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May 19, 2009

Obamanation at Notre Dame

Obama ceremony The choice of a commencement speaker at Notre Dame University could have been, should have been, a reminder to the world that some things are phenomenally more important than others--that honoring God's teachings is more important than the prestige of having the President of the United States honor YOU by agreeing (for political reasons) to be your commencement speaker. Notre Dame's leaders chose not to send this message. Instead, they chose to drape a robe around the most aggressively pro-abortion president in history--one whose actions are increasing the number of abortions performed both here and around the world.

By inviting Obama, Notre Dame's leaders were saying, in effect, "Abortion doesn't matter very much." Perhaps those who invited Obama should review John 12:43 ("For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God").

During his address, Obama had the audacity to lecture his audience about "living together as one human family." How about starting by simply allowing its youngest and most helpless members to live, period, Mr. President?

Which leads to another question: Are there any Centurions living in or around South Bend? The Notre Dame Class of 2009--which was applauding Obama's "reducing abortion" lines--desperately needs someone to teach them how to think. Has it not occurred to them to question the logic (and motives) of someone who claims to want to "reduce" something he supports? If there's nothing wrong with abortion, why bother reducing it? And if there IS something morally wrong with abortion (Catholic teaching calls it a grave injustice) why does Obama enthusiastically support it, fund it, and export it?

Continue reading "Obamanation at Notre Dame" »

Abandon all hope

Dantes_inferno The other day, in an essay on Dante's Divine Comedy in C. S. Lewis's Studies in Medieval and Renaissance Literature, I ran across this sentence:

. . . We include every appeal to the imagined exercise of the five senses, always excepting those images which are directly represented as parts of Dante's story and which would appear on the screen if anyone (which God forbid) made a film of it.

Poor Lewis. I hope he's really busy with heavenly matters and doesn't have time to follow what's going on here.

(Image © Electronic Arts)

Dick Cheney, beauty queen?

Cheney4-724104 Relax, it's just an analogy -- the kind that could only have been dreamed up by Mark Steyn.

Alarmed by her erratic public performance, the speaker’s fellow San Francisco Democrat Dianne Feinstein attempted to put an end to Nancy’s self-torture session. “I don’t want to make an apology for anybody,” said Senator Feinstein, “but in 2002, it wasn’t 2006, ’07, ’08, or ’09. It was right after 9/11, and there were in fact discussions about a second wave of attacks.”

Indeed. In effect, the senator is saying waterboarding was acceptable in 2002, but not by 2009. The waterboarding didn’t change, but the country did. It was no longer America’s war but Bush’s war. And it was no longer a bipartisan interrogation technique that enjoyed the explicit approval of both parties’ leaderships, but a grubby Bush-Cheney-Rummy war crime.

Dianne Feinstein has provided the least worst explanation for her colleague’s behavior. The alternative — that Speaker Pelosi is a contemptible opportunist hack playing the cheapest but most destructive kind of politics with key elements of national security — is, of course, unthinkable. Senator Feinstein says airily that no reasonable person would hold dear Nancy to account for what she supported all those years ago. But it’s okay to hold Cheney or some no-name Justice Department backroom boy to account?

Well, sure. It’s the Miss USA standard of political integrity: Carrie Prejean and Barack Obama have the same publicly stated views on gay marriage. But the politically correct enforcers know that Barack doesn’t mean it, so that’s okay, whereas Carrie does, so that’s a hate crime. In the torture debate, Pelosi is Obama and Dick Cheney is Carrie Prejean. Dick means it, because to him this is an issue of national security. Nancy doesn’t, because to her it’s about the shifting breezes of political viability.

(Image courtesy of the Rockford Register Star)

The Point Radio: Comedy Stimulus

It's not just the economy that needs a boost....


Click play above to listen.

May 18, 2009

Daily roundup

Racing for Prisoners' Kids: Follow-Up

My sincere thanks to all of you who donated to provide Storybook Dads kits to prisoners' children through my race yesterday. I'd hoped to raise enough to cover the costs for 12 Storybook Dads kits, but -- between those who donated at my page and Joe's fabulous pledge at The Point -- you all provided a total of TWENTY-SEVEN kits for TWENTY-SEVEN prisoners' kids! You all are the BEST!

My sincerest thanks to:

  • Joe -- wow, a kit per mile! THANKS!
  • Creation Waits Photography -- $50!! Yowza!
  • Dennis Babish -- thanks so much!
  • Zoe -- thank vous!
  • Ron Humphrey -- you're the best!
  • Anonymous -- (I know who you are, but your identity is safe with me!) Thanks tons!

Race details, for those interested, are below. THANKS all!

Continue reading "Racing for Prisoners' Kids: Follow-Up" »

Obama, Notre Dame, and the tide of history

Obama Notre Dame An interesting feature of President Obama's commencement speech at Notre Dame yesterday (transcript here, video here):

The president spoke of the need "to reconcile our ever-shrinking world with its ever-growing diversity -- diversity of thought, diversity of culture, and diversity of belief . . . [to] find a way to live together as one human family." On some subjects, he spoke as though this need to cooperate -- to find "common ground," as he said elsewhere in the speech -- were the highest goal:

The soldier and the lawyer may both love this country with equal passion, and yet reach very different conclusions on the specific steps needed to protect us from harm. The gay activist and the evangelical pastor may both deplore the ravages of HIV/AIDS, but find themselves unable to bridge the cultural divide that might unite their efforts. Those who speak out against stem cell research may be rooted in an admirable conviction about the sacredness of life, but so are the parents of a child with juvenile diabetes who are convinced that their son's or daughter's hardships can be relieved.

But on other subjects, he spoke as if the highest goal were for right to win and wrong to be defeated:

After all, I stand here today, as President and as an African American, on the 55th anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Now, Brown was of course the first major step in dismantling the "separate but equal" doctrine, but it would take a number of years and a nationwide movement to fully realize the dream of civil rights for all of God's children. There were freedom rides and lunch counters and Billy clubs, and there was also a Civil Rights Commission appointed by President Eisenhower. It was the 12 resolutions recommended by this commission that would ultimately become law in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Under which category does abortion fall? In the president's mind, it appeared to fall under the first: "When we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe -- that's when we discover at least the possibility of common ground. . . . That's when we begin to say, 'Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this heart-wrenching decision for any woman is not made casually, it has both moral and spiritual dimensions.'" This isn't how he spoke about the freedom rides and the lunch counters and the Billy clubs.

Considering that, at this moment, the tide of popular opinion -- perhaps even the tide of history -- appears to be shifting against Obama and his view of abortion, he may want to rethink that position.

(Image © Nancy Stone for the Chicago Tribune)

As We Forgive Sightings (and Soundings)

As We Forgive 2 I thought Point readers might be interested in hearing an interview I did recently with theologian and radio personality, Steve Brown, about my book, As We Forgive: Stories of Reconciliation from Rwanda. You can download it to your iPod or MP3 player or just listen online. I talk about forgiveness, reconciliation and the Rwandan genocide.

If you haven't heard of Steve Brown or his Key Life Radio program before I hope this will be a good excuse for you to get acquainted with him. He's one of the most authentic yet grounded Christian radio personalities you'll find. And he's always delightfully entertaining to listen to.

Also, if you are interested in seeing the film by Laura Waters Hinson which inspired my book, it will be airing on PBS this month on quite a few stations across the U.S. So if you haven't had a chance to attend a screening or buy a copy yourself, you'll get the opportunity to check it out for free.

Lastly, an interview I did with Ed Gilbreath over at Urban Faith is available. Ed used to work for Christianity Today and is the author of the book Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical's View of White Christianity.

(Image © Zondervan)

Christians and entertainment: Open thread

Tv_house_tilt_small On Friday, in Diane's thread on Castle (which was starting to turn into a thread on Nathan Fillion's previous show, Firefly) Andy made an interesting comment:

OK, people, time out. So Tim is OK with watching a show by admitted atheist Joss Whedon, that includes scenes like Kaylee doing the nasty with a mechanic in the engine room, and other characters that include a courtesan and Christian minister that would do the Unitarians proud. But Tim says that's OK because it's not a stumbling block for him. Firefly only "pushed the envelope a bit." If it had aired in the sixties, it would have gotten some network folks arrested. Not to mention that the premise of the show is that East and West have melded, with Buddhism as much or more practiced as Christianity.

This is not meant to be concern trolling, because I am glad that so many Christians share my enjoyment of Firefly, (best show ever.) But for a subculture that prides itself on "in but not of the world," you guys seem a tad co-opted on this one. Not that I see anything wrong with that.

In order to get things back on-topic, I promised a separate thread on Monday morning to deal with this subject, which deserved a thread of its own anyway. So what say you, Pointers and Pointificators? How should Christians set their standards for entertainment? What role should our faith and our morals play? Where have we gotten our ideas about this, and are they valid or do they need to be rethought?

This is a topic to which I've devoted a lot of thought and writing, but I'm going to stay out of it for now, though I may jump in later. I'm more interested in hearing what everyone else has to say. So have at it!

(Image courtesy of DesignStudios)

The Point Radio: A Modest Proposal

A good trend is hard to find....


Click play above to listen.

May 15, 2009

Daily roundup

Arms and the woman

Michelle Obama Recently, readers of the Washington Post have been subjected to large and unhealthy helpings of treacle during breakfast, to the point where we're starting to think about keeping a bucket handy. A couple of weeks ago, it was television columnist Tom Shales who had readers sputtering into their cornflakes with an account of President Obama at a press conference that read like a 12-year-old girl’s description of Edward Cullen. The star of The Barack Obama Show was “comfortingly cool and collected,” “articulate,” “friendly,” “accessible,” “gracious to a fault,” a man of “perfect comic timing,” and, on the whole, “flabbergasting.” Apparently he had even developed superpowers, as Shales swore that Obama “made eye contact with us folks at home” through the television screen.

But the pièce de résistance was an adverbial pileup that would have made a high school writing teacher send the author back to write another draft: “You ask, he’ll answer—earnestly, disarmingly, enchantingly even.”

The piece caused unbridled hilarity among commenters on the Post’s website, leading ombudsman Andrew Alexander to point out that TV columns, unlike straight news stories, are not supposed to be objective. He missed the point: The majority of objections were inspired not by the piece’s lack of objectivity, but by its resemblance to something out of Teen People.

Yet Shales’s love letter looked positively cold next to Sally Quinn’s Mother's Day ode to Michelle Obama’s arms. It’s hardly the first such tribute, of course—like severed appendages in an old B movie, the First Arms have taken on a life of their own, earning widespread awe. They even have their own blog. But Quinn’s tribute left all others in the dust. These are not just arms, she explains: They are “transformational.”

Continue reading "Arms and the woman" »

’The world will know’

Soraya The words above are the last words spoken in the shattering film The Stoning of Soraya M. Zahra (Shohreh Aghdashloo), the aunt of the young woman who has just been murdered by family and friends, has succeeded in making sure that the crime will not be hidden. Unable to protect her beloved niece, Zahra nevertheless ends the film with this triumph over the evil that destroyed Soraya (Mozhan Marnò).

The story, based on a real case that took place in the 1980s, is told simply and straightforwardly. French-Iranian journalist Freidoune Sahebjam (Jim Caviezel) is stranded in a small Iraqi village when his car breaks down. Seeing the tape recorder poking out of his bag, Zahra persuades him to come to her home while his car is being fixed, and tells him what happened to her niece just the day before.

Via one extended flashback, we see Soraya's husband, Ali, plotting with other men of the village, including the mullah, to get rid of his "inconvenient wife" so he can marry a 14-year-old girl and move to the city. Ordered to work for a widower and his son who need help, Soraya is then accused of sleeping with her employer, and he is pressured into confessing the adultery that never happened.

The conspiracy ends where the title promised it would: with the gentle wife and mother bound, buried up to the waist in a pit, and bombarded with stones by her father, husband, sons, and neighbors. The stoning of Soraya is graphic, bloody, and painfully slow, and explains the film's R rating. (I had hoped against hope they would rush through that part. They didn't.) 

Continue reading "’The world will know’" »

Pretty is as pretty does

Carolyn McCulley, on her Radical Womanhood blog, talks about a woman's true beauty and why so many of us, even in the Christian community, struggle with this concept. She tells a young man whose girlfriend has concerns about her body image:

"I wonder if perhaps you could do more than just compliment her on being beautiful. What about complimenting her when she is doing beautiful things? We always hear that inner beauty is supposed to be more important than outer beauty, but it doesn't seem to get praised as often--which tempts women to doubt the veracity of that statement."

Why do we women doubt the appeal of inner beauty? Well, to be candid, it's because we forget that our Creator is the ultimate arbiter of beauty. We are awash in makeover messages and as such His perspective is often silenced. From TV shows to magazines, we are drowning in Before and After images. At any given time during a day, there's a roomful of people on TV gushing and crying over the physical transformation of some reality show participant. Everybody and his neighbor shows up to applaud weight loss, a new hairstyle, or a wardrobe overhaul. 

But where is the applause for inner beauty? Where are the TV cameras for the Big Reveal of a renovated character?

Carolyn goes on to talk about the example Jesus gave us, when he told his fellow dinner guests that the beautiful thing Mary had done--breaking a jar of expensive perfume to anoint her Savior--would be remembered forever. This was a good reminder for me today to cultivate that kind of inner beauty and to praise those around me--both women and men--when they display the beauty of a godly character.

Quit hiding stuff from Nancy!

Nancy Pelosi House Speaker Nancy Pelosi keeps insisting that even though she and her aides and associates were briefed on CIA interrogation techniques, she wasn't fully aware of what was going on. Most uninformative briefings those must have been.

This raises the question: What else hasn't the Speaker been told?

(Image © Lauren Victoria Burke for the AP)

Macabre Eroticism in the Guise of Education: A Symptom of Decay

Gunthervonhagens_wideweb__470x306,0 (Note: This post contains sexual themes, and the first link below contains explicit pictures and descriptions.)

In the name of artistic and scientific freedom, Gunther von Hagens is filleting human dignity to the bone. His newest "Body Worlds" exhibit shows plastinated human bodies in the throes of sexual intercourse. Necrophilia, once deemed sick and a punishable offense, now seems to be more acceptable.  

Despite not believing in original sin, in his book Heart of Man, Eric Fromm clearly formulates the problem of erotic fascination and lust toward dead bodies: "It is the one answer to life which is in complete opposition to life; it is the most morbid and the most dangerous among the orientations to life of which man is capable. It is true perversion: while being alive, not life but death is loved; not growth but destruction."

In the West, there is an increasingly unhealthy fascination with death, as well as devils and the occult. These obsessions have one thing in common--they deny the life-sustaining love of God. Life without God produces an "earth-sickness of saddening and maddening proportions," writes David Naugle in his book Reordered Love, Reordered Lives.

"Earth-sickness" is plainly evident in our cultural artifacts. After watching a fair amount of television of late, I  am seeing a horrifying trend emerge. Scenes once reserved for R-rated or X-Rated films, are now rated PG and the whole family gather to watch them.

Continue reading "Macabre Eroticism in the Guise of Education: A Symptom of Decay" »

Helping Prisoners’ Kids: I’m Supplying the Suffering; Can You Supply the Funds?

This weekend, I'm running the Marine Corps Half Marathon. I'm admittedly horribly prepared, and I suspect by mile 10 or so, I'll be a rather pathetic sight, but it's worth it because it's for a great cause: Prison Fellowship's Storybook Dads program.

Quite simply, Storybook Dads records prisoners reading wholesome kids books to their children. The DVD video recording -- complete with special effects to make the story come alive -- is sent to their children for them to enjoy while reading the book along with their parent.

Far from a mere "nice to have" gift, Storybook Dads helps maintain the important parent-child bond that gets so strained while parents are in prison.

Anyhow, there's more at my fundraising page. Will you please consider giving to supply Storybook Dads kits -- just $8 per DVD and book set -- to fill this important need? As the race is this weekend, I'm obviously getting this out to the Pointifficators much later than I'd prefer. But it sure would be great to raise $100 for prisoners' kids who -- so often feeling shunned, humiliated, alienated and unloved -- are among the innocent victims of their parents' crimes. Many thanks to you all!

’Scientists May Have Found How Life Began’

British scientists are saying that they figured out how life began? What did they do, open the Bible and read Genesis Chapter 1?

The Point Radio: Escape Routes

When it rains, it pours....


Click play above to listen.

Bill Dedman, “Lawyers Survives Hudson River Flight, Loses Job,” MSNBC, 17 April 2009.

May 14, 2009

Daily roundup

’Slumdog’ actor’s home destroyed

Ismail The BBC reports that Azharuddin Ismail, one of the child actors from the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, lost his home (a tent in the slums of Mumbai), which was demolished by city authorities with the accusation that the family had been squatting on the land.

Controversy had already erupted over fair compensation for a few of the child actors from the film (two, including Ismail, actually came from the slums they were representing in the film).

(Image © Fox Searchlight)

A privileged disaster

Obama-asu-topper In the commencement speech to Arizona State University's graduating class, President Obama referred to the economic crisis as a "privilege" because "it is moments like these that force us to try harder and dig deeper and discover gifts we never knew we had. To find the greatness that lies within each of us." 

Following this logic, and acknowledging the fact that young graduates are "privileged" to enter what many are calling the worst economic climate since the 1980s, should we be thanking the President for giving our children a debt that will force them to "dig deep"? 

(Image © Charles Dharapak for the AP)

Thought for the day

When it comes to oppression, persecution, and pain, our faith is to rejoice in hardship for the blessing and joy that will eventually result from it, and for the love that makes it bearable and even meaningful.

When you suffer, do you rejoice because God considered you worthy of the honor? It isn't a natural reaction for us unless we happen to be so filled with love for our Savior that any identification with Him -- even a painful one -- thrills us. Aim for that attitude. Nurture that love.

Chis Tiegreen, "Worthy of Suffering," May 14, The One Year Worship the King Devotional

Thank you, Mr. President

Art.1700.obama.cnn I was extremely thankful to read that President Obama has reversed course and now opposes releasing any more photos of detainees being interrogated. He has wisely noted that releasing these photos would flame anti-American sentiment and endanger our troops. According to the president, “The publication of these photos would not add any additional benefit to our understanding of what was carried out in the past by small number of individuals."

I wish the ACLU got this. Thank goodness, the president does. 

(Image © Shawna Shepherd for CNN)

Anyone Watching ’Castle’?

Castle As much as I like Nathan Fillion (sigh, I still miss Firefly), I have not had a chance to watch his new show, Castle. However, according to this reviewer, I'm missing a great show. 

Have any of our Pointificators checked out Castle? If so, is it worth what I'm going to have to pay iTunes to catch up?

(Image © ABC)

The Point Radio: Deny Me, Deny Me Not

I want what I want when I want it....


Click play above to listen.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship.

May 13, 2009

Daily roundup

Stepping into Quicksand at Notre Dame

ND Students on Obama1 Notre Dame officials have their hands full these days with alumni and friends, both Catholic and Protestant, who have a problem with having a pro-choice President like Barack Obama give the commencement address at this year's graduation exercises in South Bend, Indiana. As our readers know by now, it's a story that doesn't die.

No doubt, President Obama will try to give a speech that pours cool waters on this fire of controversy. But what is interesting here is how little deference is paid to the feelings of those thousands of Notre Dame supporters who find this whole incident so distasteful. We live in an age where the Pope himself feels obliged to quickly exit the stage when anti-Semitic talk takes place in his presence. Good for him! Yet when traditional Catholics' sensitivities--and on their key social issue--are bruised, few in the mainstream press seem to care at all. 

In fact, we're already hearing from the hard left that this is just a shabby show of political posturing and "hysteria" on behalf of the pro-life cause. Perhaps, deep down, the chattering classes know that the only way they can win against convictions is to decry the manner in which the protesters are stating their case.

All the more reason for the Notre Dame protesters to continue to take a page out of the playbook of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., being both wise as serpents, and innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16). If the protesters can state their case with as much eloquence as Obama will try to do as commencement speaker, then people will take note of their cause.  

It would be unfortunate for the protesters to allow the President to play the martyr before the country. That could set the pro-life cause back, not advance its aims.

Thankfully, with only a few exceptions, the protesters have engaged in a very civil confrontation with Notre Dame's foolish administrators who, wittingly or unwittingly, caused this unnecessary brouhaha. The amount of money lost from the Notre Dame Foundation this year should be brought up by savvy members of the school's Board of Trustees when their President, Rev. Jenkins, has his contract up for renewal.

(Image courtesy of WSBT)

He’s got a point

Obamatrump_comp_297 I'm not a big Donald Trump fan, but give him credit for guts: He pointed out what most same-sex marriage advocates are studiously ignoring.

(Image © Politico)

The workplace fridge: Approach with caution

This article reminded me how grateful I am to work at home. For those of you stuck in cubicle farms, you have my sympathies--and prayers for office kitchen safety.

Is ’hate’ a badge of honor?

K of C Is hate a badge of honor, especially for Christians who hold Scripture to be the ultimate source of revelation and inspiration? Not if you go by the traditional understanding of the word “hate.” But apparently the contemporary definition of “hate” is another matter.

An amateur blogger and IT technician with no political experience -- and clearly no understanding of the U.S. Constitution -- recently protested (note: website contains suggestive ads) the Knights of Columbus, the well-respected Catholic men’s group. The Knights were raising money outside of grocery stores for disabled children and other noble causes. 

However, because they were for Proposition 8 in California, the proposition that upheld traditional marriage, Brad Allison had to put a stop to their fundraising. In the name of “justice” he petitioned individuals who were approached by the Knights not to donate to a “hate” group that he felt was analogous to the Ku Klux Klan. He went so far as to speak with a manager of his local Giant store, and subsequently the Knights were kicked off the property. However, Allison didn’t have the same influence over the Knights’ work at two Safeway locations. 

Now protesting the Knights of Columbus through online advocacy, Allison wants to keep bringing attention to the Knights' position on same-sex marriage. This is what perplexed me the most. Who doesn’t know that the Knights of Columbus are a part of the Catholic Church, a Church that has long been opposed to same-sex marriage? 

Continue reading "Is ’hate’ a badge of honor?" »

The Point Radio: Teen Tension

Too much conflict will trouble your teens for a lifetime....


Click play above to listen.

Helen Reinherz, “A Lesson for Parents: Arguing in Front of Your Teens Has Lasting Impact, Researchers Find,” PRNewswire, 9 March 2009.

May 12, 2009

What about Celebrating Christian Day?

Believe it or not, Hawaii's lawmakers have voted to celebrate "Islam Day."

They wanted to recognize Islam's "rich religious, scientific, cultural and artistic contributions." Really? If they give them a day for their contributions then they should give Christianity a year to recognize its contributions.

It seems to me that the U.S. is quickly forgetting what happened on 9/11. And I can just imagine what the uproar would be like if these lawmakers wanted a Christian Day.

’Clueless’ Is the Word

Ppwenski050509 At least some Catholic leaders in this country understand the moral incongruity of a Catholic university inviting the most pro-abortion president in history to speak on its campus. Bishop Thomas Wenski held a Mass of Reparation "to make amends for sins against God" for those Catholics who are outraged with Notre Dame's "clueless" decision to have Obama speak at its commencement service on May 17. 

Those who oppose Obama's presence at Notre Dame point to a 2004 bishops' statement that says, "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions." Wenski claims that he doesn't like conflict or fights, but that this case is "egregious enough that we have to be clear. We're standing on principle...." 

Ironically, as I read the second article linked above, it was not the "cluelessness" of the leadership at Notre Dame that struck me: it was the cluelessness of the average American Christian who just doesn't get what all the uproar is about (evidently, 50% of Catholics don't mind). In one sense, the Notre Dame controversy is a small thing: the president will give his speech and the world will move on. But his apprearance at Notre Dame represents the spirit of our age -- a spirit of lukewarm faith and a willingness to compromise with the world rather than a willingness to embrace, however unpopular, our biblically mandated position as spiritual non-conformists (Romans 12:1-2). 

Obama will give his speech, the flap will die down, but -- as Christians -- we will have taken one more step down the ladder of spiritual decline. And most of us will be none the wiser about what we've just lost.

(Image courtesy of Catholic News Agency)

Gender-based abortions OK in Sweden

Well, what did we expect? Any reason is a good reason, according to Swedish health authorities....

Read here.

Hef’s last boundary

Shia_labeouf Years ago in a religious studies class, a professor of mine--no prude, he--told us a startling remark by Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner to keep us on our toes.  My professor referenced an early interview Hefner gave after he launched Playboy, in which the pajama-clad Casanova said airily, "Incest is the last boundary we need to cross."

So much for harmless soft porn, eh?

Well, as Hefner has been busy crowning the 50th Playboy Playmate, his famous publication is legitimizing at least conversation on such taboo subjects. Shia LeBeouf, a rising young actor, said in a recent interview that he found his mother so sexually attractive that if she wasn't his mother, he'd want to be with her that way.

While breaking through the last remaining cultural and ethical barricades makes some young Hollywood members feel liberated, there's a reason such barricades are up, of course. For one thing, they separate us from the animals. But, like Phil Donahue and others, Hef no doubt sees us as merely human animals, with no soul to protect and value in ourselves or others.

(Image © AP)

Abdicating the throne

Prom Being elected Prom King and Queen takes charisma and popularity. One Kansas City high school got a little more out of their prom court. Instead of basking in the glory of their teen moment, the Prom King and Queen at Blue Springs High School took off their crowns and presented them to two classmates with special needs. 

It's nice to see some royals acting with nobility for a change.

(Image courtesy of NBC)

The Point Radio: Pick Up the Phone

Who should you be calling?...


Click play above to listen.

Michelle Maisto, “Cell Phones are Becoming the Only Phones for More Americans,” EWeek, 12 March 2009.

May 11, 2009

Daily roundup

More Thoughts on Guns

Glock_30_45cal We wandered a bit off-topic in the thread about what we expect in the president's Supreme Court nominee: I mentioned that I figure his nominee will be someone who will oppose the private ownership of guns, which led Andy to wonder why Christians want to own guns in the first place, as if there were some biblical reason why we shouldn't. I thought that was a reasonable issue to address, and decided to continue the discussion here.

I can't speak for every gun-owning Christian; I can only speak for my family, especially my husband and myself. First, guns are part of two sports we both enjoy -- hunting and shooting. When it comes to hunting, we only kill animals we're going to eat, such as deer, wild pig, elk, antelope, rabbits, and quail. While we certainly don't need to hunt to eat, we see nothing wrong -- certainly nothing unbiblical -- in doing so. The fact that we both grew up in the country, and regularly ate what we and our fathers killed, makes this activity normal for us. (I can understand why it might seem strange to a city dweller who thinks that all meat comes in styrofoam packages.) 

We also like to go target shooting. I must admit that I'm only a fair shot on the range, but my husband is fantastic -- whether with a shotgun shooting skeet (he's poetry-in-motion) or with a pistol or high-powered rifle shooting targets. In fact, he once captained the Air Force's High Powered Rifle Team and competed at the national level. Both our children (now adults) like to go target shooting, something we started them doing at a young age. FYI, my husband and I never allowed our kids to have toy guns; we never wanted them to think of guns as something to play around with. For the same reason, I am adamantly opposed to videos games which teach children to shoot. Guns are not toys and should never be treated as such.

Second, we own guns for protection from "varmints" -- both animal and human. Jesus told His followers to sell their extra cloak and buy a sword because He knew that the world was a dangerous place and that they might need to defend themselves -- whether from dangerous animals or humans. I have never had to kill a lion, as David did, but I have certainly had occasion to shoot poisonous snakes when I was out camping, hiking, or hunting. And, should a criminal break into my home or threaten someone I love, I have no problem using a gun in our defense. Yes, it would be nice if the police could be around 24/7 to  handle the bad guys for us, but that's not ever going to happen. Some of the responsibility for protecting myself and those I care about remains in my hands.

Continue reading "More Thoughts on Guns" »

KFC and Oprah-tunity Knocking

KFC You may have heard about the snafu last week, when Oprah announced free downloadable coupons to try Kentucky Fried Chicken's new grilled chicken. The response was so overwhelming that local KFC chains had to turn away customers because they ran out of the product. And instead of using this to their marketing advantage, apparently some KFC stores were actually rude and belligerent in turning the hungry customers away. My takeaway:

Do count your chickens before you hatch a scheme with Oprah. 

Now is it just me, or is anyone else just a little freaked out about how powerful Oprah is, to control the reins of the populace like this? Oprah loves The Shack. Everyone loves The Shack. Oprah hails grilled chicken. KFC is inundated by consumers. Oprah becomes an adherent of Eckhart Tolle and his wacko beliefs. Lo and behold, so does your neighbor, and three out of five of your friends on Facebook.

Don't get me wrong, if Oprah-tunity came knocking on my door, I wouldn't turn it down. But just the very fact that her word holds so much power is a little... chilling. I think if she told Americans that standing on their head for five hours a day would cure cancer, the world would, well, be turned upside down.

(Image © KFC)

A new era of civility?

Sykes So much for that idea.

(Image © Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

Farewell to a friend

U.S. News & World Report has excerpts from Chuck's eulogy for Jack Kemp.

Update: A video of Chuck's eulogy is now available on the main BreakPoint site.

’God Did It!’

Dna_rgb In a recent essay in The New Republic, evolutionary scientist Jerry Coyne asked, “Does the empirical nature of science contradict the revelatory nature of faith? Are the gaps between them so great that the two institutions must be considered essentially antagonistic?” Coyne has no doubt that the answer is yes.

Religion is so hopelessly inimical to scientific progress that any attempt to reconcile them is futile. As Coyne explains, “Accepting both science and conventional faith leaves you with a double standard.” And to make sure you are clear on what religion is at issue, Coyne adds, “Rational on the origin of blood clotting, irrational on the Resurrection; rational on dinosaurs, irrational on virgin births.”

While hallowed bodies, like the National Academy of Sciences, claim publicly that faith and science do not conflict, privately, their “dirty little secret” is that religion is a science-stopper. Their public face, Coyne lets on, is all in the interest of maintaining public trust—one that is overwhelming religious and, professedly, Christian—and with it, public funding.

To the illuminati, a believer lumbers to the edge of every frontier of knowledge, poised to retire his investigations with “God did it!” contentment. Meanwhile, dead ends caused by their own faith in scientific materialism remain unexamined—the premature designation of “vestigial” organs and “junk” DNA being two examples.

Contrary to modern criticism, the scientist who approaches the world as a product of intelligence, rather than of matter and motion, is less likely to stop short of discovery. Instead of dismissing a feature that, at first glance, appears inert, unnecessary or just plain mystifying, he is more inclined to push the envelope of investigation to unravel its function and purpose.

Rather than obstructing science, Christianity, with its emphasis on a personal Creator, inspired an age of discovery that opened the way for science. Continue reading here.

(Image © Richards Center at Yale University)

The Point Radio: Zig Zags

What will it take to get you to slow down?...


Click play above to listen.

Adam Tuss, “Zig Zag Lines Being Painted on Purpose,” WTOP News, 20 April 2009.

May 08, 2009

Daily roundup

’Eats, Shoots & Leaves’ was right

Commas make all the difference.

A. N. Wilson’s Return

Following up on Kim's post, Dr. Benjamin Wiker has a wonderful article on Wilson's recent re-conversion to Christianity. He quotes Wilson's description of the cultural conditions that first led him away from Christianity, conditions we recognize all around us: 

Like most educated people in Britain and Northern Europe..., I have grown up in a culture that is overwhelmingly secular and anti-religious. The universities, broadcasters and media generally are not merely non-religious, they are positively anti. 

To my shame, I believe it was this that made me lose faith and heart in my youth. It felt so uncool to be religious. With the mentality of a child in the playground, I felt at some visceral level that being religious was unsexy, like having spots or wearing specs.

This playground attitude accounts for much of the attitude towards Christianity that you pick up, say, from the alternative comedians, and the casual light blasphemy of jokes on TV or radio.

It also lends weight to the fervour of the anti-God fanatics, such as the writer Christopher Hitchens and the geneticist Richard Dawkins, who think all the evil in the world is actually caused by religion.

I celebrate Wilson's return to Christ, but I wonder how many of us -- even those who have never turned away from our Savior -- are affected by that same negative culture. How much do I allow this subtle and not-so-subtle prejudice against Christianity to lead me to be less trusting in God, less bold in my witness, and less likely to see the need to think Christianly about all of life? To what degree am I more concerned with what the world thinks of Christians (and me) than I am of what Christ thinks of me? Food for thought...

From Atheism to Christianity

I've just seen the conversion story of die-hard atheist A. N. Wilson. What strikes me is that it was the everyday beauty of life which caught Wilson's heart. 

Let us all shout from the rooftop with our brother--Christ has risen!

’Trek’s’ triumvirate

Egosuperegoid-2 In honor of the new Star Trek film, Gary Robinson offers a take on the original series that is, well, fascinating. (Sorry.)

(Image courtesy of Christianity Today)