Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Movies

Christmas, as I heard Dennis Prager say recently, is the source of an entirely novel genre of art. Secular art inspired by a religious holiday and secular artists who often make it. This is obviously true of music, but it is particularly true of movies. So I thought we could talk a little about some of the classic Christmas movies, which are the good and bad, and of course which are your favorites.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

WW--Capital Punishment Should Be Abolished

~Innocent people can be executed.
~The method is cruel and unusual.
~Jesus taught us to not judge other people.
~Jesus taught mercy to the mob with the woman caught in adultery.
~Forgiveness, not justice, is the centerpiece of Christian morality.
~You don’t teach people that it’s wrong to kill by killing people.
~God spared Cain and David.
~Hateful, bloodthirsty, and vicious people all like capital punishment, too.

~We are supposed to love our enemies, which probably means not killing them.

Post-Show Thoughts: I'll be writing a series of columns on this issue as soon as I can.

Bible References: Gen 1:26, Gen 4:1-16, Gen 9:6, Exodus 20:13, Exodus 21:12-25, Lev 20, Num 35:31, Deut 19:15-21, Deut 32:35, 2 Sam 12:5, Matt 5:17-19, Matt 5:38-39, Matt 5:44-48, Matt 26:52, Mark 7:10, Luke 9:53-56, Luke 19:27, Luke 20:9-16, Luke 23:41, John 8:3-11, John 19:10-11, Acts 5:1-11, Acts 25:11, Rom 12:14-13:4, Titus 3;1, Heb 2:14-15, Heb 10:28, 1 Peter 2:13-14, Rev 13:9-10

Links on Capital Punishment:
Capital Punishment by Wikipedia
CP Debate by Wikipedia
Religion and CP by Wikipedia
Catholicism and CP by
Life For a Life: The Bible and CP by
What About The Death Penalty? by
CP and The Bible by
CP Bible Quiz by
The Bible Teaches About CP by
Pro CP Page by
The Bible and CP by
Executions at 13-Year Low by New York Times
UN Calls for CP Moratorium by Boston Globe
Press Release and Text of CP Resolution by United Nations

WW--Zero Tolerance Policies Are Wise

~They’re really popular among administrators, so there must be something to it.
~You can’t make exceptions without undermining the whole concept of having rules.
~People just take advantage of leniency.
~This protects authorities from the consequences of making disparate decisions.
~You must treat all people the same.
~This is a really good example of the rule of law in operation.
~Some things are so awful that there can be no tolerance of them at all.
~The safety of our kids has to come first.
~If there’s any wiggle room, people will think they can talk their way out of whatever it is.
~Doesn’t God sort of have a zero-tolerance about sin?

Post-Show Thoughts: ZTPs are an abdication of the responsibility to use judgment wisely by those we put in positions of authority. They are a response to fears of litigation and tragic precisely because they remove individual thought from discipline, a process which must always remain distinctly humane. Exceptions do not destroy rules. Exceptions validate rules. And no rule can ever cover all of the contingencies enough to justify eliminating human judgment from contributing. They are a symptom of the nonsensical idea that all things can be neatly categorized by labels and measured by simple tests which is corrupting all of modern education. We can call them Zero Thought Policies, Zero Intelligence Policies, or Zero Flexibility Politcies, but the main problem with them is that they wind up treating wildly disparate behaviors the same under the false notion that equal treatment is equitable treatment. Equal and fair are not the same word. A society that replaces oral and essay exams with multiple choice/fill-in-the blank tests will always eventually establish ZTPs for a very simple reason: it has already acknowledged that human thought is not worth preserving or teaching.

Links on ZTP:
ZTP: A Report by American Bar Association
ZTPs Lack Flexibility by USA Today
ZTP (Schools) by Wikipedia
Losing My Tolerance for ZTP by
ZTP and Alcohol by

Monday, December 17, 2007

Is Waterboarding Acceptable?

Waterboarding is an interrogation technique which simulates the sensation of drowning without actually risking physical harm to the person being interrogated. It has come under tremendous scrutiny precisely because it seems to fall between what we ordinarily think of as torture and legal methods of inducing cooperation. With renewed interest by Congress as well as the disclosure that tapes of this method being used were destroyed by the CIA, I thought we should talk about whether this method is ethical or not.

Post-Show Thoughts: I go back and forth every time I think about this. On the one hand, it must work or else I have trouble understanding why the CIA and the Administration want it. To argue that it doesn't work makes them out to be sadists, which is uncompelling. On the other hand, obviously this manner of treating other human beings made in the Image of God seems really at odds with what we all think it means to be American. This simply isn't the sort of thing we do, it's the sort of thing the people we aren't would do. Clearly our enemies do far worse, but we do not define our standards by the way our enemies violate them. So I'm left not sure what to say, which means it's a dilemma. And the way to resolve dilemmas is to first ask who has the authority to decide them. Find a person whose character you trust, who has as much information as possible, who will wrestle with the decision, and who prays. Then let that person make the decision, and then, unless you are truly certain they have done something atrocious, trust them. I'm not convinced enough that this is awful to conclude that our government has done evil here. There are many things the military does that I am grateful I don't have to decide to do, and I also understand there are limits to what they may be allowed to do. About waterboarding, I tend to say that we must go no further beyond this line, but if those in charge believe this is useful, so be it. And for Congressional leaders who knew and approved of it in 2002 to now use it as a political point, shame on them.

Links on Waterboarding:
Waterboarding by Wikipedia
Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002 by Wash. Post
Is Waterboarding Torture? by CS Monitor
Bush Admin. Blocked Critic by Wash. Post

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ethics: Gift-giving and Gift-receiving

Every year, we do a show on this topic because it’s such an important part of Christmas. Why, exactly, do we give gifts? What are the key ingredients to a good (and a bad) gift? What should you do when you get a gift you don’t want? Should you be honest with the person? Aren’t Christians supposed to tell the truth? Would you want to know if you failed at giving someone else a gift?

Post-Show Thoughts: Honesty is key. When someone gives a bad gift, they have really violated the purpose of gift-giving and done something immoral. This requires an appropriate response, which is usually tactful honesty. Lying always leads to a breach in the relationship and later lies, most likely. Real love pursues honesty and seeks to help them become wiser at giving gifts. I intend to write a longer article on this topic because I think it's so important. If gifts are meant to be a blessing, then we are obligated to do everything we can to make them not be a burden. Bad gifts show we don't know others and, therefore, can't really love them.

Two articles by Andrew on this subject
Bad Christmas gifts part 1, How not to give them
Bad Christmas gifts part 2, What to do when you get them

Bible References: Prov 21:14, Eccl 3:12-13, Eccl 5:18-20, Matt 5:21-24, Matt 5:40-42, Matt 6:9-15, Matt 7:6-12, Matt 10:8, Matt 19:21, Luke 6:30-36, Acts 2:37-38, Acts 20:35, 1 Cor 12, Rom 5:15-18, Eph 2:8-9, James 1:17, Rev 11:10

Links on Gift-giving:
Parent Alert: Video Games To Avoid by ABC News
What To Do WIth Bad Gifts by
Top Ten Worst Gifts From Last Christmas by
Anatomy of a Bad Gift-Giver by
Bye-Bye, Bad Gifts by USA Weekend
Humor: Things To Say About Bad Gifts by
The Gift That Keeps On Being Given by Orlando Sentinel
Growth of Holiday Gift Cards by USA Today
Regifting by Wikipedia
Regifting 101 by
The Regifting Debate by CBS News
12 Rules For Regifting Without Fear by

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

WW--We Should Not Celebrate Christmas

~It’s hopelessly bound up with things we oppose or should oppose like materialism and fables.
~It’s origins come from pagan worship rituals.
~Christmas was actually illegal in America for a long time. Do you know why?
~Jesus never told us to commemorate His birth, and the disciples didn’t do so. We are told to commemorate His death with communion.
~By saying, “Do this in remembrance of Me,” He was implying that we ought not do anything else in remembrance of Him.
~Is this a Biblical phrase?
~Christmas isn’t even really all that important to the faith, compared to Easter anyhow.
~It’s only in one Gospel and wasn’t celebrated by the early Church.
~Birthdays are not a Biblical thing to celebrate anyhow.
~Christmas and all the traditions sets people up for great depression when they are alone or when they don’t have a “good one,” whatever that means.

Post-Show Thoughts: Many of these arguments are spurious. Most notably, the Bible clearly depicts a massive celebration at Jesus's birth by angels and shepherds and the Magi. Are we to be the only ones who do not celebrate His birth? Also, the way we know that Jesus is Messiah is because He fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies concerning His birth. If His birth were not important to God and our theology, why would the OT point to Him so clearly and then show those promises satisfied in Him? As far as the roots issue, I evaluate a practice based on what it is, not based on what it was. Whether America was a Christian nation originally tells us nothing about whether it is so today. Likewise, whether Christmas was a co-opted pagan holiday (and I think it was not, actually), that's not what it is now. And what something means to the people celebrating it is the key thing. Having a statue doesn't make me guilty of idolatry, unless I bow down to it.

Bible References: Gen 40:20-22, Lev 18:21-29, Matt 1:21, Matt 14:6-10, Matt 15:7-9, Luke 1:1-2:38, John 18:37, Romans 14:5-6, 1 Cor 10:31, 1 Cor 11:23-26

Links on Celebrating Christmas:

Should Christians celebrate Christmas? (Must-read) by
A Defense of Christmas (Another Must-Read) by
Should we celebrate Christmas? by Cobblestone Ministries

Should Christians celebrate Christmas? by
Was Jesus born on Decmeber 25? by
Christmas: Pagan origins? by
Should we celebrate Christmas? by
Let the pagans have the holiday by Christianity Today
Christmas by Wikipedia
The Real Story of Christmas by
The Origin of Christmas by
Origin of Christmas: Controversial Roots by

WW--We Shouldn’t Decorate For Christmas

~Name a Christmas decoration that isn’t Biblically problematic.
~Christmas trees are pagan. Haven’t you read Jeremiah 10?
~Mistletoe was thought to be a magical wood.
~Christmas lights waste energy (lots and lots of it) and don’t have anything to do with the birth of Jesus.
~Stockings are about Santa, which we shouldn’t emphasize.
~Nativity scenes: Really? Statues of Jesus?

Bible References: Isaiah 44:9-20, Jer 10:2-4, Matt 5:14-16, Luke 2:32, Luke 8:16, Luke 11:33, John 1:5-9, John 3:19-21, John 8:12, John 9:5, 1 Cor 8:4-6

Links on Christmas Decorations:
Christmas shame by Christianity Today
In defense of Christmas trees by
Should we have a Christmas tree? by
Christmas trees on college campus by
The Jesse tree (neat idea) by
Christmas house lights by

Monday, December 10, 2007

Best Campy TV Shows and Remakes of Them

I was recently excited to see the return to network television of a remake of the old (1980’s) television show, American Gladiators. And it got me thinking about how many television shows get remade either as new television shows or (more commonly) as movies and how often it doesn’t work. So, I figured we could have fun talking about our favorite campy TV shows and whether we would or would not want to see them remade.

Links on TV Show Remakes:
Please no, not another remake by Times Online

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

WW--“In God We Trust” and “One Nation Under God” Should Go

~It’s wrong to compel children to espouse religion of any kind.
~Religion should be private.
~This country was founded on religious freedom in opposition to religiously oppressive countries in Europe.
~How important can they be since they weren’t added until later in our country’s history?
~Are we really so worried about “Godless communism” these days?
~How would you feel if the pledge said, “One nation with no supreme authority?” or “One nation under thirty-eight gods.” That’s the parallel.
~How about if the money said, “In Allah we trust?”
~Isn’t there something sacrilegious about putting God’s name on money…almost like it’s a violation of some Commandment or other?
~The government is supposed to be neutral to religion.

Post-Show Thoughts: It may well be the last vestige of an overwhelmingly Christian culture, but that doesn't mean it's nothing at all. The opponents here are between two problems: on the one hand they want to say that these things are significant violations of Constitutional principle but they also want to say they aren't really meaningful. Which is it? To say that these are violations of the establishment clause is to really belittle the meaning of that clause. I like reminders that God is the source of morality which is the source of law.

Links on mottos:
History of "In God We Trust" by U.S. Treasury
In God We Trust by Wikipedia
Pledge of Allegiance by Wikipedia
Pledge of Allegiance criticism by Wikipedia
Should "Under God" be in pledge? by

WW--We shouldn't say, "Merry Christmas."

~You can’t simultaneously argue that Christmas is a secular holiday deserving of protection and then maintain that the heart of Christmas is Jesus.
~Christmas was originally a hijacked pagan holiday. It’s now come full circle.

~You’re imposing your beliefs on other people.

~If it offends them to say Merry Christmas, why would you want to do it?

~If you’re honest, you say it because you want to rather than because you think it’ll really be a blessing to others.

~Is this a Biblical phrase?

~I can be a blessing to everyone by saying “Happy Holidays”

~It’s lazy evangelism. If you really want to bless people evangelically, say Jesus loves you. Jesus was born for you.

~Would you wish someone a happy Easter so promiscuously?

~Imagine Jews saying to the Egyptians, “Have a happy Passover.”

~It’s impolite to make assumptions, particularly religious ones, about people you don’t know.

~Doesn’t it seem odd how defending this phrase seems to rob so many people of the joy this season is supposed to be about?

Post-Show Thoughts: When you say, "Merry Christmas," to strangers in America, you are going to bless and bring joy to at least 90% of them, have no impact on perhaps 5-10% of them, and irritate 1-2% of them at most. Therefore, simple common decency and wanting to bless others leads you to say something pro-Christmas at Christmas. On the other hand, if you get all angry about this, you probably are missing some component of the joy and peace that Christmas should bring.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Who Is Jesus? What’s The Gospel? How Do You Know?

“God loves you. Sin separates you from Him. Jesus died to restore you. If you receive Him as Lord, you will know God again.” That’s a fine plan, but who is this Jesus anyhow? People say different things. Savior, healer, messiah, teacher, miracle-worker, lord, prophet. So who Is He really? And given all the evidence about Jesus in the New Testament, what is the best way to think about His identity?

Post-Show Thoughts: Jesus is King. When you start with this particular label, I think you get a lot of the things that He did and was trying to do in the process. He was establishing a Kingdom, showing how His Kingdom would operate, and demonstrating His Kingship through miracles, healings, casting out demons, ministering to all, forgiving sins, and rising from the dead. What particularly strikes me about this metaphor, however, is that it immediately obligates us to something. We either are loyal to the King or we are not. And salvation is a matter of declaring your allegiance to King Jesus. Another reason I like it is that it avoids the over-familiar, nice-nice Jesus that many people think of. It doesn't encompass everything, but it synthesizes much, and I found it useful to think of Him as my King.

Are Science And Religion Compatible?

We just finished watching the movie, The Reaping, (my review is posted here) and something in that movie made me really think. In the movie Hillary Swank’s character gives an account of how the Ten Plagues of Egypt could have occurred scientifically, which is expanded in the DVD extras. Does such an account threaten faith, reinforce it, or have no impact? Should we expect science to tell us things that fit with the Bible all the time, or should we expect areas of conflict? And what means more to us in our religious belief: faith, experience, or reason?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Best (And Worst) Toys For Children

What’s the difference between a great toy and a not-so-great toy? What are the toys that really serve our parenting goals with our children? Which toys are most appealing to children themselves? Which toy do you consider a “must-have” for children growing up?

Toys I like and recommend:

For Toddlers
Mega Blocks, Wood Puzzles, Balls, gloves, bats, Magna doodle, Shape sorter ball, Board Books, Little People, Stacking blocks and cups, Play tools, Dinosaurs, Push popcorn and music, Little Tykes car or motorcycle or grocery cart, Play food, Bowling pin set, Vacuum cleaner, Stuffed animals, Jack in the box, Mr. Potato Head

Wood Blocks, Duplos, Dominoes, Lincoln Logs, Bicycle, Chalkboard, Etch-a-sketch, Play-doh, Crayons, Tumble tower, Matchbox, Shake and go cars, Fire truck, Jacks, Silly Putty, Tinker toys, Various board games, Wooden trains, Animal game, Frisbee, Viewmaster, Dress-up stuff of any kind, Slinky

Grade School
Barbie, Legos, Train, Slot cars, Army men, Skates, Marbles, Fake guns, Chess, Erector Set, Jigsaw puzzles, RC car, Yo-yo, Pogo stick, Paddle ball, Action figures

Ethics: Who Should Be Allowed To Vote?

In America, our system is simple: every citizen over 18 can vote as long as he isn’t a criminal or insane (generally). But these rules seem much more like a practical system than a theoretically coherent system. Should illiterate people vote? They haven’t read the Constitution. Should people who don’t pay taxes vote? They don’t suffer the consequences of their decisions. Should women vote? They can’t be drafted. Should the elderly vote? They have wisdom, but they won’t have to live with the consequences very long. Should children vote? They certainly have the most to lose by bad decisions. We require all sorts of tests before we let someone drive a car, but any old idiot can influence all of our lives by voting. So lets pretend that we are setting up a new system for voting…what would that system require of someone, if anything, before voting?

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Various Current Events

Bay State goes slap happy by Boston Herald
Anti-spanking bill is folly by Boston Herald
Anti-spanking bill petition by
Group sues to overturn gender bias by
Real Estate: Buy, sell, or hold? by
Sudan charges teacher over "blasphemy" by CNS News
Married to government by CNS News
China silent on denying US ships by CNS News
Red Cross president ousted by Boston Globe
Romney brochure rips rivals by Boston Globe
Hillary defeatable by 5 GOP frontrunners by
Mother keeps baby secret from father by
Montclair St. unveils mandatory cell phone by WCBSTV
Gay general's endorsement of Hillary by
Transcript: Fred Thompson by Fox News
Urban revival with tulips by Christian Science Monitor
Iraq combat deaths down 50% in November by CNS News
Candidates split on 2nd grade pro-gay book by CNS News
Sudan sentences teacher to 15 days by
Rape victim to receive 200 lashes by Fox News
School cancels "Ten Little Indians" by Fox News
Christian divorce trend fuels debate by Christian Post
Church of Scotland rejects movie boycott by Christian Post
Perils of sex-offender bans by Christian Science Monitor
Strike threat dashes democratic debate by Fox News
Force to deploy cut-out coppers by BBC News
English-only showdown by
Republican debate transcript by CNN
Republican debate transcript, part 2 by CNN
Chronicles of atheism by Christianity Today
Married to government by

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

WW--Churches Should Not Be Tax-Exempt

~Do as Jesus did: Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.
~Do you really want the state in the business of licensing legitimate churches by granting them tax exempt status?
~Further gives people the impression that religion is all about money.
~In an environment where churches are not taxed, you never know if a sermon or educational choice is made because it’s the right one or the one that won’t raise eyebrows at the IRS.
~Allowing the IRS to indirectly censor the church is stupid. The only way to prevent that is to give them what they threaten.
~If you were a scam artist, where would you go to find sheep to fleece?
~It would free up churches to become as political as they want to be, endorsing politicians, causes, and taking sides in electoral issues.
~Tax-exempt status forces pastors who do make political statements into absurd contortions about it being merely their own opinion and not that of the religious organization they represent.

~You can’t say that church and state should be separate and then grant churches a special tax status.

Links on Tax-Exempt Churches:
501(C) by Wikipedia
IRS exemption requirements by
Should churches be tax exempt? by
501C3 facts by
Tax-exempt churches by
Church could lose tax-exempt status by USA Today
Separation of church and state by Washington Post
Should churches be tax-exempt? by
Unfair subsidy by

WW--Spanking Should Be Illegal

~It’s the first (and perhaps only) response of the parentally uncreative.
~It just teaches kids that violence solves problems.
~Is “might makes right” really the kind of lesson you intend to impart?
~If there were no spanking, there certainly could be no abuse.
~You can’t teach a child that hitting is wrong by hitting him.
~Becomes an easy parenting crutch, reducing creativity.
~Used too often loses its potency.
~It’s the angry response, not the loving one.

Bible References: Prov 13:24, Prov 19:18, Prov 22:15, Prov 23:13-14, Prov 29:15-19, Heb 12:7-11

Links on Spanking

To Spank or Not? by John Shepard
Index to Articles on Spanking by Focus on the Family
Q+A on Spanking by
The Bible and the Rod by Brian Schwertley
How Should Christians Discipline? by
Ten Reasons Not To Hit Your Kids by Jan Hunt
Nine Things To Do Instead of Spanking by Katherine Kvols
Never Hit a Child a Child by Randy Cox
The Sexual Dangers of Spanking Children by Tom Johnson
Rod or Shebet: In-Depth Examination by Joan Renae
Con and Resource Index
Arms of Love Family Fellowship

Monday, November 26, 2007

Theology of the Body

John Paul II gave a long series of pontifical addresses summarized under the heading “The Theology of the Body.” The idea is simple: God made us in His Image, and this means that when God gave us bodies and then Incarnated one Himself, He was telling us that we could learn truths about Him by studying our bodies. This is a pretty grand idea, but I wanted to start a bit more simply. If the body is supposed to teach us about God, then we can ask two simple questions. First, what part of the body amazes you the most and why? Second, if you were to teach someone about God using a part of the human body, what would you use and what would you teach?

Links on the Theology of the Body:
Theology of the Body by Wikipedia
Body language by
Reading the body by
John Paul II's theology of the body by


“Mommy, mommy, Jeffrey just put the measuring cups in the potty chair.” Gross, I know, but, for those of you with kids, this is well within the realm of unsurprising events in your household. The question is, do you want kids to tattle on each other or not? On the one hand, it seems to be honoring authority and expanding the scope of information available to a wise authority figure. On the other hand, it seems to be a failure to resolve things peacefully and is often a way for children to subtly try to usurp authority to themselves. Why do we think of tattling as bad, or do we? Of course, the ramifications of our thinking about tattling have truly significant implications for our thinking about many adult activities as well. Everything from gossip to whistleblowing to informing the police about the commission of a crime or even testifying might be seen as variations on the basic tattling concept. So what is the best ethical perspective on tattling?

Bible References: Ex 20:16, Lev 19:16, Psalm 41:5, Prov 17:9, Jeremiah 20:10, Matthew 18:15-20, Luke 3:14, Luke 17:1-4, Rom 1:28-32, 1 Cor 13:1, 2 Cor 12:20, Gal 5:22-26, Gal 6:1-5, 1 Tim 5:13, 1 Tim 6:3-5, James 4:11-12, 1 John 2:9-11, 1 John 3:15

Links on tattling:
The dynamics of "tattling" by
You tattletail! by
Tattling by
Tattling versus reporting by
Tattling vs. telling by
Why kids tattle by
Whistleblowing by Wikipedia
Gossip by

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Made in the Image of God

We’ve all used the expression, and it occurs quite early in the Bible. But what, precisely, does it mean to say that we are made in the image of God? Does it apply to men and women both? Does it apply to those who are not Christians? And what does it entail in terms of how we interact with others who are likewise so created?

Bible References:
Gen 1:26-28, Gen 2:7, Gen 2:15-20, Gen 5:1, Gen 9:4-6, Gen 18:1-2, Gen 32:24-30, Psalm 8:5, Psalm 139:1-4, Prov 14:31, Daniel 3:25, Matt 25:31-46, Luke 3:38, John 1:1, John 1:18, John 4:24, John 13:34-35, Acts 17:28, Rom 2:14-15, Rom 12:1-2, 1 Cor 3:16, 1 Cor 6:19, 1 Cor 11:7, Gal 6:10, Phil 2:5-8, Col 1:15, Col 3:10, Eph 4:24, Heb 1:3, Heb 4:13, James 2:14-17, James 3:9, 1 John 4:16,
Rev 13:8

Links on the Image of God:
Patristic Fathers by
Made in the image of God by
Man: The image of God by
The image of God by
Image of God: What does it mean? by
Book: In His Image by
Humans in the image of God by
Image of God in man by
The image of God by
Men and women in the image of God by

Monday, November 19, 2007

Pharmacists and Plan-B

“Emergency contraception” has been legal in the United States for several years, and sales are high. But many pharmacists consider it a violation of their pro-life views and also of the Hippocratic Oath and are refusing to fill prescriptions for it. Is this a matter of personal conscientious objection or religious tyranny by them over patients who are seeking a legal medication? Should they be protected in their refusals against firing?

Post-Show Thoughts: It's simple. Anyone should have the right to not participate in dispensing to others a drug which is incompatible with his basic religious beliefs. This right is further enhanced when the situation involves matters of life. Just as doctors are allowed to opt out of performing abortions, pharmacists should not be forced to dispence abortifacients, chemicals that either do or may accomplish an abortion. Whether the law recognizes this right is only relevant insofar as to whether the law will be just or unjust. I think pharmacists may put themselves in a difficult position, however, if they are objecting to Plan B but do not object to ordinary pharmaceutical contraceptives since the two are functionally so similar.

I'd go a step farther than most and assert that these rights should also extend to being allowed to refuse to dispense sexually-related materials to people who are not married. It's beyond baffling to me that the state would certify the sexual monopoly of marriage and protect it from commercialization through anti-prostitution statutes but turn around and require people to dispense anything in this area to others regardless of their ability to demonstrate they are married. This is not the same as criminalizing such behavior, which is well worthy of its own discussion. But at the very least, were I a pharmacist, I would demand the right to refrain from selling anything which facililtates an immoral activity.

Links on Plan B:
Emergency Contraception by Wikipedia
Beginning of Pregnancy Controversy by Wikipedia
Plan B: The facts behind the controversy by
The Hippocratic Oath by
Limits of Conscientious Objection (PDF file) by
Pharmacists' rights at front of debate by Washington Post
Contraceptive clears access hurdle by NY Times
Morning after pill gets closer look by NY Times
Plan B for Pharmacists by
Opinion: Dispense Plan B by Seattle Post Intelligencer
NJ law requires dispensing of Plan B by CNS News
Why the federal court was wrong by
Some doctors refuse service by USA Today
Emergency contraception by
Refusal clauses by
Walmart will sell contraceptive by NY Times

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Various Current Events

Islamic car coming down the pike? by CNS News
Military deaths lower than in 1980s by CNS News
Debate flares regarding paid sick leave by USA Today
Intelligent Design group accuses PBS by Christian Post
Dobson aides deny Huckabee endorsement by Christian Post
Answering the atheists by Christianity Today
Limits of D.C. gun ban's effectiveness by Washington Post
Georgia Governor prays for rain by Associated Press
Pro-Life group backs Thompson by CNS News
Huckabee rakes in Christian endorsements by Christian Post
Apologist: Don't fear "Golden Compass" by Christian Post
Local articles by Rocky Mountain News
The doctrine of revenge by
Anti-Bush bridge champions by NY Times
Group targets Arpaio, Thomas for recall by
Baptist leader's Romney endorsement by Christian Post
Catholic voters warned on abortion by Washington Times
Huckabee surges in Iowa poll by Boston Globe
NYU students would sell right to vote by Fox News
Buffett says to keep inheritance tax by Las Vegas Sun
CO school district: No more valedictorians by
Dog's racist bark by Larry Elder,
O'Connor's husband finds new love by CBS News
Poll: Blacks divide along class lines by LA Times
Prison requires satellite TV by Atlanta-Journal Constitution
FBI: Guard killed 14 Iraqis without cause by NY Times
Powder Room Politics by Kathleen Parker,
Warden instills hope behind bars by Christian Science Monitor
The end of cursive writing?
by Christian Science Monitor
US girds for battle with "botnets" by Christian Science Monitor
Iranian minister: Gays deserve torture, death by Fox News
Bad behavior does not doom pupils by NY Times

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

WW--We Should Only Care About Things That Directly Affect Us

~You only have standing in the law when you’ve been harmed.
~People only take your complaints seriously when you’re personally the victim.
~The Bible teaches us to be at peace with our fellow man.
~The Bible teaches us to not be busybodies.
~Most of the major issues in the culture wars could be resolved if people would just stop trying to tell other people how to live their private lives.
~How does some 14-year-old girl having an abortion directly affect you?
~How does two people in a committed gay relationship wanting to be married affect you?
~If someone wants to use marijuana in the privacy of his own home, how does that affect you?
~If someone wants to gamble his money on football games, how does that affect you?
~If someone wants to hire the companionship of a prostitute, how does that affect you?
~If some school in Wisconsin, or Tucson for that matter, wants to allow its students to have a moment of prayer, or prohibit the same thing, how does that affect you?
~If some third-world nation is having problems with human rights or economic hardship, that’s none of our business because it’s not an American strategic issue. We can’t be the world police.
~People should just take care of their own lives and stop worrying so much about controlling everyone else’s. Besides, isn’t concern about all these things just a distraction from the real opportunity you have to improve your own sphere of concerns?
~There’s so much stuff in the world to compel me, but most of it I have no control over anyhow.

Post-Show Thoughts: There are two ways to respond to these arguments. The first is to show how many of the things mentioned do, in fact, affect me. The best paradigm for this is the concept of a "moral ecology," which means that there is a common moral environment we inhabit. In this ecosystem, when one pollutes it by their immorality, we all suffer the consequences no less than when an irresponsible corporation pollutes a lake or a landfill. What one does, others see. What others see, they come to view as normal once they've seen it enough. What many come to see as normal becomes normal. These things must be dealt with before they proceed too far down this process.

But the danger with such an approach is that it grants the premise of libertarianism: every man for himself. It tries to make social action look good because it benefits me. But social action is good because it's right, not because it benefits me. Egoism is not the reductio of all values. Instead, I prefer love. And if love has any definition, it means to care enough about others to put their needs and welfare above or at least on a par with my own. When I love others, I will inject myself into their lives for their benefit. This must never become tyranny, but if you have to err on one extreme or the other, living in a world where everybody's always "up in your business" is at least a world where you know you're loved in contrast with a world where everyone cares so little about you that they are indifferent to your self-destructive behaviors.

There's still an importnat caveat. Many people who say they love others, really only love to project their notion of "the good" onto others in a kind of idolatry to their own beliefs turned into interpersonal tyranny. That's not love, except of their own views. Until and unless you are willing to make sacrifices for the people you claim to love, you shouldn't be telling them what to do. Authority and influence must be earned, at least earned by the willingness to be more than merely one who orders others around.

But there's even another major error here. Libertarianism, the view which this argument represents, is a colossal error about the nature of human beings. We are neither purely individuals, nor are we purely social. We are both. It's neither every man for himself nor a communistic vision denying the individual his rights. Socialists deny our individuality, and libertarians deny our communality. Even the Bible talks about the sins of one polluting all because we are connected together as one Body. Unlike that murderer Cain said, I am my brother's keeper.

WW--Restaurants Are Wicked

~They have cultivated the gluttony industry in America.
~People should eat at home with their families.
~A restaurant commodifies a transaction which should be voluntary: food preparation and service are things which should be given not sold.
~The portions and the content of food at restaurants is generally unhealthy.

~“Eat this 50 oz. Steak in an hour and get it for free.”
~All-you-can eat buffets.
~“Would you like a $5 dessert with that espresso, sir?”
~Fast food restaurants, in particular, make our society less patient and kind.
~Being a server is a form of slavery.
~Are we more thrifty or less with food in the era of the restaurant?
~If gluttony is as much a problem as it looks to be and we compare it to lust, then every restaurant is essentially a strip club for your stomach.
~Mom can’t compete with the Cheesecake factory, and she shouldn’t have to anymore than your wife should have to compete with the Victoria’s Secret models.
~If it weren’t for restaurants, we most likely wouldn’t have so many working moms because it would be logistically impossible.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Altar Calls

“If you’ve accepted Jesus into your heart, then come down here and publicly profess your faith and begin your walk of new life as a Christian.” To some, altar calls are a mandatory part of any worship service. To others, they are a complete theological error, fraught with danger in addition to not being founded on Biblical precedent. So who’s correct?

Post-Show Thoughts: After reading the articles and the Bible references and talking it over with you for two hours, here is my conclusion. The practice is not shown in the Bible. Instead, we have the pattern of repent, believe, confess, and be baptized. Everything the altar call is supposed to accomplish would be better and more fully accomplished by having people come be baptized, and this would be done without the various dangers which go with altar calls. Since the Bible so clearly lays out this pattern, and there's no reason to tinker with it, I can't imagine a church preferring to practice the altar call without baptism. I think those who do altar calls are simply in the habit, which is only a tradition for about 170 years, and haven't realized the superior practice of immediately baptizing new converts, just as they did in Acts. Literally, every argument for the altar call is a better argument for baptism, and every argument against immediate baptism is a better argument agains having altar calls for salvation. And it disturbs me that in researching for this show I simply could not find any resource on the Web offering even a theoretical defense of the altar call, let alone a Scriptural one. The reason that such an article is not linked below is because I could not find one. That's not decisive in the discussion, but it should concern advocates of the altar call, which I have long been until just now.

Bible References: Matt 4:18-22, Matt 7:21-23, Matt 8:18-22, Matt 9:9, Matt 9:37-38, Matt 10:32-33, Matt 19:16-21, John 3:8, Acts 2:37-40, Acts 3:19, Acts 17:32-34, Rom 8:28-30, Rom 9:15-16, Rom 10:12-15, 2 Cor 5:1, James 1:18, 1 Peter 1:22-23

Links on Altar Calls:
Altar Call by Wikipedia
Altar Call by
Altar Calls: Helpful or Harmful? by
Altar Call Evangelism by
Refusing To Heed an Altar Call by
A Close Look at Invitations and Altar Calls by
Charles Finney and the Altar Call by
Why We Don't Use The Altar Call by

Monday, November 12, 2007

Does Music Matter?

“I just like the beat, I don’t really pay attention to the lyrics.”
“There are good people who listen to country, rock, classical, and alternative.”
“What you listen to doesn’t make you who you are.”
“How can you feed that crud into your brain and not have it affect you?”
“Didn’t the Nazis and Hannibal Lecter love classical music?”

Plato was convinced that music and the power to distribute music should be highly regulated by the state. Others, perhaps in the age range 12-25 mostly, think this is a hideous idea because they love their music more than anything. Still others think that it just doesn’t matter what people listen to. So, who’s right? Does the music you listen to matter? In what way? Which is more important: the music or the lyrics? Should the government be involved in controlling music? Parents? Is there any music Christians shouldn’t listen to or should listen to?

Post-Show Thoughts: God clearly loves music. He also clearly acknowledges that music can be used by awful people in inappropriate ways. But does that mean that any particular style of music cultivates particular effects in people? It may for some, but it certainly doesn't for all. Though I believe music has great power to assist memory and therefore has vast untapped educational possibilities, I must admit that lyrics seem to have no impact on me. I sang hymns every Sunday growing up, and I know very few of them and hated the experience. Though I've heard some songs hundreds of times, I still don't know the words. Being musically omnivorous, I listen to whatever fits my mood or the activity I'm trying to do. Like sauce on a meat, the music may fit the flavor or clash with it, but I have yet to find a sauce that is never useable. I may be odd in this regard. But, just as some people can consume alcohol and not become drunkards or alcoholics, likewise with music. The individual effects may well vary widely. Theories about how music causes certain mindsets or behaviors just don't fit well with real experience, even though they seem quite plausible. I say this in spite of finding Allan Bloom's analysis of music in his famous book "The Closing of the American Mind," to be quite compelling. If I didn't have so much personal exposure to so much music, I might be misled by such theoretical musings as well. They're certainly more ideologically comforting than the grand "it all depends" which I seem to be advocating. But I tend to prefer embracing a complicated reality to an oversimplified theory when the facts seem to lead that way.

Bible References: Gen 31:26-29, Ex 15:1-2, Exodus 15:20-21, Ex 32:17-18, Josh 6:1-5, 1 Sam 10:5-7, 1 Sam 16:14-23, 1 Sam 18:6-7, 2 Sam 6:4-8, 1 Chron 13:5-11, 1 Chron 15:15-16 26-29, 1 Chron 16:42 ,1 Chron 25:1-7, 2 Chron 5:11-14, 2 Chron 7:6, 2 Chron 23:11-13, 2 Chron 34:12-13, 2 Chron 35:15,25, Neh 12:31-36, Psalm 27:6, Psalm 33:1-3, Psalm 51:14, Psalm 59:16, Psalm 66:1-4, Psalm 81:1-3, Psalm 89:1, Psalm 95:1-2, Psalm 98:4-6, Psalm 100:1, Psalm 137:1-4, Psalm147:7, Psalm 150:1-6, Eccl 2:8-9, Eccl 12:3-4, Is 5:11-13, Is 30:29, Jer 7:34, Jer 31:7, Lam 5:14, Dan 3:5, 7, 10, 15, Dan 6:18, Amos 6:18, Matt 9:22-24, Matt 26:29-30, Luke 15:24-26, Luke 19:36-40, Acts 16:25-26, 1 Cor 13:1, 1 Cor 14:15, Eph 5:19-19, Col 3:16, James 5:13, Rev 14:2-4, Rev 18:21-23

Links on Music:
Does music still matter? by
Music compatibility in relationships? by
Classical music as crime stopper by
Finding God in Today's Secular Music by
Secular Music Edifies Me by
Don't Listen To Secular Music by
Growth in Faith Makes Reject Secular Rock by
Is Listening To Secular Music a Sin? by
Secular Music In Church? by
Using Secualr Music in Christian Worship by
Christian Rock ApologeticsIs
Rock and Roll Inherently Bad?

Testimonies About Rock by Young People
Rock Music by Probe Ministries
Alice Cooper Builds Phoenix Youth Center by AZ Republic