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July 06, 2009

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. 

July 02, 2009

Daily roundup

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)

July 01, 2009

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’" »

June 24, 2009

Daily roundup

June 19, 2009

Technological revolution

I've been following the events in Iran with fascination, all the more because a friend of mine just returned from a mission trip there. As she pointed out, with such a minuscule percentage of the Iranian population professing Christ (0.2%, according to Wikipedia), the young people who are risking their lives for the sake of freedom are, in most cases, risking much, much more--their eternal destiny and a life apart from God. Pray for the Iranians to know the true freedom of the Gospel.

One of the reasons we know so much about what has been happening in Iran this last week is technology. The kinds of things that become useless time wasters for us (who cares what Ashton Kutcher ate for lunch?) are the very things that have allowed news of the post-election chaos in Iran to make it past government censors and a foreign media ban. NBC Nightly News ran a piece last night on several Iranian youth who are attending school here in the U.S. and are working hard to keep their peers back home online despite government bans.

At the same time, over at the State Department, a leftover from the Bush administration has been the driving force behind keeping Twitter online and working with cell phone providers to develop technology that would allow people to access Twitter without Internet service.

I guess this Time piece on geeks inheriting the earth has finally come true. If nothing else, they may help to make the earth a more hospitable place for the people of Iran. We can all hope.

June 18, 2009

Tweet Tweet

Twitter Technology updates at lightning speed and gains eager users in droves. New advances seem like the next best thing, but are they really? Mere newness fails to imply "better."

Such is the deal with Twitter. Until recently, I never thought I would Twitter...or is it "tweet"? Now I do, and I like it...to an extent. When used as a tool to deliver important information, the site is a top-notch tool. But what are we doing to ourselves with the constant use of technology and a rarely-ceasing barrage of updates?

Part of being human is interaction with other...um...human beings, not merely with text on a screen sent from a friend far away (or in the adjacent cubicle) who sent the text from another machine. Maybe our pace is too fast.

Rather than pausing to consider what we are taking in, we are pressured to rush rather than reflect. Can we really function this quickly, or have we simply conditioned ourselves to believe this pace is necessary?

I am not advocating doing away with social networking sites. They have their benefits and have potential to spawn great thought and debate. But before we jump in with both feet, maybe we should consider the pace of our lives and how much information is really necessary. Maybe we should pause to reflect about a practice that touches so many people and consumes so much of our daily lives. 

Yes, pause.

(Image © Twitter)

June 16, 2009

Daily roundup

June 15, 2009

Daily roundup

June 12, 2009

Journalists should cringe

Newspapers While perusing a review of the crumbling state of our nation's newspaper industry, I crossed paths with these chilling words:

The unsettling possibility looms that some big cities could lose their sole remaining daily newspaper – and that the public won't care. If the dead-tree edition of a newspaper falls in a crowded media forest, will it matter, except to the journalists who work there? Are newer, hipper online news outlets poised to fill the void? What, if anything, will be irrevocably lost?

And the public won't care! That's what scares me the most. Even more, that the public won't care if good storytelling follows these newspapers down the drain. In our soundbite-saturated culture, are we forgetting the treasure that daily newspapers bring to us in good stories?

(Image courtesy of ArtsJournal)

June 10, 2009

Daily roundup

June 08, 2009

Some Devilish Thoughts on Stem Cells

You will recall my mention of a menacing piece of correspondence from Down Under—way Under, which recently came to my attention. What follows is another dispatch that has surfaced, bearing the scrawlings of that hellish mystagogue . . .

Dear Swillpit,

Your latest report on the American front contained an item that is sure to be a watershed for our cause: the government funding of embryo destruction. It seems their decision makers really believe that it’s all in the interest of noble medical goals. Give rein to their folly. Later, we will have an eternity enjoying their shock at how they were played like a hand of rummy.

The quotes in the press clippings you included were particularly stirring. Statements like, we will be guided by “scientific decisions based on facts, not ideology,” and our decisions need to be “based on the recommendations of experts and scientists outside of politics and religion,” indicate that the guardrails we have been tugging on for centuries are at last, everywhere, crumbling.

Thanks to the efforts of field agents who have been patiently conditioning them with wileful whisperings, I feel that our long-fought outcome is within grasp.

In the not too distant past, the question before them was, “What should be done to improve their lot?” Now, by our incremental influences, they only think in terms of what can be done without regard to whether it should be done. Step by step, we have ushered them along a path which, just a few decades ago, they would have shuddered to look upon, but now course down in full stride! ...

Continue reading here.

June 05, 2009

Say ’Yes’ to Nuclear Power

The president claims that Iran has the right to develop a nuclear energy program. My question is why he and his supporters don't see the same need (and right) here in America. I agree with the IBD editorial that says, "We have legitimate energy aspirations as well, and one of them is reducing our dependence on imported oil from countries that do not have our interests at heart." Amen.

June 04, 2009

Daily roundup

June 03, 2009

Another Feather in Our Cap: Adult Stem Cell Success

Stem cells contact lens While President Obama is busy promising taxpayer money to further embryonic stem cell research, here's another success story about adult stem cell therapy, which causes no harm no foul to tiny human beings. What's really interesting about this story is the secondary benefits of the procedure: 1. It was not expensive; and 2. The trauma of corneal surgery was eliminated.

(Image © Reuters)

June 02, 2009

Tragedy Strikes Healthy Egg Donors

Egg donation College-age females are at risk for more than STDs. Bioethicist Jennifer Lahl warns readers about the advertisements aimed at college students offering money for their eggs -- advertisements that don't tell the truth about the very real risks. 

(Image © S. Walker for Getty Images)

May 29, 2009

Twitter Friday

Selected tweets from friends and followers of @BreakPointPFM:

@joshuasebastien: I didn't realize Pride & Prejudice was a Christian worldview book. Hmmm. AFA is always teaching me new things. Haha.
@sal4jc: reading Gideon's Torch (by Chuck Colson)... I forced myself to put it down and get to bed...which I am doing as soon as I finish this tweet
@Fat_Tony: Some interesting aritcles linked in the Daily Roundup via The Point blog
@freedom2Care: New video of healthcare professionals' testimonials + Chuck Colson commentary on conscience freedoms: http://www.freedom2care.org/newsroom/
@JacquiEdelmann: Just finished reading God & Government by Chuck Colson. Excellent book about spiritual power overcoming 'impossible' situations.
@mikewaters: "If Christianity is not the truth, it is nothing, and our faith mere sentimentality." Chuck Colson - The Faith
@Kevin_McDonald: I've been thinking and I would love to arrange a debate between Keith Olbermann and Chuck Colson. I would pay money to see that!!!
@GwennyThePooh: I was very much moved by Chuck Colson speech he is a hero as well as you.
@palintropos: Chuck Colson says torture justifiable in some cases as "higher obligation". Glad we asked him how to follow the law. http://bit.ly/WkGZ6
@ErikKoliser: watching "Frost/Nixon" & thinking of the great witness of grace & salvation in Jesus through the life of Chuck Colson.
@yoonlee: Prepping for tomorrow's book club at Gracepoint Fellowship Church...we're reading the Good Life by Chuck Colson.
@jfwalton: Home team tonight, so long as on-call doesn't interfere. Talking about The Faith by Chuck Colson.
@skimmertarget: Chuck Colson's Christian Prison Fellowship not wanted. Islamists/Jihadist welcome. Sounds like a good idea! Duh!
@sbcghostrecon: "We must remember the Kingdom of God is not going to arrive on Air Force One." - Charles Colson
@jeremydys: BreakPoint continues Colson's excellent commentary which is cross posted on our blog: http://bit.ly/9EKI2

May 28, 2009

Worst car review ever

In_Gear_556559a My friend Mike sent me Jeremy Clarkson's review of the new Honda Insight. I understand the article has been making the rounds lately, so you may have already seen it. For those of you who haven't, it's a must read.

Mike's favorite part was "It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more."

Me, I was rather partial to "The Honda’s petrol engine . . . makes a noise worse than someone else’s crying baby on an airliner. It’s worse than the sound of your parachute failing to open. Really, to get an idea of how awful it is, you’d have to sit a dog on a ham slicer."

But you have to read the whole thing to get the full (hilarious) effect.

(Image courtesy of the Times Online)

May 21, 2009

Daily roundup

Pictures from the Hubble Telescope

Omega-swan Awe-inspiring pictures from the Hubble telescope sometimes leave me at a loss to understand people who can see this and tenaciously continue cling to a belief in a materialistic view of life. Enjoy the pictures, but before you leave this post, first read a beautiful poem about stars by Madison Cawein.

The Stars

These--the bright symbols of man's hope and fame,
In which he reads his blessing or his curse--
Are syllables with which God speaks His name
In the vast utterance of the universe.

Image © NASA/Associated Press)

IVF and the Technological Society

Thanks to Michael Cook at BioEdge for alerting readers to the legal conundrum that is being caused by IVF procedure. 

In 1973, then again in 1992, the Supreme Court conjured up new rights of privacy and liberty over one’s body regardless of the right to life of the other person involved. With the technological advancements in the fertility industry, some people are questioning the right to determine whether a person can control his or her genetic material. 

In the Southern California Law Review, I. Glenn Cohen suggests that we need to “unbundle” genetic parenthood from legal or gestational parenthood. We have the “Constitutional right not to procreate” (that is, to have an abortion), but once we’ve used IVF technology, we might lose the right to determine whether others can use our genetic material.    

Sadly, technology is busily turning the sacredness of life and parenthood into mere machine-like procedures, thereby making us redundant. In a lecture, “Technology and Technique: Master or Servant? Reflections on Reading Ellul, Huxley, and Lewis,” Dr. Joseph Gibes says, “The real danger [of technology] is that we as a society are moving ever closer to Subjectivism, we worship efficiency, and cannot say no to technology.” Human dignity and moral order are being sacrificed at the altar of technology.

So when Cohen writes of “unbundling” parenthood from procreation, what he’s doing is permitting technology to assume ultimate power over humanity -- and if left unchecked, technology's alluring power just might destroy us.

May 19, 2009

Daily roundup

May 18, 2009

Daily roundup

May 13, 2009

Daily roundup

May 08, 2009

Blogger roundup

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

May 07, 2009

Daily roundup

May 06, 2009

Mankind’s Creativity

Sand290905 In the midst of all the bad news about money, flu, and other doomsday prognostications, I thought you might appreciate a change of pace. Here's a Colson commentary -- nearly twenty years old, but now more relevant than ever -- about a few grains of sand. 

(Image © iStockphoto)

No comment


(Image © Brian Crane)

May 01, 2009

Twitter Friday

Thanks for following @BreakPointPFM!

@ricsmo: Great swine flu commentary: http://bit.ly/C3et8 from @BreakPointPFM (listened to the podcast during my morning commute)
@Robert_Banghart: The group has recieved nonpartisan, pan-Christian support including from Chuck Colson and Reagan Sec of State Shultz http://bit.ly/OZDkK
@leebenvic: Chuck Colson,Raising Our Voices for North Korean Brethren, http://bit.ly/xBkgL see also Crossing Movie 5/4 http://bit.ly/TUtIO
@vincetornero: Pumped to see Gideons handing out Bibles on campus. Keep it up, brothers! Also happy to see @BreakPointPFM on Twitter. Blessings 2 u both.
@jeremydys: Family Voice: Chuck Colson on the origination of human rights. http://bit.ly/6I6n6
@bradley_thomas: I know. I've been busy. I had to catch up on four days worth. I still love it. I told my mom today to read some Colson books.
@Guy_Peters: Great perspective from Chuck as usual! Chuck Colson' s commentary on the Miss California Debate
@JustEnoughLight: I am very proud of Ms. Cal.'s answer and even more proud of her MSNBC interview. She stood on Biblical principal and said so
@Dr_Cards: Networks are pushing this non-deadly flu issue, I think, because as always -- Fear Sells.
@Surrenderisfree: Chuck Colson's thoughts on this whole swine flu issue, really puts things in perspective. http://tinyurl.com/c6fhlx

April 29, 2009

E-Book Implications


I'm not sure if I'm ready for the revolution. Here are just a few implications this WSJ piece points out:

  • exacerbating our already short attention spans
  • more book buying, less book finishing
  • chatter in my novel?

(Image © Geoffrey A. Fowler for the Wall Street Journal)

April 28, 2009

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) 

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?" »

April 23, 2009

What the HECK?

Baby shaking At some level, I understand why some people like to play violent shoot-'em-up video games. Even though I usually don't like it, I get it. But WHAT was supposed to be the point of this?

(Image © Sikalosoft/Apple, which should be darned well ashamed of themselves)

April 22, 2009

Daily roundup

April 17, 2009

Twitter Friday

Here are some tweets from @BreakPointPFM followers this week:

@MarcWright: "End of a Spear" Very sobering—Jesus so loves peoples of Earth—He may allow death of some of His sons to express it!
@sstutts: Just glad to see the curriculum (Rewired) is getting out there.
@Guy_Peters: Who knew? For sure, gonna keep buying my Starbucks #VIA! RT @BreakPointPFM: Caffeine is good for your spiritual life
@jthouse: Gotta say I'm a Susan Boyle fan RT ttp://bit.ly/64n6o
@SteveBeren: thanks for directing me to www.breakpoint.org
@johnprew: Thanks for the link discussing Bonheoffer's book and his life!
@jtsnyder: reading a Chuck Colson tome
@KathyLohmer: Reflecting on last nights great fundraiser banquet for Minnesota Family Council and Chuck Colson's awesome message!
@lakeweeds: Back from dinner w/ Gov Tim Pawlenty, Senator Michelle Bachmann, Chuck Colson & of course my wife(& hundreds of others) http://www.mfc.org/
@millervince: Just got my picture with Chuck Colson
@sintplanet: "Be joyful. Love beyond what is reasonable. Be bold. And endure. Have hope. You live on the other side of the Resurrection." (Chuck Colson)
@PaulBuss: Just saw Chuck Colson at PCPC...great ministry he has.
@russneglia: I agree. How Now Shall We Live is a great book.
@Letters4theLord: a great Easter movie...THE CROSS: the Arhtur Blessitt story of his almost 40 yr journey carrying the cross to every nation
@LauraGrempel: Have you read any of Chuck Colson's books? I'm just finishing up The Faith. It's a really great read. Getting God and Government next.

Follow BreakPoint at http://twitter.com/BreakPointPFM.

Facebook is EVIL!

. . . Or is it? Frankly, I think Richard Clark makes some excellent and often overlooked points about the much maligned hobby.

. . . Facebook destroys my tendency to focus on myself exclusively and forces me to focus outwardly. While those who claim Facebook is too narcissistic write lengthy theological and ethical tomes for their blogs which happen to be named after themselves, I find myself genuinely interested in people I am “friends” with on Facebook. While I recognize that reading status messages, writing on walls and sharing quiz results does not equal a relationship, I do believe that they can aid one. Recently a status message on Facebook indicated that a friend of mine was having a hard time, which tipped me off that maybe I should call him. We had a really good talk and the friendship is better for it.  

(H/T David Wayne on, yes, Facebook!)

April 09, 2009

Daily roundup

Posting will be light tomorrow because of Good Friday. Have a blessed Easter weekend!

Hey, did you know your client is the Taliban?

It sounds like a Dilbert cartoon. Unfortunately, it's not.

’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 03, 2009

Twitter Friday

Here are some relevant tweets this week relating to @BreakPointPFM.

Captoe: Designer Babies "The idea of designing a master race has been tried in the past-with horrific results."
JeffCookSeven: he has been huge in my life and in my marriage!
LauraGrempel: The Faith by Chuck Colson is making me tear up with every page. I'm blown away at where our society and culture is today.
Salinastchurch: a little reminder re: the importance of doctrine from chuck colson. not normally a huge fan but worth a minute.
friar_don: Yea. I read Chuck Colson's book "Being the Body" and there was a great section on transparency, prayer, and accountability.
IAMeteorologist: Dave Ramsey has some pretty good advice on managing money. Wish Congress would listen to him.
Guy_Peters: Minority biblical worldview is directly related to yesterday's message re our need to rediscover core teachings.
Guy_Peters: Go Chuck! A renewed emphasis on a true "orthodoxy" core is needed, beginning w/ the inerrancy and authority of Scripture.
JanisMiller: RT @Guy_Peters RT @justin_hart: Traditional parenting 'leads to well-adjusted children'
israel1319: Chuck Colson's Breakpoint-The economic crisis is causing peope to re-priortize & causing to ask bigger ?'s, we Christians need to be avail.
MaxHMaxwell: Christianity In the Films of Alfred Hitchcock
http://tinyurl.com/cetfuavery interesting perspective on one the greatest filmmakers ever.

The Exodus for the twenty-first century

Pharaoh Please stand well back from the computer as you read this. If someone's going to get struck by lightning over it, I'd rather it be me than you guys. (Thanks for the link, Allen!)

April 02, 2009

Daily roundup

April 01, 2009

Google Fools

So I am fairly certain that Roberto was the creator of this year's April Fools prank announcement from Google. At least I hope it's a prank...

March 30, 2009

Twitter and TMI

The Agony and the Ecstasy Continuing the Twitter conversation -- this is priceless:

Imagine the informational misery previous generations were spared because Twitter wasn't around yet.

Michelangelo: "Sistine Chapel ceiling larger than it looks; back is killing me."

Christopher Columbus: "No sign of land yet."

Robert Peary: "Man, it's cold up here."

(Image  © 20th Century Fox)

March 27, 2009

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" »

March 26, 2009

Daily roundup

March 25, 2009

Whatever Happened to Spiritual Discipline?

Praying-hands It's a perennial problem: some people think they can buy their way into heaven. Here's the latest scheme: paying for a computer program that promises to "give you the satisfaction of knowing that your prayers will always be said," even if you don't actually pray. 

For those who are tempted to purchase this spiritually deadly product, there are a number of books which can direct you on how to develop healthy spiritual discipline.

To get you started, here are two recommendations:

* The Art of Praying: The Principles and Methods of Christian Prayer by Romano Guardini

Guardini says that a person who is seriously seeking God cannot rely upon spontaneous prayer because "steadfastness would vanish." He continues, "[P]rayer is not merely an expression of the inner life which will prevail on its own, but is also a service to be performed in faith and obedience."  

Unless praying becomes a discipline, we can experience a range of negative emotions--everything from "boredom" to "hostility." Unless we develop intentional prayer, Guardini warns, all other activities besides prayer "appear...more attractive and more important."

As for forgetting to pray, as the website advertisement blithely puts it, Guardini also warns against "specious justifications." Say it like it is--you just don't feel like praying. After all, one wouldn't want to add lying to oneself or God to the list. 

Continue reading "Whatever Happened to Spiritual Discipline?" »

March 23, 2009

Eve of Destruction: Terminator Time

Sarah-connor "In the early 21st century, all of mankind united and marveled at our magnificence as we gave birth to AI [artificial intelligence], a singular construction that spawned an entire race of machines."

What Morpheus was describing to Neo sounds like what Ray Kurzweil calls The Singularity: "an era in which our intelligence will become increasingly nonbiological and trillions of times more powerful than it is today — the dawning of a new civilization that will enable us to transcend our biological limitations and amplify our creativity."

At the heart of this "new civilization" will be just machines that make big decisions, programmed of course by fellows with compassion and vision. Only by leveraging their abilities, embracing both the biological and the synthetic, can we become eternally free and eternally young.

As you might expect, "The Singularity" has more than a few detractors.The most obvious concern is that machines that are "smart" enough and powerful enough to usher in Kurzweil's utopia might one day decide that they will no longer take directions from their flesh-and-blood creators, or that humans are superfluous consumers of resources.

This Matrix scenario concerned Kurzweil enough that he took the time to comment on the movies. Aside from stating the obvious -- the second and third movies weren't nearly as good as the first -- he was mostly content to offer a technological critique of the movie ("There are problems and inconsistencies with the conception of virtual reality in the Matrix") and throw around adjectives like "dystopian," "Luddite" and "totalitarian." 

Adjectives aren't assurances: Kurzweil never does tell us why we shouldn't fear our prospective machine overlords. Mind you, I don't. Not because I am put at ease by things like the Three Laws of Robotics (the kinds of machines Kurzweil envisions are probably smart enough to circumvent these kinds of limitations) but because I'm willing to bet that no machine will pass the Turing test in the foreseeable future.

Continue reading "Eve of Destruction: Terminator Time" »

March 20, 2009

The Twouble with Twitter

Twitter Gina's video post on Twitter shows a good example of using humor to expose the flaws of mankind -- see also Zoe's article in BreakPoint WorldView Magazine (click here for a free subscription). 

People are jumping on the social media bandwagon in big numbers, and businesses and organizations are discovering it as an effective communication or public relations tool (check out BreakPoint on FaceBook and Twitter). With all its popularity, one can’t still avoid the truth that if uncontrolled, social networking sites can be isolating and addicting -- just as in the video, where many are “randomly bragging about our unexceptional lives… and have become reliant on this constant state of self-affirmation.” Or in Biblical terms, committing idolatry.

March 19, 2009

In the land of the twits

Despite the fact that BreakPoint has its own Twitter (Twitterpage? Twitterspot? Twitterspace?), this video from BoingBoing is too funny not to post. (Contains profanity.)