Interesting stuff I don’t have time to blog on:
1. Defending Capitalism: First Things answers the common objections to the "greed and inequities" of capitalism, including
- The people of the United States, 5 percent of the world’s population, are consuming 26 percent of the world’s energy.
- Income inequality is growing quickly, as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, especially in the United States.
- Globalization is bad for the poor of the world and reduces the number of jobs in America.
2. Homeschooling: In Homeschooling and Christian Duty, First Things defends homeschooling from the accusation that pulling our kids out of school hurts the public schools, and is a form of social isolation and withdrawal from culture. He basically responds that
(a) we should be valuing our own children rather than sacrificing them on the altar of the "public good". Putting the state before the individual is Socialism. Not only does it not work, it’s immoral to ask parents to not take responsibility for their children
(b) the facts show that home schooled kids are MORE involved in the community than kids that go through the industrial mass education system.
"The idea of sending a child daily into a hostile environment—if not
actively hostile, as in bullying, then certainly philosophically
hostile—expecting him not only to withstand assaults on everything his
parents have told him is true but also to transform the entire system
by his presence, seems sadly misguided to me. There may be many valid
arguments for sending a child to school, but that one doesn’t wash….
In short, in withholding our children from the public schools, we have
not withheld them from the world. And we’re certainly not unusual.
Statistical polls suggest that homeschooling families exhibit a higher
than average level of community involvement, and my anecdotal
experience bears this out."
3. Condemning Conversion: 9 Marks, the excellent organization dedicated to making churches effective, has an interesting discussion of how people want "conversation, not conversion." In fact, seeking to convert others is considered gauche, if not extremist.
It’s scandalous in today’s pluralistic and relativistic world to
contend for one religious truth over and against another. It smacks of
pride, arrogance, disrespect, perhaps hatred, maybe even violence.
This is the consensus among many of the secular elite. Popular
television personality Bill Maher believes Christianity can only be
explained as a "neurological disorder." Only the most unenlightened,
uneducated, and uncouth Neanderthal would both believe and contend for
a conversion to religious faith, especially Christianity. It’s
absolutely what the modern man does not need.
And Maher simply represents what secular humanism as a movement has
been saying all along. To quote from their own manifesto, "traditional
theism… and salvationism… based on mere affirmation is harmful,
diverting people with false hopes of heaven hereafter. Reasonable minds
look to other means for survival." Reasonable minds…you can hear the
condescension dripping from the pen.
4. Vilifying Islam: The Australian case of two Christian Pastors who were being sued by Islamists for "vilification of Islam" finally settled after mediation, with some undisclosed cash settlement. The Pastors spent nearly $500,000 on lawyers fees.
The Islamic Council of Victoria state has agreed that citizens have the
right to "robustly debate religion" and "criticize religious beliefs"
within the limits of the law.
5. Silver Ring Thing: An interesting court case in Britain involves a 16-year old who was not allowed to wear her chastity ring because it was against the uniform code. And while exceptions are made for Sikh’s and Muslims wearing religious items (steel bracelet and headscarves), the school said that chastity rings are not central to Christian practice. We’ll see what the court says.
"Lydia really is in many ways a microcosm of something much bigger
that’s happening in our culture, where in the (United Kingdom),
Christians’ views and values are being sidelined," he said. "You’re
basically being told, ‘You can believe what you like, but don’t let it
impact into the public sphere.’"
6. Church and State: A Texas court decision upheld a healthy separation of church and state. In the case, a woman sued her church because the pastor revealed her extra-marital affair to the elders and the church (probably as part of the standard procedure for church discipline, as set out in Matthew 18:15-20 and Galatians 6:1-2) The judge ruled that the state has no jurisdiction in such matters, and I presume, that that there is no "pastor-client" confidentiality law.
7. Miracles and Evangelism: A church local to me, nearby in Redding, CA, has stepped out in faith to pray for people in public, and to believe for miracles. And it looks like they are succeeding.
Two years ago, Chad Dedmon was going into a Redding grocery store to
buy donuts, and decided to pray for a lady with hearing aids at a
checkout stand. She was instantly healed. "She was 90 percent deaf in one ear and about 85 percent in the
other," Dedmon said. "So she had her hearing totally restored. She
started crying…the checkout girl started crying."
Then Chad announced on the checkout girl’s intercom, "Attention, all
shoppers, God is here and He wants to release His presence and His
healing." A crippled lady rolled up to Chad for prayer and was healed right away. "She stands up," Dedman recalled. "She begins to run around the
checkout aisles, screaming ‘Jesus has just healed me, Jesus has just
Still there in the store, Chad then prayed for a man with horrible pain in his wrists. Dedmon said, "And he starts screaming, ‘They’re on fire, they’re on
fire.’ I’m saying, ‘This is a good heat…this is good.’ And he’s like,
‘Oh, my gosh,’ and he starts crying and he says ‘the pain is all
8. Prosperity Gospel: CT has a nice article on how the prosperity message is being used and abused, spreading across Africa along with Pentecostalism at an amazing rate.
Yet wholesale dismissals of African renewalism as a gospel of
materialism—one made possible by Elmer Gantry–style hucksterism and
backwater superstition, perhaps—are short-sighted, says J. Lee Grady,
editor of Charisma magazine. "Many of the renewalist leaders in
Nigeria preach prosperity as a biblical concept based on the promises
of Deuteronomy," he says, "proclaiming that when people serve Jesus
Christ and renounce other gods, God blesses their nation and economy."
9. Modesty Fashion Magazine: The Mormon church has just launched a new fashion magazine called Eliza, which aims to be a woman’s magazine focused on modest fashions. I dunno, their models are a bit, um, homely, and this dress to the right? Ick.