Saturday, January 31, 2009
NYT: You’re employed by a Catholic university, yet in your new book you neglect to mention the enormous role that churches have played over the centuries in helping the poor and promoting compassion.
Trout: The concerns addressed in the book — improved education, health care, existence above the poverty level — are too important to be left to the tender mercies of charity.
This is the essence of secular statism. (1.) Write the church out of Western history (and be entirely irresponsible in so doing; see the recent work by Rod Stark on this); then (2.) presume that the voluntary good works of the church (and other organizations) are irrelevant and untrustworthy. The secular state must be our primary provider. Of course, it extracts money through taxation (non-voluntary) and requires a merely secular approach to all it does. This is not compassion; it is compulsion.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Sunday, January 25, 2009
...for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.--Ephesians 5:12.
Here is something that screams out for the curmudgeon to condemn: a new book that "sympathetically" interviews and analyzes those in the grip of sexual perversions: foot fetishism, pedophilia, bestiality, etc. Of course, The New York Times gives it a favorable review.
One can scorn this with a shiver or go deeper philosophically--not by exploring the details of these demented desires, but by placing it into a worldview and historical context. The very concept of perversion vanished when objective moral norms disappear or are viewed with suspicion. Hence, the fear of being "judgmental" or "censorious." The only solid source and reliable ground for moral norms is our Creator and Designer, who knows us through and through. We are "fearfully and wonderfully made" (Psalm 139) and some things fit our design plan and other do not. Some activities and desires go with the grain of creation and others--those discussed in his book, a kind of anthropological voyeurism--emphatically do not. Yet because we are given genuine agency by God, we can chose to saw away against the grain of our nature and that of culture as it should be in God's sight.
To oversimplify a bit, ever since the Kinsey Reports of 1947 and 1953, sexual activity has been uprooted from moral norms. Although famously flawed, that study--based on a naturalistic worldview--claimed that kinkiness was less rare than was thought and was certainly nothing to condemn. Sexuality is placed in the realm of openness, experimentation, and freedom. The "sexual revolution" (really a devolution) of the 1960s worked out the implications of this, as does the push for same sex marriage, the omni-availability of pornography on the Internet, and so on.
In a nutshell, moral categories are dissolving into cultural contexts and personal preferences. It is all rooted in a slow, but titanic shift from a Christian worldview to a moral naturalistic one that favors relativism and personal expression over moral objectivity and its resulting judgments of right and wrong, virtue and vice, the good life and perversion. The very concept of perversion requires an antecedent standard or norm from which something deviates. Biblically speaking, perversion should be understood in theological terms, not merely sociological or psychological ones. Social science or philosophy deracinated from a fixed moral order cannot make moral judgments, it can only speak of various patterns of thought and behavior. The is refuses the ought; they are strangers, unrelated and unrelatable.
Given the brokenness and alienations of the world, what is truly perverted may become tolerated for even praised. Contrariwise, what is objectively good can come to be scorned as perverted and narrow: insisting that moral demands remaining chaste before marriage (heterosexual monogamy) and then sexually and emotionally faithful within it (no adultery).
But added to these consideration of creation (the norms for life based on God's character and our nature) and fall (the perversions of asserting our "rights" against God), is the wonderful reality of redemption. God in Christ offers forgiveness and a right standing with himself to those who recognize their waywardness, turn from it, and lift the empty hands of faith to receive the gift of eternal life from Jesus Christ. But without an understanding of creation and fall, the very concept of redemption cannot be fathomed.
America and the West is becoming increasingly perverted--and increasingly unable to even consider the category of moral perversion against any objective and God-given standard. We should have compassion for those twisted by abnormal desires and those defaced by aberrant behavior. They are made in God's image and should receive our love and concern. But we cannot bless the thing that perverts and pervades our culture: everything is relative; you cannot judge; you cannot offer objective, moral truth. May God have mercy on us and renew us again.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
[For some reason they put the whole letter in italics on line. I don't know what the print version will look like. This is a response to an article on Driscoll in the January 11 issue.]
Mark Driscoll’s emphasis on gender hierarchy in the church is not a logical implication of his Calvinist beliefs, as your article states. Calvinism argues that women and men are equally depraved and unable to save themselves from God’s wrath. While many Calvinists teach that women are restricted in their opportunities to serve through leadership in the church (because of a bogus interpretation of biblical texts), there is nothing intrinsic to Calvinism that leads to female subordination. Women are no more alienated from God than men, no less redeemable by God’s grace through faith and no less able to lead wisely in the church.
Professor of Philosophy
Friday, January 23, 2009
On the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, we are reminded that this decision not only protects women’s health and reproductive freedom, but stands for a broader principle: that government should not intrude on our most private family matters. I remain committed to protecting a woman’s right to choose.
If government (meaning civil government) cannot legally protect the most fragile and innocent among us, it is failing its principal role to be an agent of justice. "Most private family matters" is a euphemism for killing the innocent, slaughtering them at the rate of over 1,000,000 per year. Moreover, it is not a "family" issue: the father has no say in the matter. If the mother wants to kill her child, she may. Under Obama, she will likely receive your tax money to do so if she cannot afford it.
Later, Obama made comments about wanting to decrease abortion, but they are meaningless drivel. He will do nothing of the sort. It is propaganda meant to hypnotize the unwary.
I knew he would do this. Now repent, you who voted for him.
OBAMA ABORTION AGENDA LAUNCHED TODAY with order promoting abortion in U.S. population-control program
WASHINGTON – President Obama today signs an order that will put hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into the hands of organizations that aggressively promote abortion as a population-control tool in the developing world.
Obama's order overturns the "Mexico City Policy," under which funds in the U.S. "population assistance" program go only to overseas organizations that pledge not to "perform or actively promote abortion as a method of family planning."
Douglas Johnson, legislative director for the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC), commented, "This is the first in an anticipated series of attacks on longstanding pro-life policies, as the new administration pushes Obama's sweeping abortion agenda. That agenda includes repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which would result in tax-funded abortion as a birth control method in the U.S., and imposition of sweeping pro-abortion mandates on private employers through health-care reform legislation... More
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Today is a day to lament this fact and to redouble our efforts to resist the culture of death, come what may. Reject fetus fatigue.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Psalm 2 (King James Version)
2:1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
2:2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
2:3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.
2:4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the LORD shall have them in derision.
2:5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
2:6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.
2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
2:8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.
2:9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.
2:10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth.
2:11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
2:12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
1. Stay away from all news media that day, especially NPR.
2. Read and pray through Bible more than usual.
3. Listen to good music.
4. Ask God to take away bitterness in your heart and to cope wisely with the most liberal (and probably the most corrupt, given his Chicago-style politics) presidential administration in my lifetime.
5. Pray that Obama will repent of his pro-abortion views. I really don't even have a mustard seed's worth of faith for that, but maybe some of you do.
6. Realize that the invocations of Martin Luther King's dream being realized in Obama are mostly hot air. Yes, a black man is president; so racism has been transcended in that sense. No, that particular black man (given his character and policies) is not good for the country. Remember also that Martin Luther King was not pro-abortion.
7. Start developing convictions on what you are going to do if your tax dollars start going into universal health care and other sources that pay for abortions. On the proper resistance to injustice in that state, see Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto (also available as an audio book).
8. Read a classic work on political philosophy, such as The Naked Public Square (1984) by the recently-deceased, Richard John Neuhaus. It can be a tonic for what is to come in the next four years.
9. Come quickly, Lord Jesus.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Please see my review of Barry Hankins's, Francis Schaeffer and the Shaping of Evangelical America and Colin Duriez, Francis Schaeffer: An Authentic Life at Denver Journal.
Saturday, January 10, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
Once again: America, Wake up!
Monday, January 05, 2009
Sunday, January 04, 2009
Saturday, January 03, 2009
"I came into office offering change you can believe in," Obama read from his telepromptor, which has now been directly wired into his brain in order to avoid stuttering. "It is simply wrong that these well-educated and well-intentioned intellectuals face an uphill and perhaps pointless battle simply because of the color or their skin, their religion, or their gender. Let them be judged by the content of their character and by their knowledge, not by the accidents of pigment, plumbing, and piety. Therefore, my first act in office will be an executive order to banish all affirmative action policies in education that discriminate on the basis of race or gender or religion. Further, I will authorize massive subsidies to colleges, universities, and community colleges to hire more philosophers on the basis of their philosophical competence and nothing else."
(Yes, this is a parody.)
Friday, January 02, 2009
Ironically, you can download my 1997 book, The Soul in Cyberspace, for $10.99. The book was the first Christian critique to contemplate the down and darker side of computer-mediated communication. But a physical version of the book is still available from Wipf and Stock Publishers.
At least six people have read this book.
Thursday, January 01, 2009
Ask yourself, please. Here are some suggestions for your Year of the Bible.
1.If you teach in a Christian setting, read portions of Scripture aloud in your classes. Chose what fits the subject or the exigencies of the hour.
2. If you preach, never let the image humiliate the words of the Bible. Let the Bible speak, convict, liberate, and enlighten--not video clips or other special effects. See 1 Peter 4:11; Hebrews 4:12.
3. Memorize and meditate verses or even chapters of the Bible. Over many years, I have put verses on small cards that I carry around with me and read when I have time. The blank side of old business cards work very well. See Psalm 119.
4. Read and reread biblical books, using various translations
5. Employ a good Study Bible, such as The NIV or TNIV Study Bibles, The Apologetics Study Bible, or The Spirit of the Reformation Study Bible.
6. Pray through the Bible during prayer times. This keeps your mind from wondering. The Psalms are particularly meaningful here, but all of Scripture can be a focus for prayer and meditation.
7. Bring the Bible into your conversations in a natural and intelligent way. You needed even announce that you are quoting a text; simply say it or paraphrase it.
8. Don't adopt a "favorite verse" approach to the Bible. Read it for what it is, difficulties and all. In fact, consume it and let it change you. Eugene Peterson writes wonderfully about his in Eat This Book.
9. Get into a Bible study that does more than pool collective ignorance: "Well, to me, that verse means..." Get into a study of the Bible.
10. Cut out things that take time away from Bible reading, meditating, memorizing, and so on: TV watching, video game playing, oversleeping, reading junk books and magazines, surfing the scum of the Internet, and so on. See Psalm 90.
11. Listen to an audio Bible while driving. My absolute favorite is Alexander Scourby's reading of The Revised Standard Version. (He also read the King James.) However, I don't believe this was ever put on CD. I have a good copy of the cassette version of, however. He had a mellifluous voice and read perfectly. His reading of Ecclesiastes 12 brought me to tears (while driving).
I recently heard an audio Bible with sound effects in the background that made me cringe; it seemed like a movie soundtrack.
11. Try to become a "walking Bible."
Do you have any other ideas?
this voracious volition for vacuity;
this incessant insistence for idols.
Grasping a fistful of falsehood.
Consuming a stomach-ful of stupidity.
Filling a mind full of maddening mush.
Perform! Oh, you purveyors of nothingness.
Entertain our eyes, fill our years.
Enthrall our ears.
Give life to our living, and
deal the death blow to death.
We made you,
Now re-make us.