- Blasphemy is Protected Speech: One of the ideas that we need to emphasize is the idea that criticism of religion, even what may be considered blasphemy, is protected speech in a free country. Those who seek to limit our ability to criticize government, religious, or any other type of institution, are the friends of totalitarianism. "The Muslim uproar has a goal — to prohibit criticism of Islam by Christians and thereby to impose Shariah norms on the West. Should Westerners accept this central tenet of Islamic law, others will surely follow. Retaining free speech about Islam, therefore, represents a critical defense against the imposition of an Islamic order."
- "Youths" Set Paris Afire: Predominantly Muslim youths continue to bring Islamic peace (violence) to France.
- Humor – the EU decides that English, with some modifications, will be the official language of the EU, not German.
- France to Become Muslim Country: The author argues that France has already made too many concessions to Islam, and will become a predominantly Muslim country, and become the "enemy within" in the EU. Unless public officials and intellectuals start taking stronger stands and are willing to piss off the unruly "youths" in their country.
Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 27, even closer to 30. Last year was when I was closer to 30 than 20. This year I am speeding ever closer to the milestone.
I will be taking the next couple of days off from work to brood. Just kidding, but I will be away from a computer until next Monday (most likely). So, don’t rip my post too much – I won’t be here to respond.
My mom has Parkinson’s, or at least that is the latest theory the doctors have given her. Honestly, they really don’t know what is making her weak and shake. She has to walk with a cane. There have been many times when she was too weak or shaking too much to pick up one of her grandsons, my two boys. She fell and broke her arm carrying my oldest because she tripped over a rock and was too weak to hold herself up.
My grandmother died with alzheimer’s. She used to cry in the nursing home wanting to go home, not knowing she had been in the nursing home for several years. One of the most difficult moments in my life was watching my mom crying while she brushed my grandmother’s hair, who was ambivalent to anything going on around her.
Now that I have established my personal connections to these diseases, can I say anything I want about embryonic stem cell research without worrying if someone will challenge my stance? Should my mom be able to go on TV and beg politicians to stop fighting over ESCR and spend money on stem cell research that has actually brought about cures, then question the morality of any who would dare oppose her beliefs?
There are several controversial issues that seem very clear to me. There are others that tend to be murkier, causing me to shift back and forth evaluating the issue from several different perspectives. Many of the well reasoned responses here along with other circumstances helped to sway my thoughts. Here are three issues where my stance is not rock solid.
- That Picture of Jesus: CT has a nice story on the artist behind the popular image of Jesus that many people have in their homes.
- Evangelical Feminism: Mohler reviews the new book by Wanye Grudem, entitled Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?. "Grudem shows that, while egalitarian leaders claim to be subject to Scripture in their thinking, what is increasingly evident in their actual scholarship and practice is an effective rejection of the authority of Scripture."
- Arabs in Scripture: One of the most neglected studies of scripture, that of the sons of Ischmael, is now being approached by Tonly Maalouf at Biola. He’s also written a book entitled Arabs in the Shadow of Israel.
- Gun Control Sucks: Many gun control advocates love to quote lower murder rates to justify disarming us of our right to bear arms. And while murder rates may be lower in states/countries that don’t allow citizens to be armed (but there is contradicting data), rates of assault and armed robbery are as much as 50x greater than in states/countries where citizens can’t shoot back.
- The Dawkins Delusion: Al Mohler has sampled two excellent reviews critical of Richard Dawkins polemic book The God Delusion. Lots of good quotes, including "For mainstream Christianity, reason, argument and honest doubt have always played an integral role in belief. (Where, given that he invites us at one point to question everything, is Dawkins’s own critique of science, objectivity, liberalism, atheism and the like?) Reason, to be sure, doesn’t go all the way down for believers, but it doesn’t for most sensitive, civilised non-religious types either."
D. James Kennedy had a good sermon on The New Tolerance this past week, and I really like his take on the virtue of "tolerance." He said that in a climate of moral relevancy, it is stated that one moral system or religion is as valid as any other, so all must be accorded respect AND must be accepted as equally valid.
Or course, this is preposterous, since some moral systems and religions are harmful in their inaccuracy when compared to reality. But Kennedy went on to say that when a culture progressively forsakes the objectively valuable virtues such as chastity, honesty, industry, thrift, etc., the last "virtue" that is demanded in such a declining culture is "tolerance." Since people don’t want to be faced with the reality and results of their lack of these other virtues (i.e. they are promiscuous, dishonest, lazy, wasteful, etc.), they demand that you stop calling them on these sins – they demand that you "tolerate" them, and if you don’t, YOU lack virtue.
But as I like to say, tolerance in personal relationships is often a virtue, but tolerance of wickedness in society is cowardice.
European writer Fjordman has a new essay on Islam in Europe. He argues that, with huge Muslim immigration into large and capitol cities, these locations are being Islamified. Here’s my summary of points. If you think it can’t happen in Western countries, it is already happening there, and will in the US if we do not take action to stop it, and we need to put multiculturalism in it’s place – that is, we can’t halt discernment for fear of offending minorities. If they break the law, they get the penalties. If they are more suspicious based on demographics, then we profile. (As an aside, Robert Spencer, author of The Truth About Muhammed, was recently profiled in an airport, and he talks about why he was NOT offended).
Mohammed Piggy Bank: Now that’s a gift I might want for Christmas this year.
Europe’s Slide Towards Islamic Chaos: When liberals and multi-culturalists demonize the right wing for wanting to deal with the evils of Islam, accusing conservatives of being against civil rights and wanting to set up their own religious hegemony, they play right into the hands of Islamists, whose only real opposition, outside of a few enlightened secularists who aren’t against all faiths, are right wing Jews and Christians and Judeo-Christian sympathizers.
My wife and I both saw The Guardian tonight, starring Costner and Kutcher. I’m not much for inspirational stories, especially sports or gingoistic patriotic themes, but this was neither. It was moving, had some depth, had great acting from the two men, and had lots of metaphorical situations that translate well into "lessons learned." So go see the movie, it was great, and here’s what I learned (or reaffirmed).
Is there a worse endorsement for a politician than Mike Tyson? How about an endorsement from Mike Tyson as he talks about including bouts with women on his next for-charity boxing tour.
Republican candidate for US Senate Michael Steele picked up the kiss (or bite) of death this week. Iron Mike for Mike Steele.
- Dress like a pagan: TallSkinnyKiwi has a funny but somewhat true post on why dressing up for church is more pagan than going casual. I agree. The pagans worry about what they will wear more than their heart condition. Why DO people dress up for church?
- Holier than thou fundies: Don’t miss EO’s comment on the above article, as well as his dressing down of one of my favorite fundy whipping boys, Slice (although truth be told, Ingrid has lightened up on her moderation of my posts, and is kindly letting them through).
- What’s the Joke? Better Bibles Blog has a nice example of how dynamic translation works, and why it is necessary.
National Review Online contributor, Rod Dreher, left the Catholic Church for the Orthodox Church. He wrote a lengthy explanation of the change and what drove him to leave the church he had always known.
He investigated the sex-abuse scandal in the church, which put him face to face with lies, cover-ups and conspiracies. This left his faith damaged and depleted.
As I said, it is a very lengthy article, but it is interesting to see someone come out with a more vibrant faith after enduring trials.
I continue to be impressed with freshman Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma. He has consistently battled the big spenders on the left and the right. He and another freshman senator, my senator Jim DeMint, are challenging the moderate, pork barrell Republicans to return to their conservative ways, particularly on spending.
In his latest column, Robert Novak reports that despite being verbally attacked by the GOP’s big porker Ted Stevens, Coburn is contining to fight wasteful earmarks and will not grant unamimous consent on spending measures which would force proponents of the waste to defend it out in the open.
Aaron has put up a short post on CT’s The Top 50 Books That Have Shaped Evangelicals. I was going to respond with a comment, but my comment ended up being much longer than the original post. So here you go, my reflections on spiritually significant books. I have kept CT’s numbering, and have skipped some entires, so you wil notice that my numbers are kinda whacky.