Saturday, May 30, 2009

Literally Speaking of ‘Literally’

This has become very annoying.  I speak of the misuse, and abuse, of ‘literally.’  I was listening to a late-afternoon talk show host recently who misused the word, in the same way portrayed in this comic, at least a dozen times in about five minutes.  Each time he used some colorful figure of speech, he prefaced it with ‘literally.’

It seems that people throw ‘literally’ around for what they think is emphasis.  But all it emphasizes when used this way is the stupidity of the one misusing it!

You see, if the little dude to the left was literally ‘too cool for school’ he would have a depressed physical temperature that for some reason would be unworkable or unacceptable for attending school.  The very sobering possibility that comes to mind with this is that he cannot attend school because he has ‘assumed room temperature’ – that is, he is dead!

Please talking voices on radio and talking heads on TV, PLEASE don’t shove a ‘literally’ in front of every figure of speech you ‘toss at us.’  And there is a good example.  Speech is NOT ‘literally’ tossed at us, so if you stick a ‘literally’ in front of that, it makes you sound REALLY STUPID.

Don’t do it!  DON’T  DO  IT  !!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The ‘Right’ to Marry Your Pet

[find the article here]

Threesome Marriages
by Abby Ellin

May 7, 2009 | 6:49am

feet under coversFirst came traditional marriage. Then, gay marriage. Now, there's a movement combining both—simultaneously. Abby Ellin visits the next frontier of nuptials: the "triad."

Less than 18 months ago, Sasha Lessin and Janet Kira Lessin gathered before their friends near their home in Maui, and proclaimed their love for one another. Nothing unusual about that—Sasha, 68, and Janet, 55—were legally married in 2000. Rather, this public commitment ceremony was designed to also bind them to Shivaya, their new 60-something "husband." Says Sasha: “I want to walk down the street hand in hand in hand in hand and live together openly and proclaim our relationship.”

Kent comments:

Charles Colson recently complained that:

In a saner, more sensible time, antics like those of the Lessins would be shocking. But in case you haven’t noticed, we are not living in sensible times. The acceptance of same-sex “marriage” has been made possible by a profound shift in our understanding of marriage. We no longer see marriage as an institution defined by someone and something other than the couple, like tradition, religion and even biology.

Instead, marriage is the product of the couple’s understanding of their relationship. It’s the product of certain feelings and willingness to make a public commitment to another person. If these are present, the reasoning goes, denying people the right to marry because they “happen” to be of the same sex is arbitrary and unjust. [read it all here]

That’s not the half of it, however.  Here are some predictions.

First, these same ideas will be used by some to urge the acceptance of adult-child ‘marriages’ – and by ‘child’ I don’t mean just teenagers.  But this one will be a hard-sell.  The ‘prejudices’ against it are still rather strong.  For one thing, the education establishment has not yet decided to endorse this perversion as it has same-sex ‘marriage.’  (Could this be because it might tend to take away some of the ‘clients’ of the education establishment?  Just guessing here.)

Second, it will not be long before some pervert decides to ‘marry’ his pet.  I’m not sure yet how opinion will go on this one, but I am predicting that a small, vocal group will soon start to push for legal recognition of human-animal ‘marriage.’

Don’t start saying this is somehow ‘revolting.’  It is no more revolting that homosexual ‘marriage’ – be that of the two, there, or more varieties.  Even now most people have been brow-beaten into openly expressing any contempt to homosexual ‘marriage.’  With the right collaboration of popular media outlets, the educational establishment, and left-leaning church groups, it could easily become just as acceptable as homosexual ‘marriage.’

All the reasons given for homosexual marriage are just as applicable to human-animal marriage.

(Fido, if you take this woman to be your lawfully-wedded wife, bark once to signify ‘I do.’)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Better Conclusion

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn't lived that life." -- Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in her Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law in 2001

Kent comments:

There has already been much comment on this, but I will add mine nonetheless.

There seem to be two primary routes to take in this debate.  Route one (which this judge clearly rejects – check out her comments elsewhere) would be to hold up impartiality as a goal for good judicial decisions.  If we take this route, we can still admit that it is a goal not always achieved.  Failing to achieve it would be just that – failure.  A judicial decision that strayed far enough from this goal would be a bad decision.  We would expect judges to attempt to preempt this problem when they recognized its possibility in themselves to recluse themselves from case.  This would also be one reason for having appellate courts – so that decisions flawed by partiality (among other things) could be overturned.

That, at least, is one route.  But there is another.  Let’s call route two ‘Judge Sonia’s Route.’  (I like the parallel with ‘Judge Judy.’)

According to this approach, some kinds of people – based on inclusion in certain classes – are likely to make better decisions than others.  Judge Sonia claims that Latina females are likely to reach a ‘better’ conclusion that white males.  There are many bumps in this road.

For one thing, even if we grant the class superiority analysis that some races and sexes are inherently likely to reach better conclusions than others, why should we think that Latina females are superior in this regard?  I am here to say that white males are much more likely to reach better conclusions that Latina females.

Now I am sure that Judge Sonia would say that I am simply wrong about this.  But I will reply that, of course she is wrong because of my stated principle that white males are more likely to reach better conclusions that Latina females.  I am a white male, Judge Sonia is a Latina female, so of course she will offer her inferior conclusion, and fail to recognize my superior conclusion.

Judge Sonia could avoid my little trap here by claiming that she has analyzed the matter, compared the prejudices and experiences of Latina females and white males, and has discovered for all sorts of good reasons that Latina females come to better conclusions than white males.

But to know that this is true Judge Sonia must be able to step away her group membership and make an impartial and unbiased decision.  However, this clearly puts Judge Sonia back on route one – the route she rejects.

And if it is possible to step away, to any significant extent, from your group membership and offer what is at least a generally impartial conclusion, shouldn’t Judge Sonia be doing just that in her judicial decisions and urging her fellow jurists to do the same?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Gospel According to Legos

[from Preaching Now, Vol. 8, No. 19  May 26 , 2009]


In his book Communicating for a Change, Andy Stanley points out that we are too often hesitant to try different approaches in our preaching. We defend old habits to excuse our unwillingness to stretch ourselves. Then he poses this question:

"What if you had a 16-year-old son who said he was coming to church one last time and then he was packing up and hitting the road for good. And what if in the middle of the night an angel appeared and said, 'You can reach the heart of your son if you do exactly what I tell you. Go into your attic and find his old box of Legos. On Sunday preach a message around this one point: Christ came to build a bridge to the disconnected. The entire time you are preaching you are to construct a bridge using his Legos.' ...

"If that really happened to you, I feel confident that you would not respond by saying, 'But I'm not good with visual aids.' Neither would you say, 'I can't do that in my church. It would require removing the pulpit.' If you really believed that getting way outside your comfort zone on a Sunday morning would reach your teenage son, you would do it.

Kent Comments:

It is not the content of what is said; it’s the way it is said that really matters.

This is a prevalent and interesting assumption in our society.  If only we could say the thing someone needs to hear with just the right ‘trimmings’ – THEN people would be convinced.

When you think about it for a moment, it is a rather odd assumption.

If only we would put the gospel into the form of a computer game, THEN people would believe it.  If only we would make the Bible appear on a giant screen in the sky with great sound effects, THEN people would believe it.  If only [fill in this blank with your most amazing and astounding idea], THEN people would believe.

I don’t doubt that some would play the computer game, gaze into the sky for a while, or whatever you can imagine.  But that is not the point.

Interesting it is, then, to reflect on words that Jesus once put, approvingly, into the mouth of Abraham:  “If they won't pay attention to Moses and the prophets, they won't listen even to someone who comes back from the dead.”  (Luke 16:31)

Well, perhaps they won’t listen to someone who came back from the dead.  But if we had Legos, that would be an entirely different matter – entirely different.

I don’t really object to object lessons.  But this idea that what is crucial is the right ‘window dressing’ is, when you think about it, rather silly.  According to the Apostle Paul, it is the gospel that is the power of God for salvation.  While Andy Stanley and his kin might think the perfect illustration constructed from Legos (or anything else like that) is the key to this matter, everything about the Christian faith says that Andy and company have missed the point, and missed it rather significantly.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Aborting Rape, and Raping Abortion


In his recent commencement speech at Notre Dame, Barack Obama tells a story about communicating with a pro-life doctor about the matter of abortion.  Then Obama goes on to say:

That's when we begin to say, "Maybe we won't agree on abortion, but we can still agree that this is a heart-wrenching decision for any woman to make, with both moral and spiritual dimensions.

So let's work together to reduce the number of women seeking abortions by reducing unintended pregnancies, and making adoption more available, and providing care and support for women who do carry their child to term. Let's honor the conscience of those who disagree with abortion, and draft a sensible conscience clause, and make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded in clear ethics and sound science, as well as respect for the equality of women."

Understand - I do not suggest that the debate surrounding abortion can or should go away. No matter how much we may want to fudge it - indeed, while we know that the views of most Americans on the subject are complex and even contradictory - the fact is that at some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

Open hearts. Open minds. Fair-minded words.

Does – or should – Obama’s effort to deflect the views of pro-lifers succeed?  Perhaps applying his rhetoric to a somewhat parallel matter can help us decide.  What would you think if Obama read from his teleprompter something like the following:

Maybe we won’t agree on the matter of rape, but we can still agree that the decision to rape is a heart-wrenching decision for any man to make.  It is a decision with both moral and spiritual dimensions.

So let us work together to reduce the number of men who seek sexual satisfaction in rape by reducing the number of situations in which rape-prone males come into contact with women.  Let us work to provide other avenues of sexual satisfaction to rape-prone men.  Let us honor the conscience of those who disagree with rape, and make sure that our policies respect the equality of men who develop the need to rape women.

Understand – I do not suggest that the debate surrounding rape can or should go away.  The views of most Americans on this subject are complex and even contradictory.  But the fact is that, at some level, the views of the two camps on rape are irreconcilable.  Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction.  But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.

When it comes to the matter of rape, we all need to have open hearts, open minds, and fair-minded words.

How would this speech be received across America?  Some would say it is not a fair parallel.  While it is not an exact parallel, it is still a revealing parallel.  And, of course, all such evaluations turn on whether or not there are one or two persons affected by abortion.  Obama and other abortion advocates seem to assume that the mother is the only person involved.

But why could we not likewise assume that only one person is involved in rape?  The usual assumption is that the unborn are not persons because they lack certain abilities.  We could make the same assumption about women:  since they lack the strength of men, they are not persons, at least not in rape situations.

If you find this kind of glib, analytical talk about rape shocking, then good for you!  Because there are some important parallels with the matter of rape, Obama’s talk about abortion should be equally repulsive.  It is, of course, repulsive, but not enough people have the moral sensitivity to recognize that fact.

Rape is not the sort of thing that we should not even attempt to be open-minded or open-hearted about, because it involves the violation of an innocent person.  Neither should we be open-minded about abortion, because it also involves an innocent victim.  This statement is not unfair; it is true.  There simply is nothing more accurate to call evil than ‘evil’ – even when it is abortion, as expressed in the policies of Barack Obama.

Obama is very wrong at so many points, but one in particular:  the debate about abortion would wither if most people were willing to recognize that a baby is just as much a human person three weeks before birth as three weeks after birth.  Only an ideology willing to tolerate death for the sake of convenience would fail to see that.  That is not a caricature; that is a carefully studied conclusion.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Our Enemy, the Public Library

According to a report from White Plains Journal News, an 11th-grade student in Pelham Manor, N.Y., was called into the office to be questioned by the assistant principal and the police. There was a report that this young fellow was researching how to conceal a gun. After talking with this student, the police and the principal determined that there was no threat, and in fact the report was wrong: the boy had only been researching the state's laws on guns.

A school spokeswoman said the boy was not disciplined, and remains in school. What was the source of the report? The Pelham Public Library.  According to library Director Patricia Perito, "It is not our procedure to notify somebody" about patrons' book choices but she "had to" look into the matter by informing the school.

Kent comments:

First, I am pleased that this young researcher was not ‘disciplined’ for his research!  But for that matter, why should anyone be prohibited from researching how to conceal a gun, even if that had been his topic of research?  Why should anyone have to answer to the police for their research?  If this isn’t the thought police at work, what else could we call it?

But beyond that, you must remember that ‘public’ libraries are essentially statist institutions.  Librarians, no matter how nice or benign-looking they may be, are agents of the state.  While there could be exceptions, we should expect agents of the state to act on behalf of the state.

As an aside here – I have a problem with what I see at my local library.  It has become a government-sponsored entertainment center which competes with many private businesses.  I see much morally-objectionable entertainment material there – material that I am forced to pay to circulate in my neighborhood.  (Let those who want to rent dirty movies do so with their own money!)  Those who see no problems with this arrangement need to re-think their ideas of right and wrong!

While it might be a few years past the year A.D. 1984, Big Brother is always watching, in ways both great and small – even down at the (statist) public library.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Faith-Based Heresy

[from Christianity Today]

Pressure to Prove Himself
The challenges facing Joshua DuBois and the faith-based initiative.
Sarah Pulliam | posted 5/13/2009 09:38AM

When President Obama issued his executive order repurposing the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, some groups on the Left predictably decried the office as blurring the line between church and state. But conservatives and others who support the office also expressed concerns.

Some groups had feared that Obama would require faith-based organizations that receive grants to hire applicants from other faiths. But the President decided not to issue a blanket rule. Instead, the White House announced that DuBois would be working with the Justice Department to consider the hiring question on a case-by-case basis.

"That strikes me as arbitrary. How do you decide on a case-by-case basis what is equitable to all?" said Amy Black, a Wheaton College political science professor. "We don't want religious discrimination to become a cloak for other forms of discrimination."

Calvin College political science professor Douglas Koopman questioned the office's more issues-driven approach. Obama set specific issues for the office to address: reducing poverty, reducing the need for abortions, encouraging responsible fatherhood, and fostering worldwide interfaith dialogue.

"[T]hat's the cart before the horse. They should be going to the faith-based groups for the agenda, not asking them to fit into the agenda that they have created," said Koopman, Black's coauthor for Of Little Faith: The Politics of George W. Bush's Faith-Based Initiatives. "For all of his flaws, Bush respected the independence, creativity, and savvy of faith-related groups more so than what I'm reading about the Obama approach."

Kent comments:

Who will be allowed to set the agenda for the ‘faith-based’ initiatives?  Will it be the ‘liberals’ (who often are not all that liberal if you disagree with them) or the conservatives (who seem to have forgotten exactly what it is they were trying to conserve)?

I understand why ‘liberals’ would be into this mess.  They typically think of the government as God, or at least as an arm of God that is, in the end, difficult to distinguish in their view from God.  Since they tend to worship the state, it is easier to see why they fly to the state to dip deeply into the money pillaged from others.  They see that plunder as a gift from their god.

I don’t understand why those with an ounce of the historic Christian faith in their spiritual blood would be so ready and willing to suck at the teat of the state in this fashion.  Shouldn’t all the true Christians be crying, “Stop, thief!” rather than, “How can we get our hands on some of that plunder?”

We should not be surprised that something as depraved as the Obama administration would want to promote ‘faith initiatives.’  Should we have been surprised when the Bush administration promoted this idiocy?

Here is a thought for those who still believe in God and anything remotely related to the Christian faith:  suppose we trim government back to somewhere near its proper size and role.  Then, when we have a ‘faith project’ to pursue, go to the people of the faith and ask them to contribute.  (By the way, those people and everyone else will have much more to contribute when government is confined to its God-ordained role.  But that’s another matter.)

It seemed right to the Apostle Paul.  But we, in our infinite wisdom, know better – of course.

We Haven’t Seen That One Since Last Thursday

This from the Foundation for Economic Education:

Tax Increases Eyed to Pay for Health Insurance

“After weeks of discussing ways to provide health care to the uninsured, Congress is beginning the difficult task of finding a way to pay for it. Lawmakers are considering a broad range of ideas — including a federal tax on sugary sodas — but a key Senate committee focused Tuesday on a proposal to tax health insurance that millions of workers get through their employers.” (USA Today, Wednesday)

The old rob-Peter-to pay-Paul trick. We haven’t see that one since last Thursday.

Kent comments:

The insanity of this sort of thing, which should be apparent, is rampant nonetheless.  Here in Kentucky during the winter we constantly hear complaints about how the poor can’t afford to pay their heating bills.  The utility company invites you to contribute to a ‘winter care’ fund when you pay your bill.

Meanwhile, that bill the poor can’t pay has a state tax tacked on to it.  Step one to solving such problems:  stop taxing these kinds of things.  Stop taxing most things.  Stop allowing governments to be the conduits of our money.

Every tax, and every program of government paid for by taxes, is in the end a reduction of liberty.  If liberty matters, then there must be less government to leave room for that liberty.

Meanwhile, all you slaves out there, get to work so you can pay your governments.  We haven’t done that since – yesterday.

Monday, May 11, 2009

No ‘Permit’ Is Needed!

This is from Patriot Post.  As much as I agree with the sentiments – and I realize it is meant as humor in part - it still doesn’t quite capture the essence of the situation.  The Second Amendment is NOT a ‘gun permit.’  That implies that some government has the authority to ban guns, but now ‘permits’ them.

Instead, the Second Amendment is (supposed to be) a restraint on government because people have a ‘built in’ right to the benefits of being personally – and thus collectively – armed.  In fact, the idea at one time was that God Himself had ‘built’ this right into us.

Alas, that is a view that has long since been left behind by most of us.  Even many of those who agree that we have this right are not armed enough to repel and invasion of groundhogs.  The other side has managed to make many of us afraid of firearms.  (It’s a bit like being afraid of newspapers.)

But nevertheless, the poster is amusing – and saddening.  Perhaps I shouldn’t think about these things.

Monday, May 4, 2009

It Makes Me Want to SHOUT!


A friend (thanks, Tim!) directed me to this recent news story:

Louisville seminary merges music school
Associated Press

LOUISVILLE — The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary is folding its decades-old music school into another school because of the sluggish economy and waning popularity with students.  The seminary's School of Church Music and Worship has trained thousands of choir directors, organists and other church worship leaders for 65 years.

[the story continues, concluding with the following]

The National Congregations Study, conducted by a consortium of universities and research organizations, found fewer churches using choirs or written orders of worship between 1998 and 2006, and higher percentages using drums, shouting, dancing, raising hands and saying "Amen."

Kent comments:

I’m not quite sure what to make of that concluding paragraph.  Are we supposed to think that in place of ‘choirs or written orders of worship’ some churches have substituted ‘drums, shouting, dancing, raising hands and saying “Amen”’?

I have this picture in mind of some church leader saying, ‘And now, instead of the choir singing as we did last Sunday, we are going to pound on some drums, shout, dance, raise our hands and say “Amen.”  Get ready, get set – go!’

Back in the days of church choirs, I did hear some that were of poor quality.  But my best guess is that even a mediocre choir was better than a bunch of people shouting, dancing, and saying ‘Amen’ – with raised hands, of course – all to the accompaniment of pounding drums.

Of course, to attain even mediocrity as a church choir required a lot of practice and effort.  I’m sure it’s much easier to pound a drum while people shout, stomp and scream ‘Amen’ with raised hands.  I bet I could do the drumming, shouting thing right now with no practice whatsoever, but I won’t for fear of being arrested for disturbing the peace.

Word has it that people are not as interested in churches as they used to be.  Perhaps somewhere in this is a hint as to why.