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As anyone who's been around churches for awhile will tell you, this is nothing new. Ever since Absalom got tired of sitting with his parents David and Maacah at the front of the Tab and wanted to sit with the cool kids up in the balcony while Grandpa Jesse sat two rows beyond the reach of his hearing, people have naturally tended to flock together according to their age. And nothing is inherently wrong with that inclination. But what happens when the Church begins to intentionally divide according to age groups or put old people "out to pasture"... isn't there a likelihood that a form of ageism will set in where youth is treasured more than age and experience? I've been thinking a lot about that recently because my own church struggles a lot with including the elderly in the life of the church. It has a great focus on bringing together different ethnicities and cultures, yet it seems that the unwritten rule when it comes to age is that once you turn 65, you're expected to be seen and not heard.
This ageism is rampant in our society (the size of homes are ever increasing yet no one seems to able to find room to house Grandpa or Grandma... the family on Gran Torino seems less and less a parody of real life) and, in some ways, the Church isn't far behind. This blogger discusses this issue further.
In our efforts to multiculturalize the church -- which is a great effort and a godly one -- let's not forget the need to multigenerationalize the church. Is your church monogenerational? If not, are your seniors second class citizens in your church? If so, what can you do to fix this?So how can we be intentionally multigenerational?
The kingdom of God turns the tables on business as usual, and this includes church business as usual. The countercultural call of the kingdom requires a revolutionary ageism, where we actually honor our elders above ourselves and our youngers, actually honor those we are most tempted to deem having outlived their usefulness.
**To the credit of the alternative service planners, they did have a worship service a couple months ago where they invited the senior citizens in the church to worship with them.
So a priest in the UK is telling his congregation that if they're struggling financially, they should shoplift. But make sure it's a big chain and not a local small business. Somehow, I don't think the apostle Paul would appreciate what the Western Church has come to.
I am a man divided against myself; I want to be the centre of attention because I am a fallen human being; I want others to know that I am the special one; and as long as the new me and the old me are bound together in a single, somatic unity, I will forever be at war with myself. What I can do, however, is have the decency to be ashamed of my drive to self-promotion and my craving for attention and for flattery and not indulge it as if it were actually a virtue or a true guide to my real merit. I am not humble, so I should not pretend to be so but rather confess it in private, seeking forgiveness and sanctification. And, negatively, I must avoid doing certain things. I must not proudly announce my humility on the internet so that all can gasp in wonder at my self-effacement. I must make sure I never refer to myself as a scholar. I must not tell people how wonderful I am. I must resist the temptation to laugh at my own jokes. I must not applaud my own speeches. I must deny myself the pleasure of posting other people's overblown flattery of me on my own website, let alone writing such about myself. I must never make myself big by clinging to the coat-tails of another. In short, I must never take myself too seriously.Like this writer, I too have noticed on some sites an obvious lack of humility, particularly among "Emergent" bloggers. But when it comes to humility, pointing out the logs in the eyes of others is not the job of Christians, nor is it the point of the above post. As with all other sins, contemplatively looking inward must be the default mode when addressing pride, not finger pointing at the tax collectors in our midst. Pride is the sin that is ever before me, the thorn in my side, as it were. I long for acknowledgment from others, I pine for people's approval, I hope that someone will hear about that time I did something nice for a needy person. I find that at every turn, when I want to selflessly do something good for another, pride is standing nearby, waiting for a chance to sing my own praises. I constantly try to earn grace and approval from others, rather than just accept it undeserved from my Father. As the writer above says, I am NOT humble and should not pretend to be. May we recognize the truth of Romans 7:24-25 and echo John the Baptist's wish that Christ become greater while we become less.
Similar numbers of cystic fibrosis babies are also being murdered in the womb. And while that disease does tend to lead to an early death and other health complications (though medical science has improved the lives of those with CF; in 1959 CF children lived six months, in 2006 their life expectancy was 36 years), it's still a very treatable, manageable disease in many cases. For example, here is a moving story from the British Daily Mail showing the perspectives of a mother and her CF-inflicted daughter and how happy they both are that the mother decided to let the baby live.
The phrase 'quality of life' is bandied around freely, but who's to say what that actually means? Might not people with disabilities of varying kinds enjoy life in a different way from the able-bodied, and also contribute in various ways to society?
He said that fear paralysed individuals, corporations and governments from making the choices needed to affect real and lasting change.In other news, Tony Blair said that it doesn't matter if the science isn't reliable, we still have to act. Could you explain this to me?
"We are afraid because we don't know how we can survive without the comforts of our existing lifestyle. We are afraid that new policies will be unpopular with a national electorate. We are afraid that younger and more vigorous economies will take advantage of us – or we are afraid that older, historically dominant economies will use the excuse of ecological responsibility to deny us our proper and just development."
Yesterday church bells in Denmark and other countries rang 350 times to represent the figure many scientists believe is a safe level of carbon dioxide in the air: 350 parts per million.
THE reason for the difference in approach [to Christianity as compared to minority religions] is an officially-sponsored indifference or hostility to anything which might be considered part of the European and British cultural and religious heritage, combined with a tender regard for any non- European and non-British cultural heritage.From Phillips' column:
This is now so marked a trait that it could almost be called racist. No British minister would go to Brick Lane in East London and say it was horribly Bangladeshi but a British minister had no compunction at all in complaining of an institution that it was “horribly white”.
British intellectuals, as George Orwell once remarked, have long harboured a hatred of their own country and its culture. This attitude has deeply infiltrated the political class and has therefore come to affect legislation. All cultures are equal except ours, which is the worst.
The first thing to notice about this attitude is that it is insincere. Those who adopt it are not genuine admirers of other cultures, for genuinely to admire other cultures it is necessary seriously to study them. To know another culture is not just a matter of slipping down once in a while to a restaurant that serves its cuisine: it is very hard work indeed and the more different that culture is from one’s own the harder the work it is.
So when members of our political class express their adherence to multiculturalism they are not expressing their love of other cultures, they are expressing hatred of their own and it is this which explains the discrepancy in the way a Christian who derides Islam can now expect to be treated by comparison with a Muslim who derides Christianity. The hatred of that section of the political class for their own country’s culture, traditions and past is insincere in another sense also.
By expressing that hatred they imagine themselves to be exhibiting their own moral superiority for all the world and especially the intelligentsia, to see. Their hatred is actually moral exhibitionism. We all know the kind of odious patriot who believes everything in his own country is best merely because it is his own and who therefore despises every thing about all other countries, from their language to their cooking to their way of dress.
Our political class is a mirror image of this kind of person but preens itself on being morally superior to him.
We are fortunate enough to be the inheritors of a tradition as great as (though not necessarily greater than) any that exists in the world. Why should we reject it? I write these words from India, where it is far easier to find genuine and knowledgeable admirers of British culture than it is among our own political class. This surely is the saddest possible commentary on our condition.
In recent times, there has been a string of cases in which it is no exaggeration to say that British Christians have been persecuted for expressing their faith.
In July, Duke Amachree, a Christian who for 18 years had been a Homelessness Prevention Officer for Wandsworth Council, encouraged a client with an incurable medical condition to believe in God.
As a result, Mr Amachree was marched off the premises, suspended and then dismissed from his job. It was a similar case to the Christian nurse who was suspended after offering to pray for a patient’s recovery.
Christians are being removed from adoption panels if they refuse to endorse placing children for adoption with same-sex couples.
Similarly, a Christian counsellor was sacked by the national counselling service Relate because he refused to give sex therapy sessions to gays.
What this amounts to is that for Christians, the freedom to live according to their religious beliefs — one of the most fundamental precepts of a liberal society — is fast becoming impossible. Indeed, merely professing traditional Christian beliefs can cause such offence that it is treated as a crime.
Take, for example, the case of Harry Hammond, an elderly and eccentric evangelical who was prosecuted for a public order offence after parading with a placard denouncing immorality and homosexuality — even though he was assaulted by the hostile crowd he was held to have offended.
Or look at the case of the Vogelenzangs, a hotelier couple from Merseyside, who last week were cleared of a ‘religiously aggravated’ public order offence after being prosecuted for insulting a Muslim guest.
While their behaviour may have been offensive and unwarranted, it is nevertheless a source of wonderment that for the police, ‘hate crime’ doesn’t seem to occur whenever Christianity is pilloried, mocked and insulted — as happens routinely — but only when a minority faith is in the frame.
The curious fact is that Labour’s hostility to faith is highly selective. It does everything it can to protect and support minority creeds while appearing to do everything it can to attack Christianity.
The root of this double standard is the unpleasant prejudice that minority faiths hail from cultures where people are less well-educated and so cannot be blamed for their beliefs. This, of course, is a deeply racist attitude, and is commonly found on the Left.
[A]mong the intelligentsia, the animosity to religion runs even deeper than the upside-down value system of the multicultural agenda. It springs from the fixed view that reason and religion are in diametrically opposite camps.
Anyone who prays to God must therefore be anti-reason, anti- science and antifreedom - in other words, an objectionable, obscurantist nutcase.
But this is the very opposite of the truth. Rationality is actually underpinned by Judeo-Christian beliefs.
Without the Biblical narrative, which gave the world the revolutionary idea of an orderly universe that could therefore be investigated by the use of reason, science would never have developed in the first place.
And it was the Judeo-Christian belief that all individuals are made equal in the image of God that gave rise to human rights and democracy.
Of course, terrible things have also been done in the name of religion. And equally, people without religious faith can believe in freedom and equality, and lead moral lives.
But that’s because they draw upon a culture that rests on religious foundations. Strip away those foundations and what’s left would be a brutalised and chaotic society.
So let's talk about how these books train young women to respond to abusive relationships in all the wrong ways. In this chapter, Bella faces up to what she might have to do if Edward Cullen is in fact a vampire.
"[One option would be to] tell him to leave me alone -- and mean it this time. I was gripped in a sudden agony of despair as I considered that alternative. My mind rejected the pain, quickly skipping on to the next option" (p. 139).
Any pain is preferable to the pain of having the destructive male gone. Got that? You can think up a lie to tell the nurses at the ER when you go down there to have that black eye looked at. There has to be another option to quickly skip on to, right?
[L]et me put a few background observations on the table. In an earlier post, I described this as "cartoon porn for the emotions." Let me explain what I mean by that. Lust is not a sin that afflicts one half of the human race, leaving the feminine half entirely unaffected. Because men are male and women female, because men are convex and women concave, their desires are correspondingly fitted to their natures. Men want what they want, and women want to be wanted that way. Men desire and women desire to be desired. This is a matter of emphasis, obviously. I am not saying that men don't have a need to be desired, or that women don't desire. These desires are both present in both sexes, and they are both weighted differently. And that weight is different enough to drive men and women into very different forms of personal destruction. Men destroy women very differently than women destroy men. But they both do it, and the recipients of these destructive powers are the hormones with feet that are currently frisking around them.
Now Bella is a perfect screen onto which women can project these sorts of desires. She is nondescript; she is klutzy. She is no great beauty; she is ordinary in the extreme. Now take someone like that, someone who does not appear ever to have been desired in any significant way, and put her in a position where she is all of a sudden desired in every significant way. If a woman can be desired in a particular way, Bella is desired in that way. She is desired that way with no practice in handling it, blam, right out of the blue. She is now desired for sex, she is desired for her blood, she is desired as an object to protect, she is desired as an object to destroy, she is desired for her smell, she is desired by multiple predators and buffoons, and on and on it goes. And right at the center of this maelstrom of cosmic lust is a plain Jane high school girl. Now, three guesses why this whole thing is so popular with needy women.
Men have to be told, as Proverbs says over and over, that to desire a particular kind of woman is to desire destruction. Women have to be secured against the flip side of this same kind of destructive pattern. To desire to be desired by a certain kind of man is to desire destruction. As wisdom says, all who hate her love death (Prov. 8:36).
So gather round, girls, (says Meyer) and let me teach you some stinking lies. Why buy the book? If a man treats you terribly, it is all because he loves you. If a man confesses he might kill you, you should just stay with him forever and a day. If a man abandons you without explanation, it is because he loves you so much. If your lover needs to be changed, it must be possible for you to change him. And anyways, after that doesn't work out, it would be better to be swallowed up by his problems than to be without him. Anything but going without him.
I will not boast in anything,
No gifts, no power, no wisdom;
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.
Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom.
"Here is your political litmus test. Regardless of real amounts, would you rather have the whole population have the same basic income (give or take 5 percent), or would you want seventy-five percent of the people to have twice that amount, and twenty-five percent to have ten times that amount? Which is your ideal?This is right on. I've found that when I've debated capitalism with a free market hater, I can usually dig out the root of envy in his political worldview after only a few minutes. It doesn't take long before "I had medical bills that I couldn't possibly cover, so why shouldn't those who are better off help me out?" slips into their argument or something along those lines (though not always from their own personal experience). The basis of socialism (or anti-capitalism) is covetousness.
If the former, then whether or not you are, your worldview is riddled with envy -- and repentance of some sort is in order. If the latter, it is also important to remember that this discrepancy of income is not a problem to be solved, but is rather a description of the solution to the equally distributed miseries created by the levelers and haters who insist on the first option.
Reagan once said that socialism would only work in two places -- in Heaven, where they don't need it, and Hell, where they already have it." - Doug Wilson
Few sins have caused more human suffering than envy. It fomented the rise of communism in Russia, it made the Holocaust possible, and enabled the Hutus to wipe out the Tutsis in Rwanda. All because people broke the tenth commandment.
In no particular order...
- Star Trek - Solid restart for the classic space series. This was a very likeable, enjoyable film. The new actors accurately captured the old characters. I can't wait for the upcoming sequels.
- State of Play - A well-done, smart thriller which hides its cards better than most thrillers these days while avoiding cliche plotlines. Plus, it has Jason Bateman, who is awesome even in small roles.
- Duplicity - Another smart thriller, the team of Julia Roberts and Clive Owen as con artists keeps you guessing, but the payoff is worth the wait if you can keep track of the plot, which at times is a bit hard to follow.
- Gran Torino - Quite possibly the best movie I saw this year. See here for my review. It's difficult to praise this movie too much.
- Valkyrie - In this historical WWII film, Tom Cruise plays Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, a leader in the Nazi Party who attempts the nearly successful assassination bombing of Hitler. I'm a sucker for a well-done, historical movie, and this one didn't disappoint.
- Defiance - While we're on the subject of historical WWII films, check out this little gem. Starring Daniel Craig, it tells the riveting story of a group of Jews that survived for a time in a Polish forest. It's not as historically accurate as Valkyrie, but it does get the main points right. Worth a rental.
- New in Town - I figured I would put one chick flick-ish movie on here, and since few such films are worth much more than target practice, it didn't take long to decide on the one to make this list. New in Town takes place in Minnesota, starring Renee Zellweger and Harry Connick Jr. It's a very funny film ("Whatever you do to my daughter I will do to you") that at first pokes a little fun at Minnesotans and their quirks (real or Hollywood imaginary) but in the end is respectful to those Scandinavian Midwesterners and just plain ol' clean fun.
- Taking Chance - Fantastic movie that depicts a Marine (played well by Kevin Bacon) escorting the body of a dead Marine home to his family. Emotional, apolitical, and very heart-warming, this film is one of the few great war-related movies from the past decade.
- Seven Pounds - A tear jerker, this drama starring Will Smith is a great movie, even though Christians have to reject the apparent moral of the story.
- Slumdog Millionaire - The hype may be a bit much, but it is quite good.
- Changeling - This film is in the odd position of being one of the best movies I've seen in the past couple years while also being one that I am least likely to ever watch again. The subject material (a kidnapping of a child) is not one easy to stomach, particularly as a parent, and the intensity to this Clint Eastwood-directed movie left me feeling emotionally and psychologically drained. It is REALLY good, but be prepared.
- The Boy in the Striped Pajamas - Another difficult-to-watch movie, the ending can be seen coming from a mile away, but it still catches your breath all the same. A solid Nazi concentration camp piece.
- The Counterfeiters - Speaking of the Nazi concentration camp genre, this little relatively unknown foreign flick won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language film last year. It tells the very interesting story of the Jews who were enlisted by the Nazis to counterfeit the British pound and the American dollar.
- Paul Blart: Mall Cop - Okay, I'm sure someone reading this thinks I've moved on to a worst movies list, but this comedy was actually pretty good. In an era that seems to only produce vile stupidity when it comes to comedy, this clean and funny film is worth a Redbox dollar rental.
- District 9 - This unique sci-fi film is well-done and well-worth checking out on Netflix. Be aware that it is quite gory in spots.
- (500) Days of Summer - This charming and original romantic comedy is the best of its genre that I've seen since Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or 10 Things I Hate About You. Like those other two, it's really funny, relatively clean, and quirky in all the right spots.
- A Serious Man - The Coen brothers' most recent work, this modern retelling of the Book of Job (with some modifications to the plot) is brilliantly funny in spots (as most Coen movies are) while moving and thoughtful in others. Side note: it was filmed here in Minnesota (the Coens grew up here) and the school scenes were actually shot just a couple miles north of my house.
- Tell No One - This French film is a very good thriller that begins to make more sense near the end. Like several on this list, not one you will likely find at a Redbox.
- Appaloosa - Great Western with Ed Harris and Viggo Mortensen.
- The Proposition - This film is actually a couple years old, but I just saw it for the first time last night and it's really good. An Aussie Western, it follows the story of three outlaw brothers and the lawman (and his wife) sworn to take them down.
Well, I probably missed a couple other good ones, but that should about cover the movies I found worth my time and/or money in the past year. If you have any others to add or have thoughts regarding the ones on this list, add them in the comment section below.
Dalrymple discussed this week in the Salisbury Review the steady decline of British life into a Soviet-like state. It’s pretty sad to see how far they’ve fallen. Lessons for us Americans to learn, no doubt.
It is surprising how often victory turns out not to bring with it the advantages expected and hoped for, or to have an ambiguous and even harmful effect upon the victors. Who would have thought, for example, that within a few years of the conclusion of the Cold War Britain would have undergone so much creeping Sovietisation? No doubt a Soviet military conquest would have brought about a swifter and much more complete Sovietisation than did the crumbling of the Soviet Union; but there is no doubt that in the realm of practical reason the Soviet Union won the Cold War hands down, at least in Britain.
Who would have guessed that, within fewer than twenty years, the British would be more comprehensively surveyed as they went about their daily business than the poor Soviets ever were? That, once they stepped outside the confines of their house, almost all that they did would be photographically recorded? Attending murder trials as I do from time to time as an expert witness, I am astonished by how many of the movements of the accused (and of other witnesses) are recorded on video cameras, for production if necessary at some time in the future. We now live our public lives entirely on camera; every person in the country has his Boswell which is the surveillance camera.
Who would have thought, at the downfall of the Berlin Wall, that a British government would seriously consider recording all telephone calls and monitoring the use of the Internet by all citizens? Who would have thought that it would even dare propose that a centralised dossier on each and every child in the country should be kept? Who would have thought that it would likewise propose an identity card system that enabled the recording of untold information about each and every person, and what is more propose to charge the citizen for the privilege of being thus spied upon? Who would have thought it would have run advertising campaigns to ask citizens to denounce one another if they thought they were cheating on social security, thus introducing into Britain what might be called the Pavlik Morozov conception of truth-telling?
Doug Wilson has some very good thoughts on keeping Christ in one’s political activism.
I would therefore offer three bits of advice, encouragement and counsel to those Christians who are in the trenches of political activism.
First, be avowedly and openly Christian and evangelical. This falls under the heading of "bring the maps this time." Don't fight for "traditional values" or for the sentiments of your "faith community." Don't be a lobbyist for any kind of vanilla bleh. Go through a process that the secularists will attempt to describe as "radicalization." Connect everything to the Lord Jesus Christ. The secularists will see this as bloodthirsty fanaticism, and the only way to get them to shut up on that point would be to change your name to Abdullah and start shooting actual people. Then they would pipe right down and would stop rushing to judgment. But since you can't do that, just settle down and wait for the slanders.
Second, if it is pro-life activism or opposition to the ongoing normalization of sexual perversions, then keep on keeping on. Do this because it is the right testimony to offer a lost and decaying world. God has called you to be faithful, which may or may not be successful. As these things go, earthly success will only come if God grants a great reformation to the church, such that you get reinforcements. But whether He does that in our era or not, it is still the right thing to do. Faithfulness looks successful sometimes (Heb. 11: 33-34) and sometimes the first appearances don't make it look that way (Heb. 11:34-38). But the important thing is to be approved by God. He is the one who issues the only well done that ultimately matters (Matt. 25: 21, 23).
Third, if it is Christian activism outside those sorts of big E on the eye chart issues, then we need to study and learn. There are many areas where well-meaning Christians have gotten involved in politics in ways that are inconsistent with a Christian world and life view. Here are some areas where (in my view) we have almost as much to learn as the secularists do. We are still hunters and gatherers on these grasslands, and so we have no business telling anybody else how to build a city. We don't know. To be specific, I believe that evangelical Christians have a lot of growing up to do when it comes to the issues of economics (free grace means free markets), the difference between defensive and aggressive war (the latter of which is a great engine of avarice), the distinction between sins and crimes, and the illegitimacy of pillaging taxpayers to fund our versions of compassion. Many Christian activists sold their souls during the Bush years, and now that the wickedness of Obama is upon us, they are having trouble getting them back again. And it is hard to fight with any vigor when your soul is gone.
"Not the labors of my hands can fulfill your law's commands; could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow, all for sin could not atone; you must save, and you alone."What praise song or hymn is this from? No Google cheating...