Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Archive for January 2010

Obama Considering Anti-Trust Breakup of BCS

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Superman Obama Going to Fix College Football

The never ending march of new government continues into the realm of sports.  Sports Illustrated is reporting that President Obama  is considering what anti-trust laws can affect with regards to the Bowl Championship Series and whether such laws could promote a playoff system in Division 1 NCAA Football.  Regardless of what you feel about a playoff vs. the BCS system; this kind of government intrusion into sports is unwelcome.  The only way you should be ok with this intrusion is if you legitimately believe that the BCS violates current anti-trust laws.

Justification Sola Granola

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Saved by Granola Alone

Doug Wilson has some keen cultural insights into the current sub-cultural preoccupation with natural ‘hipster’ foods.  This is not all that different from the overlapping sub-cultures that claim salvation through recycling (sola recycling), and salvation through carbon neutral footprint (sola climata).  In the interest of self-disclosure, I do shop at Whole Foods, mainly due to Celiac Disease though.  I think there is some merit to some less-industrialized, less-processed food, however, Wilson’s cultural analysis is still keen and, in my view, correct.

Best of YouTube

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So, who doesn’t love to have a little YouTube session now and then.  I was recently back with some old college friends and it brought up some favorites:

Humorous (Intentionally or Unintentionally):

Somebody set us up the bomb.  One of the first “viral” videos.

Chocolate Rain – No one really knows what Chocolate Rain is, but it got Tay Zonday to get on tour with The Arcade Fire.

Whistle Tips with Bubb Rubb and Lil’ Sis’ – Woo Woo.

David After Dentist – “Is this real life?…”

Leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama – I love the amatuer sketch and the leprechaun flute.  The “Gimme da Gold” video is also good.

Tom Cruise Scientology Video – I wasn’t sure which category to put this under.  He is very very strange, like when…

Tom Cruise Couch Jumping on Oprah

Iconic:

Most T-Shirts Worn at Once

Obama Pay for My Gas and Mortgage – Who would have thought that her prediction would have come true.

Miss Teen South Carolina – I kind of feel bad for her.

Boom Goes the Dynamite – I kind of feel bad for him too.

Star Wars Kid – …him too.

‘Don’t Tase Me Bro’ – This one was hard to watch.  Strange that this happened at my alma mater.

Uncanny Talents:

Prison inmates in the Philipines do the Michael Jackson thriller dance.

Guys Backflip into Jeans

Ok Go – Here it Goes Again (Treadmill Video)

Insane Robot Dance – I have never seen anything quite like the slow-motion effect around 1:15.

What did I miss?


Compassion Intl Leader Uses iPhone App to Treat Wounds…

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American Heart Association iPhone App

CNN has a strange and incredible story of Haiti earthquake survivor, Dan Woolley.  He is a father of two, and a project leader for Compassion International.  Evidently, Woolley had an iPhone app from the American Heart Association and employed it for a kind of self-triage of treating wounds, setting bones, and avoiding shock.  Who needs Bear Grylls when you’ve got an iPhone… ‘massive bleeding and broken bones… we’ve got an app for that.’

You can’t make this stuff up.

Chandler Parsons Does it Again

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First it was the 70+ footer against NCSU (sorry to my Wolfpack friends), now he scores another buzzer beater against South Carolina.  Sick.

Conan’s Farewell Address

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This was interesting, particularly the last 30 seconds.  Conan is a guy who made his career through physical and self-deprecating comedy.  I had not noticed that he never relied on cynicism, perhaps the only cynicism in his comedy was a self-cynicism.  I am not sure why I had not noticed this before but rarely do you find comedy that is not in some way rooted in cynicism or sarcasm.

Written by Michael Graham

January 23, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Two Excellent Articles on Abortion

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Life is Precious

1.  Why Pro-Life Presidents Matter (First Things):  what influence does the President have on abortion beyond Supreme Court appointments…

2.  Overturning and Undermining Roe v. Wade: An Interview with Clarke Forsythe:  If you think overturning Roe v. Wade will make abortion illegal in the U.S., you are wrong.  It would still be legal in 43 states.  Please read this as it is one of the most even-handed, cogent, clear, and concise explanations of what the pro-life game plan should be.  Strategic and tactical.

To any of my pro-choice friends, I would challenge you to search Google Images for “abortion,” (WARNING: extremely graphic – I nearly vomitted and am not trying to be sadistic here).  Detachment is dangerous:  Out of sight… out of mind…

Post-Script:

Here are two more articles from Kevin DeYoung, one on Fetal Homicide Laws and one on Ultra-Sound Machines.

“Waiting for Armageddon” Movie Trailer

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I ran across this movie trailer today on Hulu.  It is a film analyzing the impact of classical Premillenial Dispensationalism on Israel, American culture, neo-conservativism, American foreign policy, Islam, and Mideast peace.  Suffice to say, without having seen the film, I most likely agree with the disturbing affects of classical Dispensational Premillenialism on all of the aforementioned spheres.

Should a 150 year old doctrine that isn’t taught at any seminary drive American foreign policy?  Your thoughts?

Why Socialized Health Care… is Unbiblical

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Bronze Serpent in Wilderness

I have heard a lot of talk and conjecture here recently about social justice and national health care.  I agree with Kevin DeYoung when he says the term “social justice” should never be used unless it is defined.  Perhaps a lot of the discussions concerning a national health care plan are futile with the “Ted Kennedy” seat going to Scott Brown.  However, it is important for Christians to be able to think about everything from a Christian worldview.

Are we thinking with a Christian or Republican worldview (aren’t they the same)?

I have been a bit saddened by the lack of evangelical disagreement with the socialized healthcare debate.  For the most part, all I hear is that I am a conservative and/or republican… and my party disagrees with that.  This may be true but it does not get at the heart of a Christian view of government.  Now, there is substantial disagreement of what the proper relationship of government is to the church and vice versa.  Much of this disagreement comes down to one’s eschatological position (some Postmillenialists favor theonomy, Dispensational Premillenialists favor Neoconservativism and pro-Israel).

Why do we have human kings?

Before we delve into what the Scriptural principles given to non-theocratic governance, we must first look at the history of the Hebrew people.  Up until Saul, Israel was a theocracy where God was King and the Mosaic Law was its governance.  God’s people rejected YHWH’s kingship and instead wanted a human king like the cultures around them.  God warned them of the error in asking for this but granted them Saul.  Saul’s regime was oppressive and tyrannical (especially in comparison with his predecessor YHWH).  He imposed hefty taxes on Israel.  The question of church and state was not a question until Israel asked for Saul, ever since, it has been an issue.  We shall examine the issue of church and state at more length in a later post.  However, suffice to say that I think it good for the state to keep their nose out of the church and for the church/Christians to have a worldview – a worldview that includes political thought.

What does the Bible say about human governments?

Romans 13 is clear that God’s sets up and takes down rulers.  They are not somehow outside his providence.  This does not mean that human rulers are just, righteous, or equitable.  This does mean that they are accountable to God for their actions and that God will use their actions, moral good or moral evil, for His purposes.  The Scriptures do establish a non-theocratic (civil) government’s authority to establish certain rights for its citizens.  The Scriptures establish a civil government’s authority to protect negative rights.  Negative rights are rights that prevent harmful or morally evil things from happening to its citizens.  For example, the civil government is obliged to protect its citizens from murder, theft… etc.  It does so by establishing and enforcing laws that punish moral evil.  In my view, the Scriptures do not establish a civil government’s authority to protect/assert positive rights.  Positive rights are rights that affirm that some beneficial thing ought to be provided for its citizens.  In other words, Scripture does not affirm that it is a civil government’s responsibility to care for the sick.  Scripture does not affirm that it is the civil government’s responsibility to give alms to the poor.

If not the civil government, then whom?

It is principally the church’s responsibility to care for the sick and the poor amongst us.  During some points in our history Protestants have been good at doing this through the establishment of hospitals and such.  However increasingly these hospitals have come out from under the care of denominations and become secularized and institutionalized… succumbing to all of the ails of reactive health care, pharmacological manipulation… etc.

Final Thoughts

The church needs to take better care of the widow and the orphan.  Our churches have become so narcissistic and inward.  Caring for others is a blessing.  If someone is truly in need (and not all with an open hand are…) then we ought to be caring for them.  I would strongly recommend reading When Helping Hurts:  Alleviating Poverty Without Hurting the Poor… and Ourselves.  I would also recommend forming a partnership with organizations that have experience in Biblical community development (vocational, health, counseling…).  One such organization for Biblical vocational community development is Jobs For Life.  I can wholeheartedly affirm their ministry firsthand.  I would also recommend reading Marvin Olasky’s books The Tragedy of American Compassion and Compassionate Conservativism.

I think it is also important for us to remember that human kings will always be imperfect and will never be fully just. Human kings ought to make us long for the perfect king in Christ whose kingdom is righteous, just, and perfect.  His administration is flawless.  His world, Universe, and creation redeemed.  His Kingdom and His government need no alms.  His Kingdom and His government needs no health care.

Post-Script

For point of clarification, the church (nor the people of God) does not have a monopoly on common grace.  The government can be an agent of common grace in a culture, society, or world.  However, civil governments are not Biblically mandated to be the institution that provides all the “good” things in that culture.  If anything, the Biblical narrative presents civil governments in a very negative light that is nearly universal:  The Egyptians, the Canaanites, Saul, Jeroboam/Rehoboam, Judah/Israel and almost every king in the divided Kingdom period, the Assyrians, Babylonians, and the Roman occupation.  The few kings that are presented with any measure of high regard are David, who prefigures Christ, at points Solomon, and Cyrus, who God raises up to release Israel from exile.  But even those kings all had major blunders that hurt both their people and the perception of those people.  I do not think it is a huge interpretive jump to say that the Biblical narrative supports smaller government.  It is really quite simple, if civil government is run by fallen humans and the Biblical/historical record shows a pattern of oppression and tyranny, then we can expect tyranny from human governments unless we afford for checks and balances to their power.

Another point of clarification, I think socialized health care is unbiblical in our present American context.  The church and the private sector have the ability to provide these means of common grace.  There is no reason to cross pollinate our hospitals with the ills of the DMV or the Postal Service.  In entirely different, largely secular contexts, pragmatism will win the day (for better or for worse).  If a country has the economy to support it, then health care will/ought to be taken care of by the private sector.  If a country is small enough a social health care system could theoretically ‘work.’  Least common denominator services help no one.  Hospitals already don’t turn people away.

Things such as roads, or city infrastructure (water, sewer…) are drastically different cases than health care.  The U.S. Interstate system was built initially primarily for military purposes.  Sometimes roads are built by the private sector also though (toll roads, turnpikes, some bridges…).  Pragmatism can dictate (and this is not always evil) that the government, local or federal, take on some project that is beneficial to all of the society.  The critical distinction between these infrastructural elements to society and a socialized health care system is that no one is ‘hurt’ if a new interstate is built, or you now have water/sewer access to your home/business that was not their before.  Whereas, with health care, substantial harm could be done to the quality of one’s own health on the altar of “social justice” or “equality.”  Laying pavement is much different that a quadruple bypass.  Laying pipe is much different than cancer removal.  In my view, federal-government has the anti-Midas touch.  We all like our roads, but even the DOT is quite a mess.  If the private sector can provide a product that the federal government is monopolizing and disallowing competition, I think a strong case be made (both through sound reason and moral principles) that privitization is the right thing.  Further, I think the burden of proof rests on big government folks and not small government folks.  I see no Bible verses commanding that government be large and tyrannical.  The Biblical burden of proof is on those who play the ever-so-vague “social justice” card.

Evangelicals have shirked and punted many responsibilities to the federal government.  Previously (here and here), I have traced this habit back to the split of Protestantism into liberalism and conservativism (the fundamentalists originally, who are now called evangelicals) .  I do not think it would be all that massive of an undertaking for evangelicals in the country to completely eliminate the foster care system.  This would take 250,000 families adopting one child into their family.  I think this is feasible.  Elders at local churches would vet potential families, and the deacons at those local churches would oversee the transfer of children out of government foster care and into adoption into elder-approved families.  I think the whole process could take less than 10 years.  It is highly idealistic with regards to the current status of American evangelicalism but, in my view, entirely possible.

Unless, non-governmental institutions step-in to provide value-added social care for a nation-state, one runs the risk of the endless march of bigger government and tyranny, as its government continues to expand its power and control by nationalizing previously private businesses and service sectors.   It is one thing to keep a wealthy nation with a small military of 10 million people in check… it is entirely another thing to keep a nation of 350 million (with a strong monopoly of violence) in check.  Evangelicals cannot think that merely voting will stem the tide of bigger government and/or socialism.  If you do not want to see this happen, then I suggest we corporately affirm James 1:27:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Tim Tebow in Superbowl Commercial

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Tim Tebow

I have been sitting on this story for a few weeks now as it was mere rumor.  However, the Denver Post and Colorado Springs Independent now corroborate that Focus on the Family has purchased a 30 second ad in this years Superbowl.

Pam Tebow had amoebic dysentery during her pregnancy with Tim.  The doctors counseled her to abort Tim but Pam and Bob would not abort Tim.  The ad will promote the obvious, life is beautiful and we are thankful that these parents chose to not kill their son.

The story hits close to home.  My own mother had shingles during the first half of her pregnancy with my older brother.  The doctors said that there was next to no chance that he would be a normal baby and their unilateral counsel was to abort him.  My parents refused.  My brother was valedictorian of his high school class and will have acquired his PhD in Materials Science this year.  He was the best man at my wedding and is my best friend.  I cannot imagine my life without my brother.

Tim’s football skills nor my brother’s academic success justify the decisions of their parents.  These men were created in the image of God, knit together in their mothers womb, and by necessity are of intrinsic worth.  If Tim had not won two National Championships or my brother been smart, the decisions of their parents were still moral.

Abortion is a stain on this country.  I honestly believe we will feel the same shame and remorse for abortion that we be feel now for slavery.  True social justice is protecting the rights of the weakest members of society.

Post-script:

I did not want to make this post to be about Focus on the Family.  I have been critical of the Christian Right on this blog before, particularly their employing of reductionistic methods that fail to understand the complexities of American culture(s).  I am also not sure if spending millions of dollars on a Superbowl ad is a wise use of funds.  I hope that the ad is well done and compelling.

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