Tuesday, May 25, 2010

It’s Enough


Saw this witty comment online somewhere:

You can fool some of the people all of the time,
and all of the people some of the time . . .

. . . and that’s enough.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Rand Is Right

George STEPHANOPOULOS (sounds like a disease, doesn’t it?) asks Rand Paul”

You [Rand Paul] wrote in your local paper, that the Fair Housing act doesn't recognize the distinction between private and public property. "Should discrimination be prohibited for public, taxpayer-financed institutions such as schools to reject someone based on an individual's beliefs or attributes? Most certainly. Should it be prohibited for private entities, such as a church, a bed and breakfast, a retirement neighborhood that doesn't want noisy children? Absolutely not." And you went on to write that a "free society will abide unofficial private discrimination, even when that means allows hate-filled group, to exclude people on the based color of their skin." So, if you feel someone doesn't want to sell their house to someone, based on the color of their skin, that's okay?

Kent comments:

Should individuals be able to decide to whom they will sell, rent, or associate?  It almost seems silly that this kind of question should come up.  If you can’t choose to whom you will sell something, then you do not own that something.  And in this we see a severe problem in our culture:  we do not understand or respect ownership.

If I do not want you – for whatever weird reason I might dream up – to come into my store, then we all need to respect that.  It is an unavoidable corollary of ownership.  If the store is truly mine, then that decision must be mine.

Of course, such weird decisions will come with their own punishments.  If I don’t allow you in my store, I am missing a potential sale, and thus a potential profit.  Enough of this sort of weirdness will put me out of business.

Is it not odd how this trampling on ownership in our society only seems to work in one direction?  Why do we so freely allow people to choose from whom they will buy, and then try to dictate to people to whom they will sell?  (I fear mentioning this, as someone idiot in government might decide to make things more consistent in this matter!)

Rand Paul is correct:  a free society will (to be free, it must!) abide private ‘discrimination’ when it comes to both buying and selling, based upon the preferences of owners.  Otherwise, we are a society of slaves to the state.

P.S. – It is a blessing from God to have someone running for national office who is willing to say this in public!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sunday’s Coming

Have you seen the little spoof video ‘Sunday’s Coming’?  If you haven’t, you should have a look.  You should also check out the comments about it by Cathy Lynn Grossman at USA Today’s ‘Faith and Reason’ section.  Cathy says, among other things, “I once went to a conference of young evangelical pastors and every one of them looked like a character on this video.”

As Cathy says of the video, “it parodies the contemporary worship service style now seen on stage -- or rather the pulpit -- coast to coast.”

It has bothered me a bit for some time to see what unimaginative conformists Christians often are.  About five years ago my family made a little pilgrimage around our area to visit churches.  As my wife noted, nine out of ten ministers wore polo shirts embroidered with their church’s insignia.  It was ‘in’ at that time, and there weren’t many dissenters.  As a song in a musical I once heard said:

Conform, conform, I simply must conform.
To think that I could be myself would cause me alarm.

What is especially amazing is that this little spoof video was produced by a church does exactly the thing being spoofed in the video!  As Cathy our commentator tells us:

Indeed, a video on the church's home page about their for-real Sunday morning experience that looks at first glance like families attending a PG rock concert set amid vast parking lots.

For some time now, even small churches have been attempting to produce their version of this stage show on Sunday mornings – and sometimes Saturday evenings (that’s another discussion).  They are not usually quite as good a show as the bigger congregations, mostly because they can’t afford as much equipment and they can’t afford to hire a truly rockin’ worship leader.  But they try as best they can to be just like everyone else.

If the point of congregational worship is to focus our attention on something and Someone that transcends this world, it seems a bit odd to try to do that in a direct imitation of a rock concert/television production.  But what could I possibly know about it?  After all, I am not the ‘pastor’ of a rockin’ mega-church.

I know that ‘the show must go on.’  But why does it have to be the same show at every church?  Is there not room for a bit of originality?  Are there no ideas for church gatherings that are something other than churched-up copies of current culture?

My favorite image from ‘Sunday’s Coming’ is near the beginning where balding ‘worship leader’ is powdering his head, presumably so the bright stage lights will not send a blinding reflection to anyone in the audience.  But even if that happened, wouldn’t it just be a contemporary church version of the blinding light that came to Paul on the road to Damascus?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Suffer the Little Children . . .

A Candle in the Darkness

The president of Compassion International tells his story of childhood abuse and deliverance in a West Africa boarding school.  Wess Stafford | posted 5/07/2010 09:08AM


Mission policy dictated that all MKS leave their parents at age 6 and travel 700 miles (a week by truck) to this isolated jungle school. They, like me, had experienced unspeakable cruelty in this place. The people in charge were missionaries who had gone to Africa to save souls but, I don't know, perhaps did not measure up linguistically or cross-culturally, so instead had been assigned to the least desirable task on the field: taking care of other missionaries' children. Unsupervised, they took out their frustration and rage on their most convenient targets: the children in their charge. I learned early that terrible things can happen when children are deemed unimportant, the lowest of priorities.

Kent comments:

There is a companion article to the one above (A Badly Broken Boarding School) which gives some more of the background of this situation.  These articles caused me to recollect some very unpleasant matters.

This is a worst-case scenario, of course.  But consider what has happened with missionaries in some cases in which the boarding school was a good one.  Missionary children are separated from their parents for most of the year.  Missionary children grow up without their parents.

During our Bible college years my wife and I made many friends with the children of missionaries.  Some of them had gone to boarding schools far from their parents.  And while the parents were saving the world, some of them lost their own children.  The ones we knew were not lost to the faith, but resentment was clearly present.

It wasn’t just missionary kids.  (I must assume that is what ‘MKS’ means in the article above, though that is never directly stated.)  At Bible college we also knew plenty of PKS - ‘preacher’s kids’ who clearly, while they were never sent to boarding schools, were clearly out of touch with their parents who were busy ‘saving the world.’

Here is something interesting I have noticed.  Alexander Campbell, perhaps the brilliant mind behind the Restoration Movement in the United States, was absent from his home much more than he was present.  As important, influential, and brilliant as he clearly was in the early American church, none of his children seemed to have been much involved or important in the church.  My survey of their attitudes – to the extent it is possible and which I admit is limited – seems to reveal some of the same attitude I found among my friends who were MKS and PKS.

What better day to say this than Mother’s Day, though Father’s Day would do nicely too:  the Great Commission does not supersede the Parental Commission:

You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  (Deuteronomy 11:19)

Generally speaking, the ‘them’ here is the word of God.  Notice how the very assumption is that parents will be with their children most of the time.

If you think God has ‘called’ you to anything that takes you away from your children, you are very wrong.  The Great Commission does not trump Deut. 11:19.  This does not mean that parents of young children cannot be missionaries.  But it does mean that, if you are, you must never neglect your primary mission field, which is your children.  It could mean that our modern sent-to-a-foreign-land missionary work might have to be worked around one’s children.  It might mean that many things ‘churchish’ have to be worked around the Godly attention we owe our children.  It is not at all ‘noble’ to devote oneself to the ‘professional’ ministry in any way that neglects one’s children.

No amount of so-called ‘leadings’ or ‘callings’ can ever trump the Parental Commission.  If you want to devote your entire adult life to traveling to a far away place that will make it impossible for you to fulfill the Parental Commission, then you had better not have children.  There is far too much emotional baggage that is often thrown around Christian circles about this matter, but the truth is very clear.

If you think you have saved some part of the world, but you have neglected you children in the process, you are definitely NOT making happy the One Who said, “Let the little children come to Me . . .”

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Not-So-Common ‘Common Good’

Breakpoint with Charles Colson

Special Interests or the Common Good?
The Finance Reform Bill

May 3, 2010

On Friday’s BreakPoint, I said passing a “sensible, effective finance reform bill” is a “moral and economic imperative.” The lack of moral restraints, which has turned financial markets into a kind of casino, has made regulation necessary and politically inevitable. . .

And when the debate is over, I’d like to say we saw Congress embrace reform that reflects the best of our democratic and biblical heritage—creating a financial environment where the poor are not exploited but may “glean” from the fields, as the Scripture says; where merchants use honest scales; and where justice prevails, yes, “rolls down like living waters.”

Kent comments:

Christians can be such dunderheads when it comes to things like this.  It’s as though we think that, with just the right kind of legislation, all economic problems will be solved.

‘Financial markets’ will always involve more or less risk.  Markets are, in part, situations in which people are free to experiment financially.  ‘Schemes’ of finance and investment do not have to be dishonest to be risky – sometimes very risky.  When someone is attempting to make something new, something he thinks people might find useful or desirable, he typically needs people who will supply money to make it possible to try the idea.  Many such ideas fail, some succeed, others succeed wildly.  That is part of human freedom and the economically free interaction of human beings we sometimes call ‘the market.’

This can be done in very large ways through large financial institutions.  It can be done in very small ways as when a few friends pool their resources and try something new.

When such things fail, no one has necessarily been robbed or cheated.  Regulations and laws cannot take the risk out of investment.  Such laws and ‘reforms’ can only transfer the risk to others, or prohibit risk-taking.  Of such transfers and prohibitions is tyranny made.

Do evil players ever enter the market?  Of course – in the same way that evil politicians are often elected to office.  Is there a small role for government action in the market?  Yes, but it is very limited.  Players in the market must be required to live up to their contracts, however they decide to construct those.  The injustice of theft or fraud should not go unpunished.

But risky, even unwise, financial schemes do not constitute theft or fraud.  And attempts to outlaw stupidity in the marketplace are bound to fail for many reasons.  For one thing, there is no legitimate way to distinguish stupidity from risk-taking.  More importantly, we are MUCH more likely to get stupidity from Congress than from the marketplace.  Also, stupidity in the marketplace is occasional and voluntary.  Stupidity from Congress is constant, and imposed on everyone by force.

Christians need to stop being naive about economics. Justice will prevail – to the extent that it can among sinful human beings - only when the marketplace is free.