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« June 2009 | Main

July 27, 2009


It's come to my attention that some of you still have http://breakpoint.typepad.com in your bookmarks. You need to change it to http://thepoint.breakpoint.org or http://www.breakpoint.org/tp-home. Since we've moved to our new system, this site is no longer operational. You can't see our new posts here, and if you comment here, it won't show up. So come on over and join the rest of us!

July 06, 2009

Daily roundup

Praying in Perilous Times

Pastor and missionary Gene Cunningham has written a timely piece on what we can learn from Elijah as we pray for our nation. You can read "Perilous Times Primer -- The Elijah Option" here.

Exploitative TV

25realitytv.480 I normally wouldn't have much to say about reality television shows because I don't watch them, but the dreary news about a certain couple with eight children, and their decision to divorce, has been everywhere, and I haven't been able to escape it. 

Colleen Caroll Campbell, a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, maintains that the repercussion of reality shows are far larger than the individual lives of the people being filmed and the kids being exploited.  

Campbell discusses a new book called The Mirror Effect, which shows that the more time a person spends watching this degrading behavior, the likelier he or she will be to "mimic that behavior."

She offers a curative to this effect, but I'll let you read what it is.

(Image © TLC)

Stop the Tweets!

Twitter A few weeks ago I blogged about the perils of Twitter. Nice to know that there are at least 18 possible arguments against microblogging from moral philosophy.

Take a look and have a laugh. 

Getting things done

Justice Fellowship president Pat Nolan is quoted in this article about Sen. Jim Webb's efforts to reform the criminal justice system.

Glass houses

As Frank Schaeffer continues his quest to distance himself from conservatism and evangelicalism, his tone grows ever shriller:

What are the Republicans in Congress and the other "respectable" leaders on the far right -- from Focus on the Family's James Dobson to Rush Limbaugh, from Laura Ingraham to the leaders of the NRA -- doing to stop the right-wing domestic wave of terrorism exploding in the aftermath of President Barack Obama's election? I ask this as a former evangelical right-wing and "pro-life" leader who quit the right and the Republicans in disgust over their extremism. . . .

There's a biblical story about the stoning to death of St. Stephen, where the yet-to-be-converted-apostle Paul didn't throw the deadly stones himself but stood holding the coats of the people doing the killing. Similarly, the right-wing leadership, are "holding the coats" of present and future violent actors. These coat-holders sow the seeds of hate with their words, then pretend horror when those words are taken seriously.

Here's what I don't get: If Schaeffer truly believes that the language of conservative leaders is inflammatory, and that inflammatory language leads to violence, then why is he using inflammatory language himself?

The Point Radio: Pleasing God or Man

Your actions may look good, but is your heart in the right place?...

Click play above to listen.

Kim Eckert, “The Need to Please,” Today’s Christian Woman, July/August 2008.

July 03, 2009

The Johnny Cash song you’ve never heard

Well, maybe you have, but I'd never heard it before the local country station played it the other day, in honor of Independence Day. Enjoy, and have a happy Fourth!

The Point Radio: Generation Rude

Are today's kids the "rudest generation"?...

Click play above to listen.

Susan Gregory Thomas, “Today’s Tykes: Secure Kids or Rudest Generation in History?” MSNBC.com, 6 May 2009.

July 02, 2009

Daily roundup

When Python met Spock

I was saving this for a fun Friday video, but we have tomorrow off, so it can be a fun Thursday video instead. (But do stop back in tomorrow morning for a couple of Independence Day posts.) Enjoy!

H/T Roger Overton

As the French might say, this is just a little ’de trop’

H/T Breitbart (vulgarity in comments)

And he didn’t get there by crying in Argentina

Karl Mona Malden Funny the way things work, isn't it? Just when marriages seem to be falling apart left and right, when some are predicting or even calling for the destruction of the institution, along comes a gentle reminder that the death of marriage has been greatly exaggerated.

With the news of the death of acting great Karl Malden, God rest him, came the news that Karl and his wife, Mona, had been married 70 years.

Seventy years.

Thank God, some couples still have it.

(Image © David Livingston for Getty Images)

A Rabbi on the ’Paradox’ of Evangelicals

At the New York Times, in a symposium on The Most Annoying & Pathetic Governor Ever, and just under our own Chuck Colson's contribution, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach opines thusly:

The paradox of American evangelicals is that they are Christian on the one hand and political conservatives on the other with utterly opposing views of redemption. Christians believe that no one is blameless and all must therefore ride the coattails of a perfect being into heaven. But conservatives espouse the gospel of personal accountability. The state cannot save them. Man must earn his bread by the sweat of his brow and not by welfare alone.

Is he right? I don’t think so.

This notion that those of us who are both evangelical Christians and political conservatives have incompatible views on redemption is to misunderstand redemption. Or so it seems to me. 

Redemption relates to our standing with God, and is the foundation of the discussion about Salvation. If Governor Sanford is indeed a believer, then nothing he has done in this affair—no matter how destructive and stupid—affects his relationship with God. He is saved once and for all. He is redeemed.

Continue reading "A Rabbi on the ’Paradox’ of Evangelicals" »

For our fellow hymn-lovers

250px-'A'_(PSF) The following was printed in my choir bulletin last night. I thought you all would appreciate it.

THANK YOU to our men vocalists and brass players for their inspiring presentation of the great hymns, including "Immortal, Invisible" last Sunday, June 28. The following are additional verses to [the] same tune.

Immoral, impossible, God only knows
How tenors and basses, sopranos, altos
At service on Sunday are rarely the same
As those who on Wednesday to choir practice came.

Unready, unable to sight-read the notes,
Nor counting, nor blending, they tighten their throats:
The descant so piercing is soaring above
A melody only a mother could love.

They have a director, but one wonders why:
No one in the choir deigns turn him an eye.
It's clear by his flailing, he wants them to look,
But each singer slouches with nose in the book.

Despite the offenses, the music rings out.
The folks in the pews are enraptured, no doubt.
Their faces are blissful, their thoughts appear deep,
But it is no wonder, for they are asleep.

(Author, unknown. We will be accepting equally abusive verses for instrumentalists.)

(Note: If anyone wants to take up that challenge, I'll be happy to pass the results along to our music and worship administrator/newsletter editor, Karen Maxfield.)

Sanford and sons

0624_sanford_460x276 Following up on Stephen's post, as the resident South Carolinian on the Point, I’ve been trying to find the right words since news of our governor’s deplorable behavior became public last week. Everyone knows by now that Mark Sanford is carrying on an adulterous affair with a woman in Argentina, that he sneaked away over Father’s Day weekend like he was part of some cloak-and-dagger spy drama, and that he resurfaced, tearful but resolute on keeping his seat in the State House, willing to spill the sordid details of his story to any reporter who will listen.

Asked about whether he will resign as governor, Sanford pointed to the Biblical example of King David, who engaged in an adulterous affair with Bathsheba. When Bathsheba wound up pregnant, David conspired to cover it all up, eventually murdering Bathsheba’s husband.

What the governor remembers about King David’s story from his Sunday school days is that David continued to rule as king and that, in spite of his failures, God restored David.

The governor seems to have missed or forgotten two key elements to David’s story. First, David was repentant. After Nathan the prophet confronted David through a parable, David wrote, “For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight…Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51: 3, 4, 10 ESV).

The governor has done a lot of confessing over the last week, some of it probably best left between him and God and his wife instead of broadcast for all the world to hear. But what is noticeably absent from his speech since last Tuesday is repentance. The governor says he wants his four sons to see redemption played out in his life, but Paul told the Corinthian church that “godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret” (2 Cor 7:10 NIV). Governor Sanford seems sorry only that he got caught, that he put his staff in an awkward situation, and that he can’t be with his mistress.

Continue reading "Sanford and sons" »

St. Paul’s Remains Found

Paul Referring to recent carbon-dating tests on bone fragments found under St. Paul's Basilica, the pope stated, "This seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that they are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul."

Please tell me this is not true

Jackson children THIS is why we need to more strictly regulate the whole industry of sperm donors, egg donors, surrogate mothers, whom eggs and babies are given (sold) to, etc. Evidently, one surrogate mother had no idea that the child she was carrying (biologically hers? or somebody else's?) would ultimately be absorbed into Michael Jackson's freak show. Shouldn't she have? Plus, Jackson never filed the paperwork necessary to legally adopt the children?

So--somebody just handed three innocent children over to someone who'd been charged (more than once) with child molestation? Please tell me this isn't true. No, don't bother, because I won't believe you.

(Image © Splash News)

The Point Radio: Fishers of Men

He turned his hobby into a way to reach struggling kids....

Click play above to listen.

Adam Bluestein, “Make it Matter: Fishing as an Alternative to Drugs,” Reader’s Digest.

July 01, 2009

Daily roundup

Full-time dreamers are too distracted to hold public office

Sanford The world has a place for dreamers. They are often the ones who entertain us and inspire us with their art, writings, and music. On occasion, the public square needs the vision that sometimes dreamers can provide. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s dream of racial equality in the U.S. comes to mind.

But not South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's form of dreaming. After listening to his recent Associated Press interview, followed by the reaction of many of his fellow Republicans in the Palmetto State's Senate, the disconnect between reality and Sanford's continued dreaminess about his Argentine affair has gone beyond morally repugnant to...well, what's the word?

Chuck Colson said recently in a BreakPoint commentary that where he finally ended up on this matter was bewilderment. That captures it well. Because with every public utterance since his return from South America last week, Governor Sanford shows himself unfit for duty. He can't help himself, it seems, as he treats us all to an incredible emotional gushing that says to one and all, "He isn't over her yet."Jenny Sanford

He calls the matter a "love story," not just an affair. Is this for his Argentine friend's eyes, just in case she is able to read The State newspaper online? He says that he is "trying to fall in love again" with his wife, Jenny, whose own public statements have been as positively extraordinary lately as her husband's comments have been abysmal. Ruth Marcus of the Washington Post--no conservative--says that Jenny Sanford has finally given America a new role model for wronged spouses: "neither enabler nor victim."

Before anyone in our romance-saturated culture gets the idea that dreamy Mark is to be pitied or admired for his clandestine love affair, let us first remember its cost to many: his sons now have a national laughingstock for a father--and may well have lost their family as they have known it. 

Continue reading "Full-time dreamers are too distracted to hold public office" »

Going Deeper with ’My Sister’s Keeper’

MSK I haven't yet had the chance to see My Sister's Keeper, the new movie based on the bestselling book by Jodi Picoult, but I understand that it is an important film in the ongoing discussion of bioethics.

The film deals with the real issue known as "savior sibling." In the U.S. today it is legal to select an embryo so that it will be most compatible genetically to a sibling who may need medical attention. The first documented case in the U.S. was with Adam Nash in 2000.

Of course, there are not only ethical issues involved with using a child as a donor, but also the ethical issues involved in what happens to the many embryos who are not "selected." We euphemistically dodge those. We'll be featuring a great article on the subject in the next few days from Jennifer Lahl, the Director of the Center of Bioethics. In the meantime, I was reading a fascinating interview with author Jodi Picoult about how she came up with the storyline for the book. Here's what she has to say:

I came about the idea for this novel through the back door of a previous one, Second Glance. While researching eugenics for that book, I learned that the American Eugenics Society -- the one whose funding dried up in the 1930s when the Nazis began to explore racial [hygiene] too -- used to be housed in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Guess who occupies the same space, today? The Human Genome Project… which many consider "today's eugenics". This was just too much of a coincidence for me, and I started to consider the way this massive, cutting edge science we're on the brink of exploding into was similar… and different from… the eugenics programs and sterilization laws in America in the 1930s. Once again, you've got science that is only as ethical as the people who are researching and implementing it -- and once again, in the wake of such intense scientific advancement, what's falling by the wayside are the emotions involved in the case by case scenarios. I heard about a couple in America that successfully conceived a sibling that was a bone marrow match for his older sister, a girl suffering from a rare form of leukemia. His cord blood cells were given to the sister, who is still (several years later) in remission. But I started to wonder… what if she ever, sadly, goes out of remission? Will the boy feel responsible? Will he wonder if the only reason he was born was because his sister was sick? When I started to look more deeply at the family dynamics and how stem cell research might cause an impact, I came up with the story of the Fitzgeralds.

You can read the rest of the interview here. A trailer for the film is below the jump.

Continue reading "Going Deeper with ’My Sister’s Keeper’" »

Abortion and Premature Births

Canadian columnist Barbara Kay recently posted this article on the proven medical link between induced abortions (IA) and an increased risk of preterm births (PTB) in future pregnancies. As she points out, the long-term health risks for women who have had abortions (and for their future children) are known, but pro-abortion supporters prefer to keep this information to themselves. Here's her conclusion: 

"Given the accessibility of these studies to abortion providers, if I were the mother of a post-IA, PTB infant or toddler with autism or cerebral palsy, and had not been informed as a matter of regulatory course of IA's risk for a future PTB, I'd be angry. Litigiously so." 

Perhaps these women will go beyond personal lawsuits: perhaps they'll get angry enough to become pro-life and help us bring an end to the abortion genocide.

Pat Nolan on prison rape

Our own Pat Nolan is extensively quoted in this column by National Review's Kathryn Lopez on the National Prison Rape Elimination Commission report.

Churches have played no small role in the disinfecting process already. These dark crimes came out of the shadows when churches got involved, Nolan emphasizes: “Churches made it a moral issue. In a civilized society we cannot allow this to go on.”

The Point Radio: Lion on the Loose

If you're going to fight, choose your battles wisely....

Click play above to listen.

Michigan Police Shock Cougar – a Toy One – with Taser,” Chicago Tribune, 15 May 2009.