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« January 2009 | Main | March 2009 »

February 20, 2009

Another new blogger on board

Please extend a warm welcome to Pat Nolan, head of Justice Fellowship and the self-proclaimed "old man of The Point" (scroll down to read his bio). Pat's first post will be up momentarily.

BreakPoint Worldview Magazine: Against the Flow

Ocean_river Growing up near the ocean, I learned early on about currents, the kind that can pull a child under and leave her choking on a mouthful of salt water. A childhood friend of mine misunderstood her parents once when they warned her about the undertow. She heard “under toad.” And the explanation of something which can pull you under and drag you off course fit her mental picture of a large underwater toad grabbing at her ankles. It frightened her from enjoying the ocean for years to come. Later on, when she realized her mistake, we used to laugh about the evil “under toad.” And though her mental picture changed, she never underestimated its strength.

When I got to college, one of my mentors used to often talk about Christian discipleship in terms of currents in a river. He would say that you learn quickly that staying still is actually moving backward. The only way to move against the flow is to paddle hard.

This month’s issue of BreakPoint Worldview Magazine reminds me just how much we need to paddle hard to live in alignment with God’s ways. Thankfully, we don’t paddle in our own strength. The Holy Spirit empowers us in this difficult counter-cultural journey. But paddle we must.

Continue reading "BreakPoint Worldview Magazine: Against the Flow" »

The Point Radio: Star Power

Who's the star?...


Click play above to listen.

Japanese School Caves to ‘Monster Parents’, Gives All Kids Lead in School Play,” FOX News, 7 June 2008.

February 19, 2009

Daily roundup

RE: Two things about Twitter

Well, you got me there, Gina. I'm on Twitter. Guilty as charged.

But I don't think that compares AT ALL to your My God Blog Con Blog at God Blog Con blog.

I mean, really, Gina ... when will it stop??!!

Two things about Twitter

(1) Comic strips notwithstanding, I did not push Jason into the Great BreakPoint Twitter Experiment. It was all his own idea, and, I think, a good one. Thank you, Jason!

(2) It turns out that someone else around here has a Twitter account . . . someone who is NOT me (cough*Thornburgh*cough). Yeah, let's hear some more about the blighted lives of Internet addicts, shall we?

BreakPoint in the Twittersphere

Twitter

They may have a reputation as technological fuddy-duddies -- and for good reason -- but the GOP has surpassed Democrats on Twitter, at least in Congress. Now it's BreakPoint's turn. You can follow us on Twitter at http://twitter.com/BreakPointPFM.

(Image © Twitter)

Read a book, save a brain

It looks as though the much-hyped switch to digital television is going to be about as much of an event as Y2K. It's too bad really. Think what would happen if televisions in millions of American homes suddenly went dark. Maybe families would dig out that game of Monopoly or Parcheesi. Maybe neighbors would wave to one another from their front porches. Maybe we'd call it National Read a Book Day.

Apparently that last option is becoming less and less likely. I was sad to learn that the Washington Post has discontinued its Sunday Book World section. The Post will still run book reviews and articles, but not in a separate section. It seems likely that this will mean fewer articles about books and that those articles will get less readership. According to the NPR piece, only two newspapers in America will now have a separate section devoted to books.

It kind of makes you wonder if the Hulu commercial is humor or simply truth in advertising:

Why We Matter

Headline_1196028827 These stats were passed on to me by a colleague, and gleaned from a program which aired on the National Geographic channel called Lockdown: Prison Nation. They are a simple yet sobering reminder of how important the work of Prison Fellowship and Justice Fellowship is and how broken our system has become.

The U.S. has five percent of the world’s population, it has 25% of the world’s inmates.

California operates the third largest penal system in the world, right after China and the United States.

80,000 inmates are kept in isolation nationwide. - A rising suicide rate is linked to the increasing use of solitary confinement. Nearly 70 percent of inmate suicides are in isolation.

25% of all state prison beds are occupied by the mentally ill. Tops in Los Angeles county jail, followed by New York’s Rikers Island.

700,000 inmates are released from prison each year - more than two-thirds of them end up back behind bars within three years.

Assaults on inmates have risen 65% in the past decade.

(Image © EPA/Ulises Rodriguez)

Attack in Beirut

Journalist and author Christopher Hitchens was attacked by members of the Syrian Nazi party while on a trip to Beirut. Blogger "Ace" from Ace of Spades HQ, who was on the trip with Hitchens, has details. The story contains frequent profanity -- including what Hitchens wrote on one of the party's posters that sparked the attack.

Bloggers Anonymous

Fess up, Allen -- you're moonlighting as a comic strip artist named Wiley, aren't you?

The Point Radio: It's Cold Outside

He's holding a cup and a cardboard sign. What do you do?...


Click play above to listen.

Eight Ways to Truly Help the Homeless,” Association of Gospel Rescue Missions.

35 Ways You Can Help the Homeless,” JustGive.org.

February 18, 2009

Daily roundup

Surrounded!

Unite1 Glenn Beck recently joined the Fox News network and has a show at 5:00 pm Eastern time. Last week he began something new that he calls We Surround Them.

He is trying to counter the idea that conservatism and conservative ideas are not part of the American discussion. In fact, he is of the opinion that the majority of Americans have conservative values, and we need to let our voices be heard.

As you can see at the link, Beck focuses on principles involving faith, patriotism, honesty, and justice, and values including hope, thrift, charity, humility, courage, and personal responsibility.

I'm not sure what this is leading to, but I sense that maybe something positive is happening here. What do you think?

(Image © Fox News Channel)

’A love supreme’

Johnson family Getting shot in the mouth by a teenage robber might turn some people against their fellow human beings. C. Kenneth Johnson let it inspire him to adopt eight at-risk children and foster 144 more.

And he has done it all as a single man, too busy to look for a mate, he says, figuring that the chances of finding someone willing to help raise so many troubled children would be slim to none.

"When I look back, I can see that it was a lot of work," Johnson told me. "But I didn't think about it that way. I just did it."

While in his care, none of the children was neglected or abused. They did not run away from home, skip school, commit crimes or otherwise disappear through the cracks of a dysfunctional child welfare system.

Nothing bad to report. You might even say that when it comes to adoptions and foster care, no news is good news -- except that if you want to know what it really takes to help children in need, you need to know about people like Johnson.

Go here to read more about this incredible man.

(Image © Courtland Milloy for The Washington Post)

And a Little Child Will Lead Them

Liaspeec Remember the 12-year-old girl whose videotaped pro-life speech became an Internet sensation? More of her story is now available--and it's one amazing story.

I'm reminded in hearing little Lia of another young one--David, who could not stand by and let the name of his God be blasphemed day after day. Sometimes it takes innocence to see injustice and evil as stark and ugly as they truly are.

For the full story, go here or here.

(Image © LifeSiteNews)

Those crazy young upstarts

MarriageCertificate2 Writing in the Boston Globe, Linda Matchan laments a new generation of brides who have the audacity to take their husband's names. After quoting an engaged woman who said, "I always knew I wanted to take my husband's last name. It's more unified, as a family," Matchan rails:

Personally, I would argue they've given in to the patriarchy. Hear me roar here for a second: What on earth are these girls thinking? That they're somehow immune from divorce? That a family with two names isn't really a family?

Really, the nerve of this generation, thinking they can somehow manage to stay together for better or for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death them do part. 

The problem is that Ms. Matchan and her generation didn't just do away with the symbolism of a marriage that meant the merging of two lives into one new family. It hardly seems a coincidence that Ms. Matchan's generation was also the one that raised latchkey kids and spawned a generation of children of divorce. Chances are, not a few of those kids grew up with last names that were different from those of others in their household, thanks to stepfamilies and blended families. Sometimes a separate identity, no matter how symbolic, can be a pain. 

Now, those kids are the adults, and they are embracing the reality and symbolism of marriage and family, the things they so often missed out on when they were growing up. I say, good for them.

(Image © Sentiment Keepsakes)

Finding an ally in the community

225px-EricHHolder Our newly appointed Attorney General, Eric Holder, was the founder of a "community oriented" prosecution program during his tenure as attorney for Washington, D.C. His initiative to build allegiance between courts and communities still thrives. This commentary from National Public Radio on this approach to corrections highlights the benefits for community safety and well-being when prosecutors submit themselves as servants of the public. 

As the current director of D.C.'s program says so well, "I used to think that if we just arrested enough people and put enough people in jail, the kinds of problems we've been talking about would eventually go away. But I don't think that way anymore, because now I understand that we cannot arrest our way out of the problem."

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Don’t know much about Columbanus

Disc-tm1 "Anyone who thinks sixth-century history just isn’t their thing hasn’t read up on Columbanus," writes Stephen Reed, in the introduction to his interview with T. M. Moore for the latest edition of the Discourse podcast. Find out what was so interesting and important about this Irish missionary by listening at this link.

(Image © BreakPoint)

The Point Radio: Real Racism

Is racism more prevalent than you realize?...


Click play above to listen.

February 17, 2009

Daily roundup

Down with old books?

Book burning A recent law has troubling implications for children's books published before 1985, among other things. Karen Hall has the scoop here and here.

(Image courtesy of Some Have Hats)

A Predator Plays with Its Prey

Hugo-Chavez This animal's fangs are about two inches long, it communicates by howling, growling, and whining, and it hunts in packs. Can you name it?

Okay, okay, I can't call Venezuela's president (for life?), Hugo Chavez, and his minions wolves, but they are acting like predators in a pen of helpless sheep. Chavez and co. have been hard at work inciting violence against Venezuelan citizens of Jewish descent. 

Regarding the latest attack against the Jews, Chavez pitifully laments, "Why do they have to blame me for everything?"

We blame you, Mr. Dictator, because through your minions you have started systematically stirring the anti-Semitic pot. You’ve ensured violence against your own citizens because you love it. You’ve aided and abetted violence against your own citizens by printing vile anti-Semitic tracts, by giving rousing violence-filled speeches, and by hiring thugs who will promote violence throughout your land.  Furthermore, you’ve promised to use violent uprisings to get control of Latin America, and you’ve promised to infiltrate and commit violence against United States of America. The fact is, Mr. Dictator, you have a nasty and violent mind. 

We must face the truth of the matter, or we'll soon have another Hitler on our hands--and millions of people just might be murdered.   

To use Dietrich Bonhoeffer's words, Christians are called, "not just to bind up the victims beneath the wheel, but to halt the wheel itself." (Elizabeth Raum, Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Called by God)

(© Jorge Silva for Reuters)

’As We Forgive’ on the Road

Catherine Andy Emmanuel Andy Crouch, author of Culture Making, interviewed Emmanuel Katongole, the co-director of Duke’s Center for Reconciliation, and me at last week’s National Pastors Convention in San Diego. Later that day, after a screening of the documentary film As We Forgive, director Laura Waters Hinson and World Relief President Don Golden joined Crouch, Katongole and me for another panel discussion.

I really appreciated the deep questions Emmanuel Katongole raised during both interviews. He is a deep thinker and it is evident that raising the tough questions is part of his forte.

I read Katongole’s deeply engaging Mirror to the Church on the plane ride home. I highly recommend it. In it, he pushes the reader to face facts squarely and to realize that the reason that many Christians in Rwanda failed to protect their fellow man in the 1994 genocide was that the stories of their culture had a deeper grip on them the reality of their faith. Katongole raises this reality up like a mirror to the West. He asks us to consider what stories in the West have a deeper grip on us? Where in our experience, he asks, does the blood of tribalism run deeper than the waters of baptism? If you think of tribalism not in its common association, but in almost a metaphorical sense, you begin to see how profound his question is.

It was also a great pleasure to meet Andy Crouch. His encouragement concerning my book meant so much to me. He shared in front of the convention crowd that the book brought him to tears as he read it in Starbucks. And he shared with me privately how much he appreciated the artistry of the book. That was rich encouragement to someone who has labored long and hard in the crafting of this book. If you haven’t read Andy’s Culture Making, it is an absolute must-read. It recently won top honors in Christianity Today’s 2009 book awards, along with another book by Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice called Reconciling All Things.

Speaking of encouragement, my interview the week before last with New Testament professor Reggie Kidd over at Common Grounds Online certainly buoyed my spirits. Here’s just a snippet from that interview. Reggie Kidd writes, “When I pick up an ‘issues’ book, I don’t have high literary expectations for it. Because I know you and your love for words I wasn’t terribly surprised, but I was nonetheless delighted, at the lyrical hand you brought to this work. Page after page of my copy is marked with phrases I simply wanted to hold onto ...” You can read the rest of the interview here.

Earlier that week Tim McConnell also reviewed As We Forgive. He writes: “What struck me in reading was the fundamental truth that forgiveness is unnatural; forgiveness cannot naturally follow what these victims endured. It is not natural for a girl who has been mauled, raped, and left for dead to grow to offer forgiveness to her terrorizers. It is not natural for a boy who watched his father and family killed by neighbors he knew to turn to them with grace and favor. Forgiveness is an intervention. It is some sort of divine intervention that must enter from another plane of existence.” You can read the rest of this review here.

(Originally posted on www.asweforgivebook.com)

Abstinence: realistic or unrealistic?

Bristol Tripp Last night Greta Van Susteren ran part one of an interview with Bristol Palin -- the first interview that Gov. Sarah Palin's oldest daughter has given, if I'm not mistaken, and an interview she chose to do herself. It must take tremendous courage to go on the air and tell your story after being the target of months of filthy gossip, jokes, and name-calling. (You see, we're all for respecting and supporting girls in this society -- until we scent blood in the water, and then it's no holds barred.) But as you can see if you watch the interview, this is a young woman who prefers to speak up on her own behalf.

I think it's a good thing that Bristol wants to help prevent teen pregnancy, that she emphasized that raising a child is "hard work" and not "glamorous" at all, and that she thinks it's better for kids to wait. She had a difficult line to walk between not glorifying teen pregnancy and demonstrating that a child is a blessing, not a curse or a punishment. On the whole, I think she did pretty well at that.

I did find myself wishing, though, that she could have made a stronger case for premarital abstinence. Obviously, just the sight of this 18-year-old girl with a baby -- even a baby that she clearly loves -- is going to make your average teenager think twice about sexual involvement. But when Bristol mentioned that abstinence can be "unrealistic" for a teenager, I don't think she gave enough credit to those teens who think it through and commit themselves to waiting, even when they're head over heels in love. It may be difficult in a sex-obsessed culture that gives the abstinent virtually no support at all, but it is possible and desirable.

As Bristol recounted, after becoming pregnant, she had to sit down with the child's father and come up with a plan as to how they were going to handle things. It's just as possible to make a plan before becoming pregnant, about how you're going to handle your romantic life -- and in the end, it saves a lot of difficulty and heartache.

I wish Bristol and her precious little one all the best -- and I hope that if she spends more time speaking out against teen pregnancy, she'll give some serious thought as to how best to encourage teenagers to wait, and why it's by far the best -- and yes, a perfectly realistic -- option.

(Note: Please keep all comments on topic, in accordance with our comment policy. If you have smears about the Palins and/or the Johnstons, keep them to yourself or prepare to see them deleted. This is not the National Enquirer or the DailyKos, and I am not in a mood -- in fact, I am never in a mood -- to be lenient toward petty gossip.)

(Image © Fox News Channel)

Glimpsing Real Health Care

Wise-waiting It felt like the Third World in Wise County, Va., where thousands descended upon the state fair grounds last July, not for Ferris wheels or snow cones, but for free eye and breast exams.

Every year 800 volunteer medical professionals provide basic health care—including more complicated procedures like tooth extractions and benign tumor removals—to more than 2,500 rural Virginians, many of whom make no more than $14,000 per capita. Most of whom—like 47 million other Americans—don't have health insurance.

Some drive hours for a chance to wait in a long line outside of the campgrounds. There are no guarantees that they will receive treatment. For some, a diagnosis of diabetes or cancer is all they will walk away with.

But to finally meet someone who cares … it’s enough to hang a little hope on.

“I thank God. I pray for them people up there. It’s great what these guys are doing,” said 44-year-old David Briggs, fighting off tears. He has had most of his teeth extracted and is looking forward to a new set of dentures.

After reading this piece, I wanted to know more about the doctors, dentists, and nurses who would donate their time to do what our broken health care system does not do: care.

I wanted to know if some beautiful faith in the great Healer compelled them to reach the least of these in the richest county on earth. I have no way of knowing. But I have a sneaking suspicion He has something to do with it.

(Image © Remote Area Medical)

The Point Radio: Beware of What Lurks Within

Would you harm an innocent person?...


Click play above to listen.

February 16, 2009

Daily roundup

Ben Stein’s Taking a Hit

Stein1 Ben Stein is causing an uproar at the University of Vermont. They're hissing because of his audacity at making Expelled. Find out why.

It Could Not Happen to Everyone

Theresa Flores (Warning: disturbing themes)

It could happen to anyone. Really?

Last night, MSNBC aired "Sex Slaves: The Teen Trade," an exposé on the prevalence of sex trafficking in suburban America. The gist: It's not just poor girls from southeast Asia who find themselves at the mercy of violent pimps who sell girls to 10 guys a night and keep all the money for themselves--it could be your daughter. In the episode, Theresa Flores, a middle-class suburban girl, tells how she was sucked into sexual slavery as a 15-year-old high school student.

Enamored of an upperclassman named "Daniel," Theresa allows him to drive her home one day. On their way, Daniel brings her to his house, where he rapes her. The next day he blackmails her by showing her pictures his cousin has taken of the rape, informing her that she must do whatever he tells her or he will pass the photos around the school. Afraid everyone will find out and that her parents will be angry with her, Theresa agrees to come to Daniel's house that night, where she is gang raped.

This, of course, isn't enough to eliminate the blackmail, and Theresa gets sucked into a two-year nightmare of sexual slavery. And her parents don't have a clue.

After one of the worst nights she can remember, Theresa is finally rescued by the police and brought home in the dead of night. Her parents' response--shock and anger. The next day, her mother won't speak to her. "We didn't have parents we could talk to about these things," recounts Theresa's younger brother.

The family eventually moves away from the town and relocates in another suburban location.

It could happen to anybody, says Theresa, now an advocate and mother. It doesn't matter if your dad makes $100,000, drives nice cars, and provides a decent education for his children. Anyone can get sucked into sex trafficking.

I began to think about that. I grew up in suburbia. Could this have happened to me? I don't think so.

Here's why:

Continue reading "It Could Not Happen to Everyone" »

Bad Medicine

Pills We ignore national security at our peril. According to a New York Times/International Herald Tribune article, we have "outsourced"--to the nth degree--manufacturing of crucial drugs to other nations, especially China and India. 

Part of the reason the manufacturing has been sent to other nations is because of all the taxes and unnecessary environmental regulations we've placed upon producers here.  

Seems to me that we'd go a long way toward securing our nation and generating jobs in America if we jettisoned some of the punishing taxes our big government places on manufacturer and eliminate all the nonsensical and costly reregulations. (Heck, getting rid of bad law will generate a few extra jobs too.)

Fighting for the Unborn: Lessons from Wilberforce

Wilberforce For every issue, it seems, there is always good news and bad news. For the pro-life movement, the good news is that the U.S. abortion rate has been falling for over a decade and now is at its lowest level since 1974. And the recent raft of life-affirming movies, like Juno, Bella, and Knocked Up, is an encouraging sign about public attitudes.

According to Pew Research, although a slight majority of Americans (54 percent) favor legalization, the vast majority (73 percent) believes that abortion is morally wrong in some, to nearly all, circumstances, with six out of 10 believing that the number of abortions should be reduced. Less than one-fourth consider abortion a non-moral issue. Given that contraception use held nearly steady during the past decade, the falling rate of abortion exhibits a growing uneasiness with the practice.

The bad news is that, even at the reduced rate, an abortion is performed once every 25 seconds, totaling 1.2 million per year. And, with a new administration that is the most abortion-friendly in history, the fight for the unborn just got harder. Continue reading.

How to learn the presidents

Washington Lincoln

Here's a fun and useful exercise for Presidents Day (and one I could use myself -- I always get muddled somewhere around Grover Cleveland).

I never would have thought of getting a presidential historian and an NSO conductor to help me learn the list -- little Genevieve must have had friends in high places. Then again, we happen to have some very bright minds following this humble blog. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that Rolley Haggard had written an epic poem containing all 44 names, or that LeeQuod had come up with a simple yet sophisticated mathematical equation to serve as a mnemonic device. Of course, Jason Taylor can probably recite the list backwards and forwards with no memory aids at all!

The Point Radio: Justice for All

For decades, they've waited for justice...


Click play above to listen.

February 13, 2009

Daily roundup

Is Hip-Hop Wholesome?

Rihanna Chris Brown Last weekend’s Grammy Awards reminded me of Mary Katharine Ham’s article in Townhall magazine last January (no online version) about hip-hop, generally known for its explicitly sexual and violent lyrics. Yet Ham observed that there’s a surprising amount of hip-hop music with wholesome lyrics. She recognizes the popular artists that are releasing chart-topping tunes with positive messages. Some examples are Beyonce’s Single Ladies, which pokes fun at men who are unwilling to make a marriage commitment; If I Were a Boy, a non-male-bashing plea for commitment and understanding; Rihanna’s Umbrella about friendship and fidelity; and Ne-Yo’s Miss Independent, a celebration of hardworking career women. Ham concluded by saying, "Hopefully, the marketplace will reward artists for their positive choices."

I hope so too. However, the news of domestic violence (profanity in comments at link) that caused the last-minute cancellation of hip-hop couple Chris Brown and Rihanna's Grammy performances is a realistic reminder that artists need more than clean lyrics to be wholesome -- more importantly, they need to live good lives to lend truth and credibility to the messages of their positive songs.

(Image © Diamond/WireImage)

Dickensmania!

Featured_twist

PBS kicks off its spring series "The Tales of Charles Dickens" this Sunday evening, with the first installment of Oliver Twist. After that come David Copperfield, Little Dorrit (the one I'm really excited about), and The Old Curiosity Shop. The complete schedule is here.

If you don't mind a little more shilling for my pet project, I have a preview posted at Dickensblog, and every Sunday night from now through May, I'll be discussing the movies over there. If you watch any or all of them, I'd love for you to drop by and share your impressions!

Meanwhile, as we're on the subject of classic literature and its spinoffs, Austenmania seems to have taken a creepy turn. As Lori Smith mentioned to me in an e-mail chat, Friday the 13th seems a peculiarly appropriate day to mention this bit of freakiness.

(Image courtesy of PBS)

Give Me That Old-Time (Civil) Religion

Carradine [Ed. note: Steve Rempe, PFM website editor, is our newest blogger. His bio will be up on the contributors page sometime next week. Please join us in welcoming Steve to The Point! --GRD]

Norman Lear--the man who gave America All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and Sanford and Son--has produced a new anthem for the Obama Generation, a paean to the dawn of hope entitled "Born Again American."

There is a healthy dose of intentional irony in the title. Lear, in addition to producing half-hour morality plays packaged as sitcoms, has spent the last three decades fighting the perceived excesses of the "religious right" and its encroachment upon secular society, as founder and chairman of the board of People for the American Way.

There are several allusions to religion in the song--albeit in a very generic fashion. The chorus proclaims, "My Bible and my Bill of Rights/My creed's equality." When asked by U.S. News and World Report writer Dan Gilgoff if this indicates a softening on his position concerning strict separation of Church and state, Lear responds, "There should be a separation. Come into the discussion, that's what the song is about." (Lear also claims in the same interview that the development of the "religious left" is "a very positive development. That's what 'Born Again American' is about.") Songwriter Keith Carradine indicates in his comments that, in his mind, "my bible is The Bill Of Rights" (emphasis in original).

Representatives of varying religious backgrounds are presented singing in the video--an Episcopal choir in California, a Jewish cantor and a Muslim singer at Mount Rushmore, a gospel choir from Harlem.

Continue reading "Give Me That Old-Time (Civil) Religion" »

Let the circle be unbroken

Flight93memorial Mark Steyn has some sobering thoughts here about the "obtuse"ness of the designers of the Flight 93 memorial.

(Image courtesy of Atlas Shrugs)

Bring Back the Gold Standard!!

...At least that's how I feel after reading this fascinating Judy Shelton column in the WSJ.

I'm providing this excerpt...

So we must first establish a sound foundation for capitalism by permitting people to use a form of money they trust. ... A study by two economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, Arthur Rolnick and Warren Weber, concluded that gold and silver standards consistently outperform fiat standards. Analyzing data over many decades for a large sample of countries, they found that "every country in our sample experienced a higher rate of inflation in the period during which it was operating under a fiat standard than in the period during which it was operating under a commodity standard."

...and this excerpt...

Continue reading "Bring Back the Gold Standard!!" »

The end of tolerance

Antisemitism09 Where would you guess this picture came from?

How about a university in Toronto?

(Image courtesy of Mere Rhetoric)

Out of the mouths of babes

(Via The Other McCain)

Devilish thoughts on abortion

Pitchfork It has been nearly 70 years since C. S. Lewis made public a mysterious correspondence that became known as The Screwtape Letters. The “letters” contained advice, instructions, and warnings from a senior demon to a junior demon about the handling of an earthling in his “care.”

As disclosed in the last of the letters, Wormwood, the pupil, failed his commission. He has never been heard from again. It has been noted that his disappearance had some connection with a ravenous meal Screwtape, the tutor, enjoyed sometime shortly thereafter.

Recently, new correspondence has come to light that bears eerie similarity. With moist palms and brow, I share it with you now...

Developing our Spiritual Appetites

From Ken Boa's Daily Encouragement:

"Developing an appetite for secondary goods can suppress our appetite for the things that are most important.... Some people do not have much of an appetite for spiritual truths because they have filled themselves with lesser things."

How are you developing an appetite for spiritual truths? What "lesser things" do you need to set aside so you can find the best God has to offer?

The Point Radio: A Costly Gift

What can you give your spouse for Valentine's?...


Click play above to listen.

February 12, 2009

Daily roundup

The Church of Darwin

Palin Just one more Darwin bicentennial post: I didn't want you to miss this gem of Darwinist totalitarianism. If anyone ever tells you that Darwinism isn't treated as a religion these days, just show them how Sarah Palin is exhorted to recant her beliefs and make a pilgrimage in honor of the deity -- er, of Mr. Darwin. Not because of anything Palin actually said, mind you, but "as part of a necessary reconstruction of the popular perception created in the presidential campaign that perhaps the Republican governor of Alaska believes that dinosaurs and her great-great-great-grandparents trod the earth at the same time." (Emphasis mine)

The Inquisition and the Salem witch trial judges would be proud.

(Image courtesy of Newsbusters)

Debunking Darwinism #12: Predictive Power and Usefulness

I-photo01 [Ed. note: Since today is Darwin's birthday, we're running the last two posts in one day to finish up the series. --GRD]

For all of the technological and medical advances over the past 150 years, none has depended on evolutionary theory, at least insofar as evolution is understood as the gradual emergence of wholly new life forms by the process of random variation, adaptation, and natural selection. Indeed, as Catriona J. MacCallum—senior editor of PLoS Biologypoints out, Darwin’s theory is largely ignored in the medical community. And the reason is plain.

An automobile engineer doesn’t need to trace the evolutionary development of the Toyota Prius from the Model T to design the next generation of more efficient and reliable vehicles. Likewise, a medical researcher doesn’t need to know how Homo sapiens emerged from the primordial swill to discover the next medical breakthrough.

Nevertheless, the Darwinistas are ever-creative in marketing (and getting funding for!) their propaganda.

Bankrolled with a nearly $3 million National Science Foundation grant, Explore Evolution has been put into six U.S. museums as a permanent exhibit to counter resistance to evolutionary theory.

Instead of inert displays of the “tree of life,” the geologic column, and fossil sequences, Explore Evolution takes an interactive approach to help people experience “evolutionary concepts in new ways.” One of those ways is “fly karaoke,” which invites visitors to ape the mating call of any one of 800 different varieties of the Hawaiian fruit fly—varieties, it is touted, that “may have evolved from a single species.” Or may not have, right?

There’s also a Where’s Waldo game where visitors search for the image of a prominent evolutionist embedded in a busy display. The purpose? “To illustrate the 1 percent difference between human and chimp genomes.” (I’m still scratching my head over that one.)

Continue reading "Debunking Darwinism #12: Predictive Power and Usefulness" »

Celebrating Lincoln, who ’reduced’ slavery

Slavery Today we honor the memory of Abraham Lincoln, who worked tirelessly and successfully to reduce slavery. Under his leadership, Congress passed laws requiring more humane treatment of enslaved persons, proper slave health care, and preventing slave owners from separating slave familes. Lincoln is also remembered for his insistence that all slave children be taught to read and write.  

Under Lincoln's leadership, in a stunning show of bipartisanship, abolitionists joined with those who were pro-choice on slavery to find "common ground": Both sides agreed to offer government grants to poor, struggling farmers to hire free laborers instead of slave labor; both sides also agreed that no slave should be forced to work more than 12 hours per day, six days a week. Lincoln signed off on these efforts rather than fight for the total abolition of slavery because, as he famously said, determining the humanity of Africans was "above my pay grade."

"This much we know," Lincoln proclaimed. "There is no God who condones enslaving innocent Africans. Nevertheless, we must not impose our morality on slave-owners."

Lincoln also made good on his campaign promise to "reduce slavery" by signing an executive order that allowed for the funding for groups overseas committed to promoting slavery and capturing Africans. 

Through such compromises, a costly war was averted, and Americans were relieved of the endless, tiresome quarrelling over this divisive issue. Yes, there were a few hardcore holdouts who insisted that all slaves ought to be freed--they tried to run newspaper ads to this effect, but editors usually refused to print them, especially if they featured pictures of slaves in chains, looking miserable. After all, everybody knew the vast majority of slaves were well-treated. Abolitionists also continued to picket slave auctions, but moderates passed a "bubble zone" that forced abolitionist extremists from coming closer than 100 feet to auction sites. 

In time, the majority of Americans believed that the laws on slavery were "about right," and moved on to other, more important issues--such as abolishing the wearing of corsets, which were deemed unhealthy for women.  

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Interfaith relations: One step forward, two steps back

Williamson Renegade Catholic bishop Richard Williamson continues to give interviews that must make the Vatican shudder. Now he's evangelizing his anti-semitic views into Germany, homeland of Pope Benedict. In an interview with Der Spiegel, Williamson does it again. This time, he doesn't just use the Catholic church as a platform for showing his antagonism towards Jews; he paraphrases, out of context, St. Paul himself.  

DER SPIEGEL: Your position on Judaism is consistently anti-Semitic.

Williamson: St. Paul put it this way: The Jews are beloved for the sake of Our Father, but our enemies for the sake of the gospel.

It is at moments like this that I fully expect to hear that the interview was terminated by a lightning bolt zapping Bishop Williamson. For when a man is willing to enlist anyone and anything, including holy scripture, to justify his hatred, well, in West Virginia we say, "It's a short road that doesn't have a bend in it."

St. Paul certainly had his trials with his fellow Jews. Yet he always sought them out, often preaching in their synagogues, despite his chief mission being to evangelize the Gentiles. But the overarching message of St. Paul's message--to all--is clear. And he in no way denied it to the Jews, as he makes clear in Galatians 3:27-29.

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendant, heirs according to the promise.

For his day--and really even in ours--St. Paul was a radical for making such a statement, one that affirmed God's love and grace were obtainable regardless of religious background, gender, or societal status, if one had faith in Christ.

Bishop Williamson is another kind of radical, one who, unlike Paul, sticks his fingers in his ears when he starts to hear facts that conflict with his preconceived notions.

(Image © Reuters)