Blog Archive


Thursday, April 30, 2009
Have you heard the latest about Madonna/Lohan/Hilton? Or did you see that Mel Gibson was out publicly with his new girlfriend just days after his wife of 20+ years had filed for divorce? You may not care about celebrities, but you've probably heard the most recent gossip about them. It's impossible to avoid. I don't read the gossip rags or (with an occasional exception) anything resembling a celebrity-following website, but I still somehow pick up all the dirt on the most recent falls from grace. Our society is obsessed with celebrity, which in recent years has manifested itself in reality TV, where the average Joe or Joan can be an instant (yet fleeting) celebrity. And in most cases, celebrities are famous for the most low-brow or unimpressive achievements. If someone knows how to cry on cue just right, or pretend that he is a drug addict, or look good half-naked, they're bound for stardom. Never mind that their personal lives are moral wastelands devoid of any functional understanding of healthy physical or spiritual health.

The danger is to think that this speaks primarily about a problem with our celebrities. Rather, it says more about us, the voyeuristic and gossiping public. How many of the American Idol contestants are clearly participating in the show because of the chance to become famous and openly despise the average lives to which they will return once they are voted out of the limelight (and many don't go gently into that good night)? Since when is being famous (or at least infamous) such a glorious end for which to yearn?

With that in mind, Dr. Dalrymple discusses this topic in a roundabout manner in his latest essay in the New English Review.
A man called Graham Young poisoned several people, some to death and others only to near-death, in the 1960s and 70s in England without any pecuniary motive, indeed without any obvious motive at all, starting when he was thirteen or fourteen years of age. Among his victims (who did not die) were his father and his sister. It is probable that he poisoned his step-mother (who was devoted to him) to death.
[One] thing that struck me was the obvious and sometimes openly expressed desire of Graham Young to achieve celebrity by his poisonings. He wanted to be known and remembered as the greatest poisoner in history; he took great pleasure in the publicity that he received, and he was more concerned with the newspaper coverage of his first trial than with the medical condition of his blameless father whom he had poisoned.

He lived at a time of a fundamental shift in our culture. On the one hand he was very old-fashioned; he dressed conservatively, always in a shirt and tie, and with a handkerchief in the breast pocket of his suit.
On the other hand, he matured at the time when the cult of celebrity, for celebrity’s sake, was fast gaining ground. It was a new form of celebrity, disconnected from any solid form of achievement, of which an ability to attract publicity became the sine qua non [the essential aspect of life]. Graham Young was highly intelligent, without the character to stick at anything to achieve something solid, but with a burning desire to be acknowledged as superior, important and outstanding.

When trying to explain why he could not get close to people, he once said to his sister (and she ends her book with these words), ‘You see, there’s a terrible coldness inside me.’ Could a spread of that coldness not help to explain our contemporary preoccupation with celebrity?
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
There is no conclusive proof outside the Bible that God is love, but the Bible is conclusive proof of it. If we give up the Bible, we must give up the doctrine that God is love and all the inferences about all men being saved which universalists have drawn from it. The position of those who hold that God is love because the Bible teaches it and yet reject those portions of the Bible that teach the eternal punishment of the persistently impenitent is utterly illogical and irrational. The Bible is either true or false. If it is false then we have no proof that God is love and therefore no foundation for the hope that all men will be saved. If the Bible is true (as it certainly is), then there is no foundation for the hope that all will be saved, because the Bible expressly declares that many will not be saved. One may take whichever horn of the dilemma he chooses, but in either case Universalism is untrue. - R.A. Torrey
This is awesome news!
It’s finally official: Creed is together once again, about to hit the studio to record a brand new album of music, tentatively titled Full Circle, and planning a summer tour
I like the creative new methods that Christians are using to show the world what Planned Parenthood is really like behind all the politics, lobby groups, and sound bites. Last year, a person called them and asked to donate money so that the number of black people would be lowered by abortion. The PP rep didn't indicate any problem with that idea. Now, recently, a UCLA student is video taping undercover visits to PP centers. Below is one such video showing just how truly concerned PP is for women.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Church discipline" has gone out of vogue in recent years within the American church. In the rush to avoid judgment in our world of moral relativism, no one is willing to call a spade a spade in fear of committing the ultimate of sins in our society: hypocrisy and prejudice (of course, these words have lost most of their original meaning). After all, aren't we all sinners deserving of judgment? And that is most certainly true. I am, as the Apostle Paul would say, the worst of sinners, or at least, the worst sinner I know (since I know the depths of my depravity much more clearly than I know anyone else's). And Jesus did say not to judge others (Luke 6:37) or to at least first yank out the "log" of sin from your own life before tweezering out the sinful "speck" in the life of a brother. Paul agreed as well with respect to not judging unbelievers (Romans 2:1). Yet Jesus also commanded us to throw an unrepentant brother out of the Christian community (Matthew 18:15-17). It would seem that perhaps the word "judge" means a couple different things or at least is only to be done with right motives and a clean conscience. We ARE to judge (but only those in the Church (1 Cor. 5:12-13), but ONLY to do so with plenty of humility and only out of love for the person and a desire to see them gain eternal life (James 5:20), thus more of the idea of restoration over discipline.

On the rare occasion that we do see church discipline today, many times it is not done well or in a particularly biblical manner. Jesus' four steps aren't followed or it's done in the wrong spirit or on an inconsistent basis (e.g. an adulterous woman is more severely ostracized than the adulterous man). So it encouraged me greatly to see a community of believers at my church be obedient AND faithful to God by practicing church discipline properly and in the right spirit. Both in the message and at last night's Keystone, Pastor Bryan gave the following three reasons for church discipline:

  • Serious doctrinal error that warps the church (Gal. 1:6-9)
  • Deep divisiveness that damages unity in the church (Titus 3:10-11)
  • Severe, persistent, and unrepentant moral failing (1 Cor. 5:1-13)

What doesn't qualify under these (usually) is something like habitual speeding, smoking, gluttony, etc. In those cases, maybe talk to the person and keep reminding him that he isn't helping his spiritual health (or physical health, as might be the case) by his enslavement to that bad habit, but if he doesn't repent, do as the Dude in "The Big Lebowski" and abide.

And always, do all correction with a broken and humble heart; broken over the sin in the life of your brother or sister and humble due to the sin within your own life or the possibility that but for the grace of God, there go you.

Monday, April 27, 2009
So I compiled a bunch more months into Wordle and this is what those months show: Obviously, the then-upcoming election got a lot of space.
Theodore Dalrymple is perhaps the most astute and careful reader of the writers I've read. He constantly points out hidden agendas or biases contained in news pieces or editorials, showing how, as he says, "human language is a subtle instrument." Never more true is that than in his recent column in FrontPage Magazine.
It is an interesting, though perhaps unanswerable, question as to how much untruth you can squeeze into a single word of one syllable, either explicitly or by implication. However, I came across a very fine example of such compression in the British liberal newspaper, The Guardian, the other day.
[O]n 17 April, it carried an obituary of a man called Ron Bellamy, written by his wife.

The obituary begins:

My husband Ron Bellamy, who has died at the age of 92, was a dedicated teacher, a Marxist economist and a lifelong communist.

It continues shortly afterwards:

Like so many of his generation, he was deeply affected by mass unemployment, poverty, and the threat of fascism and war, so he joined the Communist party.

It is the second ‘so’ of this sentence that is fascinating. So short a word, so many ambiguities...

Suppose the late Ron had been a fascist instead of a communist, and – as is not very likely - The Guardian had accorded him space for an obituary, would it not have been possible to write the following?

Like so many of his generation, he was deeply affected by mass unemployment, poverty, and the threat of communism and war, so he joined the British Union of Fascists.

At the time he joined the Communist Party, the second sentence would have made much more sense than the first (though still not a lot). The obituary does not give the date that Ron joined the Communist Party, but since he was born in 1916 or 1917 (the precise date of his birth is also not given), it seems likely that he joined at some time between 1936 and 1938. By then, communism in Russia had brought two massive famines causing the deaths of millions, routinely more executions in a day than Tsarism performed in a century (and this from the very first moment of Bolshevik power), the establishment of vast forced labour camps in which hundreds of thousands had already died, and the utter decimation of intellectual life. It is a myth that none of this was known or knowable at the time: on the contrary, it was all perfectly well known, if widely ignored.
So it would at the time have made more sense at the time for Ron to become a fascist than a communist; the ‘so’ would have been slightly more compelling, though the explanation of his decision would still have been far from complete. It is intrinsically unlikely that a man espouses a totalitarian doctrine of proved and indisputable viciousness and violence from a love of peace and a dislike of poverty.

Although the author of the obituary was herself a communist, and indeed met her husband through the Communist Party (in 1953), the ‘so’ to which I have drawn attention has a slight exculpatory connotation, as if it is there to head off criticism from anti-communists. Yes, it seems to say, you may criticise Ron for being a communist; but what you have to remember is the economic and political context in which he joined. In that context, any generous-minded and hearted man concerned about the fate of the world might have made the same decision.

But this, if it was meant, is untruthful. The late Ron was a member of the Communist Party for forty years. In 1961, he actually spent a year in the Soviet Union, conducting ‘research.’ That meant he swallowed many things without any of them impinging on him in the slightest: not only the famines, but the show trials, the Gulag, the Great Terror, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, the ludicrous cult of Stalin’s personality, the removal of entire populations, the Doctor’s Plot, the show trials in Czechoslovakia, Romania and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, the Berlin and Hungarian uprisings, to name but a few.

So – if I may still use that tainted word – it is simply not true that the conjunction of circumstances was what determined the late Ron’s political choice for communism, neither at the beginning nor at the end of his life. If it had been true, the late Ron would not have remained in the Communist Party for forty years. It is more probable, indeed, that he was attracted by precisely those aspects of communism that would repel most decent people: its violence and ruthlessness; its suppression of all views inimical to it; its cruel wholesale restructuring of society according to the crude and gimcrack ideas of arrogant, ambitious but profoundly mediocre intellectuals. The late Ron’s personal modesty notwithstanding – I see no reason to disbelieve his wife’s assertion that he was friendly and unassuming, as indeed Stalin, Uncle Joe, was often described as being – what he dreamed of was mass murder, deportations, suppression of people who differed from him, and complete control over the lives of everyone. Many people do dream of these things: most utopians, in fact.

At the very least, the late Ron was, in political matters, a moral idiot. The ‘so’ is subtly designed to disguise the fact.
Last Wednesday, ESPN aired the first in their new "Homecoming" series, beginning with baseball player Josh Hamilton. For those who don't know, he is quite possibly the next great power hitter in professional baseball, and was the top All-Star vote getter in his first full season last year and astounded everyone by his incredible performance in the Home Run Derby (28 homers in one round!). What's really amazing though is his story. He threw it all away over a drug addiction... until he humbled himself and gave his life to Christ. The ESPN hour-long show is very worth watching (it re-airs on ESPN Classic both May 1st and May 3rd, I believe). His testimony is refreshing. Here's a glimpse of it:

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Just tried to go to my blog from Holiday Inn's computer and was blocked because supposedly it is a "hatemongering" site.
Friday, April 17, 2009

Just got home from the most exciting Twins game I've seen since Jack Buck said in 1991, "And we'll see you tomorrow night!"
Geoscientist Brian Pratt recently wrote a brilliant article to dismantle the global warming hysteria. In it, he wonders why so many physicists have not dealt honestly with the evidence or why the science community has been largely silenced by politicians. He hints at the answer: money and political pressure. Read it all.
[W]hen you stop and think about it, the apocalyptic predictions don’t quite make sense scientifically. Alongside the enormity of the sun and what we know of the scale and power of natural processes, to imagine humans being able to make any difference to global climate would seem like the most preposterous conceit.

Even though I consider myself a dedicated environmentalist I cannot accept the claims of anthropogenic—human caused—global warming. My research involves deducing climate back in what we call “Deep Time” – geological eras of millions and billions of years ago - so I think I have enough background to understand the evidence. I know that the factors controlling climate work as an extremely complex, integrated system that cannot be resolved by debate and exchange of opinion.

Therefore the suspicions of any scientist should be aroused by glib assertions like “the science is settled” or “there is a consensus,” because this is not how scientists and engineers operate. Al Gore’s movie and books are so appallingly riddled with mistakes and outlandish exaggerations that they would be laughable if they weren’t taken so seriously by so many.

Legislators have even passed laws declaring CO2 to be a pollutant, seemingly unaware of photosynthesis, respiration and biodegradation. Should I feel guilty that my beer gave off CO2 during fermentation and when I opened it? I need something to cry into when I hear of the measures planned to reduce “carbon emissions”, because of the threat these pose to our already economically fragile society.

Here are the facts, as I understand them: solar heat varies cyclically at different frequencies, from the decades to the hundreds of thousands of years. Atmospheric CO2 concentration and temperature are linked, but rather than the former driving the latter, it is the other way around and there is a nearly thousand-year lag in the response.

The oceans are the great sink for CO2. Atmospheric CO2 concentration is not uniform around the globe and regional variations are tied to sea-surface temperature because CO2 dissolves in colder sea water while it degasses from warmer sea water.

CO2 is a greenhouse gas, yes, but it absorbs only a very small portion of the infrared spectrum and its capacity to do so declines exponentially with concentration. It’s a fact of physics that the CO2 molecule radiates almost none of the heat it can absorb. Moreover, it is such a trace gas that this effect is negligible, and even less so at the low pressures and cold temperatures high in the atmosphere.

All of this explains why, when CO2 concentration is thought to have been much higher in Deep Time such as during the Paleozoic, the surface of the globe did not overheat and the polar regions were still cold. Water vapour is what insulates the Earth and CO2 concentration has nothing to do with cloud generation. Why, then, have anthropogenic global warming promoters seized upon CO2 as the culprit?
There has grown a whole industry of taxpayer-funded climate modellers whose equations can’t reproduce last week’s weather let alone past climate change at all, but whose crystal balls universally forecast impending disaster (and of course the urgent need for more research money). Why haven’t physicists pointed out the basic mistakes in the science?
Moreover, the zealotry of many adherents is frighteningly reminiscent of the Spanish Inquisition, fascism and other movements designed to take control and silence dissent. Vicious personal attacks on those who raise valid scientific questions infect the blogosphere, including likening them to Holocaust deniers. Even NASA’s James Hansen, a very vocal promoter of anthropogenic global warming, has been allowed to get away with all sorts of very unscientific and virulent statements, such as demanding that oil company executives be tried for “crimes against humanity and nature”.

Globally averaged temperature data—imprecise, it must be admitted—show that temperature has not risen in the past 10 years: we are not in the midst of global warming at all. The famous “hockey-stick” graph wielded by Al Gore and the IPCC reports that claimed to show a dramatic rise in global temperature in the latter 20th century turns out to be a methodological and statistical chimera. Some have even suggested that it was a deliberate fraud. Temperature fluctuations and regional variations in the last few decades do not track rising atmospheric CO2 concentration.

So, if anthropogenic CO2 is not driving climate change, why do most Western governments—with the notable exception of Václav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic—continue to fall over themselves in support of the belief of anthropogenic global warming, and try to best each other in promising to cap CO2 production, designing carbon taxes and cap-and-trade legislation, and throwing huge sums of money at alternative energy schemes, CO2 sequestration projects and climatological research? Sure, certain individuals stand to make a lot of money out of these measures, but some of them arguably will amount to economic suicide. Well, what politicians do "passeth all understanding” for most of us in the trenches, but it does illustrate the power of the green lobby and, in my opinion, a dearth of real leadership.
As James Hutton said in 1795, the Earth has “no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end” and this holds true for climate change. Does reducing our dependence on fossil fuels justify promulgating scientific lies? I don’t think so. But it is inescapable that coal, oil and natural gas are finite natural resources and when they are burned up they are gone. Period. Profligacy with these precious commodities is what needs to change.
This article succinctly explains why socialism is wrong, especially to Christians.
First, it just doesn’t work. At least not for very long. That’s because people are flawed and, outside of a family, a religious order, or a small group of friends, they will not continually work hard for the ‘greater good’ if they do not receive the fruits of that work themselves. As an economics major in college, I learned that this theory had a name: ‘the free-loader effect’. It is the natural tendency of people to do less and less work when they realize that they won’t see a proportionate decrease in what they can get for it.
The second reason why I believe socialism is such a bad idea is very much related to the first, but much more important to me as a Christian: it diminishes the dignity of human beings. In socialist societies, individuals grow increasingly dependent on the government for their well-being, and less and less confident that they are capable of and responsible for themselves. This is an inevitable recipe for cynicism, fatalism and depression.

And as the government plays a larger and larger role in the lives of people, it inevitably crowds out faith in God. Not only does this make sense from a logical standpoint, it turns out that it was the intentional design of the men who invented socialism, communism and Marxism. Marx and Lenin were very clear that atheism was key to the success of the socio-economic systems they promoted, and that people should turn to the state for their needs, not to God. This has played out again and again as socialist countries experience a significant drop in the faith of its people, and in great irony, a rapid decline in charitable giving, volunteerism and civic-mindedness.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
I compiled the last few months of posts and pasted them into Wordle to see what words jump to the front. At some point, I'll compile the other months and compare them to this compilation to see if there are any visible changes in words used. Interesting that this one reads "Obama almost God" vertically on the left...

I saw this sad story from Britain today. According to a poll, the most popular song to have played in that post-Christian country is Frank Sinatra's "My Way." That is one of the most depressingly self-centered songs in history, and it speaks to the self-centeredness of a culture that uses that as their final goodbye to life. Without Christ, people live a funeral dirge in life and are narcissistically self-sufficient even in death.
I've lived a life that's full -
I've travelled each and every highway.
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.

Regrets? I've had a few,
But then again, too few to mention.
I did what I had to do
And saw it through without exemption.

I planned each charted course -
Each careful step along the byway,
And more, much more than this,
I did it my way.
To think I did all that,
And may I say, not in a shy way -
Oh no. Oh no, not me.
I did it my way.

For what is a man? What has he got?
If not himself - Then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows
And did it my way.

Yes, it was my way.
"In proportion as a Christian grows in grace, so he grows in humility. Humility is indeed the principle first and last of Christianity. By this principle it lives and thrives. As humility grows or declines, so Christianity must flourish or decay."
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tony Jones received quite the response to his denial of penal substitution (which he then backed off from in subsequent posts). In response, he made a few subsequent posts to defend himself and clarify his position on the matter. More accurately, he either changed his mind since Friday or, like a good postmodern, isn't willing to deny something even though he doesn't find it true or biblically accurate.

Yesterday, on Doug Pagitt's radio program, Pagitt and he further discussed this issue and specifically "cul-de-sac Calvinistas" (to use their term) who are on a dead end street of Christianity or something along those lines. Pagitt is actually the more intellectually honest or informed of the two. While Jones claims that the "New Calvinists" are just a small sect of Calvinism and that the larger, "true" movement of Calvinism wouldn't agree with the new guys on the block (like Piper, Driscoll, etc.), Pagitt disagreed and acknowledged that all Calvinists would affirm penal substitution atonement (PSA). That said, Pagitt is even more resolute in his dislike of PSA than Jones, even calling it something worth teaching against because it is "dangerous" to Christianity. So basically, Pagitt believes it's a false teaching. That in itself is quite the revelation: an Emergent claims that there is at least some truth and some lies. In that respect, Jones seems much more postmodern than Pagitt, not wanting to have any certainty about anything. It's an informative (if ultimately saddening) discussion...

Listen here.
This is a really great interview with Kathy Ireland.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009
This is a disturbing story, not just for political dissidents in Iran, but Iranian Christians as well. For years, Western Christians have had to be careful giving out too many details about the whereabouts of missionaries or native Christians in certain Islamic countries due to fear that someone would include the information in a prayer letter or website which could be intercepted or viewed by an official of the particular country. Now it seems that two European companies teamed up to sell Iran a wireless surveillance system which will allow the Iranian totalitarian government to monitor cell phone conversations and text messages. It's unconscionable that those companies would aid a government which has jailed and executed anyone who spoke against their rule. Already, the monitoring system is having dire effects on human rights.
Lily Mazaheri, a human rights and immigration lawyer who represents high-profile Iranian dissidents, said she had suspected that the government had increased its capability to monitor its perceived enemies.

Recently, one of her clients was arrested because of instant messaging he had participated in with Ms. Mazaheri, she said.
Testing the new mobile posting options...

[Sweet, I posted that from my cell phone.]
Saturday, April 11, 2009

UPDATE: For those coming here from Tony Jones' link, his martyrdom is unfairly or dishonestly grasped. Jones: "But because I don't afford the penal substitutionary theory the status of crushing all other atonement theories, I've become the scourge of the Reformed blogosphere." It wasn't for this reason that I (or those other bloggers on his list of fellow "Edict" givers) mentioned him. I have no problem with saying that there are many correct and useful atonement theories. The Bible affirms this view. However, Jones didn't just lower the importance of penal substitution, he flatly DENIED it.


For years, the Emergent church leaders (Pagitt, McLaren, etc.) have done their very best to avoid talking doctrine or getting nailed down on any theological positions. But so far in 2009, it appears that they're turning over a new leaf. For the latest example, Tony Jones published this blog post on Good Friday. And it's not pretty...

One key to my understanding of the crucifixion is the beginning of Jesus' ministry. At about the age of 30, Jesus arrives at the Jordan River and is baptized by his cousin, John. He then retreats into the wilderness where, after a 40-day fast, he's tempted. Really tempted. That is, the result of Jesus' interaction with "the tempter" was not foreordained. Nor did Jesus know that he was divine in such a way that he wouldn't cave in to the temptations before him. Had Jesus been cognizant of his divinity, he would not have been truly tempted.

Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago, that God's wrath burned against his son instead of against me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative [emphasis mine].
Instead, Jesus death offers life because in Christianity, and in Christianity alone, the God and Creator of the universe deigned to become human, to be tempted, to reach out to those who had been de-humanized and restore their humanity, and ultimately to die in solidarity with every one of us. Yes, he was a sacrifice. Yes, he was "sinless." But thank God, Jesus was also human.

The hope he offers is that, by dying on that cross, the eternal Trinity became forever bound to my humanity. The God of the universe identified with me, and I have the opportunity to identify with him.

Today, and every day, I hang with him on that cross.

Friday, April 10, 2009
I came across this sad story from the Phillipines, where Catholic Filipinos actually crucify themselves for a short time. Of the reasons listed were included "to honor God" and to "cure his cancer-stricken mother."

If only they knew that Christ paid it all by drinking every drop from that cup...
This is very cool, though I never heard about it until now, which is surprising.
In January, an ordinary guy named Christ Otto had a vision of flooding the White House with empty red envelopes representing the millions of children who've died in abortions.
Another ordinary guy named Brian Potter ran with the idea and created Red Envelope Day was March 31st, the day when millions of red envelopes were to be mailed to the White House with this simple message written on the outside, "This envelope represents one child who died in abortion. It is empty because that life was unable to offer anything to the world. Responsibility begins with conception."

The ultimate goal of this symbolic gesture is to change the president's heart on abortion. Otto writes, "This is a message to [the president] that God hears the cry of innocent blood." Time will tell if it has its desired effect on the president. But according to a report from World Net Daily, at least his vision of flooding the White House was realized.
The White House mail office has confirmed it received a "deluge" of as many as 2.25 million red envelopes symbolizing the empty promise of lives snuffed out in abortion in a massive campaign that was larger than most White House mailing movements in the last 35 years...
Despite its success, Otto doesn't expect any media coverage. And other than this report from WND, I haven't seen any. One of my colleagues quipped that had it been a green envelope day to raise awareness about the environment, it probably would have been picked up by every major news outlet in America.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Dalrymple discusses the liberal idea that as long as you're strong in your beliefs, it's irrelevant to what ends you pursue those beliefs.
A recent story in the Guardian confirmed my suspicion of a lingering liberal indulgence toward the former Soviet Union. Headlined ORPHANED BY THE STATE, it consisted of an interview with Robert Rosenberg, the younger son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, executed by electric chair in 1953 for spying on behalf of the Soviet Union.

Robert was then six, and surely anyone with the most minimal human feeling must sympathize deeply with his account of his bewilderment at the time. The interviewer, Joanna Moorhead, tells us that she had tears in her eyes as he related the story, thereby imparting an element of kitsch to the proceedings.
At the end of the interview he says that his parents gave him and his brother Michael “a life in which we can stand up and be ourselves and do the things we believe in.” Earlier, he had drawn a parallel between what his parents did and other people who, even today, commit acts of civil disobedience to further a cause they believe in.

It’s Moorhead’s neglecting to ask Meeropol what he thought of his parents’ cause that makes me suspect her of secret sympathy with the Soviet Union. For suppose that the subject of the interview had been the orphan of a couple executed for spying for the Nazis: would the interviewer then have let the question of what they believed in go without comment?

This is not the place to argue whether the communists or Nazis were worse (for what it is worth, I think the Nazis were worse, but I also respect the Johnsonian view that there is no disputing the precedence of a louse and a flea). What is clear is that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg supported in theory and aided in practice an ideology and a state that they should have known was responsible for some of the worst oppression and mass murder in history.

In its print edition, the Guardian chose to highlight Robert’s statement, “my parents gave me and Michael a life in which we can stand up and be ourselves,” as a callout, thereby forging an unlikely alliance between Stalinism and psychobabble. Whether standing firm for one’s convictions is a good or bad thing depends on what those convictions are. A monstrous cause is not any the less monstrous because people are ready to die for it; if the history of the twentieth century should have taught us anything, it’s that.

This actually made me nauseated.
Ah, the traditional rite of spring that is Easter: The resurrection of Christ, a nice bouquet of flowers, a brunch buffet...and a roundhouse kick to the face?

Yup, that's what the congregation at the Spirit of St. Louis Church in Arnold can expect next weekend. The church and its pastor Tom Skiles are hosting "Easter In the Octagon: The Ultimate Fighter."
We called up Pastor Tom to confirm that this is not an April Fool's joke and find what, exactly, the sport that's been called "human dogfighting" has to do with Jesus' return from the grave.
"The Ultimate Fighting is something we're doing to promote to the guys. We want to make Easter relevant again. We don't want to make it about lilies and nice dresses. When they walk in we'll have a chain link fence set up, it'll be set up like an octagon. We'll talk about fact that Jesus didn't tap out, he was an ultimate fighter."
"We're doing Easter Smack Down for our kids. It's not going to be an egg hunt. It'll be a Smack Down. It'll be a cool event. Kids love wrestling. We got inflatable boxing ring and all that stuff."
"We don't hold no bars. We make it so complicated and Christ wanted it to be simple. We like to laugh a lot in our Sunday experience. We do crazy stuff."
Lord, Lord, did we not roundhouse kick people into heaven in your name?
These graphs are depressing... 40% of American babies are now born to a single mother.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009
So, now the G20 have put together a single world currency... amazing how fast we're slouching toward Babel. Soon, "nothing [we] plan to do will be impossible for [us]." (Genesis 11)
My worship music pastor preached a great message this past Sunday on how to see ourselves at the Cross. In short, we shouldn't see ourselves as John or Jesus' mother Mary, but as the hateful Pharisees, mocking thief, and laughing Romans. You can hear it here.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
Gethsemane is not a field of study for our intellect. It is a sanctuary for our faith.

- Klaas Schilder
It is easy as we contemplate Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and Easter to focus on just the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. And not without good reason, as we witness a significant amount of Jesus' suffering on the cross and see His victory in the Resurrection. But, as Schilder pointed out, the Garden of Gethsemane is essential to understanding the whole of Christ's sacrifice. This is not something that I've realized in years past.

So let us consider the Garden...

Luke 22:39-46
John 14:30; 18:1
Matthew 26:36-46

The first thing we notice is that Jesus "began to be deeply distressed and troubled." Why now? Why has He been seemingly untroubled while his disciples were quite scared (Mark 10:32), even though He knew what was coming? He knew before time began what was in store for Him, yet at this particular moment as He's walking with His men up the Mount of Olives, He gets shaken. Perhaps, in a way, He is experiencing what David experienced in 2 Samuel 15:30 (the parallels are obvious, though I never noticed them before) when he went up that same Mount of Olives weeping a millennium earlier, fleeing from the rebellion of his son, Absalom. Perhaps, after those few years of reaching out to His people, the Jews, Jesus knows that the opportunity of salvation for them, His child, is lost and that they are now searching for Him to kill Him. As David before Him, He is experiencing the grief of seeing the one you love so much, and for whom you would die, wanting to murder you.

Looking down on Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives

CJ Mahaney gives another likely reason for Jesus' grief in his incredible sermon, "The Cup": He came to the Garden to spend some time with the Father and found hell instead of heaven. As one writer puts it, "It seems that particularly in Gethsemane Jesus was given a fuller understanding of the contents of the cup that he was to drink." He came to better see and realize just how horrible that cup was, filled with the FULL wrath of God against all the wretchedness of human sinfulness. He saw the wrath toward the Rwandan Tutsi who chopped up a small child with a machete. He saw the wrath toward me when I rebel against the Father by killing with my tongue and fornicating with my mind. He saw the wrath pouring out of God's holiness onto the German guard who gassed hundreds of Jews. He saw the wrath toward us all when we worship the creature and not the Creator. He saw all the wrath which the Father had stored up in His divine forbearance, the wrath that Jesus, as God incarnate, knew better than any man could ever know or fathom. As Frederick Leahy wrote in The Cross He Bore, this cup "carried the stench of hell." And it made Him collapse (Matt. 26:39).

Also, as John tells us in his gospel, Satan was there, offering Jesus one last temptation to avoid the cup. And Jesus, in that moment of extreme agony, did cry out to God asking for a solution that didn't require Him to drink from that Cup, even to its very dregs. He cried out to God as "Abba, Father," as a child cries out for his daddy. This reminds me of the young Jewish couple brutally murdered by Muslim terrorists a few years ago in Mumbai. At their funeral, their little son was inconsolable, crying out "Abba, Ima" throughout the service. It's a sign of deep intimacy and love to use "Abba" in reference to God, something that the Jews of the time would have found profoundly disrespectful. You don't call the Ancient of Days "daddy." That is, unless you are the Prince of Peace and God's Son who has existed as one with the Father for all eternity. "May this cup be taken from me" ... as Mahaney says, if it had been possible to attain the glory and joy set out before the dawn of time in some other way, the Father would have done it in an instant. "Yet not as I will, but what you will" ... Jesus rejects the temptation from Satan and begins to drink the cup, until not a drop was left when He uttered those words on the cross: "It is FINISHED."

One last reason that Jesus is in so much inner turmoil is likely the fact that THREE times his disciples fail Him when He needs them most. He keeps going back to them, both to remind them to pray earnestly as the Tempter is at hand and also so that He might receive sympathy and support in this last hour. But in their sleep, they have abandoned Him already. He merely asks them to pray for Him for one hour, yet they can't even do that. These men who have followed him for several years and have been His closest human friends don't even seem to care enough to ask His Father to strengthen Him in His need. He's desperate for support, yet everywhere He turns in heaven and on earth, He is rejected. In the movie "Changeling," an evil man is about to be hanged for murder and he begins to scream out to the people watching his execution, "A prayer! Please, someone say a prayer for me!" He is met with complete silence... and begins to quietly sing "Silent Night" as the noose is placed on his neck, knowing that He is (justly) forsaken by men and by God for his crimes. That chilling scene gives a glimpse of what the pure and Holy Lamb was experiencing as He approached His own death and damnation for crimes which He hadn't committed, nor would have ever dreamed of committing, yet was abandoned by those He loved most.

Praise to God that we don't have to drink that Cup! Instead of Jesus thrusting that Cup into our face, demanding that we drink that which we have earned, we are offered the sweet Cup of Salvation, from which we can drink for eternity and it will never dry up, never run out, and never turn sour. And may we pray as Leahy prays, "Lord, forgive us for the times we have read about Gethsemane with dry eyes."
Monday, April 06, 2009
Obama gave a speech yesterday in Prague calling for the global elimination of nuclear weapons because of the danger they pose. It was perhaps one of his most specious and absurd speeches he's ever given (and he's given quite a few worthless speeches in his young political career). Basically, he called on all countries to disarm themselves because having nuclear weapons is dangerous to the world. Does he really think that Britain's stockpile is dangerous to the world? Or ours? Or France's? Or Israel's? Those stockpiles make the world MORE safe, not less. Here's a particularly galling part of his speech:
Countries with nuclear weapons will move towards disarmament, countries without nuclear weapons will not acquire them, and all countries can access peaceful nuclear energy. To strengthen the treaty, we should embrace several principles. We need more resources and authority to strengthen international inspections. We need real and immediate consequences for countries caught breaking the rules or trying to leave the treaty without cause.
Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response -- now is the time for a strong international response, and North Korea must know that the path to security and respect will never come through threats and illegal weapons. All nations must come together to build a stronger, global regime. And that's why we must stand shoulder to shoulder to pressure the North Koreans to change course.
And yet, this is all hot air, since he has utterly failed to do anything about Iran and merely yawned when North Korea tested their missile this weekend. He wants the "good guys" to put down their guns while trusting that the "bad guys" will just play nice. Thanks but no thanks, Neville Chamberlain.

Which brings me to my second point: to a radical leftist like Barack Obama (and who can still deny that he is a radical lefty; why, he makes Bill Clinton look like a conservative), nuclear weapons are to global politics what gun control is to local American politics. Liberals won't give up until the only ones with either nuclear weapons on the macro level or guns on the micro level are those who intend on using them to kill innocent people. As Dennis Prager said today, liberals don't hate evil, they hate weapons.
For all those cat haters out there (or anyone who wants to waste a few minutes with a pointless game), enjoy. On my very first try, I scored 4693. Post your scores in the comments.
Before Easter comes and we celebrate the Resurrection, may we first focus on the sacrifice and suffering of our King.
Then Jesus walks on beyond the city gates. It’s nine o’clock in the morning, Friday.

Through the steady rain Jesus glances up from the base of a rocky hill. It’s named Golgotha—the Skull.

At the top he sees several posts fixed in the ground. Three of those poles stand ready to receive their crossbeams and the tattered body of Jesus and the two criminals carrying their crosses behind him.

At the top of the hill the merciful centurion hands Jesus a cup. Jesus sniffs the liquid. It’s wine mixed with myrrh, a mild narcotic to dull the pain. But Jesus is meant to feel all the pain. So he hands the cup back. This is not the cup of the Father.
Jesus now lays naked in the dirt. The dark man places the crossbeam by Jesus’ head. This time Jesus sees his face. It is Simon of Cyrene. Jesus knows him by name and did before there was time.

The beam becomes his pillow now. Two men take hold of his hands. The soldier on his left yanks his arm as far as it will go. But the soldier to his right is gentler. Jesus turns to him. It’s the merciful centurion again. He picks up a cold spike and places it to Jesus’ wrist. Then he picks up a hammer. Their eyes meet. Eternal Love shines forth again, and the centurion is undone. He looks away and lifts his hammer.

In that moment Jesus hears his own word of power: the word of power that holds the merciful centurion in existence, the word of power that causes the hammer to be. He’s speaking it all into being: the soldiers, the priests, the thieves, the friends, the mothers, the brothers, the mob, the wooden beams, the spikes, the thorns, the ground beneath him, and the dark clouds gathering above. If he ceases to speak they will all cease to be. But he wills that they remain. So the soldiers live on, and the hammers come crashing down.

Jesus is lifted on his crossbeam to the post. He sags held only by the spikes in his wrists. Jesus designed the median nerves in his arms that are working perfectly now.

The pain shoots up those nerves and explodes in his skull as the crossbeam is set in place.

His left foot is now pressed against his right foot. Both feet are extended, toes down, and a spike is driven through the arch of each. His knees are bent.

Jesus immediately pushes himself up to relieve the pain in his outstretched arms. He places his full weight on the spikes in his feet and they tear through the nerves between the metatarsal bones. Splinters from the post pierce his lacerated back—searing agony.
And he sags back into silence, back into countless hours of limitless pain.

Then Jesus is startled by a foul odor. It isn’t the stench of open wounds. It’s something else. And it crawls inside him. He looks up to his Father. His Father looks back, but Jesus doesn’t recognize these eyes. They pierce the invisible world with fire and darken the visible sky. And Jesus feels dirty. He hangs between earth and heaven filthy with human discharge on the outside and, now, filthy with human wickedness on the inside.

The Father speaks: “Son of Man! Why have you sinned against me and heaped scorn on my great glory? You are self-sufficient and self-righteous—consumed with yourself and puffed up and selfishly ambitious. You rob me of my glory and worship what’s inside of you instead of looking out to the One who created you. You are a greedy, lazy, gluttonous slanderer and gossip. You are a lying, conceited, ungrateful, cruel adulterer... You exchange my truth for a lie and worship the creature instead of the Creator... With all your heart you love perverse pleasure. You hate your brother and murder him with the bullets of anger fired from your own heart. You kill babies for your convenience. You oppress the poor and deal slaves and ignore the needy. You persecute my people. You love money and prestige and honor. You put on a cloak of outward piety, but inside you are filled with dead men’s bones—you hypocrite! You are lukewarm and easily enticed by the world. You covet and can’t have so you murder. You are filled with envy and rage and bitterness and unforgiveness. You blame others for your sin and are too proud to even call it sin. You are never slow to speak. And you have a razor tongue that lashes and cuts with its criticism and sinful judgment. Your words do not impart grace. Instead your mouth is a fountain of condemnation and guilt and obscene talk. You are a false prophet leading people astray. You mock your parents. You have no self-control. You are a betrayer who stirs up division and factions. You’re a drunkard and a thief. You’re an anxious coward. You do not trust me. You blaspheme against me. You are an unsubmissive wife. And you are a lazy, disengaged husband. You file for divorce and crush the parable of my love for the church. You’re a pimp and a drug dealer. You practice divination and worship demons. The list of your sins goes on and on and on and on. And I hate these things inside of you. I’m filled with disgust, and indignation for your sin consumes me. Now, drink my cup!

And Jesus does. He drinks for hours. He downs every drop of the scalding liquid of God’s own hatred of sin mingled with his white-hot wrath against that sin. This is the Father’s cup: omnipotent hatred and anger for the sins of every generation past, present, and future—omnipotent wrath directed at one naked man hanging on a cross.

The Father can no longer look at his beloved Son, his heart’s treasure, the mirror-image of himself. He looks away.

Jesus pushes himself upward and howls to heaven, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”



Jesus whispers, “I’m thirsty,” and he sags.

The merciful centurion soaks a sponge in sour wine and lifts in on a reed to Jesus’ lips. And the sour wine is the sweetest drink he ever tasted.

Jesus pushes himself up again and cries, “It is finished.” And it is. Every sin of every child of God has been laid on Jesus and he drank the cup of God’s wrath dry.
And he dies.
In that moment mountains shake and rocks spilt; veils tear and tombs open.

And the merciful centurion looks up at the lifeless body of Jesus and is filled with awe. He drops to his knees and declares, “Truly this man was the Son of God!”

Mission accomplished. Sacrifice accepted.
Friday, April 03, 2009
This video of a whipping of a teenage girl for going out in public is hard to watch, but we must not forget what radical Islam is capable of. Also, read The Kite Runner.

Mark Steyn wrote this week on the British plan to criminalize gay jokes (and by gay, I don't mean happy). Amazing how "progressive" Western society is becoming, isn't it?
George Will has an EXCELLENT piece this week on the "perils of a bright idea;" namely, politicians' mind-numbing responses to the global warming joke (a joke that unfortunately is on everyone, not just the mentally feeble in Congress). Will's case-in-point: the growing light bulb fiasco.
"Fervently" is how America will henceforth engage in talks on global warming. So said the president's climate change negotiator Sunday in Germany, at a U.N. conference on reducing carbon emissions. This vow was fervently applauded by conferees welcoming the end of what AP's news story called the Bush administration's "eight years of obdurate participation" in climate talks.

Reducing carbon emissions supposedly will reverse warming, if it resumes after the current period without warming, a period that began, according to statistics published by the World Meteorological Organization, 11 years ago.
Cynics will see only potential for mischief by governments, including the U.S. government, using such measures to give a green patina to protectionism. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is having its own problems with one "climate-friendly good" that might not be. Last week The New York Times front page carried this headline: "The Bulb That Saved the Planet May Be a Little Less Than Billed."

The story recounted some Americans' misadventures with the new light bulbs that almost all Americans -- all but those who are filling their closets with supplies of today's incandescent bulbs -- will have to use after the phaseout of today's bulbs in 2014. (You missed that provision of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007?)
[S]ome experts have written a guide saying the new bulbs require "a little insight and planning." The Times says that "may be an understatement."

The bulbs, says the Times, "do not do well in hot places with little airflow, like recessed ceiling fixtures," and some do not work "with dimmers or three-way sockets." And: "Be aware that compact fluorescents can take one to three minutes to reach full brightness. This is not a defect." Well, if you say so. Because all fluorescents contain mercury, a toxic metal, they must never be put in the trash, so Home Depot and other chains offer bins for disposing of dangerous bulbs. Driving to one of these disposal points might not entirely nullify the bulbs' environmental benefits. Besides, the Times summarizes the Environmental Protection Agency's helpful suggestions for coping with the environmental dangers caused when one of these environment-saving bulbs breaks:

"Clear people and pets from the room and open a window for at least 15 minutes if possible. Avoid vacuuming. Scoop up larger pieces with stiff paper or cardboard, pick up smaller residue with sticky tape, and wipe the area with a damp cloth. Put everything into a sealed plastic bag or sealed glass jar. In most cases, this can be put in the trash, but the EPA recommends checking local rules."

Worrywarts wonder what will happen when a lazy or careless, say, 10 percent of 300 million Americans put their worn-out bulbs in the trash. Stop worrying. What do you think? That Congress, architect of the ethanol industry and designer of automobiles, does not think things through?
I have yet to view The Truth Project by Focus on the Family, but I've heard good things about it. Plus, they interviewed my favorite author for it.
Last week, a plane crashed in Montana, tragically killing the three families on board. It was heart-wrenching to read about it. I just came across an interesting story about the background of the man who was waiting for his children and grandchildren to arrive at the ski resort when he got the call that they had all been killed in that crash. In short, he owns the country's largest abortion-providing chain of clinics. The site of the plane crash (a cemetary) has a memorial for the unborn. So, it is the prayer of pro-life Christians that God would use this horrendous tragedy to soften his heart and perhaps save the lives of many other innocent victims.
Thursday, April 02, 2009
This utter piece of trash was posted over at U.S. News and World Report's opinion blog. I'm not sure why the writer doesn't just suggest offing all the "drains" on our economy... like welfare recipients, old people, disabled veterans. Oh wait, because she's a coward who only wants to kill those who don't have a chance of fighting back.
Disgusting. Imagine how much worse it would be if everyone had access to "free" health care...
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
Dalrymple has an excellent column on gratitude in this month's "New English Review."
After a little reflection, I came to the conclusion that my dislike of waste arises from a whole approach to life that seems to me crude and wretched. For unthinking waste – and waste on our scale must be unthinking – implies a taking-for-granted, a failure to appreciate: not so much a disenchantment with the world as a failure to be enchanted by it in the first place. To consume without appreciation (which is what waste means) is analogous to the fault of which Sherlock Holmes accused Doctor Watson, in A Scandal in Bohemia: You see, but you do not observe.
Once you become aware of a phenomenon such as waste that you overlooked or considered unimportant, you begin to see – or rather, observe - it everywhere. For example, yesterday I was walking in a street in England and I saw a box of cakes thrown on the ground. One had been half-eaten, but the rest were strewn around, so it was not merely that the box had been dropped by accident. The person who had dropped it had eaten a little and decided that the rest was surplus to his requirements.

I pass over – but not because I haven’t noticed it – the unsocial and egotistical way in which the person disposed of what he no longer wanted. Rather, I refer to the fact that whoever disposed of the cakes in that way took them entirely for granted, gave no thought to the effort or ingenuity required to produce them, assumed that there would always be more when and where he wanted them, and in general evinced no respect for anything except his whim of the moment.
I am aware that our whole economic system depends to a large extent upon us consuming vastly beyond our needs, biologically considered, and that if we were all as parsimonious as possible and never threw anything away that was remotely usable or re-usable, the wheels of commerce would soon grind to a halt.
Like many social phenomena, abundance is both good and bad. When I was a child, my mother used to darn our socks. I still remember the wooden mushroom that she would insinuate into a sock with a hole, the better to expose the latter for her to close up with wool or cotton thread.

This is now as unthinkable a ceremony as touching for the King’s Evil [tuberculosis] would be. Now if we have a hole in a sock we throw it away at once; and if we are short of socks, we go and buy ten pairs for what it takes us two minutes to earn.

I have no real vocation for darning socks; I think I have better things to do with my time (though, truth to tell, I am not entirely sure if this applies to everyone). Attention to and gratitude for socks is not a commonly expressed attitude. And yet I cannot help but think that this habit of throwing things away the moment they become defective leads to an unpleasantly disabused attitude to life. Computers, washing machines, televisions, refrigerators, clothes, out they all go the moment they break down or require repair. I know it is a tribute to our immense productivity that it is far cheaper to obtain a new machine than to repair the old, but in a world where everything is so instantly replaceable, what affection or gratitude develops for anything? What do we notice and appreciate is everything is instantly replaceable?
I suppose that what I would like is an abundance that everyone appreciated and did not take for granted. This would require that everyone was aware that things could be different from how they actually are, an awareness that it is increasingly difficult to achieve. I myself can hardly remember what it was like to live without personal computers and the internet, though I have lived the majority of my life without them. I now take them sufficiently for granted that if, for any reason, I am out of range of the internet, I regard this as something of an outrage.

I still have vestiges of the requisite awareness, however. In my long distant childhood, I had an uncle who was a prisoner-of-war of the Japanese, and I remember how impressed I was when I was told (sotto voce) that he still woke up in the night with nightmares of his captivity. He had gone without food, of course, and suffered beri-beri; and to this day I cannot look at rice on my plate without thinking of him. It helps me to look on each single grain as something not to be despised.

In general, a life of assumed abundance is one of ingratitude; one is not grateful for anything that could be no different from how it is. So perhaps when my mother told me that I should think of the children in Africa who did not have enough to eat, and eat up what was on my plate, she was not so much trying to benefit the children in Africa, as to benefit me: to make me grateful, and not to take for granted what, in fact, would almost certainly always be there, namely an ample sufficiency. Without gratitude, there is no happiness.

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Darius' book montage

The Cross Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel The Main Thing
Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God
Overcoming Sin and Temptation
According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible
Disciplines of a Godly Man
Money, Greed, and God: Why Capitalism Is the Solution and Not the Problem
When Helping Hurts: Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor. . .and Ourselves
The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith
Respectable Sins
The Kite Runner
Life Laid Bare: The Survivors in Rwanda Speak
Machete Season: The Killers in Rwanda Speak
A Generous Orthodoxy: Why I am a missional, evangelical, post/protestant, liberal/conservative, mystical/poetic, biblical, charismatic/contemplative, fundamentalist/calvinist, ... anabaptist/anglican, metho
Show Them No Mercy
The Lord of the Rings
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass
The Truth War: Fighting for Certainty in an Age of Deception
Cool It: The Skeptical Environmentalist's Guide to Global Warming
The Chronicles of Narnia
Les Misérables

Darius Teichroew's favorite books »