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April 23, 2009

Oh, No!

It's Take Your Annoying, Runny-Nosed Child to Work Day again...the day on which, if you go to the airport, an employee's child will drop your luggage (happened to me once), slowly serve you the wrong order at a restaurant (you can't get snarky with them because they might cry), etc. I wonder if the man who carries the nuclear football at the White House brought HIS kid to work today--you know, just to show her how the buttons work.... 

That's right....I hate this kind of stuff, and not just because it was invented by feminists, who changed it from "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" after people pointed out that it was sexist (boys left behind in the classroom were often given assignments involving how sexist men are). I dislike it because 1. as Chuck once pointed out in a BreakPoint commentary, it celebrates moms who work outside the home at the expense of those who take care of their children full-time, and 2. there are certain places children simply don't belong, because--surprise--they behave like children.

So--I'm really glad I'm working from a home office today and not planning to go out. The only creature irritating me is my miniature dachshund, Boo Boo, who growls and barks whenever I'm on the phone because she's learned that I'll throw her treats to shut her up.

April 21, 2009

Daily roundup

April 20, 2009

Day of Truth

Today is the “Day of Truth.” According to ex-gay and Exodus International President Alan Chambers, this day was formed “…to affirm every students' constitutional right to free speech and to provide an opportunity to have an honest conversation about sexuality… to promote biblical truth, honest dialogue, and authentic tolerance where opinions can be expressed, individuals are respected, and opposing viewpoints can harmoniously coexist.”

Don't you think it’s about time we have this kind of conversation with honesty and civility? The day is not about taking freedom away from those who struggle with, or choose to embrace, homosexuality; it's simply to educate students and young people alike to deal with their same-sex attraction responsibly and according to God’s best plan for sexuality without pressure to conform to any lifestyle. Click here to find out how to get involved.

In the end, every day should be a day of truth when discussing homosexuality and other controversial social issues. Seeking truth based on Biblical principles -- as we try to do here at The Point and in other venues like Twitter and BreakPoint WorldView -- is the best way to engage in conversation about them.

April 17, 2009

Daily roundup

April 16, 2009

Daily roundup

What does Obama have against Jesus?

Georgetown stage According to this blogger, Obama asked Georgetown University to cover up the name of Jesus on a pediment before he arrived to speak this week--along with all other "signs and symbols there" behind the stage where Obama spoke. What does The Messiah have against Jesus? Oh--right. Competition... 

The White House claimed its request was "consistent with what they've done for other policy speeches." They just wanted a backdrop of a few discreet American flags. Perhaps they've forgotten the speech Obama made with THIS logo behind him--the symbol of International Baby Killers plastered everywhere you look.

(Image courtesy of CNSNews and A Catholic View)

April 15, 2009

Daily roundup

April 14, 2009

Survivor’s guilt

25korea.1_600x379 As we approach North Korea Freedom Week, the Washington Post offers a moving portrait of the struggles of those who escape the oppressive regime.

At the Hangyoreh school, none of the defectors arrives with a clear idea of what career to pursue, according to Gwak [Jong-moon], the principal.

He said they come to school, instead, with fears that often overwhelm their ability to concentrate: They are afraid that someone will harm them, that someone will punish their family in North Korea, that they will fail in South Korea.

"These things really weigh them down," Gwak said. "When they start to make progress, they feel guilty. One hundred percent of the time, when you throw a birthday party for these young people, they cry for the family they left behind."

Their long-term ambitions, he said, are easy to explain: "They want to eat warm rice with their families again."

Image © Seokyong Lee for the New York Times

Youthful perspective

AIG

Maybe we should send Congress back to fourth grade.

(Image courtesy of AIG)

April 13, 2009

Daily roundup

April 09, 2009

CPC Harassment Alert

Gail Tierney, head of the Rockville Pregnancy Center, told me this week that an anti-choice group (that is, a group opposed to giving women any choice except abortion) is planning to picket and harass pro-life pregnancy care centers nationwide on Monday. Please keep these centers in your prayers--that volunteers would respond appropriately (even lovingly) and that God would use the evil they intend for good.

’Sexting’ and Teens

Teen texting “Sexting," sending nude photos of oneself or others by cell phone, continues to be a growing trend among teenagers. If caught, a minor can be charged with child pornography violations and land on the sex offenders list, as in the case of this young man from Florida. Prosecutors probably intend to send a strong message to teenagers about the dangers of “sexting.” But is giving kids a lifelong criminal record and possible jail time as a sex offender an overreaction, or justice served?

In any case, this is a strong reminder that parents must be engaged on this topic and must create a game plan to ensure that teens' use of online and digital communication remains safe and positive. Even more importantly, they must teach teens to value themselves as holy and created in the image of God. 

For help teaching your kids Christian worldview, click here

(Image courtesy of Mom Central)

April 08, 2009

Daily roundup

Who, me?

Perhaps you saw this video of an altercation between Rep. Barney Frank and a Harvard Law student on the news recently. (A partial transcript can be found here.) I find it pretty discouraging to see a government official fly into a rage at the mere suggestion that what he does in his position might give him some responsibility for the state of affairs in the nation. Lord knows, "Everyone is responsible but me" is the last attitude we need in our leaders right now.

Aliens, Yes. But Strangers?

Immigration, as an issue, reminds me a lot of capital punishment. There's a number of poor, sentimental arguments on either side, and a few genuinely good arguments on both sides.

Oddly or not, the best immigration arguments seem to exist in the space where free market economics and Christian love intersect. In general, I think that increased immigration is a good thing, so long as (1) we control our borders, (2) we encourage a Melting Pot more than the Cultural Mosaic (including strict enforcement to address gang problems), and (3) we take a minimalist approach to entitlements. Of course, we quite unfortunately do none of those things today, except perhaps address the gang problems.

Anyhow, this NRO post -- in which Richard Nadler takes on John Derbyshire (and his third degree blackbelt in TaeKwonEeyore) -- is one of the better commentaries I've read on the topic in a while.

April 07, 2009

Update on the porn film at U-Md.

So I guess it's supposed to be okay if you only show excerpts of the film . . . ?

April 06, 2009

Daily roundup

Hope amidst the Bones

Rwanda_slah This week's Newsweek features the Chairman of Prison Fellowship Rwanda, Bishop John Rucyahana, who returned to his Rwandan homeland after the genocide to help rebuild the broken nation. Ellis Cose documents some of his experiences in this week's piece:

When Rucyahana got back to Uganda in mid-July, he rented a minibus, hired a driver and took to the road with 10 other pastors. They crossed into Rwanda and made their way to Nyamata, near Kigali, the capital. The violence had died down but death was everywhere: "We saw mass graves; we saw dead bodies. In one home, we found 27 dead bodies. . . ."

Rucyahana had to act. Initially, he ran seminars, urging people to repent and rebuild. But that wasn't enough. So in 1996, he packed up his family and returned to the land of his birth to preach hope standing on "a pile of bones," as he puts it. One of his first tasks was to build a boarding school for orphans: "Having lost a million people, lots of babies were left behind." The school in Musanze, near the Volcanoes National Park, opened in 2001. It is now one of the best schools in the country. It is called Sonrise, which, Rucyahana explains, "means the Son of God rises into the misery, into our darkness."

I share part of Bishop John's story, and one of the stories of a student at the Sonrise School/Orphanage, in As We Forgive. To read his full memoir, take a look at his own The Bishop of Rwanda. I'm so glad that the wider world is being introduced to Bishop John, the recipient of BreakPoint's 2009 Wilberforce Award, and to the amazing things God has been doing in the aftermath of this tragedy.

By the way, on this day, 15 years ago, Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana's plane plummeted from the sky after being hit by a missile. It became the albatross around the neck of the Tutsi people when Hutu claimed that the RPF shot it down. The sudden streak of a missile and the fiery light of a falling plane were a diabolical kind of fireworks that night--evil's unseemly opening ceremonies to a hundred days of slaughter that would consume the country.

(Image © Newsweek)

April 03, 2009

Good news and bad news

The good news is that the University of Maryland has decided not to show a porn film to its students. (It seems they didn't like the idea of having their funding pulled.)

The bad news is WHAT THE HECK WERE THEY THINKING IN THE FIRST PLACE??

April 02, 2009

Daily roundup

April 01, 2009

I was so hoping this was an April Fool

Unfortunately, it appears to be true.

March 31, 2009

Daily roundup

Wilson vs. Loury

Recently we ran Glenn Loury's "A Nation of Jailers" in the Daily Roundup. James Q. Wilson of the American Enterprise Institute has now written a rebuttal. An excerpt:

Glenn Loury rightly directs our attention to the troubling fact that we have put into prison a large fraction of our citizens, especially African American men. No one can be happy with this state of affairs. It is difficult to create and sustain a decent society when many of its members are former convicts.

Worrisome as this may be, Loury says little about why this happened other than to say we are a nation of "racist jailers" who operate a "greed-driven economy" and have created a "so-called underclass" that reflects the "moral deviance" of all of us. He looks askance at those who speak about the "purported net benefits to 'society' of greater incarceration."

I am one of those, and I do not feel inclined to apologize. Loury does not refer to the scholarly work of those social scientists who have worked hard to understand why we imprison so many people and with what results. Let me summarize what Daniel Nagin, David Farrington, Patrick Langan, Steven Levitt, and William Spelman have shown. Other things being equal, a higher risk of punishment reduces crime rates.

Read more. Which writer do you think has a better grasp of the problem and the solutions?

March 30, 2009

Daily roundup

Immunized against Idiocy

Check out this delightful refutation from the Clapham Institute of a new, and ridiculous, claim being made in a recent IBM ad -- that "math is the only language all human beings share."

March 26, 2009

Daily roundup

March 24, 2009

Daily roundup

March 23, 2009

Daily roundup

March 20, 2009

First Church of Nobody

This is a phenomenon that has always fascinated me: atheists gathering together in a church-like setting to talk about -- well, I'm not exactly clear on that part. I can understand that some people would choose not to believe in God, for varying reasons, but it seems a little strange to meet regularly to talk about it, or to passionately evangelize for the cause.

Yet as this Washington Post article points out, the human need for community and companionship cannot be evaded even in the most self-centered of religions.

Richard Lints, a professor of philosophical theology at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a prominent evangelical school in Hamilton, Mass., said the humanist desire for greater community is understandable. He believes God "hard-wired" humans to need it.

But he said he doubts humanism can sustain itself in the local congregations Epstein envisions because community is not a natural part of humanism, where the individual is the ultimate source of meaning. If humanism becomes concerned with the "greater good," and a sort of natural moral order that implies, it starts to resemble religion and humanists will back away, he said.

The community at the center of the Post's report was initiated by the humanist "chaplain" -- a rather paradoxical title -- at Harvard. And he offers a rather paradoxical reason for bringing fellow "believers" together: "Salvation is here on earth. . . . We have evolved over 14 billion years without purpose. Now we want purpose, we need to build it into our own lives."

If humanism were true, the purposelessness of life would indeed be the universe's greatest tragedy. Yet real purpose is not something that can be created from within.

March 17, 2009

The United States of Me

Remember the classic elementary school short story about "The Man Without a Country?" Well, this guy took things a step further, claiming that he is his own country. I have a feeling the traffic court judge isn't going to accept that argument.

As my brother, who sent me the link, pointed out, this is what happens when we believe truth is relative.

March 12, 2009

Words, Words, Words, Nothing but Words

This is a follow-up on a discussion we started about the deleterious idea that one evolutionary biologist (EB) proposed to his fellow EBs. Because of unpleasant associations with the Intelligent Design group, this fellow wanted to eliminate the use of the word “design” to ensure that ideas about ID that don’t fit within the framework of his worldview would not be heard.

The "word" problem is much larger than the issue of biology and design. As Pointificator David says, "The...'abuse of language' is a problem that shows up everywhere. Whether done by ideological opponents, the government or 'Madison Avenue,' calculated manipulation via words is as reprehensible as it is common." David has a further point to make: "The careless use of language may actually cause more damage."

Words give meaning and purpose to our lives, but sadly, the words and their meanings that make a difference in the very way we live, like "freedom" and "dignity," have been slowly eroding as cultural sophists have been busy at work changing meanings of words. For instance, the word "truth" has been neutered to mean whatever you think it means. Christianity, from which we get our rights, has been vilified. The virtues (temperance, prudence, fortitude, justice, faith, hope, and love) have been eerily transposed into bad words. Other concepts like first principles and natural law are ideas that people simply don’t understand. 

I thought it might be prudent for all of us to start illustrating abuses of language abuses as we see them here at The Point.

In the meantime, here's an article about words that some say transcend the test of time. One of the most interesting parts of this article to me is that words about personhood have been around at least 30,000 years. 

March 11, 2009

Daily roundup

The end of opportunity

Sarah and James Parker When President Obama signs the omnibus bill that was just passed by the Senate, which includes a provision that will defund the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, he'll be kicking two of his daughters' own schoolmates out of Sidwell Friends and sending them back to the stagnant D.C. public school system. Bill Bennett writes:

The Omnibus legislation . . . strips funding for 1,700 poor and minority students in Washington, DC who receive federal aid to attend private schools.  The DC Opportunity Scholarship program died in the Senate last night with the Omnibus vote, despite DC Superintendent Michelle Rhee supporting it and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan stating he would like to see the students in that program stay in it.  Keep in mind, the Opportunity Scholarship program currently helps two students attend Sidwell Friends School, where Barack and Michelle Obama send their two daughters, so it now looks like Sasha and Malia will have two less school mates in 2010 as a result of the vote yesterday.  As Virginia Walden Ford said:  "I’d like to see a reporter stand up at one of those nationally televised press conferences and ask President Obama what he thinks about what his own party is doing to keep two innocent kids from attending the same school where he sends his."

I guess the Obama girls are just lucky that daddy and mommy are rich and powerful. If they were in James and Sarah Parker's place, they'd be out on their ear.

(Image © Deborah Parker)

March 10, 2009

Aha!

EquationsYou math geniuses thought I was just being a ditz when I talked about expressing ideas in equations. Now look -- they've built a whole contest around it!

I think some of our Pointificators ought to try for this. If you get one published, maybe we'll throw in a prize of our own.

(Image © Bob Staake for The Washington Post)

March 06, 2009

Jail Time or ’Jane Eyre’?

Price-190 Would you rather go to jail or join a book club? No, it's not a trick question.

Changing Lives Through Literature, an alternative sentencing program, gives low-level offenders the option of skipping out of jail if they take a literature course with other offenders, a judge, and their probation officer.

Seriously?

Seriously, because literature can transform. As participants read John Steinbeck, Frederick Douglass, and Toni Morrison, they begin to find themselves within the stories, inside a character. For those who have felt marginalized or alienated, this sense of "not being the only one" offers them hope. And getting to speak their opinions before a judge or probation officer makes them feel listened to and gives them confidence to take a job interview or apply to school.

Leah Price, writing in the New York Times, explains it this way:

“Poetry,” W.H. Auden once wrote, “makes nothing happen.” But Waxler insists that “literature can make a difference” — more specifically, that lives are touched by printed art as they can’t be by the act of sitting around a table arguing about a movie, a song, a self-help book or one’s own childhood. The probation officer begins by telling participants that “this program isn’t a miracle,” but it works in mysterious ways. Perhaps reading stories allows participants to form narratives (whether conscious or not) about their own past and future. In a study of more traditional 12-step programs, the criminologist Shadd Maruna has argued that recovery from addiction requires the ability to distinguish a “before” from an “after.” Searching for terms to explain the mechanism by which literature “changes” readers, participants come up with “turning points,” “epiphanies,” even “grace.” “When it’s working,” Waxler says, “this discussion has a kind of magic to it.”

Good literature provides a narrative for our lives. For example, the characters that fill the pages of Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, and the Gospels teach us of the pain of sin and the glory of goodness. As financial burdens weigh down our criminal justice system, I am hopeful that more states will turn to such innovative approaches to corrections.

(Image © Paul Sahre for the New York Times)

March 05, 2009

Daily roundup

Our American Heritage

Take a few moments to listen to listen to this short clip from Father Robert Sirico about our American heritage. Then, think about ways in which you can be part of passing down this legacy to the next generation.

March 04, 2009

Daily roundup

March 03, 2009

Daily roundup

Happy Square Root Day

Since I know all of us love Mathematics, we all have something to celebrate.

Today is 3/3/09, which makes it a Square Root Day.

This only happens nine times in a century, with the next one happening 4/4/16.

So enjoy it and be thankful for Mathematics. We can't live without it..

February 27, 2009

Daily roundup

February 26, 2009

Daily roundup

It’s 1984 All Over Again

1984 My ninth-grade English teacher assigned George Orwell's dystopian classic 1984. Call me lily-livered, but the book scared me stiff.

Shenanigans like the one that Paul Nelson is exposing bring back the same horror I felt while reading that book. The big difference is that this time it isn't a novel.

(Image © Penguin)

February 25, 2009

Daily roundup

How to help kids ’get it’

Kids.jpg A new BreakPoint column about young people and worldview, by John Stonestreet, executive director of Summit Ministries, contains some helpful insights that relate to the conversation Anne started yesterday.

I often hear students describe their experience of Christianity in these terms: “I’ve been a Christian my whole life, but I don’t really get it”; or, “I prayed the prayer when I was four, but I don’t think it stuck”; or, “I committed my life to Christ when I was 15, but I am not sure it stuck.” . . .

Often, our approaches to youth ministry sanctify adolescence. Whereas teenagers have the capacity—and thus, I would argue, the calling—to think deeply and broadly about their culture, confront evil and injustice, and champion the truth, they instead are encouraged in their adolescent narcissism. We present a neutered Gospel, only about them and their needs, lacking vision (Proverbs 29:18).

Read more here about why Christian kids aren't "getting it," and how we can help make sure they do.

February 20, 2009

Daily roundup

February 19, 2009

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:

February 18, 2009

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)

February 16, 2009

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.

February 13, 2009

Daily roundup