Yet Again, The World’s Oldest Person Dies

For at least the fourth time in two years, the world’s oldest person has died. Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper, from the Netherlands, died today at the age of 115. Long time readers of this blog will remember that TruePravda keeps a close watch on this global conspiracy of death.

I think I am beginning to understand the key to these hypergenarians’ downfall: they die soon after they share their secret to longevity. This was Ms. van Andel-Schipper’s secret:

She advised others who wanted a long life to “keep breathing” and eat pickled herring, a favorite Dutch snack.

Somebody better warn this lady to keep quiet.

The Missing Link(s)

A new exhibit at the London Zoo offers a twist: humans. After all, we’re just animals like everyone esle:

The “Human Zoo” is intended to show the basic nature of human beings as they frolick throughout the August bank holiday weekend.

“We have set up this exhibit to highlight the spread of man as a plague species and to communicate the importance of man’s place in the planet’s ecosystem,” London Zoo said.

There must have been a shortage of albino tigers this year. Well, at least now all those critters visiting the zoo will realize just how important we humans are. I wonder if the animals will get to feed the humans from those coin-vending machines. . .

The Great Wall of Texas?

While we’re on the subject of immigration, Jonah Goldberg has an interesting evaluation of the idea of building a wall on the border:

A wall would not in any sense be “unfair” to Mexicans any more than locks on your windows are unfair to people who want to break into your house and sleep on your couch. A wall would simply put Mexico — and the more than 100,000 “other than Mexicans” who cross our southern border — at the same “disadvantage” as would-be immigrants from Nigeria and New Zealand. They’d have to fill out a form and wait in line.

A wall is an interesting idea, but such walls have failed miserably in the past. Take, for example, the Maginot Line — a fortification that the French built to keep out the Germans before WWII. The Germans went around it, and I’m sure that those wanting to come in from the south would find a way. I’m in agreement, however, with Goldberg in that it would not be in any sense unfair.

What Makes Something Christian?

The word Christian, in the adjective form, is applied quite liberally these days. Just Google the term and you’ll find a cornucopia of “Christian” things: Christian music, Christian schools, Christian art, Christian books, Christian stores, Christian coalitions, Christian websites — even Christian bubble gum.

I’ve been thinking lately along the lines of what it is exactly that makes something Christian. What is the difference in Christian art, books, or bubble gum when compared to non-christian art, books and bubble gum — aside from the fact that Christians tend to be seen with the Christian versions?

What recently brought the issue to my mind was a quote in CT that referred to some “writer guidelines from Steeple Hill, the Christian imprint of romance novel giant Harlequin.” I searched around, and found the entire guidelines for the publisher’s prospective writers. Here’s what the publisher expects from its Christian novels:

There should be no explicit sex in these stories, and a minimum of sensuality and sexual desire. Both humor and drama have a place in these books; foul language, swearing and scenes containing violence do not. Though the stories may take place in urban environments, hanging out in bar settings, drinking alcohol or becoming involved in sexual situations is not appropriate for Christian characters….

…Because Steeple Hill Books sells to both CBA and ABA bookstores, we must adhere to CBA conventions. The stories may not include alcohol consumption by Christian characters, dancing, card playing, gambling or games of chance (including raffles), explicit scatological terms, hero and heroine remaining overnight together alone, Halloween celebrations or magic or the mention of intimate body parts. Lying is also problematical in the CBA market and characters who are Christian should not lie or deceive others. Possibly there could be exceptional circumstances (matters of life and death), but this has to be okayed by an editor.

There is much irony to be found in these guidelines. If held to these standards, Christian novels like Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov or Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood wouldn’t come close to making the cut. Furthermore, even the Bible would fail these standards on almost every point with all its assorted violence, sex, mentions of intimate body parts, alcohol consumption, dancing, games of chance, and lying — but I digress.

The point is that to this publisher (and many like it), it is the absence of certain behaviors and elements of life that make their books “Christian.” While it is certainly appropriate for Christians to abstain from certain behaviors (lying, for example), this is not necessarily a uniquely Christian perspective. In fact, most of the prohibitions mentioned above could just as well describe an Islamic novel, if there is such a thing.

What makes something Christian? The answer is simple enough: Christ. It is the positive, redemptive lordship of Jesus Christ that makes something Christian. Claiming the name of Christ without acknowledging his lordship is little more than name-dropping.

Scripture tells us, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.” ( 1 John 4:2-3a) How well do the “Christian” things in our culture adhere to this confession? Perhaps we should broaden the question — how well do the “Christian” people in our culture adhere to such a confession? Are our lives mere morality, or do they exhibit transformation of renewed minds in Christ?