ornament 31 March 2004 ornament

Springing Forward?

If you’re a chronophile like me, you’ll really want to read Henry Sturman’s article, “Darkness at One,” where he says that Daylight Savings Time is a bad idea. Yes, friends and neighbors, this Sunday is the day when we all “lose” an hour of sleep.

I’m not sure if I agree with Sturman in toto, but he makes some convincing points—chiefly that we’re all just pretending to give ourselves more time. (FYI: last fall I posted about DST as well.)

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The Culture of Therapy v. The Culture of Wisdom

Russell Moore’s lament on the loss of the doctrine of sin in dealing with wife-beaters has me thinking about just how pervasive the “culture of therapy” has become. I think that psychology has a valuable place in the world as a discipline, but in a sense it has become the official religion of secularism.

If students in school are problematic, they’re advised to see a counselor. Anyone today who suffers emotional trauma but rejects counseling is likened to a cancer patient who refuses chemotherapy. Moore highlights the therapy groups that supposedly help spouse-abusers come to terms with “the psychological roots of their violent behavior.”

Christians must walk a fine line when it comes to psychology, because the canon of therapy is in more than a few places at odds with the canon of Scripture. In many theraputic models, no one is a fault for anything. Most counseling is done post-traumatic-event. It is reactionary, trying to assess the root of the problem.

I’ve been reading through the book of Proverbs recently, and I see a different kind of counseling modeled here. It is a counsel of wisdom that is pre-emptive, one that says things like, “Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 3:3) Of course, things of this nature will not be found in the pop wisdom that governs the culture of therapy.

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ornament 30 March 2004 ornament

The Hind End of Left Behind

The Left Behind series of books concludes today. Wheh, I thought they would never end—but wait!:

“Glorious Appearing” covers the end of days, but it’s actually not the end of the books. In 2005, fans can look forward to a prequel of “Left Behind” about the main characters’ lives before the Rapture. A sequel is scheduled for release in 2006.

So, it’s over, but it’s not over. Ok.

I was kind of hoping that with the final book, all the various copies throughout the world would suddenly disappear, leaving only the dust jackets behind.

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I’ve finally updated my “about” page to reflect the fact that I’m no longer a seminarian. I’ve made a few other adjustments to that page, as well as a rather vague hint about what I hope to be doing next.

Also, the blogroll on the right has had many changes as of late, with many new additions—check them out, there are some good ones. There’s really no rhyme or reason to my blogroll, no primacy of place or alphabetical order. There’s probably some subconcious, convoluted system I have for blogroll placement, but I haven’t discovered it yet. By the way, it should go without saying that I don’t necessarily endorse everything in the blogs that I read—I just list ones I find interesting or smart.

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ornament 29 March 2004 ornament

Sign of the Times

A good friend of mine sends out a periodic email entitled, “Bad Church Sign of the Week.” It’s a rather hilarious compendium of trite phrases gone bad. Most of them try to be clever—something to make you think. Usually, that’s as far as it goes. No one really tries to make a deep theological point on a church sign (if they do they usually fail). Except for one I saw this weekend:

“Example Moves the World More Than Doctrine”

This seemingly benign statement says more about the crisis in the church than it lets on. To be sure, doctrine and theology as merely abstract disciplines do little for the kingdom of God. Doctrine must be worked out and lived out in a person’s life to be effective.

The problem is that this sign presupposes the notion that all doctrine is merely abstract thought and doctrine is something far removed from example. This notion is far from the truth. In fact, it is very hard to be a good example without being informed by good, solid doctrine. Examples that are not anchored in a theology of the Word are examples that will usually be based on whimsy. The example that “seems best” will be followed, regardless whether or not it is biblical. Churches and individuals should heed the words of the proverb, “There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 16:25)

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DVD Roundup

The DVD market seems to be flooded right now with movies you’ve never heard of. I was in Target and saw four dozen copies of the movie Honey for sale. I’ll bet those will go just as quickly as it took for the movie to from film to DVD.

I did see one film recently that you may not have heard of: Shattered Glass. It’s based on the true story of Stephen Glass, the pathological liar who wrote fake articles for The New Republic. It’s eeire to watch how someone can get so caught up in a web of lies—and take everyone else along with the ride. I think everybody has known at least one pathological liar in their lifetime, and everybody knows how it feels when the truth comes out. It’s a good flick with a notoriously bad actor, Hayden Christensen, actually doing a really good job.

We also watched the Coen brothers’ Intolerable Cruelty, which was a real hoot, especially if you like Coen brothers’ brand of humor. Though I don’t care for his politics, I think George Clooney does comedy very well. Catherine Zeta-Jones and Billy-Bob Thornton also have memorable roles. Highly recommended, especially by Heinz, the Baron Krauss von Espy.

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ornament 28 March 2004 ornament

Spending Too Much Time on Google

If you’ve ever wondered how old you are in dog years, you must check out this converter. I’m 4 years old. If I were a dog, I would be 129 years old, and certain to die soon. The converter’s formula is 10.5 dog years per human year for the first 2 years, then 4 dog years per human year for each year after.

I’ve always heard that “dog years” (a way to compare the life-spans of humans with those of their canine friends) were 1 human year = 7 dog years (like this other converter). The first converter seems more accurate to me. I’ll have to call some of my dog friends to verify.

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ornament 25 March 2004 ornament

Politics, Religion, & The Christian Right

James Heflin is an angry, upset man. It seems to him that the far-right-extreme-ultra-hyper-conservative fundamentalists of the Christian right (wayward, diabolical, conservative Southern Baptists in particular) are the root of all evil in America. After reading this article [link via CT Weblog] that’s the feeling one gets. In it, Heflin delivers a tirade at the audacity of Christians wanting to participate in the electoral process:

The agenda of these Christians of the Far Right is brazen and clear. They have turned a zealous minority into a ruling class once, and they have learned from that success. This is not a wild-eyed conspiracy theory; their plans are preached in pulpits weekly, and have now taken shape as proposed legislation. Look no further than the recently introduced “Constitution Restoration Act.” If we do not pay attention to their manipulation of American democratic processes now that they have gained remarkable power among Republicans, the principles of our democracy will eventually be as distant a memory as the kinder, gentler Southern Baptist Convention of my childhood.

This “manipulation of American democratic processes” is called voting. Apparently Mr. Heflin, bitter about the conservative resurgence among Southern Baptists, thinks that it is unfair to liberal Christians such as himself that conservatives are voting. The nerve!

Heflin’s entire article is filled with so many ad hominem jabs that it’s difficult to tell exactly what his point is. Is he writing against the Constitution Restoration Act of 2004? If so, why devote so much animosity toward the Southern Baptists? I know it’s hard for Mr. Heflin to believe, but the Southern Baptist Convention did not introduce HR3799. Nope, we’re still letting congresspersons tend to those matters—for now…

I am by no means a theonomist, and I by no means think that a better political order will in the end save the world or even change hearts. I do, however, believe that is a Christian’s duty to live his or her life in the world with a Christian worldview. This means that everything in a Christian’s life must come beneath the purview of him who has the government upon his shoulders. Much to Mr. Heflin’s chagrin, this means that a Christian’s political life is affected as well.

Mr. Heflin thinks that Christians are out to establish an earthly kingdom by voting for such a person as George W. Bush. I’ll let him in on a little secret: the kingdom that is Christ’s makes the USA look like a third-world country. The jurisdiction of that kingdom, if realized in an individual, will cause more tumult than any vast right-wing conspiracy ever hoped.

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ornament 24 March 2004 ornament

Tolerance and the Culture Wars

National Review’s John Derbyshire is, how should I say it, “smokin!” in his latest NRO column:

We have not, in fact, gone “beyond tolerance” at all, we have merely invented new kinds of intolerance. We have not swept away caste-feudalism and replaced it with a shining meritocratic egalitarianism; we have just traded in one style of caste-feudalism for another style. This is not a society “in which people feel free to hold whatever private views on all human groups and behaviors.” People are ashamed of their private beliefs and fearful to disclose them. They are baffled by the fact that sincere opinions held by their parents and grandparents, rooted in custom, good sense, scripture, and everyday observation, are now shouted down as “bigoted” and “intolerant.” What use are private beliefs anyway, if they are excluded from the public square by a suffocating conformity, imposed by an ever-vigilant Thought Police backed by armies of predatory lawyers? Under this relentless pressure, private beliefs fade from all but the bravest hearts, to be replaced with the state-approved formulas: diversity, inclusiveness, equality, compassion, respect.

This one is another must-read. While he obviously sounds fired-up, most of Derbyshire’s arguments here are not exaggerated. The new tolerance is really intolerance in disguise:

Beyond tolerance? I don’t see it. What I do see is a trend towards a European-style society dominated by an arrogant overclass of credentialed intellectuals, who are deeply contemptuous of those less articulate than themselves, and profoundly in-tolerant of traditional customs and morals, of Christianity, of normal sexuality, of manual work, of motherhood, of the military virtues, of any expression of ethnic pride or loyalty by anyone not a certified member of a Designated Victim Group. They don’t actually like America much, don’t believe there is much good to be said about this country, and would like to change us into something quite different.

I’d like to quote the whole article, but it would be easier if you just read it yourself.

Drebyshire pulls no punches here, but sometimes we need our “bell rung” just to wake us from our slumber.

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Apropos of the Wet Snow…

I finished Notes from Underground tonight. After suffering through some maniacal ranting in the first third of the book, Dostoevsky emerges with force! A question posed by his Underground Man:

And in fact I’m now asking an idle question of my own: which is better—cheap happiness, or lofty suffering? Well, which is better?

Notes may well indeed make the Books That Haunt series…

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