- ► 2011 (91)
- Self-Respect vs. Self-Esteem
- A Lunch Worth Having
- The Cartel
- Wilson on the Lust for Relevancy
- Passion Isn't Enough
- Just Read
- Holy Week
- No Mere Lip Service
- Final Four Time!
- An Inconvenient Wife
- On to the Elite Eight
- 10 Steps to Biblical Resistance
- Worth Reading a Second Time
- When Greed and Resentment Run the Law
- False Religion Leads to False Dichotomies
- The Reason for Evil
- Our Holy God
- They Speak, Will Anyone Listen?
- Evil Explained
- Politics is No Savior
- Not Fit to be Masters
- The Law of Unintended Consequences
- A Curious Scale of Values
- Round Two Complete
- The Day America Died
- Round One Complete
- When Killing Was Murder
- Victorianism by Another Name
- The Field is Set
- It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
- Speaking More Truth to Power
- True Social Justice
- Not Long Now...
- Foreign Aid: A False Panacea
- Just Enough Truth
- Christianity Leads to Conservatism
- It's Dancin' Time!
- Recognizing Orwellian Doublespeak
- "Movie Title"
- The Gospel as Story
- Is Happiness a Reaction or a Choice?
- Waking Prince Rilian
- Happy Birthday, Chuck
- Government and Corporations Make Strange Bedfellow...
- Healthy Patriotism vs. Sinful Exceptionalism
- It's Coming!
- Dalrymple on Parenting
- This is Merely the Introduction
- Reading Well
- Global Warming Smackdown
- Today's Piltdown Man
- Expanding Abortion via Health Care
- Andrew Peterson
- Life: One Frame at a Time
- Keep the Gospel Central
- The Thin Line Between Humor and Cruelty
- The Black Genocide
- Intolerant Tolerance
- Republicans are Monsters!
- Ghost Church
- Mmm, Casserole!
- A Blessing and a Curse
- ▼ Mar 2010 (65)
- ► 2009 (235)
- ► 2008 (116)
When people speak of their low self-esteem, they imply two things: first, that it is a physiological fact, rather like low hemoglobin, and second, that they have a right to more of it. What they seek, if you like, is a transfusion of self-esteem, given (curiously enough) by others; and once they have it, the quality of their lives will improve as the night succeeds the day. For the record, I never had a patient who complained of having too much self-esteem, and who therefore asked for a reduction. Self-esteem, it appears, is like money or health: you can't have too much of it.
The problem with low self-esteem is not self-dislike, as is often claimed, but self-absorption. However, it does not follow from this that high self-esteem is not a genuine problem. One has only to go into a prison, or at least a prison of the kind in which I used to work, to see the most revoltingly high self-esteem among a group of people (the young thugs) who had brought nothing but misery to those around them, largely because they conceived of themselves as so important that they could do no wrong. For them, their whim was law, which was precisely as it should be considering who they were in their own estimate. It need hardly be said that this degree of self-esteem is certainly not confined to young thugs. Most of us probably suffer from it episodically, as any waiter in any restaurant would be able to tell us.
In short, self-esteem is but a division of self-importance, which is seldom an attractive quality. That person is best who never thinks of his own importance: to think about it, even, is to be lost to morality.
Self-respect is another quality entirely. Where self-esteem is entirely egotistical, requiring that the world should pay court to oneself whatever oneself happens to be like or do, and demands nothing of the person who wants it, self-respect is a social virtue, a discipline, that requires an awareness of and sensitivity to the feelings of others. It requires an ability and willingness to put oneself in someone else's place; it requires dignity and fortitude, and not always taking the line of least resistance.
Self-respect requires fortitude, one of the cardinal virtues; self-esteem encourages emotional incontinence that, while not actually itself a cardinal sin, is certainly a vice, and a very unattractive one. Self-respect and self-esteem are as different as depth and shallowness.
There are (at least) five confusions here.
First, he wants to say that if we believe that the Lord is the Giver and Creator of all life, and we do so in a way that is not approved by our secularist betters, then that means we have embraced death. To simply accept "what God says" is actually cultic. There is something counterintuitive in there somewhere.
Second, Waltke confounds "what the data requires" with "what secularists stubbornly say that the data requires." All truth is indeed God's truth, but it does not follow from this that all lies are God's truth. Suppose the data don't constitute overwhelming evidence for evolution? Suppose Christians surrender on Darwin unnecessarily? What are we embracing then?
Third, as mentioned above, he says that refusal to believe in evolution is to embrace spiritual death. But the evolutionary account of our world points to a record of death. What is the fossil record but a massive column of dead bodies? If God created by evolutionary means, then nature red in tooth and claw is "very good," and God doesn't have the problem with death that we thought He did. So maybe it might be a good thing to embrace spiritual death. Or did I miss something?
Fourth, there is a difference between "staying in the discussion" with unbelievers and sitting down and believing what you are told by unbelievers to believe. Paul was in a real dialogue with the philosophers on Mars Hill, and it did not consist of him getting into a high chair and having them cut his meat for him.
Fifth, this displays, as few other things could, the utter irrelevance of the lust for relevance.
But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind... (Jeremiah 11:20)I was reading Jeremiah this morning and came across the above text. Repeatedly throughout Scripture, God reminds us that He's not about having a bunch of empty-headed mystics who have passion for Him and are sensitive to His Spirit but are doctrinally foolish, just as He isn't looking for stoic followers who have no love for Him or His Word. He doesn't just test the heart to see if His people have passion, He also checks if they understand the Truth. In John 4:21-24, Jesus told the woman at the well that while she indeed worshiped God, she still worshiped wrongly because she didn't know God or the truth about Him. And God applies this standard to all of life, not just our worship of Him, since everything we do in life is ultimately either godly worship or idolatry. That's probably what Paul was getting at in 1 Corinth. 3:14-15: passion will only get you so far. If what one does and thinks is not built on Christ, it will warrant no reward in the next life. That doesn't mean that one loses their salvation over being a foolish, double-minded Christian, but it does mean that he will get into heaven by the skin of his teeth. God is merciful to that which is done in ignorance (Romans 14:5) but that doesn't mean we shouldn't correct that ignorance when we see it, either in others or ourselves. How much more fruitful can that person's life be if they worship God in truth as well as Spirit?
Read - Start with the obvious: you need to read. If you want to be a good painter, you've got to paint; if you want to be a good runner, you've got to run. So before anything else, you need to commit to the discipline. Unless reading is a genuine passion, you may need to be very deliberate about setting aside time to do it. You may need to force yourself into it. Set yourself some reasonable targets ("I'm going to read three books this year" or "I'm going to finish this book before the end of the month") and work towards it. Set aside time every day or every week and make sure you pick up the book during those times. Start out by reading a book that deals with a subject of particular interest to you.
Read Widely - I'm convinced that one reason people do not read more is that they do not vary their reading enough. Any subject, no matter how much you are interested in it, can begin to feel dry if you focus all of your attention upon it. So be sure to read widely. Read fiction and non-fiction, theology and biography, current affairs and history.
Read Deliberately - Similar to reading widely, ensure that you read deliberately. Choose your books carefully. If you neglect to do this, you may find that you overlook a particular category for months or even years at a time.
Read Heavy Books - It can be intimidating to stare at some of those massive volumes or series of volumes sitting on your bookshelf, but be sure to make time to read some of those serious works. A person can only grow so much while living on a diet of easy-reading Christian Living books or Amish romance novels.
Read Light Books - While dense books should be a serious reader's main diet, there is nothing wrong with pausing to enjoy the occasional novel or light read. After reading two or three good books, allow yourself to read a Clancy or Grisham or Peretti or something else that never changed anyone's life.
Read New Books - Keep an eye on what is new and popular and consider reading what other people in your church or neighborhood are reading. If The Shack is selling millions of copies, consider reading it so you know what everyone else is reading and so you can attempt to discern why people are reading it.
Read Old Books - Do not read only new books. I cannot say this any better than C.S. Lewis: "It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. Every age has its own outlook. It is specially good at seeing certain truths and specially liable to make certain mistakes. We all, therefore, need the books that will correct the characteristic mistakes of our own period. And that means the old books."
Read What Your Heroes Read - We all have our heroes--men or women we want to be like. Most heroes (who are worth emulating) have been shaped by the books they have read.
"Do Not Casually Enter This Garden" - This is something I wrote a year ago which spoke to me again this Easter week.
A Crucifixion Narrative - A powerful essay I came across last Easter which sheds a new light on Jesus' final moments of life.
The Betrayal of the Lamb - Yesterday's Palm Sunday sermon at my church.
A recovery of the old sense of sin is essential to Christianity. Christ takes it for granted that men are bad. Until we really feel this assumption of His to be true, though we are part of the world He came to save, we are not part of the audience to whom His words are addressed.
- C.S. Lewis
- DJ gets second if Duke beats West Virginia but then loses in the championship game.
- AJ Kings takes second if West Virginia beats Duke.
- Aaron Vovk finishes an improbable comeback and grabs second place if Duke wins it all.
But don't watch it with just a "look at what those evil, backward Muslims do to each other" mindset. Consider that while we may not stone each other and our culture may not put adultery so high on the moral weakness list that we execute because of it (instead, it's probably now just above not recycling), we still attack and accuse people with our thoughts and have a new set of social dos and don'ts to abide by. We don't gather our victims in the town square, but we certainly speak evil of them in the shadows and when the threads of civilization get strained are perfectly capable of monstrous behavior. Our dead don't lie in the street to be eaten by dogs; they just get dumped in the garbage by so-called doctors and abandoned by self-absorbed "parents." Our victims would count themselves lucky to live to the age of Soraya M. And somehow we dare consider ourselves the enlightened ones.
- D.J. Williams wins... if West Virginia makes it to the championship game or loses to Baylor in the Final Four.
- Bryan McWhite takes home first prize... if Kentucky wins it all and Baylor beats Duke OR if Baylor beats Duke and Kentucky as long as Kansas State does not make the championship game.
- Marshall Posey is the grand kahuna... if Duke beats West Virginia in the Final Four.
- Mike Brown wins... if Kentucky beats Duke in the Final Four but does not win the championship game as long as Kansas State does not make the title game.
- AJ King wins... if Kentucky beats Duke in the Final Four and also wins the title game as long as Kansas State does not progress beyond the the Final Four.
- Holly Nimchuk wins... if Kansas State beats Butler and Duke beats Kentucky in the Final Four but loses the championship game**.
- Josiah Bruder wins... if Kentucky beats Duke and then beats Kansas State in the championship game OR if Baylor and Kansas State play for the title and Kentucky beats West Virginia.
- Aaron Vovk wins... if Duke wins it all and Kentucky beats West Virginia**.
If you haven't gotten me the entrance fee yet, try to do so soon.
1. Active resistance to tyranny, and to this tyranny in particular, is not just permissible for Christians. It is mandatory.
3. The theological basis for this resistance is that Jesus is Lord, and Caesar is not. Jesus is our Savior, and one of the meanings of Savior is Healer. We already have a messianic health care program, thanks. Not only do we not need two of them, but as Christians we are not permitted to have two of them.
4. The great danger in this developing resistance movement is not that it will be unsuccessful. The danger is that it will be successful, and that the credit for it will go to the "conservative, good sense of the American people" instead of to Jesus Christ.
10. Pray that God would raise of an army of men who will preach the ancient gospel in power and simplicity. Apart from that, all the activity referred to in this list will be born as nothing, grow up to a mature nothing, and its gray hairs shall descend to the grave of nothing.
He said the following:
Too often, much of late, the last couple three years the mal-distribution of income in America is gone up way too much, the wealthy are getting way, way too wealthy, and the middle income class is left behind. Wages have not kept up with increased income of the highest income in America. This legislation will have the effect of addressing that mal-distribution of income in America.See for yourself below... it's disturbing to see greed, entitlement, covetousness, and resentment be so baldly stated as if it were a good thing. We need to repent of this disease of class warfare, and now! Throw out politicians who encourage it, ignore the pundits who promote it (on either side), and decry it when your friends dare speak it. It's sin, and nothing more. Jesus came to reconcile ALL peoples... racially, economically, culturally, you name it. He didn't come that we might resent those who have more than us.
In related news, Fidel Castro thinks Obamacare is grand.
I prefer love over lies, peace over war, the taste of butterscotch over the taste of spinach, Christ over Baal, the straight over the crooked, the Navy over the Army, the Greeks over the Persians, the hills over the plains, two weeks of sunshine over two weeks of gray fog, feminine women over effeminate men, and I put all those things in one sentence for a reason. John Stott once wrote that fuzzy thinking was one of the sins of our age, and he was right. And Dorothy Sayers argued in her great essay on the lost tools of learning that we must learn how to make careful distinctions.
I prefer peace over war, and I am not glad that others prefer war over peace. But if the cause were just and I had to go to war, I would prefer to be in the Navy than in the Army -- and I am very glad that others prefer the Army over the Navy. This means that these are different kinds of preferences. I prefer Christ over Baal, and those who prefer it the other way will perish eternally. That preference is therefore not six of one and half dozen of the other, as it is with the butterscotch and the spinach.
The universe that God made is layered, textured. The universe that idolaters want to live in is flat, and every preference is treated like every other preference, and it is all just your opinion.
And this is why we should react very differently to different kinds of appeals within the church. One says to throw away the basic distinctions you learned at your mother's knee, and move on up into the higher realms of a new discipleship. This kind of sanctification is as hollow as a jug. Feed the poor instead of fighting for the unborn. Help abused women instead of opposing homosexual marriage. Love the downtrodden instead of fighting over the infallibility of Scripture. Where did that "instead" come from? This is the logical failure that causes the emergent church to be demerging into fuller forms of disobedience.
But the other way says that what we have already attained is good, sound, and holy, and we should add to it "this." This is maturation, and growth in true godliness. When we repent, let us repent of sins that God calls sins, and when we grow let us grow in His goodness. It is the difference between hearing a preacher of righteousness and, in the former case, trying to listen to a scold.
There were the outbreaks of people singing hymns of praise in the streets... people with no earthly possessions giving praise to God. Then, there was the President of Haiti who canceled the Mardi Gras celebrations and declared three days of fasting and prayer instead. Upwards of a million people showed up, and some accounts say that more than 40,000 people committed their lives to Christ during that event–more than 40,000 people who are finding refuge and strength in God for perhaps the first time in their lives.Can anyone really deny that one likely reason for the earthquake was the repentance and salvation of thousands? If it were not for that natural disaster, thousands of people would have perished in hell, which is far worse than perishing here. God will gather His people, one way or another. It may just take a Job or Jonah moment to do it. Maybe Pat Robertson deserves a semi-apology (though he could have still phrased what he said much better).
God has called every Christian to a holy life. There are no exceptions to this call. This call to a holy life is based on the fact that God himself is holy. Holiness is nothing less than conformity to the character of God.
Holiness in Scripture describes both the majesty of God and the purity and moral perfection of his nature. Holiness is one of his attributes—an essential part of the nature of God. His holiness is as necessary as his existence—as necessary, for example, as his wisdom or omniscience. Just as he cannot but know what is right, so he cannot but do what is right.
The absolute holiness of God should be of great comfort and assurance to us. If God is perfectly holy, we can be confident that his actions toward us are always perfect and just. We're often tempted to question God's actions and complain that he is unfair in his treatment of us. This is the devil's lie, the same thing he essentially told Eve: "God is being unfair to you" (Genesis 3:4-5). But it is impossible in the very nature of God that he should ever be unfair. Because he is holy, all his actions are holy.
We must accept by faith the fact that God is holy, even when trying circumstances make it appear otherwise. To complain against God is in effect to deny his holiness and to say he is not fair. As Stephen Charnock said, "It is less injury to him to deny his being, than to deny the purity of it; the one makes him no God, the other a deformed, unlovely, and a detestable God . . . he that saith God is not holy speaks much worse than he that saith there is no God at all." (Excerpt taken from Jerry Bridges' The Pursuit of Holiness)
"Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under."
-- H. L. Mencken
"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves in the course of time a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it."
-- French economist, statesman and author Frederic Bastiat
"Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."
"I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity. [That] would be contrary to the letter and spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded."
-- President Franklin Pierce
"The issue today is the same as it has been throughout all history, whether man shall be allowed to govern himself or be ruled by a small elite."
-- Thomas Jefferson
"We still find the greedy hand of government thrusting itself into every corner and crevice of industry, and grasping at the spoil of the multitude. Invention is continually exercised to furnish new pretenses for revenue and taxation. It watches prosperity as its prey and permits none to escape without a tribute."
-- Thomas Paine
"Those who would give up essential Liberty to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
-- Ben Franklin
"If a nation values anything more than freedom, it will lose its freedom; and the irony of it is that, if it is comfort or money it values more, it will lose that too."
-- William Somerset Maughan
"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground."
-- Thomas Jefferson
"A wise and frugal government ... shall restrain men from injuring one another, shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
-- Thomas Jefferson
"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." [emphasis mine]
-- Thomas Paine
"When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."
-- Benjamin Franklin
Evil exists so that He might be demeaned and insulted, so that the depth of His love and sacrifice could be expressed as much as is possible in the small frame of history.As Dinesh D'Souza says, the problem of evil is a much bigger one for atheists than Christians. Atheists have to explain how natural evolution could produce humans who waste time and energy on torturing other people instead of killing them outright. Such inefficiency is highly problematic from a "survival of the fittest" view. It makes no sense that humanity is the one species that seems capable of intentional evil. Sure, all animals are capable of killing and mistreating other animals, but they only do so out of their need to survive.
- N.D. Wilson in Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl
I find great comfort in the Christian explanation for evil, which N.D. Wilson summarized so beautifully above. It gives even something as terrible as pure evil a meaning, and an ultimate conclusion. It's not something we need to flinch at and explain away. That's probably part of the reason why I enjoy (if that quite is the word) reading and learning about the terrors in world history (like the Gulag and Rwandan genocide) as well as occasionally favor films with dark themes; I prefer to see the question of evil wrestled with rather than ignored. And it's something I want my kids to wrestle with as well, which is why I'm not in favor of shying away from dark realities when I read to my five-year-old daughter. As Russell Moore says, "kids know—they instinctively know—that they’re living in a universe in which something’s gone awry. It’s not our job—as parents, or as Sunday school teachers—to disengage that. It’s our job to come in an to provide an answer to that. Yeah, you’re living in an enchanted world. Yeah, you’re living in a haunted world. You’re living in a world haunted by demonic powers. That’s exactly right—what you deeply fear is indeed the case… Your worrying about the monster under the bed isn’t unreasonable; there’s a monster under the fabric of the cosmos. Instead, we give them a story that provides the only comfort that really is lasting comfort; it’s a comfort that the enemies have been defeated."
If you're interested in a thorough fleshing out of the reason for evil, John Piper's written some good stuff on the topic, particularly this. And N.T. Wright's Evil and the Justice of God has some good things to say (though not without some problem areas). I'd also recommend an excellent recent sermon from my own church. All of these are great resources for dealing with the question: "how can God be good and allow evil to exist?"
And NO, this was not some veiled, subtle attempt at explaining Obama. :)
Some might believe that it is premature to pronounce Obamacare a failure, since the president is only going to be signing it today. Why, some might wonder, shouldn't we give it a chance? There is no need to give it a chance -- it has already failed in seven significant ways.
First, the Bible says not to steal. ... In order to defend Obamacare, you have to be in favor of raw extortion at raw levels. This is a moral failure, and the difficulty that many professed Christians have in seeing it as a moral failure represents an even deeper level of moral failure.
Then there is the simple math. You cannot add millions of beneficiaries, accept pre-existing conditions, along with other forms of magic, and then reduce the costs. This is a failure in basic arithmetic, and since the people telling us all this are not that stupid, we could chalk this up as yet another sampling of the moral failure. But let us cut some slack and call it a failure in telling bigger numbers and smaller numbers apart.
Third, the passage of this bill represents a significant political failure. ... So we failed to examine our candidates, and our candidates, upon assuming office, failed to listen. This is a major breakdown; it represents an enormous political failure.
Fourth, at the macro-level, this means national bankruptcy. ... If all of Congress cannot tell the difference between 25 trillion and 50 trillion, this means that at a certain point, default becomes inevitable. This means economic failure.
The fifth way this represents failure is a bit different from the others.
Repeal of the bill is actually a possibility, and if that happens the whole thing will have been a major miscalculation on the part of the progressives, who were guilty of impatient over-reaching -- grabbing what lapdog Republicans would have helped them obtain more slowly. But now the lines are drawn pretty starkly. This represents a tactical failure, and is the only failure in this list that I like.
Sixth, oh, yeah, this was supposed to be a health care bill. A finite resource like medical care is like pie dough -- the farther you spread it, the thinner it gets. In a free market, an increased demand will lead to an increase in supply. In the world we are proposing to enter, we have attempted to sever supply from demand. It will therefore be easier for ankle surgery panels (and death panels) to just say no than to pressure Congress to raise taxes yet again. The quality of care for most will go down, and the expenses will go up. We will be paying a lot more for a lot less, which means that this constitutes a first-class medical failure.
And last, the fact that I have written a goodish bit on this health care business does not represent an abandonment of first principles. Politics is no savior -- and if politics were our savior, we now see what a tawdry, dishonest, skulking, mendacious savior it is. It is a lifeguard who cannot swim. It is a contagious and disease-ridden surgeon. It is an accountant who can't count. It is a carpenter who doesn't believe in nails.
But for those who worship man, this is the way it has to be. The passage of this bill is therefore a religious failure; it is worship failure.
The only real alternative for us is to worship Jesus Christ, who is the only true Savior. Our response to all this must not be limited to a truncated civic activity -- letters, calls, signing, voting, that kind of thing. All lawful and appropriate, of course, but utterly inadequate in themselves to the need of the hour.
Our response to this must occur on a seven-day cycle -- every Lord's Day, we and our families need to assemble before the Lord and worship Him, cry out to Him, sing praise to Him, and feed on His Word while submitting ourselves to that Word. And why? "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us" (Is. 33:22).
A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and good that everyone deserved a share in the government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they're not true... I find that they're not true without looking further than myself. I don't deserve a share in governing a hen-roost, much less a nation. ... The real reason for democracy is... mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows. Aristotle said that some people were only fit to be slaves. I do not contradict him. But I reject slavery, because I see no men fit to be masters.
- C.S. Lewis
The bill... allows people to stay on their parents' health plan up to age 26.Currently, most people become ineligible for their parents' plan at age 19 or after college. So this bill effectively adds at least 4 years to their eligibility. It seems to me that it doesn't take a lot of foresight to anticipate some unintended yet harmful consequences from that clause. For one, a further pushing back of the age of maturity and infantilization of the 20-something age group. The government's laws don't operate in a vacuum. Laws seem to have an interesting power of suggestion. When Britain made suicide legal fifty or so years ago, suicides skyrocketed. If our government enables (or worse yet, encourages) kids to put off adulthood and instead be lazy and rely on Dad for their keep, the knowledge of man's total depravity and sinful inclinations tell us that a good number of them will take the feds up on their offer. Mark my words, if this bill is allowed to stand, in forty years scientists will be doing studies on why young people aren't leaving home until nearly 30 years old... and their data will see a spike in the early teens of the 21st century.
I sense a rebellion growing... a groundswell of outrage that will not soon be quenched. Channeling Pandora, Obama has opened a box that cannot be closed.
There is a wonderful passage in Martin Chuzzlewit in which Pecksniff introduces his two daughters to a third party.
“Charity and Mercy,” he says. “Not unholy names, I think?”
If he were living today, now that we have made so much progress, he would say:
“Equality and Diversity. Not unholy names, I think?”
Considering how many other renowned scientists have likewise renounced global warming as a farce, it amazes me that anyone can honestly still take it seriously. Even if you ignore the idolatry involved, you still have to deal with the overwhelming data against AGW. It boggles the mind.
I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I traveled much, I observed in different countries that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves and became richer.
- Ben Franklin
The New York Times on March 10 quoted a United Nations report to the effect that aid given to Somalia was not reaching the people most in need of it, that is to say the malnourished and the starving.
I would not be telling you the truth if I said that, when I read the news, you could have knocked me down with a feather. Can there be anyone left in the world who thinks that aid will go only, or even mainly, to the people most in need of it? By comparison with such a belief, faith in Father Christmas is a model of rational expectation. At least the presents arrive, even if Father Christmas doesn’t.
In most African countries, it is not the enterprise of the local people that had led to the extraction of mineral wealth, but rather that of foreigners, exploitative as they may often have been. Even though local people have supplied the manual labour necessary to the extraction, the wealth as a whole that accrues to African society as a whole comes as a free gift, more or less as aid does.
This is a disaster for the rounded development of a backward country, for it makes control of the government (which receives the bulk of the wealth accruing to African society from mineral extraction) the most important, and sometimes the only, path to personal or ethnic advancement. Ambition itself is wholly politicised, therefore, and the humble task of producing things is left to the unambitious and perhaps the less able.
If you mix in a little ethnic discord with government control of mineral revenues, the scene is set for prolonged, indeed endless and often bloody political struggles. Far from being a blessing, therefore, oil wealth has been a curse for Nigeria.
In countries less well-endowed with extractable wealth, foreign aid has played the part of oil in Nigeria. Oil constitutes at least 80 per cent of Nigeria’s foreign exchange earnings; in several African countries, foreign aid constitutes very nearly as much.
This results in the same perversions of the national economy, and the same obstacles to real development, as oil has done in Nigeria. The ambitious and able people want to join the government, and so life in general is deeply politicised; genuine economic life is paralysed, and becomes a desperate zero sum game.
When this happens, there is a built-in and deeply perverse incentive to continue to follow policies that impoverish, for a flourishing economy would obviate the supposed need for the foreign aid which is the source of the power, influence and wealth of the elite through whom it is funnelled. Here is one case in which poverty really is a source of wealth.
The most extreme instance of the above syndrome is civil war. It is therefore not in the least surprising that aid to Somalia is not reaching the neediest; it would be very surprising, indeed it would be absolutely astonishing, if it were. Neither is it surprising, however, that it should be reported as if it were surprising (unsurprising news not being news). For otherwise, the fact that aid does not reach the neediest would be a threat to our sense of power, our feelings of omnipotence. How could a few lousy uneducated Somalian gunmen be thwarting our infinite benevolence?
No one can deceive you unless he makes you think he is telling the truth. The un-blushingly romantic has far less power to deceive than the apparently realistic. Admitted fantasy is precisely the kind of literature which never deceives at all. Children are not deceived by fairy-tales; they are often and gravely deceived by school-stories. Adults are not deceived by science-fiction; they can be deceived by the stories in women's magazines.
- C.S. Lewis
I am saying that if you were to sit a thoughtful Christian down and ask him a battery of questions about our public life, if you gave him a well-crafted biblical worldview test, when he was done answering, if he had answered biblically, the conclusion you would draw is that this guy is "some kind of conservative." The only way to avoid this outcome is by getting the answers all wrong -- which happened because you went to the wrong seminary, enrolled in grad school without any filters for your heart, or by watching too many sitcoms with all the discernment of a vacuum cleaner. Another possibility is if the testee realizes that he is going to be labeled as some kind of conservative at the end of the process, and because he, for emotional reasons, doesn't want that, he refuses to answer any questions if his answers would match those of James Dobson. He has already begun to hate labels, which means he is just in transition. Getting the answers right (privately) is a way station to getting the answers wrong.
The questions I have in mind would concern issues like the death penalty, redistributive taxation, the size and purpose of the military, homosexual marriage, abortion, global warming, the regulatory state, and so on. Make the test as long and as thoughtful and as nuanced as you want. At the end of it, if a man believes his Bible and lives by it, he will be labeled "a conservative" of some sort.
The Book Bracketology website is completely live now, and you can add up to two extra brackets in the upper right corner of the bracket page. Each bracket is $5 and goes to increasing the size of the winning prize(s). If you haven't already, go sign up and enter your bracket picks to win some great books and gift certificates. I've got the full rundown of the competition and scoring rules here. Brackets must be paid for by the end of the first round or they will become ineligible from winning anything. If you have any problems, let me know. Feel free to advertise to your friends!
An advertisement in a recent edition of the British Medical Journal caught my eye. It was for a Senior Adviser, Access, placed by the International Planned Parenthood Federation, one of those many organisations that live and breathe and take their being in the large no man's land between government and charity.
It was the beginning of the final paragraph that did so, the first sentence being the only one in the whole advertisement to be in heavy type:
Applications are particularly welcome from candidates openly living with AIDS/HIV.
The next sentence read:
IPPF is committed to equal opportunities and cultural diversity.
It would, of course, take an entire book to uncover all the layers of deceit, moral cowardice and double or multiple standards contained in these words. I can make only a beginning.
What is a person "openly living with HIV/AIDS?" Does it mean someone not only infected with HIV or suffering from AIDS, but trumpeting it abroad? Or can it in include someone living with a person of that description, and trumpeting it abroad?
Let us assume that the first of these meanings is the one that is meant. There is surely something very peculiar about the particular welcome to be given by the IPPF to such people, not because one wishes such people any harm, but because one does not see anything particularly virtuous or worthy of particular welcome in their affliction. Is it the openness that is particularly welcomed, or the HIV/AIDS, or the combination of the two? That is to say, if a person kept the fact that he had HIV/AIDS to himself, would he not be a particularly welcome applicant?
So why... do we never see an advertisement particularly welcoming applicants living with syphilis/general paralysis of the insane, or cancer/secondaries, or hepatitis C/hepatoma, or any number of others that one could think of?
The fact is that the advertisement demands doublethink of us: that we accept simultaneously that AIDS is just one disease among others on the one hand, and that it is completely and categorically different on the other. We are expected, in most cases rightly, to perform this mental operation without even noticing it. And we do so, because we are accustomed to doing so.
Let us now turn briefly to the weasel word "particularly", or "particularly welcome". What does it actually mean? How particular is the "particular" of particularly welcome? What effect on the final choice of candidate for the job will the particular welcome have? If it has none, why include it in the advertisement? In what sense, then, is the welcome particular? Extra tea and biscuits?
On the other hand, if it has some actual effect on the choice, in what sense can the IPPF then claim to be an equal opportunity employer? That all opportunities are equal, but some are more equal than others?
Whatever sense (not much, outside of apartheid states) can be given to the term "Equal opportunity employer", it surely cannot mean the giving of what amounts to sheltered employment to people with certain favoured or designated diseases.
Let us briefly consider cultural diversity from another angle. What it means in this context, I think, is "Anyone from anywhere, provided that he or she accepts our ideas". It cannot really mean anything else, because the successful candidate is supposed to have, in addition to the other qualities I have mentioned, "a sound understanding of sexual and reproductive health and rights, research and evidence based programmes".
I am no anthropologist, but I do not think it is necessary to be one to know that "sexual and reproductive rights" (of which the IPPF calls itself "a leading advocate") are not, and never have been, human universals, recognised in all times and all places by all cultures. Let us suppose that we uttered the phrase "sexual and reproductive rights" to David Hume (let alone Genghis Khan): what would it mean to him?
This is not to say that I am against such rights: only to point out that you cannot advocate them and fail to discriminate against people, quite likely of another culture, who do not recognise them.
So the advertisement placed in the BMJ by the IPPF is a typical modern utterance of a certain kind: one that wishes to convey virtue without the difficult work of actually being virtuous. It has the moral seriousness of Messrs Podsnap and Veneering in Our Mutual Friend. It would be just as amusing as that fiction, if it were not rather a symptom of a deep malaise in our culture: the corruption of language.
We must meditate on the example given to us in the book God gave to us. There we learn to honor the power of narrative, throughout the course of much of both the Old and New Testaments. And the preeminent preacher and teacher was, of course, our Lord Jesus. And how did He teach? The answer is that He taught overwhelmingly by means of parables—short stories. Why is this so rarely imitated?
We therefore have a responsibility (as Christians seeking to be faithful to God and His holy Word) to learn how to tell stories. We must do this so that we can repeat the story, for those who have not yet heard it. And we must also do this so that we can tell lesser stories, stories that revolve around the great story, and which derive their glory from it.
Contentment is a spirit of gratitude. It's the choice you make to either be thankful for the things you do have, or to whine about the things you don't have.But I wonder if she sets up her children with a poor understanding of happiness by claiming that it is a "reaction that is based on our surroundings," rather than a choice of attitude. Dennis Prager, who spends an hour each week of his radio show devoted to the topic of happiness, argues that happiness is a moral obligation. In other words, one way to love other people is to act happy in front of them even if the circumstances aren't particularly helpful to a positive frame of mind. If you act depressed and allow the situation to control you, you'll depress others and add to their unhappiness. If you act happy, not only will you potentially make yourself happier, you'll also increase the happiness of others. What the blogger above does instead is to assume that happiness is a feeling (one which is governed by external circumstances) rather than a state of mind and choice of attitude.
I want you to want the Kingdom of God more than your own kingdom. And that's hard, babies, that is so hard. And that usually means passing up a lot of what the world considers happiness. But it means that you will achieve blessings directly from God that most of the world never dreams of because they are too occupied with achieving the perfect birthday present!
Now some of this may just be semantics... one man's joy is another man's happiness and all that. Perhaps. After all, it is difficult being happy unless one is content. So maybe I am merely splitting hairs. Or maybe it's a hair worth splitting in a day where prosperity is common yet happiness is daily fading, an age in which emotions rule, an era when the thrill of life is as fleeting as the shallow entertainment that is now required to feed it.
[Evolution] appeals to the same innocent and permanent needs in us which welcome Jack the Giant Killer. It gives us almost everything the imagination craves – irony, heroism, vastness, unity in multiplicity, and a tragic close. It appeals to every part of me except my reason. That is why those of us who feel that [evolution] is already dead for us must not make the mistake of trying to 'debunk' it in the wrong way. We must not fancy that we are securing the modern world from something grim and dry, something that starves the soul. The contrary is the truth. It is our painful duty to wake the world from an enchantment. … [W]e must treat [evolution] with respect. It was all (on a certain level) nonsense: but a man would be a dull dog if he could not feel the thrill and the charm of it.
- C.S. Lewis
In honor of the great martial arts master, devoted Christian, and articulate conservative, here are a few facts you may not have previously known about Mr. Norris.
- Chuck Norris doesn't cheat death. He wins fair and square.
- Chuck Norris can play the violin with a piano.
- Champions are the breakfast of Chuck Norris.
- M.C. Hammer learned the hard way that Chuck Norris can touch this.
- Chuck Norris puts the "laughter" in "manslaughter".
- Chuck Norris can delete the Recycling Bin.
- Chuck Norris' calendar goes straight from March 31st to April 2nd; no one fools Chuck Norris.
- Once a cobra bit Chuck Norris' leg. After five days of excruciating pain, the cobra died.
- Chuck Norris died ten years ago, but the Grim Reaper can't get up the courage to tell him.
- Chuck Norris was originally cast as the main character in 24, but was replaced by the producers when he managed to kill every terrorist and save the day in 12 minutes and 37 seconds.
[T]he U.S. government’s ownership stake in GM and Chrysler makes it nearly impossible for it to act impartially in its investigation of Toyota, whose current difficulties have given U.S. manufacturers a temporary image boost. It’s an aspect of the story that is at least as worthy of investigation as anything anyone is saying these days about the Camry.
Oh, never, never can [people] feed themselves without us [the Inquisitors and controllers]! No science will give them bread so long as they remain free. In the end they will lay their freedom at our feet, and say to us, “Make us your slaves, but feed us.” They will understand themselves, at last, that freedom and bread enough for all are inconceivable together, for never, never will they be able to share between them! They will be convinced, too, that they can never be free, for they are weak, vicious, worthless, and rebellious. Thou didst promise them the bread of Heaven, but, I repeat again, can it compare with earthly bread in the eyes of the weak, ever sinful and ignoble race of man?
- Fyodor Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov
When the Giver gives the gift, there are two forms of rudeness. One is to grab the gift and turn away without saying thank you. The other is to strike the gift from the Giver's hand. Which is the way of true discipleship? Neither.
[W]e are a little confused about the place we should give children and the control we should exercise over them. Sometimes we treat them as if they were already fully adult, capable of exercising proper choice over everything. I often see mothers solicitously asking their 3-year-olds what they would like to eat, which no doubt makes for a quiet life in the short-term, but in the long establishes a childish pattern of eating. Mothers of old who made their children eat their hated greens were not just sadists.
At other times, we treat the world as if it were nothing but a vast trap waiting to ensnare children. Roman legionaries seemed ill-equipped for battle by comparison with modern children going for a bike-ride.
"There was a real railway accident," said Aslan softly. "Your father and mother and all of you are - as you used to call it in the Shadow-lands - dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."
And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.
- C.S. Lewis
It is not what people can read; it is what they do read, and what they can be made, by any imaginable means, to learn from what they read, that determine the [value of education and literacy]... In a society where expression is free and popularity is rewarded they read mostly that which debauches them.
- Richard Weaver in Ideas Have Consequences
Living in an academic ‘ivory tower’ relieves Emanuel of having to face up to the hard economic and social realities of reducing fossil fuel usage. Following Emanuel’s logic we should move to implement the Cap-and-Trade bill presently before Congress, agree to international standards to implement fossil fuel restrictions and follow UN-global government dictates. I wonder if Emanuel has factored in the ensuing much higher costs of renewable energy and the resulting significant lowering of the global population’s standard of living, which large fossil fuel reductions would bring. I wonder if Emanuel realizes the effects these changes would have on the increased poverty and starvation within 3rd world countries. And has he considered how little the environment would really improve if such human sacrifices for nature were made?
We should all feel an obligation to assassinate ‘faulty’ science wherever we see it, including the blind belief (without evidence except the faulty models) that humans are largely responsible for climate change.
What we learned in a year's time: Polar bears are not vanishing. Sea levels are not rising at anything like the 20-foot surge this century was to bring. Cities are not sinking. Beaches are not disappearing. Temperatures have not been rising since the late 1990s. And, in historic terms, our global warming is not at all unprecedented.
Today's global warming hysteria is the hoax of the 21st century. H.L. Mencken had it right: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed -- and hence clamorous to be led to safety -- by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."
It's now becoming clear that Barack Obama is willing to put everything on the table in order to be the president who passes health-care reform. Everything, that is, except a ban on federal funding for abortion.
I am tangled up in contradiction. I am strangled by my own two hands. I am hunted by the hounds of addiction. Hosanna! I have lied to everyone who trusts me. I have tried to fall when I could stand. I have only loved the ones who loved me. Hosanna! O Hosanna! See the long awaited king, come to set his people free. We cry O Hosanna! Come and tear the temple down. Raise it up on holy ground. Hosanna!
I have struggled to remove this raiment, tried to hide every shimmering strand. I contend with these ghosts and these hosts of bright angels. Hosanna! I have cursed the man that you have made me. I have nursed the beast that bays for my blood. Oh, I have run from the one who would save me. Save me, Hosanna! O Hosanna! See the long awaited king, come to set his people free. We cry O Hosanna! Come and tear the temple down. Raise it up on holy ground. Hosanna! We cry for blood, and we take your life. Hosanna! We cry for blood, and we take your life. It is blood, it is life that you have given.
You have crushed beneath your heel the vile serpent. You have carried to the grave the black stain. You have torn apart the temple's holy curtain. You have beaten Death at Death's own game. Hosanna! O Hosanna! Hail the long awaited king, come to set his people free. We cry O Hosanna! Won't you come and tear this temple down, Raise it up on holy ground. O Hosanna! I will lift my voice and sing: you have come and washed me clean. Hosanna.
I've Got News
So you think I'm something special, like I know a thing or two? Like my eyes don't ever wander, like my aim is always true? So you think I'm not a dirty rotten scoundrel through and through? Lady, I've got news for you.
So you think that you're the only one to cry yourself to sleep? That you're the only one who's scared they all forget you when you leave? So you think that you're the only one whose heart is black and blue? Listen, I've got news for you, for you. I might as well just tell you that it's true, it's true: listen, I've got news for you.
So you think you don't need anyone to love you? So you think you don't need anyone to love? But you do.
So you say there is no hope. Maybe God is dead and gone. So you think that he can't break a heart that's harder than a stone? So you feel so wrecked and dirty, he could never make you new? Man, have I got news for you, for you. I'm so compelled to tell you that it's true, so true: listen, I've got news for you. I tell you I've got news for you.
I've got good news for you.
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too:
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;
If you can dream---and not make dreams your master;
If you can think---and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same:.
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build'em up with worn-out tools;
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss:
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings---nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much:
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And---which is more---you'll be a Man, my son! - Rudyard Kipling
No matter how much ridicule or even physical abuse McGonagall suffered from his audiences, he never lost faith in himself and always found an explanation for it that allowed him to preserve his self-respect. (On one occasion, ill-treatment stimulated his muse there and then: “Gentlemen, if you please,/ Stop throwing peas.”) It was this psychological armor-plating that limited the effects of the cruelty of his audiences, but it was cruelty, and gross cruelty, nonetheless. There is nothing, after all, to suggest that McGonagall was other than harmless and even kindly. It was a nineteenth-century equivalent of paying to see the lunatics in Bedlam, and now, when I laugh so heartily at McGonagall’s verses, I feel that I am participating in this unfeeling cruelty. Even if the deluded are happy, you do not laugh at their delusions, for there is something intrinsically pitiable about the quality of being deluded.
A world that did not laugh at his verse, however, or refused to enjoy itself with them out of supersensitivity to his memory would be a horrible world too. Only a man with a heart of stone, said Oscar Wilde, could read the death of Little Nell without laughing; only someone with the most frightening self-control could read the following lines, from “The Wreck of the Whaler ‘Oscar,’” with a straight face, or wish them expunged altogether from the human record: “’Twas on the 1st of April, and in the year Eighteen thirteen/ That the whaler ‘Oscar’ was wrecked not far from Aberdeen.” So on the one hand cruelty, and on the other the human necessity to laugh: an irresolvable antinomy of almost Kantian proportions.
The bottom line issue is this. If the Church is not transforming the culture around her, then the culture around her is transforming the Church. There is no static equilibrium point. That means that the Church will either be prophetically addressing the problem of homo-marriage, or it will be in the process of adopting homo-marriage herself. Either the church will speak about the carnage of abortion, and God's hatred of it, or the church will be in the process of bringing that hated object into the sanctuary.
God did not send His Son into the world to form and establish the Church, in order that this Church could float through the world like a ghost.
I've watched the Discovery Channel. I've enjoyed the Discovery Channel. But in that world, if I want to reproduce with you (or tear you limb from limb), I just need to be bigger and stronger than you are. You look pretty small and a little sickly. Shall I feed you to my young? Why not? Cannibalism might not be condoned in your culture, but it has a long and storied tradition in mine. Are you saying your culture is superior, that it is somehow right while mine is wrong? You're being a racist, but luckily you're still small, and even racists taste good in casserole. - N.D. Wilson in Notes from a Tilt-A-Whirl
On the one hand Death is the triumph of Satan, the punishment of the Fall, and the last enemy. Christ shed tears at the grave of Lazarus and sweated blood in Gethsemane: the Life of Lives that was in Him detested this penal obscenity not less than we do, but more. On the other hand, only he who loses his life will save it. We are baptized into the death of Christ, and it is the remedy for the Fall. Death is, in fact, what some modern people call "ambivalent." It is Satan's great weapon and also God's great weapon: it is holy and unholy; our supreme disgrace and our holy hope; the thing Christ came to conquer and the means by which He conquered. - C.S. Lewis