Category Archives: culture & value

Economic considerations that Christians should think about.

We are not, we pray, on the verge of another Great Depression. Still, we see signs of economic failure all around us. Stores in the strip malls we drive past every day advertise “going out of business” sales. Those of us who are pastors know church members who have lost jobs, and we weekly see the faces of others who fear that the next pink slip belongs to them.

Some Christians, on the Left and on the Right, would tell us that economic matters are of paramount concern right now. They would assert that we’ve no time for the “luxury” of “culture war” discussions about “abstinence” or divorce or “gender roles” or other such matters. Instead, they tell us, we should concentrate on tax cuts or economic stimulus projects or Wall Street bailouts or home ownership.

They’re wrong.

Read the rest: Touchstone Archives: Love, Sex & Mammon.

Michael Gerson – Pro-Choice Incoherence –

Now, taxpayers are likely to fund not only research on the “spare” embryos from in vitro fertilization but also on human lives produced and ended for the sole purpose of scientific exploitation. Biotechnicians have been freed from the vulgar moralism of the masses, so they can operate according to the vulgar utilitarianism of their own social clique — the belief that some human lives can be planted, plucked and processed for the benefit of others.

It is the incurable itch of pro-choice activists to compel everyone’s complicity in their agenda. Somehow, getting “politics out of science” translates into taxpayer funding for embryo experimentation. “Choice” becomes a demand on doctors and nurses to violate their deepest beliefs or face discrimination.

via Michael Gerson – Pro-Choice Incoherence –

Is there a Christian version of the T-shirt “Girls Kick” you-know-what?

The line comes from Max in Dark Angel, one of the greatest attempts at a science fiction TV series (though the transition from cyberpunk to fantasy was a little to sudden between seasons one and two). Max is an amazing young woman, but she is genetically modified, so no use as a role model. (And if you ever want to get frustrated, listen to the DVD extras and learn how the producers of this secular debauched show–which I still thought was brilliant–moralize about making sure Max didn’t use guns and that everyone used helmets when riding motorcycles. Ugh).

But the superpowers problem rules out Buffy or Sarah Pazini.  You can’t model yourself after a “stick-figure Barbie” (as Gunn would say) who has preternatural strength or a magic weapon.  And I worry that the diet of supergirls isn’t going to help real women very much with their male peers.  Learning to respect female combat masters could easily lead young men, it seems to me, to despise the actual females they will meet in life.

Of course, the heroines lacking superpowers have also bothered me (i.e. Nikita, Sydney), since their victories don’t seem possible.  I recently viewed some gymnasts  and have softened on this.  Still, I doubt fisticuffs is a useful strategy for most women (and if you think that is sexist, too bad.  Your outrage will never come close to mine having to watch Starbuck enter the ring with Apollo and come out alive).

Buuuuuut, listening to a song tonight reminded me of my favorite female hero, one I think would translate well in a more Christian direction (even though that is not at all her stance): Veronica Mars.  She was the most believable hero girl I think I have seen.  She was perfect.  Realistically female–Veronica didn’t repeatedly win punching matches with bigger men, but she defeated them nevertheless with wit and skill.

Electric Eye in the Sky (that doesn’t have reliable aim)

Eight people died when missiles hit a compound near Mir Ali, an al-Qaeda hub in Pakistan’s North Waziristan region. Seven more died when hours later two missiles hit a house in Wana, in South Waziristan. Local officials said the target in Wana was a guest house owned by a pro-Taleban tribesman. One said that as well as three children, the tribesman’s relatives were killed in the blast.

via President Obama ‘orders Pakistan drone attacks’ – Times Online.

COMMENT: This same crime would have been committed by the person I voted for–which is why I felt so bloody guilty voting for McCain.  But McCain would have not started funding abortions overseas.  So the bottom line was that I thought McCain would be less of a monster than Obama.  So far it looks like my guess was accurate.

That being said, I have to admit, even though I tried to prevent it, I find this situation more personally endurable.  At least now the guy ordering murder by robot isn’t the same one claiming to care about “pro-life” issues.  No, Obama is honest that it is all above his paygrade, whether newborns or Pakistani post-borns have a right to not be killed.

Chalcedon via Buffy/Angel

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us. –Council of Chalcedon (451 A. D.)

(Warning: the usual Christian disclaimers for pop cultural references apply here.)

A super being from a higher plane who is both superior and vulnerable due to her assumptin of (quasi!) humanity.

A super being from a higher plane who is both superior and vulnerable due to her assumptin of (quasi!) humanity.

One thing that can really help a person explain the theology of the incarnation is watching the mostly paganish show Buffy the Vampire Slayer or its spin-off Angel.

In that fictional world, demons are commonly portrayed in a way that mostly resembles space aliens.  They usually come from other dimensions rather than planets (one episode in BtVS season four even crossed that line making it even harder to differentiate between fantasy and scifi) but they are pretty much creatures that could easily fit in a Star Trek episode.

But in some shows the principle is revealed that these demons have gone through alterations to come into the human plane.  They are “mixtures” or “impure” to some extent (vampires are espcially impure hybrids with human beings and thus looked down upon).  So they are superior in strength and durability usually, but they are still ultimately defeatable if one has super strength of one’s own, or the proper battle axe, or a handy source of high-voltage electricity.  Indeed, when dealing with incorporeal demonic forces, the common strategy is to find some way to get the being to materialize and then deal with the monster that results via weaponry. Continue reading

William McGurn: Like a Virgin–The Press Take On Teenage Sex –

The chain reaction was something out of central casting. A medical journal starts it off by announcing a study comparing teens who take a pledge of virginity until marriage with those who don’t. Lo and behold, when they crunch the numbers, they find not much difference between pledgers and nonpledgers: most do not make it to the marriage bed as virgins.

Like a pack of randy 15-year-old boys, the press dives right in.

“Virginity Pledges Don’t Stop Teen Sex,” screams CBS News. “Virginity pledges don’t mean much,” adds CNN. “Study questions virginity pledges,” says the Chicago Tribune. “Premarital Abstinence Pledges Ineffective, Study Finds,” heralds the Washington Post. “Virginity Pledges Fail to Trump Teen Lust in Look at Older Data,” reports Bloomberg. And on it goes.

In other words, teens will be teens, and moms or dads who believe that concepts such as restraint or morality have any application today are living in a dream world. Typical was the lead for the CBS News story: “Teenagers who take virginity pledges are no less sexually active than other teens, according to a new study.”

Here’s the rub: It just isn’t true.

In fact, the only way the study’s author, Janet Elise Rosenbaum of Johns Hopkins University, could reach such results was by comparing teens who take a virginity pledge with a very small subset of other teens: those who are just as religious and conservative as the pledge-takers. The study is called “Patient Teenagers? A Comparison of the Sexual Behavior of Virginity Pledgers and Matched Nonpledgers,” and it was published in the Jan. 1 edition of Pediatrics.

The first to notice something lost in the translation was Dr. Bernadine Healy, the former head of both the Red Cross and the National Institutes of Health. Today she serves as health editor for U.S. News & World Report. And in her dispatch on this study, Dr. Healy pointed out that “virginity pledging teens were considerably more conservative in their overall sexual behaviors than teens in general — a fact that many media reports have missed cold.”

What Dr. Healy was getting at is that the pledge itself is not what distinguishes these kids from most other teenagers. The real difference is their more conservative and religious home and social environment. As she notes, when you compare both groups in this study with teens at large, the behavioral differences are striking. Here are just a few:

– These teens generally have less risky sex, i.e., fewer sexual partners.

– These teens are less likely to have a teenage pregnancy, or to have friends who use drugs.

– These teens have less premarital vaginal sex.

– When these teens lose their virginity they tend to do so at age 21 — compared to 17 for the typical American teen.

– And very much overlooked, one out of four of these teens do in fact keep the pledge to remain chaste — amid much cheap ridicule and just about zero support outside their homes or churches.

Let’s put this another way. The real headline from this study is this: “Religious Teens Differ Little in Sexual Behavior Whether or Not They Take a Pledge.”

via William McGurn: Like a Virgin – The Press Take On Teenage Sex –

There’s more to the article.  For the record, I was ready to accept the whole thing.  Since I oppose public education on general principles I don’t feel that loyal to a curricullum, even if I happen to adopt the premise in my own teaching.  So it was somewhat difficult to realize I’d been gullible.  Live and learn.

Whoa, Meredith! What amazing investigative journalism!

I have no idea if Naomi Wolf’s book is any good or not.  I’m not even done with the video.  I have it paused now at 1:45.

But what is Meredith Vierra thinking and what are viewers supposed to think?

Wolf reports that the First Brigade is being deployed in the United States in contravention to ….

Well, she never got quite to talk about the legal precedent.  Because Vierra interrupted her and said that, “We actually did talk to the people at Northcom…”  And, suprise, surprise, they claimed that that division wouldn’t be used in law enforcement, dealing with civil disobedience, or crowd control.

So they had their intern call up and get an official denial and that is news reporting?  So, if the Colonel had issued a statement saying, “Why yes, we plan to use the brigade to apprehend and jail civilians,” then that would mean that Wolf was credible.  But since he issued a public denial we can now “expose” Wolf as lacking in credibility.


What would have happened if we had this kind of alleged journalism during the Nixon Administration? How can Vierra not realize what a laughable hack she is being?