Duck Dynasty And Homosexual Bigotry

Duck Dynasty Season 3

Well that didn’t take long.

Phil Robertson, the “Patriarch” of the Duck Dynasty clan, went where no brave soul dare treads and shared his thoughts on homosexuality, America’s new untouchable class. From the Huffington Post:

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” Robertson told GQ. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

He was criticized for likening homosexuality to bestiality and paraphrasing a passage from Paul’s letter to the Corinthians which says that such people will not inherit the kingdom of God. In response to the criticisms Robertson released a statement:

I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.

In the name of tolerance A&E suspended him:

His personal views in no way reflect those of A&E Networks, who have always been strong supporters and champions of the LGBT community. The network has placed Phil under hiatus from filming indefinitely.

The problem with making homosexuality a legitimate, mainstream lifestyle no different from any other expression of sexuality is that you cannot tolerate anyone or anything that calls it a sin. Such discrimination cannot be tolerated and must be stamped out. 

duck dynasty

In the case of gay marriage, for example, there is a very real problem trying to balance “marriage equality” and religious liberty. Those who don’t take this dilemma seriously simply dismiss any concerns that there is an inevitable conflict between the two but eventually it will become apparent and we’ll have to face it. It’s not simply a problem of wedding photographers refusing to do gay marriages. Churches and religious-based organizations that have any dealings with the government or public will be targeted and silence. If a church uses public facilities, for example, it will be forced to comply with laws against discrimination in order to conduct their ministries, whether it’s soup kitchens or shelters.

Bigotry had manifested itself in various forms in the past. It was directed towards immigrants, blacks, religious groups, and women. Its modern-day face is tolerance and works its way through the political activism of “gay rights” proponents.

I think this modern form of bigotry is worse because it goes beyond its predecessors and invades the mind. In the past there was a limit to what bigots wanted to accomplish, usually discrimination and exclusion. Today, these bigots who think that they are liberal want to censor what we think. We are not allowed to voice opinions that do not revere homosexuality as a noble pursuit.

The Bible does tell us that all who follow Christ will be persecuted. It will not get any easier to confess biblical doctrines. Christians must be prepared in advance for the opposition and ready to contend for the truth. Jesus was controversial and offensive and no matter how liberal, or libertine, our culture gets it will always be hostile to the gospel. Our problem is that we hate God, not that we don’t believe in Him. But Jesus has reconciled the world to God and we now are able to be called the people of God.

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Obamacare And Biblical Justice

obama-boehner-reid

 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants.

And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants.

1 Samuel 8:14,15

God had a vision for Israel in which He would be their king and they would be His people. They would be the one people chosen to be set apart from among the nations. Unfortunately, Israel wanted to be like all the other nations because that was more desirable to them than what the Lord had in mind.

The people would find out that the king they so desired would become a huge burden and source of oppression. He would be a parasite that fed off of the best of everything they had while they would be left with the scraps. This story is familiar throughout the world and throughout history. Men take advantage of each other and manipulate others for their own gain.

I write this as a long setup to what I observe about Obamacare and the different ways that Congress and the people are treated. America’s Founders advocated ratification of the Constitution because they believed that the laws would equally apply to Congress. Sadly, there are many regulations now which do not apply to Congress at all. This undermines the whole idea of the rule of law and creates a class system, one which America is notable for not having.

It is a class system in which the connected have the best of our “vineyards” and our “oliveyards” and distribute them to their “servants.” Members of Congress and their staffs get a public subsidy for their health plans that can range from $5,000-$11,000 a year. The passage of the Affordable Care Act didn’t exempt Congress and so the White House made sure that one was carved out for them.

This means that Congress will have access to high-quality, expensive healthcare even if you do not. They will not have to pay the higher premiums that many Americans are facing. Since they have the clout to put pressure on the White House they can get special privileges. But what if the rest of us do not have such lobbying power? It is a double-standard in which there are two laws, one for the rulers and one for the people. This is plain and simple biblical injustice.

Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made he thee king, to do judgment and justice.

1 Kings 10:9

God has instituted civil government for the purpose of doing justice for the people. When men think about their own interests and ignore thinking about what is good for the nation as a whole then evil will reign. As followers of Christ and readers of the Word of God we should always apply biblical principles to our world and call it like we see it.

 

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Is it good news that cohabitation rates are falling?

There is good news here though, I think. The good news is that this is one more indicator that the sexual revolution is, ultimately, boring. Marriage and family can be discarded, but, in time, their proposed replacements become the new norm, and it’s time for the revolutionaries to rebel again. That can only go on for so long before a broken and bored people begin to wonder what else is there out there?

Growing trend in pastors working for free

That’s changing, however, as churches face declining numbers and look to new ministry models to make ends meet. Thumma sees more mainliners cutting back to halftime or one-quarter-time packages for clergy, who increasingly work second jobs. The unpaid cleric model is gaining traction among Episcopalians. In the mid-1990s, for example, the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming had few if any unpaid clergy serving its 49 congregations. Now, 20 priests in Wyoming – more than one-third – are unpaid.

Russian Orthodox Church on the rise

Orthodox academics have also been contributing to the insurrection against the church hierarchy. In the Soviet period, scholarship had to be couched in crudely Marxist terms, and the Orthodox Church was mostly excluded from any scrutiny. But since 1990, sophisticated scholarship on contemporary religiosity has been a growth industry. Conferences on, and studies of, religion abound. And, as with the religious mass media, the striking thing is the Orthodox academia’s refusal to commit to the party line. A growing number of scholarly publications emphasize the diversity among Russian spiritual beliefs — what the religious life of believers actually looks like (many Russians claim spiritual rewards from buying organic produce from Orthodox farmers), as opposed to what sociologists or clerics think they ought to look like (say, praying or going to church). Sociologist Nikolai Mitrokhin, who has studied the contemporary Orthodox Church in the greatest detail, goes furthest in criticizing the church-state alliance — including what he calls the “gay mafia” in the church hierarchy. But even those scholars who do not support an explicit political agenda have helped to undermine the church’s claims about a single “true” Orthodoxy.

Thomas Aquinas on property

This seems straightforward enough, but things become complicated when the question is asked: How is property obtained? First, Aquinas refutes the idea that man individually or corporately gives and takes away property: “God has the chief dominion over all things. And he in his providence has ordained some things for the material sustenance of human beings.” Property is a gift from God. All things belong to the Creator who graciously gives man material goods.

Millenials’ changing priorities on marriage

Now, after several semesters of discussing marriage with my introductory ethics classes, I’ve heard these concerns expressed enough times to conclude that, for all their righteous zeal concerning sexual freedom, undergraduates do actually know that they are confused about marriage. This is interesting, particularly since the young people in question are not particularly religious or conservative. My students represent a fairly standard cross-section of middle-class American 20-year-olds. They can talk all day about the evils of global warming and homophobia, but the decline of marriage is, for most of them, a fairly new subject. Nevertheless, they are easily convinced that our society has a marriage problem, because they know that they have a marriage problem, which their teachers and parents have done little to help them resolve.

Christians Should Consider The Cost In Syria

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Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?

Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

Luke 14:31,32

This verse has been on my mind as I have watched the news about the war in Syria. We read this in the context of Jesus teaching us to consider the cost of disciple when we decide to follow Him. He is telling us not to just jump into something without thinking ahead about whether we are willing to make the commitment. I think the illustration about a king going to war can have some relevant applications for us.

So far the American people have not been convinced by the arguments President Obama has made to justify military strikes in Syria. While he is not calling for a war I think it still behooves us to think about what costs an engagement like this entails. Christians should ask themselves, and their elected officials, to lay out the plan and describe the objectives of this endeavor.

I think it is also important to mention that there is no biblical answer to this question about whether to strike. God knows the intentions of the president and will judge his actions accordingly. The Bible does say that Wisdom is justified by her children so we will have to see how things play out before we realize the prudent decision.

The events of the world are ordained by God and fit into His plan of redemption for mankind. We have to learn to trust that these are not just random tragedies without meaning. God is watchful and is actively at work in this region and He keeps His own counsel. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we can understand why but we are limited in our understanding. We can take comfort in the fact that this is nothing new and we have the opportunity to put our trust in the Lord, unlike so many of the Israelites of the Old Testament, and not let the fear and concern that this news can inspire choke out our fruit.

The Crisis In Syria: A Biblical Perspective

Boys walk along a damaged street filled with debris in Deir al-Zor

Nahum is one of the minor prophets and was called to send God’s message of Nineveh’s fall. It was an astonishing message given that the city was the largest in the world at the time. Nahum’s message was that God is a savior to those who trust in Him and a terrible judge to His wicked. The Lord explains why He is bringing judgment to the city:

Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will burn her chariots in the smoke, and the sword shall devour thy young lions: and I will cut off thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard.

Woe to the bloody city! it is all full of lies and robbery; the prey departeth not;

The noise of a whip, and the noise of the rattling of the wheels, and of the pransing horses, and of the jumping chariots.

The horseman lifteth up both the bright sword and the glittering spear: and there is a multitude of slain, and a great number of carcases; and there is none end of their corpses; they stumble upon their corpses:

Because of the multitude of the whoredoms of the wellfavoured harlot, the mistress of witchcrafts, that selleth nations through her whoredoms, and families through her witchcrafts.

Behold, I am against thee, saith the Lord of hosts; and I will discover thy skirts upon thy face, and I will shew the nations thy nakedness, and the kingdoms thy shame.

And I will cast abominable filth upon thee, and make thee vile, and will set thee as a gazingstock.

And it shall come to pass, that all they that look upon thee shall flee from thee, and say, Nineveh is laid waste: who will bemoan her? whence shall I seek comforters for thee?

Nahum 2:13-3:7

It is important to keep in mind that this message is for a pagan empire. We can clearly see that God still has expectations of them and holds them accountable to those standards. He is concerned about the idolatry, violence, and oppression that ran rampant in the city. I believe we can also conclude that the people had the opportunity to repent and put their trust in the Lord.

Daniel tells us in chapter 4 that God sets rulers over the kingdoms of men as He pleases. God allowed Bashar al-Assad to take over and will remove him when He desires. We should ask ourselves: “What does God think of this nation and what is He doing with them?”

As we follow the events that occur in Syria we should remember that the Lord knows what is happening there and He is intimately involved. This was not an accident or a surprise for Him. In fact, this may be a sign of His judgment of the current regime and its downfall, if that should happen.

God cared enough for Nineveh to send Nahum there and preserve his prophecy as part of His special revelation to us. I believe that this means that Christians should also be concerned about a nation’s spiritual condition. We should pray for justice, peace, deliverance from oppression, the proclamation of the gospel, and the salvation of the kingdom. For those who are in or near those regions they should resist the evil being promulgated through those societies.

Believers should not lose heart at the tragedies that occur in Syria but look to God to manifest His power and glory. He is faithful and just and has all wisdom and understanding. Who else would you want in charge of the world?

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We need to kill Christian music

Harmony, melody, rhythm, rhyme, dynamics — these are not the joys of the material or even the animal world. Music is a creation unique to those “made in the image and likeness of God”, namely, to human beings. To sing is to express our immense dignity. To sing at all is to praise the God who distinguishes us from all things songless.

The stakes for internet pornography

They just don’t know what’s wrong, but they know a Christian marriage isn’t supposed to feel like this. It’s at this point that I interrupt the discussion, look at the man, and ask, “So how long has the porn been going on?” The couple will look at each other, and then look at me, with a kind of fearful incredulity that communicates the question, “How do you know?” For a few minutes, they seek to reorient themselves to this exposure, wondering, I suppose, if I’m an Old Testament prophet or a New Age psychic. But I’m not either. One doesn’t have to be to sense the spirit of this age. In our time, pornography is the destroying angel of (especially male) Eros, and it’s time the Church faced the horror of this truth.

Ted Cruz: America needs spiritual revival

“I think we’re at the edge of a precipice. If we keep going down this path we’re risking losing our nation. We’re risking losing the incredible oasis of liberty.”

Ordinary vs. radical Christianity

But therein lies my point:  the ordinary moments are moments which intersect with eternity, where the meaning of our lives hangs. We’ll be judged for every errant word, yet many of us pray and write as though there is nothing more cheap than a few syllables to throw away. Focusing on the mundane isn’t a call to comfort: it’s a terrifying call to remember the judgment which we stand beneath, a judgment that exists when we drive past our neighbor whose car is stranded in the night.  ”You have never met a mere mortal,” Lewis wrote.  Nor have we had an ordinary day. – See more at: http://mereorthodoxy.com/the-ordinary-is-not-comfortable-richard-stearns-radical-misreading/#sthash.HmpdQaqk.dpuf

10th Circuit rules in favor of Hobby Lobby

A federal court has granted a preliminary injunction allowing Hobby Lobby not to comply with the HHS mandate requiring the business to furnish the morning-after pill and other abortifacient means of emergency contraception to its female employees with no co-pay. The decision comes shortly after the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s ruling against Hobby Lobby in a 5-3 decision and remanded the case to a lower court. That court had denied the Christian-owned arts and crafts chain a temporary injunction against the HHS mandate.

The text of the 10th Circuit’s Decision

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Russia cracks down on gays

Why is Mr. Putin so determined to criminalize homosexuality? He has defended his actions by saying that the Russian birthrate is diminishing and that Russian families as a whole are in danger of decline. That may be. But if that is truly his concern, he should be embracing gay and lesbian couples who, in my world, are breeding like proverbial bunnies. These days I rarely meet a gay couple who aren’t raising children.

Modern slavery in Mauritania

Despite the country’s open system of ownership, to date, the US has not taken a stance against the practice. The country, located on the western fringe of the Sahara, is not densely populated, and therefore practices of the owners are not easily monitored by the government. Further, the country’s ruling elite makes no attempt to fight slavery, as they claim to the UN that slavery does not exist. However, what is most surprising in 2013 is not the lack of Mauritanian action against their own traditions, but the lack of American recognition and action. At a time when the US tries to face its own challenges with inequality, health, human rights and foreign policy, it is saddening to know we also neglect others.

Calling and witness regarding marriage

We’ve had discussion this week about how law is downstream from culture. That’s only half the truth. The upstream/downstream metaphor can be misleading. Culture shapes law, but so too does law shape culture. The law both reflects our values and teaches values—especially to younger generations. The better metaphor, I think, is that of two coasts connected by a tide, that comes in and out, that picks up and drops off on the shorelines. Law and culture reinforce each other, either for or against human dignity and human flourishing. I majored in music at Princeton, and one thing I learned there is that culture is more important than culture war. My vocation no longer lies directly in the realm of culture, and that’s probably true for many of the lawyers in this room. Still, we need to encourage Christians to develop good art, good music, good film and television. And in that task we should remember that piety is no substitute for competency.

What is a “religious” person?

Nearly six out of 10 Americans (59 percent) say that being a religious person “is primarily about living a good life and doing the right thing,” as opposed to the more than one-third (36 percent) who hold that being religious “is primarily about having faith and the right beliefs”, according to a report by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Prop 8 & the erosion of democracy

The decisions worry me. I am actually less worried about the damage done to the institution of marriage than I am about the damage done to the body politic. Marriage is an eternal truth, and a profound good. Its value to society is inestimable. No government, judge, or politician has the power to change the inherent nature of marriage. In the end, the truth of marriage will prevail, even if the law decides to abandon it for a time. Democracy, on the other hand, is not nearly so stable. Preserving it depends upon the integrity of our institutions, which are charged with specific functions to serve the interests of the body politic. Legislatures and voters pass laws they believe will benefit society; executives must fairly administer and defend those laws; and courts must impartially interpret the laws. When the votes of millions of people are ignored by the elites in government, when politicians can ignore their oath of office and assume for themselves extra-constitutional authority, when judges can ignore their own internal conflicts and impose their own political views on an issue in direct contravention of the expressed desires of the people, and when the Supreme Court can turn a blind eye to the matter and let the politicians and judges get away with it, public confidence in government is seriously, and perhaps permanently, eroded.

Are you free not to drink?

Alcohol, like food or any number of things in God’s created world, is a good thing that can become a bad thing if we consume it recklessly, excessively or selfishly. It’s good insofar as we consume it not as something we must have but as something we can have, as a special delight of God’s glorious creation, which includes man’s creative (fermenting) genius. The freedom to drink should not be a freedom to drown one’s sorrows, prove a point or get a fix; it should be a freedom that fixes our eyes ever more on Christ, the giver of life who turns water into wine and makes all things new.

All the single ladies

By the winter of my sophomore year, I was frustrated with the status quo and penned a polemic for our student newspaper. I urged Harvard men to man up and ask out campus women. Like any writer, I simply intended to share my opinion, but the article really resonated with the student body. Women (and some men) regularly approached me to say they wholeheartedly agreed with my message. Students even posted my article in their dorm rooms.

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Obama’s power grab

Has it made us safer? Anonymous government sources quoted in news reports say yes, but we know that all that snooping didn’t catch the Tsarnaev brothers before they bombed the Boston Marathon — even though they made extensive use of email and the Internet, and even though Russian security officials had warned us that they were a threat. The snooping didn’t catch Major Nidal Hasan before he perpetrated the Fort Hood Massacre, though he should have been spotted easily enough. It didn’t, apparently, warn us of the Benghazi attacks — though perhaps it explains how administration flacks were able to find and scapegoat a YouTube filmmaker so quickly . But in terms of keeping us safe, the snooping doesn’t look so great.

Free markets, not Obamacare

If we want this kind of system to be the rule rather than the exception, we need to scrap the healthcare exclusion in the tax code as part of a switch to asimple and fair flat tax. That will help bring some rationality to the health insurance market and address the part of the third-party payer crisis caused by indirect government intervention.

Dangers of Plan B for children

The message this sends to children and parents alike is troubling, to say the least. In a world where a 26-year-old is young enough to still qualify as a child on their parent’s health insurance, a child of 10 years of age can walk into any neighborhood drug store and purchase a massive dose of hormones with no oversight or supervision, not from their parents and not from medical professionals. As any parent will tell you, they are deluged with permission slips–to ride the bus, to participate in after-school activities, for the school nurse to administer Tylenol or prescription drugs. In this culture of treating young adults as toddlers, which the president and his fellow liberals do nothing but perpetuate, the FDA and White House’s decision is glaringly hypocritical. A child cannot decide to take a pain reliever for a headache while on the school campus, but they can have full access to a powerful drug that might have an impact on their development.

Ex-models go evangelical

Weider is just one of a runway’s worth of women who are making a second career for themselves in religious communities by speaking out against the evils of the fashion industry. These women boast different levels of industry success, but many describe a crystallizing moment of abject horror at the fashion world’s vices, which they may or may not have dabbled in. Most of them struggled with eating disorders or depression, and now preach a message of modesty and self-esteem. And they do so while keeping a traditionally feminine look: They’re all slim, almost all of them have long hair, they wear plenty of makeup and jewelry, and they choose stylish, if not fashion-forward, clothing. As a slice of Christian culture’s much-discussed “modesty movement,” they represent modesty at its sexiest and most successful. Many of them are getting far more attention as ex-models than they ever got as professional posers.

A wake-up call for religious freedom

This is no small issue. Forcing official Catholic institutions and businesses led by Catholics and others who have a commitment to the pro-life position to violate their deeply held beliefs amounts to government coercion on matters of religious faith, something the First  Amendment is supposed to protect against. To Chaput, however, that is only one strand in a longer thread that includes the White House’s refusal to defend the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act in the federal courts and other cases involving the free exercise of one’s religious faith. What Chaput has done is to issue a call to action for people of faith to stand with him in defense of religious liberty. It’s an important development coming from a key religious leader, one whose opinions cannot easily be ignored except by design.

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Why there is always an organ shortage

I just need to point out that the perpetual shortage of human organs available for transplant isn’t an unfortunate circumstance, that’s its not really-sad-but-that’s-just-how-things-are, and it doesn’t say something about our society that so few people are willing to donate. We did this to ourselves. Selling organs is banned. This shortage, and the reason that girl is probably going to die, isn’t just happenstance, it’s the direct result of the absence of a free market in human organs. Selling a kidney is legal in Iran and guess what: there’s no waiting list for kidneys.  Free markets don’t create shortages.

Churchgoers ashamed of their faith

According to the survey, 66 percent of American churchgoers agree Christians should seek out honest feedback about their spiritual life from other Christians. Churchgoers also seem to think they live out their faith in a manner that is evident to others. Just 14 percent of churchgoers agree with the statement: “Many people who know me are not aware I am a Christian,” while 72 percent disagree with the statement. However, the survey also shows churchgoers often leave important elements of faith unspoken. Nearly a third (29 percent) agree “Spiritual matters do not tend to come up as a normal part of my daily conversations with other Christians,” while 50 percent disagree this is the case. Still, the survey reveals 57 percent of churchgoers agree they openly share about difficulties they are experiencing when they talk with Christian friends, while 1 in 4 do not.

Female breadwinners have unhappy marriages

Some may resent women who supplant them as providers, but most do not. . . . So expect this: in a breadwomen’s world, women will experience their own share of resentment, competitive feelings, and ambivalent emotions. In the short term, it may be women who are most unsettled by the new world order. . . . They will struggle to preserve their own sexual attraction to men even as they strive to remain feminine and pleasing. . . . They will cling to the hope that this is all temporary. They will feel, in their heart of hearts, that something is wrong. The fact is, men have made a lot of progress; the question is whether women have come as far.

Am I conservative?

I am not and never have been a Republican. I feel roughly as alienated from that party as I do from the Democratic Party. I hold a number of political views that strong-minded Republicans typically find appalling: I think racism is one of the greatest problems in American society today; I am not convinced that austerity programs are helpful in addressing our economic condition; I am absolutely convinced that what many Republicans call free-market capitalism is in fact crony capitalism, calculated to favor the extremely wealthy and immensely powerful multinational corporations; I think that for all of the flaws of Obamacare, it was at least an attempt to solve a drastically unjust and often morally corrupt network of medical care in this country; I dislike military adventurism, and believe that our various attempts at nation-building over the past decade were miscalculated from the outset.

France and same-sex marriage myths

The French are a tough crowd. I learned this when I took to the stage at the March 24 manif and fielded the boos from over a million marchers at the mention of “homophobia.” They weren’t booing me, thank goodness; they were booing the idea of people accusing someone of homophobia for asking obvious questions about the logistics of surrogacy contracts for gay men like Perez Hilton. The crowd cheered me on for most of my six-minute talk. But the moment was educational. Whereas in the English-speaking world we observe some British conventions of privacy and politeness, it is never a good idea to tell French speakers that some questions are off- limits. They are a blunt people. It’s one thing to get booed by a few hundred people in a gymnasium. It’s completely another to stand below the Arch of Triumph and hear over a million French people boo at the same time. You feel the zeitgeist with much more force. It seems like the buildings, the sky, the trees, and even the birds overhead are groaning at you. This is not a scenario that will allow you to fudge facts.

The Christian view of suffering

A robust theology of suffering is necessary but not sufficient, Carson insists, for at least two additional attitudes characterize mature Christians: (1) they admit their guilt before God and cry to him for renewal and revival (see, for example, Neh. 8-9), and (2) they are quick to talk about the sheer goodness of God. To be sure, Carson’s framework is not necessarily the most helpful thing to offer someone first entering the throes of terrible suffering. “You’ve just been diagnosed with Stage 4 Melanoma; do you want this lecture?” he asks. Of course not—and you shouldn’t. The importance of relational sensitivity and tangible compassion in the midst of crisis cannot be overestimated. Moreover, when the immediate needs are concrete (e.g., water, security, shelter), God’s people should be quick to respond in love.

Pop culture, men, and lowered expectations

Message boards, blogs, and Twitter are all filled with the ranting and ravings of men between the ages of 18 and 40 who are livid about this super hero movie trailer or that casting decision in the new Star Trek. Layers of expectations are placed upon highly anticipated films or television shows that can only hope to crash-and-burn in the eyes of those same devoted fans. And for what? Because people you don’t personally know made a product you had nothing to do with and after choosing to pay U.S. currency (or devote hours of your life) to watch it you are less than satisfied with the final product? Who cares? The easiest answer: I do (and have most of my life).

Europe’s other crisis: religion

The problem for many of the spiritual leaders attending is that Europe is also undergoing a crisis of religious identity. In several countries, church attendances and religious affiliation have plummeted in recent decades. Just 51 percent of citizens in the EU’s 27 nations said they believed in God, when questioned for a 2010 survey. In Sweden, Estonia and the Czech Republic that number fell below 20 percent – although more said they believed in the existence of “some form of spirit or life force.” Forty percent of the French declared they believed in neither god nor spirt, along with 30 percent of the Dutch, 27 percent of Germans and a quarter of the British. In the 20 years up to 2010, the Evangelical Church of Germany, closed 340 churches and is considering giving up another 1,000, the news weekly Der Spiegel reported in February. Dutch churches are reportedly closing at a rate of two a week – around 4,000 remain from the estimated 19,000 built since the 13th century. From 1999 to 2010, the Church of Sweden says it lost 800,000 members. Even in the traditionally more devout Catholic countries of southern Europe, faith is under pressure. A survey released in February showed 70 percent of Spaniards describe themselves as Catholic, a fall of almost 10 percent in a decade. Among Spanish Catholics just 12.5 percent attend mass at least once a week.

All faiths agree on religious liberty

A Jew, a Catholic, and a Protestant—but also a Muslim, a Mormon, a Sikh, and an Orthodox Christian—walk into, not a bar, but a religious freedom conference where they all sit on a panel entitled “Many Faiths, One America.” And here’s the punchline: they all agree. Not, of course, on doctrinal issues, but on the centrality of religious liberty to the American regime and on the pressing need for a united front to address growing threats to it…Americans of all faiths should not accept the premise of an omnipotent state that doles out favors to various organized interests. This not only encourages factionalism, but it makes religious liberty the exception, rather than the rule.

Atheist believes Christians unfairly treated in media

The non-believing child of secular Jews does his tribe proud by volunteering the opinion that Christians get a bum rap in the national media. The portrayal of Christians as “doctrinaire crazy hothead people” doesn’t square with fond recollections of former public radio colleagues who kept Bibles on their desks and invited him to screenings of Rapture movies (At WBEZ? Really?).