Unhappy Churchmen

The latest Barna poll finds that men are not satisfied with their church experiences:

The study found that more than 85 percent of the men did not feel “spiritually challenged” and, when compared to similar studies involving women, men were less likely to take leadership roles at church or set spiritual goals.

This isn’t surprising to anyone who has ever been in a typical church recently. Across the board and cross-culturally, men are lacking in Christian churches.

What I find interesing about this is that respondents didn’t feel challenged. This assumes that they want to be challenged (and rightly they should, as discipleship calls us to lean not on our own devices). Churches that go out of the way not to offend people often (in the same breath) end up never challenging anyone to a higher calling beyond listening to a watered-down lecture on Sunday mornings.

JD Mays has some good thoughts about this trend, and he points to a superb article by Doug Giles on the feminization of the church. Both are worth a look.

Adoption as Entertainment

I remember when “20/20” was an investigative news show, the popularity of which spawned various copycats on the competing networks. Apparently investigative news no longer attracts viewers, judging from ABC’s decision to have the show host an adoption game-show tonight:

Tonight ABC’s weekly news program “20/20” is to air Barbara Walters’s profile of Jessica, a pregnant 16-year-old who will select among five couples vying to adopt her child. Jessica will participate in an open adoption, an increasingly popular practice that allows adoptive parents and, in many cases, the child to maintain contact with birth parents.

“20/20 cameras were there last October when the competition for Jessica’s baby began as the finalists arrived at the agency one by one,” the ABC Web site reported. “Each couple would have less than half an hour to convince Jessica that they should be the parents of her unborn son.”

The fact that ABC would seek to turn the heart-wrenching process of adoption into a game show underscores the reality that TV networks have become whores for sensationalism.

So many lines have been crossed already that networks must go further and further to reach interested viewers—even if it means exploiting people at their most vunerable times. Shame on you, ABC—but alas, you have no shame.

UPDATE: Barbra Walters defends the “20/20” segment:

“For the record,” Walters, the mother of an adopted girl, wrote, “we should say that ’20/20′ simply reports what happened. We did not choose the participants nor exert any influence on what they did. This is not one of those scripted ‘reality shows’ — it is reality.”

Granted, I haven’t seen the show (nor do I intend to), but I find it difficult to believe that “20/20” is simply reporting without influencing. Is the show done with hidden cameras? My guess is no.

Walters misses the point that just because something is reality does not warrant it being reported. I’m sure Barbara would object (as would millions of viewers) to a camera crew documenting the frequency of her bowel movements. The fact that something happens doesn’t make it news.

Two by Two, Looking for a Boat

First things first: I do believe that Noah’s Ark actually did exist. I believe the biblical account is an accurate historical record of the events surrounding the Genesis flood.

I do not believe that Daniel McGivern and the other explorers on the upcoming expedition to find Noah’s Ark will find the vessel into which the creatures all came two by two.

It is intriguing. A longtime fan of the Indiana Jones movies, I’ve often wondered what it would be like to find such a treasure. In the words of the character “Short Round” in The Temple of Doom, “fortune and glory” would abound.

There are a number reasons why I don’t think that Daniel McGivern and his team will Noah’s Ark. The likelihood of the boat being there after a minimum of 4,000 years is slim (although there are rare exceptions, such as the 2,000 year old boat found in the Sea of Galilee’s mud). I’ve seen cars in the front yards of rednecks that didn’t last five years before rusting through, and those were of metal construction.

The evidence collected so far seems more the stuff of legend than of hard evidence. The satellite images are really too blurry to make out anything. Who’s to say that Noah didn’t dismantle the Ark for firewood after the flood?

I’m not sure of McGivern’s motives, but doubtless many will see this as an opportunity to “finally prove Christianity.” The problem is that whether or not the Noah’s Ark is found will make little difference to someone who already rejects the Bible as truth. The veracity of the flood story doesn’t hinge on whether or not a boat is found. God has given us his word and it is more than sufficient.

I hope McGivern and his group are successful. It would indeed be an interesting find. But I fear that with all the bravado that is preceding the expedition, McGivern is setting himself up for a media crucifixion (he has said already that he is 98% sure that it will be found).

I doubt the group will be successful, by time may prove me wrong. Unless of course they do find it—and it is whisked away to a warehouse where “top men” will work on it…

The Jesus Factor

PBS airs tonight what looks to be an interesting show on President Bush’s faith. It’s called “The Jesus Factor,” and is scheduled for 9pm EST. Here is an advance review from the New York Times.

UPDATE: Apparently I’m on the verge of getting old. I wasn’t home, so I set my VCR to tape the show, but alas, I cannot operate a VCR properly (one of the telltale signs of aging). Did anyone catch the show that cares to comment?

Books as Periodicals

I’m not one to read many of the political books that are floating around out there, liberal or conservative. I’m not referring to books about political theory so much as I am to the ones that pepper the current events shelves at the bookstores. There are the usual lopsided titles by Ann Coulter, Al Franken, Bill O’Reilly and the like, and there are also the “insider’s view” books like the ones by Richard Clarke, Paul O’ Neill, Hillary Clinton. Books like Bob Woodward’s recent analysis of the events surrounding 9/11 fit in this genre as well.

David Kirkpatrick examines the phenomena of such rapidly-appearing books in a recent New York Times article:

Some in the literary world say the trend is debasing serious nonfiction.

“These books are just stupendously enlarged newspaper stories,” said Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, who argued that all of the books lacked the thoughtfulness, interpretative insight or literary quality that should distinguish books from newspapers or magazines.

“They represent the degradation of political writing to purely journalistic writing,” he said. “The author in these works has been reduced to a transcriber or stenographer. There is no strenuous mental labor here. It is all technical skill. Books about urgent subjects used to have greater ambitions for themselves, but not these books. But this genre is something that passes, masquerading as something that lasts. Present history doesn’t have to be quite this fleeting.”

Part of the reason I keep the genre at a distance from my reading is that such books often have little lasting value. A year from now they all will be on the remainder table at a clearance price. There’s nothing morally wrong with a book being timely, but it does blur the line that once stood between the periodical and the hardback. Kirkpatrick cites Bob Woodward:

For his part, Mr. Woodward, an assistant managing editor of The Washington Post whose book was excerpted by the newspaper, said he did not have enough time for extensive analysis. “I could take the information in this book and work another year or two years and analyze it,” he said, “but my feeling and the opinion of my editor at The Washington Post, Len Downie, was that it was important that this come out before the election.”

Deadlines have always existed for authors of books, but the pressure of time noted by Woodward has more of a periodical feel to it. Did you notice the trade-off of extensive analysis for timeliness?

What all this means is that nonfiction books are increasingly becoming more market-driven as opposed to being analysis-driven. All of us who read nonfiction should be ever more watchful for details in these volumes that may have been sloughed off in lieu of hitting the market just right.

But beyond this, my son, be warned: the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body.” [Ecclesiastes 12:12]

Murderous Irony

This compendium of quotes from the abortion march is worth taking a look at. Consider what the Hollywood Square Whoopi Goldberg said:

Women are dying around the world from illegal abortions. We stand here, we’re marching, but let me explain something to you. As we stand, one woman is dying every six minutes. Now let’s do the math. Since we left at 10 a.m., thereabouts, over 30 women have died needlessly. Today alone, thirty women are dead because they got pregnant in the wrong country. That’s why we’re here.

Were it not for the subject, this would be laughable. It is tragic that so many women are dying as they break the law, but aren’t they countless millions who die while undergoing legal abortions that much more tragic?

Check out the whole thing for more nonsense from Ted Turner, Ashley Judd, and the like. [Via The Corner]

Celebrites Have a Hootenanny Over Killing Babies

Abortionists Gone Wild

The pro-abortion march in D.C. over the weekend featured many name-droppable names:

Ashley Judd, Allison Janney, Susan Sarandon and other Hollywood celebrities shared the stage later with politicians, diplomats and leaders of the pro-choice movement.

Holding a white hanger, Whoopi Goldberg told the crowd: “Never again will this be the choice of any woman in our hemisphere.”

“There is a war going on,” she said. “It’s not the war we see on TV. It’s a war on women.”

Whoopi and her kind weren’t the only ones marching for better tools with which to kill babies. The National Education Association—yes, the teachers unionwas there in support as well.

What’s startling is that if you look at the photos of the march, it looks like these people are having GREAT time. These are many of the same people why decry, “we are not for abortion, we’re just for a woman’s right to choose.” It’s quite eerie when there’s such revelry over a matter like abortion.

One Year at the Blog

Sources today confirmed that the first entry to TruePravda was recorded one year ago today with this miniscule posting. Yes, it’s true. I’ve been at this a whole year. I remember when a year used to be a long time.

I had no idea how frequently I would post, nor what I would post, but at the encouragement of my wife, went forward. My log says that this is the 321st entry. I never thought I would have that much to say, and really I haven’t said that much (321 is kiddie play compared to some of the uber-bloggers out there). The comment count is 198, a quarter of which are probably mine. I really need to do a better job of responding to comments.

Surprisingly, the most popular entry by far has been “Separation of Church and Business,” where I questioned Family Christian Stores’ motives for opening shop on Sundays. Needless to say, from reading many of the comments, I’ll never be able to get a job at Family Christian Stores. The funny thing is that I wrote an extended follow-up to the post, but since everyone floated into that article from Google and other blogs, nobody read it. I should have put an update on the original article, but it’s just as well—I still think my original post was sufficient.

I’ve had to change webhosts mid-year, but thankfully that worked out OK. I’ve changed the layout a couple of times, most recently to a 3-column layout, and I’ve learned a lot about CSS along the way.

Anyway, enough rambling. I’ll continue doing this as long as I have something to say (and as long as I have time to think about it before I say it…). Thanks to all you who read this either deliberately or by accident. I enjoy your comments and conversation. As always, if anyone ever has any ideas you would like to see discussed here, please let me know. God bless.

The Lies That Catch You

USA Today star journalist Jack Kelly, who fabricated a number of the stories that he wrote for the paper, issued a statement via his lawyer:

I have made a number of serious mistakes that violate the values that are most important to me as a person and as a journalist. I recognize that I cannot make amends for the harm I have caused to my family, friends, and colleagues. Nor can I make it up to readers who depend upon good journalism to understand a chaotic and confusing world. I can only offer my sincere apology to those I have let down. Although I remain proud of much of the work I did over 21 years, I understand that what I did wrong will diminish what I did right.

The last line makes it sound a bit like he’s borrowing from Shakespeare:

The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones.

What I can’t understand is why Kelley, who professes to be an evangelical Christian, would resort to such tame language in his apology. Admitting a “mistake” is much different than admitting a lie. One can acutally make a mistake without incurring moral culpability. If Kelley had misheard what someone said and wrote it down, it would be a mistake. If he had misspelled someone’s name, it would be a mistake. A fabrication of a story or parts of stories is nothing short of a lie.

Now is not the time for Mr. Kelley to be touting how proud he is of “much of the work [he] did over 21 years.” He is caught, and should seek to reclaim his reputation not on what he has done in the past, but upon what he will do in the future.

Bush Gaining Ground

There is still a long road ahead for campaign 2004, but as recent polls have shown, President Bush is gaining ground on Kerry. Peggy Noonan says today in the Wall Street Journal that Bush’s weathering of the recent storms have shown people that he stays the course and says what he believes. On the other hand:

The Democrats and their nominee say on one day that Mr. Bush ignored terrorism, and on the next that he exaggerated the threat. They say his administration didn’t give enough time to planning Iraq, then they say he was obsessed with Iraq. They say he’s dimwitted and gullible, then they say he’s evil and calculating–he cooked Iraq up in Texas, in Ted Kennedy’s phrase.

You know why they can’t define what’s wrong with Mr. Bush? Because they don’t even know what’s wrong with him beyond that he is not them, not Mr. Kerry, not a Democrat.

Can the Democrats win this way? No.

The entire article is worth the read. Elsewhere, Newsweek political analyst Howard Fineman sees the Democrats slipping as well. The American people aren’t necessarily following the liberal line of thought:

Politics is a game of context. And for now, this early in the campaign, the context isn’t Bush versus Kerry—it’s Bush versus the murderers and thugs. The first reaction of Americans wasn’t “what were those contractors doing in Fallujah in the first place?” It was “we must punish the beasts who killed and savagely mutilated them.” As a political analyst, my first thought was: All this video is bad for Bush, because it makes his Iraq policy look like a failure. I was wrong, of course. His may pay politically for Iraq at some point, but not right now. For now, it’s still rally ’round the commander-in-chief, if for no other reason than to show that we are not Spain.

It does seem that Kerry really doesn’t see Iraq as an issue, other than citing that President Bush is causing a quagmire. For Kerry to gain ground, he’ll have to come up with a plan for Iraq other than farming it out to the U.N.

The United States needs someone whose leadership in war can be trusted now—and in this war, medals won 30 years ago hold little sway.