Does God Care Who Wins The NCAA Tournament?


Even the person least into sports here in the US is likely to know that the top division in men’s basketball is holding their tournament to determine the 2019 champion. We’ve fondly dubbed this time each year, March Madness.

It’s not quite as mad as it used to be. Yes, there are still upsets which scramble everyone’s game-by-game predictions, but one TV network used to cover the games so there were split screens and much jumping from scheduled games to updates and even the endings of close games. The games, of course, started during the week, so working people were taping the games they most wanted to see and trying to avoid hearing final scores.

Things have changed. Cable TV is now part of the mix. All games can be viewed by whoever has that service. Or has the internet and enough data minutes to see the games they can’t otherwise get. In other words, there’s far less scrambling, far less madness connected with seeing the games.

Still, many people put a lot into picking winners and following the games to see how well they’re doing and what chance they have of winning office pools or more. In other words, a lot of people are interested in what a bunch of college students are doing the three weeks of the tournament.

Factor in interested parties which include fellow students at the competing universities, friends and family, alumni, teachers past and present, people who live in the communities where the different schools are located. In other words, beneath the layer of unattached fans, you have a layer of attached fans.

At the core, of course, are those intimately involved with the basketball programs—players, coaches, athletic directors, trainers, cheerleaders, ball boys, those who work the games, scorekeepers, timers. People involved are invested, some to a greater degree than others.

In all this, does God care who wins the NCAA men’s basketball championship?

That question comes to my mind in part because I spent thirty years as a coach—of various middle school, and then high school, girls sports teams, including basketball. Since I worked at Christian schools, we always prayed together as a team, but most often we were playing against other Christian schools which also prayed as a team.

Early on I confronted the dilemma—could I expect God to hear our prayers and not theirs if we both prayed to win the game? And if we prayed to win and yet lost, did that mean there was sin in the camp, that God was somehow displeased with us, that we had more to learn spiritually before He would reward us with a championship?

In other words, I wrestled with the issue of praying for a victory in a basketball game. In the end, I decided not to pray for wins.

The temptation is to conclude that God simply doesn’t care. Whether team A or team B wins certainly doesn’t change who He is or what He wants to accomplish. But I believe God cares about games because He cares about us.

In fact, one of the reasons I loved coaching so much was that I viewed sports as a microcosm of life. During a season of basketball, a team faces in miniature many of the things that they’ll have to deal with on a larger scope later on: adversity, success, hard work, togetherness, failure, discipline, teamwork, obedience, response to injustice, doing your best, bouncing back from not doing your best, and more.

Don’t get me wrong. Winning is sweet. But there’s so much that goes into winning, and I think God cares a lot more about those things. Ultimately, He cares more about the people than He does about the winning. Sometimes the greatest affect on a person comes from losing. In other words, some people need to lose to be the people God wants them to be. Some players need to forgive a teammate for making a bad decision or taking a bad shot. God cares more that they learn to show compassion and forgive than He does about their winning.

There’s a song that goes right to the heart of this matter. It’s called “Blessings”:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep

After a catalog of other things Christians have been known to pray for, the song turns and asks in the chorus, penetrating questions:

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through rain drops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise

Sports can be a training ground for young athletes, and we who are on the sidelines, or on this side of the TV, watching have no way of knowing what God is doing in the lives of those people running up and down the court. I think God cares a great deal for each one of those student-athletes, but I don’t know if that means He’ll calm a nervous heart so a young man can play up to his potential or if He’ll prompt a player to say a kind word to an opponent or allow a TV camera to distract him so he misses a key free throw.

The book of James makes a couple clear statements about prayer:

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive because you ask with wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures. (James 4:2b-3)

So God wants us to ask—just not with wrong motives, not selfishly.

Does He care about who wins the NCAA Tournament? In the grand scheme of things, probably not, but how the winning and losing and all that leads up to those results affects us, absolutely: God cares because He uses raindrops for His purposes. Or teardrops.

You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle,
Are they not in Your book? (Psalm 56:8)

From the archives: a reprisal is an edited version of an article that appeared here in March, 2015, which seems fitting on this first weekend of the 2019 tournament.

Looking For Water


According to Wikimedia “a cistern is a tank for storing water, usually covered. It may be as small as a toilet cistern or large enough to be essentially a covered reservoir.”

God, through the prophet Jeremiah used cisterns as a metaphor to show His people’s relationship with Him.

For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

696415_mountain_waterfallI don’t know about you, but if I were in need of water and had to choose between “living water”–the kind that flows freely, abundantly, cleanly–and water stored in a cistern, I’d take the former every time.

But God didn’t just accuse His people of choosing cistern water over living water. They were making for themselves broken cisterns—ones that couldn’t hold water at all. In other words, since we need water to live, they were abandoning the source of life in favor of their own empty effort.

What a great picture of Humankind’s attempts to make it without God. We dig and work and build and produce and save, but in the end we go out like we came in—alone.

Our own efforts to provide the love, security, purpose, sense of belonging that we all need, net us muddy ground. Furthermore, one person’s attempt to do religion is no better than another person’s rejection of religion.

Water isn’t found in man-made activities. We can’t give up enough for Lent or fast often enough or serve in homeless shelters frequently enough to get the water we need.

The Jews who Jeremiah was talking to had left worship of the LORD their God and were serving false gods, made with their own hands. They couldn’t see how silly it was for them to pray to a statue that they had carved from a block of wood, one that could not walk or talk, and certainly could not give them Living Water.

But people in contemporary Western society aren’t any smarter. We think happiness will come if we just have enough money, just get the right job, just marry the right person, just have freedom or protection or safety or health. We go all in on things that are temporary, ephemeral, over which we have little control.

God tells us that He’ll provide. But like little children we say, No, no, let me, I want to do it myself. So we’re hacking away to dig out these systems we think will make life make sense or fill up our loneliness or at least get us through to the weekend. It’s a sad way to live, trying to squeeze water out of the muddy mess we make.

Especially when we can turn and enjoy Living Water in abundance.

This post is an edited version of one that appeared here in April, 2013.

Published in: on January 14, 2019 at 4:49 pm  Comments Off on Looking For Water  
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Backward Thinking – A Reprise


Vitruvian-Icon-bYesterday I addressed the Caitlyn Jenner issue from the perspective that the media is manipulating public opinion—manipulating Caitlyn Jenner, too, I might add, though with her consent. The purpose is to reshape the way we think about ourselves. For the better part of two thousand years, western culture has been influenced by a Christian worldview. We have believed what the Bible says about us. But this Christian worldview doesn’t sit well with people who don’t believe in God. Hence, we need to re-think our opinions about life’s most basic questions: who are we, how did we get here, why are we here, where are we going?

The latter part of the twentieth century brought the triumph, in education, if not elsewhere, of “science” over “religion” in the debate over origins. But more recently the question those who reject God are addressing is, Who are we? No longer is the Bible the source to which we go to find the answer, but in a strange twist, we aren’t going to science either, as is so evident in the acceptance, even the glorification, of those who identify as transgenders.

We simply have dismissed physical evidence—the existence of Y chromosomes, the prominence of the Adam’s apple, deeper voices, hormones, differences in skeletal structure, genitalia, size of internal organs, and more—in the gender discussion. If you feel like a woman on the inside, then you’re a woman, no matter what the physical evidence says.

One person on Facebook explained this dismissal of scientific evidence by saying that perception is reality.

This question of who we are goes beyond gender however.

A few years back PETA brought a lawsuit, quickly dismissed, against Sea World on behalf of five Orca whales because of their “enslavement.” This extreme desire to treat animals with the same care and respect as humans, has the effect of degrading humans. We are, the thinking goes, not more special than the whale or gorilla or titmouse.

The Bible makes it clear that humans are special because we, of all creation, have uniquely been made in the image of God. Our Creator Himself breathed into Man the breath of life and he became a living being—a soul, a self, a person.

But the PETA folks would have us be less.

What’s ironic, at the same time, our culture has weighed humanity morally and found us to be good. Ask anyone. Humans—according to the majority of people in Western society, anyway—believe humans to be innately good. I suppose some might say dogs are good, and cats, horses, dolphins. But at some point, I think most people would hold back on calling mosquitoes good, or fleas or cockroaches or termites.

The truth is, animals aren’t acting out of a moral nature. We call some animals good because we find them to be beautiful or useful or companionable or admirable. Others we find to be a nuisance, destructive, harmful, disease-carrying, and suddenly the brotherhood of all living beings seems a little less desirable.

In truth, the human alone is a moral being, and sadly, we are not good. Yes, we bear the image of God, but we act out of the flaw in our character—the very flaw fiction writers know we must include in the characters that people our stories if they are to seem realistic.

All we have to do is look around us, and we see the flaws of Humankind. Corporate greed? That’s humans acting from our flawed nature. Welfare fraud? That’s humans acting from our flawed nature. Illegal immigration? Same problem, as is pornography, sex trafficking, adultery, extortion, murder, burglary … Need I go on?

Humans are not good. Those who ignore all of the above and insist humankind is indeed good, prove by their stubbornness and willingness to lie to themselves, that all of us are flawed.

So we have this upside down thinking going when it comes to the most basic question—who are we? Humans are just another animal species, some say. But humankind is good, some of the same people say.

But there’s more. While those lawyers were suing Sea World on behalf of the whales, another group of people were doing all they could to keep “a woman’s right to choose” in place. In simple terms, they worked overtime against any effort to chip away at the Supreme Court ruling that declared abortion legal.

Back in 1973, of course, the argument centered on the issue of when life begins. Pregnancy, the women’s rights movement taught, was at the sole prerogative of the woman, because at stake was her body, and hers alone. Inside her was tissue, a fetus, certainly not a separate life. To be alive, that embryo would have to be viable. Until abortion doctors wanted to finish a botched job outside the womb. Then it didn’t matter if the squirmy tissue was living and breathing. Abortion was legal, so there. Partial birth abortions—keep those legal. States that didn’t want abortion within their borders—out of luck. No bending on this issue even though now virtually everyone understands that the fetus is alive, that this is a separate person growing in the womb. An unprotected person, stripped of all rights, without a voice or any chance to do his or her own choosing.

But the irony doesn’t stop. Medical science has determined that certain things a women does when she is pregnant can have harmful effects on the baby she is carrying—things like smoking, consuming caffeine, and drinking alcohol. Other things are helpful like exercise and playing certain music or talking to the unborn baby. Pregnant women, then, are expected to do all the right things as part of prenatal care, while some have been accused of child abuse for doing the things that jeopardize the health and well-being of the unborn. That’s right. A woman can kill the child but not injure it by smoking.

Our thinking is backwards. We make these laws asking the wrong questions—most often, what do I want or what will benefit me? Some people might even go so far as to think, what will benefit society? Few, it seems, are asking, what is morally right?

Is it morally right to cheat on your income taxes? Is it morally right to steal from your employer? Is it morally right for CEOs of failed businesses to take millions of dollars in bonuses? Is it morally right for a congressman to receive thousands of dollars from a lobbyist for whom he will fashion upcoming legislation?

But no. We won’t create law by asking what is morally right because we have backwards thinking. Humankind is good … though an animal … with no right to be born should his mother choose to terminate his life while he’s completely helpless and dependent on her, but with every right to change his gender should he not like the one to which he’d been “assigned.”

In all this the image of God is being so marred it’s hardly recognizable.

A good portion of this article appeared here in February 2012.

Gender Matters


Recently Mike Duran brought up the issue of guys reading books with female protagonists. His conclusion, essentially was, guys don’t read girlish books because they are guys.

Makes sense. Interestingly, the majority of the guys who commented–maybe all of them–said they were fine with female protagonists. It is romance they aren’t interested in. I suspect they were using “romance” as a code word, though, for “stuff women like.”

A Charmed Life coverI have a sneaking suspicion that those guys would also not be a bit interested in reading Shelley Adina’s The Fruit Of My Lipstick or Who Made You A Princess, Be Strong And Curvaceous, or The Chic Shall Inherit The Earth. Or how about Jenny B. Jones’s The Charmed Life, even though one reader says it contains “mystery, comedy, romance, action, and drama”?

Of course, not all girls will want to read those books either, but my guess is, you’d be hard pressed to find ten guys willing to pick up one in a book store, let alone buy it and read it.

On the other hand, it’s not a stretch to imagine girls reading the latest sci fi or horror or thriller or suspense. What genre don’t women read? Men, it would seem, as a class of people, draw a line when it comes to their reading and say, Nope, I don’t want to go there and so I won’t. Women, on the other hand, seem, as a group, less inclined to lines.

Why?

Because gender matters. Men and women are wired differently.

HeteroSym2Our anatomy differences, we’re all too aware of, but we also have a different chemical make up (which is why some vitamin companies sell a multiple vitamin for Her and a different compound for Him), differences in our use of language, and differences in our brain structure which ought not to be minimized. That women more easily access both hemispheres of our brain allows us to be interested in a wider variety of things–stuff guys are typically interested in because of their left brain dominance as well as the emotive stuff, the heartwarming Hallmark Hall of Fame type stories typically thought to interest women.

Granted, I’m speaking in generalities. Of course there are guys who also have a wide assortment of interests and girls who don’t want anything to do with trucks or tanks or spaceships or footballs. But the fact remains, the generalities fit most guys and most girls

What’s my point? The fact that girls have a wider variety of fiction they read and enjoy than do guys is another indication that gender matters.

People who want to say that guys don’t like girlish books because society has programed them that way have no answer as to why girls read widely, venturing into “manly” genres with no qualms. We women are in the same society and ought to have been programmed as the guys have been.

But the truth is, women and men are different. I know that’s a radical thing to say in this day and age. But it’s true. Gender matters. It really does make men and women behave differently, think differently, and apparently, read differently.

Published in: on March 7, 2013 at 6:43 pm  Comments (10)  
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Backwards Thinking


A couple days ago, I wrote about the PETA lawsuit, quickly dismissed, brought against Sea World on behalf of five Orca whales because of their “enslavement.” This extreme desire to treat animals with the same care and respect as humans has the effect of degrading humans. We are, the thinking goes, not more special than the whale or gorilla or titmouse.

The Bible makes it clear that humans are special because we, of all creation, have uniquely been made in the image of God. Our Creator Himself breathed into Man the breath of life and he became a living being — a soul, a self, a person.

But the PETA folks would have us be less.

What’s ironic, at the same time, our culture has weighed Man morally and found us to be good. Ask anyone. Man, according to the majority of people in Western society, anyway, believes Man to be innately good. I suppose some might say dogs are good, and cats, horses, dolphins. But at some point, I think most people would hold back on calling mosquitoes good, or fleas or cockroaches or termites.

The truth is, animals aren’t acting out of a moral nature. We call some animals good because we find them to be beautiful or useful or companionable or admirable. Others we find to be a nuisance, destructive, harmful, disease-carrying, and suddenly the brotherhood of all living beings seems a little less desirable.

If fact, Man alone is a moral being, and sadly, we are not good. Yes, we bear the image of God, but we act out of the flaw in our character — the very flaw that fiction writers know they must include in those that people their stories if they are to seem realistic. All we have to do is look around us, and we see the flaws of Mankind. Corporate greed? That’s Man acting from his flawed nature. Welfare fraud? That’s Man acting from his flawed nature. Illegal immigration? Same problem, as is pornography, sex trafficking, adultery, extortion, murder, burglary … Need I go on?

Man is not good. Those who ignore all of the above and insist Mankind is too, good, prove by their stubbornness and willingness to lie to themselves, that all of us are flawed.

So we have this upside down thinking going when it comes to the most basic question — who are we? Man is just another animal, some say. But Man is good, some of the same people say.

But there’s more. While those lawyers were suing Sea World on behalf of the whales, another group were doing all they could to keep “a woman’s right to choose” in place. In simple terms, they work overtime against any effort to chip away at the Supreme Court ruling that declared abortion legal.

Back in 1973, of course, the argument centered on the issue of when life begins. Pregnancy, the women’s rights movement taught, was at the sole prerogative of the woman, because at stake was her body, and hers alone. Inside her was tissue, a fetus, certainly not a separate life. To be alive, that embryo would have to be viable. Until abortion doctors wanted to finish a botched job outside the womb. Then it didn’t matter if the squirmy tissue was living and breathing. Abortion was legal, so there. Partial birth abortions — keep those legal. States that didn’t want abortion within their borders — out of luck. No bending on this issue even though now virtually everyone understands that the fetus is alive, that this is a separate person growing in the womb. An unprotected person, stripped of all rights, without a voice or any chance to do his or her own choosing.

But the irony doesn’t stop. Medical science has determined that certain things a women does when she is pregnant can have harmful effects on the baby she is carrying — things like smoking, drinking caffeine and alcohol. Other things are helpful like exercise and playing certain music or talking to the unborn baby. Pregnant women, then, are expected to do all the right things to as part of prenatal care and have been held for child abuse for doing the things that jeopardize the health and well-being of the unborn. That’s right. A woman can kill the child but not injure it by smoking.

Our thinking is backwards. We make these laws asking the wrong questions — most often, what do I want or what will benefit me? Some people might even go so far as to think, what will benefit society? Few, it seems, are asking, what is morally right?

Is it morally right to cheat on your income taxes? Is it morally right to steal from your employer? Is it morally right for CEOs of failed businesses to take millions of dollars in bonuses? Is it morally right for a congressman to receive thousands of dollars from a lobbyist he will be working with to fashion upcoming legislation?

But no. We won’t create law that way because we have backwards thinking. Man is good … though an animal … with no right to be born should his mother choose to terminate his life while he’s completely helpless and dependent on her.

In the process the image of God is being so marred it’s hardly recognizable.

Published in: on February 16, 2012 at 6:31 pm  Comments (7)  
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The Privilege Of Religious Freedom


I don’t know when I’ve heard of a unanimous Supreme Court decision before. The ones I’m aware of are generally 5-4 or 6-3 splits. I seem to recall a 7-2 vote once, too. But a week ago or so the Court handed down a 9-0 decision, and I have to say, it was one of the most encouraging bits of news I’d heard in a long time.

Of course, I heard it more in passing than anything else. As key as this decision is, I’d think it would merit more than a fifteen second spot on the nightly news, but be that as it may, at least our Supreme Court justices, even the liberal ones, are willing to uphold the First Amendment.

Never mind that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals was not so willing. We’ll concentrate on the good news.

The case in question involved a woman teaching in a Christian school. She had been ill and after some time on disability was diagnosed with narcolepsy, a “disorder that affects the control of sleep and wakefulness.” She was treated and reportedly was able to return to work without restrictions. Instead, the school apparently asked her to resign. One report said they had (understandably) hired someone else to replace her. She refused, threatened a lawsuit, and was consequently fired because school policy, consistent with the tenets of their denomination, requires disputes to be handled internally. Which, I might point out, is also consistent with Scripture.

She then filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and won that, which gave her the right to file suit. The matter worked its way through the courts until it reached the Supreme Court. The question at hand:

Does the ministerial exception, which prohibits most employment-related lawsuits against religious organizations by employees performing religious functions, apply to a teacher at a religious elementary school who teaches the full secular curriculum, but also teaches daily religion classes, is a commissioned minister, and regularly leads students in prayer and worship?

Nine to zero, the answer came down: yes the ministerial exception does apply even though this woman’s teaching duties included only a 45-minute period of religious instruction.

As I see it, the conflicting values are these: an individual’s right to employment despite disability versus a religious organization’s right to employ who they think represents their beliefs, standards, and goals and who is willing to abide by their church’s teaching. Here, in part, is what Chief Justice John Roberts said in defense of the ruling:

“Requiring a church to accept or retain an unwanted minister, or punishing a church for failing to do so, intrudes upon more than a mere employment decision. Such action interferes with the internal governance of the church, depriving the church of control over the selection of those who will personify its beliefs. By imposing an unwanted minister, the state infringes the free exercise clause, which protects a religious group’s right to shape its own faith and mission through its appointments. According the state the power to determine which individuals will minister to the faithful also violates the establishment clause, which prohibits government involvement in such ecclesiastical decisions.” (as quoted in “Supreme Court delivers a knockout punch to the White House” by Peter Johnson Jr.)

Why is this so significant? For several reasons. One, religious freedom is a Constitutionally protected right, whereas employment is not. That the current administration sought to force a religious institution to employ someone they wanted to fire would seem to indicate that some in government see other rights not protected by the Constitution as more important than religious freedom.

In addition, this case advances the idea that separation of church and state protects churches and their subsidiary institutions from interference by the state.

Third, the ruling protects churches who still believe that women shouldn’t be preachers, from gender discrimination lawsuits and those still viewing homosexuality as sin, from suits dealing with sexual preference discrimination.

Despite the 9-0 ruling, some in the media are voicing criticism (for example, the Metro Times and the Washington Post), as if this decision to let religious institutions set their own rules without the control of the government is somehow unwise and unhealthy for society. One critic suggests this ruling allows churches to engage in “blatant discrimination” which is “a social evil.” The implication is that social evils are to be eradicated even when they contradict Scripture, and this from someone with the title reverend in front of his name.

Well, I guess we can’t avoid the bad news even when we read about the good.

Writers Writing Nothing New


Writing instructors constantly remind novelists that there is no such thing as a new story. All of them have already been told before. And why should we be surprised by that since there is no new thing under the sun.

A wife lured her husband into grabbing for power. Is that Macbeth or Eve with Adam? An innocent man is kidnapped and thrown in jail. Joseph, or The Count of Monte Cristo?

First, stories happened, then they became a tale someone told.

But why do writers keep on writing if none of the stories are new? I think there are several reasons. For one thing, the particulars of every story change.

The man-versus-man conflict has been told millions of times, for example, but in each one, a man is not murdering his brother. Perhaps he’s selling him to traders instead or setting his field on fire. Maybe he’s stealing the heart of his girlfriend or sleeping with his wife.

There are any number of details that can change — particulars about the characters, the location, the time, the events leading up to the culminating act, the motivation behind it, the resolution, and what it all means.

Writers continue telling stories, in addition, because each one of us adds our own touch. The story, in essence, becomes an expression of us — our personality, our outlook on life.

Painters have not stopped painting mountains because some other artist completed a landscape featuring mountains. Photographers haven’t stopped snapping pictures of sunsets because others before them have taken photos of the sun slipping below the horizon. These visual artists know that no one has captured their subject at that moment, in that way, and from that same perspective as the one presently holding a brush or peering through a lens.

So, too, writers bring their unique selves to each twice-told tale.

J. R. R. Tolkien said that writing is an act of sub-creation. Scripture says Man is made in God’s image. It’s not a stretch, then, to believe that the act of sub-creation is something humans do because of who God made us to be.

A fourth reason writers continue putting out stories even though we understand we are not writing a new thing — society needs them. For one thing, language changes, and some people prefer stories told in the vernacular.

In addition, society forgets. We need stories to remind us that there’s still a Big Bad Wolf in the woods, that a scorpion still stings because that’s what scorpions do.

Our stories anchor us to the truth, but they also serve as beacons looking forward. They fuel our imagination and make us look beyond ourselves. They attach us to one another, though we live across the globe or the galaxy or in a different era or world. They show us our commonalities even as they inform us of our uniquenesses.

Sure, no story is new, but none of them has ever been told in exactly the same way before. So writers keep writing, and readers keep reading.

Published in: on August 18, 2011 at 5:42 pm  Comments (2)  
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Throwing The Baby Out Instead Of The Foreskin


As the US hurtles toward social, political, and economic changes, I wonder at the break down of simple logic in our society. There seems to be, for example, a great disconnect between the values a segment of our country claims are desirable and the illegal activities to which those lead.

Take, for example, attitudes toward sex. Our youth today are taught in public school that sex is natural and that they are free to experiment and discover who they are and what their sexual preference is. But woe to the teenage boy who discovers that his sexual preference is six year old little girls. Woe to the adult male who acts on his preference for teenage boys.

Here’s another disconnect. Back in the latter half of the twentieth century, schools stopped teaching morals and ethics, as pundits began the process of eradicating religion, and Christianity in particular, from anything associated with government, in the mistaken idea that the presence of religion equated with the establishment of religion.

The new ethic became, It’s not wrong unless you get caught. Now in the early part of the twenty-first century we are rocked by scandal after scandal in local and national government, in financial institutions, in business, in labor, in houses of worship.

A different kind of disconnect recently came to the forefront — this one a subset of the larger body of activities designed to protect children, such as outlawing lead paint, requiring infants to be in car seats secured to a back seat, and any number of other safety regulations.

Please don’t misunderstand. I’m all for protecting children, though I think we’d do better if we instructed parents how to raise kids rather than pass laws bad parents aren’t going to obey anyway.

But back to this latest version of Disconnect. It seems enough people in San Francisco signed a petition to get a proposal on the ballot to outlaw circumcision for anyone under eighteen. Presumably after eighteen, a man can decide for himself if he wants to be circumcised, but until then, the government will step in and protect these innocent baby boys from their evil parents who might inflict unspeakable harm on their little bodies. 🙄

How ironic, then, that those same evil parents are considered innocent if they choose to kill their baby boys before they take a single breath. Unborn babies, the entire little person, can be thrown away, but these anti-circumcision people want to spare foreskins.

This one is right up there with pregnant drug addicts being accused of abusing their unborn child if they continue to take drugs while they’re completely free to abort the baby if they choose.

These disconnects seem to get more bizarre every year and therefore more glaring. I wonder if sometime the majority of people will start realizing these issues are related. If babies need to be protected, then we should start by protecting them in the womb. Why is that one a hard concept to grasp?

Published in: on May 27, 2011 at 7:26 pm  Comments (9)  
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A Christian Worldview of Religion


I’m seeing a trend. Yesterday, Mike Duran over at Decompose discussed a program airing on CNN:

This week CNN will air God’s Warriors, an exposé on religious extremism among Jews, Muslims and Christians.

Then this from an AP article about the event:

This particular event, I think, is a great opportunity to really refocus and energize the Christian organizations and Christian movement and people who hold Christian faith and values says [Liberty Counsel founder Mat] Staver.

While some people look at this air time as a positive, others aren’t so sure, simply because the culture is painting Christians with the same brush as Jews and Muslims.

At the same time, Karen Hancock in Writing from the Edge blogged about the changes our culture is making in recording time:

BC and AD are no longer the terms of choice for historical reckoning. Instead we have… CE. That stands for Common Era or Current Era or (if you really must) Christian Era. Years previous to that time are said to be BCE — Before Common Era.

This is something I learned about just last week on my visit to the San Diego Natural History Museum to view the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit, where there was care to tie in the writing with Judaism, Christianity, and … yep, Islam.

Add to this, a news item I gleaned from Jeffrey Overstreet’s (Auralia’s Colors, Water Brook, September 2007) Looking Closer blog about The Glen, a writing workshop.

We are delighted to inform you that Image [a Journal of the Arts and Religion] and the Glen Workshop will be featured this weekend on a broadcast of Religion and Ethics Newsweekly, a national public television program produced by WNET Television in New York. The segment was recorded at our recent Glen Workshop, which was centered on the theme—“God of the Desert: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam through the Prism of Art.

So not only were a bunch of writers discussing “the God of the Desert,” but now a nation-wide television show will do so as well.

Of course I could be jumping the gun to suppose this discussion led toward more tolerance and acceptance of those practicing a false religion. The Image announcement continued:

Featuring speakers from all three traditions, this year’s Glen evoked intense discussion and, for many, new horizons. Its purpose was to challenge Christian artists to discover how beauty and art might enable us to better understand the other religious traditions that trace their lineage back to Abraham.

“Understanding” doesn’t technically mean “tolerate,” but unfortunately it has come to imply as much.

I think I understand people practicing Judaism perfectly fine, without the need for a great deal of discussion. Someone worshipping God in accordance to the Law rejects Jesus as Messiah, the Christ, the Son of God.

I, on the other hand believe Jesus when He said He is the way, truth, life and that no one comes to the Father except through Him.

Consequently, I understand that practicing Jews and I have a major, unbridgeable difference. And this unbridgeable difference certainly applies to practicing Muslims as well.

Jesus is a difference maker. He is the cornerstone or the stumbling block. Where is there middle ground?

I reject the idea, however, that being extreme in my faith in Jesus means I am or should be extreme in my support of my Christian lifestyle.

Jesus made it very clear He did not intend to establish an earthly kingdom. He was not about the overthrow of Rome, though He could have done a lot of picketing and petitions and recall campaigns because surely the morality of the governing class was about as debase as it comes.

In the same vein, Paul didn’t rail against persecution of Christians or demand the same treatment as the pagan worshippers in Ephesus.

In other words, Jesus, and the leaders of the early church after Him, were not concerned that their lives would not be “normal” or even comfortable.

Interestingly, a band of Jews did everything they could to get Rome out of Jerusalem. As a result, the city was destroyed and the nation of Israel ceased to be for nearly 2000 years.

As I recall, there were, what, four failed attempts much later in history to make “the Holy Lands” Christian.

Have we learned nothing?

As I see it, two issues confront us in this movement toward tolerance: on one side the temptation to lose our distinctives, and on the other the temptation to fight for the periphery.

Published in: on August 23, 2007 at 12:50 pm  Comments (4)  

Interrupting the Party to Rant


Yes, rant. I can’t believe the gullibility of the media to give credence to director Simcha Jacobovici and producer James Cameron’s new “documentary” film, The Lost Tomb of Jesus (which appeared on the Discovery Channel on March 4th).

Aren’t documentaries supposed to be fact? How in the world, then did this piece of fantasy get made, put on TV, and publicized? Might as well call The Da Vinci Code a documentary.

In a recent blog post, Christian science fiction author James Somers humorously exposes one of the fallacies of the film’s claims.

In another article by a reputable (and non-Christian) archaeological scholar (Jodi Magness—the Kenan Distinguished Professor for Teaching Excellence in Early Judaism in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She received a Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.A. in Archaeology and History from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has participated in more than 20 excavations in Israel and Greece, and currently directs excavations in the Roman fort at Yotvata, Israel. Her publications include an award-winning book on The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls [Eerdmans 2002] and an article entitled “Ossuaries and the Burials of Jesus and James,” Journal of Biblical Literature 124 [2005]), the entire premise of the film is debunked. Here’s the conclusion of the excellent, informative article “Has the Tomb of Jesus Been Discovered?”:

The identification of the Talpiot tomb as the tomb of Jesus and his family contradicts the canonical Gospel accounts of the death and burial of Jesus and the earliest Christian traditions about Jesus. The claim is also inconsistent with all of the available information—historical and archaeological—about how Jews in the time of Jesus buried their dead, and specifically the evidence we have about poor, non-Judean families such as that of Jesus. It is a sensationalistic claim without any scientific basis or support.

The last line is why I’m ranting. Why are we, the American public, so quick to give ear to sensational claims?

Without all the studied information Dr. Magness gives in her article, any reasoning person can realize this story is bunk just by reading the Bible.

First point. If you believe the Bible, not just for its historical value but as inspired Scripture, you realize at once there ARE no bones of Jesus’ body. He pretty much took them with Him in His resurrected body.

Second point. If you believe the Bible, even at only the historical value level, you realize that if Jesus’ tomb existed with such clear identification, then this “notion” of Him raising from the dead would have been squelched back in the first century, for certainly SOMEONE would have thought to say, “Uh, no, his body is buried right here. See? His name and that of his parents, his wife, his son, are inscribed right here.” That DID NOT HAPPEN? Why? Because there was NO SUCH TOMB, not with the bones of Jesus of Nazareth, the only begotten Son of the Living God.

OK, sorry for all the shouting. I warned you though that I would be ranting. And this ludicrous claim calls for forceful debunking.

Published in: on March 6, 2007 at 10:38 am  Comments (7)  
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