Monday, November 29, 2010

With Presidents Like These Who Needs God?: "God of All Things" and the Modern Presidency

The President is too busy with too much on his shoulders and his voters expect too much from him.  That's the argument put forward in a recent Newsweek article that has caused a bit of a stir.  The stir, however, isn't necessarily about the story itself, but about the cover of the magazine that promotes the story.  Newsweek depicts current President Barack Obama as the Hindu god Shiva famously known for her six arms.  The cover shows the President with the six arms of Shiva balancing the many responsibilities of his office including health care, the world, the military, and peace among other things.  The cover includes the caption, "Why the modern presidency may be too much for one person to handle."

The article is fairly lengthy and pretty straightforward.  The author makes the case that everyday is a constant juggling of issues in the executive branch thus forcing the White House to hire hundreds of staff to help him balance all the pressures of his office including six people just to answer emails plus staff to deal with domestic policy, national security, secretaries to plan and keep track his schedule, personal advisers who themselves have staff, not to mention the Secret Service and those who service and work on Air Force One plus the other branches of government and the military.

The article itself is rather surprising.  The election of President Obama was oftentimes characterized as the coming of the Messiah.  The media and his supporters frequently depicted Obama with a halo around his head and referred to him as a "sort of god" who would bring peace, prosperity, and Utopia.  Fascinating how quickly our culture has changed its tone especially following a mid-term election that politically beat the President and his policies.  As his approval ratings continue to tumble and his own party begins to debate whether or not he should run for reelection in 2012, it seems that America is beginning to question the hype around his candidacy.

But don't misunderstand Newsweek.  Its not just Obama who is too busy, but the modern presidency that is too busy.  To make their point, they also highlight former President George W. Bush as an example of another president from a different party constantly having to juggle a constant rising of issues from the moment they got up to the moment they went to sleep with the constant barrage of demands, staff, and responsibilities..

The why of the President's business is particularly interesting.  The article notes:

Can any single person fully meet the demands of the 21st-century presidency? Obama has looked to many models of leadership, including FDR and Abraham Lincoln, two transformative presidents who governed during times of upheaval. But what’s lost in those historical comparisons is that both men ran slim bureaucracies rooted in relative simplicity. Neither had secretaries of education, transportation, health and human services, veterans’ affairs, energy, or homeland security, nor czars for pollution or drug abuse, nor televisions in the West Wing constantly tuned to yammering pundits. They had bigger issues to grapple with, but far less managing to do. “Lincoln had time to think,” says Allan Lichtman, a professor of history at American University. “That kind of downtime just doesn’t exist anymore.” . . .

Among a handful of presidential historians NEWSWEEK contacted for this story, there was a general consensus that the modern presidency may have become too bloated. “The growth is exponential in these last 50 years, especially the number of things that are expected of the president,” says presidential biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin, who had dinner with Obama and a handful of other historians last summer. Obama aides speaking on background say that the president’s inner circle can become stretched by the constant number of things labeled “crises” that land on his desk—many of which, like the mistaken firing of Department of Agriculture employee Shirley Sherrod in Georgia or the intricacies of the oil cleanup in the gulf, could easily be handled by lower-level staff. “Some days around here, it can almost be hard to breathe,” says one White House official who didn’t want to go on the record portraying his boss as overwhelmed. Another senior adviser says that sometimes the only way to bring the president important news is to stake out his office and “walk and talk” through the hall.
The growth of the presidency has been a sort of Catch-22. Most presidents after Roosevelt, at least until the Vietnam era, got by with only a few dozen advisers. Ted Sorensen, the Kennedy speechwriter who died last month, was actually hired as a domestic-policy counselor, one of only a handful (he wrote speeches in his spare time). Today there are more than 35 staffers devoted to domestic policy, plus more who parachute in on particular issues, like health care or energy. Yet as the president’s responsibilities have grown, the instinct has been to hire more people to help manage the work, including the flow of information. “That’s wrong; the more people you have in the White House, the more problems are sucked into it,” says James Pfiffner, a George Mason University professor of public policy whose 2007 book, The Modern Presidency, examined the enormous growth of the office. Other historians point to the changing role of cabinet secretaries. While Obama has more department leaders than ever before—15, compared with Gerald Ford’s 11 and Lincoln’s 7—many of them have less power and influence, which has required minor decisions about trade, energy, and economic strategy to be handled by White House staffers.
Political scientist Thomas Cronin once credited the period between World War II and Watergate as the “swelling of the presidency.” It was during the Eisenhower administration that historians first asked if the president simply had too many demands. But those were far less cluttered times. “We had a lot to do, and many people were asking questions, but we were never overwhelmed,” says Harry McPherson, who served as counsel, then special counsel, to Lyndon Johnson. Such memories sound quaint to current White House staffers. “There is never a day we come in and there are only a few things we need to do,” says Bill Burton, Obama’s deputy press secretary.

Fascinating how the office of the President has grown along with the growth of the federal government.  Honestly, this should be rather obvious.  Before there was an IRS, FDA, EPA, and everything else, the President had a lot less on his plate.  Now an increase in regulations, responsibilities, media outlets, communication devices, plus globalization demands a much busier President.  The article is right, Lincoln, with a much smaller government to govern, actually had time to think.  The current President doesn't except for the occasional tweet.

The only answer, at least as Newsweek suggests, isn't to add more staff (it sounds as if the White House is running out of space), but to limit the size of government and the new massive takeover of health care will only increase the business of the President and elected leaders, not lessen their responsibilities and burdens.  Newsweek, it sounds in the article, is beginning to echo the Tea Party than they'd like to admit.

But I see this from a different perspective.  Certainly the argument that the President is too busy because the government is too big is a legitimate one and one that we must think more seriously.  It is now impossible to go one day without being confronted with some aspect of government control (ever driven down the road and not come across a sign of some sort place there by a government worker?).  The real problem for the American people is that we put too much trust (and power) into one person to solve all of their problems.  Perhaps this is why the government has grown in the first place.

Think about it.  We see poverty and we demand the government to do something and when they take our money we complain.  We see an increase in car wrecks and we demand the government to do something and then complain about the increase in traffic jams caused by their solution.  When we see the potential threat of flying we demand the government to do something and then complain on their invasion of our privacy.  It seems that every problem we come across nowadays we turn to the government to solve that problem without there being any inconvenience to us and if there is, we complain miserably demanding our rights and wants.

Is it me, or do we already treat the President a a type of messiah - as a "sort of god?"

Freedom and liberty - the very fulcrums of our nation - can only exist when we understand that God is Lord and Sovereign and thus we turn to Him first, not government.  At the birth of our nation, Americans were free and turned to God for help, for understanding, for peace, for contentment, and for joy.  But as theism gave way to secularism, our culture began to turn first to government for answers and help and now only turns to God when disaster strikes and blaming the government doesn't seem harsh enough (Katrina anybody?).

This is true of both Christians and non-believers.  Many in the Church have turned to government as the answer to our problems.  We fight for a Constitutional Amendment banning homosexual marriage.  We seek new Supreme Court judges to overturn Roe vs. Wade and end decades of murdering innocent unborn children.  We demand our President to ban the practice of embryonic stem-cell research, to fund abstinence education, and to promote religious liberty and we act as if only the right person or party were in power our dreams would come true and our way of life would be forced upon everyone else.  At that point, we rationalize, we will be happy and content.  The problem is that this never happens.  President George W. Bush was arguably one of the most beloved Presidents of the Christian right and yet even he failed to overturn legalized abortions and to ban homosexual marriage through a Constitutional amendment.  And we act surprised.  We delude ourselves into thinking that if another four years of another like-minded President were elected, then our problems would be solved and the Kingdom of Heaven would be realized on earth through one man and his party in Washington, DC.

How foolish can we be?  Whether Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, socialist or libertarian, white or black, gay or straight, Christian or secularists, radical or fundamentalists, we are all falling for the same trap and the fact that the Church has joined in on the chorus is particularly troubling.  I wholeheartedly wish that abortions were nonexistent.  I believe that marriage should be limited to one man and one woman for life.  I desire young people to save themselves sexually for marriage and for adults to remain faithful to their spouses.  The difference, however, between me and most in our culture including in the Church is that I do not believe that corrupt politicians in any capital will ever bring the Kingdom of God or Utopia to Earth.

The only hope we have in our culture for real hope and change is the gospel.  The reason our President is busy is because we expect him to solve our problems.  We expect him to save us.  Christians affirm that it is the gospel, and the God of the gospel, who saves, not a distant political leader.  Christians, of all people, ought to know that the mindset of political messianism is foolishness.  Why do we expect an institution of fallen, depraved souls to create and enforce anything but depravity?

It is important for Christians to turn to the gospel as the hope of our society, not government or politicians.  This does not mean that politics and elections do not matter (they do), but that our priority ought to be the gospel.  Why is it that Christians get more excited over election results than they do about the movement of Spirit in bringing regeneration in the hearts of sinners?  Why do more Christians promote politicians and their policies than evangelize?  The answer is obvious:  we put more trust in the power of government than in the power of the gospel.  Our priorities give away our true hope and motivations.  We care more about legalism than about grace.  We care more about policy than the cross.  And for this we ought to be ashamed.

There is no doubt that the President is too busy, but that fact says more about the American people than it does the President.  The President could never increase the size of government in a Republican Democracy unless there was a demand for government to get more involved.  But the Church shouldn't join this crowd.  If we really want to see abortions become nonexistent, then let us preach the cross.  If we really want to preserve marriage, then let us preach the resurrection.  If we really want to limit crime, ensure liberty, and save our culture from moral chaos, then let us preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our hope is only in the gospel and never in mere men who can neither save or bring about the hope and change we all need and desire.

Newsweek - Hail to the Chiefs: The presidency has grown, and grown and grown, into the most powerful, most impossible job in the world

For more:
Blogizomai - Prophet, Priest, and President:  Is Obama the Messiah? 
Blogizomai - It Ain't Easy Being the Messiah:  Is Reality Finally Hitting Americans About the Messianism of Politicians? 
Blogizomai - Politics is Thicker Than Promises:  Lessons Learned From Obama and the Gay Community
Blogizomai - Jesus Was Not Political:  The Danger of Equating Jesus With Our Political and Economic Policies  
Blogizomai - To Build or Not to Build, That is Not the Question:  Where is the Gospel in the Ground Zero Debate? 
Blogizomai - To Build or Not to Build, That is Not the Question:  Where is the Gospel in the Koran Burning Debate?
Blogizomai - Have We Forgotten the Gospel?  Glenn Beck, Social Justice, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ    
Blogizomai - The Gospel and Pulpit Freedom Sunday:  How Christians Have Missed the Point 
Blogizomai - Why I (Hesitantly) Signed the Manhattan Declaration  
Blogizomai - What Would Jesus Do About Illegal Immigration?:  Confusing Jesus' Message With American Policy  
Blogizomai - What Would Jesus Vote?:  Jesus, Health Care, and the Gospel 

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Repost Friday - Heteronormativity: Another Word for Heterophobia

Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable WorldThis is an article I was really was hoping to put in my book Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable Worldbut was not able to for multiple reasons.  It perfectly illustrates just how crazy some in the academy and our culture have become.  In our postmodern society, it seems that the more outlandish thing we postulate and promote gets us the most attention and "respect."  The argument that classical Disney movies have promoted "Heternormativity" thus explaining why the vast majority of Americans are heterosexual is simply foolish and should be discarded immediately as such, but in our world today, this is considered worthy of our time.  The original can be read here

Its' Disney's fault that there are so many heterosexuals out there. No really. I'm serious. If you don't believe me, listen to the argument made by the University of Michigan researchers Emily Kazyak and Karin Martin who after watching several hit Disney and other major cartoon-movies dating from 1990-2005 who argue that the way romance is depicted in these movies has led to what they call "heteronormativity."

No really. I'm serious.

Kazyak and Martin consider movies like the Little Mermaid have contributed to heteronormativity. One website reports:
Despite the assumption that children's media are free of sexual content, our analyses suggest that these media depict a rich and pervasive heterosexual landscape," wrote researchers Emily Kazyak and Karin Martin, in a report published in the latest issue of the Sociologists for Women in Society (SWS) publication Gender & Society . . .
The results, say the researchers, illustrate two ways that the children's films "construct heterosexuality": through "depictions of hetero-romantic love as exceptional, powerful, transformative, and magical," and "depictions of interactions between gendered bodies in which the sexiness of feminine characters is subjected to the gaze of masculine characters.
"Characters in love are surrounded by music, flowers, candles, magic, fire, balloons, fancy dresses, dim lights, dancing and elaborate dinners," the researchers observed. "Fireflies, butterflies, sunsets, wind and the beauty and power of nature often provide the setting for - and a link to the naturalness of - hetero-romantic love."
The SWS press release on the research blamed what they called the "old ideals" of romantic relationships, specifically those found the Brothers Grimm fairy tales, which in many instances inspired the films' storylines, for "such heavily gendered depictions and glorified portrayals of heterosexual relationships."
The team says the results point to heterosexuality achieving a "taken-for-granted status" "because hetero-romance is depicted as powerful."
"Both ordinary and exceptional constructions of heterosexuality work to normalize its status because it becomes difficult to imagine anything other than this form of social relationship or anyone outside of these bonds," they concluded.
"These films provide powerful portraits of a multifaceted and pervasive heterosexuality that likely facilitates the reproduction of heteronormativity."

So . . . it's Disney's fault that the far majority of relationships throughout history, even prior to 1990, have been heterosexual relationships? Shakespear wrote Romeo & Juliet instead of Romeo & Fabio or Juliet & Margaret because Disney had "normalize" the "status" of heterosexuality? Yes, blame Shakespears heteronormativity on Disney cartoons.

This must mean that if Disney wasn't so bias, maybe they would have made Timon and Pumbaa from the Lion King a romantic couple rather than two friends living hakuna matata. Those homophobes!

The logic of this argument is quite ludicrous. Did these researchers not consider that many decades prior to 1990 where movies consisted of heterosexuals falling in love? What about the centuries prior to the birth of Cinderella and Snow White where the far majority of love stories consisted of one man and one woman falling in love? Could this repetitive pattern be the result of nature? Is it not obvious that heterosexual relationships work? Even the Greeks, who celebrated homosexuality and allowed the practice but not the marriatle status of it, understood that hetersexual relationships was the only way for a society to continue.

Heterosexuality is normal because it is natural. Though many might be appalled by such a statement, I dare ask where is ones proof to argue against it? I am not just talking about debate over the "gay gene," but about an array of history where heterosexuality, even in cultures where homosexuality is embraced and allowed, is clearly the dominant norm. Sure, homosexuality has been around for a long time and so has pedophilia, bestiality, and polygamy, but none of them are normative like heterosexuality. Why? Because the far majority of persons born are attracted to the opposite sex because God made us that way not to mention the fact that it works: one can only procreate whenever opposite genders meet.

The motive behind this research should be our focus here, not the argument they are making. It is easy to write this proposed conclusion off as the meanderings of academic elites who have lost their minds, but it is much deeper than that. Scripture is clear that man is fallen and corrupt. Corrupt man is content with his corruption. Corrupt man prides in his corruption and thus will organize and articulate their corruption in order to normalize, legalize, and enforce their corruption. What these researchers present is not common sense or even science, but the outworking of a worldview. In order to normalize homosexuality, there must be theories to explain why it doesn't appear to be normal. A culture as lost as ours continues to go out of its away to explain the prejudice of nature in order to articulate their corruption.

The researchers go on to argue
"Both ordinary and exceptional constructions of heterosexuality work to normalize its status because it becomes difficult to imagine anything other than this form of social relationship or anyone outside of these bonds," they concluded.
"These films provide powerful portraits of a multifaceted and pervasive heterosexuality that likely facilitates the reproduction of heteronormativity."
The SWS press release concluded: "President Obama may have declared June to be Gay Pride Month, but entertainment for children therefore continues to perpetuate a less inclusive message, leaving those outside its confines with little to build their own dreams of happily ever after."

In other words, Disney is preventing millions of American children from experiencing "their own dreams of happily ever after." To these researchers, to portray heterosexuality as normative is prejudice and implies that heterosexuality is natural and best. Such implications is dangerous and must be re-examined. Such logic is not only foolish, but dangerous. The purpose of this research is to call on the makers of children movies and even books to re-examine their biases in order to allow the message that homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality to young children . . . our children.

The secular worldview is not content with just normalcy, but enforcement. It is amazing to see what intentions they have towards children. Parents must be even more careful and diligent and monitor what their children are watching, reading, and being influenced by. If these researchers get their way, Snow White will be saved by a princess and Cinderella will find her true love not in a man with a slipper, but in a woman who rescues her from her evil step-sisters.

These researchers call on us to recognize what is happening here. Homophobia, as a result of Disney's homonormative standards, is a prejudice that must be removed. Such an argument is oftentimes rooted in a heterophobia mindset. Only those subject to heterophobia would do such research and make such ludicrous arguments. If Emily Kazyak and Karin Martin are concerned that Disney and other G-rated movies are producing homophobes, then how is producing heterophobes any better?

I am concluding that this whole debate is getting out of control. The debate over homosexuality runs deeper than relationships and equality. It seeks to redefine what is normal and natural. The movement is not only content with a voice in the public square, but demands an audience with our children. As a parent, I must constantly be on guard against the attacks our perverted culture makes toward my child. No longer can we assume that cultural entertainment, education, and enlightenment is OK for my child to participate in. This research is about more than movies and entertainment, but a movement in our culture to replace God-given natural attraction for man's perversion, and if elections can't be won now, perhaps they can brainwash our children and force their worldview down our throats in the near future.

Parents beware. Too much Disney, and you may be subjecting your children to heteronormativity.

The First Thanksgiving Holiday Proclamation

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, I thought it would be interesting to read the first Presidential proclamation from our first President, George Washington.  One should notice that at the holiday's founding, Almighty God was to be given thanks for His bountiful blessings towards our nation, our lives, and our Constitution.  Such language is lost to us in our more secularist society, but it is imperative that Americans turn to God and give thanks first and for us Christians, how can we ever not be grateful for the cross of Jesus Christ by which we are saved?

 Reminding ourselves of the language in which Thanksgiving was first founded is important especially today when the Huffington Post has published an article online regarding how an atheist celebrates Thanksgiving.  The article is entitled An Atheist's Thanksgiving Confession by Valerie Tarico and is a reminder of the emptiness of atheism in all practical matters.  The author concludes:

This is where my contrarian nature kicks in. I decline (politely but stubbornly) to accept God as a part of Thanksgiving, to bow during prayers or mumble through those once resonant hymns. I decline (politely but firmly) to accept the myths of my childhood: the myth of a promised land and a group of chosen people who did harm only in the service of self defense, the myth of an interventionist deity who feeds some of his children. But just as firmly I refuse to abandon the practice of thanks-giving and the holiday of Thanksgiving. For me, ever and always, November will be a time of celebrating the love and beauty and bounty that life has bestowed. This year, and for years to come, it will be a time of cooking and eating and participating in a community of shared, humble gratitude. It will be a time of evoking the deep wonder that we, small peculiar manifestations of the universe made conscious, have been so blessed.

Tarico is reminding us of what the poet and painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti supposedly once said, "The worse moment for the atheist is when he's really thankful and has no one to thank."  After all, atheism is build on nothing but meaningless, so is one's thankfulness meaningless?  Is this conversation not meaningless?  Are the things she is giving thanks for, such as celebrating the love and beauty and bounty that life has bested meaningless?  And what are we to make of the concluding sentence:  [Thanksgiving] will be a time of evoking the deep wonder that we, small peculiar manifestations of the universe made conscious, have been so blessed.  Who has blessed us?  Has the atheist not denied the Who?  Who then, I ask, are we thanking?  Accidental, coincidental byproducts of chance and survival of the fittest that may "bless" us today but turn against us tomorrow?  Mock Washington's Providential focus Thanksgiving proclamation all you want, but at least it is logical  and not meaningless.

 WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houfes of Congress have, by their joint committee, requefted me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to eftablifh a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and affign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of thefe States to the fervice of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our fincere and humble thanksfor His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the fignal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpofitions of His providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have fince enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to eftablish Conftitutions of government for our fafety and happinefs, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are bleffed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffufing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleafed to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in moft humbly offering our prayers and fupplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and befeech Him to pardon our national and other tranfgreffions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private ftations, to perform our feveral and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a bleffing to all the people by conftantly being a Government of wife, juft, and conftitutional laws, difcreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all fovereigns and nations (especially fuch as have shewn kindnefs unto us); and to blefs them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increafe of fcience among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind fuch a degree of temporal profperity as he alone knows to be beft.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand feven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

HT:  Early America  

Huffington Post (Valerie Tarico) - An Atheist's Thanksgiving Confession 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Links

As is expected, a lot of people are writing on reasons they are thankful and many are well worth our time to read.  What I like about these is the context we find ourselves in.  For one, we are still in a recession and the economy is bad without any sign of improving.  It is at such lower moments that we ought to cultivate gratefulness for if we aren't thankful for the little things, then pride will enter our hearts and we certainly won't be grateful for the bigger things.  Secondly, I have seen a lot of early Black Friday ads.  It seems that a lot of companies and stores are now having big pre-Black Friday/Thanksgiving sales hoping to kick off the Christmas shopping season early.  Amazing how even in a bad economy we Americans remain consumed.  Though I understand the need to "pay the bills" and attract customers, sometimes I just shake my head.  Here are just a few of the articles I have found insightful and helpful:

Why I'm Ungrateful by Dr. Russell Moore - This is perhaps my favorite article thus far.  Moore reminds the reader that just a few years ago he was praying that God would give him and his wife children.  Now after being blessed with both biological and adopted children, Moore finds himself yelling at his kids annoyed that they won't give him 5 minutes of quiet.  At that point he remembers his prayers and how he has normalized the gifts that God has given him.  I have to admit, this hit me in the gut real hard when I read it.  Moore is a good writer and is always engaging.  He writes:

“If I hear the word ‘Daddy’ again, I’m going to scream!”

I heard myself saying those words. And, in my defense, it was loud around here. I was trying to work on something, and all I could hear were feet pounding down the stairs with four boys competing with one another to tell me one thing after another. I just wanted five minutes of silence.

My vocal chords were still vibrating when an image hit my brain. It was the picture of me, on my face, praying for children. The house was certainly quiet then. And in those years of infertility and miscarriage and seemingly unanswered prayers, I would have given anything to hear steps on that staircase. I feared I would never hear the word “Daddy,” ever, directed to me. Come to think of it, I even wrote a book about the Christian cry of “Abba, Father.”

And now I was annoyed. Why? It wasn’t that I’d changed my mind about the blessing of children. It was that my family had become “normal” to me. In the absence of children, the blessing was forefront on my mind. But in their presence, they’d become expected, part of what I expected from my day-to-day existence. And that’s what’s so dangerous.

Gratitude is spiritual warfare. I’m convinced my turn of imagination that day was conviction of sin, a personal uprooting of my own idolatry by the Spirit of Christ. What I need to fear most is what seems normal to me.

Where are the Nine by Kevin DeYoung -  One of the most interesting stories in the Gospels is found in Luke where the 10 lepers are healed, but only one returns to give thanks to Jesus.  DeYoung picks up this story and applies it to us during this Thanksgiving holiday.  A great text to highlight.  He concludes:

There is so much God has done for us: jobs, paid our bills, paying our bills at church, safe travel, safe surgeries, miraculous provision for little babies over the past year.  We’ve had good test results, open doors, and unexpected blessings.  Have we thanked God?

Did you sleep last night?  Did your kids?  Will you eat tomorrow?  Have you seen people recently converted?  Are their relationships in the process of being healed?  Did you sell your house or get married or finish school?  Have you enjoyed the encouragement and support of the church?  Have you enjoyed laughter and sympathy with friends?  We’ve known guilt. We’ve received grace. Will we live out gratitude?

We aren’t all blessed in the same ways. But we all have been blessed in innumerable ways. Some return to Jesus with praise. Others do not. Which prompts Jesus to say two things: “Your faith has made you well” and “Where are the nine?

Giving Thanks . . . Always by Trevin Wax - Trevin makes a good argument an important point in this blog post.  Christians are called to give thanks always even when it snot Thanksgiving and even when things aren't going well.  As he says:

Already, you’ve [Paul] rocked my world. You’ve told me to rejoice always – not just when life is going well. That means that even though I’m tempted to rejoice only in the good times, you want me to rejoice in the bad times too.  What I love about this is the emphasis on the gospel and how the gospel brings us joy, not superficial things of this world.

You’ve told me to pray constantly – not just when life is going badly. Here, you’ve dealt with the opposite temptation. Even though I’m tempted to pray only in the bad times (when I sense I need something), you want me to pray constantly – in the good times too.

Paul, you’re calling me to a way of life that doesn’t depend on my circumstances. And what bugs me about this call is that you aren’t some idealistic pastor asking me to do the impossible. You are doing this yourself. You’re writing from a prison cell. Your happiest, sunniest letter (Philippians) is written when your circumstances are terrible.

And now, you’re telling us to give thanks in everything. But how? I want to be thankful, but come on… even for bad things? Even for trials?

That’s when I notice you’ve provided the key to thankfulness in all circumstances. You talk about the will of God in Christ Jesus. Everything that comes at us in life comes through the filter of God’s love to us through his Son. Once we see the victory achieved in the worst of places (the cross), our view of our circumstances is turned upside down.

Paul, your gospel upsets all my expectations. I can no longer define good and bad circumstances the way the world does. The cross messes with me. There, the worst of circumstances brings the best of blessing.

 Thank God for Religious Freedom by Charles Colson - This week's Two Minute Warning from Chuck regards Thanksgiving and how we as Christians and Americans ought to be grateful for our religious liberty.  He is certainly right and we ought to be constantly in thanksgiving for our religious freedom and always on guard to protect it from our government and secularists.

What am I thankful this morning?  Among many things, I can't help but rejoice that it is raining, something we haven't seen much this year.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Polygamy on Trial: Canada Opens the Legal Debate of Plural Marriages

The debate over the limits and meaning of marriage continues to turn over new leafs in the West.  One of the common arguments against legalizing same-sex marriage is the slippery slope argument - an argument made here frequently.  The argument is rather simple:  once a culture opens the door to allow a redefinition of marriage, it will then begin to slowly open the debate over other sexual lifestyles including homosexuality, polyamory, polygamy, and so on.  The influx of Muslim immigrants in Western, secular countries is only adding to the problem as polygamy is a common practice in Islam.

Those who reject this slippery slope argument are fighting against the overwhelming evidence that we are already taking the first steps towards regarding other sexual lifestyles as moral and legal.  Polyamory is already being practiced rather openly in Western cultures and now polygamy is starting to gain speed in the culture through shows like Big Love on HBO and Sister Wives on TLC in America - shows that highlight and promote polygamy through both fictional characters and reality TV.

Now consider this:  Canada is putting the Constitutionality of the ban on polygamy on trial.  Reuters reports:

A Canadian court opened hearings on Monday into whether anti-polygamy laws violate constitutional protections of religious freedom.

The court is wrestling with civil liberties and moral questions surrounding a breakaway sect of the Mormon church that has practiced plural marriages at its compound in rural British Columbia since the late 1940s.

"We are beginning on an historic reference," Robert Bauman, chief justice of the British Columbia Supreme Court told a packed courtroom in Vancouver.

The provincial government asked the court to probe the law's constitutionality ahead of a criminal case against leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints that is expected to test the issue.

The language of the chief justice is rather troubling.  By acknowledging that this case has historical implications makes me wonder what the outcome just might be.  As the article notes, polygamy is illegal in Canada (as it is in America and most Western countries), but the arrest of the leaders of the Fundamentalists Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FCJCLDS) has forced Canandians to reconsider not just the morally of polygamy, but the Constitutionality and legality of the issue.  The West rightly prides itself on religious freedom, but what the limits of such liberties are has always been an issue of debate.  If one practices polygamy out of religious conviction, then does banning polygamy all-together compromise the right of religious freedom?  One must admit that, at least on the surface, the FCJCLDS have an argument.

To complicate the issue, groups outside the FCJCLDS are giving their support of the constitutionality of polygamy.  The Globe and Mail report:

The case also features about a dozen groups that have interested-person status, including the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, which maintains that Canada’s polygamy law is discriminatory and an inappropriate use of the criminal law.

This support from the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (are they like Canada's ACLU?) likely means monetary and legal support which only complicates the issue.  Already the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) are on record saying:

"Consenting adults have the right - the Charter-protected right - to form the families that they want to form," British Columbia Civil Liberties Association lawyer Monique Pongracic-Speier told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 

"In some polygamous families, as in some monogamous families, there are abuses and there are difficulties, and it's those abuses or those difficulties that ought to be the target of legal intervention, not the form of relationship itself," she said.

The argument put forward here sounds exactly like what the West has been hearing from the pro-same sex marriage crowd for years now.  It seems that at least for the BCCLA, they have caught onto the logic of the argument.  If marriage can be redefined to allow homosexuality, why not other sexual lifestyles of one's own choosing including "plural marriages?"

But what I find most troubling about this case isn't the present law and the debate over its constitutionality, but over the enforement of that law.  Law enforcement officials have been open to admit that they have worried about prosecuting the FCJCLDS out of fear of violating religious liberty rights.  Reuters goes on to report:

Canadian prosecutors had declined to pursue charges against the church, fearing the untested 19th-Century law was unconstitutional. Critics of the sect said the government was condoning abuse of women and children.

Globe and Mail similarly reports:

For decades, lawmakers in B.C. have wrestled with the question of how and whether to crack down on the practice of polygamy and its alleged associated harms – including the trafficking of underage girls for marriage to much older men and the expulsion of men and boys from the community.

Over the years, lawyers repeatedly advised government officials that a prosecution, based on Section 293 of the Criminal Code that prohibits the practice, could founder on constitutional grounds.

It is interesting that out of fear of the constitutional problems that would obviously be raised if the government pursued the FCJCLDS legally, the Mormon group was left alone even though many were aware of some of the other illegal activities reportedly taking place including pedophilia and the abuse of women.  This can only mean that in a limited sense, Canadian officials quietly allowed the practice of polygamy with their knowledge.  In other words, even against the wishes of the Canadian people and government, polygamy is already alive and well-established in their own country.

America needs to take heed.  America is the home of the Latter-Day Saint movement and Salt Lake City is believed to be the New Jerusalem to many Mormons (others believe that it should be in Missouri, but that's another issue).  The polygamy issue, though officially rejected by Mormon officials in Salt Lake City, remains a popular issues among some Mormons.  In addition to this, there has been an increase in Muslim immigrants in America who bring with them an approval of polygamy and in Oklahoma where voters overwhelming voted to constitutionally ban Sharia Law, the ballot initiative is being put on hold due to its constitutional problems.  Sharia supports the practice of polygamy.

On top of all of this, the rise of polygamy of the West is simply predictable.  The rise of the homosexual movement has given rise to the practice of bi-sexuality and the practice of sleeping with multiple partners either at the same time or in a short period of time.  Most in the West openly admit to having slept with multiple people in their lives instead of only having one partner for life.  Traditional sexual values are a thing of the past now.  This formula and reformation of sexual morality in a culture only opens the door for other sexual possibilities including polyamory and polygamy. 

Furthermore, what makes this case in Canada so interesting (beyond its geographic location; just north of our own border) is that the arguments being put forward in defense of the practice of polygamy can equally apply in America.  We have already seen that laws against sodomy and homosexuality were challenged on constitutional grounds decades ago which opened the door for debating legalizing same-sex marriage.  Polygamy seems to be following the same course.  After all, if sexuality is a private issue and if the government should legalize a marriage between two people (regardless of gender) who are "in love" then why can't such a definition include three or four people or more?  The logic of polygamous marriage equals that of same-sex marriage.

The ongoing assault on marriage continues to only gett more difficult and Christians must be ready for this continual assault.  Because secularism has no foundation to determine ethics, morality, and law it is unable to clearly articulate its own legal and moral conclusions thus opening the door for debate and redefinition and marriage is the one issue that many are more than willing to change.  It is imperative that our culture wake up and realize that the trajectory we are heading towards does not end with just the legalization of homosexuality but eventually to the legalization to all forms of marriage that fits one's preferred sexual lifestyle.  It is time for us to recover a gospel-centered understanding of marriage or else we will lose this fight.  Though the challenges of today seem rather dire, we must ready ourselves because the challenges of tomorrow will be much worse.

Reuters - Canada's anti-polygamy laws go on trial 
The Globe and Mail - Canada would become magnet for polygamy if law struck down, court told 
BBC - British Columbia court to rule on anti-polygamy law 

For more:
Blogizomai - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 1
Blogizomai - The Slippery Slope: From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 2
Blogizomai - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 3
Blogizomai - The Slippery Slope:  From Victorian Values to Bestiality . . . And Beyond - Part 4   
Blogizomai - Polygamy in the Mainstream:  The Slippery Slope in Full Effect 
Blogizomai - The Next Step: Is Polyamory the Next Sexual Movement?
Blogizomai - Where Does The Madness End? The Dire Destination Of The Homosexual Agenda - Part 1
Blogizomai - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Homosexuality and the Animal Kingdom (Part 1)
Blogizomai - Is What is Natural Moral?  The Great Chasm Between Nature and Morality (Part 2)
Blogizomai - Is What is Natural Moral?:  The Way Forward is Backwards - Cave Men and the Return to Amoral Sexuality (Part 3)
Blogizomai - Is What is Natural Moral?:  Monogamy and What Jealousy Says About Naturalism
Blogizomai - Do You Part A Take Party B:  California Redefines Redefinition 

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Reposts: Shortblog Saturday - November 20, 2010

What follows are a number of posts from my Short-Blogizomai blog that is mostly short comments or videos of things I find interesting or worth commenting on but am unable to go into much detail.  On Saturdays, I am wanting to highlight and repost some of what I posted during the week for further discussion.


Fox News and the 12 in 2012: The Complete Series

Because there are so many videos, I will not post each individual video, but instead will post the links to the pages that contain each video.  Honestly, after the 2010 election I was ready to take a break from politics as I am a bit tired of all of the biting and personal attacks, but nonetheless, politics brings in the ratings and presidential elections get people really fired up.

Who do I like from this field?  I don't know.  Like all candidates there is good and bad in all of them.  As a minister of the gospel I am more interested in promoting the gospel instead of politics, but politics is important nonetheless.  Once the campaign begins (which will likely start in the first quarter of next year), then we'll have a better idea of who might become the nominee and whether or not President Barack Obama will win re-election or be defeated.  Certainly the momentum is on the Republicans side, but that doesn't mean anything at this point.

Whose your pick?

Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Mitch Daniels - Part 1
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Haley Barbour - Part 2
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Tim Pawlenty - Part 3
Short-Blogizomai - Fox news and the 12 in 2012:  Newt Gingrich - Part 4
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  John Thune - Part 5
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Bobby Jindal - Part 6
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Mitt Romney - Part 7
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Sarah Palin - Part 8
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Mike Pence - Part 9
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Mike Huckabee - Part 10
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Chris Christie - Part 11
Short-Blogizomai - Fox News and the 12 in 2012:  Others - Part 12 


Life Up For Vote?: An Internet Couple To Decide on Abortion Based on an Online Vote - Is it s Hoax?

The internet is ablazed regarding the news that a Minnesota couple who have experienced two miscarriages are now debating on whether or not to abort their third child.  Their decision will be based on an online vote.  Need i say more.  The website, the Blaze, writes:

Pete and Alisha Arnold, from the Minneapolis suburb of Apple Valley, have been married for 10 years and are pregnant for the fourth time. While the previous pregnancies ended in miscarriages, the Arnolds are hoping this one ends differently. They’re just unsure what “differently” will look like: a birth or an abortion. 

So in September, they created the website and have posted about their unborn baby boy, providing health updates, ultrasound pictures, and even videos. They’ve also provided readers with a choice via a poll on the upper right of the site: “Should We Give Birth or Have an Abortion?” As of publication, the “Give Birth” option leads the “Have an Abortion” 54.54% to 45.46%.

As you can imagine pro-lifers are incensed and outraged that a couple would do such a thing.  Pro-choicers, on the other hand, are calling the whole thing a hoax put on by a pro-life couple.  Which is it? I don't know, and neither does anybody else.  The folks over at Newsbusters have looked into the story and aren't yet convinced that this is the real thing. I too am skeptical and until there is some truth to the story I will withhold any detailed comment, however, obviously if this is a legitimate story, I am outraged that life could be subject to a vote.  At the same time, I'm not surprised that anyone would come up with such a scenario.  Life is so denigrated today that this sort of circuitry only makes sense.  Can you imagine growing up knowing that you are alive based solely on a vote in your favor?  We are living in a depraved world!

the Blaze - Internet Shock: Couple Lets You Vote on Whether They Get an Abortion
Newsbusters - About that couple taking votes whether to abort... 


The Unborn Do Have Rights: What a Double Homicide Reveals about the Law and our Moral Confusion

Once again the moral confusion of our culture is being illustrated through the charge of double homicide to a man accused of killing his pregnant girlfriend.  Because the man's girlfriend was pregnant, the murder of the woman counts as a double homicide since both the unborn child and the mother died.  We must say that this is a right law and the man should be prosecuted for a double murder, however, isn't it hypocritical that this man is guilty of killing an innocent child who in this case has the legal right to life and yet if the accused murderer was a doctor who worked in an abortion clinic took the life of this child due to the "choice" of the mother, he would not be guilty of murder.  That is hypocrisy.  That is moral confusion.  A culture that has lost all sense of morality and human dignity finds itself making such foolish decisions.  If the child has rights in the eyes of the law in this case, why doesn't the child have the same rights at the abortion clinic?

LifeSiteNews - Mississippi man to be charged with murder of unborn child 

For more:
Blogizomai - The Confusion Continues:  Spain Increases Abortion Rights and Bans Bullfighting  
Blogizomai - Are Sea Turtles Pro-Life:  Abortion, Animal Rights, and Our Confused Moral Compass


For Louisville Cardinal Fans: Time to Adjust the Outlook?

I really enjoyed an article by Pat Forde at ESPN entitled, Time to Adjust Outlook for Louisville?  The article argues that Louisville's opening victory over #16 Butler Bulldogs fresh off of their national championship appearance from March where they lost to Duke by just two points (and missed on a last second half court shot for the win).

Forde notes that no one is giving the Cardinals the time of day considering their poor performance last year (losing embarrasingly in the first round to California last March) and then losing essentially all of their starters (especially Samardo Samuels, Edgar Sosa, Jerry Smith, and others).  Clearly it seemed that Louisville would not be that good of a team, but that outlook overlooks some of their other players who have not had much playing time and have proven themselves worthy of the spotlight like Peyton Sive (an McDonald's All-American) and others.  Forde writes:

The score was Louisville 88, Butler 73. And for much of the game, it wasn't that close. Louisville never trailed, led by as many as 24 early in the second half and maintained a double-digit lead for the final 24 minutes, 50 seconds. 

It was Butler's largest margin of defeat since the 2006 Horizon League championship game. And it was the most points the tempo-master Bulldogs have allowed in regulation since 1999. 

So we learned something at the Yum! Center. There is no reason to overreact to a single November outcome -- Butler will be a good team over the long haul, and Duke does not need to look over its shoulder at the Cardinals -- but there is reason to adjust the outlook.

I agree with Forde.  Though it is doubtful that Louisville will make a run for the regular season or post-season Big East championship or have a shot at the National Championship, I do believe that based on their performances in the last two games (the first game being an expedition) Louisville should at least be in the top 25 even between #20-25 and with Virginia Tech losing (ranked #24) perhaps Louisville should be given the credit they deserve.

For those who visit this site and don't care about sports, I apologize.  I had to get it off my chest.  :o)

ESPN (Pat Forde) - Time to Adjust Outlook for Louisville?  


Condoms to First Graders Again: The Trend Continues

The trend seems to be continuing.  Now in Provincetown, MA school officials are offering condoms to students as young as first graders.  For those who need help, first graders are about 6 years old.  Follow the link at the bottom for more including a video on the story.  The arguments presented in the story are typical.  For those who favor the policy argue that "if parents aren't teaching them, then somebody else should," as one woman puts it in the video.  The problem with this should be obvious:  offering students free condoms isn't teaching.  At the very least it is a rationale for the decision you assume they have already made.  "Well, they're going to have sex anyways."  Such a mindset only encourages pre-marital sex.

Others similarly argue that students are having sex at much younger ages and I believe that this is the case.  AS a minister and former youth pastor, I have seen this trend myself.  But the argument remains:  does handing out free condoms solve anything?  If we are complaining about how young we are sexualizing our children, then clearly the solution isn't to just hand out more condoms is it?

Expect this trend to only continue and this school is not the first to set forth such a policy.  As parents lose authority and for many willingly give up their authority, schools and public institutions will continue to take the role of the parent in the lives of children.  This is what always happens in a secular society where the educated and the elite are viewed as more qualified than the average parent.

Unless we have a revival of true repentance, the world of tomorrow will somehow be much worse and depraved than the world of today and sometimes that seems like an impossibility.

The Boston Channel - Condoms For Elementary Students? Yes, Says Mass. Town:  Provincetown Approves New Condom Distribution Policy 

Friday, November 19, 2010

Repost Friday - On the Outside Looking in: The Reality of the Duty to Die in the West

Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable WorldIn our continued series of reposts from the past and focusing on chapters that didn't make in my book Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable World, we now discuss the issue of euthanasia and the culture of death.  The rise of euthanasia is a real threat that we need to face today.  Unfortunately our neighbors across the great ocean have already started walking through the door of assisted suicide and it doesn't look good.  We must remember that a few states already have legalized euthanasia and unless we do something about this soon its spread will only increase.  A culture that has lost the foundation for human dignity can easily rationalize and push death upon its own citizens quite easily.  The following article details that slippery slope and what one British family did in this attempt to their right (which becomes a duty) to die with "dignity."

The slippery slope of the culture of death continues to slide. Although America has not, as a nation, adopted euthanasia, many in the West have and this creates a number of problems. Recently a British couple committed suicide together by drinking a lethal poison. The wife was sick with terminal cancer, the husband was not. So out of love for each other, the two died "peacefully" with one another. And the children are proud of their parents for their decision and supported them the whole way.

This creates a number of problems. First, there is the legal problem: it is still illegal to practice euthanasia in England. This couple had to travel to another country in order to gain accessed to their right to die together. The question is what does England do about this? Should they prosecute the children for encouraging and aiding their parents in this? The children have already said publicly, "Even if they arrest us and send us to prison, it would have made no difference because it is what our parents wanted."

Another issue is what this says about Western culture. Already Oregon and Washington state have legalized, even through the ballot box, euthanasia. It is tempting to see this case as typically, but it is not. It is sad to see anyone die for any reason, but should we encourage it? The right to die quickly becomes the duty to die. In a culture of death, it is rare to find such stories of romance and commitment like this regarding suicide and euthanasia.

As the West continues down the slippery slope of death, it will become more and more difficult to stand against the tide. Like most moral issues, man will usually compromise and give in to the pressures. Eventually what at first seemed repugnant, in this case euthanasia, infanticide, etc., will become the normal. As time goes on our conscience becomes more severed and we accept more and more especially whenever these issues are promoted with stories of romance and love like this.

But if the truth be told, this story is rare. As we stand on the outside looking in, we must realize where this roads takes us. Government, doctors, and insurance companies will determine who should live and who should get treated, not families, not loved ones, and not the patients themselves. And the more control the government has over health care, the lesson freedom the individual has over treatment, prevention, or surgery. It becomes less about saving or curing lives, and more about removing life unworthy of living and promoting the healthy and the strong.

We've been down this road before and the blood of many in the 20th century are constant reminders of what such a culture looks like. Let us take stock and really think these things through while on the outside looking in before we are inside wishing we were out.
*  The above picture is of the suicide of Socrates.
Previous Reposts:

For more:
World Magazine: Suicide in Switzerland

Thursday, November 18, 2010

"Please Discard Your Litter": Environmental Fascism Against The Family

"Don't be a quitter, pick up your litter."  I remember reciting and learning such phrases growing up in the public school system.  Reduce.  Reuse.  Recycle.  We learned all about conservation and the dangers of polluting the planet.  Yes, even in a small town in the Bible belt, environmental fascism was alive and well.  To litter was one of the worse things to do.  A sin, if you will.  Various groups growing up (including church groups) would walk the sides of the road picking up trash and cleaning up the environment.  All of this is good in its own right, but the ideology pushing much of it isn't.

Litter is a word for displaced trash.  Litter is trash that belongs in the trash can, to be discarded, forgotten, and left in a dumpster for the garbage man to take away.  Trash has become a synonym for what is worthless and ugly.

And believe it or not many in our culture equivocate children with litter - children with trash.  In an age where environmental friendliness meets secular morality, the confusion over children - in fact hatred of children - is commonplace.  Children, in an abortion-tainted, sex obsessed world, are an annoyance.  They rob each of us of our autonomy and freedom.  Its hard to do what you want when an infant is screaming at 3 in the morning in need of a new diaper and bottle.  In a culture that prides careers over children, kids become a burden on our income, bottom line, and our will to pursue our dream job and live our dream lifestyle.  And in an environment where the environment is god, children only contribute to the problem of global warming (or is it climate change now?), not improve it.

All of this is a formula for disaster for the family.  One can see why the abortion clinic is the closest thing a secular, post-christian world has to a temple or a sanctuary.  It is there we worship and sacrifice to our autonomous gods - ourselves.  Children are a cancer in such a world.  A curse.  Litter.  Displaced Trash.

If you don't believe me, consider the recent panel on the Joy Behar Show, a feminist most known for being a co-host on the View, on the Headline News Channel who espoused this secular worldview of children and family on a recent show.  Behar begins by asking her panelists the question of why some find it odd that others don't have kids.  In other words, why is childlessness still a stigma to some in our culture?  The answer is given from an evolutionary point of view, that is, that Darwin's survival of the fittest theory only makes sense when our species (like any species) does all that it can to ensure the ongoing survival of the species itself.*

The panel then continued to discuss the increase in the marriage age rate where most persons are waiting until later in life to get married.  The fact that I got married at 22 is well under the average these days and many tried to tell me I was too young.  The motivation behind waiting to almost their thirties to get married is due to the pursuit of careers among both sexes.  It isn't until many have reach their desired career goal that they think about settling down and getting married.  Until then, many go from relationship to relationship, always sexually active, and living with multiple partners.

It is here that Behar asks the big question. What does the panel think about the parents who are having a lot of kids and "overpopulating," as she says, the earth like the Duggar's and the "Oct-moms"?  "What do you think of that?" she asked.  The answer "I think it is as if ah - now people regard that as littering.  And as if, you know, we have too many people on the planet to begin with."  One guest affirms stating, "its true."  Another guest then notes, "just think of how much greener it is not to have kids."

Instead of calling the guests out, Behar only continues the conversation by pointing out the very low birth rate of Italians (she says its at 0 per couple which I find impossible) as if it were a positive thing.  Before the reader respond in shock that this sort of language and conversation passes as casual talk on a prime time "news" and talk show, let us not miss the point that in a secular, post-Christian world, this makes sense.  When the Earth replaces God and we do all that we can to save our Mother Earth, the rejection of children only makes sense.  After all, if you really believed that we are destroying the planet by exhaling, then certainly increasing our pollutant race only adds to the problem of climate change.

Behar and her guests aren't the first to make the connection between environmentalism and reproduction. A few months ago, a radical environmentalist was shot and killed by police after holding the Discovery Channel office in Washington, DC hostage.  Before acting out in violence, the man repeatedly protested in front of the building and posted online his motivation for arming up and storming the channel's office.  His reasoning:  the Discovery Channel and her sister channels (namely TLC) promoted overpopulation by airing reality shows of large families like the Duggar's and others.  Such families are parasites that only encourage the ongoing destruction of the Earth.

Any large family living in a very secular city, like Seattle or San Francisco, can testify to the anger many hold against them simply because they have a large family.  To such a culture, children are a curse.  Children are, as the "enlightened," elite guests said, "litter."  And let us not forget what litter is:  displaced trash that needs to be discarded immediately.

Honestly this fear of overpopulation is rather foolish.  Secularism leads to a loss of population (which is why secular States struggle with tax revenues; more are retiring than are born to pay for their retirement) because of this hatred and confusion over children.  That means that unless a secular society wants to voluntarily go extinct, families that are larger would offer a balance to population without any fear of overpopulation.

Furthermore, such an argument is hypocritical.  If children are a burden to society because of their danger to the environment and overpopulation, then why are these feminists still living themselves?  If children are a threat, are they not an equal threat?  Have they not exhaled the pollutant CO2 much longer and contributed more to the destruction of the planet through their own ungreen lifestyle than the children they consider trash?  A true environmentalists can be consistent with their worldview only when they eliminate themselves - that is, consider themselves as litter.

Earlier I used the phrase, "environmental fascism" and that was on purpose.  A culture that worships the Earth and/or themselves (sometimes in some sort of pantheistic or panentheistic way) and does all that it can to protect its goddess will stop at nothing to prevent anything from spawning what they believe to be destroying Her.  The real danger of modern environmentalism is its marriage with government.  When reproduction becomes an issue of national security, fascism steps in.  Just ask China.  In fears of overpopulation, China foolishly enforced a one-child-only policy that has destroyed its female population.  The next 50 years of China should be interesting as they have finally admitted that such a policy was foolish.

Radical environmentalism is itself fascist and seeks to control everything from lightbulbs, to appliances, to smoking, to the cars we drive, to the products we use, until eventually to the children we have.  It is not a reach to say that a government powerful enough and motivated enough to ban a certain type of lightbulb in order to save the planet would do the same - when the call demands it - to reproduction and families.  If you still don't believe me, recall the reaction to the Octo-mom's pregnancy.  Many were crying foul and were angry that a woman in her situation would continue to have children.  Grant it, perhaps the Octomom should have used some common sense and been more careful with the decisions she made.  At the same time, however, many placed their anger on not just the mother's decisions, but on the children themselves acting as if the world would be better off if they did not exist.

This is the world in which we now live in.  The broader culture laughs at Christian morality considering it foolish, out of date, and oppressive, and yet these same post-Christian elites refer to other human beings as litter; as discarded trash.  And we thought Hitler and His ideas were a nightmare from our past, never to return.

When the Christian worldview is diminished and disallowed in the public arena, the sanctity and worth of human life becomes an issue of debate that can easily be discarded.  After all, if we are merely animals (as Darwinism implies), then we have no more dignity than an ape, a cow, or a cockroach.  And if we can slaughter a cow for its meat, then why can't we suck the brains out of a child before it exits the womb for the sake of the planet.

Fascism stands at our door and is beginning to knock.

It is imperative for Christians to recover a Christian worldview shaped by the gospel by which we are saved.  The God of the gospel created all of us in His image with inherent dignity above that of any other creation.  To take human life is an attack on God because we are made in His image (see Genesis 9:6).  Furthermore, this same God that created us in His image, also bought us at the cross through the shed blood of His Son.  To ransom is to prove one's worth.  I only purchase and sacrifice for what I hold dearest and best.  If humans have no dignity then please explain the cross.

Let us not forget that America was founded on these assumptions whether or not the movers and shakers of our founding understood this Christian link or not.  Human dignity leads to a firm belief in human freedom.  Take away dignity and you take away liberty.  Take away liberty, and government - with "pure" motives of course - steps in to save us from ourselves.  That is fascism.  Liberty celebrates unity among a diverse population.  Fascism only knows unity as a result of an enforced conformity.

Christians need to realize the war of worldviews and theologies going on on our television screen and radio every day and be armed with the gospel.  Our children are growing up in this world and are unfortunately not well equipped with the gospel.  Unless we have been shaped by the gospel, our culture will only continue down this hill of fascism where children are displaced trash in need of being removed.  "Its true."

HT: The Blaze 

*  I would add here that this is one of the problems with secularism and liberalism.  Though it prides itself on being shaped by evolutionary theory, liberalism is very anti-Darwinian and childlessness is a good example of this.  The professor has a point in the video.  Children are the hope of the future of our species.  To not have children is to welcome the extinction of your species, thus what little if any purpose in life we may have is diminished.

For More:
Blogizomai - The Power and Danger of Worldviews:  What James Lee Teaches Us About Our Worldview 
Blogizomai - The Real Solution to Global Warming:  Human Extinction 
Blogizomai - Married With Children . . . Lot's of Them! 
Blogizomai - Secular Eschatology  
Blogizomai - Mohler:  Is Cap and Trade Babies Next?

Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable WorldBuy Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable World now!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Lewis on Practical Theology

The following extended quote is taken from C. S. Lewis' classic work Mere Christianity. Lewis is one of my favorite writers and though I disagree with some of his theology, his writings make me think more deeply and carefully.  Mere Christianity is one of the best books I have read and outside of some of his fictional works, it is perhaps his best known and well-received books he wrote.  The following quote regards the necessity and practicality of theology. As I have argued before, everybody is a theologian, but few have ever thought about it.  What we believe about God, man, sin, creation, salvation, etc. shapes everything we believe, do, act, say, and vote.  I believe it is important for everyone, especially Christians, to return to the necessity of theology.  All of theology is practical meaning that the challenges and implications of theology are important.  What we say about God affects everything.  Survey the direction of our culture and you will find a change in theology.

Everyone has warned me not to tell you what I am going to tell you in this last book. They all say `the ordinary reader does not want Theology; give him plain practical religion’. I have rejected their advice. I do not think the ordinary reader is such a fool. Theology means ‘the science of God,’ and I think any man who wants to think about God at all would like to have the clearest and most accurate ideas about Him which are available. You are not children: why should you be treated like children?

In a way I quite understand why some people are put off by Theology. I remember once when I had been giving a talk to the R.A.F., an old, hard-bitten officer got up and said, `I’ve no use for all that stuff. But, mind you, I’m a religious man too. I know there’s a God. I’ve felt Him out alone in the desert at night: the tremendous mystery. And that’s just why I don’t believe all your neat little dogmas and formulas about Him. To anyone who’s met the real thing they all seem so petty and pedantic and unreal !’

Now in a sense I quite agreed with that man. I think he had probably had a real experience of God in the desert. And when he turned from that experience to the Christian creeds, I think he really was turning from something real to something less real. In the same way, if a man has once looked at the Atlantic from the beach, and then goes and looks at a map of the Atlantic, he also will be turning from something real to something less real: turning from real waves to a bit of coloured paper. But here comes the point. The map is admittedly only coloured paper, but there are two things you have to remember about it. In the first place, it is based on what hundreds and thousands of people have found out by sailing the real Atlantic. In that way it has behind it masses of experience just as real as the one you could have from the beach; only, while yours would be a single glimpse, the map fits all those different experiences together. In the second place, if you want to go anywhere, the map is absolutely necessary. As long as you are content with walks on the beach, your own glimpses are far more fun than looking at a map. But the map is going to be more use than walks on the beach if you want to get to America.

Now, Theology is like the map. Merely learning and thinking about the Christian doctrines, if you stop there, is less real and less exciting than the sort of thing my friend got in the desert. Doctrines are not God: they are only a kind of map. But that map is based on the experience of hundreds of people who really were in touch with God-experiences compared with which any thrills or pious feelings you and I are likely to get on our own are very elementary and very confused. And secondly, if you want to get any further, you must use the map. You see, what happened to that man in the desert may have been real, and was certainly exciting, but nothing comes of it. It leads nowhere. There is nothing to do about it. In fact, that is just why a vague religion-all about feeling God in nature, and so on-is so attractive. It is all thrills and no work; like watching the waves from the beach. But you will not get to Newfoundland by studying the Atlantic that way, and you will not get eternal life by simply feeling the presence of God in flowers or music. Neither will you get anywhere by looking at maps without going to sea. Nor will you be very safe if you go to sea without a map.
Mere Christianity

In other words, Theology is practical: especially now. In the old days, when there was less education and discussion, perhaps it was possible to get on with a very few simple ideas about God. But it is not so now. Everyone reads, everyone hears things discussed. Consequently, if you do not listen to Theology, that will not mean that you have no ideas about God. It will mean that you have a lot of wrong ones--bad, muddled, out-of-date ideas. For a great many of the ideas about God which are trotted out as novelties today are simply the ones which real Theologians tried centuries ago and rejected. To believe in the popular religion of modern England is retrogression--like believing the earth is flat.

For when you get down to it, is not the popular idea of Christianity simply this: that Jesus Christ was a great moral teacher and that if only we took His advice we might be able to establish a better social order and avoid another war? Now, mind you, that is quite true. But it tells you much less than the whole truth about Christianity and it has no practical importance at all.

It is quite true that if we took Christ's advice we should soon be living in a happier world. You need not even go as far as Christ. If we did all that Plato or Aristotle or Confucius told us, we should get on a great deal better than we do. And so what: We never have followed the advice of the great teachers. Why are we likely to begin now? Why are we more likely to follow Christ than any of the others? Because He is the best moral teacher? But that makes it even less likely that we shall follow Him. If we cannot take the elementary lessons, is it likely we are going to take the most advanced one? If Christianity only means one more bit of good advice, then Christianity is of no importance. There has been no lack of good advice for the last four thousand years. A bit more makes no difference.

But as soon as you look at any real Christian writings, you find that they are talking about something quite different from this popular religion. They say that Christ is the Son of God (whatever that means). They say that those who give Him their confidence can also become Sons of God (whatever that means). They say that His death saved us from our sins (whatever that means).

There is no good complaining that these statements are difficult. Christianity claims to be telling us about another world, about something behind the world we can touch and hear and see. You may think the claim false; but if it were true, what it tells us would be bound to be difficult-at least as difficult as modern Physics, and for the same reason.

Now the point in Christianity which gives us the greatest shock is the statement that by attaching ourselves to Christ, we can `become Sons of God'. One asks `Aren't we Sons of God already? Surely the fatherhood of God is one of the main Christian ideas?' Well, in a certain sense, no doubt we are sons of God already. I mean, God has brought us into existence and loves us and looks after us, and in that way is like a father. But when the Bible talks of our `becoming' Sons of God, obviously it must mean something different. And that brings us up against the very centre of Theology.

To read the entire chapter, click here.

For more:
Blogizomai - We Are All Theologians:  The Root of Everything We Are and Do - This article has been updated and made available as the first chapter in my book Logizomai: A Reasonable Faith in an Unreasonable World.
Blogizomai - Lewis on the Why of Democracy
Blogizomai - From Uncle Screwtape:  Christianity and Politics