Archive for the 'News Media' Category

Chaos is the new normal #RayRice #AdrianPeterson #ISIS

September 15, 2014

That headline is probably not new, so if I swiped your intellectual property, I apologize profusely. I should have known better. This short essay deals with NFL players, their spouses and children, and international terrorists. There is a connection, so stick with me.

Is there anyone else on earth who sympathizes with Ray Rice’s wife? Her life is certainly ruined and none of us is able to look inside the mind of another. It is very possible to love someone who does great harm without being mentally ill. God loves us and he is not crazy. Having been knocked senseless in a public place, it is going to be a big task to drum up much understanding for the offending mate.

Even though the Ravens star has been given an economic death penalty, plenty of women experience a real death sentence at the hands of demonic husbands. Did the NFL go to far with Ray Rice? You might make that argument except for decades of turning a blind eye from the rich and powerful business interest. The NFL is saving itself while it punishes some serious misbehavior.

If the troubled couple is really working on saving their marriage, good for them. There are plenty of interests in this society that hate enduring relationships. Without approving the atrocious misdeed, Christians should support all married couples. This particular couple needs extra help and I wish them well.

Another professional athlete has been charged with a criminal offense after switching his four year-old son. If you have not seen the pictures, it is just as well. They would make you sick. The child has struck with such force as to draw blood several times. The pain of this uncontrolled anger was severe. You can’t imagine how much it hurts to be beaten bloody.

Football players are often not held accountable for misdeeds and many (not all) have a sad and undeserved sense of entitlement. Sometimes the pendulum swings to an extreme in another direction. On ESPN’s College Game Day, video was shown in which a prominent coach described his “zero tolerance” policy toward players who strike women.

I dislike all “zero tolerance” arrangements. First of all, there is always a special case for a favored person and the “zero” mark is easily moved. Secondly, despite what genius coaches might think, there are sometimes “shades of gray.” What if both parties share some blame? Also, there is in the law something called the doctrine of fighting words. There are some things people say when they are just asking for it. Third, what about the poor bastard who just happens to be innocent? It happens. Sometimes a person can be falsely accused. How can supposedly educated people preside over a system where there is no, zero, nada for due process. Sorry to be a stickler for such odd and worn-out ideas, but maybe this hard problem needs just a little thought.

There is a much larger thing at work here. How dare anybody lay a hand on another human being. It is bad to harm a woman, and much worse to mercilessly whip a child. Why not pick a fight with one of your teammates. Why not put on the gloves and take a swing at somebody who has been working out every day? That brand of cowardice makes me want to throw up. Worse by many degrees is the mistreatment handed out by ISIS. What kind of people behead their enemies and post the film? There are no words.

These are symptoms of our abandonment of the notion of man as created in the image of God. Man wills, thanks, praises, and gives  thanks. At least that is what man in the proper order does. Man is by nature rebellious but there seems to have previously been a counter-balance to the worst instincts. Now that man has given up on God (the real one who creates,, intervenes, rules, commands, forgives, and loves us enough to come among the fallen humanity) man has departed from beauty, respect, compassion and the optimism that foresees a better world ruled by the King of Kings. That is the disease. What we have in the news are the symptoms.

The great unhappiness of Fergusson, Mo. #Fergusson

August 25, 2014

Thee seems to be a recurrent cycle in the development of news stories. Version A, trumped by Version B, none-calling and personal attacks. scapegoating,  Version C, Version D, more name calling, best story wins, and the poor people catch hell. So it goes in Fergusson, Mo. For the moment, it is America’s unhappiest. town.

If one is a little bit Reformed, the cause is obvious. Yes, three is racism for sure and you can easily find economic inequality. There is a prideful part of humanity that requires not only victory but the destruction of those holding different positions. The hyper-Calvinists call this disorder of the soul “total depravity.” For us Anglicans, that kind of language is awfully strong. We prefer talking about “the fall.”

So what?

The Reformed (include properly schooled Anglicans) know that the Civil Rights Movement may have passed some laws and changed a few customs, but human nature remains the same. We continue to be the same judgmental, power-hungry, greedy, and diligent guardians of the privileges bestowed on the fortunate. Yes, there is racism, and to admit its existence, like a rotting corpse concealed in the basement, is to expose ourselves to accountability. It is to deny what we say about ourselves when the flags are unfurled. We would rather turn our eyes away from the lingering consequences of slavery than get our nominally Christian hands dirty fixing anything.

The “fixing” part is difficult because, as was the case in the Civil Rights Movement, there is only so much even an entire generation can accomplishment. Human nature is still a mess and that can only be addressed  by putting on the new man of conversion and Baptism into the Body of Christ. That means being open to the leading of the divine Spirit. Too easy? Not if one is actually led into a new set of behaviors that walk away from the old cycle of suspicion and wishing the destruction of those that look, act and think differently.

If this individual change (some of us call it “regeneration”) is insufficient, then the gospel is a lie and the atheists are right. Even though the good outcomes of following Jesus are not immediately visible, we take up the cross anyway. Friends, it is a cross – an instrument of our own pending executions. It is faith and the power of God’s grace that moves Christians to act like Christians anyway. It is forgiveness, turning the other cheek, and taking up the cross. That is completely opposite from the name-calling and personal destruction that is Fergusson.

The Christlike version of change takes time. It takes so much time that it is typical to think that one has failed. This notion of success is a something that runs deep in the culture. It is the same strain that looks upon the poor as failures. The dominant American idea is that those who have less deserve all the bad things that happen to the powerless. Christians know that we are tested and one’s attitude toward and treatment of the less fortunate is a measure of character and part of the criteria on which we will be judged. That is God’s grace delivered by the hands of men.

 

Bill Maher attacks Noah’s Ark story

March 19, 2014

We are lucky to have Bill Maher and probably luckier to live in a country that still allows his brand of hard-nosed criticism of big-shots just begging to be knocked down to size. Maher recently took on the upcoming film that deals with the biblical flood. That is a topic I approached here a few days ago. The story about Maher’s’s epic, if somewhat wrong-headed, take-down was in Daily Kos. The link is below. It includes a complete transcript and video.

Bill Maher attacks Noah’s Ark story.

Just a couple of thoughts.

Maher, an obviously well-educated man, seems to have deliberately made himself oblivious to the Ancient Near East custom of exaggerating the age of rulers. This may be the case with Noah. I do not pretend to know. It is reported that one guy back in ancient times was said to have lived 40-thousand years. Now, that is some kind of tall tale! There are flood stories in many of the old cultures and the version found in Genesis bears little resemblance to the Gilgamesh epic.

The more serious contention is that God is some sort of mass murderer and tyrant. This is not going to please Bill Maher, whom I respect and with whom I frequently agree, but, not one single innocent person perished in the Genesis flood. God is all knowing and sees the hearts and desires of every human being. The Lord spared eight people and wiped out the rest of civilization. That’s his call. He owns the world and everything in it. He owns the animals and the people. The Almighty is not afraid to deal with humanity on the same terms that we use on one another. I have no business judging God, and neither does Bill Maher.

When such an important man calls God into judgment, it is a tremendous misunderstanding and injustice. God will not tolerate that kind of misplaced boldness forever. That is why guys like me and Mr. Maher are well-advised to pay attention to these ancient narratives that reveal the character of God. He will punish, if necessary,. In the meantime, he is patient and loving toward lowlifes like me. He offers salvation from the rightful consequence of our rebellion, the end of which is eternal destruction. God loves Bill Maher and gives him as much time as all the people who drowned so long ago.

Would Jesus shut down the government? #congress #shutdown

October 1, 2013

Now that I have your attention, let us agree that the headline is misleading and highly manipulative. I am anxiously looking forward to somebody’s biblical analysis that will prove the federal shutdown to be part of the divine punishment for … well, you name it. Honestly, America has a lot of punishment coming.

But you cannot easily say that some modern event is traceable to some biblical principle or prophesy. Yes, God works in the world and he sets up human governments, and brings others toppling down. There is an eternal purpose being worked out here and some of it is hinted in the pages of scripture, but we must be careful.

With a due sense of caution, let’s try to think about the shutdown of many federal government services in biblical terms. This is a political question, so I want to be sure to stay out of partisan disputes. This national train wreck is to a very large degree the result of deep divisions among factions that are also very personal. How we treat each other is a moral issue. In this hard situation, Christians have a positive message.

Unfortunately, over the past 30 years, or so, it has become common the demean those who hold different viewpoints. Fair disclosure demands you be informed that I have frequently been on the receiving end of the verbal abuse. The name calling happens on a two-way street, so everyone is due criticism. For goodness sake, we are seeking insight and, now of all times, the last thing anybody needs is finger-pointing over who got called the worse names. Let us stipulate that things have been bad all around.

So what? Well, there is that little matter of Gen 1.

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image,

in the image of God he created him;

male and female he created them. (Gen 1:26-27, ESV)

Man is a little bit like god. He is similar, or in the divine “likeness.” Man is formed out of the ground. He is body and spirit. God and man both communicate. This is an attribute that makes humanity distinct. No other creature communicates with the volume and variety of the human person. Before the fall, God and man had a perfect face-to-face relationship. This is exactly what God wants, and it is what human beings need to become competent custodians of the material world.

Since the entry of sin, God communicates with man by way of revelation. That can be done through nature or by inspired scripture. Man talks to God in prayer. The Eternal is working on a program of restoration. Christians believe that Jesus’ atoning sacrifice made it possible for God and man to enjoy a harmonious relationship.

The point of all this is that mankind is unique and has a particular duty toward mutual respect and kindness. In his book Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard spends several chapters looking into Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. After dealing with the Beatitudes (Matt 5:2-12), he asks how should our righteousness exceed the scribes and the Pharisees? That bunch was very big on keeping small points of the law (of course all of the law is important) and parading around to show what extraordinary law-keepers they were. The problem with the Pharisees is that their hearts were not into it. All that rigid observance was for show.  According to Jesus (v. 20), it is necessary for anybody who wants citizenship in the kingdom of heaven to have the right kind of heart, the interior religion.

Willard proposes that the Sermon is a self-contained unit and that it is deliberately organized in a particular order. Imagine that, Jesus did things in order! There is a concept. Anyway, anger is item number one of the agenda of negative traits. Anger is the moral equivalent of murder (v. 21-22). If you believe anything Jesus ever said is trustworthy, anger is very serious business. The person who is angry is subject to judgment. The one who says “you fool” is subject to the “hell of fire” (v. 22).

Anger is the kind of unchecked emotion that would kill somebody if no one were looking. Anger seeks to belittle and destroy. Anger wants to dominate and to intimidate all on-lookers. Anger is pride gone wild. It is an expression of egotism that throws itself up into the face of God. It is an intolerable sin. Now, ask yourself this question; “how much anger do I perceive in American politics? How much derision? How much insult?”

It would be very hard for a Christian to hold public office, and if you ever wonder why our viewpoint has lost credibility, now you know. Forget about the lying (we will catch that some other day), a Christian is forbidden to take part in killing another person’s reputation.

Yes, American politics has always been bad. George Washington saw his own image burned by unhappy crowds, and he is supposed to be just about the best President we ever had. The press has been ugly. The debates have often been personally destructive, but I would contend that today there is a greater use of the name-killing gotcha’.

But isn’t that the way the game is played? Back in the days of segregation, “good” southerners used to excuse their association with racists and racism by saying, “you can’t do good if you don’t get elected.” They got right down in the sewers and that might have been alright when all there was down there was a little human feces. Today, they add in hazardous chemicals and a little radioactive waste on the side. People die in the political sewer.

What is a Christian to do? Do we sit at home and hide in the basement? That is hardly any way to be “salt” and “light.” Christians have to start taking part and it is necessary to recognize the political poison for what it is. Christians may never succumb to anger, name calling, or personal attacks. This is not the recipe for success. Expect to get your brains beaten out. Expect to be beaten without mercy, and be nailed to a cross. isn’t that just what they did to Jesus?

Doing what Jesus requires will make things happen. We are not able to see from here exactly what might take place, but it is bound to bring more people into God’s kingdom. The martyrs of the early church had no way of knowing how much they inspired others to faith. Leave the final victory to Jesus. His promises are explicit and his followers will rule with him. It will be the right kind of government; just and merciful in the perfect proportions.

The day will come when Jesus comes back in triumph to shut down every human government. In the meantime, as Christians seek to be more Christlike in every respect, the hardness of heart that plagues so many of our neighbors may begin to ease. People can live together with respect and patience. The door will be open for the gospel to be heard and to touch the hearts of self-righteous and murdering people.

How Will We Know Whom To Hate If The Media Don’t Tell Us? | The American Conservative

May 2, 2013

Rod Dreher is a brilliant blogger and today he approaches a topic I find to be of the highest order, the poisonous atmosphere of public discussion. How is a Christian to live in a culture so saturated with hatred and fear? Here is a short segment and a link to the entire excellent essay.

The world is always ramped up to high drama. I told him that a decade ago, when I would get on cable TV from time to time to talk about issues, I learned quickly that the media didn’t want to have an actual discussion; they just wanted people on to yell at each other, and to repeat talking points. This is a cliché, I know, but when you actually go on those shows, and see how it so often (but not always) works, you understand that the cliché really is true. Passion sells. Passion retains viewers. Passion gets eyes on the webpage (and shame on me for falling for the bait, e.g., yesterday’s post about that jerk who wrote the “I hate my unborn twins” piece for HuffPo). The thing is, passion is so easy to gin up when it’s based on fear and hatred. It’s a lot harder to get people passionate about faith, hope, and charity, even though that’s what most of us crave, and need as much as we need the air we breathe.

How Will We Know Whom To Hate If The Media Don’t Tell Us? | The American Conservative.

So Jason Collins is gay. No foolin’? A Christian response #jasoncollins #livingthegospel

April 30, 2013

A big name NBA  player says he is a homosexual and that is certainly a big deal. Major sports figures have, or are presumed to have, a certain aura that, once upon a time, would have made such self-identification impossible. It was such an important development that President Obama, a mere politician and fallen human being, got right on the phone to offer support and congratulations.

One thing for sure is that the ultra-religious and exceedingly pious people at Westboro Church in Wichita will not be pleased. Note that I did not include in the name of this fractious bunch of numbskulls the name of a historic denomination that has been so misused by this gang of crackpots masquerading as followers of Jesus.

As one who has a rather large group of Christian friends, I do not know anybody, a-n-y-b-o-d-y, that harbors such delirious and horrifying attitudes towards homosexuals. Some of my Christian friends are not exactly liberal softies either. We all know gay folks personally. They are our neighbors and children. Gay folks are no more, or less, messed up than the rest of us.
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History Channel’s ‘the Bible’— Less Filling, Tastes Great

March 2, 2013

You need to watch this program, even though much of what runs on cable television under the guise of Christian religion is really terrible. Ben Witherington has a good approach and he also quotes from the New York Times review. How cool is it that a Christan moron is able to put aside his coloring books and read a sophisticated publication! As a member of the small choir of uninformed and socially backward bozos form whom this program is intended, I am just darned impressed. If my limited attention span will allow it and I am able to overcome my typical incoherent grunting, I will attempt to string together a few sentences on the various installments of the series.

History Channel’s ‘the Bible’— Less Filling, Tastes Great.

SNL takes on the resurrection and divine retribution: Djesus Uncrossed #SNL #DEJESUS

February 17, 2013

Often I feel like the Grumpy Anglican. It can be a challenge to articulate Christian belief (a belief system rejected by most Americans) from an Anglican perspective (diminished by its own tendency to schism). There is, however, something about the Church of England heritage which is both necessary and beneficial to the modern world. I will try to bring that theological patience to bear in this review.

I do not generally watch SNL. In fact, I gave up on it years ago, but maybe I should get back on board. The NBC icon takes on here the currently popular revenge genre, which relies heavily on alternative versions of history. Academics spend a lot of time wondering what might have happened if; Benedict Arnold had received the promotions and respect he deserved,  Lee had won Little Round Top, the plot to kill Hitler had been successful. This is a bit different, and very disquieting, approach to the resurrection. “Djesus Uncrossed,” casts Jesus Christ in a Tarantino-directed, ultra-violent revenge flick akin to “Django Unchained.”

NOTE: The video was removed from YouTube because of copyright concerns and is, therefore, no longer available on this blog.

Please understand, I completely reject the entire vengeance theme. Haven’t any of these people read The Count of Monte Crosto? One current film presents a fantasy retaliation against slave owners. What good does that do? It is just more violence injected straight into the veins of a society with too much bloodshed and shoot-’em-ups. This SNL parody, however serves a very useful purpose in that it gives Christians a real opportunity to explain the true life-giving message of Jesus, out savior and coming king.
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UPDATED TWICE: A few nagging questions as Pope Benedict XVI steps aside #rogermahoney #bernardlaw #B16

February 11, 2013

It is a great astonishment, although it should not be, and very entertaining to observe so-called journalists trying to sort out the Roman Catholic Church. This commentary comes from an odd bird, an unashamed Protestant Anglican and Catholic of the Reformation. I can forgive mortal reporters not understanding the squabbling offspring from the Church of England, but darn it, Roman Catholics are important. This matters.

Let me give you the question that everybody missed in the early morning. It is indicative of a grave lack of background from those entrusted to report the news. Excuse me for whining, but these are jobs that are so elite, so exalted, so intellectually demanding, that a college degree is absolutely mandatory – no exceptions. (Whew! That sure feels better now!) What about retired Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney? He may be removed from public ministry, but Mahoney still has a vote in the College of Cardinals. Will he slip out of the country, out of the reach of pesky prosecutors who might have a few hard questions about the apparent pattern of obstructing justice and protection of pedophile priests? Will he join retired Boston Cardinal Bernard Law in luxurious exile, hiding from the long arm of the American judicial system. Law voted in the 2005 conclave, but I am unsure of his current status. It may be that Law is no longer an elector. These are questions that American journalists might pose to some competent authority. American Catholics should be embarrassed that Vatican City is becoming a foreign refuge for shade characters who wear their collars backwards. Let’s hope the California prosecutors get the jump on Mahoney before he splits the country for good.

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Mike Huckabee: Newtown Shooting No Surprise, We’ve ‘Systematically Removed God’ From Schools

December 15, 2012

He is my former governor. I have interviewed Mike Huckabee and spoken with him personally and privately. It is my opinion that he is a well-intentioned, often misinformed politician with the heart of a great pastor. Huckabee is well-known for his support of Mexican immigrants and other occasional lapses into sanity which has gotten him crosswise with the elites of public power. When Mike Huckabee is wrong, and that is frequent due to his insatiable need for publicity, he is really wrong. Here is part of what he had to say about the Connecticut school shooting, and a link.

Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R) weighed in on the massacre at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn. on Friday, saying the crime was no surprise because we have “systematically removed God” from public schools.

“We ask why there is violence in our schools, but we have systematically removed God from our schools,” Huckabee said on Fox News. “Should we be so surprised that schools would become a place of carnage?”

This line of reasoning isn’t new for Huckabee.

Speaking about a mass shooting in Aurora, Colo. over the summer, the former GOP presidential candidate claimed that such violent episodes were a function of a nation suffering from the removal of religion from the public sphere.

Mike Huckabee: Newtown Shooting No Surprise, We’ve ‘Systematically Removed God’ From Schools.
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