Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Only Human

In the wake of Katrina's visit to South Florida last week, I saw little hints of lawlessness in the hours immediately following the storm. Every 30 seconds or so at major intersections where there were no signals (which by law are supposed to be treated as four-way stops), someone (usually in a pickup truck) would simply barrel through the intersection without stopping, honking and obscenely gesturing at anyone who protested. Several scam artists dressed as Florida Power and Light employees have talked their way into homes to steal items. People raced to Home Depot to beat their neighbors in the rush for generators.

All of this is minor compared to what's happening in New Orleans right now. The damage to The Big Easy from Katrina was much more serious, widespread, and long-lasting than what we experienced here. And the looting and pillaging is spreading. People are stealing diapers and food--and shoes, and cars, and television sets. And they're shooting cops.

Often we hear people proclaiming their "faith in human nature" and in "the basic goodness of mankind." So why is it that in the sudden absence of enforced law, we see society almost immediately deteriorate? Why is it--if mankind is basically good--that instead of seeing humanity rise up in a time of crisis and become better behaved, pulling together for the common good, we see it degenerate into a state of anarchy? Who among those who pay such lyrical homage to human nature, if they were to be honest with themselves, truly feels safer during a time of lawlessness when human nature is left to its own devices? Who believes at such a time that most, or even a few people altruistically have your best interests at heart?

The truth, of course, is that the notion of "the basic goodness of mankind" is a humanistic lie that has fueled many of the world's greatest atrocities, from the French Revolution to the Russian gulags to the Chinese slaughter of tens of millions to the Cambodian killing fields. We intrinsically know the real truth, that "the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked..." (Jeremiah 17:9), but we suppress it, choosing to ignore the obvious in favor of a dangerous utopian fantasy.

If, Heaven help us, the terrorists ever succeed in shutting down the power in this country for more than two days, it will become Lord of the Flies. They know it, you know it, and I know it. And it won't be because of mankind's essential goodness.

Are You The One Who's Still Alive?

I think this kind of thing might be the reason people keep shooting them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A Boy Named Marion

I'm not overly concerned about rap warfare. Though it's impolite to say, I suspect that rappers killing one another off probably provides a net benefit to society.

But I was reading a story about rap producer Marion "Suge" Knight being shot over the weekend in Miami at an MTV party, and did find something that bothered me:
"It's disturbing that someone can let off six shots in a packed club and can escape without being arrested," said Elliott Wilson, editor in chief of the rap magazine XXL.
What I find disturbing is that somebody can fire off six shots from point blank range at a 320 lb. guy sitting on his fat can at a table and only hit him once--in the leg. I think that's the problem with this slacker MTV generation. They can't really commit to anything. You can't count on them to competently see a job through.

None of "Suge's" heavily armed bodyguards caught the assailant, nor did any of the hundereds of people at the party, many of whom were also (probably heavily armed) rappers. Nobody can even provide police with a description of the shooter, except that he was "a black guy in a pink shirt."

I can't think of any reason why I care one iota about this story, except for one thing: it's becoming obvious to me this guy had himself shot for publicity. Which tells you all you need to know about that particular culture.

On a side note, here's my favorite quote of the day, from the same story:
At the awards ceremony Sunday night, one rap star downplayed the shooting.

"I don't think that what happened was any different than at any other event where you have a lot of people," said David Banner. "It's tragic that it happened and that the media magnified this so much."
First of all, I don't follow the gangsta game, so it's news to me that the Incredible Hulk is now rapping. But you must admit, he's got a point. I mean, there were like hundreds of people at that party. I can't think of a time when I've been around hundreds of people when somebody hasn't emptied a clip into the crowd. When you get a few hundred people together, gunplay is almost inevitable. Happens all the time. Weddings. Bar mitzvahs. Church socials. You've seen it as much as I have.

And I have to agree with the Hulk about the media, too. What is this world coming to when someone walks into an MTV party in South Beach, strolls into the celebrity-laden VIP room, pumps a slug into a rap mogul superstar, and the media makes a big deal out of it? Can't they cover something people would be interested in?

The good news is, "Suge" is expected to fully recover. Because only one of the shots hit him. In the leg.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Not Walking On Sunshine

It seems that the worst has passed for my part of Broward County. We had very high winds and lots of downed trees nearby. Unfortunately, there have been four fatalities so far, one of which occurred a half mile from our home. An elderly man was avoiding a fallen tree in the road, and in veering away from it slammed into a still-standing one.

The electricity is out here and over most of South Florida. They say over 1 million customers are currently without power. It's starting to get really warm inside--and it's only 3am. After about two hours without air conditioning, I start to melt like the wicked witch of the west. I'd love to see them kick the power back on at about 8am, but I'm not optimistic.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Katrina And The Waves

It looks like we've got another one of these hurricanes coming through (though it seems like the four from last year only just left), and it's shaping up to be a direct hit on my area.

Fortunately, Katrina is only projected to be a category one hurricane at landfall, meaning sustained winds near the eye will probably be in the 70's, dropping to the 40's some miles out from the eye. The bigger issue for us will likely be rain. We're expecting possibly more than a foot of it in a 24 hour period, and even in wet South Florida, that kind of deluge can cause some problems.

So I could be out of commission a few days. In the meantime, here's some reading worth pursuing:

My friend Jack Brooks, who is a pastor, has some excellent, reasoned thoughts on the Robertson/Chavez issue.

America's premier Spurgeonophile, Phil Johnson, posts a substantial account of the early life and conversion of the prince of preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Kinda makes my throw-stuff-at-Rita-Cosby post seem a little shallow, I guess. (P.S. Phil, if your Blogspotting happens to bring you by here as a result of this link, please permit me the opportunity to gratuitously mention that the Cardinals currently lead the Cubs by 19 games.)

And Thomas Sowell points out that the world is not running out of oil, a point borne out by the fact that my highway commute is still just as crowded as ever. Sowell also explains why the government should keep it's big, fat nose out of the price of gas.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

It's Pat

Albert Mohler, who's credentials as a conservative Christian culture warrior are beyond question, weighs in on the Pat Robertson fiasco:
In [calling for Chavez' assassination] he gave the Venezuelan leader a propaganda gold mine, embarrassed the Bush administration, and left millions of viewers perplexed and troubled. More importantly, he brought shame to the cause of Christ. This is the kind of outrageous statement that makes evangelism all the more difficult. Missing from the entire context is the Christian understanding that violence can never be blessed as a good, but may only be employed under circumstances that would justify the limited use of lethal force in order to prevent even greater violence. Our witness to the Gospel is inevitably and deeply harmed when a recognized Christian leader casually recommends the assassination of a world leader.

Hugo Chavez is a dangerous and reckless factor on the world scene. His extreme nationalism, combined with Marxism, has led his country directly into conflict with the U.S. and much of the civilized world. He has befriended Cuban dictator Fidel Castro and given support to forces of global anarchy. Credible sources link him to support -- direct or indirect -- of groups involved in terrorism.

Nevertheless, Pat Robertson's comments lacked any indication that he even understood the gravity of his proposal. He has brought embarrassment upon us all.
When I first read the headline late Monday night (long before the media onslaught of Tuesday), it said "Televangelist calls for assassination of Chavez." I immediately knew it was Pat Robertson before I even read the story. I just knew. Really, the only two possibilities were Robertson and Jerry Falwell, but Jerry tends to shove his foot in his mouth domestically, whereas Pat generally has a much more international foot.

I believe that Christ is Lord of all, including politics. Because of that, I believe that Christian ministers do have a legitimate role in commenting on political matters. But it sure would be nice every once in a while for these guys to actually embarrass themselves for the sake of the gospel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

A Brotherly Open Letter

Dear Pat,

For the love of all that is holy, would you please shut your incessant pie-hole?

Thank you.

The Entire Christian World

Friday, August 19, 2005

Get The Widow On The Set

So here's what you do. This works best if you have one of those remote controls with a button that allows you to switch back and forth to the last channel you were watching.

You flip back and forth between Rita Cosby on MSNBC and Nancy Grace on CNN Headline News. At the end, whichever one induces you to throw more garbage at your own television set is the winner.

Last night, Cosby won by hair (okay, to be technically precise it was a hairball that the cat had coughed up) due to her comical attempts to simulate empathy after showing clips of family members of the BTK killer's victims.

It must be noted, however, that it's possible she only won because attitudinal bimbo Grace had some other attitudinal bimbo (someone named Jane Velez-Mitchell) filling in for her last night. The fill-in made Geraldo Rivera look dignified and restrained in comparison, thus making a very strong bid for my hurled trash. It could have easily gone the other way, especially if Grace had been there.

Meanwhile over on CNN, Larry King also had the night off. They actually had a potted plant filling in for him. It was about the same.


I finally, belatedly got around to reading Moneyball by Michael Lewis this week. Bottom line: easily one of the five greatest baseball books I've ever read--if you can even really call it a baseball book. It's really as much a book about business and economics as it is about baseball.

For the uninitiated, Moneyball is the story of how a few stats geeks (most notably represented by the front office of the low-budget Oakland Athletics) noticed that the baseball market was overvaluing certain statistics (like batting average, RBI's and stolen bases) and drastically undervaluing other (arguably more) important statistics (like on-base percentage and walks) and decided to exploit it. Okay, I know, it sounds boring, but trust me, it's not. It's anything but. Instead, it's a story of David vs. Goliath, of how a few rebellious upstarts went to battle against the entire ossified baseball establishment--and won.

As Lewis lays out, A's general manager Billy Beane and the other "moneyball" practicioners, inspired by statistical guru Bill James, set out to ask a simple question about every piece of received, conventional baseball wisdom: "Is it true?" In most cases, they found out it wasn't. It is not beneficial to waste one of your three outs merely moving a runner from first to second. The benefits of stealing a base do not outweigh the risks. It's not better to draft players out of high school than out of college. It's not more important to judge a prospect on how he looks than on his previous production.

Year after year, the Oakland Athletics lose big-ticket free agents to other richer teams (Jason Giambi, Jason Isringhausen, Mark Mulder, Ray Durham, etc. etc.) And yet, year after year, the Athletics are competitive with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball. For several of those years, they've won over a hundred games. How? By looking at the numbers that really affect how many runs a team scores--which are not always the statistics teams pay big money for.

The baseball establishment ("The Club," as Lewis calls it) has been praying for the failure of "moneyball" since it's inception. They resent the upstarts challenging their wisdom. Hardly a televised game goes by when Joe Morgan (the closest thing the Club has to a Social Chairman, as Lewis puts it) doesn't talk about how flawed the approach is--all while the teams that practice it continue to exceed their big-market, big-moneyed rivals.

Since the A's started having success with it, two other teams have seen the light: the Toronto Blue Jays and the Boston Red Sox. "Moneyball" isn't just for teams with low payrolls, since at its heart, it's not about winning cheaply, but rather winning efficiently. Last year, the Red Sox won their first World Series in nearly 80 years after hiring Bill James and Theo Epstein (who has modeled himself after the A's Beane).

A current look at the "Moneyball" teams shows the Red Sox leading their division by six games over the New York Yankees, a team they trail in payroll by over $80 million. And a mere 2 1/2 games behind the vaunted Yankees in the same division sit the Blue Jays, a team whose payroll lags behind the Yankees by about $160 million. Let me say that again: the Blue Jays and the Yankees are separated by 2 1/2 games and $160 million in payroll. Toronto is four games out of the AL wild card right now. Toronto's former general manager Pat Gillick, a Club guy who just retired last year as GM of the Seattle Mariners, has been vocally, viscerally critical of Billy Beane and "moneyball" in general. The Mariners team Gillick built is currently in last place in their division, 17 1/2 games out. And all this on an $86 million payroll, $40 million more than the Blue Jays and $30 million more than the Athletics.

And what about the Athletics, the team that started it all? Once again, they're contending for their division title. They've been battling back and forth for first place against the Los Angeles Angels. The A's have a $56 million payroll. The Angels' is $95 million.

No matter how successful these teams are, though, you can rest assured on one thing: Joe Morgan will keep telling you it doesn't work. And who are you gonna believe, Joe Morgan or your lying eyes?

Thursday, August 18, 2005

He Ought To Be Dead By Sundown

This guy is the reason that the death penalty is not only acceptable, but a moral neccessity. There's only one viable viewpoint here. If you're one of those whiny anti-dealth penalty mavens, you are wrong. It's really that simple. Sorry.

If you disagree, read the above story. Then take both hands and a funnel and see if you can find where you stuck your moral compass.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Science's Bouncers

National Review summarizes an amazing and under-reported story about Richard von Sternberg, a widely-respected biologist who holds PhDs in theoretical biology and molecular evolution, who was suddenly blacklisted by his colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution.

His transgression? Sternberg, as editor of the peer-reviewed technical journal The Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, allowed a peer-reviewed paper by Stephen Meyer, PhD (Cambridge) to be printed making the case for Intelligent Design theory.

As David Klinghoffer writes in the NR piece:
However strong you think the argument is for Intelligent Design — and I'm no scientist — most reasonable people would agree that an ID theoretician should, without fear of retaliation, be allowed to state his case for the consideration of fellow scientists. This was the view held by Sternberg, who isn't himself an advocate of ID. However, according to the OSC's [U.S. Office of Special Counsel] investigation, when the Meyer article was published, Sternberg's managers were outraged and a number of them sought a strategy that would make him pay.

Writes [James McVay, attorney for the OSC, which has been investigating the case and which sent a letter to Sternberg on August 5 confirming his suspicions]: "Within two weeks of receiving the Meyer article in the Proceedings, four managers at the SI and NMNH [National Museum of Natural History] expressed their desire to have your access to the SI denied." A typical internal e-mail on the subject fumed, "I hope we are not even considering extending his access to space." (All quotations from e-mails given here are taken from the OSC's letter to Sternberg.) Another expresses frustration that a good pretext for dismissing him had so far not been identified: "As he hasn't (yet) been discovered to have done anything wrong,... the sole reason to terminate his appt seems to be that the host unit has suddenly changed its mind. If that's OK w/NMNH, let me know and I'll send him a letter stating so." One manager huffed, "Well, if you ask me, a face-to-face meeting or at least a 'you are welcome to leave or resign' call with this individual is in order."
It's not enough to try to disprove Intelligent Design on the scientific merits. To even consider the question is to violate the faith orthodoxy established among the "empirical" scientists. A trial is held in absentia, and the heretic is excommunicated.

Of course, that's not quite the picture we get of our cool, rational, just-the-facts-ma'am heroes in labcoats on programs like "Nova." But ask yourself: why would people who claim to be pursuing the truth work so feverishly, not to disprove the theory, but rather to make sure certain questions can never even be asked?


How can we ever hope to have peace in the Middle East when we can't ever even seem to keep Sammy Hagar and Van Halen together?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Today, I Am A Man

I just got through level 11 (with a score of 1520) in the heroin-like geometry game before I finally had to quit to forestall a nervous breakdown.

Read it and weep, suckers!

Salty Wit

While it may come as a suprise to some who visit here on a regular basis, manners are actually a big deal to me. I have an abiding dislike of the impolite and ungracious.

That's why an asinine sentence I read this morning has been driving me aboslutely batty.

The Los Angeles Times has a piece on George W. Bush's summer vacation reading list. According to the Times, among the books the president took to Crawford with him are Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky (which just sounds riveting), Alexander II: The Last Great Tsar by Edvard Radzinsky, and The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History by John M. Barry.

So here's a little nugget contained in the newspaper story:
Kurlansky said he was surprised to hear that Bush had taken his book to the ranch: "My first reaction was, 'Oh, he reads books?' "

The author said he was a "virulent Bush opponent" who had given speeches denouncing the war in Iraq.
Oh what a rich, rapier-like wit. The esteemed author has managed to mine a vein previously undiscovered by comedians, satirists, and critics--that the president is stupid. What, no pungent wisecracks about Eisenhower's golfing? No devastating bon mots about FDR's cigarrette holder? Reconstitute the Algonquin Round Table, because Dorothy Parker lives.

I find it hard to believe that this author would be willing to insult one of the few people in Western Civilization who actually bought and is reading his stultifyingly boring 484-page treatise on salt. When told that the president was reading his book, it seems a more proper (and accurate) response would have been along the lines of "Oh, so he's the one."

I would love to see the president review the book during a prime-time press conference, declaring it "turgid, pedantic, and impenetrable. After reading this ponderous paper-waster, I've experienced more suffering than Cindy Sheehan will ever know. I, with the rest of the world, anxiously await the author's much-anticipated follow-up epic on the history of parmesan cheese."

If they need any help with that review, I'll be right here.

Friday, August 12, 2005

He's The Fat One, Right?

I've never been a big Roger Ebert fan. I always felt Siskel was better, and more important, funnier.

But Ebert, in his review of the new release "Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo," writes one of my all-time favorite lines in a movie review:
Speaking in my official capacity as a Pulitzer Prize winner, Mr. Schneider, your movie sucks.
(Hat tip: Jared at Thinklings)

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Who'da Thunk It?

Barbara Bel Geddes, who played "Miss Ellie" on the hit 80's prime time soap opera "Dallas," has died. Which brings up that perennial question: Good grief, Barbara Bel Geddes was still alive?

No, seriously, you can't tell me you had any idea Barbara Bel Geddes could still be alive. Personally, I assumed she had died maybe 15 years ago.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

We Only Like Our Activists

I somehow missed this astounding quote from Mario Cuomo over the weekend, appearing on "Meet the Press." Strangely enough, he was saying this from the position of supporting Roe v. Wade:
The law today, as we all know, is Roe against Wade. That was made by judges and it can be overturned by judges.
That's the first thing Mario Cuomo and I ever agreed on. So, now that we're clear it's nowhere in the Constitution....

(Hat tip: David Limbaugh)

Good Day Sunshine

President Bush signed a bill the other day extending daylight-savings time for another month, adding three more weeks to the beginning of it and one more week to the end.

To my astonishment, there are some people--lots of people--who are upset about this. I frankly just don't get it. I think daylight-savings time is perhaps the one good thing the government ever did, and furthermore, I don't think we should ever go off it--even in the winter time.

Who wants to leave work at 5pm when it's already completely dark? For me, the weekend we turn the clocks back so that it starts getting dark in the afternoon is about the most depressing weekend of the year.

"But John, what about the children, who will have to wait for the school bus in the morning in the dark?" Tough luck. They need a little adversity to toughen them up. Life isn't all Playstation and juice boxes, Jasper.

And you morning people who think this is going to cramp your style: hey, if you've got so damn much to be cheerful about at that hour of the morning, a little darkness ain't gonna kill you. Maybe it'll even bring you down a few notches and help you be less annoying to the rest of us.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Search Comes To An End

I was saddened to hear this morning of the death of Peter Jennings over the weekend. It did not come as a suprise, since he never again appeared in public following his announcement that he had lung cancer on "World News Tonight" last April.

I met Jennings in 1987 at a media symposium at St. Louis University. I was in high school at the time, and found him exactly as he appeared to be on camera: a touch aloof (probably due to shyness) but unflaggingly gracious and polite. For me, that style had always made Jennings the most watchable and authoritative of the three network anchors.

Unfortunately, my respect for him was largely undone with the ABC "Search for Jesus" special he helmed in 2000. The program was a disingenuous, wildly unbalanced, thinly disguised attack on the Christian faith in the guise of a documentary. I have no problem with anyone raising honest questions about Christianity; in fact, I invite it. But rather than presenting scholars from across the spectrum, Jennings relied mainly on the Jesus Seminar, a radically liberal group that true biblical scholars on every side of the fence deride as a bankrupt farce.

Here's the way the Associated Press review of the program put it at the time:
ABC's implicit plot line pits the touching faith in the Gospels among common folk in Bethlehem, Nazareth or Alexandria, La., against the experts, who supposedly know better. That's a hugely distorted picture.

But, as the old saying goes, a reporter is only as good as his sources. In Jennings' lopsided lineup, the key talking heads consist of five American liberals, a middle-roader in Israel and a lone traditionalist from England.

Jennings seems to have discovered none of the estimable moderate and conservative scholars in America. And even on the liberal side, the show doesn't visit the blueblood campuses where biblical history is being undermined, nor does it hear from some prime figures in the debate.

Though viewers aren't told this, four of the five Americans on-screen come from the "Jesus Seminar." As fundamentalists scowled and scholars smirked, this group organized to take votes on whether each passage in the Gospels is true or false. Given the group's methods, skeptical presuppositions and special ideologies, falsity was bound to win most of the ballots.
Keep in mind, that's not Christianity Today or World magazine talking--it's the Associated Press. Finally seeing Jennings' work in an area I knew something about, I realized I could no longer trust his reporting to be truthful.

Last year, Jennings produced another special on a biblical topic, this one called "The Search for Paul." In the leadup to the program, Jennings, through a publicist, actually requested to appear on a radio program I'm connected to. Part of my job was to prepare the host of the program for that interview. It was made clear to ABC that we had some serious beefs with Jennings' previous special and wanted to take those up with him. To our suprise, they agreed to that condition.

The host told Jennings about some elderly people he knew whose faith had been seriously damaged by "The Search for Jesus." To his credit, Jennings sounded genuinely horrified. He accepted the criticisms, acknowledged the legitimacy of some of them, and was (again) unfailingly gracious.

But he said something very disturbing in the interview. Something disturbing for a journalist to say. The host was making the point that Jennings' special hadn't told the truth. This was Jennings' response, verbatim:
I'm looking for as many opinions and ideas and reference in all this regard as I can. Your truth I fully, wholeheartedly accept. But it's not everybody's truth, and you know that.
It was such a cliched articulation of relativism that I thought it was actually possible that he had misspoken. Until, unfortunately, I read this in one of his obituaries today:
[Diane] Sawyer said Jennings was a stickler for details.

"You lived in terror because you knew you didn't know the pronunciation of a street in Beirut," said Sawyer, who said she also respected Jennings' sense of fairness.

He would say, she said, "There is no absolute truth in the world for every group of people."
That is absolutely tragic. And it is also wrong, as he now knows. I think he was a genuinely nice man, and it saddens me that he's gone. I can only hope that he came to understand in the four months between his diagnosis and his death that there are eternal things that are true for everyone.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

"...But They Were Not Of Us"

The liberal Slate fleshes out what I was saying last week: Bill Frist is a closet pro-choicer.

Writes William Saletan (himself no pro-lifer):
Frist, the Senate majority leader, calls himself pro-life. He has a 100 percent pro-life voting record, according to the National Right to Life Committee. But last week, he asked his colleagues to lift President Bush's restriction on federal funding of human embryonic stem-cell research—a restriction that Bush imposed on the grounds that such research required the destruction of embryos. Why remove Bush's constraints? Because they "slow our ability to bring potential new treatments for certain diseases," said Frist. What about the embryo? That's up to the family, the senator concluded: "Obviously, any decision about the destiny of an embryo must clearly and ultimately rest with the parents."

In other words, when it comes to aborting embryos, Frist is pro-choice.
As I pointed out last week, either a human life is inherently valuable or it isn't. There's no via media. Frist says that it is not. Which means he is not pro-life, as Slate recognizes, even if he is often aligned with pro-lifers.

Saletan points out that Frist's stem cell position is not a change nor a departure. It flows from his fundamental thinking on the matter. Since his 1994 Senate campaign, Frist has been quietly adamant in his pro-choice philosophy, with the exception of the partial birth abortion debate:
In all of Frist's years in the Senate, this is the only time he speaks of a "right to life" during a discussion of abortion legislation. But he doesn't attribute this right to all unborn children. He attributes it to those that are "mature." Maybe, in his view, a fetus that has matured to the point of a PBA has earned that right. Maybe he objects to Roe because he thinks the same is true of late second-trimester fetuses—or maybe he just thinks states should be allowed to ban most abortions, though he personally wouldn't. Either way, it's clear from his speeches on stem-cell research that he doesn't think embryos have matured enough. His policy would leave embryos to what he calls, in the abortion context, "human whim." And the government would pay for the use of their remains.

All of which leads to the question: At what point does Frist think the embryo acquires a right to life? In 1997, he voted to ban federal funding of research involving fetal tissue derived from abortions. Four years later, and again last week, he took the opposite position on early embryos. He voted for the federal PBA ban but opposes a federal ban on earlier abortions generally. At some point along the continuum of development, Frist stops thinking like a pro-choicer and starts thinking like a pro-lifer. When? And why?
I'd like to know the answer to that myself. Philosophically, it's what all pro-choicers do. All pro-choicers draw some arbitrary line somehwere at which they say life deserves protection. For some it's in the second trimester, while for others (like Peter Singer), it's more like in the second year. But all of this is pure subjectivity, with each participant imposing his own arbitrary, internal guideline over the process and none having any more claim to morality than the other (since all share the same philosophical assumption).

Even the pro-choice community recognizes that Frist thinks like one of them. The question is, do pro-lifers realize it?

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The All-Too-Red Zone

This is the partial text of an email I received a few months ago in reference to some radio work I do in South Florida:
For immediate release
Contact: Tom Spence
May 4, 2005

Vincent Interviews from Iraq
Author Reports Live from the Red Zone

(Dallas) STEVEN VINCENT, whose book, "IN THE RED ZONE: A Journey into the Soul of Iraq," provides a riveting account of life in post-Saddam Iraq, is available for interviews live from Iraq. Vincent delivers a ground-level perspective on the religious tensions, security issues, and political conflicts rifling the fledgling democracy. The author who brought us an unforgettable portrayal of the Iraqi people delivers vivid and frank observations of life in the red zone now.
Vincent was shot to death yesterday in Basra after being abducted.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Subjection To The Constitution

A few months ago, conservative Christians were criticized in the media because of the "Justice Sunday" simulcast in which many churches participated. The general consensus, even among many professing Christians, was that the church had no business pontificating on judicial matters. I personally know Christians who said the church shouldn't be involving itself in an issue that is so "blatantly political."

John Piper, however, makes a compelling argument as to why judicial activism is a biblical issue and thus one Christians have an obligation to be concerned about.

Preaching from Romans 13, where Christians are commanded to "be subject to the governing authorities," Piper says: America, submission to “governing authority” is first submission to a constitution. This has significant implications for the way the constitution is interpreted and applied—which is a weighty issue in American life at the present time. One implication is that a constitution (or a contract or a lease or a statute or a Bible) cannot have authority over us if we can make it mean whatever we want it to mean. In other words, if you don’t believe that there are objective, original intentions of the authors of the Constitution that define and control its meaning, then you will give to it your own meaning, and that is the opposite of submission to it. So one great implication of saying that God calls us to submit to the Constitution (including its due process for amendment) is that it implies that the Constitution has a fixed, objective meaning.

In the days to come, as appointments to the Supreme Court are put forward, we will be hearing much about how judges interpret the constitution. I am saying that implied in Romans 13 and in the Bible as a whole is the truth that documents can have authority no further than they have objective unchanging meaning. And the Constitution should have authority and therefore it should be interpreted according to the objective meaning given by the authors, along with all the proper applications of those meanings which the authors may not have foreseen.
Piper is absolutely correct. Because American Christians have a mandate to be in subjection to the Constitution, they are not free to play games with the meaning of the document--nor to endorse those who do. Judicial philosophy is a biblical issue, and a Christian cannot obey Romans 13 without grappling with it.