Monday, March 30, 2009

Moll on Christian Dying

Rob Moll reflects well on Christians, death and the recent study that seems to intimate that Christians, in general, cling to life more than the lost. He cites two reasons this is the case:

1. We are so pro-life about the beginning of life that we have become pro-life about the end of life too.

2. Similar to what I said, the prosperity gospel has unduly affected some believers.

It is a good read.

So Many Links (30 Mar 2009)

I gesus yuo'er nto htat smrat if yuo cna raed tihs.

Why Groothuis is pro-life.

The ten craziest diets in history.

Chuck your TV to the curb (or at least the cable box).

It is about time we started regrowing body parts.

Oh man, Twitter has officially become really dumb.

Go figure: Same-sex proposals up in less religious New England states.

Driscoll's (unaired) closing statement in the Satan debate:

1. See Falling Baby 2. Catch It

Crazy story from a town near me:
At 6:30 last night, Robert Lemire was chatting on his cell phone, talking about coaching his daughter's softball team this spring.

But when he looked across the street, Lemire quickly realized someone else's daughter was going to need his help first.

A child was dangling out of a third-story window at 700 Haverhill St., and Lemire, without thinking about his own safety, bolted across the busy street to help the toddler. Then, with help from Alex Day, another Good Samaritan, the two men caught 11/2-year-old Caliah Clark as she fell about 40 feet into their waiting arms.
Whole story.

Doug Wilson on Fireproof

Truly insightful:
(Fireproof) was a very successful motion picture tract. This was edifying propaganda, and when I use the word edifying I am not putting quotation marks around it. The word propaganda is, if memory serves, the Latin passive periphrastic, meaning "things to be propagated." Most made-for-tv movies and soap operas have low production values and they propagate the most frightful didactic drivel. This was a movie within that same genre that communicated the gospel clearly, and which walked people through some very basic and very real principles that contribute to the success of marriage relationships. It was not sophisticated at all, and revolved around a rudimentary come-to-Jesus appeal. And you know what? That is just what a lot of people need.

If I set myself to think of couples in marriages that I think would be greatly helped by watching this movie, I would run out of fingers inside of a minute. I can also think of Christians who would be offended by the schlock, but many of them would be those who know more about how a movie ought to be made than about how a woman ought to be treated. And they would rather watch a movie about a woman being abused so long as the movie was made right than to have the woman treated right in a movie that offended their refined sensibilities. So which is the altar and which is the sacrifice? Makes me think of Augustine's comment about rhetors who cared far more about avoiding grammatical misuse of the word man than they cared about their actual treatment of actual men.
Whole thing.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Finally: Flying Instructions via Old School Rap

HT: Thanks B

Friday, March 27, 2009

Carson, On the Bible is Not a Supermarket

From How Long, O Lord? Reflections on Suffering and Evil:
However hard some things are to understand, it is never helpful to start picking and choosing biblical truths we find congenial, as if the Bible is an open-shelved supermarket where we are at perfect liberty to choose only the chocolate bars. For the Christian, it is God's Word, and it is not negotiable. What answers we find may not be exhaustive, but they give us the God who is there, and who gives us some measure of comfort and assurance. The alternative is a god we manufacture, and who provides no comfort at all. Whatever comfort we feel is self-delusion, and it will be stripped away at the end when we give an account to the God who has spoken to us, not only in Scripture, but supremely in his Son Jesus Christ.

I Forgive You For Murdering My Husband as He Preached


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Debating Satan

Driscoll et al can now be seen debating online here (use Internet Explorer).

Deborah Has No Idea Who Victoria Beckham Is

You can see the rest of the segments on YouTube.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

So Many Links (25 Mar 2009)

No brainier: ESV Study Bible the Christian book of the year.

Finally: A 4800 calorie burger.

A quick look at The Rise of Christianity (a must read book).

Think you know Einstein? I got 60% right. Does that mean I am 60% as smart as he was?

I guess that even the crappy economy can't get people back in church. I'm think the gospel will.

An auspicious, non-political movie on, go figure, the Iraq War.

Low Point: Haggard on Divorce Court.

Hockey goalie temper-tantrum of the day video:

We Don't Need an Economist

I quoted this from Don Carson in my sermon on Sunday:
If God had perceived that our greatest need was economic, he would have sent an economist. If he had perceived that our greatest need was entertainment, he would have sent us a comedian or an artist. If God had perceived that our greatest need was political stability, he would have sent us a politician. If he had perceived that our greatest need was health, he would have sent us a doctor. But (God) perceived that our greatest need involved our sin, our alienation from him, our profound rebellion, our death; and he sent us a Savior.
From A Call to Spiritual Reformation: Priorities from Paul and His Prayers.

The End of the World is Upon Us

fail owned pwned pictures
see more pwn and owned pictures

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sermon: The Call of Jesus

If you're so inclined, here is the sermon I gave on Sunday, based on Luke 5:1-11:

Finally: Transhuman Domicile

I saw some pictures the other day that made me realize something about our world: humans are always way weirder than I realize. Try and think up the most bizarre, strange, odd thing that a human could do. Now realize that not only has that been done, someone has done something weirder. Enter Arakawa and Madeline Gins. They were detailed in the WSJ this morning as, perhaps, the oddest people affected by the Bernie Madoff scandal. Because they lost their life savings to his bogus investments, they aren't able to keep up their business of making 'transhuman homes.' And, folks, while the article is interesting, you have to see it (them) to believe it:

Calvinistic Baby Names on the Rise

Or so reports TBNN on the reaction to the Time article on the New Calvinism:
One unexpected result of the TIME article has been an immediate impact on baby boy names. The research department here at TBNN has discovered that since the announcement of the TIME article, certain names have become much more popular for baby boys almost over night. Conversely, the choice of other names has fallen off dramatically.

The results are as follows (first name, followed by percentage change):

Calvin: +500%

Luther: +200%

Ulrich: +15%

Owen: +75%

Edwards: +150%

Spurgeon: +80%

Piper: +750%

R.C.: +50%

Alistair: +80%

Wesley: -300%

Jacobus: -600%

We are also happy to report that the name "Osteen," which had been on the rise for several years, now appears to have plateaued. No information is yet available as to the effect the new Osteen Bible will have on future baby names.

David and Saul: The Movie

Random thought of the day:

Why doesn't Hollywood make a movie of the account of David and Saul (and no, the 1964 version doesn't count)? Well, I know why they won't, but they should. I am almost finished with it in my devotional and it is really striking. It reads like a suspense/action novel. But what sets it apart are the incredible, gritty details. For example, 1 Samuel 27: 10-11 (emphasis mine):
When Achish asked, "Where did you go raiding today?" David would say, "Against the Negev of Judah" or "Against the Negev of Jerahmeel" or "Against the Negev of the Kenites." He did not leave a man or woman alive to be brought to Gath, for he thought, "They might inform on us and say, 'This is what David did.'" And such was his practice as long as he lived in Philistine territory.
Most people don't remember David that way. And I want to see it in a movie.

Monday, March 23, 2009

So Many Links (23 Mar 2009)

Want to know God's will? Cast lots (sometimes).

The obligatory "Why didn't I think to do that in a sermon?" news story.

Uh, thank God?

Freakiest roller coasters in the world.

I'm just sayin' (oh, and of course here, but here? wait, seriously, here? good Lord, here? and creepy).

So you're saying that an Episcopal priest actually has to be Christian? Weird.

Are you a follower of Jesus or a Christian? I guess there is a difference.

Ominous-prophetic picture of the day:

fail owned <span class=

Why you preach against legalism to a secularist:

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Debating the Goodness of Religion is Killer

Or at least it looks that way in this clip, in the forthcoming movie (called Collision) on debates between atheist Christipher Hitches and (Reformed) Christian Doug Wilson:

I would really like to call that video what it is, but will make it palatable to all: BadDonkey. I have grown to love Wilson and am stoked about this film. It may have stemmed from a debate they had over at CT. Here.


Keller Infiltrates Willow Creek


Friday, March 20, 2009

The Pomo President

The website Moral Accountability posted a quote today from Democrats for Life that I thought was interesting, on Obama's freeing of funds for embryonic stem cell research:
Democrats For Life of America disagreed with the Mexico City Policy reversal but had an opportunity to air our concerns with representatives of the Administration. But the announcement that President Obama would allow expanded use of embryonic stem cells came as a surprise. DFLA has had a productive relationship both with the campaign and the early stages of the new Administration. To have no opportunity to weigh in on this controversial issue signals a cooling of our relations. DFLA is against President Obama’s decision, period. There are workable and successful options available to private sector research operations that use umbilical cord blood and non embryonic stem cells. To frame this decision as a necessity to cure finding medical research is not accurate. While we have zero confidence that a call for reversal of this Executive Order will prevail, we are hopeful that the President will heed our call for common ground solutions in dealing with pro-life Democrats.
Now that is interesting on several levels. Most obviously, DFLA is saying, pointedly, that Obama is a hypocrite. He came into office saying one thing and is now doing another. But worse than that, his rhetoric, even now, sounds highly inclusive and yet his actions have not been. He literally can say one thing while simultaneously doing another. Nobody likes a hypocrite.

But there is a deeper issue here, and it has everything to do with us, not him. I would content that "we" have gotten what we wanted. What I argued during the election was that Obama sounded great, but his rhetoric was not based in any substance. So when he would say things like "I will work to reduce abortion in America," all one had to do was look at his voting record and realize that he was lying. And this is what you do with any person. Is what they are saying actually true? There is, unfortunately, no direct correlation between what someones says and what someone actually believes. And what is downright scary is that, perhaps for the first time, Americans said this was ok.

Doug Groothuis calls Obama the first postmodern president: "(He is) all image, all the time; surface over depth; pastiche over foundation." America was desperate enough for change (for no obvious reason) that they were happy to elect a man whose substance was highly suspect. And, fascinatingly, Obama and his team knew that. They knew that if issues, if substance, ever became more important than speech and style, he would lose. They literally would train their field workers not to talk about Obama's positions but rather talk about "how they became Obama supporters." Or notice, for example, what Obama was doing last night. He was being interviewed by Jay Leno. That is historic, and shows us where he is powerful and where he isn't.

Now I understand that the issues aren't always going to be so self-evidently good that no marketing is needed. Reagan's trickle-down economics, for example, was never very popular and he had to hit the stump quite often to change minds. But there is a difference between trying to get someone to see truth and trying get someone to ignore it. And Obama, consistently, does the latter. With masterful sleight of hand, he uses his rhetorical ability to cloak what he really believes.

Now I don't just say that so that we can continue to harp on Obama (though I will). I say it also so that we don't follow suit. Speaking to the Corinthians, Paul warned of this (2 Cor. 11:3-6):
But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough. Indeed, I consider that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. Even if I am unskilled in speaking, I am not so in knowledge; indeed, in every way we have made this plain to you in all things.
Paul's point is that substance matters much more than style. "I won't ever be as good as some preachers," he says, "But I have the truth. That is all that matters." So in hearing and doing, we must agree.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

So Many Links (19 March 2009)

The practice of infant baptism is sinful. No, saying that is sinful is sinful. No, it's not

The faith of the Pixar dudes.    

Gay marriage finally the dictionary.

Jim Wallis oddly making sense.  

Think you're smart?  It may not help.  

Sigh: New England more godless than ever.  There's work to be done!

Worst (best?) celebrity mullets.

I'm just sayin'...

Oblivious fail:

Sheep are the New Monkeys

At least in my book.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Christians and Cancer

I'm not quite sure what to make of this.

Of course studies can be wrong, and how were these people really "religious"? Nevertheless, it is somewhat disturbing. Of course we should fight cancer, or any other disease or injury. But at what point do we stop? Is there a line that we should not cross? I think it all has to do with your heart. Perhaps life has become an idol for you. Perhaps you really don't believe that Christ should be more important than even life itself. We say that we are doing it for the Lord, allowing him the ability to heal us, or convinced that we have work yet to do, but we are really afraid of losing something else we have made ultimate. Maybe our families, or something else.

I am treading on delicate ground here. My point is not that we shouldn't fight or stop praying. My point is that we simultaneously do that and believe deeply that "God's will be done." I think Paul's heart was in the right place when he said, "I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body," (Philippians 1:23-24).

My sense is that this study included a lot of heath-and-wealthers. This errant theology has infected much of the American church, unfortunately. Satan uses prosperity theology, it seems, precisely so that we will lose hope. If your only hope is that God will heal you in accordance with your faith on this planet, then you most assuredly lose faith, because God doesn't always see fit to heal miraculously. We must learn to cry "Glory!" to God for healing or for killing. And perhaps this will guide us at the end of life. But how much, how long should we fight? I don't know.

For more on health and wealth, I commend to you randy Alcorn's article here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An Intellectually Honest Atheist

And that's not a good thing. Read this piece on the radical Peter Singer.

O'Rourke Swings with a Bat

Unbelievably brutal and amazing piece today in the Weekly Standard by P.J. O'Rourke, on Obama's speech/decision to open federal funds to embryonic stem cell research. A snippet:
President Obama went to hell not with the stroke of a pen, but with the cluck of a tongue. His executive order was an error. His statement at the executive order signing ceremony was a mortal error: "In recent years, when it comes to stem cell research, rather than furthering discovery, our government has forced what I believe is a false choice between sound science and moral values."

A false choice is no choice at all--Tweedledee/Tweedledum, Chevy Suburban/GMC Yukon XL, Joe Biden/Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Is there really no difference "between sound science and moral values"? Webster's Third New International Dictionary states that science is, definition one, "possession of knowledge as distinguished from ignorance or misunderstanding."

Let's look at the various things science has "known" in the past 3,000 years.

Lightning is the sneeze of Thor.

The periodic table consists of Earth, Wind, and Fire and a recording of "Got To Get You into My Life."

The world is flat with signs saying "Here Be Democrats" near the edges.

You can turn lead into gold without first selling your Citibank stock at a huge loss.

We're the center of the universe and the Sun revolves around us (and shines out of Uranus, Mr. President, if I may be allowed a moment of utter sophomoricism).
It gets worse (i.e. better) from here and is a must read.

So Many Links (17 Mar 2009)

Reducing abortion for real (must read from CT).

Hagglers have returned.

Growing up on facebook.

Who is doing well in this economy: Wal-Mart, McDonald's, and...psychics?

The obligatory "This six-year-old is smarter than me" link.

Massachusetts, you are truly brilliant!

Four ways 'New Calvinism' is so powerful. Or maybe not.

I'm just sayin'...

Invite the neighbor kids to church.

What is more awesome: The dude who thinks it is "neat" to catch a gray fox, or the monkey who eats Little Debbies? I will be conflicted about this all day:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Missy Higgins

Anyone heard of her? Killer:


John Stossel is the man, exposing corruption, pointing out social, political and governmental absurdities. The latest 20/20 is well worth your time, but the segment below was especially interesting:

Friday, March 13, 2009

So Many Links (13 Mar 2009)

15% of us have no god.

Cheapos always find a way to go cheaper.

We are now a reclusive people.

Can't defeat Prop 8? Defeat marriage.

Evangelicalism won't fail, but it will, pretty soon, look a lot like banks.

Help make the adoption tax credit permanent.

Savant recreates Rome on paper after seeing it for 45 minutes:

Krauthammer on Obama's 'Science' Fiction

Though I wish Krauthammer held more respect for life, his critique today of Obama's decision to open federal funds to every kind of embryonic stem cell research is wholly devastating. As is the case with most of Krauthammer's work, his strident rhetoric is only meant to show where things are untrue, not simply where he disagrees. This is especially the case in his piece today. The best line (there are many of them):
Science has everything to say about what is possible. Science has nothing to say about what is permissible.
Whole thing.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fleet Foxes in the Black Cab

The New Calvinism

Time Magazine says that "Neo-Calvinism" is the third idea that is changing the world right now. Let's hope it sticks, 'cause it's biblical. Amorality is #5, by the way.

If They Could Become Little Babies, They Should Not Be Used, Says BILL CLINTON

Uh, is he serious? Mr. Rhodes Scholar doesn't know that embryos are fertilized eggs? What he is saying, essentially, is that you should only extract stem cells from unfertilized eggs (which, if you don't know, is not actually possible). On the other hand, you should not extract stem cells from fertilized eggs (embryos) because those eggs could eventually become little babies. This was no slip of the tongue. This is not semantics. President Bill Clinton believes that embryonic stem cell research is wrong. Amazing.

Parenting Idols

Brutal, from Paul Tripp's book Age of Opportunity, posted over at the Life Together blog:
1. Idol of Comfort.

Secretly in our heart, many of us want our life to be a resort. A resort is a place where we are the one who is served. Our needs come first, we have paid our money and we have the right to expect certain things. Many of us bring this entitlement mentality to our parenting. We reason that we have the right to quiet, harmony, peace and respect, and we respond in anger when we do not get it. Life is a war. If we demand comfort, regularity, peace, space, harmony, we will begin to see our child as the enemy. We will begin to fight with them rather than for them.

2. Idol of Success.

Sometimes in parenting we think that if we do our part our children will be model citizens. Yet in a fallen world, this is not the way it works. We tend to approach parenting with a sense of ownership, that these are our children and their obedience is our right. These assumptions pave the way for our identity to get wrapped up in our children. We begin to need them to be what they should be so that we can feel a sense of achievement and success. We begin to look at our children as our trophies rather than God’s creatures. Charles Drew in his book A Journey Worth Taking says, “It is good and right to be a faithful parent; but it is not good to be a controlling parent whose identity and sense of value is caught up in how the kids turn out.”

The Stem-Cell Debate and Torture, Part 2

So if you read this before, you know I was examining the way in which humans make life and death decisions. This all surrounds the question of embryonic stem cell research and how killing babies could be a worthwhile means to an end, the end being the creation of life saving or altering therapies for those outside of the womb. Are not some lives worth more than others? If embryonic stem cell research proves to be as gainful as some say it will, many more people will be affected than will be harmed. Therefore, it is a worthwhile enterprise.

Listen again to Saletan:
You don't have to equate embryos with full-grown human beings—I don't—to appreciate the danger of exploiting them. Embryos are the beginnings of people. They're not parts of people. They're the whole thing, in very early form. Harvesting them, whether for research or medicine, is different from harvesting other kinds of cells. It's the difference between using an object and using a subject. How long can we grow this subject before dismembering it to get useful cells? How far should we strip-mine humanity in order to save it?
So, at least in this circumstance, is some life worth more than other life? I would say no:

1. I remember watching an old Star Trek: The Next Generation episode where a medical doctor had decided to use humans to test a new drug that could save millions of lives. The only problem was that she was killing many people in the process. When Beverly Crusher, the on-board medical doctor, finds out about this, she is outraged and stops the drug trials immediately. The doctor objected, "Yes, this will kill some people. But it could save millions!" Crusher responded, "I will not be subjected to making decisions based on hypothetical outcomes." What she is saying is that no human life should be ended at the "promise" of medical breakthrough. Though stem cell research could yield great benefit, there is no guarantee that it will.

2. People need to start equating 5-day-old embryos with 5-day-old babies. You don't need to believe in God to realize that there is no logical way to determine when an embryo becomes "full-grown." Consequently, and necessarily, embryos must be considered fully human, not partially so. And this of course solves immediately any dilemma. Except for the morally depraved and insane, no one would support hacking up 5-day-old babies to ameliorate the suffering of some, or even saving of a few. Though this may be utilitarian (isn't everything?), it is more profoundly a basic moral assumption.

3. The one lingering question about this is in regard to the issue of a woman whose pregnancy threatens her life. Many pro-lifers will advocate terminating pregnancies if it will save the life of the mom. Now what must be understood is that pro-lifers only advocate terminations when the baby has no chance for survival. That is, if the mom can be saved, but the baby cannot be saved, it is okay to end the pregnancy. A good example of this is a tubal pregnancy. So the difference between this and stem cell harvesting is that, with respect to stem cell harvesting, babies are being killed that could have survived. Now some would argue that these babies were going to be tossed out anyway. To that I say, stop freezing babies.

Miller: Obama Buzzkilling the Economy

Dennis Miller, on The O'Reilly Factor last night:
(Obama) couldn't be any more hang-dog if he came out to speak about (the economy) dressed in a literal bear suit.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Stem-Cell Debate and Torture

William Saletan has a good piece on the stem-cell decision from Obama. His position isn't pro-life by any means, but it is more measured than Obama's. He writes:
The best way to understand this peril is to look at an issue that has become the mirror image of the stem-cell fight. That issue is torture. On Jan. 22, Obama signed an executive order prohibiting interrogation methods used by the Bush administration to extract information from accused terrorists. "We can abide by a rule that says we don't torture, but that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need," the president declared. "We are willing to observe core standards of conduct not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."

The next day, former Bush aide Karl Rove accused Obama of endangering the country by impeding interrogations of the enemy. "They don't recognize we're in a war," said Rove. "In a war, you do not take tools that are working and stop using them and say we'll get back to you in four months, six months, eight months, a year, and tell you what we're going to do to replace this valuable tool which has helped keep America safe."'

To most of us, Rove's attack is familiar and infuriating. We believe, as Obama does, that it's possible to save lives without crossing a moral line that might corrupt us. We reject the Bush administration's insistence on using all available methods rather than waiting for scrupulous alternatives. We see how Rove twists Obama's position to hide the moral question and make Obama look obtuse and irresponsible.

The same Bush-Rove tactics are being used today in the stem-cell fight. But they're not coming from the right. They're coming from the left. Proponents of embryo research are insisting that because we're in a life-and-death struggle—in this case, a scientific struggle—anyone who impedes that struggle by renouncing effective tools is irrational and irresponsible. The war on disease is like the war on terror: Either you're with science, or you're against it.

Obama announced his executive order on stem cells in tandem with a memo authorizing the removal of "politics" and "ideology" from science. The ban on funding of embryo-destructive research "has no basis in science," according to a White House fact sheet, and the president was lifting it "to remove these limitations on scientific inquiry." Harold Varmus, the co-chairman of Obama's scientific advisory council, told reporters:

We view what happened with stem cell research in the last administration as one manifestation of failure to think carefully about how federal support of science and the use of scientific advice occurs. This is consistent with the president's determination to use sound scientific practice, responsible practice of science and evidence, instead of dogma in developing federal policy.

Research proponents everywhere are parroting this spin. Obama's stem-cell order shows "his commitment to evidence and biomedical hope over his predecessor's ideological distortion of science," says the Center for American Progress. The order will "remove politics from science," says the president of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. It will "keep politics out of science," says the vice president of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. It signals that policy will no longer be "driven more by ideology than by facts," says the director of the University of Michigan Center for Stem Cell Biology.

Think about what's being dismissed here as "politics" and "ideology." You don't have to equate embryos with full-grown human beings—I don't—to appreciate the danger of exploiting them. Embryos are the beginnings of people. They're not parts of people. They're the whole thing, in very early form. Harvesting them, whether for research or medicine, is different from harvesting other kinds of cells. It's the difference between using an object and using a subject. How long can we grow this subject before dismembering it to get useful cells? How far should we strip-mine humanity in order to save it?
He goes on:
At their best, proponents of stem-cell research have turned the question on its head. They have asked pro-lifers: How precious is that little embryo? Precious enough to forswear research that might save the life of a 50-year-old man? Precious enough to give up on a 6-year-old girl? How many people, in the name of life, are you willing to surrender to death?

To most of us, the dilemma is more compelling from this angle. It seems worse to let the girl die for the embryo's sake than to kill the embryo for the girl's sake, particularly since embryos left over from fertility treatments will be discarded or left to die, anyway. But it's still a dilemma. And as technology advances, the dilemmas will become more difficult. Already, researchers are clamoring to extend Obama's policy so they can use federal money to create and destroy customized embryos, not just use the ones left over from fertility treatments.

The danger of seeing the stem-cell war as a contest between science and ideology is that you bury these dilemmas. You forget the moral problem. You start lying to yourself and others about what you're doing. You invent euphemisms like pre-embryo, pre-conception, and clonote. Your ethical lines begin to slide.
Whole thing.

I appreciate that he agrees that ideology can't be left outside the room when it comes to these tough biomedical decisions. Obama's call for the freedom of science from ideology is absurd, disingenuous and meant to (unethically) incapacitate all contrasting opinion. Nevertheless, Saletan seems to believe that he is somehow forsaking utilitarianism by making sure that, at least, the issues are "considered." Obama's position is not utilitarianism, it is totalitarianism. Saletan's position, while gentler than that of Rove's torture policy, is still utilitarianism.

And to that question, it seems obvious that we do make life and death decisions based on utilitarianism all of the time. I doubt many would be outraged if fighters shot down a hijacked, fully-loaded passenger plane out of the sky headed for Gillette stadium. And closer to this dillema, many pro-life conservative Christians will say that it is okay to end a pregnancy that threatens the life of the mother. Why then shouldn't we end the lives of some to save others?

I am going to try and write more on this later.

So many Links (11 Mar 2009)

The coming evangelical collapse.

Barack, AKA Jimmy.

Can Phish fans still be Phish fans without the chronic?

Speaking of collapse, some newspapers aren't doing so hot either.

Next time get golden-calf from Aaron.

Avoid porn.

Um, seriously?

Harvesting embryos for their stem-cells akin to "laboratory plantations."

This dude had more to worry about than skin cancer.

Sadly, 1 in 50 KIDS homeless. Sigh. They can come live with me.

God is God-Centered:

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Every Decision is Ideological

Jonah Goldberg, in response to the notion promulgated by Obama that federal decisions on science can and should be free from ideology:
An even simpler hypothetical would be this: Imagine if the president declared "the military will be free of ideological or political interference. Henceforth, neither the Congress nor the executive branch can meddle in military decisions or impose their political or ideological agendas on how it operates."

Most people surely recognize how stupid and dangerous this would be (including the founding fathers who wisely made sure the constitution barred anything of the sort). But then again, what's the difference? After all, he military is full of experts who understand the complexities of war far better than most civilian leaders. Why should non-experts from the political branches impose their "ideological" preferences and agendas on the military? Let's not even bring up the word "ethics" — it has no place in such affairs. Let's just leave it up to the military to determine what rules it should follow, what practices it can adopt. They're the experts.

I think Saletan and Yuval don't go far enough, however, in explaining that Obama's "ideology-free" position on stem cells, is itself an ideological position. I'm no fan of the philosopher Carl Schmitt, but he was right that even the decision to decide what things are "immune" from politics is a political decision. If a right-wing president declared that he would give the military a completely free hand to set its own ethical and procedural constraints, most of us on the left and right would see that as a crazily "ideological" position.

Preemptive Parenting

This seems obvious, but maybe it's not. Driscoll:
Sadly, much parenting is reactive rather than preemptive. What I mean is that rather than cultivating a biblically informed love for Jesus and others, some parents are careless in their instruction and correction until a child’s attitude and/or conduct become critically concerning.

Examples include the parents of an angry boy who don’t work with him until he’s facing expulsion from school for fighting and even then merely take him to church, hoping that alone will fix him. Or the junior high girl who has become sexually active with her boyfriend so her parents, who have not pastorally parented, suddenly sit her down to read Bible verses to her without any relationship, hoping that magic will happen and she’ll immediately act differently.

Preemptive parenting means making daily deposits of love, grace, instruction, correction, and trust in the bank of a child’s heart so that when crisis moments come there is a wealth of investment from which to draw. Subsequently, preemptive parenting should begin from the womb when parents should be praying for their unborn child, and include Bible reading and instruction with the children from their earliest days.

On, Why I Didn't Go to the Signing Ceremony

Charles Krauthammer, last night on Fox News' Special report (transcript below):

What Obama is doing is he's expanding the range of the federal funding of research involving embryonic stem cells. He is allowing the use of embryos that were created in fertility clinics and are not going to be used anymore.

Now, I supported that when I was on the president's council of bioethics and in my writing, which I suppose is why the White House invited me to the signing ceremony.

But I declined for three reasons. One is the president has left open the cloning of human embryos in order to destroy them in experiments. Secondly, he leaves open the creation of human embryos entirely for the purpose of research and experimentation.

And thirdly, he had a memorandum which he signed in which he talks about restoring the scientific integrity in government decisions, which is an outrageous attack on Bush.

I disagreed with where Bush ended up drawing the line on permissible research, but he gave in August of 2001 the single most morally serious presidential speech on medical ethics ever given, and Obama did not, even though I agree on where — I agree more on where he ended up.

So I think it was disrespectful. And in pretending, as Obama did, that there's never a conflict between ethics and science, he was wrong.

I suspect that they're not going to be asking me to any more signing ceremonies in the future.

Creepy Quotes of the Day

David Brooks on the economy:
Robert Barro of Harvard estimates that there is a 30 percent chance of a depression. Warren Buffett says economic activity “has fallen off a cliff” and is not coming back soon.

Stock market declines are destroying $23 trillion in wealth, according to Lawrence Lindsey. Auto production is down by two-thirds since 2005. In China, 20 million migrant laborers have lost their jobs. Investment in developing countries has dropped from $929 billion in 2007 to $165 billion this year. Pension systems are fragile. Household balance sheets are still a wreck.
NYT editorial on the stem-cell decision:
Other important embryonic research is still being hobbled by the so-called Dickey-Wicker amendment. The amendment, which is regularly attached to appropriations bills for the Department of Health and Human Services, prohibits the use of federal funds to support scientific work that involves the destruction of human embryos (as happens when stem cells are extracted) or the creation of embryos for research purposes.

Until that changes, scientists who want to create embryos — and extract stem cells — matched to patients with specific diseases will have to rely on private or state support. Such research is one promising way to learn how the diseases develop and devise the best treatments. Congress should follow Mr. Obama’s lead and lift this prohibition so such important work can benefit from an infusion of federal dollars.

Bringing Integrity Back to Science? Dubious

Robert George and Eric Cohen in the WSJ today:
Mr. Obama made a big point in his speech of claiming to bring integrity back to science policy, and his desire to remove the previous administration's ideological agenda from scientific decision-making. This claim of taking science out of politics is false and misguided on two counts.

First, the Obama policy is itself blatantly political. It is red meat to his Bush-hating base, yet pays no more than lip service to recent scientific breakthroughs that make possible the production of cells that are biologically equivalent to embryonic stem cells without the need to create or kill human embryos. Inexplicably -- apart from political motivations -- Mr. Obama revoked not only the Bush restrictions on embryo destructive research funding, but also the 2007 executive order that encourages the National Institutes of Health to explore non-embryo-destructive sources of stem cells.

Second and more fundamentally, the claim about taking politics out of science is in the deepest sense antidemocratic. The question of whether to destroy human embryos for research purposes is not fundamentally a scientific question; it is a moral and civic question about the proper uses, ambitions and limits of science. It is a question about how we will treat members of the human family at the very dawn of life; about our willingness to seek alternative paths to medical progress that respect human dignity.
Whole thing.


A friend pointed out a new website called SoulPancake. What is SoulPancake, you ask? Rainn Wilson, of The Office, explains:
We want to make discussions about Spirituality, Creativity, and Philosophy cool again. Were they ever cool? I have no idea. But it seems like a good idea. We want to engage the user to “Chew on Life’s Big Questions”™. (I was kidding about the ™ symbol; you can use that phrase however you want. Even to sell frozen taquitos.) Where do you go on the Interwebs if you want an irreverent, fun, and profound take on God and Art and the Soul and Faith and Beauty? Maybe. But maybe also here at

We provide some rockin’ content (interviews, blogs, challenges, contests, features, and more), but it’s really all about having YOU—the SoulPancake community—bring this site to life. Say what’s on your mind. Be real. Talk about WHY WE’RE HERE. And if I say something that offends you, let me have it.

Just remember: Life is a rich, weird, difficult experience. So join us as we go on the spiritual and artistic journey that is SoulPancake.
Sounds pretty cool.

Monday, March 9, 2009

So Many Links (09 Mar 2009)

Lunatic ninja intruder turns out to be kangaroo.

Are Mormons Christians?

Ted Tripp audio from a parenting conference (always a must listen).

2009 is for bionic eyes.

Grammar myths debunked.

Best opinion on Obama and the stem cell reversal.

I take that back, this one is.

If you understand the gospel, you will tip well:

No Ethics Considered/No Reversal

Yuval Levin:
Even for those of us who expected the worst from the Obama stem cell policy, the actual text of his Executive Order is a bit of a shock. It describes no particular ethical restraints whatsoever—not against funding the use of embryos created for research, or cloned embryos, or anything else. And it offers not even a mention of an ethical debate. The only case for the policy it makes is that “advances over the past decade in this promising scientific field have been encouraging, leading to broad agreement in the scientific community that the research should be supported by Federal funds.” Agreement in the scientific community seems to be all that matters in making federal funding policy. And it then leaves it up to NIH to make all the rules. It’s all science and no ethics, and doesn't even bother to pretend otherwise.
On a related note, the President has made it nearly impossible to overturn his decision; from Congressional Quarterly (italics mine):
Codifying the Obama administration’s position would enable stem cell researchers to tap some of the $10 billion in funding for National Institutes of Health biomedical research contained in the recently enacted economic stimulus package (PL 111-5).

It also would block any of Obama’s successors from overturning his support through similar executive actions.

“Congress is likely to cement this policy so it would take a majority of the House and Senate to overturn it,” said Michael Rugnetta, a bioethics researcher at the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank that advised the administration on the issue.

Science is King

It should surprise no one that Obama will lift the limits on embryonic stem-cell research, continuing his assault on protection for the unborn. Obama will, according to USA Today, "Restore scientific integrity" to white house decision making. Good job Obama. This erdudite sentiment was reflected by other scientists:
"Public policy must be guided by sound scientific advice." -Nobel Prize winner Harold Varmus

"What really is important is that ideology will not drive science." -Bioethicist Jonathan Moreno

"Hallelujah, this marks the end of a long and repressive chapter in scientific history," said stem cell researcher Robert Lanza of Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass. "It's the stem-cell Emancipation Proclamation."
I'm assuming Nazi scientists would have rejoiced with them.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

No Mo' Biscuits


Thursday, March 5, 2009

So Many Links 05 Mar 2009

A reminder to all of my Italian Catholic readers: No texting.

Six ways to boost your brain power (oddly, reading this blog is not on the list).

Arrested Development, the movie.

Witness to your neighbors.

Ever want to know what one trillion dollars looks like?

Obama, this is getting old.

Best ideas written on napkins and TP.

The obligatory "Hamster chooses organic food over conventional food" video:

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Christians, Pay Attention to the Economy

From Doug Wilson's blog today:
The screaming issue, the one that has everybody's attention right now, is the economy. And this is not just a matter of your private retirement, although that probably has your attention as well. Evildoers can't do evil without paying their troops, and we can't resist them without paying ours. Churches have budgets, and have a payroll to meet, and the same thing goes for pro-life organizations, publishing houses, colleges, not to mention organizations dedicated to the preservation of the second amendment.

Obama knows that his approval rating will never be higher than it is right now. He knows that if he wants to get lunatic legislation through Congress, which he does, a bunch of it, then he has to do it now. And because he has a couple of truckloads of that legislation, he is going to try to get all of it through now. He will probably succeed with most of it, and no, this is not a rallying cry to "write your Congressman." If your Congressman could read, he would probably have read a book by now, and that would mean his voting record would have to have been a little bit different.

I have said that Christians need to learn economics, and right now they should be taking a crash course in it -- and not so that you can persuade Congress not to bury us under a rock pile of economic disincentives. They will not be persuaded.

But you need to know what is going to be happening a year and a half from now as a result of, say, dropping 30 bucksabillion clams into the clam market. You need to know so that you can continue to provide for your family, so that you can support those who have been thrown out of work -- whether it is the nurse who won't do abortions or the factory worker who had the misfortune to be employed by greedmonkeys regulated by powermonkeys. You need to know so that you can continue to tithe to your church, so that you can continue to support worthy organizations. Whatever the other issues are, and there will be plenty of them, we will all need resources in order to be equipped to do the right thing. "A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself: But the simple pass on, and are punished" (Prov. 22:3).

No Yearning In Me Unmet

From the interview posted below, David Plotz discusses his own religious views and the need of a savior:
You say you started as an agnostic. Have your religious views changed by reading the Bible?

I guess I'm one of these agnostics who is becoming closer to atheism now because I am so upset by the picture of the God there. I am so disturbed by the God that I found there. The most disturbing part of this whole journey for me was, how do I as a Jew cling to a God who seems to be so unmerciful so much of the time and so cruel so much of the time? That's very troubling. Do I want such a God to exist? I don't know that I do.

As Jews, we don't have the comfort of the New Testament to fall back on.

You wrote in your conclusion, 'I am a Jew. I don't and can't believe that Jesus died for my sins.' Christians will say, 'Of course you can.'

I certainly have had many Christians of whom I have loved who have told me that. I just know it's not a need that I have. I can live a good and happy life without finding the comfort of that I know that other people do find. I guess my emotional and intellectual and theological state doesn't have the urgency which might make me perceptive to having a Jesus-like figure. There's not a yearning in me that is unmet.

So Many Links (04 Mar 2009)

Best prank evah.

Abortion provider who discarded a born-alive baby after botched abortion has been arrested.

Gdrive is coming.

Fascinating interview with the agnostic Slate editor David Plotz on his book Good Book (reflections on the OT).

Serve well.

Scientist discovers "mystery" of belly button lint.

King, Buffet, Jolie, and Gates on giving.

Two dog vids in a row:

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

He's Not Who We Thought He Was

From David Brooks' op-ed today:
Those of us who consider ourselves moderates — moderate-conservative, in my case — are forced to confront the reality that Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice.
Laughable. I might be more inclined to sympathize had he believed that the world was flat.

So Many Links (03 Mar 2009)

There' s a difference between knowing that the president will fail, and wanting him to fail.

The gift of discernment gone bad.

Finally, they found a new psychedelic fish.

You stay classy
Washington State.

I guess we can call Him Allah now.

Couple wrongly accused of child abuse can't get their kids back. Pray for them.

Child prostitutes in the US? Seriously? More prayer.

Top 5 myths of Christian dating.

The obligatory "This puppy is smarter than my daughter" video:

Monday, March 2, 2009

What is the Right Way to Be Rich?


Of course, one could argue that anyone in America is rich.

Everything is Amazing, Nobody is Happy

(mild content warning):

How right is this dude? Similarly, I really baffled at the whole Obama campaign. "Change!" Why? Are our lives really that bad? Even without Christ, our lifestyles compared to those in 3rd world countries are phenomenal. Unfortunately, it is always the case that the more we hold on to, the less full we will feel.


Less Education, More Imitation

As a new parent, you think a lot about parenting. It was really impossible before to think about it. But now it stands there in our lives, almost monolithic at times. How does one raise his child? By grace, of course. But grace does not come only at opportune times; it does not always come "when we need it most." Grace, a lot of the time, is given so that you can change now, not later. And this seems to fit in with how I am seeing parenting these days. It is less education, more imitation. And that is terrifying.

My wife and I were spatting the other morning over some inane, pointless contention. After we were through, I asked her, "How long do we have before we have to stop doing that in front of our daughter?" Though we said "Soon," I am sure the answer is "Now." And that's because kids, for the most part, are imitators. One of the worst things we could do for our daughter, it seems, is to live a life of "Do as I say, not as I do." I don't need a psychology degree to tell me that is just dumb. But it's even worse when you realize that your altruism isn't any help either. "I don't want my kid to turn like me." Good luck. Kids, in truth, will not turn into the people we want them to be. Kids will turn into the people we are.

This was driven home by a quote from Doug Wilson, in is book Angels in Architecture (121-122):
The story of child rearing is almost wholly about imitation. We do good or ill, and the young ones follow in lock step, no matter how much we talk and point elsewhere. They are designed that way....

This inescapable imitation should be listed as a means of growing in grace. Parents often jest about their children being ‘means of sanctification,’ suggesting that child rearing is often a trial. But the situation is much more serious than a passing trial. Given the way children have to imitate parents (or whoever fills that role), one cannot just coast passively, selfishly, like we often do through tough times. Our tiniest daily responses in front of the kids constantly mold and chip away at their persons. Children are a means of sanctification because they are daily adopting their parents’ characters, virtues and vices and all. This is a blessing when we are faithful, but it’s a frightening mirror when we see our own sins growing in them. With kids around, we can’t just move slowly on our own growth. We have to grow in grace for the sake of the kids. If we don’t, then we can become a curse to them and their children.
May I realize that God has granted me the grace to change now. My daughter is watching.