October 2004

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NYT's Dowd: Bush is the stronger father...

Here's an interesting excerpt from an interview of the op-ed columnist of the New York Times, Maureen Dowd, that appeared in Rolling Stone. As Election Day draws near, Dowd explains why Americans are going to vote for President Bush. Something about fatherhood...

"Maureen Dowd isn't simply a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times op-ed columnist. She's also the preeminent Bush-basher in the country..."

Rolling Stone: "You've written all these columns ripping the Bush administration, yet it doesn't seem to be changing the public mind. Is that discouraging?"

Maureen Dowd: "I think the American public is brilliant. They get it. But we all succumb to certain things, and presidential races are about proving who is the strongest father. And Bush is just doing it better. I'm not like other commentators who say, "The public isn't getting it." People have great responses, and if they respond, then it means the politician is doing something effective."

-Colapinto, John. "Ms. Bush-Bash:Does anyone understand Dubya better than New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd?" Rolling Stone. 960 (Oct. 28, 2004)

Finally, the appearance of Kerry's "foreign leaders"

Finally, we have an answer to a six-month old question: who were the "foreign leaders" Senator Kerry claimed were opposed to another Bush term in the White House?

Reuter's just posted a piece reporting that Osama bin Laden has just released another video tape, this one critical of President Bush. Reuters points out the obvious: "It looked like a deliberate attempt to influence the U.S. election on Tuesday."

Back in March, Senator Kerry claimed foreign leaders wanted President Bush out of office, and that they supported his own candidacy. To which the White House responded:

"If Senator Kerry is going to say he has support from foreign leaders, then he needs to be straightforward with the American people and say who it is that he has spoken with and who it is that supports him...."

Kerry... declined to identify any leaders...

Well, here's one foreign leader with the guts to come forward.


We Have Met the Enemy... And He is Us

The consuming hatred for Christianity among our nation's elites was forcefully brought home to me this afternoon while paging through the September-October issue of Foreign Policy at the local Barnes and Noble.

The cover story is "The World's Most Dangerous Ideas." Inside, eight scholars have short articles on a general theme described by the editors of FP this way:

Ideas matter, and sometimes they can be dangerous.

With this simple conviction, FOREIGN POLICY asked eight leading thinkers to issue an early warning on the ideas that will be most destructive in the coming years. A few of these ideas have long and sometimes bloody pedigrees. Others are embryonic, nourished by breakthroughs in science and technology. Several are policy ideas whose reverberations are already felt; others are more abstract, but just as pernicious. Yet, as the essays make clear, these dangerous ideas share a vulnerability to insightful critique and open debate.

Who are these scholars and what do they (and the editors of FP) suggest are the eight most dangerous ideas in the world? Below find the authors, the ideas they are writing against, and the lead paragraphs of their essays. But, in short, you could simply say that two dangerous ideas threaten the world: nationalism (in particular, belief in America) and religious faith (vigorous Christianity first and foremost).

The self-hatred of the piece was astounding. Except for the contribution by Fukuyama, implicit in the piece is the idea that America lies at the root of all the danger in the world. Even anti-Americanism is the fault of America and Bush. The one hope for the world is the UN.

Loathing by the elites of our country for any form of faith--not simply religious faith--has reached unimaginable proportions. There is talk of civil war in Israel because of Sharon's Gaza pullout plan. Is the potential for internecine conflict any less in America?


Why I will vote for President Bush...

Last night I read two articles on the upcoming election, both in the New Yorker: one was a profile of the American immigrant billionaire financier, George Soros, and his frenzied effort to see President Bush defeated at the polls; the other was a short pre-election profile of President Bush summarizing what we have learned about this man during his first term in the White House.

Published in the New Yorker, both pieces are quite predictable in their anti-Bush tone. But what a tone!

Never do I remember such vitriol coming out of the liberals of our nation; they seem to hate Bush with a perfect hatred, and I can't help but suspect the vortex of this pool of hatred is his simple (culpably so) faith and the way that faith has informed his approach to the world of Islamic terrorism. If you believe in knowing your enemies, go buy this issue of the New Yorker and read these pieces. Note particularly the Soros piece, including his statement that it's inappropriate for any born-again man to hold the presidency of the United States because, by definition, a born-again man cannot lead in submission to the most fundamental aspect of our nation's constitutional genius: yeah, you guessed it--separation of church and state.

In other words, with a straight face Soros says (and the New Yorker reports) that constitutional government here in the United States prohibits any born-again Christian serving in the White House.

Well, there's much more of interest, but having read it I thought maybe I should write a short piece explaining why I, a Protestant, evangelical, and reformed pastor with one marriage and five children and two grandchildren and a few decades' experience watching rulers govern while praying for a growth in truth and mercy, and an end to the slaughter of the innocent, will be voting for the reelection of President George Bush.

But before I could start, I was forwarded this article by Oxford Historian, Paul Johnson. Within the Academy, Johnson is one of my heroes. He's written stellar histories of the United States, the Jews, modernity, Christianity, etc. (The book I've recommended most often is The Intellectuals.)

The piece was forwarded by a friend with many years' missionary experience in the heart of the Islamic world of the Mideast--a friend who doesn't live in the United States and who has a great sympathy, personally, for the Arabic world, particularly the displaced Palestinians. No fan of the war in Iraq, he forwarded this article and commends it. Why?

Read on. I'm content for Johnson's piece to explain my vote.


Despair and Pride

I'm not usually a great fan of Thomas Merton, but I ran across this quote from him on the Bruderhof web site that clearly states the connection between pride and despair:

Bishop Wright and fire in the Church...

It is increasingly clear that Anglican Bishop N.T. Wright, beloved Pauline interpreter of Reformed academics, has neither the slightest idea of the nature of the Church nor of the duties of a minister of the Gospel.

Wright played a key role in the recent report of the Lambeth Commission on Communion (the commission of leading Anglicans appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury to resolve the controversy over the American Episcopal Church's ordination of homosexuals).

In an interview with Christianity Today Online subsequent to the commission's report, Wright was asked whether the commission had considered asking for a more sincere statement of repentance by the Episcopalian Church in America. Wright responded:

We must stress, and I think the report says this two or three times in italics, that we were not set up to talk about sex. Had we been, we would have had very different membership, for a start. We were set up to talk about the issues of communion, because in a sense, an obvious example, the issue of sexuality may be the fire that somebody has lit in one room that is actually setting bits of the house on fire. But what we're doing is actually fireproofing the house, and then saying now we've got to deal with this particular fire, which happens to have broken out in this room. But we're really more interested in long-term fireproofing the house.

Wright clearly has not even the slightest comprehension that a fire-proof house is also a Word-proof house.

Is not my word like fire, declares the LORD, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?

Wright wants his Church fireproof.

Peter Akinola, on the other hand, archbishop of the Nigerian Anglican Church and leading critic of the Episcopalian Church's homosexual heresy clearly understands the role of the Word and of its servants, Christ's ministers. Speaking in the pulpit of All Saints' Church in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Akinola held his Bible in the air and said:


My Life: the Chinese version

A bootlegged version of Bill Clinton's recently-released autobiography has shown up in China, complete with editorial emmendations seemingly intended to make the book comprehensible to the Chinese mind. The New York Times reports Clinton's My Life begins, in its authentic version, with "a very long opening sentence... which takes 48 words to detail his birth, even the stormy weather that preceded the big event."

Which sentence the pirated Chinese translation replaced with this:

The town of Hope, where I was born, has very good feng shui.

Where were these good editors when we really needed them?


A pastoral letter on Halloween...

Each year someone asks me whether Church of the Good Shepherd has a policy (or I have an opinion) on Halloween.

I answer that this is an area reserved to the judgements of individual conscience in our church. Some families choose not to give out candy nor to allow their children to trick-or-treat while others choose to participate. But also, we've usually had some sort of Reformation Day party and other alternative (or additional) celebrations for our children and families, as well as observing Reformation Sunday during which our worship focuses on the Protestant Reformation.

This year again, I've been asked this question and I'm sending out this link forwarded by a former member of our congregation, Elizabeth Bortka, for your information. It's a well-done article on Halloween, seeking to put this holiday in accurate perspective for Christians. There are two pages to the article--make sure you don't stop at the bottom of the first page but click the link and continue to the second--and I believe there is real wisdom in this pastor's counsel.

Meanwhile, though, please do not judge one another on this matter...


Terri Schindler-Schiavo and pain...

Seeking to kill his wife, Michael Schiavo has used every tool at his disposal to get permission to remove her feeding tube. He has argued that, since Terri is in a "permanent vegetative state," depriving her of the feeding tube would lead to a peaceful death with no pain or discomfort.

On shows such as Larry King Live, Michael Schiavo--himself a nurse--and his attorney have referred to death by denial of food and water as "peaceful" and "painless," saying such deaths are "painless and probably the most natural way to die."

Now, though, an April 19, 2001 document has been discovered in Terri's medical records indicating the deception at the heart of the euthanasia movement, and specifically at the heart of Michael's plotting to rid himself of his wife. The document, printed on the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast's letterhead, is titled, Exit Protocol. And in sickening detail, this document demonstrates the terrible pain and suffering clearly anticipated by the medical authorities when it was proposed that Terri's feeding tube be removed.

The details can be found here.

The scandal of pain eats at the heart of the pro-abortion movement (see here and here), the euthanasia movement, and the organ transplant industry (see here, here, here, and here).

Lifting hands in worship...

Our Wednesday morning men's Bible study and prayer group has been going through 1Timothy. Two weeks ago, we looked at the Apostle Paul's command in 1Timothy 2:8, "Therefore I want the men in every place to pray, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and dissension."

What's with the "lifting up holy hands?" Is this an incidental description or a divine prescription? Is it simply a parenthetical note about the way men prayed at the time, or is it a command parallel to the next, "...without wrath and dissension?"

Patrick Fairbairn, who has written one of the best commentaries on the Pastoral Epistles, comments, "The lifting up of the hands in their more formal exercises of devotion appears to have been common among the nations of antiquity, Jew as well as Gentile." Similarly my friend George Knight comments: "Raising of hands in prayer is known in the Old Testament and in Jewish and Gentile literature, as well as among Christians... in catacomb illustrations (and in the writing of early church fathers) Clement of Alexandria and Tertullian." But Knight continues, "The reference to 'hands' seems to be introduced (only) to serve as a vehicle for conveying his concern for holiness...." Really?


The death of effeminacy...

Let's return to a post I made a few days back, but first a reminder of the details:

Last week the Indiana Daily Student--Indiana University's campus paper, published a piece on a campus competition known as "Big Man on Campus." The piece's author wrote:

Every male on campus wants to be him, and every female on campus wishes she could date him

To which Mr. Evan Rosenberg took offense, and wrote the following letter to the editor:

Article forgets lesbian women

I was very interested in reading Maggie Bozich's front-page story ("Greeks prepare to crown new Big Man on Campus," Oct. 15, Indiana Daily Student) on Zeta Tau Alpha's research benefit event, Big Man on Campus, but she lost me with her first sentence: "Every male on campus wants to be him, and every female on campus wishes she could date him." Although I have enjoyed reading some of Ms. Bozich's other work, she let me down this time. With one innocent slogan, she silenced every lesbian woman on campus by implicitly denying her existence. Too often we remain complacent with narrow-minded interpretations of love, and by denying the existence of perspectives or orientations different from our own we unconsciously make others feel invisible, which denies them the right to express their love.

I believe Ms. Bozich meant no harm, but let this serve as a reminder of why it is so important that we are inclusive in our language. Silence can be deadly.

Evan Rosenberg, Sophomore

In posting Mr. Rosenberg's letter to the editor here, I concluded with this comment:

Surely Evan, with all his multi-cultural feminine sensitivities, will make someone a good wife husband.

In thinking more about this comment, though, I wondered whether some might take it as a cheap shot, a cynical dissing of Mr Rosenberg? In fact, it was an attempt to make a serious point to which I now return.

Twenty-four chainsaws...

So you have twenty-four chainsaws lying around and you can't figure out what to do with them...

Don't miss the movies.