Saturday, February 28, 2009
My brief essay on Pascal has been featured on The Philosophers Magazine web page. This was originally published in a book of short vignettes on major philosophers. I think this means the article must have run in their print magazine as well. If you know, please let me know!
Friday, February 27, 2009
The Rocky was the more conservative of the two local papers, and sported a fine editorial page editor (Vincent Carroll) and religion reporter (Jean Torkelson). I know both of them. Mr. Carroll published many of my editorials over the years (and rejected some as well) and Ms. Torkelson often called me for comments on religion-oriented stories. Unlike too many journalists, they were fair-minded and enjoyable to work with. I also wrote a number of book reviews for the paper since moving to Denver in 1993. (But more recently, I have been reviewing more books for The Denver Post.)
This paper was nearly 150 years old. It's passing marks a sad stage in American journalism. Periodical print media simply cannot compete with the Internet. We will likely see papers go under around the country in the next few years. Most news on line is free and more up to date than a paper can be. And yet, and yet... Having a paper, an object, with heft and smell and feel is something irreplaceable. Moreover, while the Internet opens up a myriad of perspectives (including my own in new ways), few of these organs have the sense of authority that the better newspapers carried with them as longstanding institutions.
So, goodbye to The Rocky Mountain News. I wish the best for Jean Torkelson and Vincent Carroll, wherever they end up.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
In light of the trashing of capitalism of late, and the sad, bad, and mad move toward socialism, I suggest you read this speech by the late Christian philosopher, Ronald Nash on "Socialism, Capitalism, and the Bible."
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
However, I could not point students to specific pages or read from the text. That was, I thought, a drawback of my forgetfulness. Yet, it ended up making for a more interactive and textually-oriented class because I had to ask the students to read pertinent passages aloud so we could analyze them. This gave them more ownership of the texts and got them more involved a deeper level.
Sometimes, teachers can teach too much--that is, do too much of the work for the students. But by not having my text, I was forced to depend on student involvement more than usual. All teaching involves some trust in and reliance upon students (as Parker Palmer points out), but my absent-mindedness deepened this need and actually enhanced the classroom environment.
I'm not planning on leaving the text behind next time, but I will encourage students to supply more of the textual involvement for themselves.
"As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by Presidents Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets, not because I believe in bigger government -- I don't..." (italics added).
Given his voting record, given his campaign promises, there is no reason to believe this claim that he does not believe in bigger government. He just authorized the largest outlay of federal funds in history; he wants to socialize medicine. Please do not be deceived by his image. Consider his actions and his principles. They all point in the direction a massive increase in the federal government and a diminishing of individual liberties.
Monday, February 23, 2009
"Pete Carroll, the head football coach at U.S.C., received $4,415,714 in 2007," reports The NY Times. The average full professor at a seminary or Christian college received much less than $100,000 a year.
More evidence of a fallen world. Kenny G far outsells John Coltrane, too... But money is not the final marker of worth, as Jesus repeatedly affirmed.
Sunday, February 22, 2009
Here is an excellent story about jazz pianist Thelonious Monk, during his days in a New York loft. There was only one Monk. If you don't believe me, listen to his music. As much as I dislike The New York Times's politics, their coverage of jazz is superb.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
None of this is reason to ceasing caring about the millions of refugees, hungry, and oppressed in Africa (and elsewhere). Rather, one should give (and loan) wisely. The more personal and relational the ministry is, the more is demands responsibility, the better it can serve the world's poor and marginalized. In fact, we serve Jesus Christ himself as we serve "the least of these" (Matthew 25).
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
I noticed just today at a bookstore, that the new paperback edition of Anthony Flew's There is a God uses a two line endorsement from "The Denver Post" at the top of the back cover. Apparently, the newspaper is more name worthy than me, but I was the author of that review. So, go buy and read the book that scandalized the atheist world.
Saturday, February 14, 2009
From Art and the Bible by Francis Schaeffer:
Christianity is not just "dogmatically" true or "doctrinally" true. Rather, it is true to what is there, true in the whole area of the whole man in all of life.
The ancients were afraid that if they went to the end of the earth, they would fall off and be consumed by dragons. But once we understand that Christianity is true to what is there, including true to the ultimate environment -- the infinite, personal God who is really there -- then our minds are freed. We can pursue any question and can be sure that we will not fall off the end of the earth. Such an attitude will give our Christianity a strength that is often does not seem to have at the present time.
Friday, February 13, 2009
Thursday, February 12, 2009
I am a conservative lesbian living in New York. I would love you to address how the Fairness Doctrine has become a viable possibility for the liberal agenda, given that it is simply modern-day censorship, and also taking into account the undeniably left-leaning media. How can the left not see its hypocrisy?
If there's anything that demonstrates the straying of the Democratic Party leadership from basic liberal principles, it's this blasted Fairness Doctrine -- which should be fiercely opposed by all defenders of free speech. Except when national security is at risk, government should never be involved in the surveillance of speech or in measuring the ideological content of books, movies or radio and TV programs.
Broadcasters must adhere to reasonable FCC regulations restricting obscenity, but despite the outlandish claims of Democrats like Sen. Charles Schumer, there is no analogy whatever between pornography and political opinion. Nor do privately owned radio stations have any obligation to be politically "balanced." They are commercial enterprises that follow the market and directly respond to audience demand. The Fairness Doctrine is bullying Big Brother tyranny, full of contempt for the very public it pretends to protect.
As a fan of AM radio since childhood, I adore the proliferation of political talk shows spurred by Rush Limbaugh's pioneering rise to national syndication in the late 1980s. It represented a maturation of the late-night coast-to-coast radio programs that I had been listening to in the 1970s, such as Herb Jepko (broadcasting from Salt Lake City), Long John Nebel (from New York) and Larry King (from Miami).
However, I do lament the gradual disappearance of small, quirky local shows due to the trend toward national syndication. And I often get bored and impatient with the same arch-conservative message being drummed out 24/7. But let's get real: Liberals have been pathetic flops on national radio -- for reasons that have yet to be identified. Air America, for example, despite retchingly sycophantic major media coverage, never got traction and has dwindled to a humiliating handful of markets. The Democrats are the party of Hollywood, for heaven's sake -- so what's their problem in mastering radio?
Instead of bleating for paternalistic government intervention, liberals should get their own act together. Radio is a populist medium where liberals come across as snide, superior scolds. One can instantly recognize a liberal caller to a conservative show by his or her catty, obnoxious tone. The leading talk radio hosts are personalities and entertainers with huge rhetorical energy and a bluff, engaging manner. Even the seething ranters can be extremely funny. Last summer, for example, I laughed uproariously in my car when WABC's Mark Levin said furiously about Katie Couric, "What do these people do? Open fortune cookies and read them on air?"
The best hosts combine a welcoming master of ceremonies manner with a vaudevillian brashness. Liberal imitators haven't made a dent on talk radio because they think it's all about politics, when it isn't. Top hosts are life questers and individualists who explore a wide range of thought and emotion and who skillfully work the mike like jazz vocalists. Talk radio is a major genre of popular culture that deserves the protection accorded to other branches of the performing and fine arts. Liberals, who go all hushed and pious at Hays Code censorship in classic Hollywood, should lay off the lynch-mob mentality. Keep the feds out of radio!
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Monday, February 09, 2009
Gary was a brilliant student, who studied linguistics and Chinese in particular. He wanted to be a missionary to China, but later joined the military. The last communication I had with him was in the early 1980s when he sent me an inscribed copy of Warning to the West by Solzhenitsyn. I had become a pacifist, and Gary--now in the military and with conservative convictions--was abjuring me to rethink my views. Thanks to that book and others, I did so, and adopted a just war position and more conservative views in general. (It may shock some readers to know that I was a Sojourners-reading, pacifist from about 1979-1980. I even voted for Jimmy Carter in 1980).
Gary was a sensitive and bright soul, earnest for God and his Kingdom. We often talked and prayed and laughed together, sharing significant things from our young Christian lives. Yet for over a quarter of a century, I have had no idea where he is. I do not know his middle initial, and Google searches always turn up a pop group called Gary Lewis and the Playboys. Wrong that is.
So, if anyone can point me to this man, Gary Lewis, please let me know. He graduated from the University of Oregon in 1978 and served in the military. His parents were from California, I believe. I miss him and would like to see what God has done with his life over all these years.
Sunday, February 08, 2009
1. Always pray.
2. Always be ready to witness for Jesus.
3. Always be ready to suffer for Jesus.
4. Always be ready to die for Jesus.
5. Always be ready to escape from prison for Jesus.
How does this speak to American Christians?
Saturday, February 07, 2009
Then Herod went from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there. He had been quarreling with the people of Tyre and Sidon; they now joined together and sought an audience with him. Having secured the support of Blastus, a trusted personal servant of the king, they asked for peace, because they depended on the king's country for their food supply.On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a mere mortal." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. But the word of God continued to increase and spread.--Acts 12:19-24
The "stimulus package" pushed by Obama and the Democrats is utterly wrong-headed, un-American, and dangerous in principle--and not just because of where the money goes, mostly to liberal causes.
1. It massively increases the federal deficit.
2. It takes money from taxes and gives money for projects, instead of letting people keep more of their money and letting them engage in their own projects, free of governmental regulation and control.
3. It views society as the same as the state when, in fact, they are two different things. The state should be one small aspect of society--civil government: an instrument of basic law and justice. Society, including the economy, is all the rest and should be influenced more by persuasion than the coercion of the state.
4. It is based on forcibly redistributing wealth as opposed to letting people create wealth through their own wits and resources.
5. It makes people dependent on the largess of the state, instead of being self-reliant and accountable to their family's and voluntary organizations, such as the church.
6. It pretends to be compassionate when only voluntary giving can be compassionate. Obama taking my money for his projects is not compassion. It is coercion.
7. It will reinforce and create even more giant bureaucracies difficult to dismantle in subsequent administrations.
Finding a compromise between a trillion dollar package and half a trillion dollar package is not the issue. The issue is the principles involved. Obama is trying to peddle fear and bully Americans into thinking this boondoggle is the only hope for economic recovery. He is a demagogue of the highest degree with no economic sense whatsoever.
Just when we need another Ronald Reagan, we get European style socialism sold by a face of hyped up by "hope." This "hope" I cannot believe in.
For more on what is economically and politically wrong with this "stimulus package," go to The Heritage Foundation.
Friday, February 06, 2009
Thursday, February 05, 2009
We must resist the spirit of the world—or worldliness—in whatever forms it takes in our age. So warned Francis Schaefer in 1968 in The God Who is There. But what exactly is worldliness? Here is a rough and ready definition of worldliness: Any pattern of living that refuses God’s ways and embraces the ways of the world, the flesh, and the devil instead. Worldliness does not mean to care of the things of this world or to be knowledgeable about the world (one definition of this term). Biblically, it means that our perspectives and priorities are out of alignment with God’s way, as revealed in the Bible and as quickened to us by the Holy Spirit. It is a framework for unholiness that often masquerades as Christian and highly “effective.” Worldliness is the way of the fallen world, its ideologies and systems.
This is not a complete treatment, but let us consider a few key Scriptures that warn us of this soul-sapping, Kingdom-betraying condition and how we may repent of it and embrace nothing but God and Kingdom living (Matthew 6:33).
1. Worldliness begins on the human scene with the seduction of the serpent in Genesis 3. This charge was that God was holding something back from our first parents. By disobeying the one thing God forbid—eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—they could gain something beneficial not otherwise available. This is the essence of sin: disbelieving God and consulting and obeying counterfeit sources of information. On the other hand, “Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” See also Psalm 119.
2. Ancient Israel was called by her covenant Lord to be separate and different from the pagans roundabout her. In so doing, Israel would not be a gated community or a fortress, but “a light to the gentiles.” That is, following God’s way of life shines a light in the darkness. Yet Israel repeatedly turned away from her Lord, forgot his promises, and turned to lesser things: idols. Or they attempted to combine holy worship and living with things that contradicted the covenant, such as worshiping in “the high places” instead of at designed holy places.
3. The prophets repeatedly called Israel from worldliness to repentance and godliness. The knowledge of God must not be suppressed for forgotten. God will not be marginalized for long. The false prophets will be found out and ungodliness/worldliness will be exposed for what it is. Jeremiah, for example, warned of those who prophesied without the counsel of God. Thus, there words were vain and dangerous (Jeremiah 23:25-27).
4. Jesus was holiness Incarnate, so detected and exposed worldliness throughout his ministry, especially in the guise of religion. Consider his stinging rebuke, “He said to them, "You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of others, but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God's sight” (Luke 16:15).
Popularity or tradition does not equal godliness. The audit of Eternity is what matters eternally. As Soren Kierkegaard repeatedly highlighted, the crowd is usually wrong, and we can seek solace for our sinfulness therein.
5. The Apostle Paul clearly warned of worldliness in Romans 12, after he has given a systematic account of Christian doctrine:
1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will—Romans 12:1-2.
6. The Apostle John warns the early Christians about worldliness in comparison to matters of eternity.
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If you love the world, love for the Father is not in you. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful people, the lust of their eyes and their boasting about what they have and do—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17 The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever—1 John 2:15-17.
John understands worldliness not as involvement in physicality, but as a sinful approach to life.
7. Worldliness is often subtle and attractive. Think of Paul’s warning about the ways of the devil:
13 For such persons are false apostles, deceitful workers, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15 It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.—2 Corinthians 11:13-15.
To avoid worldliness, we must attend to biblical truth studiously and prayerfully; otherwise, we will be misled by what seems to be good, but what is evil. As Jesus warned, “Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly" (John 7:24).
Wednesday, February 04, 2009
A few days ago, I saw Ayers's book, Fugitive Days, in (of all places) Kings Soopers, a supermarket. Now, there are not many books in a supermarket, and most of them are cookbooks, diet books, or fan books on O himself. But William Ayers's chronicle of how he evaded the police for years as a wanted man--in King Soopers?! Truly, we have entered the Twilight Zone of pandemic unreality. As Isaiah said, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil" (5:20). Perhaps Ayers will now write children's books and appear on Sesame Street (along with O).
First, the civil government should have no say in mandating something like this. Let markets decide the matter. That saves us from all the public service announcements, confusions, and so on.
Second, it is pathetic how deeply this affects some people. It is as if their lifeline is in danger. I hear adds by bureaucrats warning that if one does not make the proper call and do the proper thing, the screen will go blank (just like the minds already watching the screens). Of course, there are no publicly-funded advertisements warning you that television undermines reading and critical thinking, that it wastes time and habituates people to unreality.
My dream: On the dreaded day when the analogue dies, all of television mysterious dies with it. All screens go blank and black; the roar of white noise engulfs the planet...and then we move ahead.
Tuesday, February 03, 2009
The holy institution of matrimony is now an entertainment experiment. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with arranged marriage, but it does not fit the American ethos very well. Moreover, the commentator was not worried about "the premise" of the program as long as it was all treated with respect. But how is that possible? What vows could be taken for such a marriage: "...as long as the ratings are up?" This program, a desperate bid for ratings, is intrinsically disrespectful of marriage and of those stupid enough to participate--"the actors"- in the program. Moreover, as the interviewer pointed out, what if children are conceived? What chance do they have to being raised in a loving, stable family? Maybe they'll grow up to imbalanced TV stars themselves.
Sadly, CBS is capitalizing on the breakdown of marriage as an order of creation, the rise of cohabitation (experimenting without committing, which is the real "premise" of the program), and a society entertaining itself to death.
I cannot prove it, but I once heard someone say that Francis Schaeffer was asked what a radical Christian thing to do would be. He answered, "Stay married to one person until one of you dies."
And this is only the beginning. It is Chicago-land politics all over again--except now on the national stage.
Sunday, February 01, 2009
1. It does not befit the Christian Sunday, a time for worship, rest, reflection.
2. The game is inherently violent and punishing on the bodies that participate and on the consciousness of those who immerse themselves in its debaucheries.
"Do not envy the violent or choose any of their ways. For the LORD detests the perverse but takes the upright into his confidence"--Proverbs 3:31-32.
3. The players are paid obscenely high amounts of money, given what they do. This should not be supported.
4. Life is short: you could be doing something restful or productive in some way.
5. The commercials will appeal to all or most all of the seven deadly sins (actually, all sin is deadly), and tempt you thereby. The cutaways to the cheerleaders will do the same thing (for the men; and how many women watch this nonsense?)
You can find my essay against football elsewhere on this blog.