ornament 24 March 2004 ornament

The Bumper Sticker Brigade

There’s a certain segment of the liberal population which feels that it doesn’t get its fair share of expression in the marketplace of ideas. You’ve seen them before. Because they are not adequately heard on just about every issue, they plaster the backs of their cars with bumper stickers.

It’s not difficult to spot a member of the Bumper Sticker Brigade. Aside from the obvious (multiple stickers on the car), they have several things in common. They tend to drive Volvo wagons, vans, or other vehicles with a large rear area for bumper sticker display. There’s usually a sticker with something about God being a woman, always something about giving peace a chance, occaisionally a “Darwin” fish, and most of the time something like “I’m pro-choice and I vote.” Calvin is always peeing on something on the backs of these cars.

They never have just one sticker, which often displays the confusion of the liberal mind. Today I was behind a truck that had a “Celebrate Diversity” sticker, with the obligatory colors of the rainbow. On an opposite corner, there was something to the effect of this message: “End Occupation: Get Israel Out of Palestine.” How diversity fits in with removing an ethnic group from a geographic area I’m not sure—maybe diversity of bumper stickers?

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ornament 23 March 2004 ornament

Nothing New Under The Sun

According to Brown, Driver, and Briggs’ Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, the term which is transliterated hamas means in Arabic “to be hard, strict, rigorous.” Not surprisingly, the Hebrew meaning is close: “act violently, treat violently.” It’s no doubt that Israel has been on the receiving end of the Hebrew meaning of the term when it comes to the terrorist group Hamas.

Now that its founder, Ahmed Yassin, has been killed, Hamas says that the Israelis are in for trouble:

Hamas figure Abdelaziz Rantissi vowed Israel will “not know security” after being named leader of the radical Islamist movement following the Israeli assassination of Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

“[Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon and the Israelis will not know security,” he told thousands of Hamas supporters gathered here to extend their condolences for Yassin.

It now seems that Israel will have no security from the Palestinians. Now every day will await new terror. Have the Israelis, in killing the terrorist leader, unleashed more terror upon themselves?

Anyone who has kept up with the goings on in Israel over the last few years know that the threat of “no security” is as meaningful as a threat that it will be hot in the summer. All the Israelis have known for years is the very real threat of terror with very little sense of security. Threatening what is already happening should only be seen as a cry of desperation among the murderers. I hope Israel gets every last one of them.

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ornament 22 March 2004 ornament

Notes from the Road

Here are some more observations from weekend travels:

See-Saw Sign

Yes, this is an actual sign I saw in a residential area in Chattanooga. I never saw any see-saws, so they must have been going well over 25 m.p.h.

On the road we finished listening to the audiobook version of Grisham’s The Last Juror. All in all, it was an entertaining read listen with a vivid description of small-town life, but there were several glaring anachronisms in the novel that in a way tainted the whole novel for me. I’m not sure what or how many editors Grisham’s publishers use, but they really dropped the ball here. Regardless, if you’re a John Grisham fan, you’ll probably like it.

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The Consequences

Now that young men have become “Wimps and Barbarians,” says Terrence O. Moore, women have had to compromise. In the follow-up to the former article, Moore now shows us what has happened to women in “Heather’s Compromise.”

Moore has some keen cultural observations here, and you’d be remiss to pass them by. As I said about “Wimps and Barbarians,” this one is required reading as well.

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ornament 21 March 2004 ornament

Vantage Point

Lookout Mtn.

We did some traveling this weekend and I got to go to Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, TN with my father-in-law. The above photo was taken from Point Park, where the Confederate Army once oversaw the military movements in Chattanooga until they were overtaken in November 1863. It’s a breathtaking view and the weather was spectacular.

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ornament 19 March 2004 ornament

Old Computers

If you’ve ever tried to get rid of an old computer, you’ll know it can sometimes be a chore. Tunku Varadarajan has a hilarious article in the Wall Street Journal today chronicling his attempt to be dispose of his:

We bought the machine in 1998. Six years ago. I do not know anyone who has a six-year-old PC. Even schools in Malawi (I am told) have more up-to-date desktops.

I managed to get rid of my six-year old PC last year for $50. I was fortunate to even get that much. The funny thing is that I used to see ads posted around the seminary by people selling their old computers for $300 or so. They would read something like, “Packard Bell 486 with WordPerfect and all the bells and whistles, 14-inch monitor, and speakers. Paid $1,500, asking only $299.”

Their computers might have booted up by the time they figured out that nobody wanted their passe PC.

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Coke Addicts

I’m not talking about Cocaine, either. There’s another type of Coke addict—the Diet Coke addict. I’ve noticed this trend for a few years now. People who drink Diet Coke are fanatical about the beverage. Eric Gillin’s article, “The Cult of Diet Coke,” recognizes this addiction:

The high and mighty are addicted as well. Donald Trump wouldn’t be caught dead with a Trump Ice bottled water, preferring Diet Coke and nothing else. Harvey Weinstein, gruff and tumble head honcho of the Miramax empire, rides in a limo stocked with Diet Coke. John Edwards, failed presidential candidate, has been known to drink as many as 10 Diet Cokes while campaigning — a habit endorsed wholeheartedly by both of the Clintons.

I know people who can hardly function without a Diet Coke in the morning. There’s no such thing a casual Diet Coke drinker.

I wonder if the same substance that is in Milk Bone Dog Biscuits is in Diet Coke? The level of frenzy that dogs have over those things is similar to a Diet Coke addict’s cravings. Hmmm…

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ornament 18 March 2004 ornament

Christianity & The Arts

Two good articles this week on the arts: First, there’s Gene Edward Veith’s WORLD Magazine piece that contrasts the meaningless art of today with the capacity for beauty that’s inherent in a Christian view of art. Second, there’s this interview with Image Journal publisher Gregory Wolfe:

Christians have been tempted to say, well, pop culture is a huge phenomenon and it’s incredibly cool in its way. Why don’t, instead of we rejecting pop culture, let’s get on the pop culture bandwagon, let’s just place the message inside the vehicle of the pop culture medium, whether it’s the romance novel that is being used or the techno-thriller or rap music.

Here’s the danger. The great Marshall McLuhan once said, “The medium is the message.” And the danger with pop culture is that it is naive that you can somehow insert some idea about faith or the faith itself into this vessel and simply transmit it and it be opened up and received in some pure way. The very nature of pop culture is to dumb things down, to make things more special-effects oriented, more in terms of spectacle than demanding exercises of heart and mind that high art and traditionally mainstream art has called us to employ. The danger is that what the young Christian listening to as he rocks his head to the Christian grunge rock is grunge rock and not the faith at all.

There is an inherent nature within pop culture that almost seems too easy to deal with. I listen to pop music, for example, when I don’t really want to think about what I’m listening to. I never really ponder what TCP is, and why you have to take it out of R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and why somebody in the end might “sock it to me.” There’s nothing necessarily wrong with listening to light fare such as this—if this isn’t all I listen to.

The problem with pop culture is that it has become the pervasive culture that drives everything we do. Today’s artists no longer worry about writing a song or a book that will be a thing of beauty for centuries to come—making it big on the week’s top 40 charts is reward enough, Janet Jackson’s mammary gland notwithstanding. Christians should be leading the way, yet we so often lag behind. Veith reminds us that there is hope:

Many Christians are, in fact, finding callings in the arts, and they need the support of their fellow believers.

Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ is an example of a work of art that conveys the faith in a nonsentimental, even shocking way, in a film that is a masterpiece of cinematic art. It is controversial and provocative, and it is having an impact on the culture.

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ornament 17 March 2004 ornament

How to Get Kids to Read the Bible? Trick Them

That’s right, if your teenager doesn’t seem interested in the Bible, just give him a copy of “Refuel,” a Bible-zine aimed at teen-age boys. It looks like a really cool magazine with the album cover from Dire Straits’ Money for Nothing on it, but open it up…and SURPRISE! It’s a Bible!

Your teen will be halfway through Leviticus before they know what hit them. Uh huh…

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ornament 16 March 2004 ornament

The Frat Boy vs. The Intellectual Elite

President Bush, long seen as dim-witted by the intellectual elite on college campuses everywhere, may be putting some intellectuals to the task on the issue of Islamic anti-Semitism:

Yet social scientists have essentially remained mum concerning a problem that President Bush, in a speech in November, has placed high on the world agenda. “Europe’s leaders, and all leaders,” he said in London, “should strongly oppose anti-Semitism, which poisons public debates over the future of the Middle East.”

The image of the president of the United States pressing ahead in the battle against bigotry while social scientists lag far behind is, to say the least, unusual — especially when one considers the mountains of research that have addressed past anti-Semitism and racism in Europe and the United States.

How could social scientists be ignoring such a rampant problem? It seems like for some reason Islamic countries have attained the status of “noble savage” among social scientists. Israel, with its democratic (albeit heavily socialist) government and technological advancement, is viewed as people who should know better than to pick on these noble savages.

This is all just another way of saying that in the world of the left, politics trumps academic rigor every time.

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