Friday, December 31, 2004

God and tsunami

Pastor and author John Piper offered a biblical perspective on the calamity in Asia in his “Fresh Words” column. Piper emphasized five points for mediation and action: (1.) Satan is not ultimate, God is. (2.) Even if Satan caused the earthquake in the Indian Ocean the day after Christmas, he is not the decisive cause of 100,000-plus deaths, God is. (3.) Destructive calamities in this world mingle judgment and mercy. (4.) The heart that Christ gives to His people feels compassion for those who suffer, no matter what their faith. (5.) Christ calls us to show mercy to those who suffer, even if they do not deserve it.

I personally don't think Satan has power over the natural world, just power to influence the attitudes and decisions of mankind. God set the world spinning on its axis and he may or may not be in heaven at his computer keyboard transmitting orders for grave destruction...he might otherwise be letting the world do what the world does on its own and waiting to see who will do what's right and good and who will become even more evil in the wake of a disaster.

Christians can't spend a great deal of time pondering why "bad things happen to good people." We must simply be obedient to the Father and show love and compassionate care to those in need.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Another nice commentary on (bleep)mas.

The Wall Street Journal had a nice commentary today on the state of Christmas, including some reasons why we are more deeply religious here in America than they are in Europe where there was a national church to rebel against. And, I believe, a very accurate reason why evangelical churches are still able to thrive while mainline protestant churches are in a freefall:

"The more skilled the ministers and the more demanding the benefit of becoming an adherent, the more people join them. As a result, mainline Protestant churches, lacking both evangelical zeal and a deeply meaningful religion, have lost the struggle for members to fundamentalist churches that recruit members and expect a lot of them."

I'm sure in many mainline churches, you might hear "Happy Holidays" and "Seasons Greetings" more often than "Merry Christmas." I saw a presbyterian church with a sign touting its "Children's X-Mas Program." The last place you should see the word Christ replaced with an X is on a church, even to save space on a sign.

As a businessman myself, I can relate to the conundram of businesses who don't know how to greet people in this overly sensitized country we live in. When I am signing off on emails to clients--most of whom I don't know on a personal level--I really don't know if they are Christians, Jews, Muslims, or atheists. How should I greet them other than "Happy Holidays" when there are so many holidays to choose from and most people are celebrating at least one of them. That said, if I'm a retailer selling Christmas presents (because, c'mon, that's what the vast majority of people are doing!), I'm going to have great big banners wishing everyone a Merry Christmas!

How did Jesus become so offensive? Even if you don't believe he was the living, breathing Son of God, you have to appreciate his teachings and compassion. Yet look at the uproar over "The Passion of the Christ" that detailed his death, and the season of Christmas that heralds His birth.

The only reason I can think of that causes Jesus and Christianity to be so offensive is that He is the legitimate enemy of the devil himself. This fact gives me even greater confidence in my faith. To see such nastiness and hatred toward the One who talked of love and peace and the path to salvation, while other "prophets" and religious leaders who spoke of similar things aren't vilified at all, tells me that Jesus is truly who He said He was. Satan wouldn't make such a fuss over an ordinary man with a nice philosophy. What a wonderful Christmas message!

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Left's Assault on Christianity

David Limbaugh is still my favorite columnist. He does it again in his latest column, "A Case of Collective Projection."

Here's an excerpt regarding the Left's recent diatribes against Christians:

"It’s almost as if they’re thinking the Christian mindset is so dangerous that it must be preemptively silenced, or that Christians want to establish a theocracy so their influence must be preemptively diminished. What else explains their freewheeling demonization of Christians and their concerted effort to suppress their religious liberties, all in the name of tolerance, inclusiveness and freedom? They obviously miss the irony that they are already engaged in the very behavior that they merely fear Christians might engage in if not stopped."

And another nice little ditty:

That Christians can’t seek to influence the culture, politics or the public square without being of accused of trying to establish a theocracy is maddening. It is precisely because of this nation’s Judeo-Christian roots that those of all faiths enjoy unparalleled religious liberty."

Monday, December 20, 2004

Merry Non-Offensive Seasonal Greetings

Headlines from around the globe as the world tries to take Christ out of Christmas:

In Italy, it's been a rough year for the baby Jesus
Atheists don't like "Giving Tree"
Standing up to aggressive secularism
School board bans Christmas carols
Christmastime event in Denver is no-Christian zone
School officials debate rules for politically correct holidays
Christmas is taboo in America, but now people are fighting back
School Rules in Favor of the Grinch
Christmas is the new "C-Word"
Night of caroling won't be silenced
Merry Christmas from the Enlighted Liberal Left Coast
Merry Solstice? Hum Bug!
Florida county reverses ban on Christmas trees
Nativity scene ban sparks city protest
Without apology, Merry Christmas!

I think Christians need to re-make our holiday. The Christmas of our childhoods is gone. Let's take it back! Buy gifts only from stores that acknowledge Christmas, and don't buy a lot of gifts anyway. Make gifts. If these municipalities want the tax revenue that Christmas offers but don't want to acknowledge Christmas, and retailers want Christmas sales but won't tell us why we should be buying stuff from them at this apparently insignificant time of year, let's stay home and make Christmas special in some other way. There are other times of the year we can buy expensive stuff for our loved ones, but maybe it's time we send a clear message to our governments and our retailers that they banish Christmas at their own peril.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Great Sex!

Warren Throckmorton, a mental health counselor, has analyzed a new sex education program for certain schools in that teaches kids, using a video with a female model and a cucumber stand-in) about the proper application of a condom, but fails to teach kids the harmful psychological effects of having premarital sex.

An excerpt from his article:

"Concerning marital sex, the same report indicates that “a monogamous sexual partnership embedded in a formal marriage evidently produces the greatest satisfaction and pleasure.” (p. 364). Further, religious women are more likely to report being sexually satisfied than non-religious counterparts. These are the women who are more likely to have waited until they can follow the teachings of their faith about being “embedded in a formal marriage” before they have sex. However, presumably abstaining works for those of all faiths and those with none.

Why don’t health educators want kids to know these things? Good question. Ask it sometime at school board meeting.

Instead religious people and those who favor abstinence until marriage are usually portrayed as prudish, repressed folks afraid to talk about sex, let alone practice it. Rather it appears those smiles may be more than religious euphoria.

Given the positive health and mental health benefits of abstinence, it looks to me like these research findings should be prominently featured in sex education curricula. That is unless all we want to do is get latex around the problem. "

I think this is how ridiculous it is: "abstinence" is associated with a religious teaching, and to teach it is offer a moral lesson based in religiousity. That is a no-no. We don't make moral judgments about your sexual decisions and lifestyle, so let's just teach you how to do it safer.

I don't care if schools teach kids about Christ at Christmas, because they'd goof it up anyway--but teaching kids about the proper use of condoms and not the benefits of abstinence when it is clear that kids who DO abstain will NEVER get pregnant nor will they get a veneral disease, PLUS they are much less likely to experience depression or attempt suicide, is nuts. Leave the values out of the equation. If you're going to offer sex education, the point shouldn't be that you can have sex all you want with no side-effects if you simply apply the condom like the girl does on the cucumber in the video.

Monday, December 06, 2004

What's the Matter with Kansas?

A wee bit off topic:

A nice editorial today in The Wall Street Journal that debunks the dubious book by Thomas Franks entitled, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" in which the author ponders why we constantly vote against our own self interests by voting for pro-business Republicans. In his estimation, we'd be so much better off voting for liberals so we can get fat off the mother's milk of government largesse.

The rebuttal quotes an opinion piece in the Wichita Eagle that I particularly like:

"There's nothing wrong with many Kansans wanting to hold onto a little more of their paychecks . . . or preferring that when they need help it comes from their family, their church, their community--not an intrusive federal government."

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Why the dems don't get that 'ol time religion

Cute article forthcoming in the next issue of National Review, "They're so blue." It is, from the excerpt currently available at NRO, a pretty cute little analysis. Try this one on:

"prominent Democrats seem to have great difficulty getting even the well-known bits right. Christmas, according to Hillary Rodham Clinton in 1999, is when those in that particular faith tradition celebrate "the birth of a homeless child." Or, as Al Gore put it in 1997, "Two thousand years ago, a homeless woman gave birth to a homeless child." For Pete's sake, they weren't homeless — they couldn't get a hotel room. They had to sleep in the stable only because Dad had to schlep halfway across the country to pay his taxes in the town of his birth, which sounds like the kind of cockamamie bureaucratic nightmare only a blue state could cook up. Except that in Massachusetts, it's no doubt illegal to rent out your stable without applying for a Livestock Shelter Change of Use Permit plus a Temporary Maternity Ward for Non-Insured Transients License, so Mary would have been giving birth under a bridge on I-95."