Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wacky Wednesday--We Shouldn’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~We are supposed to be practicing being content with what God empowers us to do, like Paul.

~It’s an insult to God who chooses to love us just as we are.

~Non-Christians, who don’t depend on the power of the Holy Spirit, set goals, too.

~What difference does January 1 make that December 31 doesn’t make?

~Breaking a resolution (the most common result of making one) means now you have the problem and the knowledge that you failed to fix it as well.

~If God gives you the ability to do it, then you don’t need a resolution, and if He doesn’t, then setting one won’t help.

~We fail to keep them far more often than we succeed.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Theological Tuesday

Parables of Jesus 19: The Two Sons (Matthew 21:28-32)


28"But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, 'Son, go work today in the vineyard.'

29"And he answered, 'I will not'; but afterward he regretted it and went.

30"The man came to the second and said the same thing; and he answered, 'I will, sir'; but he did not go.

31"Which of the two did the will of his father?" They said, "The first." Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you that the tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you.

32"For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but the tax collectors and prostitutes did believe him; and you, seeing this, did not even feel remorse afterward so as to believe him.

.

Show Notes:

.

To whom is it addressed, how does this matter?
· Chief priests and elders
· In Jerusalem
· At the Temple.

Placement in the book.
· Triumphal Entry
· Cleansing of the Temple
· Barren Fig Tree
· Question of authority about John
· Parable of the Two Sons
· Parable of the Wicked Tenants
· Parable of the Wedding Feast
· Tribute to Caesar
· Jesus answers the Sadducees.
· Pronouncements against Pharisees

Observations
· What is so scandalous about this story?
o Disrespect of the father
§ Fathers had near absolute authority in their families
o The Father’s patience/God’s patience with BOTH sons.
o Train up a child, and when he is old…
· Both sons do something atrocious and sinful.
o Which is worse?
· First son
o One boldly refuses, but then repents and goes
· Second son
o The other lies, and then stays the same.
o Even says “Sir.” As in Lord elsewhere.
o Reminiscent of Matthew 7, not who calls Jesus Lord, but whoever does the will of the Father.
o Why does he lie to his dad?
o This is really amazing. Does he think the father won’t find out?
o Absurd.
o Does he really hope verbal assent is enough to deceive his father?
o Does he think so little of his dad?
o How many of us have done this?
o This is even worse than saying no and not doing.
o Four responses, in order of bestness
§ Yes, yes
§ No, yes
§ No, no (at least honest, and respectful enough to tell truth)
§ Distant fourth, Yes, no.

Notes
· Major Textual issue
o The order and rendering here is problematic.
o First says will not go, but does. Second says will go, but does not. First does will. Many sources support this versin.
o First says will not go, but does. Second says will go, but does not. Second does will. (No coherence to this one, and no rebuke from Jesus for getting it so obviously wrong.)
o First says will go, but does not. Second says will not go, but does.
o Second does will. (Seems like a rendering to make it look like Jews/Gentiles)
· The meaning of the word “will get into” or “go into” is slightly unclear, but a lot of interpreters have tried to hang quite a bit on it.
o This is a mistaken focus. If God had meant all this, He would have said so.
o Too much focus on one word to make the case.
o The one clear conclusion is that the sinners are going into the kingdom ahead of the Pharisees. The Pharisees could join after or not, depending on how they now, near the end, respond.
o You’re already not capable of coming in first, but there’s still a place for you if you don’t mind coming in later.
· Why tax collectors and prostitutes?
o Sinners used elsewhere instead of prostitutes
o Prostitutes would have been collaborators with the enemy, setting up shop near Roman encampments.
· Way of righteousness?
o Doing God’s will
· Believing John the Baptist
o Being baptized
o Repenting
o Admitting sinfulness and inadequacy of your approach to God.

Mistaken interpretations
· This is an allegory for the Jews and Gentles
o There’s no indication of this
o It was Jews who went out to John, not Gentiles.

The sequence of three parables
· Similarities
o Man
o Vineyard
o Replacement motif
o Lord
o Likewise
· Jesus is showing the Pharisees that they are rejecting or will reject every aspect of God’s beautiful plan.
· Two sons
o They say they love God but
§ Reject John the Baptist
§ Reject baptism
o They claim to accept the OT and the Prophets, but they are rejecting the foremost prophet, his message, and the one for whom he is the forerunner.
· Wicked Tenants
o When God points out their refusal to do His work in the world of grace and redemption and mercy, they attack Him (His ambassadors, the prophets) rather than recognizing their own sin. .
o In their refusal, they are depriving Him of His due harvest of souls
· Wedding Feast
o Won’t come to the party
o Angry that God invites others to the party.
o Very much like the elder brother in the Prodigal son story.

Interpretation/Application
· Purpose of the story
o Resolves the question about authority
o Pharisees refused to answer, but Jesus gets them to indict themselves for their own refusal to go do God’s work.
o They refuse to judge John (although their indifference to him is judgment enough), but they do judge rightly and self-condemn here.
o Reminiscent of Nathan’s parable to David (2 Sam 12:1-10)
· What theological error does this story correct?
o The insignificance of John the Baptist’s ministry
o The non-necessity of baptism
§ What would believing JtB mean without getting baptized?
§ That legalism can get you there.
o The idea that profession is enough without obedience in behavior.
§ That antinomianism is right
§ Easy believe-ism.
o That believing and doing are separate questions
§ Believing and doing are inseparable
§ If you don’t do, you don’t believe.
· Initial responses are not ultimate responses.
o In time, both false negatives and false positives show up.
· Vineyard isn’t Israel, per se, but God’s Will and Purposes generally.
· God’s will is accepted by those whom the “righteous” despise.

John the Baptist
· Prepare the WAY of the Lord.
· Pharisees rejected him twice (like in the story)
o First, when they could have seen him as a messenger from God
o Again, when they saw the sinners going out to him.
· Why did they reject JtB and Baptism?
o Pride.
o We can’t have missed a genuine sign from God. We’re the leaders!
o How could those people have been saved by someone else’s preaching, who isn’t even in our group!
§ Reminiscent of the disciples wanting everyone to follow them.
§ Jesus says to let him be, even if operating on his own.
o He was doing something new and unorthodox and did not participate in their traditions.
o Clergy/Laity distinction too important to them.
§ But who really gets it in this story isn’t the clergy.
· Baptism requires humility because it is a humiliation:
o To admit you’re the sort of person who needs it, just like harlots and prostitutes
o I am so unclean I need total washing
o I am so tarnished, I need a new birth.
o To become baptized, a Pharisee would be
§ admitting his own failure,
§ separating himself from his fellow priests,
§ indicting them by his example
§ and indicting their whole approach to right standing with God as inadequate.

Connections with Prodigal Son Story (Luke 15)
· Only other use of Prostitutes in Gospels is here, in the mouth of the older son.
· Great contrast again of sinners and legalists.
· Same basic disposition of two sons, one who later repents and returns, the other who never does and is mad the first is accepted.
· What attitude does a younger brother (obedient brother) have to the older (disobedient) one? Sadness, not pride and judgment.
· What’s the real work of God? Reconciling sinners to each other and to God.

What does this story tell us about God/Jesus?
· Jesus is confronting the Pharisees and doing so in an amazingly bold way.
· He is claiming to pronounce the clear judgment of God
o This doesn’t require Him to be Messiah.
o Other prophets (even John) were equally bold and dire.

Monday, December 27, 2010

How Should We React When People Misuse Christmas

Every year, some people are extremely bothered by the various ways people don’t do Christmas “properly.” Their concerns might be the decorations used (trees, lights, ornaments), the phrases said (Happy Holidays versus Merry Christmas), the materialism and greed, the displacement of Jesus (by Santa, Frosty, etc.), the pagan roots, the Biblical concerns, or even the hubbub over public nativity scenes. In any case, these are all things that people do “wrong.” The question is: how should Christians respond to people using our Savior’s birthday party inappropriately?

Post-show Thoughts:
Always four options for anything “wrong.”
o Fight it
o Ignore it, don’t pariticpate
o Ignore it, participate
o Co-opt it, redeem it

Purpose of Christmas?
o To celebrate family
o To promote the Gospel
o To make people happy
o Celebrate the Incarnation
o Get people to church
o Make people want Christianity
o Evangelism

Benefits of secular Christmas
o Generosity
o Family
o Fun
o Food
o Relaxation
o It’s the best day of the year even for people who totally reject the core idea of what it’s all about.

Problems with angry reaction
o It’s not satisfying!
o Are you really honoring God?
o Does it demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit?
o Does it win people toward the Gospel?
o Totalitarian impulse: My way or else!
o Sort of looks like a tantrum. Petulant children, entitlement mentality.
o Not gracious. Scroogey
o Alienates people
o Superiority/Haughtiness. We’re better than you because we do it right. Pride is not the Gospel.
o Sort of looks like the Taliban or Islamofascists. They enforce Hijabs and we enforce Merry Christmas.
o Ruins the general wonderfulness of the season. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, except for the angry Christians.
o God knows that sinners will handle good things imperfectly. Common grace shows that there’s still a benefit. Marriage still benefits non-religious people.
o Only impresses other angry people. Seems like Pharisee mentality
o Forcing fake religiosity
o Bad gift-giver, use it properly. It’s really not your gift.
o Incoherent. Can’t simultaneously lament the secularization of our culture and then force the secular to behave like Christians.

Virtues (supposedly) of angry reaction
o Anger works. But not for the righteousness of God
o Saving the public sphere for a Christianesque culture
o It IS about Jesus, how dare they taint and pollute that!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wacky Wednesday--We Shouldn't Celebrate Christmas

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~Jesus certainly wasn’t born on December 25.
~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.
~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.
~
Jeremiah says to not have trees decked in gold and silver.

Links:
Christmas is not pagan by Richard P. Bucher
A Defense of Christmas (Another Must-Read) by Prpc-Stl.org

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Theological Tuesday

Parables of Jesus 18: The Wise and Foolish Builders

Matthew 7:24-27
24"Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.
25"And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.
26"Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
27"The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell--and great was its fall."

Luke 6:47-49
46"Why do you call Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do what I say?
47"Everyone who comes to Me and hears My words and acts on them, I will show you whom he is like:
48he is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid a foundation on the rock; and when a flood occurred, the torrent burst against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built.
49"But the one who has heard and has not acted accordingly, is like a man who built a house on the ground without any foundation; and the torrent burst against it and immediately it collapsed, and the ruin of that house was great."

Monday, December 20, 2010

What Should A Christian Do With Santa Claus?

For most Christians, this is not much of an issue. In fact, given how seriously many Christians think about whether they should participate in Halloween or not, the fact that they usually don’t think much at all about the non-Christian mythology surrounding Christmas is rather surprising. Is Santa a healthy thing for children to believe in? Does Santa distract from Jesus? Is there any danger in telling children fairy tales? What happens when children discover the truth? Does Santa teach theologically helpful or theologically problematic things to children?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Angel Tree

One of the most painful parts of being incarcerated is the inability to give Christmas gifts to your children. And for the children themselves, Christmas, which is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, becomes a time of mourning and disappointment. After her own personal experience of this pain in prison for 6 years, Mary K. Beard founded Angel Tree to give gifts on behalf of inmates to their children. With humble beginnings of just 556 children in 1982, Angel Tree gave gifts last year to over 400,000 children. These gifts are a message of hope to the children, and a demonstration of the substitutionary love of Christ to their parents in jail. For every $11.44 you give, a child receives a personally selected gift and an item of clothing on Christmas Day. Call 1-888-ANGEL-05 (888-264-3505) or click here to help as many of them as you can.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Theological Tuesday: Parables of Jesus 17: The Children in the Marketplace (Luke 7:18-35)

18 The disciples of John reported to him about all these things.
19 Summoning two of his disciples, John sent them to the Lord, saying, "Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?"
20 When the men came to Him, they said, "John the Baptist has sent us to You, to ask, 'Are You the Expected One, or do we look for someone else?'"
21 At that very time He cured many people of diseases and afflictions and evil spirits; and He gave sight to many who were blind.
22 And He answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you have seen and heard: the BLIND RECEIVE SIGHT, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the POOR HAVE THE GOSPEL PREACHED TO THEM.
23 "Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me."
24 When the messengers of John had left, He began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind?
25 "But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who are splendidly clothed and live in luxury are found in royal palaces!
26 "But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I say to you, and one who is more than a prophet.
27 "This is the one about whom it is written, 'BEHOLD, I SEND MY MESSENGER AHEAD OF YOU, WHO WILL PREPARE YOUR WAY BEFORE YOU.'
28 "I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he."
29 When all the people and the tax collectors heard this, they acknowledged God's justice, having been baptized with the baptism of John.
30 But the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected God's purpose for themselves, not having been baptized by John.
31 "To what then shall I compare the men of this generation, and what are they like?
32"They are like children who sit in the market place and call to one another, and they say, 'We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not weep.'
33"For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, 'He has a demon!'
34"The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, 'Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!'
35"Yet wisdom is vindicated by all her children."

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ethics: Parenting, Discipline, and Grace

On Friday, in response to the Thought of the Day, a caller asked how to balance the competing claims of tough discipline and grace in parenting. I thought it was such an important question that I wanted to devote tonight’s show to it. What sort of parenting objectives do we have? What sort of discipline fits those objectives? Is parenting primarily about behavioral goals or theological ones?

Sow notes:
~Legalism, antinomianism, gospel.
~My primary job is to impart to them good theology rather than to cultivate in them good behavior.
~If I purchase good behavior at the price of good theology, I’ve seriously mucked up their development and my responsibility.
~The two go together, but if I have to pick, I’d rather they have faith than compliance.
~I want them to grow up and every time they learn something true about God their first reaction is, “Yep, that sounds just like my daddy.”
~How does God parent me?
~Which is more important, your relationship with them or their good behavior?
~Parenting for today versus parenting for ten years from now.
~When you parent for today you almost always get bad results later.
~Learning that obedience is the payment demanded for my love, approval, and support will only teach them false theology/legalism.
~To Spencer: Does God punish you for everything you do wrong? Do we punish you for everything you do wrong? So should you punish Ethan for everything he does wrong?
~Their need to know Who God Is and What His Character Is trumps every other concern I might have for them as a parent other than keeping them alive.
~When I treat them differently than how God treats me, I am saying I don’t really love God or His ways.
~I want everything I do to be patterned off and motivated by the Gospel and God’s Character.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Wacky Wednesday: Government Should Get Out Of Marriage


Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

Marriage is a private agreement.
This would solve the issues of gay marriage and polygamy
The only basis for government regulation of marriage is religion
Do you want the government “permitting” your marriage?
Why should it be so hard to get a divorce?
What people do in the privacy of their own lives should be their business.
The government has no place in preferring one sort of sexual (or non-sexual) relationship over any other.
They shouldn’t be charging money to certify marriages
You don’t need government to be married or divorced.
It’s just a piece of paper, anyhow.
The government doesn’t do enough to actually regulate it, so why be involved at all?
It would simplify the tax code considerably.
We need to save marriage from the politicians.
It is ridiculous for a 21st century government to endorse married people's sexuality but tell unmarried people their sexuality is wrong.
Don’t you believe in freedom and free markets?
Can’t you still have marriage without the government in it?
When was the last time you thought it was a good idea to grant government authority over such a private, religious, moral, and sexual decision?
The government, granted authority over marriage, is heavily intrusive through divorce law on an area that should be governed by the church first.
Marriage is an important institution. The modern mistake is to think that important things must be planned, sponsored, reviewed, or licensed by the government.
Even the church didn’t really get involved in the marriage business until 12th Century, and then 16th century for the law.
Government doesn’t validate your baptism or a barmitzvah, why this?
If you believe in limited government, what a great and immediate step to shrink the size and intrusiveness of government.
You write your own vows much of the time anyway? Why shouldn’t you be able to customize your marriage to fit your desires and intents?


Links:
Let’s really get government out of our bedrooms (Michael Kinsley)
Taking marriage private (NYT)
Don’t let the government define marriage (Mises Institute)
Privatize marriage (Slate)
Should the government legislate relationships? (About)
Government and marriage (Rep. Ron Paul)
Can government strengthen marriage? (pdf) (MarriageDebate.com)
Government mandated marriage promotion (Unmarried.org)
Government marriage (William Stone)
Outing government from marriage (Reason)
A gay-marriage solution: end marriage? (Time)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Theological Tuesday

Interview with Michael Flaherty, President of Walden Media (Production company for Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

Parables of Jesus 17:
The Two Debtors (Luke 7:41-43)
The Wise and Foolish Builders (Matt 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49)
The Two Sons (Matt 21:28-32)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Ethics: WikiLeaks

A tremendous amount (over 250,000) diplomatic cables were turned over to WikiLeaks for publication on the Internet. Although only about 10% of them are classified as secret or something similar, they contain a tremendously wide array of sometimes sensitive and sometimes just interesting information about US diplomacy. Reactions have ranged from support of Julian Assange’s (WikiLeaks’s founder) Free Speech rights or even speculation that something like WikiLeaks is useful enough to stop (or have stopped) something like 9/11 to calls for his assassination as a spy undermining America’s interests in stopping terrorism. We’ll talk about the ethical implications of whistle-blowing, the Internet, diplomacy, and publishing stolen materials.

Show Prep is below links.

Links:
WikiLeaks (Wikipedia [no connection])
WikiLeaks US diplomatic cables release (Wikipedia)
Wikileaks and 9/11: What if? (LAT)
How much trouble is Julan Assange in? (CSM)
The real point of the Wikileaks (CSM)
Wikileaks 101: Five questions answered (CSM)
Wikileaks wakeup call (Jonah Goldberg)
Attack by Wikileaks (WSJ)
WikiLeaks threatens doomsday file if blocked (NY Post)
What does Julian Assange want? (Guardian)
Hundreds of WikiLeaks mirror sites appear (NYT)
Good gossip, and no harm done to US (NYT)
Julian Assange, information anarchist (WSJ)
New obstacles for WikiLeaks and founder (NYT)
The big American leak (Thomas Friedman)
Why Iran loves WikiLeaks (NYT)
What if the secrets stayed secret (NYT)
NYT then and now (Powerline)
NYT on Climategate 11/2009 (NYT)
NYT on Wikileaks 11/2010 (NYT)

Show Prep:
On WikiLeaks
Founded in 2006
Loads of journalistic awards
o 2009 Amnesty International for Kenyan killings
o 2008 Economist Magazine Index on Censorship new media award
Past leaks
o Scientology
o Sarah Palin’s Yahoo email contents
o Guantanamo Bay SOP manual
o British National Party membership, including police, barre3d from membership. Far right group.
o UN internal reports
o Contributors to Norm Coleman campaign
o East Anglia ClimateGate documents
o Lists of national censorship lists of Internet sites.
o Bilderberg Group reports from 1955-1980
o Iranian nuclear accident, Stuxnet virus
o Internal report by British Trafigura on toxic dumping in Africa, the Minton Report
o Joint Services Protocol 440, British Ministry of Defense plans for preventing internal leaks.
o NSA capture of pager messages sent on 9/11
o US Intelligence report on WikiLeaks
o US Baghdad airstrike video killing 12 civilians
o Afghanistan war documents 92,000
o Iraq War Logs, 400,000 documents, largest diplomatic release ever.
Leak protocols
o Some redaction to protect people who might be harmed.
o 15,000 documents on Afghan war withheld for this reason
Defense
o Has released a massive encrypted file which it claims contains unredacted documents of all sorts which he will give out the key to if detained or if WikiLeaks is pulled entirely off the Internet.
Purpose
o The United States is a conspiratorial state, and stopping us from effectively sharing information within the state apparatus is his goal.
o Balkanization as a form of defense against leaks.
o This will make the US government dumber, slower, and smaller.
o Waging a kind of information war against the US in an effort to reduce or cripple our “authoritarian conspiracy” of a government from doing what it wants.

Questions
Should vendors deny supplies/webhosting to them?
----Indirect censorship
----Amazon, EveryDNS, PayPal
He has released information which he would not wish released about himself.
Is it a crime?
Do you want Julian Assange sitting in the position of needing to be persuaded to not publish things by the US Government
Can America successfully extradite him from wherever he is anyhow?
Who has the burden of proof that something should be classified?
To whom is Assange obligated to be loyal?
Who should be blamed?
----Private Manning
----Julian Assange
----The Internet
----Anyone who assists him
----The people who granted Manning his access/security
----News media
Not about whistleblowing
----No or very few criminal activities are involved here.

Implications
Contents
o Private persons’ information, Social Security Numbers
o US ambassadors to UN ordered to spy on other delegations by Hillary Clinton
o Saudis want Iran decapitated
o Turkey’s leader is a modern-day Pharaoh.
Impact
o Some harm
o Diplomacy
o Secretary of Defense Gates has said it’s no big deal.
§ Awkward, embarrassing, fairly modest impact on USFP
o Won’t be able to be trusted by other government negotiators.
Support
o If the American government were more honest, this wouldn’t be necessary
o Julian Assange is quoted as saying, "Of course, abusive, Titanic organizations, when exposed, grasp at all sorts of ridiculous straws to try and distract the public from the true nature of the abuse."
o They don’t really say anything everybody didn’t already suspect or believe
----Suspect and know are different.
----Plausible deniability.
o It’s the single most primary job of journalists to find and reveal information that centers of power prefer to remain secret.
o Would you as a reader of news rather trust yourself with the information or someone else to hold it for you?
Opposition
o Hurting American war and diplomacy efforts
o Making government officials seem duplicitous
----Is this a surprise in diplomacy?
o No point in much of what it discloses
o Voyeurism, more than anything.
o Governments require secrecy to do diplomacy
o Hillary Clinton:
----"This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign policy; it is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conventions and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity."
Criticism
o Amnesty International, NYT, and Reporters Without Borders have said they were wrong for endangering Afghan sources
o According to the New York Times, Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders criticized WikiLeaks for what they saw as risking people’s lives by identifying Afghans acting as informers. A Taliban spokesman said that the Taliban had formed a nine-member "commission" to review the documents "to find about people who are spying." He said the Taliban had a "wanted" list of 1,800 Afghans and was comparing that with names WikiLeaks provided, stating "after the process is completed, our Taliban court will decide about such people.”
o His use of freedom undermines the stability and ability of the very free countries whose liberty he is exploiting.

Other scenarios
9/11
o There is good reason to believe that WikiLeaks could have helped prevent 9/11
o FBI failed to properly pursue Zaccharias Moussaoui, despite pleas from Special Agent Harry Samit that he was “trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing into the World Trade Center.”
o Air Marshall Bogdan Dzakovic was hired to probe airport security found repeatedly that his team could easily kill large numbers of people, but his report was ignored, buried, and he was eventually demoted severely.
ClimateGate last year
o NYT wouldn’t publish those because illegally obtained and private.
Pentagon Papers
o Daniel Ellsberg has defended WikiLeaks aggressively
Evidence after the fact
o Pearl Harbor

Values involved
Free speech
Equality
Where does power reside
Distrust of official coordinated power/control
Democracy
Violations of privacy
Disclosures that harm national security
Who is doing it and why?
How would you feel if it had been done to another country, perhaps one of our enemies?
Ability to conduct diplomacy
Inefficiencies of bureaucracy
Legality of the information leak in the first place

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Various Current Events

Planned Parenthood fights AK parental notification law (CP)
Haitian village trades Voodoo for Jesus (CP)
USSC will review AZ campaign finance law (AP)
Palin and dumbing down of the Presidency (John Dean)
Leslie Nielsen dies (AP)
Saudi women sue male guardians to be married (AP)
Wikileaks and American diplomacy (NYT)
Intolerance and OK’s Sharia ban (NYT)
Is the TSA flap partisan? (NYT)
Boycott gropes (WSJ)
Al Gore’s ethanol epiphany (WSJ)
Handguns for 18 year olds? (NYT)
Pakistani gov’t barred from pardoning Christian (CP)
Two healthy East Valley churches merging (CP)
The case against helmet laws (Steve Chapman)
I was wrong about TSA (Emmett Tyrell)
Is illegal immigration moral? (Victor Davis Hanson)
Give thanks for…eel? (NYT)
Color-coded terror alerts to be dropped by DHS (NYT)
Where anonymity breeds contempt (NYT)
NYT then and now (Powerline)
NYT on Climategate 11/2009 (NYT)
NYT on Wikileaks 11/2010 (NYT)
Wikileaks and 9/11: What if? (LAT)
The myth of charter schools (NY Review of Books)
Mother of 13 urges HIV child adoptions (CP)
Pentagon report: little risk with gays openly serving (NYT)
Evangelizing ourselves (Christianity Today)
Football player flagged for pointing to God (CP)
HS player flagged for touchdown nod to God (FoxNews)
How much trouble is Julan Assange in? (CSM)
The real point of the Wikileaks (CSM)
Philly relents, “Christmas Village” back up (Philly.com)
What does “Constitutional Conservatism” mean? (NYT)
Wikileaks 101: Five questions answered (CSM)
The EPA turns 40 (WSJ/Lisa P Jackson)
Wikileaks wakeup call (Jonah Goldberg)
Montana court: censoring student’s speech unconst. (CP)
Obama orders federal pay freeze (NYT)
Attack by Wikileaks (WSJ)
House votes to extend some tax cuts (NYT)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Wacky Wednesday--Philadelphia Is Right

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

Background: For several years, there has been a “German Christmas Village” area in Dilworth Plaza on the grounds of Philadelphia City Hall. But this year, an undisclosed number of people complained about the “Christmas” part, and so the city told the organizers to change the name on the main arch to “German Holiday Village,” which they did. This has produced a huge volume of protest from around the country. Naturally, I’ll argue they were right to change the name.

~Christmas should be inclusive since Christianity is about God’s love for the entire world.
~Public and government places should not be religious since members of other religions will feel excluded.
~The First Amendment means that an expression of religious identity like this is not acceptable.
~This will offend people.
~It’s not a particularly religious exercise anyhow, since it’s really just a set of holiday themed shops, including Muslim and Jewish vendors.
~Christians are the majority religion and therefore need to be careful about imposing their religious expressions on other people.
~As people who once were terribly persecuted, Christians of all people should be more aware of the feelings of minority groups.
~Does it really change the meaning of Christmas that much to change some silly label on an archway in Philadelphia?

Links:
Let’s call it German ‘Holiday’ Village (Philly.com)
Managing Director: This is about common sense (Philly.com)
Christmas Village fight continues in Council (Philly.com)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Theological Tuesday

Parables of Jesus 16:
The Seed Growing Secretly (Mark 4:26-29)
The Wise and Foolish Builders (Matt 7:24-27, Luke 6:47-49)
The Two Sons (Matt 21:28-32)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Ethics: Debt For Christmas Gifts?

Most Americans incur significant debt between Black Friday and Christmas in order to give gifts, send cards, travel, and eat well for the Holiday. They usually rue this a bit in the new year, which is why anyone in the entertainment or hospitality industry knows that January is a slow month. As a result, most financial advisers (and certainly the ones referred to in a Christian Post article I read today) say to not use credit cards for Christmas-related expenses. Generally, I would agree that debt is bad, but if people are already living a debt lifestyle for their own selfish benefits (house, cars, cable, clothes, etc.), why is it so awful to at least do something sweet for other people by the same financial means?

Links:
Don’t do Christmas on credit, debt charity warns (CP)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Theological Tuesday

Parables of Jesus 15: The Wedding Feast/Dinner Banquet (Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Ethics: Incentive

A story someone sent me about incentives was completely fascinating. In an effort to increase the number of people donating blood, blood banks started paying people to donate blood. The actual result of this program was to reduce the number of blood donors, since the people who donated felt that getting paid ruined the moral reward for which they had previously been giving the blood. Similarly, in Israel, a daycare center noticed that parents were chronically tardy, causing more of the workers to have to stay late. As a solution, they began imposing small fines on the parents who were late, and there was an almost immediate doubling of the number of late parents. This was because the fine was less valuable than the freedom to be late and the parents believed that paying a fine made the transaction no longer a moral question, morality clearly having a stronger pull than a fine. Since both of these examples demonstrate a particular kind of perverse incentive, I thought it might be useful to think about rewards and their unintended consequences on some of the rest of the behaviors in our lives.

Links:
When economic incentives backfire (Harvard Business Review)
Why fining people can actually increase an activity (Tech Dirt)
Perverse Incentive (Wikipedia)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Wacky Wednesday--Christianity Is Bad For The World

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~It’s a source of oppression of other religious viewpoints
~It’s too sexually restrictive.
~The historical treatment of Jews has been terrible.
~It’s been very harmful to women.
~Christians are indifferent to the suffering of animals
~Christians have been responsible for tremendous environmental destruction.
~Ever hear of Manifest Destiny?
~It’s followers are hypocrites
~Christians are too authoritarian.
~No one can actually live up to its moral tenets, so everyone feels miserable about themselves for their failures.
~Christians are always trying to impose their morality on everyone else.
~The whole idea of forgiving evil is impractical and only encourages bad people to do more of their harms.
~Who held slaves in the Old South? Hint: it wasn’t Buddhists or atheists.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Theological Tuesday

Parables of Jesus 14: The Wicket Tenants (Matthew 21:33-46, Mark 12:1-12, Luke 20:9-19)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ethics: Should Christians Be Patriotic?

The idea of being patriotic strikes most people as an automatic good thing. Of course we should love our country and work for its benefit. But what happens when we start to derive our personal sense of identity and worth from the success of our country? At what point might patriotism spill over into nationalism or even idolatry? And as Christians, to what degree might commitments to our country present problems for us when our country is wrong or when our concerns need to be more universal than that? Particularly, how important is American exceptionalism or even American superiority in our sense of personal value? On the other end of the spectrum, can a person ever be not patriotic enough as a Christian? Moreover, can our definitions of patriotism accommodate other people being patriotic to their own countries?

Links:
Patriotism or Nationalism? by Joseph Sobran
In Defense of Patriotism by Edward Daley
What's Right About Patriotism by ChristianityToday
A Defense of American Patriotism by Robert Barlick Jr.
Patriotism: A Menace to Liberty by Pitzer.edu
Patriotism and Government by Leo Tolstoy
On Patriotism by Leo Tolstoy
Patriotism by Brad Edmonds

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Wacky Wednesday--Divorce is good

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~If your marriage isn’t making you happy, how can you say it’s a good thing to not leave?
~We have all sorts of different family structures now, and we seem to be doing okay with them.
~If someone doesn’t want to stay, how can it be loving to make them do so?
~Death is an awfully long way away for most people.
~If it’s okay for death to “do us part,” why not prior to that?
~Some spouses are awful: abusive, unfaithful, and just plain smelly.
~When you can’t leave, the other person has no incentive to work on the relationship.
~Even if divorce isn’t so great for the kids, maybe it’ll teach them to marry more wisely.
~Don’t kids deserve to see their parents happy apart rather than miserably together?
~There’s a reason we call some differences “irreconcilable.”
~Surely the nation’s lawyers can’t all be so wrong.
~Even Moses and Jesus seem to have made allowance for divorce in some cases.
~What if you’re sexually incompatible? Didn’t God build us to have pleasure?
~If you didn’t think divorce was good, you’d say that people who have slept together shouldn’t be allowed to break up either.
~Some people just aren’t fit for marriage, but you can’t tell until after they’re in it.
~If you split up, and it’s a mistake, you can always get back together again. But how will you know for sure unless you try it.
~If you love something, set it free. If it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t , it never was.
~They must be good, otherwise how do you explain the money and difficulty people will go through in order to obtain them? Free market principles alone give a massive stamp of validation to the value of divorce.
~Aren’t you against involuntary monopolies? That’s what marriage is if you can’t end it.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Theological Tuesday

Parables of Jesus 13: The Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ethics: Should We Vote Third Party?

As you no doubt have heard, despite the already massive gains of the Republicans in the election last week, several more seats would have been won if only third party candidates (most notably Libertarians, but also the Tea Party in a few cases) had not been running. Since this ultimately means that Democrats (who are even less liked than Republicans by these voters generally) retained their seats, these third party votes or candidates wound up helping the least desired candidates. Does that mean that a vote for third parties is always wrong because of the spoiler effect or because it winds up helping your enemies? Do third party candidates do anything useful to offset this problem?

Links:
Why third parties? (About.com)
Third parties leave a mark (CSM)
What are third parties for? (Essay)
Third party rising (NYT)
Third Party in the United States (Wikipedia)
Why Dr. Dobson Is Wrong About Rudy (Andrew Tallman)
Instant-runoff voting (Wikipedia)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wacky Wednesday--The Ten Commandments Don’t Matter

Note: Before reading the following arguments, please understand that they are not what I believe. On Wednesdays, I deliberately argue for wrong ideas, challenging my listeners to call and defend the obvious right answer, which is usually far harder than one would expect. This is a summary of what Wacky Andrew will be arguing, not a representation of what real Andrew believes.

~They’re not for us, they’re specifically for the Jews, unless you think you were delivered from Egypt.
~We don’t obey them.
~Everyone works on Sunday or else causes others to do so.
~Blasphemy is legal and protected by the First Amendment
~Adultery is common and usually legal, or else just barely illegal but not enforced, like here in Arizona.
~Coveting is the basis of modern marketing and, arguably, the American Dream
~Even if you consider these things bad, you balk at making them capital offenses the way the Bible does.
~How many people even know what they say, especially among those who claim they are super-important?
~We live under Grace, not under The Law.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Theological Tuesday

~Interview with Kathe Wunnenburg about Hope on Wheels.
~Parables of Jesus 12: The Sower (Matthew 13, Mark 4, Luke 8)

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ethics: Should Employers Run A Credit Check On Applicants?

One of the practices many employers have adopted in recent years is to run a credit check on any job applicants. The argument for this is that reliable people show the fact by their credit score. But of course the recent economic woes have caused many people who would otherwise have decent credit scores to suffer job loss, late payments, and even foreclosure, making their credit score dip artificially low. So the question is whether these scores are fair for employers to use. There are lots of things employers aren’t allowed to consider in hiring: race, religion, gender, and age, for instance. But consider how wrong it would be for them to consider medical condition, even though this can certainly cost the company money. So how do we as a society draw the line on which things are legitimate to consider in hiring and which not?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Arizona Propositions

The elections are coming! The elections are coming! Since Tuesday is the midterm election, I thought we would break our normal routine and take the week to discuss the Propositions on the ballot. My plan is to work through them one at a time, trying to get a definitive understanding of each so you feel informed enough to vote on Tuesday. Ones with underlined links are ones we've finished discussing on the show, and the link jumps to my post on that Proposition, and the number indicates my support (0-100%, with my supported vote):

Prop 106: 90% Yes. Arizona opt-out from the Obamacare individual mandate.
Prop 107: 80% Yes. Ending public affirmative action programs.
Prop 109: 80% Yes. Make hunting, fishing, and harvesting of wildlife an Arizona Constitutional right.
Prop 110: 100% Yes. Giving Arizona the ability to exchange land in addition to selling it.
Prop 111: 40% No. Lieutenant Governor.
Prop 112: 100% Yes. Moving the deadline for initiative petitions up to May 1st from July 1st.
Prop 113: 95% Yes. Requiring secret ballots for organizing workplace unions.
Prop 203: 10% No. Permitting medical marijuana.
Prop 301: 60% Yes. Transfer funds set aside by Prop 303 in 1998 for land conservation back into the Arizona general fund.
Prop 302: 50.01% Yes. Transfers funds set aside by Prop 203 in 2006 for early childhood development and health back into the Arizona general fund but still for those purposes.


Links
Ballot Initiatives (AZ Secretary of State)
Ballot Measures (Arizona Republic)