Monday, February 28, 2005


For those of you who buy the argument that Terri Schiavo ought to be left to die because you think you'd want the same in her situation, consider the story of Kate Adamson, who suffered a sever brain-stem stroke at the age of 33. Imagine being in her position as they remove your feeding tube, as weeks go by and you starve and dehydrate to death:
"I spent fifty days in ICU. During those fifty days, I was conscious, could feel everything. I could feel pain. But I could not move any part of my body. I was totally trapped in my body. It was terrifying and I was very frightened. I had come to a point in my life where I could do nothing for myself. At 33, I was wearing a diaper. I was fed by a tube surgically placed in my stomach. I could breathe only by using a tube surgically placed in my throat. I couldn't speak. I couldn't drink. I could not move from the rigid, death-like position my body had assumed."

Asked at the beginning to communicate by blinking, Kate found she couldn't even control her own blinking.

With breathing tubes inserted into her throat following a tracheotomy, she began producing an overabundance of fluids. A vacuum device was inserted into the "trach" to keep her lungs from filling up. The vacuum had to be used up to four times an hour. With each procedure, she went into convulsions. "The pain," she says, "was almost unendurable." The treatments continued for two-months.
She now walks. She talks. She can drive. She has testified before Congress.

Kate Adamson received extensive rehabilitation--rehabilitation her family often had to fight for because the medical professionals had pronounced her "hopeless."

Terri Schiavo has had no rehabilitative treatment since 1991. Her husband (the one with the two children now by another woman) refuses to allow it.

The Latest On Terri Schiavo

As you probably know, Federal Judge George Greer decided Friday that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube can be removed on Friday, March 18. Unless another judge gets involved, or something unforseen happens, the process of starving an innocent woman to death will begin a little less than three weeks from now.

Some gleanings from the web involving her case:
  • A columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, who's been in favor of removing Terri's feeding tube, is now having serious second thoughts after considering the largely suppressed evidence. (Hat tip: Geoff)
  • In light of Terri's case (and the success of "Million Dollar Baby" at last night's Academy Awards), it's well worth revisiting a crucial Bill Federer column from late 2003, where he traces the common language of euthenasia ("quality of life," "act of mercy") to its origination in the Weimar Republic and the subsequent Third Reich. It's helpful to remember that the column was written more than a year before anyone had heard of "Million Dollar Baby."
    The transformation followed thus: the concept that the elderly and terminally ill should have the right to die was promoted in books, newspapers, literature and even entertainment films, the most popular of which were entitled Ich klage an (I accuse) and Mentally Ill. One euthanasia movie, based on a novel by a National Socialist doctor, actually won a prize at the world-famous Venice Film Festival! Extreme hardship cases were cited which increasingly convinced the public to morally approve of euthanasia. The medical profession gradually grew accustomed to administering death to patients who, for whatever reasons, felt their low "quality of life" rendered their lives not worth living, or as it was put, liebensunwerten Lebens, (life unworthy of life).
    Of course, after these cases came those who were deemed "too expensive to care for," the elderly, the disabled, the indigent, and finally, the "disloyal" and unapproved.
  • And Scott Ott at Scrappleface (hat tip again to Geoff) has a cutting satire: Michael Schiavo to Auction Terri on eBay. Writes Ott:
    "It's better than buying a pet," said Mr. Schiavo. "Legally, you don't even have to feed her. If you didn't feed your dog, the authorities would take him away from you."

Friday, February 25, 2005

From The Onion

A wonderful and fitting tribute headline to the late Hunter S. Thompson from this week's Onion (though it only makes sense if your familiar with Dr. Duke's work):
Contemporaries Remember Hunter S. Thompson As Ravenous, Mutant 40-Eyed Lizard-Demon

Carnage In The Streets: One Year Later

Speaking of "The Passion of the Christ," it has been exactly one year, as of today, that the film was released.

Honesty demands that we update the death and violence toll after a full year of Jews being attacked right where they stand by Christians whipped into an anti-Semitic lather by the film, first after the theatrical release, and then after the film's wide distribution on home video.


One year after professional umbrage-taker Abe Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League begged Mel Gibson to "implore his viewers not to let the film turn some toward a passion of hate,"

after the ADL held a hysterical meeting in Palm Beach to assess the impending danger posed by the film,

after Maureen Dowd claimed that viewing the movie made her "want to kick in some Jewish and Roman teeth,"

after Jeff Jacoby said "it is not unreasonable to worry about the effect of a movie like 'The Passion' at a time of surging anti-Semitism,"

after every cable talk show endlessly debated the dangers the film would pose when exposed to the vast, uneducated, fundamentalist American populace,

after Rabbi Schmuley Boteach (previously best known as Michael Jackson's pal) appeared on every conceivable broadcast to turn beet-red with rage about the impending Holocaust II the film would bring about,

one year after all of that, the official total of violent actions perpetrated by frothing Christians worked up into a frenzy against Jews while watching "The Passion"

Nada. Zip. Not one. Never happened. Don't ever let 'em forget it, either.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Hey, I Remember You

I'm glad Melissa Etheridge is feeling better, but I still can't get over how creepy she was in The Passion of the Christ.

Breaking News

I just participated in an interview with David Gibbs III, the lawyer for Terri Schiavo's parents, on the radio here a few minutes ago.

He said that the Florida Division of Children and Families (DCF) has filed a sealed "petition for intervention" today with Judge Greer, presumably because there are credible allegations that Terri has been abused.

It's not known yet how this will affect the current stay, which is scheduled to expire tommorrow, but Gibbs and Terri's family see it as a very positive, encouraging development. It is beyond question that the public response that Governor Bush has been receiving played a part in this most recent move.

Gibbs said that it is essential that further investigation take place because there are so many suspicious circumstances surrounding Terri's original injury and subsequent treatment. He also pointed out that it was odd, to say the least, that Michael Schiavo sued Terri's doctors for malpractice, promising to stay with her for the rest of her life, and only after winning the case (and the monetary award, which was to be for her rehabilitation) did he suddenly "remember" that Terri once said she'd never want to be kept alive in such a condition.

I asked Gibbs how Terri's parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, were doing in all this, and he said it's been very difficult, as anyone can understand. The rulings change daily, which is agonizing for them. He said they had some health concerns for Mary Schindler earlier this week, and the strain on them is quite evident. But they love their daughter, and are determined to see this through. Gibbs himself said he looks forward to a day when "Terri is at home with her family eating dinner with them."

He added that they have instructed him to press this case as far as it can go, exhausting every possible appeal.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Crucial Questions About Michael Schiavo

Bonnie Rogoff at American Daily says that there are major questions about Terri Schiavo's original injury and Michael Schiavo's suspicious role in it. Seeing as though it is Terri's husband who's fighting so hard to have her killed, these questions warrant some examination.

When Terri Schiavo was originally hospitalized in 1990, she had numerous serious bone injuries which were later discovered in a bone scan. These were attributed to her supposed collapse from heart failure. Writes Rogoff:
On October 24, 2003, renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden was interviewed by Greta van Susteren on Fox News. He disclosed that with low potassium and no elevated enzymes, it would be extremely rare for a young woman to collapse as Terri did from a heart attack. When asked what the bone injuries suggest to him, Dr. Baden replied, “Some kind of trauma. The trauma can be from a fall, or the trauma can be from some kind of beating that she obtained from somebody somewhere. It’s something that should have been investigated in 1991 when these findings were found.”

Other medical testimonies are in agreement. One medical expert testified that a diagnosis of a heart attack was never made. Another testified that Terri’s rigid neck indicates she may have been the victim of strangulation. Psychiatrist and expert witness Carole E. Lieberman, M.D., M.P.H. offered preliminary thoughts and provided a chilling profile of Michael Schiavo as an abusive husband.

Prior to Terri’s collapse, there were serious financial problems in her marriage and her husband Michael tried to control her behavior. He was fired from six jobs in two years, some of which he held only two weeks. They often lived on her income, which Michael often spent on himself. He monitored her odometer and isolated her from her family and friends. On the day of her collapse, Michael and Terri had a bad fight after he accused her of spending too much money at the hairdresser.

Dr. Lieberman concludes: “He (Michael) should most definitely be investigated as the perpetrator of the ‘incident’ that caused Terri’s collapse and her current condition.”
If you've been following this case, this is a must-read column. Rogoff lays out the details of Terri's original injuries and how they are inconsistent with Michael Schiavo's account of what happened.

Incidentally, Michael Schiavo has determined that once he is successful in having Terri killed, her remains are to be cremated immediately.

Gleanings From The Blogosphere

Discoshaman has the most outstanding headline announcing the recent suicide of Hunter S. Thompson:
Hunter S. Thompson caps career/self

Brian at Terrible Swift Word attended remedial traffic school Monday night, where he obseved the dynamics of the group setting. For example:
Lesson A: Seating

Up front are the "Brown-Nosers." They answer lots of questions and ask even more questions. During breaks ... well, what am I saying? There are no breaks for this crew. They gather at the soda machines still deep in the current discussion.

Jon Barlow has alerted me to the fact that Ozzie Smith's son is a contestant on "American Idol." I haven't seen him (since I've never watched "American Idol"), but I don't think he should win. His father is already in the Baseball Hall of Fame. It's some other family's turn.

And Jared at Thinklings has been forced to watch Regis and Kelly Lee daily for an entire month, and has some observations on Kelly's veracity:
Later, Kelly Ripa tells a larger, puffier – older – Valerie Bertinelli that she looks “just like” she did in the old “One Day at a Time” clip they showed, in which Bertinelli looks tiny and shiny and aglow with the cherubic beauty of her youth. Kelly Ripa you are a bald-faced liar. Or is it bold-faced liar? I always forget. Either way, Ripa told the biggest lie to hit TV since “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.” And everybody knew it, including Bertinelli, who looked at her like, “How in the world did I lose the co-hosting gig to this gnome?”
I think maybe this is the difference: something can either be a "bald lie" or a "bold-faced lie". Do I have that right? I get confused on that too. I know there is an appropriate place for "bald" there somewhere, but I have trouble remembering where.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Judicial Execution

Unless something changes, Michael Schiavo will remove his wife Terri's feeding tube tommorrow, after which she will begin to die a slow, agonizing death by starvation which could take several weeks.

Despite the fact that she is not in a persistent vegetative state, despite the fact that her original injury occured under very suspicious circumstances, despite the fact that she communicates with her family, despite the fact that her parents are willing to assume responsibility for her care and rehabilitation, despite the fact that some doctors believe that if she were to receive rehabilitative treatment (which her husband has denied her) she would have a chance for some significant recovery, despite the fact that she has exhibited horror when being told of her impending death, and despite the fact that the people of the state of Florida overwhelmingly passed a law in late 2003 protecting Terri's life, an unelected judge has again determined (along with her husband, who lives with another woman and has two children by that woman) that Terri must be executed.

Operation Rescue is leading the effort to save Terri's life right now, and asks that people contact Gov. Jeb Bush at 850-488-4441 or via email at They're also asking thousands to turn out in person at Woodside Hospice, 6774 102nd Ave. North in Pinellas Park, Florida, where Terri Schiavo lives. In the face of this sort of calculated injustice, it would seem that not many defensive measures could seem too extreme.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Bad News From The Mojo Wire

We all knew that Hunter S. Thompson was crazy and heavily armed, but I guess I had always hoped that some of it was just an act. Evidently not.

I didn't agree with his viewpoint, either politically or morally, but when Dr. Thompson was at his peak, man was he a kick to read., for whom he worked in his last years, has Thompson's final column from last week. It's about the new sport he invented, Shotgun Golf, where skeet shooters compete against golfers, trying to blow their Titleists out of the air with double-aught buckshot. Oh yeah, and he also got Bill Murray involved in it somehow.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

What Constitutes Nonsense?

Last night, the PBS aired a Nova episode called "Saving The National Treasures." It was about efforts to preserve and protect the actual, physical documents of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

I only caught the last two minutes of the program, but I tuned in just in time to catch this closing nugget (which I transcribed verbatim), voiced by narrator Liev Schreiber:
Over the next 200 years, people will view the documents. The documents in their new encasements of glass, aluminum, and titanium, will look out on a very different world.

One thing is certain. Though the words remain the same, their meaning will continue to change, evolving, adapting to new times and circumstances, to a world that we, and their authors, can scarcely imagine.
Is it actually possible that this didn't sound ridiculous to the writer who penned it?

Here's the imaginary conversation I'm enjoying having with the writer of that bit:

JOHN: You did what with your dog? That's disgusting!

WRITER: What are you talking about?

JOHN: That thing at the end of your show, where you admitted that disgusting detail about you and your dog.

WRITER: Are you out of your mind? I said nothing like that! I was writing about the Constitution!

JOHN: Well then the meaning of the words must have changed between when you wrote them and when I heard them, because I heard you making admissions about you and your dog. Whatever you intended to say is irrelevant to me. Tell Fido I said hello....if there's any time for talking.

WRITER: (Sputtering)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Philosophical Question

Is it something of a mixed blessing to have been considered a "bowling icon"?

Monday, February 14, 2005

Canseco Be Right?

The steroid talk in baseball is about to reach critical mass, with Jose Canseco's recent charges being perhaps the final straw.

I didn't see Canseco's "60 Minutes" interview this weekend, but there is ample reason to doubt his credibility. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that he's making every bit of his story up, either. Logic says that the truth lies in the middle somewhere, which still leaves us with a major league problem for Major League Baseball.

Here's a survey of some of the most pertinent stuff being written out there:

Thomas Boswell, perhaps the most respected baseball writer in the country (and one never afraid to take on superstars when necessary), says Canseco simply cannot be believed:
According to the Daily News account, Canseco will claim that he personally injected Mark McGwire with steroids. In the buttocks. In a bathroom stall. In Oakland. In the clubhouse. Thanks, Jose. It's the details that make it art.
Boswell adds:
If any other famous player of recent times were about to publish a tell-all book, the game might be shaking. But Canseco is a special case. The former slugger lied for years about his own steroid use, so why would we suddenly believe he's telling the truth when he smears Mark McGwire, Ivan Rodriguez, Rafael Palmeiro and Juan Gonzalez with accusations of being juiced?
Bernie Miklasz of my hometown Post-Dispatch, who fawned over McGwire during his Cardinals years, isn't so sanguine, wondering if the longrunning Conspiracy of Ingorance in baseball is now rearing it's head through Cardinal manager Tony LaRussa's vehement defense of McGwire:
There's only one problem with the La Russa defense team's aggressive counterattack on McGwire's behalf: La Russa and other Oakland-era figures discredited themselves by sticking up for Canseco when he initially faced steroid allegations [in 1988].

...If it comes down to choosing between La Russa and Canseco, I certainly believe La Russa. But I can't blame others who notice the discrepancies and wonder: If the Oakland boys covered for Canseco when it was in their best interests to do so, then how can we be entirely sure that they're not doing the same for McGwire?
The important question is: What does all of this mean for Major League Baseball, particularly for the records set by such suspects as Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, and Sammy Sosa?

Baseball finds itself in a very difficult position. Obviously the integrity of the game is paramount. But it's also impossible to forget that McGwire and Sosa saved baseball as a spectator sport in the wake of it's disasterous strike and cancelled World Series in the '90's.

In my opinion, it comes down to this. If it can be proved, using the normal standards of legal proof, that McGwire and Sosa and Bonds were taking steroids during the bulk (no pun intended) of their accomplishments, baseball should go back and void their records, however painful that will be.

On the other hand, simply looking at before/after pictures does not constitute proof of steroid use. McGwire openly took androstenedione and Sosa openly took creatine during the late 90's, both of which are controversial performance enhancers, and both of which would explain huge size gains. Both players were the subject of no small amount of controversy for taking these supplements. But at the time, both substances were perfectly legal under the rules of Major League Baseball.

No, Babe Ruth didn't have that advantage. He didn't have personal trainers and highly scientific weight-training either. But the Babe also never had to hit at night, nor did he have to bat against a lot of guys throwing 98 MPH split-fingered fastballs either. In other words, some of this stuff tends to even out.

But these steroid allegations are bad, and if they are proved, the consequence will be that much of recent baseball history will have to be erased. They raise the question of cheating, which is much more significant than simple technological differences between eras. However, the allegations will have to be proved. And that will take more people more credible than Jose Canseco to do it.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Whinnying His True Love

I care about the doings of Britain's royal family about as much as Mary-Kate Olsen cares about porterhouse steaks.

But I greatly enjoyed this old Florence King "The Misanthrope's Corner" column, which I discovered through Amy Ridenour's blog.

Writing during Princess Diana's messy divorce proceedings a year or two before her death, King explains why right-thinking people everywhere should actually be pleased with Prince Charles for chucking Di in favor of (his now bride-to-be) Camilla Parker-Bowles:
Currently, I side with Prince Charles and think he deserves a feminist award. Most men ditch their dear old Dutch for a trophy wife but he ditched the trophy wife for his dear old Dutch. No one gives him credit for preferring time-ravaged Lady Camilla Parker-Bowles to firm-fleshed Di, or realizes her ladyship's value to the state. Plebeianized England needs Queen Camilla: any woman can ride a horse but it takes a true aristocrat to look like one.

Charles is regarded as an odd duck because his hobbies of architecture and the cello fall outside the Pale du jour. Diana, on the other hand, is considered normal because her hobbies -- throwing up, hurling herself into glass cabinets, hating her husband -- conform to acceptable feminist standards of assertiveness and self-expression.
King adds that Diana really wasn't British at all:
Pay no attention to what Burke's Peerage says about Princess Diana's lineage. Any woman who goes on television and discusses her affairs, betrayals, suicide attempts, and vomiting habits, and then says "I'm a very strong person," is an American.

The Death Of A Writer Of A Death Of A Salesman

Okay, well I can scratch another one off my "I-can't-believe-he's-still-alive" list.

At least I can't say I didn't know he was still alive.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Time Well Spent

Now that I've found this site, the rest of my day (and possibly my week) will be pretty much shot.

Missed It By That Much

Last week, as you may know, TIME magazine printed its list of the 25 most influential evangelicals.

Like all such lists, there were some obvious choices, some not-so-obvious choices, some good choices, and more than a few plainly bizarre choices.

Interestingly, one name that almost made the list but didn't was that of John Piper. According to Piper's friend Sam Storms, in an article to be published shortly at Storms' website, TIME contacted him a few weeks ago:
The reason they contacted me was to ask questions about John Piper, whom they seriously considered listing but eventually chose not to. They had gotten in touch with Christianity Today and spoke with one of their editors who was a student of mine in the graduate program at Wheaton College. He knew of my friendship with John and thus directed them to me.

...The reporter spoke with me for about twenty minutes concerning John Piper. I told her that I couldn't think of another person in America whose impact was as widespread, substantive, life-changing, and Christ-exalting as John's. I guess that didn't count for much. I spoke of his many books, his expository preaching (in which he refuses to "dumb down" or cater to so-called "felt needs"), the God-centeredness of his theology, his passion for world missions, and the sin-killing message of Christian Hedonism. When I said he was, like his mentor Jonathan Edwards, a "God-intoxicated man," she immediately asked me why Edwards was having such a profound impact on the church today.
It's unfortunate that Piper didn't make the list while goofballs like T.D. Jakes and Joyce Meyer did. But it's at least encouraging to know that they picked up the scent of Piper's trail (and by extention that of Jonathan Edwards) at some point.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

I Can't Take Another Year Of This

The commenter post of the day comes to us from embittered Philadelphia Eagles fan Geoff, who writes:
I think the national media just announced that Tom Brady will be healing sick children in the offseason.

Monday, February 07, 2005

The Lamest Dynasty In Sports

Somebody had to say it; Robert Weintraub in Slate finally did.

Never has a better team been less interesting to watch than the New England Patriots. With the possible exception of the career of Keeanu Reeves, never has overwhelming success been more inexplicable.

My New Hero

Okay, forget that other guy. This kid is my newest new hero.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Million Dollar Baby

I finally got a chance to see Clint Eastwood's Million Dollar Baby last night, and it was outstanding.

I profoundly disagree with the hopeless outlook of the movie (and the solution presented, which if you've heard anything about it, you already know about), but it's superbly done from start to finish. Eastwood, Morgan Freeman, and Hilary Swank are all tremendous, and Eastwood has grown into a director who ranks with the best. In fact, it's hard to think of anyone in Hollywood history who's done better work in the "twilight" of his career than Eastwood has since Unforgiven in the early 90's--a film that came out at least a full decade after the tail end of Eastwood's reign as one of Hollywood's highest-grossing stars.

Eastwood has a directorial style that elicits Oscar-worthy performances from his stars without resorting to the standard artsy-director "look at me" tricks (i.e. special effects, weird camera angles, jump-cuts, etc.). He simply tells a smooth story, drawing you in without dropping constant reminders that This Is A Movie.

You've already probably heard or read lots about this film so I won't go back over that ground. I'll just offer two observations:

1). The publicity surrounding the film ruined much of its impact. I intentionally avoided reading reviews, because I didn't want to see spoilers, but almost every headline I've seen about it refers to the word "euthanasia." Because of that, I pretty much figured out what was coming, and had a sense of foreboding throughout the first 2/3 of the film. I guess the only solution is to see movies the first day they come out.

2). For all his talent, one thing Eastwood has never been able to do is resist caracaturing bad guys. In just about every one of his movies (the Dirty Harry series, which I love, particularly comes to mind), the bad guys are nothing short of ridiculous. They're cartoon characters. Malkovich in In the Line of Fire. The guy with the acne in Dirty Harry. That snaggle-toothed gal in Sudden Impact. Ridiculous. The same holds true for the "bad guys" (i.e. the redneck family of Swank's character) in Baby.

But that's quibbling. The fact is, a guy who, for most of his career, was known as a one-note shoot-'em-up star is now one of the finest director/actors in Hollywood.

Age Old Question, Part XI

Legendary German heavyweight champion Max Schmeling has died at 99. Which raises the age-old question: Max Schmeling was still alive?

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Social Insecurity

Here's an idea. Instead of whining about how unfair Social Security reform is for "our grandchildren," why don't we just go ahead and teach them (since most of them don't actually exist yet) not to rely on Mother Government for their retirement?

I know Social Security is a volatile political issue, but surely it is somewhat less volatile among those who haven't even been born yet. They're not even an entrenched lobby yet (possibly because Democrats have successfully fought to abort so many of them). Perhaps we could persuade the yet-to-exist (though I grant that public schools haven't had much success teaching children much of anything) that if they want to retire someday (which is actually a relatively new concept developed mostly by fat and lazy modern Americans), they'll need to do the appropriate planning themselves? I know my idea is at least somewhat viable, seeing as though we managed to survive without the Social Security system from the very Birth of Humanity right through the 1930's.

Of course, President Bush's reform plan is relatively gutless, since he does headstands to avoid calling on today's retirees (who on average receive three times in inflation-adjusted dollars what they ever put into the Social Security system) to forego even a cent of their youth-funded largesse. Any real reform would need to begin there. But at least Bush recognizes that the system is a loser that cannot continue indefinitely on its present path.

Last night, Senate Dem leader Harry Reid bellowed that "it's wrong to replace the guaranteed benefit that Americans have earned with a guaranteed benefit cut of up to 40 percent." Of course, Americans have "earned" no such thing. One could wish that Bush's plan have enough guts to do what Reid claims it wants to. Simple logic tells you that if everyone kicks $50,000 into a pile and later takes $150,000 out of that pile, the pile is going to have to get a whole lot of money from somewhere else. That somewhere else is the "children" and "workers" politicians claim to be protecting.

If Grandma and Grandpa actually want to receive back precisely what they've earned, I'd take that deal in a heartbeat and simultaneously solve the entire problem. But this isn't about what they've earned; this is about what they want. It's about what they demand you do for them.

The best thing to do would be to progressively eliminate the Social Security system entirely. Sure, it would stink for those being born right now to have to pay into a system they would never see a dime from, but let's face it: they're probably going to end up doing that anyway. We might as well get 'em used to the notion. Hey, being born into Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" sucked too, and I didn't have any say-so in that. Let our grandchildren grow up with the idea that they're paying into Social Security in order to make it go away. They'll probably be grateful. In reality, every one of us is forcibly paying for all kinds of government "benefits" that will never benefit us anyway. Wouldn't it be great to know that our payments would eventually put an end to the nonsense we're paying for to begin with? If I knew that my tax check was actually helping to kill FDR New Dealism, I'd be able to get excited about sending it. Taking a little medicine now will save our grandchildren lot of medicine later.

So why don't we get wild and actually consider raising a generation of kids that won't be looking to everyone else to support them?

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

It's Groundhog Day

As Bill Murray said in the movie Groundhog Day, "This is one time where television really fails to capture the true excitement of a large squirrel predicting the weather."

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Evangelical Ear-Tickler

The Internet Monk, Michael Spencer, has written a must-read piece about the mulleted pied piper of modern evangelicalism, Joel Osteen.

If you're not familiar with Osteen (though it's increasingly difficult to hide from him), he's the pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, the largest church of any kind in America. Lakewood is now getting ready to move into the Compaq Center arena--where the Houston Rockets used to play--and draws 30,000 people a week to their services.

Now, why shouldn't we be excited about 30,000 people (plus millions more via Osteen's weekly television show) being drawn to Christ through Osteen's message? Because there's no Christ in his messages. The syruppy televangelist has built an overnight empire (his television program went from being non-existent to the number one "ministry" program on television in the space of two or three years) on a gospel-less message of self-help, power of positive thinking, and name-it-and-claim-it prosperity blather.

By every measure available, he's the most popular preacher in America. How has he gotten so popular so quickly? By preaching a message that's pleasing to modern ears.

The message of the Bible is an uncomfortable one: that mankind has rebelled against God and that this rebellion has ruined him in every way and brought him under God's judgement. God, being absolutely righteous and just cannot tolerate sin, and must punish it. But, by his mercy, love, and grace, He sent His Son to deliver his people from judgement, Himself bearing the punishment they deserve for sin, and living the perfectly righteous life of obedience that they failed to live--all of which we can receive merely by faith in Christ.

Osteen's message, on the other hand, avoids all this messiness by simply removing sin from the equation entirely. Where the Bible is about sin and the remedy for it, Osteen says:
I just don't believe in condemning people and being judgmental. Yes, there's a way of condemning people and knocking them down and getting them to feel bad. That maybe can turn some people around, but I believe in just speaking the truth and letting them know they have good things in store.
And in a recent interview, Osteen offers this diagnosis for what ails man:
Q. What's the most important thing to do to overcome guilt and shame?

A. We’ve got to forgive ourselves for mistakes we’ve made. A lot of people tell me, "I don’t feel like God wants to bless me."

If we don’t forgive ourselves for mistakes we’ve made–and everybody’s made their choices, some worse than others--we’ll never experience the good life God has in store.
According to Osteen, our greatest need is self-forgiveness. And when we've achieved that, God's favor will rest on us. To him, the signs of God's favor are good relationships, getting the stuff you want, and happiness. He says "I just want people to believe they can have more and believe that you can be happier today. I want them to believe that they can have a better marriage; believe that they can get promoted on the job and things like that."

In contrast, the Bible says:
  • For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him (Ephesians 1:29)
  • In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.(1 Peter 1:6-7)
  • But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.(1 Peter 2:20-21)
  • The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.(Acts 5:41)
And Jesus Himself makes this disturbing statement in Luke, which crumples up Osteen's worthless, Christless gospel and pretty much throws it out the window:
Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.
Osteen says God's favor means good relationships, good health, and happiness. The Bible says God's favor often means broken relationships, suffering, anguish, and death.

No wonder Osteen is filling up the barn in Houston. As the Apostle Paul once wrote to his protégé Timothy:
Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.
The number one preacher in America is scratching 'em where they itch, and a nation with higher self-esteem than any in history is lining up in droves for more of it.