BP_blog

Priorities

ID-10025710I believe our president is a Christian, at least to his own satisfaction. However, given the fact that he has been less than honest in the past, I’m not surprised that some are doubting his sincerity about it.

The president’s Christian faith remains a hot topic of discussion because Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a likely Republican presidential candidate, had the temerity not to go along with reporters’ “gotcha” question: Do you believe Barack Obama is a Christian? Here’s how Walker replied:

“I’ve actually never talked about it or I haven’t read about [it]. I’ve never asked him that. You’ve asked me to make statements about people that I haven’t had a conversation with about that. How [could] I say if I know either of you are a Christian?”
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 1

Literary Lights

Belmonte_PhantastesOver the years, many a reader has discovered a special magic in C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia—the interweaving of Lewis’s stories with classic illustrations from artist Pauline Baynes. They are marvelously, inextricably linked, and few would think of one without the other.

Both the prose and the drawings may be said to compose the “text” of the Narnia Chronicles: a text that mingles the written word and visual images. Truly, it would be difficult to think of a finer, more fitting, more enduring collaboration between an author and artist.

But if one were to look for another equally important and revealing collaboration between author and artist, there is, perhaps, one book that Lewis himself would point to: the 1905 edition of George MacDonald’s mythic novel “Phantastes,” which has 33 illustrations specially commissioned from the great pre-Raphaelite artist and illustrator Arthur Hughes.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Internally Displaced Person

11047As Justice Clarence Thomas recently wrote, a majority of his colleagues appear to have made up their minds on the issue of same-sex marriage. By July 1, same-sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states, the District of Columbia (it already is legal there), and Puerto Rico.

I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. But what you may not know or have thought about is the profound irony that will be at the heart of the Court’s decision: The seeds of same-sex marriage as a constitutional right were sown, watered, and otherwise tended to by our Christian (and some cases, literal) forebears.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Worldview and You

ID-100305365I have a confession to make. I’ve been getting testy lately. Annoyed. Anxious. Even angry, sometimes.

My world is turning upside down. People are telling me I’m a hater, a bigot. They’re suing people who share my values, and they’re winning.

That’s upsetting to me.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

All Things Examined

ID-100109906There was a time when it was nigh impossible not to believe in God—not because of man’s irrational superstitions, as atheist popularizers tell it, but because of nature’s rational design.

To early thinkers, the intelligibility of nature pointed to an ineluctable fact: a prime, non-contingent source of reality (the uncaused Cause, One, Apeiron, Logos, Yahweh) brought the universe into being with a structure that made knowledge possible. By the late Middle Ages, that fact led researchers to science —a methodological system of inquiry that liberated knowledge from the limits of natural philosophy, and the errors of alchemy and astrology.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Priorities

download_6Confucius once said, “The beginning of wisdom is to call things by their proper name.” When it comes to radical Islam, it’s clear that too many people have chosen foolishness over wisdom. The question is, in these dangerous times, are there enough of us willing to embrace wisdom?

Our answer will go a long way toward determining whether the West, founded upon Judeo-Christian principles, will prevail over radical Islam. For, as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal said recently, “You cannot remedy a problem if you will not name it and define it.”

The Obama administration’s verbal contortions over the nature of our self-avowed enemies would be comical if they weren’t so seriously misguided. After a recent atrocity by the Islamic State (also called ISIS or ISIL), the president opined, “ISIL is not 'Islamic.' No religion condones the killing of innocents, and the vast majority of ISIL's victims have been Muslim.” Following the Charlie Hebdo attacks, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean offered this: “I think ISIS is a cult. Not an Islamic cult. I think it’s a cult.” These statements bring to mind the odd Bush administration mantra after 9/11: “Islam is a religion of peace.”
Read More >
Rating: 5.00
Comments: 0

Internally Displaced Person

Serial-2The most unlikely cultural phenomenon of 2014 was probably “Serial,” the podcast spinoff from NPR’s “This American Life.” The 12-part series, hosted and narrated by Sarah Koenig, told the story of the January 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee in Baltimore County, Maryland.

Nineteen days after her body was discovered in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, Hae’s ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed was arrested and charged with her murder. After his first trial ended in a mistrial, Syed was convicted in February 2000 and sentenced to life in prison.

If you have heard anything at all about “Serial,” chances are it was about Koenig’s endearing self-doubting style. (For a hilarious take on this style, check out this Saturday Night Live parody.) She and her colleagues spent more than a year going over the facts of the case and she spoke to Syed for more than thirty hours over the phone. In the end she never found anything that completely convinced her—“tipped” was the word she used—that Syed was guilty or innocent.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Literary Lights

ID-100180546Nearly seven years ago, William F. Buckley passed away. “God’s finger touched him, and he slept,” to borrow from a letter written to the poet Tennyson. It is given to none but a few to be known famously by their initials alone, but W.F.B. was. To see those initials in the pages of National Review was to know that sparkling, incisive prose was in close proximity, likely marked by a flash of rapier wit.

To read William F. Buckley was to enter a realm rich in the felicities of language. The reach of his vocabulary was well-nigh inexhaustible—and this is the more instructive, as we so seldom meet today with displays of wordcraft that send us, fascinated, to the dictionary.

Consider the word “williwaw.” It means a gust of cold wind. You won’t see it used very often anymore, but Buckley knew and used this richly evocative word, as he used countless other evocative words—words like “recondite,” “adumbrate,” and “eristic.”
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Worldview and You

ID-10057274The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states the following:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This Amendment’s language has served us well for more than two centuries, current controversies notwithstanding. Whether it will continue to serve us that well as belief in Islam grows across our country is questionable, for it was not written with Islam in mind.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 2

All Things Examined

The-Child-Jesus-in-the-TempleOne of the oddities of the Bible is how little it reveals about the life of its central figure: Jesus Christ. All we know of Jesus prior to age 30 are a few sketchy accounts by Matthew and Luke, with gospel writers Mark and John completely silent on His early life.

A yawning gap

Luke tells of Jesus’s circumcision and presentation at the temple; Matthew reports His visit from Magi as a young child followed by His flight to Egypt to escape the sword of Herod. After that, the biblical record goes dark until the “lost and found” report on Jesus at age 12.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Priorities

9781400206421According to journalist David Van Biema of TIME, “polls show that nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the Bible holds the answers to ‘all or most of life's basic questions.’” Unfortunately, most of us find the Bible to be difficult to understand. In fact, pollster George Gallup has dubbed the United States “a nation of biblical illiterates.”

Van Biema cites a telling example of this illiteracy: “Only half of U.S. adults know the title of even one Gospel. Most can’t name the Bible’s first book. The trend extends even to Evangelicals.”

So how do we begin to get a handle on God’s Word?
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 1

Literary Lights

cornucopia-clip-art-13Cornucopia.

We hear this word, and think immediately of a horn-shaped container—one full of things from harvest time—crops, fruits, and flowers. It seems an image tied very closely to Thanksgiving, and that is true enough. But “cornucopia” has other shades of meaning, and we might say they point to Christmas.

For example, its second meaning refers to “the source of something.” Still another meaning speaks of “an inexhaustible store.” To take these second and third meanings together is to see how the word “cornucopia” might offer a wonderful compliment to what we in the family of faith know about Christmas.

Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Worldview and You

ID-100280269“If you read the Bible . . . cover to cover, I believe you will emerge from that as an atheist. . . . The Bible itself will turn you atheist faster than anything.”

That’s how magician Penn Jillette answers the question, “How did you become an atheist?” He tells of one disturbing feature of the Bible after another, from rape to the Abraham/Isaac story to “the insanity of the talking snake,” asking how the Lord could be okay with it all. Now, to me it’s clear that he missed the point in virtually every case, but to speak of each way he misses the point would also miss the point, because the main thing Penn Jillette missed was the big picture: What is the Bible, anyway?
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

All Things Examined

transistor-radio“I just witnessed an event so mysterious that it shook my skepticism.” That from Michael Shermer, founder of The Skeptic Society and editor of Skeptic, its official magazine.

A skeptic’s skeptic

Michael Shermer, in short, is a skeptic’s skeptic, whose skepticism is most strenuously exercised against all things supernatural. With a full-throated materialistic bent, he argues that all phenomena are reducible to natural causes ultimately explainable through science.

In his writings, interviews, and debates, Shermer projects an intellectual swagger that has become fashionable in freethinking circles. A number of years ago in a PBS panel discussion on religion, when the topic of the Resurrection came up, he pressed a Christian physician for how (how!) God did it. By presuming that the Resurrection must have occurred through a clever medical manipulation to be credible, Shermer’s question was designed to ensure that naturalism wins.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Priorities

NativityIn those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.

In advance of a powerful typhoon, villagers in the Philippines abandoned their homes along the coast. Grocery stores and gas stations were cleaned out by fearful residents. Last year, Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 7,000 people in the region.

This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.

The United States is no longer the leading economic power on the planet, for the first time since the Grant administration. China now holds the top spot, producing 16.5 percent of the global economy, compared with 16.3 percent for the U.S.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Literary Lights

currier__Ives_winter_sceneRecently, I completed work on a new book with the working title “Through the Year with D. L. Moody.” It’s modeled on other books that I’ve come to admire, most notably “A Year with C. S. Lewis,” a very fine gift idea into the bargain (I once received a copy myself!).

Going though D. L. Moody’s writings, and selecting passages for December, especially readings that have a bearing on Christmas, I found a marvelous trove of stories and reflections. It was as though Christmas had come in midsummer by the time I put finishing touches to the manuscript.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

Worldview and You

GusheeIt’s hard to ignore when a top evangelical ethicist urges believers to change our minds about homosexual relationships. David P. Gushee, who co-wrote the widely used textbook “Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context” (IVP Academic, 2003), has just released “Changing Our Mind: A call from America's leading evangelical ethics scholar for full acceptance of LGBT Christians in the Church.”

It is the most thoughtful work I have seen so far in favor of gay and lesbian relationships. Gushee’s skill as a thinker and writer shines through. Thus I find much to recommend in what he has written, but only up to about the halfway point. The latter portion of the book falls short, in frankly astonishing ways.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 0

All Things Examined

Affleck_Maher.jpgTheir moony embrace of multiculturalism has rendered modern liberals unable to connect the dots between beliefs and consequences. Rooted in moral relativism, multiculturalism is the notion that all moral codes are valid within their respective cultures, with no people group privileged to make moral judgments of others.

The person boorish enough to criticize the mores of another culture will quickly find himself banished from polite company for being racist, bigoted, intolerant, or (fill in the blank)-phobic. Just ask Sam Harris and Bill Maher, both establishment liberals, who were excoriated by Ben Affleck on an HBO panel discussion for their illiberalism. Their offense: calling Islam dangerous for the atrocities committed by Islamists.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 6

Internally Displaced Person

ID-100184617The Tuesday after Labor Day, 2013, Kelli Stapleton of Frankfort, Michigan, took her 14-year-old daughter, Issy, to a secluded spot off a hiking trail. There, she lit two hibachis and made s’mores for Issy. Afterwards, she gave Issy four risperidone, double her nighttime dose, in an effort to put her to sleep.

Then, as Hanna Rosin tells us in New York Magazine, “Kelli arranged the blankets, the extra pillowcases, and Matt’s shirt on the mattress. She put the grills, with coals still smoldering, in the space between the front and middle seats, and she shut the van doors, so the space would fill with carbon monoxide . . .”
Read More >
Rating: 5.00
Comments: 3

Priorities

ID-100137119Senior members of the Arlington Martin High School football team in Texas have been told not to wear their spirit wear T-shirts to school any more. The shirts, which 40 students have been wearing since August, portray a pirate flag with the words, “We take what we want.” Below the flag the shirt says, “Shhhhhhh, just let it happen.”

I don’t know for sure whether the booster club intended the double entendre. Booster club President Kevin White says, “It’s sickening to me that [it] was misconstrued. And it’s weird that it has been out for so long and just came up.”

Actually, White shouldn’t be all that surprised. In recent months, much ink has been spilled nationally about “rape culture,” generally defined as the normalization of sexual assault. California and Ohio have stringent new informed consent laws. The Obama administration has jumped on the bandwagon, releasing a much-discussed report on sexual assault claiming that nearly one in five women in college will be sexually assaulted. In this kind of charged environment, the only thing that’s weird is that it took so long for the district to pull the plug on what seems to be a pretty clear allusion to rape.
Read More >
Rating: 0.00
Comments: 1

See all articles in the archive.

BreakPoint Columns

Banner