ornament 27 June 2003 ornament

2 Bad, 2 Foolish

Granted, I haven’t seen (nor will see) any of these movies, but what’s with the abundance of just plain bad movies this summer? Is Hollywood starving for creativity? I know, I know, it’s just a rhetorical question.

Think about it though, why would anyone waste their time and $7.50 to see such fare as Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, From Justin to Kelly, and dare I say it, 2 Fast, 2 Furious? I realize that the third title has somewhat of a cult following (why?), but why must we the public be insulted with such drivel? Here I go answering my own question again but I suppose it’s because we will pay to go see such drivel. By the way, here’s an interesting article about Charlie’s Angels and it’s “message.”

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Supreme Court Jester

I suppose it’s time to write something about the recent US Supreme Court decisions. The high court of the land has in the past week ruled in favor of affirmative action (state-sanctioned racism) and now has stuck down laws against sodomy.

Regarding the affirmative action ruling, the court has sent minorities back a few steps by giving them an edge in (this time) getting into law schools because of the color of their skin. I don’t understand why more people of minority races are not infuriated by this. Some are upset, and the dissent was written by one Justice Clarence Thomas, still many are calling this a victory. How is this a victory? In little league baseball, you start out playing tee-ball, but when you grow older, you play the real game because you would look foolish, being that big and hitting a ball off a tee.

I think the tee ball analogy is adequate (if not rather corny) because being a minority does not equal being mentally deficient. Affirmative action programs demean minorities by saying that they can’t do it without special help. These programs take away the dignity that God gave all people and looks instead at their skin. Sounds like racism to me.

Now, regarding the ruling about the sodomy laws, I believe that this shows us just how communitarian the courts have become in their decisions. By communitarian, I mean that they make legal/moral judgments based upon the prevailing views of the surrounding community. Hence, it is popular today to say that whatever goes on behind closed doors is OK, therefore the court rules as such.

This is much different that the court ruling on something for a philosophical, theological, or even constitutional reason. Rulings based on these ideas are independent of community thought, and therefore much stronger. What does the court rule when most of the community thinks that all Jews should be gassed, or that every family should be limited to one child? The answer, of course, is that we would begin to look like a completely different society altogether.

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ornament 24 June 2003 ornament

Lifestyle vs. Vocation

Feminism has certainly diminished (or has attempted to diminish) the position of the stay-at-home mother. Feminists have deplored those who give up careers to raise their children, as F. Carolyn Craglia has so vividly unpacked for us in Domestic Tranquility. But now it seems that in some circles the role of the stay-at-home mom has become just another fashionable lifestyle.

David Mills of Touchstone Magazine writes about this trend in his weblog. He makes a noteworthy point that those of us who champion stay-at-home motherhood should be careful that it should be seen as a calling rather than a lifestyle. I agree wholeheartedly. A calling has the sense of a lifelong endeavor–something that will last. A lifestyle can change as quickly as quickly as a woman’s hair…

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ornament 20 June 2003 ornament

Tennessee Church Terror?

If you haven’t yet read about the Maryville, TN church that is being sued for $2 million for an incident involving a “persecution simulation” event with their youth group, here is a good summary. After reading it, read the Maryville Daily Times article, which is more in-depth.

First of all, it’s difficult to make a judgment on this from such little information, even though the articles are pretty in-depth. More information can be gained by looking at some Knoxville bloggers, such as this one, but it’s still hazy because there is so much hysteria over the whole thing. I haven’t yet talked to my brother who lives in Maryville about the incident–perhaps he can enlighten me more.

Second, the most obvious observation I have here is that the folks that filed the suit are in it for the money. One doesn’t have to know all the facts to realize this. So your kid got scared at a youth event that was probably over-the-top, this does not entitle you to two million dollars. Also, these church members(?) are not quite acting in accordance with 1 Corinthians 6 either, so I have little sympathy for their “plight.”

So, the question remains, did the church do anything wrong? My initial hunch is yes, and not for the reason you might think. As I said before, the sheer enormity of the lawsuit generates little sympathy from me for the youth who was disturbed by the event. I think that the wrongdoing here might lie somewhere in the event itself.

Current thinking in many youth ministries goes something like this: we need the youth in church rather than out in the streets vandalizing something, so we need to make the church more appealing than the streets. Therefore youth “events” should be big, bold, and appealing. While this is not necessarily wrong, this thinking can elevate the event over and above the discipleship that is supposed to be happening.

In this case, it can’t really be said that those who are speaking out against this church are presecuting it for its beliefs, although there may be some of that involved. To make a long story short, a church should take risks only on the things that matter. The church should take a risk at getting sued for not baptising those actively involved in sexual immorality. The church should take a risk in preaching the gospel in places where it is illegal to speak the name of Christ. The church should not take a risk of being sued for the sake of having a big event.

Those are just some initial thoughts. I may have more to say about this as it develops.

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ornament 18 June 2003 ornament

The Passion about The Passion

Mel Gibson’s upcoming film about the passion of Christ is coming under intense scrutiny–and the controversy is not even about Gibson’s decision to do the film entirely in Latin and Aramaic.

Gibson is being criticized that grusome crucifixion scene will stir up anti-Semitism. Why? Apparently it is because Jesus’ executioners are Jewish in the film. Nevermind that this is the way Scripture portrays the event, and nevermind that Jesus himself was Jewish, as were most of his disciples.

The problem with many modern-day “race protectors” is that they end up being racist themselves. When a person of a certain race is absovled of any wrongdoing simply because he or she is of a minority race, racism appears. When it becomes a mortal sin simply to criticize a person of a minority race, we must speak out and label it racism. Otherwise we are giving license to wrongdoing in the name of race.

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Old Testament Grace

For those who think that the Old Testament of the Bible is about wrath, while the New Testament is about grace, Deuteronomy 9 stands to be reckoned with. Here the Israelites are on the brink of entering the promised land, and Moses is giving them the magnum opus of all sermons. What is more than clear in the passage is that the Israelites are not going into the promised land on their own merit.

Verses 4-6 repeat three times that it is not because of the righteousness of the Israelites that they are entering the land. In fact, as the passage goes on to recount, the Israelites have not been very righteous at all. At almost every point they’ve been rebellious.

Yet God is bringing them into the land because of the unrighteousness of the current inhabitants of the land and because of the oath he swore to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (v. 5).

This is indeed a picture of grace in the Old Testament. The Israelites were as unrighteous as the inhabitants of the land, yet God chose the Israelites as his special people out of his grace. He would go before them and they would overtake a people that were stronger than them.

This should be a message to us today when we evaulate our lives in relation to God. Our actions, on the whole, should lead us straight to hell, if not through a hell on earth. Yet for some reason (think grace), he has allowed us to remain. Therefore, when evaluating tasks ahead of us, we should not be so concerned with our own abilities as much as whether or not we are following God.

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ornament 16 June 2003 ornament

Neverland?

Dr. Russell Moore quotes a recent article from Touchstone magazine:

Given the hard work that it takes to be a Christian man, it isn’t surprising that around the world every Sunday morning perpetual boys throng the golf courses, sleep off Saturday night, or otherwise occupy themselves with pleasures instead of worshiping their God in his Church. They may even feel like he-men for doing so, but they’re not. They are leaving a hole in their families, where a grown-up Christian man is supposed to be. They are leaving a hole in the churches, where boys are meant to learn how to be Christian men from the society of Christian men, and where girls are meant to learn from observation the difference between a godly man and a moral slob.

Anyone who has been in ministry (vocational or lay ministry) has realized how much more difficult it is at times to get men involved in the church than women. I’ve been in evangelical settings where women outnumber men 5 to 1. Does this mean that Christianity is a women’s religion?

Certainly in one sense it is a women’s religion, but it is also very much a faith for men. What has gone wrong? I think this Touchstone article (which isn’t online yet) may be touching (no pun intended) on a good point. Are the men in our society just boys? Indeed, it seems like some never do grow up. As for me, I’ll plead the fifth.

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Checkout Cover-up

This recent article is a rather humorous take on Wal-Mart’s recent decision to cover-up the covers to women’s magazines that are displayed in the store’s checkout lines. Hat’s off to Wal-Mart. Maybe now I can safely try to figure out what kind of breath strips to buy without having to find out 99 ways to do something else…

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ornament 12 June 2003 ornament

The Praise of Food

Desiderius Erasmus wrote The Praise of Folly, but being in a nonsensical, and hungry (in that late-night sort of way) mood, I’ve decided to switch the gears of this blog a little and write about a couple of my favorite restaurants.

The first I will mention is the Italian Village in my home town of Kingsport, TN. This review provides a pretty good description, but tasting is believing. I literally grew up on this pizza. The boxes they used to use had the phrase “You’ve tried all the rest, now try the best.” I’ve traveled to more countries than I have fingers and have been to much of the USA, and I’ve never had better. An authentic Italian pizzeria in Brugges, Belgium came close–but the Italian Village still reigns.

The next favorite is Ridgewood Barbecue in Bluff City, TN. This is one of those literal “hole-in-the-wall” diners that just can’t be topped. This restaurant ranks number one on my BBQ list (although my wife swears by Moonlite BBQ in Owensboro, KY). Ridgewood’s beans are incomparable. I’ve tried to emulate the recipe, but I just can’t seem to get it perfect. Rumor has it that only the late owner Grace Proffitt and her son knew the recipe for the sauce. It was not even written down. This recipe claims to have copied it, but I have yet to try it (would it be a sacrelige to copy it?).

Back when Grace ran things at Ridgewood, she would often lock people outside when the restaurant was full. I sometimes imagine I’m waiting outside–though here in Louisville it’s hard to imagine that wonderful smell…

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ornament 10 June 2003 ornament

The News That Isn’t

Tonight I watched a little of the Dateline NBC special interview with the parents and sister of Laci Peterson, the California woman who was brutally murdered along with her unborn child last December. Katie Couric asked the usual inane questions of the family which mostly consisted of “How did you feel when _____________?”

What is disturbing about news pieces like this is that there is so little news involved in the piece. The entire story revolved around how grief stricken this family was, as if this would be news to anyone.

Of course, we know that news is not the true intent of the piece. A piece like this is only effective in the realm of sensationalism. The story is a sensational and particularly heinous one–don’t get me wrong. However, the way in which the media keep poring over the same details repeatedly is more than extreme.

If fact, such sensationalism actually lessens the impact of such a story. The same details are brought up over and over until they don’t really have any significance to us anymore. This is important with the Laci Peterson story because it deals in a very real way with the presence of evil in the world. Total depravity is a hard doctrine to refute on the basis of the daily news, much less on the basis of the biblical support.

When the extremely evil becomes familiar, a change in perception is likely to take place. Take, for example, the occasional tendency for kidnapping victims to form an attachment to their captors. The danger we all face is becoming so familiar with evil that good looks foreign to us.

Evil should be recognized and given its proper place, but it should never be celebrated. For in the celebration of evil, a new idolatry is formed, and the reverence that is due God is shifted to the sensationalized evil.

I have visited Krakow, Poland on two occasions. The first time, I toured the Auschwitz prison camp and all its associated horrors. It was a heavy experience for me and I recommend all to go, despite the gloominess. Several years later, I found myself again in Krakow, and facing another opportunity to visit Auschwitz. The second time I declined. I felt that to go again would be somehow irreverent.

Something heavy with evil should be faced, but it should not be celebrated and idolized, lest it affect us too much. Let us not give up the pursuit of justice, but let us lay Laci and Conner Peterson to rest.

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