Modern Pensées

Reconsidering theology, philosophy, culture, economics, and politics

Archive for March 2011

New Tim Tebow Jockey Commercial

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I don’t think Tim should go into acting… but I am sure he’ll sell a lot of shirts.

Written by Michael Graham

March 31, 2011 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Sports, Video

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Beyaz, “Beyond Birth Control”

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When one actually watches carefully the imagery of this commercial, it is probably one of the most evil things on television.

I first saw this commercial a few months ago, but perhaps only after 6 or 7 times did I actually pay attention to how it was trying to market.  The tagline of Bayer’s birth control product Beyaz is “Beyond Birth Control.”  It seems that the idea is that this little pill purchases for you the opportunity cost of your reproductive looseness.  In other words, Beyaz allows you to go to grad school, have a significant other(s), take a picnic by a waterfall, vacation in Paris, or the penultimate – home ownership.  With disturbing vacuity and opacity the drug makes deceptive promises of life fulfillment through blocking new life.  The implicit message is that pregnancy/motherhood will take away your happiness, joy, dreams, and idols.

I don’t come down very hard on birth control like some do within evangelicalism.  The matter is complex and nuanced and I think a lot of arguments on both sides are a bit over-simplistic.  However, a good friend of ours has a saying that I think has a lot of merit, “my womb is not my own.”  Our culture loves control and loves its idols.  I thought this was an interesting slice of our culture and I would wager that the ad is rather subversively effective for Bayer.

Written by Michael Graham

March 28, 2011 at 11:06 pm

Posted in Culture, Video, Worldview

Tagged with ,

Best Links of the Week

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Love Wins and the Jabez Effect

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I hesitate to even write this brief diatribe as it is probably self-defeating to my central thesis.

Eleven years ago a book swept through evangelicalism like wildfire, Bruce Wilkinson’s, “The Prayer of Jabez.”  You probably have two or three copies of it somewhere in your home, perhaps on your D-List portion of your bookshelf or propping up the wobbly leg of your washing machine.  Multnomah Publishers love targeting easily marketable groups within evangelicalism, usually parachurch ministries, who have members that are peppered across a large cross-section of evangelicalism.  At that time, I recall tons of folks reading the book within Campus Crusade for Christ and my local church at the time.  The book had reached and crossed several tipping points.

I have a half-baked thesis that the reason Jabez reached those tipping points was because a large subset of those reading the book, were reading it with the primary goal of dissecting it for content. In short, when a book gets a wide read, principally for people looking to respond or react to the text rather than for the enjoyment of the book itself, I call this the Jabez Effect.  Some other books perhaps fall under this category – The Shack, and The Da Vinci Code (when read by those within evangelicalism).

I think reading/writing about some of these books can be a slippery slope at times.  On the one hand, they need responded to but sometimes the unintended consequence of gaining traction and publicity results.  Remember the old advertising mantra, “no publicity is bad publicity.”

Hence, I will not be reading Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins.”  I haven’t read any of his other books and I won’t be reading this one.  Plenty of people way more thoughtful than I will weigh in on this and I just don’t have the time to read and respond to some rehashed and dumbed down Schleiermacher/Tillich.  Reading such things makes me bored and angry (and yes, more angry than this diatribe).

I don’t know how to solve the potential paradox of responding/not-responding to books like this.  I am not sure if I can really come up with a rubric for who needs to engage and when it is wise for them and/or myself to engage in these matters.

I wonder how many books Bell will sell on the merit of the negative reaction from the blogosphere, and neo-calvinist detractors.

(But hey, in case you do read it, make sure to click through my link so I can get my 3% or whatever from amazon)

 

Best Links of the Week

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Salon.com founder Laura Miller has a scathing, yet sadly true, piece on the status of the Bible amongst evangelicals:  “The Rise and Fall of the Bible

American Christians buy millions of Bibles they seldom read and don’t understand.

Mubarak evidently fell into a coma after leaving Cairo.  Does this mark anyone else as strange?

2010 Income Statement for the U.S. Government (58% of budget for entitlement programs [SS, Medicare/Medicaid/Unemployoment; 20% defense spending]).

Radio program claims they have revealed Coco-Cola’s secret formula.  Apparently, the secret ingredient “Merchandise 7x” consists of alcohol, orange oil, lemon oil, nutmeg oil, coriander, neroli and cinnamon.

Doug Wilson has a nice piece on collective bargaining.

So You are Thinking of Going to Seminary?”  A brief and well-written piece by Kevin DeYoung weighing in on those considering seminary.  Certainly some golden advice here that could help you from wasting a lot of time, money, and energy OR help you maximize the most of your opportunity.

Interesting piece on Sarah Palin and feminism.

Bernie Madoff accuses federal government of being a Ponzi Scheme (and I can’t say I really disagree with him).

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are going away and the PIMCO CEO wants to raise rates on 30 year mortgages by 3% across the board.

How you can be praying for Christians in Egypt.

How Much Information Did God Put in Your DNA?”  (HT:  Justin Taylor and Joe Carter)

U.S. debt is now equal to value of the U.S. economy.

Excellent brief biography by Tim Challies on Eric Liddell – part one and part two.

The fallacy of green job creation.

Denny Burk points out some interesting inconsistencies between fetal abortion and fetal surgery.  It does become a bit absurd that doctors will both fight to save and fight to end babies in the same stage of pregnancy.

Paradigm shift coming in domain name suffixes.

Every now and then I read a really interesting Wikipedia article, this is one such article:  “Voynich Manuscript

Some really fascinating art:  The Book Surgeon

Anyone who surfs knows this is unbelievable – Surfing Kickflip:

Obama Fiscal Year 2012 Budget

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Digging down a bit deeper into the Obama budget is rather disturbing.   Under this budget taxes will increase from 14.4% of GDP in 2011 to over 20% in 2021.  Here are some of the highlights:

  • Raising the top marginal income tax rate (at which a majority of small business profits face taxation) from 35% to 39.6%.  This is a $709 billion/10 year tax hike
  • Raising the capital gains and dividends rate from 15% to 20%
  • Raising the death tax rate from 35% to 45% and lowering the death tax exemption amount from $5 million ($10 million for couples) to $3.5 million.  This is a $98 billion/ten year tax hike
  • Capping the value of itemized deductions at the 28% bracket rate.  This will effectively cut tax deductions for mortgage interest, charitable contributions, property taxes, state and local income or sales taxes, out-of-pocket medical expenses, and unreimbursed employee business expenses.  A new means-tested phaseout of itemized deductions limits them even more.  This is a $321 billion/ten year tax hike
  • New bank taxes totaling $33 billion over ten years
  • New international corporate tax hikes totaling $129 billion over ten years
  • New life insurance company taxes totaling $14 billion over ten years
  • Massive new taxes on energy, including LIFO repeal, Superfund, domestic energy manufacturing, and many others totaling $120 billion over ten years
  • Increasing unemployment payroll taxes by $15 billion over ten years
  • Taxing management capital gains in an investment partnership (“carried interest”) as ordinary income.  This is a tax hike of $15 billion over ten years
  • A giveaway to the trial lawyers—not letting companies deduct the cost of punitive damages from a lawsuit settlement.  This is a tax hike of $300 million over ten years
  • Increasing tax penalties, information reporting, and IRS information sharing.  This is a ten-year tax hike of $20 billion.

I don’t even know where to begin in dismantling this monstrosity of foolish waste and irresponsibility.  I don’t want the government ‘creating” jobs.  I am racking my brain on how to dismantle most the jobs Washington has created in the past.

Written by Michael Graham

March 6, 2011 at 1:21 am

Posted in Culture

Best Links of the Week

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