Monthly Archives: February 2006

Dennis Prager: A Voice for Reasonable Moral Thinking

I am not a huge fan of talk-radio, even less so of talk-television. I find much of this medium inane. It is more about entertainment than about provoking real thought. There are a few exceptions to this general rule, which proves the old adage that “exceptions prove the rule.”

I do listen to some talk-radio when I am in my car. This time period in my car is often in the middle of the day when I am going to and from appointments. One person I consistently enjoy listening to on the radio is the conservative Jewish talk-show host Dennis Prager. I have recently begun to read his online material www.dennisprager.com as well his published books. I sometimes disagree rather strongly with Prager about important moral and social issues; especially on abortion (he favors legal abortion with strong limitations in the first trimester).

Like me Dennis Prager is not a consistent conservative partisan politically. He often sides with the Republican Party on matters of national defense and public policy but his criticisms of the president, for over-spending and thus for

By |February 27th, 2006|Categories: Politics|

Harvard's President Resigns Under PC Fire

Lawrence H. Summers is not a noted figure from the political right. In fact, he served as a cabinet member under President Clinton. But he has been the recipient of a barrage of politically correct attacks over recent years. Since 2001 Summers has served as the much maligned president of Harvard University and has been under great fire for some months now. Summers finally resigned yesterday, effective June 30, 2006. Sadly, his story represents a great deal of the problem in much higher education in our day.

In his resignation letter Summers said to the board of Harvard:

I have notified the Harvard Corporation that I will resign as President of the University as of June 30, 2006. Working closely with all parts of the Harvard community, and especially with our remarkable students, has been one of the great joys of my professional life. However, I have reluctantly concluded that the rifts between me and segments of the Arts and Sciences faculty make it infeasible for me to advance the agenda of renewal that I see as crucial to Harvard’s future. I

By |February 22nd, 2006|Categories: Uncategorized|

Preserving Peace Through Strength

Radical pacifism is alive and well in the United States. Behind a great deal of opposition to every war there are those who genuinely believe the New Testament obligates them to non-participation in armed conflict. I have great respect for such conviction, found particularly in the Anabaptist tradition. I once seriously considered this position myself, in my late teens, and have friends who truly hold this ethical stance out of loyalty to Christ as Lord.

But I have serious reservations about the more popular kinds of pacifism that stir up “antiwar” and “peace protests” in our present context. If these views had been dominant in the 1940s I am convinced that Nazism would have swept Europe. If they had been dominant in the 1950s and 1960s Communism would have prevailed in the world. Now that the threat to the West, and its freedoms, is militant Islam the stakes are just as high. The arguments for an antiwar stance range from a lingering commitment to unilateral disarmament all the way to naively embracing the lies that radical Islam wants peace with the West.

By |February 21st, 2006|Categories: Politics|

When William Willimon Speaks I Listen

William Willimon is the bishop of the Methodist Church in Alabama. He is also a widely respected writer and a very able preacher of the gospel. If you don’t know his work you have missed something. Every preacher, and serious Christian thinker, ought to read "Will," as he is called by friends. You will disagree at some points but you will profit for sure.

Willimon has a unique way of cutting the chase when he writes about public issues. He is keenly prophetic and quite often provocative. He once said, “There can be no better work for us than—in our own way, in our own place—to testify to the fact that God rules the world; nations do not.”

Someone needs to remind Iran, North Korea, and Syria of this truth. But someone also ought to remind Israel and the United States of America that this is true, especially in the light of the responsibility these Western nations have before God. If God’s preachers will not speak to this matter who will? I am a political conservative, for several intellectually formed

By |February 20th, 2006|Categories: Politics|

The Tyranny of Medical Research and the Body-Police

Modern medical research has done a great deal of obvious good. Life spans have been lengthened in recent decades and people generally enjoy healthier lives as a result of studies in nutrition and diet.

But there is a real trap for some in these continued medical discoveries. Hard science is necessarily committed to a continued quest for better knowledge based upon better research. The results mean that once “proven” assumptions about good or bad can be altered again and again. A good example of this was seen in the recent research evidence that coffee is not nearly as bad for you as was previously assumed.

Manfred Kroger, a retired food scientist from Penn State University, says: “A lot of early research was flawed. Coffee lovers are more likely to do harmful things like smoke and drink alcohol in excess, so coffee was often falsely incriminated.” The health benefits of coffee are not so great that anyone is urging you to up your intake significantly. Pregnant women are still urged to abstain. And large amounts of coffee still appear to present

By |February 16th, 2006|Categories: Science|

Charles Colson and the Culture Commission

Many pastors and church leaders are confused about the present culture wars. They either embrace them uncritically, adopting the views, and even the rhetoric, of people they hold in esteem, or they sit them out, saying (in effect) that the Great Commission trumps all Christian involvement with such culture issues. But these two extremes are not the only options.

Charles Colson, who seems to understand this matter very clearly, suggested several months ago that we are called to obey both the Great Commission and the culture commission. Christians, Colson rightly argues, are called upon to bring the gospel of saving grace to their neighbors, because of love for Christ and their neighbor. But they are also called upon to be engaged as agents of common grace in the culture commission. Colson argues that the culture commission includes things like “sustaining and renewing creation, defending the created institutions of family and society, critiquing false worldviews, etc.”

I agree with Colson. However, I think a large mistake in category is often made at this precise point. The church is to be a family, or

By |February 13th, 2006|Categories: Culture|

Responding to Islam's Passion Over Blasphemy

Blasphemy is in the news. Mocking God has been a non-issue, at least in Western civil society, for nearly one hundred years. A combination of Enlightenment thought, joined with a correct understanding of what Jesus taught about church-state and one’s public and private actions, helped to rid the West of barbaric attempts to enforce respect for God. Now, the issue blasphemy is all about violent Muslim reaction to cartoon portrayals of the prophet Muhammad. The outcry from the West is strong. Freedom of speech is our highest value, so it seems. Religion is a private affair and of no concern to the public in general.

But is religion simply a private idea? Isn’t the worship of the true God, and living in obedience to his law, our highest ideal as Christians? And to raise that age-old problem we Western Christians face every day: “How does our faith properly intersect with public policy and practice?” Mercatornet (www.mercatornet.com) editor Michael Cook argued in “Blasphemy, Protest and Freedom” (February 10, 2006) that Christians, of all people, should be able to

By |February 11th, 2006|Categories: Islam|

The Gains & Losses of Orthodox Feminism

Women have made great gains in modern Western society. Except for the poorest of the poor these gains have benefited almost all women in some way. These gains are the result of a significant social revolution that we have undergone as a society over the past fifty years.

Perhaps the most important early influence in this massive social change was Betty Friedan, who passed away last Saturday (February 5). Friedan was always interesting and often inflammatory. She spoke out on a number of issues over the course of her eighty-five years of life, at times offending the very feminist movement she helped to nurture and grow. Her 1963 bomshell, The Feminine Mystique, was a best-seller. It clearly expressed the agenda for a radical break from the post-World War II Eisenhower era and shattered what has been called “the cozy suburban ideal.” A 1999 New York State University survey of 100 examples of the best journalism of the century voted the book No. 37 on the list.

Showing that she could listen to some of her more conservative critics Betty Friedan’s

By |February 10th, 2006|Categories: Feminism & Women|

The Fraud Goes On

Professor Peter Singer, of Princeton University, is one of the leading advocates in out time for the culture of death. Last year Singer wrote: “During the next 35 years the traditional view of the sanctity of human life will collapse under pressure from scientific, technological, and demographic developments. By 2040, it may be that only a rump of hardcore, know-nothing religious fundamentalists will defend the view that every human life, from conception to death, is sacrosanct. In retrospect, 2005 may be seen as the year in which that position became untenable.”

Jonathan Alter, writing in Newsweek, further chortled that “The South Korean” efforts in cloning human embryos to produce stem cells would prove to be a “brilliant scientific breakthrough” that would expose the “perverse” position of the “Bush bitter-enders and the pope.” Wow! What a major contribution to the human family that “breakthrough” might prove to be. And exposing the “perverse” position of Bush and the pope is truly a marvel

By |February 9th, 2006|Categories: Science|

A Homosexual Challenge Met with Grace and Wisdom

Soulforce’s Equality Ride is coming to Wheaton College, April 20-21. I didn’t even know what Soulforce was until this morning. The goal of the Soulforce Equality Ride is to change the policies and practices of the institutions they plan to visit, which includes fourteen Christian colleges that are member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities.

Soulforce states its purpose to be: “Freedom for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people from religious and political oppression through the practice of relentless nonviolent resistance.” A visit to the Web site of Soulforce http://www.soulforce.org/ reveals that the organization has built its Equality Ride agenda around the philosophy and practices of the 1960s Civil Rights movement. In their own words: “At military and religious colleges around the nation, bans on gays, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender enrollment forces students into closets of fear and self-hate. These bans devalue the life of GLBT people and they slam the door on academic freedom. The Equality Ride empowers young adults to challenge those college bans.”

So why visit Wheaton College? Well, Wheaton

By |February 2nd, 2006|Categories: Homosexuality|
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