately, Seattle artist Deborah Lawrence, asked to design an ornament for the White House Christmas tree, decided to be neither sensible nor classy.

"I was at first nauseated, then realized it was an opportunity," said Lawrence, 55, who frequently combines politics and satire in her work and saw this as the perfect way "to highlight [Rep.] Jim McDermott because he's a hero of mine."

The nine-inch ball is covered with swirly red and white stripes -- and, in tiny glued-on text, salutes the Democratic congressman's support for a resolution to impeach President Bush. (Also showcased: Washington state's 1919 labor strike, its suffrage movement and the violent anti-World Trade Organization riots of 1999.) Lawrence sent it off to D.C. in September and was very surprised it was accepted for the tree -- and that she was invited to this afternoon's White House reception for the artists, which she flew to D.C. to attend.

You're not the only one who's nauseated, Ms. Lawrence.

The ornament has since been rejected, but its designer is still scheduled to attend the White House reception -- demonstrating that Mrs. Bush possesses far more class, grace, and dignity than her artistic detractor.

(Image © Deborah Lawrence)

Eat a Good Meal and Help the Homeless

Coffee_cup Ever try to help someone and end up doing exactly the opposite?

A few winters ago, I walked past a homeless woman jingling her cup outside of a bookstore. I walked into the bookstore, browsed for a while, and then, conscience-twinged, walked back out into the cold to drop some spare change into the lady's cup. I knew something was wrong when I didn't hear that "plunk" sound. Halfway out of earshot, I heard the woman yell after me, "That was my drink!"

Since then, my friends--those who were with me that day, and those who weren't--haven't let me forget my charity gone wrong. I'm happy to provide a laugh at my expense, especially when I can use it to point out the fact that most of us haven't the foggiest about how to really help the homeless.

This year, I think I've got a better idea than ruining someone's latte. How about going out for a delicious meal?

If you live in Washington, D.C., or Baltimore, you have access to two little cafés known for their delightful menus and altruistic excellence. Both the Dogwood Deli in Baltimore and New Course Restaurant and Catering in Washington, D.C., help homeless men and women get back on their feet by teaching them to cook.

So, to keep from becoming like me and repeating my little cup incident, have a good meal instead.

Change That 5th-Century Rome Believed In

In just a couple of national election cycles, the U.S. has managed to place its future fully in the hands of the European Admiration Society. The Continent's frou frou sophisticates are just so bloody chic, I can't help myself, baby; we just gotta be like them, you understand.

Evidently.

I wonder if our electorate actually reads the news (no, Us Weekly doesn't count) about Europe. Or knows anything beyond NPR's daily public health care hustle and an Epcot visit.

Well, I guess we'll find out since we've just voted to do everything but switch to the Euro.  Mark Steyn's excellent America Alone is an eye-opener as to what we can expect if we don't suppress our Inner Amsterdam. And a weekend post of his caught my eye:

In formerly Catholic Spain, meanwhile, the land of the upside-down family tree (four grandparents, two children, one grandchild), they're still going forth but they're not multiplying:

Abortion Now Number One Cause Of Death In Spain

Under Spain's practically nonexistent restrictions, abortions have more than doubled since the mid 1990s, climbing from 51,006 in 1996 to over 120,000 in 2007.  The abortion rate is now approaching one in five pregnancies (18.3%), according to the report...

The IPF report also notes that the proportion of women having their second or later abortion has risen substantially since 2000, from 23% that year to 31% in 2006...

Spain's abortion rate is a major contributor to the country's worsening demographic problems.

They've still got a ways to go to catch up with Russia, where two-thirds of pregnancies are terminated.

Repeat after me: Roe was progress. Repeat until conviction or ruin.

. . . And he’ll tie up the phone

Thanks to Pastor Michael Easley for passing along another tribute to the longsuffering families of pastors, from the people who brought you the "Before He Speaks" spoof.

Quite the Pickle, Senator Clinton

Hillary_clinton Who knew that getting too power-hungry could create complications? Apparently, there is now a conflict between the Secret Service and the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security regarding the security of former first lady, Senator, and Secretary of State to-be, Hillary Clinton. Associated Press writer Matthew Lee wrote last week, "Mrs. Clinton's nomination would create an unprecedented logistical and jurisdictional hurdles that will require significant negotiation to resolve."

If there wasn't enough turf warfare between the two agencies, let's further complicate it. Not only is she the last first lady to retain lifetime Secret Service protection (according to legislation passed in 1997), but to add more knots to the web, Mrs. Clinton's husband is also protected by Secret Service. Traveling together could create quite the security hurdle, especially if the former President doesn't give up his Secret Service protection.

Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we try to wear too many power hats.

Read more here.

(Image via the Washington Times)

Go figure

I was flipping through the North American Mission Board's On Mission magazine today (Winter edition) and spotted some interesting statistics. I've summarized a few of them here. Take a look:

  • In 1900 there were 29 churches for every 10,000 Americans. In 2004, there were 11 churches for every 10,000 Americans. (Source: North American Mission Board)
  • Almost 40% of new immigrants to the U.S. bypass the cities and move straight to the suburbs. That means that many of us have the nations living in our backyard. (Source: New York Times and The Week, November 2, 2007.)
  • Young adults are more likely today to say they are atheists. One in four 18 to 22 year olds doesn't believe in God, while only 6% of the population over 60 will say the same. (Source: Washington Post, October 5, 2007.)
  • According to the Heritage Foundation, men are 57% less likely to attend church if they aren't married and single women are 41% less likeley to attend church than their married counterparts. (Source: CitizenLink)
  • Some 78% of adults 30 years and older reported they would like to have an honest discussion with a friend about religious beliefs, even if they disagreed with the friend. (Facts and Trends, Mar/Apr 2008)

The Point Radio: Careful What You Say

A little profanity can be a big problem....


Click play above to listen.

Mark Sherman, “Court Wrestles with TV Profanity Case,” ABC News, 4 November 2008.

December 01, 2008

Daily roundup

A Black Day Indeed!

After the smoke had settled, there was a reported three dead, more wounded. And no, I'm not talking about the war in Iraq.

Nearly everyone heard over the weekend about the Wal-Mart clerk who was stampeded to death. Less recounted is the sad story of two men who opened fire at a Toys 'R' Us in Palm Desert, California. While the story itself is tragic, I was shocked by the response of some mothers. Instead of taking their children elsewhere, one mother told her nervous 13-year-old, "They can't come back," as she perused video board games. Not surprisingly, her words did little to calm her son's fears.

But I couldn't understand how getting a deal on video games took precedence over the safety of her children. As one Point commenter has noted, "It's not that different from offering human sacrifices to Molech in the interest of prosperity." Molech, indeed. One mom sacrificed her young daughter by placing her on top of a new plasma screen, hoping it would help her claim the set. Her daughter was punched by an overly eager man, who then ran off with the coveted goods. It is a black day indeed in America where the safety of our children is sacrificed to the god of commercialism!

Newsflash: Terrorists not into hope and change

There are many who had such an optimistic and hopeful opinion of things, and you certainly can’t expect things to change [snaps fingers] on a dime overnight, but there are many who suggested that with the outgoing Bush administration and the incoming Obama administration there would be something of a lull in terrorism attacks. There had been such a global outpouring of affection, respect, hope, with the new administration coming in, that precisely these kinds of attacks, it was thought — at least hoped — would be dampered down.

Daytime anchor Alex Witt, MSNBC, November 27, via Newsbusters

I'm trying to decide which is goofier: the idea that "a global outpouring of affection, respect, hope" could be counted on to melt the hardened hearts of the most murderous villains, or "dampered down."

It’s going to be a long four years....

Obama_cabinet During the Nixon years, we had DR. Kissinger as Secretary of State. During the Clinton era, we had DR. Albright. During the Bush era, we had DR. Rice. And now, we have: Miss Hillary. You know, the smartest woman on the planet when it comes to foreign policy, despite her lack of the serious educational credentials possessed by those predecessors.

Why did Barack Obama pick Miz Cattle Futures? Some observers think it's the only way he can shut her up and keep her from scotching his legislative plans over the next four years as she plans another run for the presidency. Obama himself says he chose her because he is "a strong believer in strong personalities and strong opinions."

Really? Who's going to be his national security advisor? Rush Limbaugh?

Obama also says he's planning to consult with military commanders before deciding when to surrender yank our troops out of Iraq. What will "The One" do if they advise him to let our troops finish the job honorably? (Yeah, I know--he'll ignore them.)

In preparing for the presidency, Obama could do no better than to read the book of Proverbs, where much is written about where wisdom can be found. (Hint: It's not among the loud, the graspingly ambitious, and the opinionated.)

It's going to be a long, folly-filled, but highly entertaining four years....

(Image © AP)

Our Favorite C.S. Lewis Quotations

In honor of C.S. Lewis's birthday, let's post some of our favorite quotations from his writings. I'll get us started:

"All that is not eternal is eternally out of date." (From The Four Loves)

A birthday tribute

Lewis2 Saturday marked the 110th anniversary of the birth of someone we're pretty fond of around here. Dr. Bruce Edwards has a nice tribute here.

Black Friday Stampede

Walmart The Black Friday stampede at a Wal-Mart store in Long Island that left one store clerk dead and several injured should be a wake-up call to many of us. Is this a reflection of what our society has become, that people become irrational and insensitive to human life, all in the name of a good sale? What makes people lose their decency and behave this way?   

(Image © AP)

Only in D.C.

December's Washingtonian magazine (print version only) has a lengthy spread on "64 Ways to Do Good." While most of the piece is laudable, it's somewhat marred by a bizarre sidebar about which nonprofit boards are "hot" and which aren't.

Boards go through hot and cold phases. Under Septime Webre, the Washington Ballet has become a hot board, whereas Arena Stage is waning. The White House Historical Association isn't high on the power meter -- one of its main responsibilities is the annual White House holiday ornament -- yet with board members such as Mike McCurry and Michael Beschloss, it's high on prestige.

There's even a chart that tells almost nothing about what these charities actually do, but ranks them by "prestige factor," from one to five stars.

Only in Washington, D.C. (I hope), would people pick which charity to serve by how good it makes them look. I knew this town was power-mad, but I didn't realize we were all living in an Edith Wharton novel. Dear me, I do hope I don't get seen with the wrong gentleman at the next opera fundraiser. My good name would be ruined.

Imagine ... No Atheists

Dinesh D'Souza's latest article, "When Science Points to God," quotes some of those recent billboard campaigns hosted by atheists.

[Richard] Dawkins helped pay for a London campaign to put signs on city buses saying, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Humanist groups in America have launched a similar campaign in the nation’s capital. “Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness sake.” And in Colorado atheists are sporting billboards apparently inspired by John Lennon: “Imagine…no religion.”

So, let's do a little counter adverstising. What billboard signs would you like to see next to these? As you get those creative juices flowing, remember what Oscar Wilde once said: "If you want to tell the truth, make them laugh; otherwise, they'll kill you." In other words (Chuck Colson's to be exact), let's aim for a "winsome" approach.

The Point Radio: Preparing Hearts for Christ

For centuries, Christians have prepared their hearts to celebrate Christmas. What about you?...


Click play above to listen.

Check out a list of advent devotionals at Amazon.com.