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May 08, 2009

Daily roundup

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...

Blogger roundup

Here's a collection of full-length articles recently published by your Point bloggers:

May 07, 2009

Barnyard reign of terror halted

Animal farm . . . and other unexpected results of the swine flu.

(Image courtesy of WORD)

California Goes to Pot

Marijuana-leaf It would be funny if it weren't so tragic, but evidently California is considering legalizing pot in order to help with the state's budget deficit. 

(Image courtesy of HowStuffWorks)

May 06, 2009

Daily roundup

Re: Surely This Couldn’t Happen Here

Cigarette Dave,

Here's what comes to mind:

  1. On the one hand, we seem to be determined to follow Western Europe's lead, no matter how badly and obviously we see those cultures and states weaken before our eyes. Given the greater European appreciation for the cigarette, and given the current American governmental appetite for buying $timulu$ with taxpayer dollars, one could almost imagine something as hilariously pathetic as required cigarette consumption. "Drag deep, men, and silently thank Saint Keynes for giving us his Magic Multiplier."
  2. On the other hand, there's too much Clinton-era precedent for directing the full power of the state against Evil Big Tobacco. And you've got liberal Meddlers In Chief like Mayor Bloomberg who believe it their job to save the ignorant hoi polloi from their precious vices. So it's hard to see us going pro-cig in our policy.
  3. Then again, the anti-smoking lobby believed the 1998 Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement between Big Tobacco and the states' attorneys general constituted a perverse incentive for smoking. So ... maybe our policy precedent is a tad unclear.
  4. Last thought: For now, we thankfully lack China's coming population implosion. Math is the harshest of taskmasters, and it does not bode well for the retirement of China's older generations, given the comparatively tiny financial base upon which those retirees will rely. So ... you know ... maybe the Chinese government is trying to hook the older workers on devil tobaccy to, er, whittle away at those retiree numbers!

I humbly submit all of these decidedly subpar thoughts for your consideration.


May 05, 2009

I used marijuana, but didn’t inhale

Marinol I recently saw an interesting blog post about a man who became addicted to medical-use marijuana. He was a seemingly normal individual who was suffering from a myriad of mental and emotional problems. He quickly became addicted to a smoked form of medical marijuana that was poorly prescribed and terribly monitored.

Having personal experience with medicinal marijuana, I want to shed some light on the agenda behind further legalizing illicit drugs. Also, with depression and other medical conditions on the rise in the U.S., and some people’s desire to solve all the world’s problems with marijuana, it is important to look at some of the options being presented and assess whether or not the benefit is worth the cost. 

In 2002 I was given a drug called Marinol. Marinol is a pharmaceutical product that is available, mostly through prescription, in the form of a pill. And it's derived from marijuana. To make Marinol, the harmful substances in marijuana are filtered out.

When I was undergoing extreme levels of chemotherapy to fight cancer at the age of 16, the nausea I was experiencing was starting to endanger my throat and vocal cords. The pain from throwing up blood and bile for days was taking its toll and I was desperate for a solution. Many anti-nausea medications had been tried in the past, but none seemed to be the silver bullet. 

On one occasion I was admitted to the emergency room soon after being released from a week-long chemotherapy treatment. The doctors, concerned for my throat, gave me Marinol. This drug calmed my nausea and vomiting and allowed me some much needed rest.  After staying in the hospital for another day or so, I was released. 

Continue reading "I used marijuana, but didn’t inhale" »

May 04, 2009

Daily roundup

Surely This Couldn’t Happen Here

Reason #274 why government should stick to governing, not running economies: Local Chinese officials have ordered state employees to smoke. The reason? To stimulate the economy by supporting local tobacco companies. Should also do wonders long-term for the state-run health care system, which will have plenty of new cancer patients in the future.

I hope Allen Thornburgh doesn't see this . . .

Multiverse Madness

Blustar The Multiverse Theory just doesn't seem to want to go away. The Point's Regis Nicoll wrote about the Multiverse Theory in early 2007, saying in his article:

Stephen Hawking’s announcement is but the latest sign that the multiverse and, with it, philosophical naturalism is in trouble. Added to its technical difficulties, the theory fails to do what it sets out to do; namely, to explain how our universe turned out the way it did. Instead, it asserts that our world has to exist, because in an infinite number of universes, all configurations are possible and we’re here, so that proves it!  Such contrived reasoning leaves some researchers cold. A theory in which anything is possible is a theory that explains nothing.

You would think that such a ridiculous line of thinking as the Multiverse Theory would have died of natural causes. However, it hangs on. In fact, things like this generous ink in Discover magazine help keep it alive. Nathan Schneider of Seed magazine speculates that theoretical physics is becoming a contender for the next battleground in the culture wars. Perhaps.

Jim Manzi, a writer for NRO, classifies the Multiverse Theory in the same category as Intelligent Design. He views both as metaphysical frameworks, but neither as science. Personally, I think the hypocrisy of those subscribing to philosophical naturalism who are keeping the Multiverse Theory alive and well needs to be exposed. If something as non-empirical and non-observable as the Multiverse Theory is considered a legitimate scientific topic, then all philosophical musings should be allowed in the door.

It also seems to me that the Multiverse Theory never solves the basic worldview question of where we come from. Even if it turns out that the Multiverse Theory is right, it shifts the question of the beginning of our own universe to the beginning of zillions of universes. Now we have to answer, what caused them?

Like Regis, I think this theory should die of natural causes. Something tells me, however, that it won't anytime soon.

(Image © Andrei Linde for Discover)

May 01, 2009

Daily roundup

How to make a bad situation worse

Surrogates "Forced abortions shake up China wombs-for-rent industry"

(Image © Reuters UK)

This should be a comfort

Click here to find out if you have swine flu.

(Courtesy of Dave Barry)

April 29, 2009

Daily roundup

Europe Syndrome

What's happening? Call it the Europe syndrome. Last April I had occasion to speak in Zurich, where I made some of these same points. After the speech, a few of the twenty-something members of the audience approached and said plainly that the phrase "a life well-lived" did not have meaning for them. They were having a great time with their current sex partner and new BMW and the vacation home in Majorca, and saw no voids in their lives that needed filling.

~ Charles Murray, The 2009 Irving Kristol Lecture, March 12, 2009

Author and political scientist Charles Murray recently delivered the address at the American Enterprise Institute's annual dinner. His talk was entitled "The Happiness of the People" and is posted on AEI's website.

Murray's lecture is a great worldview read. What he calls the "Europe Syndrome" is a way of thinking ... in other words, a worldview. Though Murray admires Europe in some ways, he unpacks some of the core beliefs of the modern worldview that has shaped Western Europe -- a worldview that is spreading like the swine flu among many of America's elites and current leaders. Murray describes a core belief of this worldview in the following way.

Human beings are a collection of chemicals that activate and, after a period of time, deactivate. The purpose of life is to while away the intervening time as pleasantly as possible.

If that's the purpose of life, then work is not a vocation, but something that interferes with the higher good of leisure. If that's the purpose of life, why have a child, when children are so much trouble--and, after all, what good are they, really? If that's the purpose of life, why spend it worrying about neighbors? If that's the purpose of life, what could possibly be the attraction of a religion that says otherwise?

Government's job, therefore, is to minimize unpleasantness so that we can while away the intervening time between our activation and deactivation. European-style social democracies are quite successful toward this end. This line of thinking also explains current European trends such as below-replacement birthrates, increased leisure time, fewer hours spent working, and lots of beautiful but empty cathedrals and churches.

Continue reading "Europe Syndrome" »

Margaret Sanger’s Real Views

Main_sanger A year or so ago, the Women's Studies program at my university sponsored a bulletin board in praise of Margaret Sanger. I wanted to gag, because every poster hailed Sanger as some great female liberator.  Obviously, none of the students who created those posters had ever bothered to move beyond the propaganda and actually read what Sanger wrote, especially her views on eugenics. This article sheds light on Sanger's destructive philosophy -- and shows just how little our current Secretary of State knows about a woman she is in "awe" of.   

(Image © AP)

April 28, 2009

Daily roundup

At some point, it just has to stop, doesn’t it?

Embryo bank Well, we should have seen this coming, of course: the British now have a choice to make, whether to let their government allow human "embryo banks" to be used for more than procreation efforts. That means having those nice little humans around for....spare parts. Read more here.

I think we really need to start bringing these kinds of absurdities to light more often, because we seem to be living in an age where most people think this kind of "progress" is inevitable. Why? Because so many people don't care, and those who keep pushing this mad agenda are determined folk.

But that kind of thinking would have prevented Wilberforce from working to end the slave trade. So instead of nibbling around the margins on these topics, how about let's start drawing some real lines in the sand and holding our elected leaders accountable? If you support anything like using embryos for spare parts, no more re-election for you. All that many politicians really respect is power. If they think they can get away with a controversial vote to cultivate a biotech donor, they'll oftentimes do it. 

So it's up to us to let them know what fates await their careers if they go there. Write your leaders and encourate your friends to do the same if this monstrous effort blows across the Atlantic to our shores.

(Image © EPA) 

A Reading for Christian Pandemic Preparedness

Plague_of_rome While I'm skeptical that the swine flu will ever reach truly pandemic proportions, it's still a good time to stop and brush up on Christian emergency preparedness. I dusted off my volume of Eusebius' History of the Church, and give you excerpts here from the time of the reign of Maximin, who ruled between 286 and 305 AD. 

Notice that when pestilence and famine come, Christians do not a) run, nor b) hoard. Instead, they stay and tend the sick and dying. They also give of what they have. I know that if such times ever come to us, there will be a cloud of witnesses cheering for us to act with such self-sacrifice.

Hundreds were dying in the cities, still more in the country villages, so that the rural registers which once contained so many names now suffered almost complete obliteration; for at one stroke food shortage and epidemic disease destroyed nearly all the inhabitants. ... Some people, shrunken like ghosts and at death's door, tottered and slipped about in all directions till, unable to stand, they fell to the ground; and as they lay face down in the middle of the streets, they implored passers-by to hand them a tiny scrap of bread, and with their life at its last gasp they called out that they were hungry--anything else than this anguished cry was beyond their strength. ...No less terrible was the pestilence which consumed every household, particularly those which were so well off for food that famine could not wipe them out. Men of great wealth, rulers, governors and numberless officials, left by the famine to the epidemic disease as if on purpose, met a sudden and very swift end. Lamentations filled the air on every side, and in all the lanes, squares and streets there was nothing to be seen except processions of mourners with the usual flute-playing and beating of breasts.

Such was the reward for Maximin's loud boasts and the cities resolutions against us, while the fruits of the Christians' limitless enthusiasm and devotion became evident to all the heathen. Alone in the midst of this terrible calamity they proved by visible deeds their sympathy and humanity. All day long some continued without rest to tend the dying and bury them--the number was immense, and there was no one to see to them; others rounded up the huge number who had been reduced to scarecrows all over the city and distributed loaves to them all, so that their praises were sung on every side, and all men glorified the God of the Christians and owned that they alone were pious and truly religious; did not their actions speak for themselves? (p. 366-367).

April 24, 2009

20, 50, 120: How Many Siblings Do You Have?

Basketofbabies2 In the sixteenth century, members of the Hapsburg dynasty suffered deformities and severe and deadly health problems which were preventable. Trying to hoard the throne, members of the Hapsburg clan had intermarried. These incestuous relationships caused genetic malformations. 

One would reason that in our enlightened era of medical advances, we would not be confronted with the same problems which plagued the incestuous Hapsburg dynasty, but I wouldn’t be so sure. 

Fertility clinics are impregnating an excessive number of women with sperm from a single donor. Wendy Kramer used artificial insemination and brought to term a bouncing baby boy. She was curious to see if her child, Ryan, had any half-brothers or sisters. What Ms. Kramer found out horrified her—Ryan has at least 120 siblings.

So be careful who you fall in love with, because you the person you are with just might be a half-sibling. Ryan’s biological father, by far, is not the only one who has an inordinate number of descendants. Hard numbers are difficult to come by, but yearly estimates are staggering. Elizabeth Marquardt from the Institute of American Values says there are anywhere from 50,000 to 75,000 children conceived via sperm donation. A portentous vision of the near future looms, in which applications for marriage certificates (that is, if marriage as an institution isn’t redefined into extinction) will include a line for the donor’s number.

Continue reading "20, 50, 120: How Many Siblings Do You Have?" »

’Your future is great’

Although I'm not a parent myself, I think James Lileks has some good thoughts here on messages that we knowingly or unknowingly send to kids -- and how those messages affect them.

As for Earth Day, I don’t mind the planting-trees-and-picking-up-trash part - the kids did that last Saturday, which is good. Labor and sweat on behalf of a cleaner city. I put in eight trees last year, so I’m holding up my end. At least the arboreal part. But I’ll have none of that YOUR FUTURE IS BLEAK stuff; I grew up with that, and it was a dark cloud hanging six inches over my head for most of my childhood. If it wasn’t ecocatastrophe that would leave us all living underground or stuck in a small smelly apartment with Edward G. Robinson pedaling a bike for ten minutes of lights, it was nukes, or that “Late Great Planet Earth” stuff that really depressed me. I suppose some kids thought it would be keen to be around when God called the game on account of sin, but I thought it was a raw deal. Can I just have a life down here first ? What’s the hurry? You have all the time in the world. You invented it.

[My daughter] was excited to tell me that they’ve discovered two new planets, and they could have water. I told her I thought there were many planets out there like ours, and I thought some of them had life. Maybe someday she’d learn they had heard a radio signal from one of them. Your future is great.

April 23, 2009

Daily roundup

Plan B: Abortion for Kids!

The Food and Drug Administration will soon release a new policy that will allow 17-year-old girls to gain access to an abortive medicine known as Plan B. Though many consider it nothing more than contraception, it has the ability to kill off a fertilized egg by preventing it from attaching itself to the uterus. Therefore, it is an abortifacient.

Although it should come as no surprise that the new administration would move forward on opening up new abortive opportunities to children, we should be appalled by the reasoning.

U.S. District Judge Edward Korman has made the claim that the Bush Administration allowed politics rather than science to guide their decision to refrain from giving 17-year-old kids abortifacients. Given all we know about a baby's development--the heart pumping within 3 weeks of conception, brain activity within a month and a half, etc--what "science" are abortion supporters clinging to in order to justify killing babies? It's strange how the left loves to cry out, "Follow science, not your faith," and yet when it comes to abortion, they ignore the facts to continue their political pandering.

The question of when life begins is dead. There is no question. The left has never distinguished a point of viability in the womb where they are satisfied in not aborting. The fact that partial-birth abortion even exists, and is argued for by educated people in positions of power, shows us how morally depraved the pro-abortion movement has become. 

Abortion-rights advocates march under the banner of "women's health," but as time goes on we hear less of that and more of "women's rights." It's a quick fade to black when this awful practice tries to act in the name of good because it's morally inconsistent to claim that women deserve rights while roughly half of abortions are of baby girls. As Mother Theresa said, "It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." 

Continue reading "Plan B: Abortion for Kids!" »

Someone bring me the dunce cap

Dunce3 I was going to write about this post on the anniversary of Charles Darwin's death. And then I realized I had absolutely no idea what the author was talking about. Anyone want to translate?

(Image courtesy of MySanAntonio)

April 22, 2009

Daily roundup

April 21, 2009

Daily roundup

April 17, 2009

Daily roundup

Journalists Suffer Too

Journalists Soldiers, 9/11 victims, Katrina survivors are no stranger to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), but what about the tellers of their tales, the unseen participants in any tragic story?

Breaking News, Breaking Down is a documentary on the silent sufferers behind every story: journalists. In the film, veteran news anchor Mike Walter explores the trauma he experienced after covering 9/11 and the similar anguish faced by other on-the-ground journalists.

The film premieres this Saturday at Filmfest DC.

(Image courtesy of the Washington Times)

April 16, 2009

Daily roundup

Caffeine is good for your spiritual life

Coffee At last, I have proof!

The god who makes you happy

Michael Gerson, writing of a new book on neuroscience's exploration of religion:

"How God Changes Your Brain" has many revelations -- and a few limitations. In a practical, how-to tone, it predicts "an epiphany that can improve the inner quality of your life. For most Americans, that is what spirituality is about." But if this is what spirituality is all about, it isn't about very much. Mature faith sometimes involves self-sacrifice, not self-actualization; anguish, not comfort. If the primary goal of religion is escape or contentment, there are other, even more practical methods to consider. "I didn't go to religion to make me happy," said C.S. Lewis, "I always knew a bottle of port would do that."

April 14, 2009

Daily roundup

April 13, 2009

Relics of faith

Shroud If you're not sure the Resurrection all those Christians celebrated this past weekend really took place, then how about a little proof--the genuine burial cloth that wrapped the body of Christ and still bears His image. Or perhaps not.

The Shroud of Turin is perhaps the most famous "relic" purporting to have a direct link to the events surrounding the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. And its fame has as much to do with the questions of its authenticity.

The Wall Street Journal has an article online about the shroud--its history, its relevance, and the upcoming public exhibition. The author, Peter Manseau, writes of the controversy:

But maybe so much focus on explanation misses the point. Belief -- any belief, whether in God, the Resurrection, even the Force -- requires a partial abandonment of the rational. This does not mean that faith is irrational, only that it involves a recognition that there are some things that can be explained only through acknowledgment that proof is not always the highest good.

Or, as the writer of Hebrews put it, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

(Image © AP)

April 10, 2009

The Heavens Declare His Glory!

How cool is this picture, especially as we celebrate Easter! Take a few moments and watch the video as it zooms in on this "crown of thorns" galaxy (NCG 7049). 

April 08, 2009

Daily roundup

Principles mean more than favorability to the Pope? Heaven forbid!

200px-BentoXVI-30-10052007 Pope Benedict XVI has sparked international outrage with his statements regarding his rejection of using condoms to fight the AIDS epidemic. From time to time I see this happen, and I never understand why people suddenly act outraged at teachings the Catholic Church has always held.

The Catholic Church rejects the use of condoms because they create a barrier to life within the marriage that is contrary to the natural order. But condoms distract us from the real problem. The Catholic Church doesn’t say an unmarried couple shouldn’t use condoms. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, because the Church teaches abstinence as the only legitimate way of protecting the physical and spiritual life of the persons in question.

Just like the economic crisis, the AIDS epidemic materialized from a moral problem. Whether a lack of control in spending, or a lack of control in sexual behavior, eventually the consequences of our actions surface.

Rebecca Hodes, head of policy, communication and research for the Treatment Action Campaign in South Africa, doesn’t understand the problem. In a recent statement made to the Huffington Post she demonstrated the very ignorance that brought about this problem and the weight it bears, when she separated our actions from their moral consequences. Her misplaced frustrations were exposed when she said, “[Pope Benedict’s] opposition to condoms conveys that religious dogma is more important to him than the lives of Africans.”

The Pope holds so firmly to religious dogma BECAUSE of his love for the lives, both physical and spiritual, of those in Africa.

Continue reading "Principles mean more than favorability to the Pope? Heaven forbid!" »

April 07, 2009

Daily roundup

The right to a conscience

As you may have heard, President Obama is planning to get rid of the Bush administration's regulations protecting the conscience rights of health care workers. HHS is accepting comments from the public about this proposal. The deadline is April 9, so if you want to make your opinion heard, make sure you do it as soon as possible. You can go directly here, or send your comments through Family Research Council using some or all of their suggested language.

April 06, 2009

Daily roundup

April 02, 2009

Daily roundup

April 01, 2009

Daily roundup

Going green for God

Go Green Yesterday I spoke on the phone with Nancy Sleeth, author of the new book Go Green, Save Green. Sleeth and her husband, Matthew, are the founders of Blessed Earth, "an educational nonprofit that inspires and equips faith communities to become better stewards of the earth." Her husband and daughter have also written books on the subject. (We don't yet have the books here, but review copies have been shipped to our office, so you'll be hearing more about them in the future.)

Matthew Sleeth was an emergency room physician who was becoming concerned about what he saw as an increased incidence of environmentally caused diseases (in one week on the job, he saw three women in their thirties with breast cancer), as well as what he heard scientists saying about the decreasing of living material on the earth. He left his job and the Sleeths became what Nancy calls the "poster family for the downwardly mobile." Once they had made drastic reductions in their own energy usage, they set out to help others do the same.

At the same time, the Sleeths were starting a new "faith journey." Nancy had been raised Jewish and Matthew Protestant, but aside from celebrating holidays, the family had little interest in religion. Nancy quips that in their house "the Fiddler on the Roof slipped down the chimney and laid Easter eggs." But her husband had discovered a Gideon Bible one day in the hospital during a slow day, and "he picked it up and read the Gospel of Matthew and his life changed." Nancy and the children soon followed suit. Thus, Nancy says, "Our stewardship journey and our faith journey were parallel."

The Sleeths believe that helping save the creation is a way to honor the Creator, and that the Bible makes a solid case for taking care of the environment. "It's old theology; it's nothing new," Nancy explains. "We're just reminding people." The response they're getting from churches around the country has been "amazing," especially now that Christians, like the larger population, are trying to save money as well as natural resources. That's fine with Nancy: "I don't care if it's motivated by economics, it's doing the right thing." 

Continue reading "Going green for God" »

March 30, 2009

Daily roundup

March 27, 2009

Daily roundup

Breaking: George Tiller acquitted

Abortionist George Tiller has been found not guilty on nineteen counts of performing illegal late-term abortions. LifeNews has details.

Eve of Destruction: Coronal Mass Ejection

Solarfilament One of the things that I want to see before I die is the Aurora Borealis (or its Antarctic equivalent, the Aurora Australis). But if the folks at NASA and the New Scientist are correct, seeing them may be the last thing I do, at least before my and everyone else's world falls apart.

Here's the scenario:

It is midnight on 22 September 2012 and the skies above Manhattan are filled with a flickering curtain of colourful light. Few New Yorkers have seen the aurora this far south but their fascination is short-lived. Within a few seconds, electric bulbs dim and flicker, then become unusually bright for a fleeting moment. Then all the lights in the state go out. Within 90 seconds, the entire eastern half of the US is without power.

A year later and millions of Americans are dead and the nation's infrastructure lies in tatters. The World Bank declares America a developing nation. Europe, Scandinavia, China and Japan are also struggling to recover from the same fateful event - a violent storm, 150 million kilometres away on the surface of the sun.

To understand how and why millions of us are going to die, first a primer: however peaceful and happy the Sun looks from 93 miles away, it is, as your science teachers told you, a giant ball of burning gas that ejects billions of tons of electrically charged particles every few hours, a.k.a. the solar wind.

The best-case scenario: every day about 1000 tons of these particles reach Earth, where most of them are deflected by our blessed magnetic field (magnetosphere) and "dragged through the atmosphere towards the poles." There, the particles collide with oxygen and nitrogen to produce the green and red lights of the aurora.

(Note, I said "most," not all. Some of the particles do get through. There's no end of speculation about their effects: everything from dropped cell phone calls to cancer to the genetic mutations that drive evolution has been linked by someone to these particles.)

Continue reading "Eve of Destruction: Coronal Mass Ejection" »

Corroborating ’The Truth about Forgiveness’

Bernard Williams Since Sunday, folks have been telling me about the Washington Post Magazine's piece "The Truth About Forgiveness." I finally had the chance to read it today and was blown away. The story follows Bernard Williams and the murder of his son, nicknamed "Beethoven," by a neighbor, William Norman. 

The writer, Karen Houppart, does a fantastic job recreating not only the crime, but the subsequent meeting in prison between this bereaved father and the neighbor who killed his son. I won't give away the ending but there is definite movement toward forgiveness and reconciliation in this piece.

It struck me while I was reading it that this is the same story I've told in As We Forgive, only in a different context. The chronology is even the same. This murder happened in Baltimore in 1994. The murders I write about happened in Rwanda in 1994. And so the length of time that has gone by for the bereaved is also the same. The methods used to bring healing are very much the same: restorative encounters between offender and victim, marked by remorse and repentance on behalf of the guilty and risk and radical grace on behalf of the offended. The truths that get them there transcend context.

The writer mentions a movement in our society toward embracing forgiveness, not just for those from a religious background, but by scientific research also. Here's a snippet:

While spiritual leaders have long asked folks to accept the benefits of forgiveness on faith, the secular world has lately jumped on the bandwagon -- and proffered scientific evidence to support this view.

Continue reading "Corroborating ’The Truth about Forgiveness’" »

March 26, 2009

Daily roundup

America’s New Religion: Secularism

On March 9, a survey was released showing the decrease in the numbers of Americans calling themselves Christian, and an increase in the number of people declaring that they have no religion to 15% of the America’s population.

Herbert London, author of the well written book America’s Secular Challenge, would not be surprised by this. He believes that secularism is America’s new religion. Unfortunately, this survey doesn’t look at secularism as a religion and may explain the large number of no-religion respondents.

But is secularism a religion? Dictionary.com gives one of "religion's" definitions as “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons.”

London gives 6 items as these specific fundamental set of beliefs:

1. Truth is subjective, relative, or contextual
2. Rationality can solve moral and ontological questions about man’s nature
3. Man’s eternal problems, including the plight of the poor, can be solved through a welfare state based on the redistribution of wealth
4. National loyalty and patriotism are dangerous anachronisms
5. The most important goal one can seek is self-transformation or self-actualization
6. Discrimination is the great bugbear of social intercourse or closing one’s eyes to the difference between right and wrong

The remaining pages of his book look at each of these in more detail.

Continue reading "America’s New Religion: Secularism" »