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Monday, August 30, 2010
Russell Moore has an excellent post on this weekend's tragic Glenn Beck rally in D.C. The tragedy lies not in what people were rallying around (conservative values), but that Beck, a Mormon, has somehow become the face of Christianity in the political sphere. And what's worse, tons of evangelical leaders don't seem to see the problem, they are so blinded by their political leanings.
Too often, and for too long, American “Christianity” has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it. There is a liberation theology of the Left, and there is also a liberation theology of the Right, and both are at heart mammon worship. The liberation theology of the Left often wants a Barabbas, to fight off the oppressors as though our ultimate problem were the reign of Rome and not the reign of death. The liberation theology of the Right wants a golden calf, to represent religion and to remind us of all the economic security we had in Egypt. Both want a Caesar or a Pharaoh, not a Messiah.
Thursday, August 26, 2010
I started reading Ezekiel this morning... ouch, dumb mistake.
"Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. If I say to the wicked, 'You shall surely die,' and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul."
Recently, Jim Wallis, in response to claims that his Sojourners organization received significant funding from George Soros and other liberal groups (after hypocritically lambasting other Christian groups for taking money from conservative groups), said the following:
It’s not hyperbole or overstatement to say that Glenn Beck lies for a living. I’m sad to see Marvin Olasky doing the same thing. No, we don’t receive money from Soros.”
Turns out, Wallis is wrong. They DO receive money from organizations led by Mr. Soros. The bigger issue, though, is the ease with which Wallis slandered other people. Thankfully, he did get around to apologizing this week. However, it's a pretty weak apology for several reasons.
"I was really tired that day. I did one interview too many. I was in the back of a taxicab... I was wrong, out of anger at the insinuation about the dependence on these foundations, I was wrong to imply that like Beck, Marvin lies for a living," Wallis said. "Glenn Beck does lie for a living. Marvin Olasky doesn't lie for a living; that's not something I should say about a brother in Christ."
First of all, an apology couched in excuses is hardly an apology. My wife wouldn't let me get away with that. Second, and the primary thing that caught my eye, apparently, in Wallis' world it is bad to wrongly accuse a Christian of lying but it's not a problem to slanderously accuse a non-Christian (Beck is Mormon, I believe) of having a deceitful character. For someone who talks a lot about living like Jesus, Wallis seems to not have much of a grasp of how to love his enemies. Methinks there will not be a second apology coming.

This is exhibit #432 for why American liberalism should die like the rot it is in the Church. Few things destroy the Church more quickly than being a poor witness to both the freedom offered in Christ (by instead promoting Marxism) and the love He exhibits to ALL people (by acting like Wallis does on a regular basis). This is true too with people like Fred Phelps who are legalistic and hateful toward people they disagree with. You want to know why the Church is nearly dead in Europe? It's largely due to the above reasons... the welfare state and a degradation of behavior. To slightly modify Wilberforce, we need a suppression of socialism and a reformation of manners. We need Christ (and not the one Jim Wallis peddles).
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
This is a good development that needs to spread to every church, including my own.
Doug Wilson just posted the text from a talk he gave yesterday on the subject of cigarette smoking and sin. It's quite helpful and speaks to all sorts of issues beyond smoking.
Smoking reveals the method of a self-serving ethic. The way others are to view your liberty is not the same way that you should view your liberty. Other Christians should let you do what you want unless the Bible forbids it. That’s how we guard against legalism. But you should use your liberty differently—you should be asking what the reasons are for doing it, and not what the reasons are for prohibiting it. Liberty is intended by God for you to use as an instrument for loving others (Gal. 5:13), and not as an instrument for suiting yourself.
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
"There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible ...for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted — and you create a nation of law-breakers — and then you cash in on guilt." 'Atlas Shrugged'...Ayn Rand
This story is a sign of the times in which we live, one where the nanny state decides what is bad and what is good. Government always demands worship and obedience. In ancient days, the kings and caesars claimed to be literally gods. Now, our rulers pretend to be de facto gods. Idolatry reigns supreme. A second American revolution would do wonders at stopping that... of course, few people want to bite the hand that feeds them. Meanwhile, God is given a smaller and smaller spot in our lives. Need food? Ask the State. Need healing? The government is here for you. Need to know what is wrong and right? Bingo, the authorities are ready to inform you. Who needs God?
Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Wilson has a good post on parental responsibility with regards to education choice.
One of the optical illusions created by the decision to home school or to have your children in a private Christian school is a significant one. It is this. The temptation is to think that in the home school, success or failure is fundamentally a parental matter while in the private school, success or failure is fundamentally a school matter. In truth, it is always a parental matter.

School teachers are supposed to be servants, and servants can be utilized wisely or poorly. You can have good servants and poor ones, and when you have good ones, they can still be utilized poorly. But the fundamental responsibility always rests with the one who employs the servants.
This is an interesting article from a British paper. Interesting in part because it gives a glimpse at the European media's view of American politics.
Can it get any worse for President Obama? Undoubtedly yes. Here are 10 key reasons why the Obama presidency is in serious trouble, and why its prospects are unlikely to improve between now and the November mid-terms.

1. The Obama presidency is out of touch with the American people
The “let them eat cake” approach didn’t play well over two centuries ago, and it won’t succeed today.

2. Most Americans don’t have confidence in the president’s leadership
[A] staggering 58 per cent of Americans say they do not have confidence in the president’s decision-making, with just 42 per cent saying they do.

3. Obama fails to inspire

In contrast to the soaring rhetoric of his 2004 Convention speech in Boston which succeeded in impressing millions of television viewers at the time, America is no longer inspired by Barack Obama’s flat, monotonous and often dull presidential speeches and statements delivered via teleprompter... Even Jimmy Carter was more moving.

4. The United States is drowning in debt
5. Obama’s Big Government message is falling flat
This is not an approach that is proving popular with the American public, and even most European governments have long ditched this tax and spend approach to saving their own economies.

6. Obama’s support for socialised health care is a huge political mistake

In an extraordinary act of political Harakiri, President Obama leant his full support to the hugely controversial, unpopular and divisive health care reform bill, with a monstrous price tag of $940 billion, whose repeal is now supported by 55 per cent of likely US voters.
7. Obama’s handling of the Gulf oil spill has been weak-kneed and indecisive
8. US foreign policy is an embarrassing mess under the Obama administration

It is hard to think of a single foreign policy success for the Obama administration, but there have been plenty of missteps which have weakened American global power as well as the standing of the United States. The surrender to Moscow on Third Site missile defence, the failure to aggressively stand up to Iran’s nuclear programme, the decision to side with ousted Marxists in Honduras, the slap in the face for Great Britain over the Falklands, have all contributed to the image of a US administration completely out of its depth in international affairs.
9. President Obama is muddled and confused on national security

10. Obama doesn’t believe in American greatness
It is difficult to see how a US president who holds these views and does not even accept America’s greatness in history can actually lead the world’s only superpower with force and conviction.
There is a distinctly Titanic-like feel to the Obama presidency and it’s not hard to see why. The most left-wing president in modern American history has tried to force a highly interventionist, government-driven agenda that runs counter to the principles of free enterprise, individual freedom, and limited government that have made the United States the greatest power in the world, and the freest nation on earth.
President Obama is increasingly out of step with the American people, by advancing policies that undermine the United States as a global power, while undercutting America’s deep-seated love for freedom.
Monday, August 16, 2010
Thursday, August 05, 2010
This is what a society built on entitlement and a government forged into a welfare state begets. A country where every human need (health, jobs, food) is a human right is a country where killing sprees like this one become more and more commonplace. Obama is merely the skin lesion of the festering cancer underneath. As Doug Wilson would say, we must all repent of making our comfort, our State, and our material wealth into our gods. When we're all (Christian and non-Christian alike) looking for handouts from the government via unemployment* and cash for clunker programs, when we all sue each other over the dumbest things, when we notice the growing speck of lazy entitlement in the eyes of urban communities (inculcated there by our own government) yet ignore the log of materialism and State-worship in our own suburban eyes... nothing will change unless we all repent, and not just those evil liberals. As opposed to their counterparts, conservatives rightly recognize that sin is part of the human condition, yet do we always recognize that sin is part of our condition? I know people who have in one breath railed against people on welfare yet in the very next breath discussed trading in their car under the Cash for Clunkers program. God, be merciful!

* Please note that I am NOT saying that anyone who accepts unemployment is necessarily in sin, but that we too willingly accept the handouts of the State with little reflection on what that may do to our character. I know I am guilty of this. I loved the scene in Cinderella Man where the now-wealthy James Braddock returns the welfare money he received when he was destitute. Oh, that we would return to that mindset.

[UPDATE: And right on cue, I come across this report.]
Prop 8 went down to defeat (for now) in the courts yesterday. This is a huge case as it will make or break every other state law currently on the books defining marriage as between a man and a woman. If this brick falls, the entire wall is demolished.

Here is a good analysis of the foundational issues at hand.
The more interesting question is why gay marriage is so fashionable. The elites of society strongly support it, and many who nominally oppose it (e.g. President Obama) simply say that in order to protect their political careers. And these people support it so strenuously because it gives them the victim group they need to silence Christians. They are already committed to the philosophical basis of homosexual marriage, and live it out in their lives. They fornicate, commit adultery, divorce, procure abortions, despise masculinity and (especially) femininity, treat children like luxury items, etc… However, this menagerie of sins isn’t enough to explain their views, since these sins are hardly restricted to the modern elite. The crucial difference is that the modern elite is passionately committed to justifying all of it. They do not repent. Far more precious to them than their education or career status, or their fashion, or anything else is their moral superiority. They want to be selfish (especially with regard to money and sex) without feeling guilty. So they embrace the politics and morality of the gesture–saving the planet from global warming by buying a Prius, or shutting down timber mills, or blathering about diversity–while being thorough selfish in their personal lives.

Consequently they cannot bear criticism, whether implicit or explicit. Having no concept of repentance, they cannot admit their sin. The parts of their political and social outlook that they are most passionate about are those that assure them that they have done nothing wrong, and that seek to silence those who say otherwise. And they do seek to silence Christians. It’s no accident that they compare us to those who opposed interracial marriage–they want us banished just as thoroughly.

The opposite of this is not the philosophy of the righteous, but that of the sinner. I don’t want to base my philosophy on my own righteousness, because that’s a very small quantity. Rather, I want to face up to my own sinful nature and actions, and, recognizing that sin in thought and deed is the common lot of man, construct political philosophy accordingly {emphasis added}.
Tuesday, August 03, 2010
This is astounding. Guess he's never read Acts 10.

Here are several more outrageous stories of the health care (or lack thereof) that Brits receive from their socialized system. Unbelievable. Can't wait til we get that here.
All of the children having surgery the same day as [our son] did not even wear a hospital gown to go to O.R.- they just walked into O.R. wearing their street clothes and had a bib placed around their neck!!!
Monday, August 02, 2010
"Culture trumps politics."
This guy has a brilliant(!!!) piece on how to view the coming election and politics in general.
How do those who love limited government, and believe in the values of our nation’s founding, reconcile themselves to the past, present, and future Republican party?

The issue of the 2000-2008 GOP is an easy one: You don’t reconcile yourself to it. It was an atrocity. On a Presidential level, it should not be too difficult to thank God for John Roberts and Samuel Alito, and call it a day. Congressionally, there is virtually nothing to be thankful for (even the tax reductions of 2001 and 2003 lacked the political will to actually be made permanent, despite the existence of the votes to do so, creating this 2010 debacle that will be the largest tax increase in history). But the present GOP is a different story, and I am not sure what the benefit is in denying it. Not a single House Republican voted for the stimulus bill. The Pelosi-House had to insult heaven and hell to get the ObamaCare perversion passed. And both House and Senate leadership have done a wonderful job (within the political context they presently find themselves in – a problem of their own making) in holding this Obama-Pelosi-Reid disaster in check. For the most part, Republicans always seem to be more Republican when they don’t have any power, and that is most unfortunate.
It is not as complicated for me as many are making it. I believe this is a matter of managing expectations. I have already said what I want to about the recent past as well as the present. But when it comes to what can be expected of a future GOP presence in the House and the Senate, I can not imagine why we would expect them to be anything less than an extremely effective thorn in the side of the aforementioned Obama-Pelosi-Reid unholy trinity, and anything more than that same effective thorn. They will not restore the Constitution to its rightful place. And a GOP House majority will not come close to solving all of America’s problems. In the here and now, though, it is the unambiguous superior choice. When I refer to managing expectations, I have to wonder what people are expecting when they vote, and who the real statists are among us. I do not expect the politicians I support to do anything more than try to keep the disaster from getting worse. It is incurable in Washington D.C. The disaster I refer to is an idolatrous culture that has worshiped at the feet of the state {emphasis added}. This is not a political problem, and it is not the fault of politicians (either on the Republican side, or the Democratic side). The culture is in a state of disaster both morally and ideologically. I can understand why the Republican-haters take the position that they do if the expectation were that the Republicans were going to save the culture. But they are not going to, and they couldn’t do so if they wanted to.

More or less we are in a very long-term paradigm where both political parties go back and forth doing much of the same thing. The Republican party is far less likely to accelerate the slide into Euro-socialism, but both parties are still light years away from the limited government world of personal responsibility our founders envisioned. And based on what I observe of cultural responsibility, perhaps this is to be expected. I hope for a Congress that can pass some good legislation in the decades I have left on planet earth. Much more importantly, I hope for a Congress that can block all kinds of atrocious legislation that is sure to be presented in the years and decades to come. And that is pretty much it. The transcendental improvement I work for and pray for in this great country is going to be a cause of political change, but not an effect of it. We have our chicken and egg all mixed up, and it is time we get it straight. Culture trumps politics, and it always will. The present conflict begs for us to be politically involved, to force our leaders to quit redistributing wealth, to seek less burdensome tax policy, and to beg Washington D.C. to get out of the way. We should all do that, and my personal conviction is that for the most part this is best done with Republican options at this point in time.

But the progress we ought to be looking for in a multi-generational context is not going to come from this GOP party. Some of the better congressional Republicans are going to do really good things, and some of the worst ones may end up disappointing. All of it is fleeting. A society that yearns for freedom is the need of the hour; not merely politicians that sometimes have a sort of okay idea of what it is. We have spent 100 years in a love affair with a school system that has almost choked off any semblance of what freedom means. If I could hand-select every single elected official in the Congress tomorrow, OR I could wave a wand and see a private school system become the predominant means of educating our children, I would not even hesitate for a split second to choose the latter over the former. (As an aside, I have often said that I can sort of cope when Christians put their kids in the public school system; it is when conservative Christians do it that I get a bit mystified; but I digress).

My point is not to say that a better educational system is the last best hope, and a Republican Congress is not. My point is that no one single thing represents the remedy to culture’s woes – especially a change in the partisan affiliation of our Congressional representation... Just don’t set your expectation so high that you set yourself up for disappointment. The battle for the hearts and souls of men is not going to be won this November. This is a temporary deal that requires some temporary wisdom. The long term battle is anything but temporary, though, and it requires solutions far more important than any political party has ever been able to offer.

“The people wanted a King”, I Samuel says. For those of us who want a freedom that reflects the unalienable rights of men, a leadership that acknowledges its authority as coming from the consent of the governed, and even a voting population that has some idea what I just said, be patient. And be vigilant.
Whew, July was a slow blogging month, but I have an excuse. :)

Doug Wilson wrote an excellent post on the problems facing parents who either unwittingly want their kids to be in the world and of it and those who desire that their kids be out of the world and not even thinking of it. As Wilson says, in both ditches lies spiritual death.
One trap that parents fall into is the trap of not wanting sin around their kids. But I suppose this requres some explanation.

The mistake arises because there are a bunch of sins that parents should keep away from their kids -- kidnappers, for starters, and cocaine dealers, and pornographers, and seducers, and Cartesian dualists. One of the accusations leveled against private Christian education is that conservative parents are sheltering their kids. What next?! Parents sheltering children! We feed them too.

But here is where the mistake come in. There is a question of degree here. We are not supposed to keep our children away from the presence of all sin whatever. And that's a good thing, too, because it is impossible. There is a type of sin, common to the human condition, that your children will encounter (on a daily basis) on the playground of the finest Christian school imaginable. If you don't send your kids to that school (because of all the sin there), they will encounter even more of it at church, in their relationships with their siblings, in their bedroom all alone, and in the midst of all the dirty thoughts between their ears. The task of parents in this is not to avoid this kind of sin, but rather to teach their children how to battle it. You cannot learn to battle something if you are constantly endeavoring to stay away from it.

In short, with this kind of sin, there are two errors -- equally bad. One is to accommodate yourself to the presence of this kind of room temperature sin, in such a way as to assume room temperature yourself. That is the way of spiritual death. The other is to pretend to yourself that the choices you have made have somehow successfully distanced you from all that icky stuff. But it is as close to you now as it ever was, but is now invisible because you have daubed your eyes with a special Pharisee salve. This is another way of spiritual death.
Suppose your child is in the classroom of a fine Christian school, one with a great reputation. You know the teachers and administrators, and they really love the Lord. But you know for a fact that two/thirds of the kids in your son's class are all hot about the latest skanky movie. Just last night, after the youth group get together, they all went to see Skanky Movie III, one that has set records for both kinds of box office gross. What will your temptation be? Your temptation will be to think that however well-intentioned the folks running the school might be, the "tone" of the school is not nearly "high enough," and that all these families clearly have poor standards. You regret having to do this, but you are considering pulling your son, wrapping him up in cotton batting for two final semesters of Mom School.

You think the problem is low entertainment standards, when the actual problem is that no Christian parents -- including you -- are teaching their kids what moral leadership looks like. About a third of the kids who went to that movie didn't really want to, and wouldn't have gone if someone in the class -- I am thinking of your son in particular -- had done more than simply studied his shoelaces when the subject came up. You are tempted to think that the others have low entertainment standards, when the real lesson is that your son is not a moral leader. The response ought not to be to do something that will make him even less of one.

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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 »