Friday, March 28, 2008

Not The Problem You Think

Rusell Moore at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary has an excellent post about the problems with Obama's pastor, Jeremiah Wright. Rather than Wright's inane political statements (which have garnered the lion's share of the attention), Moore focuses on the bigger problem: Wright's liberation theology.

As Moore describes,
Liberation theology is seeker sensitive. The first waves of this movement, in Latin America, were designed to make Christianity appealing to the people by addressing their felt needs, the desire for armed revolution and Marxist economics. Liberation theology only works if one can connect with real or perceived oppression and then make the Scripture illustrative of how to navigate out of that situation. The Kingdom of God is a means to a social, economic, or political end.
It's a real problem, and it's overtaking more churches than just Obama's.
Just take a look at the best-selling authors in evangelical Christian bookstores. Listen for a minute or two at the parade of preachers on Christian television and radio. What are they promising? Your best life now. What are they preaching about? How to be authentic. How to make good career choices. How Hillary Clinton fits in Bible prophecy.

How many times have we all heard from pulpits the Bible used in exactly the way that Jeremiah Wright uses it, except perhaps in reverse? Jeremiah Wright uses the Scripture as a background to get to what he thinks is the real issue, psychological or economic or political liberation from American oppression. Others use the Scripture as a background to get to what they think is the real issue, psychological or economic or political liberation through the American Dream. Either way, Jesus is a footnote to get to what the preacher deems really important, be it national health care or support for Israel. Either way, apart from the Gospel, the end result is hell for the hearer, regardless of whether God damns or blesses America.
Jeremiah Wright's liberation theology strikes us because it sounds so offensive to our American ears. But the idolotry from many evangelical pulpits ought to sound just as offensive to our Christian ears.

(HT: Justin Taylor)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Hitting The Links

  • Here's an affecting, engrossing story about a son's autism in Salon. Though I don't really resonate with the semi-theological angle to the story (and it's written from a decidedly secular perspective), I found it unusually well-written and touching. Strangely, Mark Dever, of all people, even makes a surprise appearance. (Warning: the story does contain one strong vulgarity.)
  • If you want to have some fun, read a few articles by the Jewish agnostic mathematician David Berlinski. He's one of the critics of Darwinian theory featured in the Ben Stein movie "Expelled," and he's just delightful to read. In this interview with himself, Berlinski discusses Richard Dawkins' statements of wonder at the materialistic universe:
    Why should Dawkins, of all people, find the universe wonderful if he also believes it is largely a self-sustaining material object, something bigger than a head of cabbage but not appreciably different in kind? The whole place supposedly has no meaning, no point, no purpose, and no reason for its existence beyond itself. Sounds horrible to me. Wonder is the last reaction I’d expect. It’s like being thrilled by Newark, New Jersey. A universe that is nothing more than a collection of atoms whizzing around in the void is a material slum.
  • This is weeks old by now (hey, cut me a break--I was on hiatus) and many of you have already seen it, but if you haven't, I highly recommend the recent interview with N.T. Wright in TIME magazine on Heaven. Wright explains his view (with which I agree) that the typical Christian view of the afterlife is a "distortion and serious diminution of Christian hope."
  • Yikes, who's that guy?
  • Don't miss the growing comments section from my Jeremiah Wright post, where our resident atheist Sam once again has his lunch eaten by a swarm of people who recognize the folly of him declaring certain actions "right" and "wrong" under his own naturalistic, evolutionary presuppositions. When all you have are atoms bouncing together, there's no "ought"--only "is." But Sam and many of his fellow atheists can't seem to resist pronouncing grand "oughts" anyway. The discussion is instructive to read, to say the least.

Left or Lefter

The New York Times has jumped in to remind deludedly optimistic conservatives about John McCain's party-hopping flirtations in recent years:
What Mr. McCain almost never mentions are two extraordinary moments in his political past that are at odds with the candidate of the present: His discussions in 2001 with Democrats about leaving the Republican Party, and his conversations in 2004 with Senator John Kerry about becoming Mr. Kerry’s running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.

There are wildly divergent versions of both episodes, depending on whether Democrats or Mr. McCain and his advisers are telling the story. The Democrats, including Mr. Kerry, say that not only did Mr. McCain express interest but that it was his camp that initially reached out to them. Mr. McCain and his aides counter that in both cases the Democrats were the suitors and Mr. McCain the unwilling bride.
Yeah, yeah, it's the Times, but the story is fully sourced and on-the-record. At the very least, it's a disturbing portrait of a guy who seems to elevate personal grudges above principle. Hey, I think I saw that presidency...back when it was called "Richard Nixon." How'd that go, anyway?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

And He Always Had Some Mighty Fine Wine

Though he's obviously a tremendous kook, I've found myself a bit uneasy about much of the reaction to the Jeremiah Wright controversy that's been reverberating for several news cycles now. Doug Wilson is putting a finger on the problem in a couple of very insightful posts.

Writes Wilson:
...the most damaging clip was the one in which Jeremiah Wright was railing against the United States, saying, "God damn America for . . . God damn America for . . ." followed by a litany of of die-hard leftist complaints. But what is the real problem here? I recall Billy Graham's wife once saying, "If God doesn't judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah." The real reason for the indignation directed at Wright was because he simply said God damn America, not for the screwed-up reasons he had for saying it. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson got a similar reaction when they said something similar after 911. Suppose Wright had said, "God damn America for the abortion carnage. God damn America for sodomite marriages." Now what? Wright is being condemned, not for having the list of sins wrong (which he did), but for being un-American with a camera running.
In another post he writes:
During the Clinton years, it was de rigeur for conservatives to assume that the government was actively involved in cold-blooded murder -- Vince Foster, Ron Brown, not to mention a large percentage of the people connected to Bill's Arkansas drug-running ring. But if someone on the left makes a charge like this, the central problem for the Fox indignants is not the craziness of the charge itself -- pretend the Rev. Wright had said that the CIA had embedded microwave transmissions in iPods that targetted blacks specifically. That kind of thing is what seems to me to be the real problem -- not charges per se, but nutjob charges. But the reaction to this is "how dare he believe our duly-elected government is capable of this?" But our duly-elected government has the blood of forty million infants on its hands, and counting. Why are we talking about "capability"?
I think Wilson's got it exactly right. The problem with Wright shouldn't be that he thinks something is wrong with America. It's that he's so bass ackwards on what is wrong with America.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Last week at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, I (along with hundreds of others) was treated to a screening of the new Ben Stein documentary film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed." The Darwinists are already soiling themselves over it, meaning that we should be in for some fireworks when the movie is released April 18th.

I can't recommend the film highly enough. It's well-made, entertaining, funny, profound, and fearless. And it shows the current, dominant Darwinian establishment for what it is: ruthless ideology disguised as science. "Expelled" profiles several accomplished scientists who are being (or already have been) drummed out of their institutions for daring to question the fundamentalist Darwinian view that only accidental mutations over time (filtered through the "mechanism" of natural selection) are ultimately responsible for the complexity of biological life that we observe today. This view, while grounded on a philosophical (and unprovable and self-contradictory) assumption that only what is physical is real, is imperialistically advanced by its proponents to the point that any dissent whatsoever is cause for punishment. "Expelled" marvelously exposes some of the leading "lights" in this movement, in many cases allowing them to hang themselves on their own words. This film pulls the mask off of "dispassionate science" and exposes the leaders of the Darwinian establishment for the close-minded fundamentalists they really are

One great example: In the most telling moment in the film, uber-atheistic biologist Richard Dawkins (who elsewhere has said that "the products of Darwinian natural selection look so stunningly as though they have been designed for a purpose") stunnigly admits in an interview with Stein that it is possible that the first cell (which would have been amazingly complex) could have been designed--but if it was, it was designed by people from outer space who themselves evolved completely naturally somewhere else. In other words, there might be a designer somewhere for the biology we see in our world (since they sure do seem to be designed), but under no circumstances could that designer possibly be God. And this is what passes for cold, hard, rational, almighty "science" these days.

Amusingly, the only tack the Darwinists seem to be able to take in attacking the movie (since it uses their own on-camera statements to hang them) is to call it a "creationist" film, as if simply the product of fundamentalist Christians. It's a nice try, but hosted by Ben Stein, and featuring experts critical of Darwinism like the self-described secular Jew David Berlinski, the charge won't hold much water. The fact is, after decades of Darwinian hegemony over the educational establishment, the vast majority of the American public still doubts the establishment's account. Though the Darwinists would like to make it seem as if the reason for this is that we're simply a country full of addle-pated animists, the fact is that they've never overcome the major holes in their theory, and the public knows that mere assertion doesn't equal proof.

"Expelled" opens April 18th. See it early and see it often, as the old saying sort of goes.

Friday, March 14, 2008

On The Air

If you're a glutton for punishment, you can listen live to a radio show I'll be hosting in South Florida a little later today. It runs from 12:30pm-2pm Eastern time, and my guests will be New Testament scholar D.A. Carson, Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association, and a guy who runs several crisis pregancy centers that Eliot Spitzer tried to shut down as the attorney general of New York.

Just go here and click on the streaming audio on the upper right hand side of the page.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Anyone? Anyone?

I attended the National Religious Broadcaster's convention this week in Nashville. On Tuesday, the president of the United States came to speak to us.

But for my money, this was even cooler:

Incidentally, I'll have more later on Ben Stein's new film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. But for the moment, let me just say that it is must-viewing.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Even Longer Than The War

Today, I notice, marks my five-year blogoversary. I believe it was the comedian Norm Crosby who once noted, "We gather here together to celebrate this suspicious occasion..."

If you take out the baseball posts and factor in the last two years, I'm actually averaging about nine annual substantive posts. I was blogging before blogging was cool. And now I'm still here blogging long after blogging stopped being cool.

Wow. Five years of trying to find different and unique ways of calling people stupid. We couldn't be prouder.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The Real McCain

Well, the Republican Party completed its suicide last night, finally pushing John McCain forward for the nomination. Mark my words: it will be the biggest landslide loss since Dukakis.

It will be sad to watch people in the coming days throw away their integrity and credibility by pretending that McCain is a good, conservative candidate. I won't be playing that game, and while I might ultimately hold my nose and vote for him, I'll never like him. Cries of "but at least he's not Hillary" are still ringing in my ears. Really? He's not? Whoop de doo.

Since there will be a lot of nonsense coming from the Republican Party establishment in the coming months about what a great Reagan conservative McCain is, I offer the following list for your future reference. You can print it up and carry it around in your wallet to counter all the lies Republican cheerleaders will be selling come summer. Despite the coming propaganda onslaught, when I look at McCain, I still see:
  • The unconstitutional McCain-Feingold law, which prohibits free speech in times closest to an election when it’s most important
  • That he flirted with switching parties in ‘01 (and in fact, his ’00 campaign political director did switch parties in ’02)
  • That he was one of the “Gang of 14” in the Senate that shut down the Republican effort to end filibustering on judicial nominees (the so-called “nuclear option”) and instead reached a compromise with Dems that led to a number of Bush’s qualified judicial nominees being forever cast aside
  • That he voted against allowing a full Senate vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment
  • That he has said that, while against abortion, he does not support the repeal of Roe v. Wade
  • That he has been called by the gay magazine The Advocate “notoriously pro-gay”
  • That he was endorsed by the Log Cabin Republicans in ‘00
  • That he chaired the silly global warming Senate hearings in ’04 and supports global warming legislation
  • That he supported amnesty for illegals
  • That he was reported by more than one source to have said that he might not nominate the likes of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court because Alito “wore his conservatism on his sleeve.”
  • That he was one of only two Republican senators (the other was Lincoln Chaffee) to vote against President Bush’s tax cut in ‘01
  • That he was only one of three Republican senators to again vote against tax cuts in ’03.
Even on his supposedly biggest asset with social conservatives--his "pro-life" record--he's been highly overrated. In addition to the aforementioned support for fetal tissue and embryonic stem cell research and his opposition to overturning Roe v. Wade, he's given off signs that his ostensible opposition to abortion is less than ironclad. This very telling comment comes from a 2004 article in the liberal online Slate magazine, in an article written to assure liberals that John McCain is really one of them:
Democrats alarmed by crossover affection for McCain usually begin by complaining about his down-the-line anti-abortion voting record. But McCain's smoke signals spell out something different—an unsuccessful attempt to back away from a mandatory position he no longer believes in, if he ever really did. In August 1999, McCain said, "I'd love to see a point where Roe v. Wade is irrelevant, and could be repealed because abortion is no longer necessary. But certainly in the short term, or even the long term, I would not support repeal of Roe v. Wade, which would then force women in America to [undergo] illegal and dangerous operations." This wasn't a fluke comment—McCain said the same thing more than once. But his trial balloon was quickly shot down by the theo-cons, prompting him to abandon the experiment. The same thing happened again following McCain's suggestion that the nutty Republican platform plank on the topic be rewritten, and again after he made the comment that if his daughter—who was 15 at the time—became pregnant, it would be up to her to decide whether to have an abortion. Despite his professions of fidelity, the pro-life lobby knows better than to trust him. Pro-choicers should similarly recognize that McCain is a hostage, not a hostage-taker, on this issue.
He's an utter disaster, and he's going to lose 40 states. Someday Republicans will again wake up and realize that conservatism wins. In the meantime, they should be preparing to get beaten this year like a trailer wife on COPS.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Sadly, Rickles came down ill last night, so the show was postponed. Hopefully they'll reschedule it soon (though they'd better do it quickly--the guy's 82). In the meantime, I consoled myself by watching things on YouTube like the following. As always, there is something there to offend everybody. I also think Ed McMahon was going through a divorce at the time:

Monday, March 03, 2008

Mr. Warmth

As a gift for our wedding anniversary, my wife is taking me to see Don Rickles tonight at the Hard Rock. Whatta gal! My wife feels the same way about Don Rickles that most wives feel about Don Rickles, making this a supremely altruistic and loving gesture on her part.

Which reminds me of my favorite Don Rickles story which he told many times on talk shows about his friend Frank Sinatra. I'm approximating it from memory, but this is pretty close to the way he tells it:
I’m with a date in Las Vegas in the early 60’s. I’m out with this girl, and we’ve brought her parents with us to a fancy restaurant. I see Frank Sinatra on the other side of the restaurant. Everyone’s buzzing with excitement. I get up to go to the bathroom and sneak over to where Frank’s sitting. I say to him, "Hey, Frank, I’m on a date with this girl I really like and her parents are with us too. I hate to ask you this, but it would really be great, and it would really impress them, if you’d just come over and say hello for a minute."

He says, "Of course, Don, anything."

"Gosh, I sure appreciate it, Frank. You're the best," I tell him.

I go back and sit down and we’re eating and I’m telling her parents a story, and a here comes Frank over to say hello. He walks up to the table and says, "Hey, Don, how ya doin'?"

I stop in the middle of my story, turn to him, and say, "Geez, Frank, not now! Can’t you see I’m with people?"