Thursday, June 17, 2010

Gay, but not Homosexual

Today in his Breakpoint commentary for June 17th Chuck Colson rightly complains:

A recent New York Times article noted that people are "starting not to notice" when celebrities come out of the closet. The Times lamented that what was "once seen as a defiant and courageous act of such social and political significance" has "has lost some of its potency."

I wonder why? Could it be that, if your perception of the world is shaped by pop culture, you expect a lot of people to be gay? Could it be that after years of being told by elite media, like the Times, that being gay is "no big deal," people treat the news that someone is gay as "no big deal"?

Kent comments:

Here is a further thought on this matter.  Perhaps we need to begin to reclaim the culture on this matter by refusing to succumb to the manipulation of the English language.  Just because homosexuals (especially activists) like to call themselves ‘gay’ is no reason everyone else should.

The term ‘gay’ was clearly chosen here because of its original meaning, “having or showing a merry, lively mood.”  Apart from any moral evaluation, homosexual is homosexual.  Once you allow it to be termed ‘gay’ you have allowed proponents to cast it in a good light.

I do my level best never to call homosexuals or their sexual activity ‘gay’ because it most assuredly is not.  A good place to start in any effort to rescue our culture from homosexual activists/proponents is a steadfast refusal to allow them to co-op our language.

So let us be very clear:  I am often gay, but I am not homosexual.  Homosexuals might think they are gay, but given all the problems that almost always arise from this particular sin, they are not.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Business of Business

Yesterday I was listening to “Simply Money.”  The guest was a lawyer who specialized in employment law.  People asked him all sorts of questions.  In the course of the questioning, he covered some things employers are not allowed to ask in interviews.  The list included:  How old are you/when were you born?  Do you have any disabilities?  Are you pregnant?  When did you receive your degree?

After listening to all the things employers can’t ask those they might employ,  I started thinking, “If this is the way it works today, I would not bother even to attempt to hire anyone.  That means I would be reluctant to start a business unless I and my immediate family could be the staff.

“We” think we are so compassionate and caring when we restrict, tax, and regulate businesses.  When you say “business” most people are thinking of things like Ford, GM, IBM, Microsoft, Bank of America, and the like – that is, very large corporations.

But most businesses are small to medium in size.  They are something that some hard-working individual borrowed or saved enough money to start, risking it all in the process.

“We” begrudge businesses their profits, sometimes even the very small ones.  We are too often seduced by the Marxist lie that profits are necessarily “exploitation.”

If you have never read Atlas Shrugged, you should.  It portrays a situation in which the state has taxed and regulated businesses to the point that the talented business people decide to start dropping out.  When they do, things stopped being produced.  Soon there is great need and poverty.

Be very careful of your attitude toward businesses.  They are how we get the things we want and need.  They are where we work.  They are where we can invest.  They are what separates us from poverty.  If you make it difficult for businesses to do business, business owners will not be the only ones to suffer – far from it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Jesus Could Be ‘Tricky’

[from “No More Christian Nice Girl”]

Or what about in Matthew 15 when the Canaanite mother begs Jesus to heal her daughter, and he responds with, "It is not right to take the children's bread and toss it to their dogs" (v. 26). If he were anyone else, believers would denounce him as being hard-hearted, cruel, and perhaps not even a Christian because he wasn't polite or helpful. In fact, Jesus sounds rude, like he's calling her a dog. What's up with that?

Kent comments:

This is an article denouncing the feminization of Jesus.  As a whole it is fairly good, but the comment on Matt. 15 reminded me of something important.

It can be dangerous to be overly creative in reading the Bible.  This doesn’t mean that historical background, broad context, and even theological considerations cannot help us better understand scripture.  But sometimes people do ‘find’ things in the Bible that simply are not there.

But I don’t think I am being overly creative when I say that many people misunderstand the episode of Jesus and the Canaanite woman in Matt. 15.  It seems clear to me that Jesus’ seeming standoffishness toward this woman was primarily for the benefit of the disciples.

Jesus closest followers were all Jewish men who had, to a large extent, adopted (perhaps without even thinking much about it) the then current attitude of Jews toward Gentiles.  Jesus knew something these disciples did not yet understand:  His followers would one day be largely Gentiles.  For that to happen, some of his Jewish followers would have to change their attitudes toward Gentiles.

It appears that Jesus intended to heal this woman’s daughter all along.  He could have just done it, of course.  But in striking the ‘Gentile woman is below me’ attitude He was no doubt assuming a position toward the Gentiles with which all his immediate disciples were very familiar.  Jesus’ initial approach to this woman let the disciples see their unexamined assumptions about Gentiles on display.  It looked ugly because it was meant to look ugly, and the disciples needed to see that.

Jesus’ pronouncement at the end of the episode that the woman’s faith is great reveals His true attitude toward this woman.  (The disciples sometimes failed the ‘great faith’ standard.)

This whole encounter seems to have had its desired effect, at least on one disciple by the name of Simon Peter.  After Jesus’ death and resurrection, Peter – though it took some more convincing – was willing to enter the house of the Gentile Cornelius (see Acts 10) so that Gentiles could hear the gospel.

When Peter reached the house of Cornelius and entered there into the company of many Gentiles, he said, “"You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean.”

God had begun to show Peter that as Peter observed Jesus with the Canaanite woman.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

And the Show Must Go On!

Soothing Ourselves to Death

Should we give people what they want or what they need?

Charles Colson with Anne Morse | posted 4/01/2006 12:00AM

When church music directors lead congregations in singing contemporary Christian music, I often listen stoically with teeth clenched. But one Sunday morning, I cracked. We'd been led through endless repetitions of a meaningless ditty called "Draw Me Close to You," which has zero theological content and could just as easily be sung in any nightclub. When I thought it was finally and mercifully over, the music leader beamed. "Let's sing that again, shall we?" he asked. "No!" I shouted, loudly enough to send heads all around me spinning while my wife, Patty, cringed.

I admit I prefer traditional hymns, but even so, I'm convinced that much of the music being written for the church today reflects an unfortunate trend—slipping across the line from worship to entertainment. Evangelicals are in danger of amusing ourselves to death, to borrow the title of the classic Neil Postman book.

Kent comments:

I most certainly wish I could have been there when Chuck shouted “No!"  There have been times and places at church when I almost cracked, but never quite.  The most protest I have ever been able to muster is simply to stop singing and try to endure until the end – here with a bit different meaning than in scripture.

My most annoying little picture of something like this is the song leader who feels compelled to shout before every line, “Now sing . . .” and he then quotes the first few words of the line.  Of course, all the lines are always projected onto the omnipresent screen that has mostly replaced the cross as the symbol of the Christian faith today.  So the song leader is not conveying any information by shouting out the first few words of each line.  He is just trying to pump up the crowd.  In some versions of this, it appears that the song leader is the opening act, intended to ‘warm up’ the audience before the main show, which is, of course, the sermon.

In more cases than I care to contemplate, the church has become a show.  And the show must go on, because that’s entertainment!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Death by Symbols

[from a recent report in Christianity Today]

A plaintiff known as Doe 2 recently said that if s/he had to attend a high school graduation ceremony in a Christian church, s/he would be "forced to submit to a religious environment that … will make me feel extremely uncomfortable and offended."

Doe 2 (as in "John Doe") was one of five plaintiffs who sought an injunction against Enfield Public Schools to prevent them from holding the graduation ceremony in First Cathedral, a Christian Church. The judge granted the injunction, in part because she agreed that there was the "likelihood of irreparable harm" coming to the plaintiffs.

That phrase—"the likelihood of irreparable harm"—made me laugh when I first read it, but after examining the ruling, I understood. Doe 3 is Jewish and said s/he would not have attended the ceremony because s/he would "feel that the Cathedral is proselytizing its Christian beliefs … through its scriptures and symbols." A high school graduation is indeed an important cultural marker, so one can empathize how deeply disappointing it would be to miss it.

Kent comments:

First of all, “Doe 2” might want to repeat English class.  The verb “proselytize” - if it has an object – requires that the object be those who might be brought to certain beliefs, not the beliefs to which they might be brought.  So “the Cathedral” cannot “proselytize its Christian beliefs.”  Perhaps “Doe 2” should stick to words with which “s/he” is familiar.

But quibbling aside, something struck me about this matter.  The judge agrees that, if Jewish kid enters a building filled with Christian symbols, there is a likelihood of irreparable harm coming to said Jewish kid.

However, what about the irreparable harm that comes to students across our nation who are ‘proselytized’ daily into a faith of Darwinism, relativism, statism, etc. every day by their teachers down at the public school?  These students are not simply subjected to a picture of Darwin – that might be harmless enough.  They are required, for example, to think – or at least to pretend to think – as though what Darwin taught is true!

There is very little hope for improvement in our culture as long as we subject our children to the ideas of that great trinity of falsehoods – Marx, Darwin, and Freud.  Yet the false ideas of these three permeate almost every classroom of American today.  (The few who escape these are usually subjected to the idiocy of postmodernism instead.)

Meanwhile, we fret over whether a Jewish student might see a cross on the wall at graduation.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Constitution According to the Comic Strip

Today's Cartoon

[In case the comic strip is not visible, see Non Sequitur Comic for 06/10/2010.]

Kent comments:

Wow – the head of the ‘original Constitution’ guy just explodes.  It seems a little violent to me.  But it’s not half the violence that is done to the Constitution in this little bit of wildly inaccurate comic strip editorializing.

First, the ‘original Constitution’ did not ‘make it legal’ for anyone to own anyone.  It simply restricted the power of Congress in regard to making laws regarding slavery.  Perhaps Wiley Miller (the author of this strip) should read Article I, Section 9 of the Constitution sometime.  That section is about limits on Congress.  Article IV, Section 2 touches on the matter of slavery (and perhaps some other situations), but this time in regard to the limits of the duties of one state to another within the union.

Second, the ‘original Constitution’ says nothing about who may or may not vote.  It nowhere states or even implies that women my not vote.  It simply leaves those determinations up to the states.

Even a cursory reading of these sections reveals that the implied criticism of this comic strip is idiotic.  (I know comic strips are supposed to be funny, but it is good to distinguish humor from idiocy.)

So perhaps the rather smug black woman, speaking for Wiley Miller, did not quite blow the head off of the ‘original Constitution’ guy after all.  Maybe smug black woman and Wiley Miller need to do the unthinkable and actually read some of the Constitution before their heads implode due to a severe vacuum.


Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Moral Importance of Ownership

{Note:  what follows is a long excerpt from the conclusion of the article “Republicans Should Repudiate Rand Paul’s Civil Rights Stand” by Peter Wehner.  It is such an important issue that, if you have not thought carefully about it, you should.}

[Wehner urges us to] consider the logic and moral force of George F. Will, a man of impeccable conservative credentials.

Will, in his 1983 book "Statecraft As Soulcraft: What Government Does," points out that segregationists like Lester Maddox, a proprietor of the Pickrick Restaurant in Atlanta before he was governor of Georgia, was exercising a real right when he denied service to black patrons. But that right had to be weighed against other, competing rights. And so in 1964 Congress, in Will's words, "undertook a small but significant rearrangement of American rights. It diminished the rights of proprietors of public accommodations, and expanded those of potential users of those accommodations."

Will goes on to write this:

The simple truth is that in 1964, because of brave and skillful symbolic actions by civil rights forces shaping public opinion, an American majority was unusually aroused and conscious of what Congress was doing. Congress was coming to the conclusion that a right exercised meanly, with ugly consequences, should yield to another, better right.
The great civil rights legislation of the 1960s was, of course, designed primarily to improve the condition of the descendants of slaves. But it had another purpose. It was supposed to do what it in fact did. It was supposed to alter the operation of the minds of many white Americans. The most admirable achievement of modern liberalism -- desegregation, and the civil rights acts -- were explicit and successful attempts to change (among other things) individuals' moral beliefs by compelling them to change their behavior. The theory was that if government compelled people to eat and work and study and play together, government would improve the inner lives of those people.

That is a deeply conservative, and deeply American, insight. I wish Rand Paul shared it.  The fact that he doesn't is bad enough. The party of Lincoln should not be complicit in his offense.

Kent Comments:

Who am I to take on George Will?  Nevertheless, Rand Paul’s position on this is based on property rights.  The most fundamental right of any human being is that of property.  First of all, if (in relationship to other human beings) you do not own yourself, then you can have not other rights.

Beyond that, it is very important that we respect the right of people to use their properly-gained property as they see fit.  This is, of course, subject to the provision that you are not using your property to destroy someone else’s equal right to his own property.  This sounds all very ethereal, but without it, we really do not have civilization – as we currently do not.

So let us be very specific with an example.  Suppose you own a little ice cream shop.  You own the building in which it is housed, you own all the equipment in the building, and you own the products you keep for sale.  Do you have the right to decide to whom you will sell ice cream?

George Will, Peter Wehner, and many others think you do not.  If you decided not to sell ice cream to Germans, Will thinks that “right exercised meanly, with ugly consequences, should yield to another, better right.”  That is, your right to control your property is trumped by another right held by someone else.

Is it not interesting that, within all the flowery language about rights, the details of this other right is never specified?  What right trumps my right to decide how I will use my ice cream shop?  Does my right not to be treated “meanly” trump your right to decide how you will use your ice cream shop?

If it does, then you do not really own your ice cream shop, for ownership implies control if it implies anything at all.  If someone you wish to ban from your ice cream shop can use it in spite of your objection, then you do not own “your” ice cream shop.

But the truth of the matter is that George Will and Peter Wehner do not believe that you or anyone else should really own anything, because they do not think you should finally control anything you own.  George Will even states above that, via the civil rights legislation of the 1960s, the government was rightly attempting “to alter the operation of the minds of . . . Americans.”

This means that for George Will and those of his ilk, government mind control trumps the right of ownership.  This is far more than “a small but significant rearrangement of American rights.”  It is, instead, an obliteration of the right of ownership.

Where is the “logic and moral force” of this?  There is none.  It can be slipped past people in the modern United States partly because of the background of slavery and all of the horrible consequences that flow from the way “reconstruction” was handled by – guess who? – early Republicans.  It has created a whole pathos about the matter that seems to prevent many of us from thinking clearly when it comes up.

I do not think, contrary to Peter Wehner, that this is a “deeply conservative, deeply American” insight.  But if it is, I am not a conservative, and I am not an American.  As Ben Franklin is alleged to have said, “Where liberty is, there is my country.”

Rand Paul has been on the hot seat for his very logical and cogent remark about this matter.  The fact that he is getting heat about it shows just how effectively government has been controlling minds since the 1960s.  But it is so very depressing to see how many, even among those who call themselves conservatives, think that is a good thing.

Maybe that is why it is high time for some new kind of Republicans – the Rand Paul kind, at least on this matter – who are not afraid to speak up for the most fundamental right of human beings – the right to ownership.

Postscript:  if I owned an ice cream shop, it would be my fondest wish that any and all ice cream lovers enter my shop and buy my ice cream, for the obvious reason that it would help me make greater profits from my investment.  It would be economically irrational to do otherwise.  But the right to ownership implies that people may use their property in economically irrational ways.  Again, if they cannot, then they do not really own their own property because they do not control their property.