Friday, February 27, 2004


I was recently asked whether or not I think U2 is Christian, and why or why not. The response got a little long for the comments section, so here it is:
Lyrics from here.

From the song "Peace on Earth", from "All that you can't leave behind":
Jesus can you take the time
To throw a drowning man a line
Peace on Earth

To tell the ones who hear no sound
Whose sons are living in the ground
Peace on Earth

Jesus in this song you wrote
The words are sticking in my throat
Peace on Earth

Hear it every Christmas time
But hope and history won't rhyme
So what's it worth

This peace on Earth

The message is clear- the peace that Jesus claimed to bring is worthless.

from "If God will send his angels" from Pop-
Hey if God will send his angels
And if God will send a sign
And if God will send his angels
Would everything be alright

God has got his phone off the hook, babe
Would he even pick up if he could
It's been a while since we saw that child
Hanging 'round this neighborhood
You see his mother dealing in a doorway
See Father Christmas with a begging bowl
Jesus sister's eyes are a blister
The High Street never looked so low

From Wake Up Dead Man:
Jesus, Jesus help me
I'm alone in this world
And a f***ed up world it is too
Tell me, tell me the story
The one about eternity
And the way it's all gonna be

Wake up, wake up dead man
Wake up, wake up dead man

And the clincher, I think, from The First Time, Zooropa:
My father is a rich man
He wears a rich man's cloak
Gave me the keys to his kingdom coming
Gave me a cup of gold

He said I have many mansions
And there are many rooms to see
But I left by the back door
And I threw away the key
And I threw away the key
Yeah, I threw away the key
Yeah, I threw away the key

For the first time
For the first time
For the first time

I feel love

I could go on. But these are the lyrics of someone who has no confidence in God to solve the world's problems or to show real love for people. If they're Christians, this is some new definition of the term. In contrast to these, I couldn't find much evidence of actual trust and faith in God. I found trust and faith in some of the concepts of Christianity like grace and forgiveness, but never actually connected with God.

Hope this helps.

Update: I just read this on the subject, and that makes me wonder if the lyrics quoted above are meant to be ironic, or representing struggles with faith, or something of the like. But it seems to me, if a band's going to publish lyrics like the ones I've quoted above, then he's taking a pretty definite stand. It is, to my mind, up to him to counter that with something. He can't just be coy about his faith. "If you confess me before men, I will confess you before my father in heaven. But if you deny me before men..."

Update 2John has convinced me. Not that they are Christian, but the discussion with him has convinced me that it's not really appropriate for me to make statements about whether they are Christians personally or not. If he claims to be, then absent serious moral failings or major doctrinal problems, I would accept that. But I would have some major questions to ask- why do they claim faith in Jesus Christ, and then express the opposite in their music generally speaking? Some might view that as a sufficient moral failing to merit questioning true faith.

The original discussion was over whether or not it's appropriate to include their music in a worship service. Given the very ambiguous nature of the message of their work corporately, I'll stick by my guns. They do not express a robust faith in God in their music, but doubt, skepticism and criticism, with no converse trust and faith. Again, I'm talking about their music, nor their lives.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Truth and Systems 

I believe in truth.

I don't believe that I know all of the truth, but I do believe that God knows all of the truth. And since God can't lie, according to Scriptures, none of that truth can contradict itself. All truth is God's truth, and so if God says that He never changes, then if He changes, then God's a liar. We'll just focus on the truth about God here for a while, since that's the most important truth there is. But these principles really apply to truth about everything- to the truth about the picture on my wall, the CD in my stereo, the guy down the street at the liquor store. But let's just talk about God.

If truth exists, and God cannot lie, then for every question you can ask about God there is one correct answer. This is true if the question is phrased properly, and is not ambiguous of itself. But if you ask, Is there a God? There is only one correct answer to that question. If you ask, is God good? Again, there is only one correct answer. If you say that God is good, and that God is not good, then you've contradicted yourself, and you've accused God of lying. Therefore, there must be a whole collection of interrelated truths about God. All of these truths together are a system of truth.

I haven't received an answer yet to this. Steve's a busy guy, so maybe he hasn't gotten around to it. But he did post something else referring to my article, and referring to the ongoing debate between us. So I'm going to continue the discussion.

In Steve's most recent post, and in Nate's comments to my previous article, both express disdain or reluctance to use a systematic approach to truth. This seems to be a common thread among postmodernists. Steve says,
When moderns encounter postmoderns they sniff for a watering down of truth. What they fail to smell is the decaying odor, the rotting carcase, of their modern, all-encompassing, systematic cultural approach to truth. (Note what I said, the cultural approach is rotting, not the truth.)
Now, this is assuming a lot of things. In fact, I can accuse Steve of doing exactly what he criticizes me for. He's labeled me something (a modern) which I am not. He's assumed that moderns do something (wrap truth in cultural clothes) which I do not. I get my views on this subject from hundreds of years ago; my denomination has been in existence virtually since the Reformation began. And the Reformers self-consciously attempted to build their theology on the theology of Scripture, not their culture. They thought their culture was wicked and apostate, and in need of transformation.

What Postmodern Christians do is to assume that their system is superior to ours, or anyone else's. They do this by denying that they have a system, and criticizing us for having one. But everyone has a system, a way that they read Scripture and interpret everything that they see and hear. Everyone does; it's impossible to function without one. I see an animal that has four legs and barks; I call it a dog. I do this because of my system of truth, which has taken a set of attributes and given it the label "dog". It is impossible for a dog to not be a dog. So Postmodernist Christians have categories of thought which they identify as "modern", and others that are "postmodern", and the one is assumed to be better than the other. Further, they have ways of reading Scripture that supports their views. The parts which most obviously appear to promote their views, they talk about a lot. Nate, for example (read the comments under this post), views the Scriptures through the lens of the Sermon on the Mount. Steve talks about Jesus being revealed to the disciples through talking and breaking bread with them. This proves that God is revealed in community, Steve says. This passage becomes normative for Steve, foundational to Steve's theology, despite this being one brief event in a pretty long book. Why this passage, and not, say, Romans 5? Matthew 23? Amos 4? This is a system, an interpretive framework. Some might say that God creating community on earth, community very separate from the community of the world that the people lived in, and Steve's idea of God being revealed in community, are two very different interpretations of the text he chooses. Why one and not the other?

The parts which might be read to teach something unacceptable are interpreted through a certain framework so that they don't challenge the system (see this exegesis of 1 Peter 3, for example). In this case, a "sacramental" or "communal" interpretive framework is to be preferred, because it gives results that are in conformity with the views of the interpreter. You see, 1 Peter 3 cannot be accepted to be teaching what it appears to be teaching on the face of it, which is that wives are to live under the rule of their husbands. This is because this teaching violates the system from which the Postmoderns are operating.

I'm not criticizing them for having a system. We all have systems. I am criticizing them for claiming that they don't have a system, and that they are superior to us (that is, anyone with a system, a "modern" in their vocabulary) because we are bound to a system and they are not. The fact is, I recognize that I have a system, and because of that I am able to critically evaluate the system, to see if it is truly in accord with God's word, and if not, to adjust the system. When you deny that you have a system, you are unable to critically evaluate that system, and are thus far more bound to it than you might be otherwise. I don't have the option of just believing the stuff that fits my cultural bias. Because I make a self-conscious decision to accept all of Scripture as best I can, I have to conform my system to fit Scripture. By denying that he has a system, the Postmodernist Christian becomes free to just believe the stuff that's easy for them to believe.

The Postmodernist has a system for everything. Look at this, for example, and read the comments. Here, a postmodern gets skewered by his fellow postmoderns for using the word "girls", even though he was referring to teenagers and saying very positive things about them. It was viewed as oppressive and condescending. He groveled for it later on his blog. See, the postmoderns viewed the word through the eyes of a particular system. Andrew violated that system, and was made to pay dearly for it. Whether the system comes from experience or conscious reasoning is entirely beside the point- we all get our systems from a combination of the two.

What about the passages that says "Friendship with the world is enmity with God"? Does that impact your choice to use U2 in your worship service? Why or why not? What about the passage that says "But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.
Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord's table, and of the table of devils." Does this impact your decision to make use of pagan symbology (the four elements or Maori rituals or Celtic stone circles)? Why or why not? Your answer to those questions reveal some things about your system. When you take these passages, and say, "No, they don't apply to those kinds of situations" or "it's OK because Paul or Jesus did something similar" or "those things aren't really pagan", you use your system to make that judgment. For that matter, what was it that led you to choose those particular elements for use in worship, rather than, say, Amorite blood rituals or the temple prostitution of Baal? What makes one unacceptable and the other acceptable? What makes one suitable for postmodernist 'sampling' and the other not? The answer, of course, is your system.

So again, I believe in truth. I believe that there's truth about everything, and that it all hangs together, in a system. I believe that all human systems are faulty, but that they can be more or less true to the degree that they correspond to the truth which exists in God's mind, much of which He has revealed to us in His Word. Postmodernist Christianity, for example, is truer than Postmodernist Atheism. I believe that we therefore have a duty to work very hard at our systems of theology, to make sure that they conform as closely as we can manage to the truth of Scripture. This is not a culturally determined perspective unless I, Charles Hodge, Frances Turretin, Charles Finney, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Augustine, Athanasius and Tertullian all share the same culture, which I doubt.

How worried should I be about the fact that the last time I had almost this exact conversation about truth, it was with an atheist?

More on the Passion 

Here's a really good article on The Passion by Mel Gibson, from a former Catholic. He makes it pretty clear that Mel's intention is not just to turn people to Christ, but to turn them to Catholicism. I wrote on this subject some here, but in retrospect I may have been a little naive in my judgment of Gibson's motives. Good stuff.

Monday, February 23, 2004

Family worship 

When I moved out to Limon, I talked to the previous pastor here to find out some things about the new community I was coming to. I knew that on the one hand, people are people, and there is nothing new under the sun. And in many ways that has proved exactly right. There are people getting divorced; with drug problems; with rebellious teenagers, etc etc.

But I also knew that different environments and cultures provided different problems to deal with, or perhaps the same problems in different clothes. And the previous pastor (rest his soul) did not disabuse me of my suspicion. He told me something interesting- people in agricultural communities worship family. So the title of this refers not to worshiping together with your family (which I'm in favor of) but actually worshiping your family (which I'm opposed to).

I've been exploring this subject with people in my church and have been hearing story after story of people who do just this. This often takes the form of the patriarch; the man who came out here and carved a living out of nothing. His wife and kids view him as the center of the universe, as God himself. If he goes to church, so do they, and they go where he goes. If he doesn't, they don't either. When he lives, he dictates everything, and when he dies, he often tries to rule beyond the grave through the will and inheritance. I also often hear about people going to particular churches because it's where their family goes. I'm talking about adults here- grown children go where their parents or their brother or sister or whoever goes, even if there are other churches that have better teaching.

From Matthew 19:
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
36 And a man's foes shall be they of his own household.
37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.
38 And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.
39 He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.

Anything can be an idol. Love of your family is a good thing, but your family can't become your God. In the city where I come from, people worship their money, their SUV, their vacations, their career. Here in Limon, in agricultural communities, it's their family, their community, their ranch. Even church can be your idol. What do you trust for your happiness in life? What do you trust for your security in the future? What do you look to for your definition of right and wrong?

There's your God. If you answered anything other than God to any of those questions, then you need to take a look at the possibility that you're an idol-worshiper.

We're all idol-worshipers. It's the basic problem. Becoming conformed to the image of the Son means putting away the idols. And you know what? When you tell people they shouldn't worship their SUV, they'll readily agree with you. But try telling someone they shouldn't love their family as much as they do... That they need to love God more than their family. That's really hard for some people to hear.

What always ends up happening is that the Lord gets involved. Somebody dies, somebody gets divorced, somebody is molesting someone. Something happens. And then people realize that their idol is blind, deaf, and lame. Their family can't help them. In fact, their family is the problem. And then, those that are God's turn to Him.

Saturday, February 21, 2004


Now you can add comments to my posts!

Friday, February 20, 2004


The last few sermons on Genesis are uploaded, on Genesis 24, 25 and 27.

Link is on the sidebar. Also, can you do me a favor? If you're making use of these, can you drop me a line and let me know? Also, it should go without saying (but doesn't), these aren't to be used for any moneymaking activities or the like.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

The Emergent Church, part II 

Well, let that be a lesson to me. I foolishly thought that my post on the Emergent Church would reach only the relatively small circle of people who regularly read my blog. In particular, I never suspected that the sites I quoted would read this. It was of course quite foolish of me to think that. I always look at the sites who link to me, so there's no reason to think that others wouldn't do the same. That's the great thing about the Internet- even a pipsqueak like me can get heard, even if he doesn't always mean to. :)

Now, don't let this fool you into thinking I don't stand by the substance of my post. As of right now, I do, though I wouldn't want to paint myself into a rhetorical corner from which I could not later escape. But if I had intended to write a post that would set off a conversation with the folks I was disagreeing with, I probably would have used a little different tone. So let me take this opportunity to apologize to a few people, in particular Steve from Emergent Kiwi.

Steve has responded to me here. I appreciate the gracious tone of your response, Steve, and have taken it as a rebuke of my tone. So I don't think we're in any danger of a flame war. I am excited to learn more about your perspective.

Before I get to the substance, however, I'd like to clear up a few possible misconceptions. First, Steve still insists on saying I flamed him. I did not, since I did not personally name him or discuss anything personal about him. I had strong criticisms of the movement, so if you want to say I flamed the Emergent Church concept, fine. I suppose I did that. This is, I suppose a minor point, but the reason I quoted Steve's site as much as I did, was because I found it one of the more well-spoken representations of the position I was discussing (or flaming).

Secondly, Steve refers to me as "Mr. Wheat" and himself as the chaff that I flamed. This is not the intention of the name of this site. I am not wheat to everyone else's chaff. It refers to the wide variety of subject matter on which I blog, some of which is serious and some not. So, I hope that clears that up. Steve, in the future you can just call me Mr. Powell. Or even, if it makes you more comfortable, just Matt. I know it would make me more comfortable.

OK, so preliminaries aside. Apparently I was mistaken in applying the Gen-X label to this movement, as they claim that they eschew that label. I think this was an understandable mistake, however, given the volume of references to Gen-X on Steve's site and others that I looked at. But nevermind. The label's gone.

We also have a great deal in common. Like them, I am very interested in Christ. Like them, I am very interested in impacting the society in which I live, in a way that is relevant to that society and not to a society that may or may not have existed a hundred or a thousand years ago. Like them, I believe it's important to speak to people in a language they can understand. Like them, I value relationships far more than structure; people far more than programs; truth far more than marketing.

It's clear though that even once we clear up some of the more superficial matters and establish some common ground, the EC movement and I have serious differences. The fact is, the common ground I established above would be agreed to, at least in name, by virtually any ministry worker of any stripe anywhere at all. Nobody would say that they'd rather watch a commercial than have a conversation with a friend. So if this is the heart of the movement, I think it's a straw man. If we're going to meaningfully engage the issues that separate us, we have to define what those issues are. So I want to take a step back a little bit, and see if I can really understand in more detail exactly what those differences are.

I have seen more than a few things to indicate that the Emergent Church in general has a more liberal view of doctrine than I myself would be comfortable with. As evidence, I'd cite this from The Emergent Village. The author says:
"Emergent is intentionally cross-confessional. We hope to bring together Christians from varied confessions and traditions (Protestant, Catholic, and Orthodox). We believe that beyond the postmodern transition, many existing polarities (between evangelical and liberal, for example) will yield to new collaboration."
Now perhaps Steve would endorse such a statement; perhaps not; my guess is he would. I can support this by pointing to this post of Steve's in which he encourages what I'd call a pretty loose reading of Scripture. The concepts of sacramental or social inspiration are pretty far out of the traditional Reformed views of inspiration; yet it's clear that Steve at least thinks these are options. And given the aforementioned exegesis of 1 Peter, I'm guessing these are methods Steve actively uses, or even prefers, to a more historical-grammatical exegesis. This puts him at least a little on the liberal side of things, and liberals are usually all for inclusion of all kinds of perspectives, while conservatives typically are not so open to that. The reason being, liberals don't value doctrinal rigidity much, and so they don't care what positions you take on a lot of issues, they feel they can still collaborate. Conservatives, on the other hand, think doctrine is really important, and that certain levels of doctrinal disagreements preclude fellowship.

Hopefully I'm being fair so far.

So the problem is, when liberals (or postmoderns) talk about liberals and conservatives getting together to collaborate, the liberals get to keep being liberals, but the conservatives have to stop being conservatives. Now perhaps the Postmoderns would prefer to think of themselves as being beyond the Liberal / Conservative dichotomy. I expect they'd view that as a Premodern / Modern dichotomy. And to take a look at that, let's do a little more thinking about Postmodernism itself.

The first book on Steve's reading list for postmodernism is WT Anderson's book, Reality Isn't What It Used To Be. I know it's the first book for alphabetical reasons, but the fact that Steve included it must mean that he thinks it's a good definition, if not the defition. As I recall, Anderson's book was basically opposed to all structures and formulations of reality or truth that would be said to be universally applicable. This would certainly be consistent with a modern liberal view of Christianity. But I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth. Maybe Steve can help me out here- what exactly does he mean by Postmodernism, and what does it mean to be a postmodern church? I don't want to know what that means the worship service looks like, or what music he listens to. But on a basic level, what is Postmodernism?

Now I have read about a postmodern monastery, and a postmodern missiology, and I found this quote from Emergent Village:
Second, the term missional implies a narrative way of looking at the Scriptures. In other words, for us, the Bible is not primarily the repository of abstractions or propositions which need to be extracted and systematized from its stories and poetry; rather, we see the Bible as the record of the story of God’s emerging mission in human history. This record conveys the trajectory of God’s work -- with which we seek to align and into which we seek to invest our lives.

So what I am coming together with is that the Emergent Church movement's view of postmodernism is a deep skepticism regarding any all-encompassing system of truth, any systematic theology if you will. Instead, postmodernism is more interested in "mini-narrative"- bits and pieces from here and there that the individual uses to produce a kind of "ad-hoc" truth- that will serve the needs of the time and situation. Steve refers to this as "sampling"- DJ-ing Salvation.

Help me out, Steve. Am I on the right track?

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Enumerated vs. Implied Rights 

Rusty has some good comments on the issue of rights in the Constitution.

The Emergent Church 

I'm starting to get a handle on this whole emergent church thing, and boy am I behind the times. At the ripe old age of 30, I am already a relic of the distant past.

No, seriously, go check this out. Or this. The Emergent Church is the Postmodern Church, and this means certain things like disdain for traditional power structures, worship and apparently also doctrine. You know, folks come along and say that there's a lot of unbiblical accretions in the church these days, that have developed over the centuries (and they're right) and they fight that by adding on a lot of unbiblical accretions of their own.

Tim Berglund has some excellent analysis over here about the Emergent Church movement (link from Joe- thanks!), and I'd check him out for a primer.

One thing I have a lot of sympathy for is the Emergent Church's professed distaste for marketing. They rightly reject the Boomer church mentality of dividing people up into demographics, recognizing that doing this is for the purpose of marketing more effectively to them. Of course, the backside of this is that the EC movement does exactly the same thing- if not explicitly, at least implicitly. They say so often, "Boomers are like this, and Gen-X is like this", and then spend a lot of time convincing you that "Boomer is bad, Gen-x is good." There's lots of references to Douglas Coupland and the like. And reading Douglas Coupland is a good way to get a handle on what they refer to as Generation X, especially the book actually entitled Generation X. And it's a really fun read, for any purpose.
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture

Funny thing about Generation X, though- everybody thinks it's something different. Generation X was originally supposed to be people born from about the assassination of Kennedy through the middle of the 70's, and then came Generation Y. During the time that this term became popular, really from Coupland's book, these people were in their 20's. Now, when people talk about Generation X, they mostly mean people in their 20's, even though this is supposed to be Gen-Y. So the definitions have changed.

What's more, the characteristics of Gen-X as opposed to boomers is that Gen-X is suspicious of authority, suspicious of marketing, in search of meaning and very interested in relationships. The boomers, natch, are the opposite of all that. But the boomers were the hippies! And when the hippies were in their 20's they were... you guessed it... suspicious of authority, suspicious of marketing, in search of meaning, and very interested in relationships. And they were good, and their parents bad, and I seem to recall a lot of talk about how to get the hippies into church. So one can only come to the conclusion that all of this generation talk is really overplayed. Mostly, it just seems like people want to have young people in their church.

So then, to get back to the Emergent Church itself- it seems that what's really going on is that people have taken a look at the culture, decided they need to be more 'relevant' and shape the church to match the culture. Now, I know they wouldn't say they are doing this, but take a look at this "exegesis" of 1 Peter 3:1-7. The author's method is to understand what Paul was doing to his cultural norms, and then to do the same thing to our own cultural norms. Actually understanding that Paul is teaching timeless truths about husbands and wives is entirely beside the point.

Look also at this "Emerging Church A-Z". How much of it is driven by culture? The EC is defined by blogging? By DJ-ing? This is basically exactly the same thing that the Catholics did, when they chiseled the name "Odin" off the statues and chiseled "Peter" on, when they took the Feast of Lupercalia (basically a sex lottery) and renamed it St. Valentine's Day. It wasn't successful then, and it isn't now. Christianity isn't about taking stuff out of the culture and reinterpreting it in a Christian fashion. The Internet does not define the church. Christianity is about cultural transformation, among other little things like submission to God's word and personal redemption. The Po-Mo's have this attitude of helplessness in the face of a culture that defines all, that rules all. There is little analysis of whether or not the way people think and react today is a good or bad thing. It's assumed to be good, and then co-opted. Here's some stuff about using U2 for inspiration in worship! Check out this quote:

We can't enter into worship on Sunday and embark on a pedestrian wade through a four-hymn sandwich without setting aside the 'holy' experience of a bar we spent last night in, listening to a funky soul singer, and sipping Irish coffee. We find worship an unconnected experience when we realise how alien it seems to recall the spiritual energy and gospel motifs we found in the latest version of Romeo and Juliet at the movies. And we often want to cringe in church when we sing a melodic jingle about loving Jesus, when we think of our souls soaring as we play U2's complex 'Pop' album loud on our CD player at home.

This is like saying, "How can I be expected to enjoy sex with my wife, when pornography is so much more fun?" And yes, I'll stand by my analogy- a spiritual experience to U2 is to church what pornography is to a marriage.

The world is absolutely rolling the church right now, at least in the modern Anglosphere world where most of this EC stuff is going on. This whole movement reminds me of a kid getting beaten up by a bully on the playground and saying Oh, it's OK, we're just playing a game.

Postmodernism has nothing to do with the church. Postmodernism is about destroying timeless truths, not repackaging them. The patron saint of Postmodernism is Pontius Pilate saying, "What is truth?" just before handing Jesus over to be crucified. The culture is NOT going to be transformed by listening to Bono, "creating new Christian rituals" or pandering to pagan religions. It will be transformed by the individual process of us being transformed, one by one, by the renewing of our minds by solid teaching and worship. And despite what they'd have us believe, that has everything to do with logic, the "logos", our "reasonable service".

For 2000 years, the church has built relationships, cared for the poor, driven social change, trained up the weak and transformed lives. Everything that the "Emergent Church" wants to do has been done, successfully, for millennia. But all of a sudden that's not good enough, and we need new models. Just over the last 20 years, people have apparently fundamentally changed from what they were for the previous 2000, and so we need all new church models.

Of course, this isn't what's really going on. What's going on is that people want to repackage, to take the good old church and wrap it up in a shiny new wrapper. In other words, it's just marketing. Being a member of that crucial "Gen-X" demographic, you'll have to excuse me if I'm a little suspicious.

Monday, February 16, 2004

Must Read 

For any of you wondering about ADD, ADHD, and Ritalin, check out this article at Policy Review.

My favorite quote: "How has it come to pass that in fin-de-siècle America, where every child from preschool onward can recite the "anti-drug" catechism by heart, millions of middle- and upper-middle class children are being legally drugged with a substance so similar to cocaine that, as one journalist accurately summarized the science, "it takes a chemist to tell the difference"? "

Link via the Evangelical Outpost.

Update: By the way, on the ADD questionnaire at the end, I got a 60 out of 100, which will surprise no one who knows me.

Saturday, February 14, 2004

The week 

Howdy Strangers!

Yes, I know I haven't posted in a week. I had a week-long seminar-style class in Colorado Springs. It was an 8-hour class that met every day. So, doing that and keeping up with confirmation class, Bible study and at least a little bit of X-Box prevented me from blogging. I love blogging, but it has to fall a little bit down the priority list.

I actually intended to blog from class. It wouldn't be live, but I could blog on what the professor was talking about and post it later. But the class proved to be interesting enough that I never wrote anything. Which was good- a class that can hold my attention for 8 straight hours a day for a whole week- well, that's a good class.

But we're back on the blogging bandwagon now. I've lost a good chunk of my regular daily traffic, which is unfortunate but not unexpected. I hope I can get it back faster than it took me the first time.

Friday, February 06, 2004


Fox News, in its continuing coverage on Janet Jackson's lack of coverage at the Superbowl, says there may be a crackdown coming on indecency in broadcasting. Standards have slipped quite rapidly even in the last 10 years, and so I for one am in favor of it.

Some have been saying for quite a while that standards would only get looser and looser. The entertainment industry seems to think that broadcasting standards are just too prudish and restrictive. But if broadcasting standards are too restrictive, then that implies that there are standards out there that are sufficiently restrictive, sufficiently tight, to make them happy. But we never seem to find that point. In 50 years of television, it has progressively gotten worse and worse, with things once deemed unimaginable now routine. I expect that many of the libertines of yesterday, who thought the broadcasting standards were too restrictive, would have said at the time that they would never favor things going as far as they have, and maybe some would have meant it. But it's become clear to me that what many on the so-called cutting edge of entertainment actually favor is not a less restrictive standard, but no standard at all. It's not that they think the standard is too prudish, they think America is too prudish.

That leads to the conclusion that they are trying to change us, to mold us after their image. I can't imagine that anyone would think that it would be a good thing to model their moral behavior after the Jacksons, Madonnas and Timberlakes of the world. And yet that's what's being attempted, is it not? Like the nobility of old, the celebrity of today seems to too often think that moral standards only apply to the little guy, and that the ideal world is one where there are no checks, no restrictions, or at least none on them. And while they may have been content 50 years ago with keeping their scandalous behavior behind closed doors, as time has gone on they've thrown off even secrecy as an unacceptable burden on their right to complete freedom. Therefore, we must be changed to accept them.

Think I'm being needlessly reactionary, or conspiratorial? Think they're just after the money, and are just responding to what people want? Then why has the entertainment industry, for at least three decades or so, consistently been way out front of the public in terms of what was acceptable? Why would any of their product ever be described as 'shocking', if it's just what people wanted?

But there is a limit- there has to be. Society bears the cost for their experimentation, and sooner or later (I think we're rapidly approaching 'sooner') the bill's going to have to be paid.

From the article linked to above:
Social historian Gabler doubts that there will be any long-term change in broadcast standards. The line between what is acceptable and not is always changing, but, historically, it never retreats, he said.

Social historians must have pretty short timeframes. The standards in Hollywood were looser in the 20's and early 30's than they were in the 40's and 50's, when Hays' Code was implemented (which, incidentally, corresponded with what most describe as the "Golden Age of Hollywood"). And the standards even now must surely be more restrictive than those during the reign of Caligula, or the height of Sodom and Gomorrah. Standards during Cromwell's protectorate in England had been more restrictive than the standards before, and so on. Many examples of the line "retreating" could be given. The fact that he refers to more restrictive standards as a 'retreat' shows you exactly where his preferences lie, and makes the point I was making earlier about their desire for ever fewer restrictions on what can be done in the name of "art" or "entertainment".

I think the question that we need to face, the discussion we need to have in this culture, is whether or not we are going to let an elitist immoral few drive our understanding of what is acceptable and what is not, or are we going to take back control of our own country? Sure, they'll complain and whine and call us prigs, but that will just be their distress at the loss of their privileged position.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

More on the myth of "deadbead dads" 

Reason Magazine talks about the abuse of the child support system. One thing I didn't know- the state gets a cut of child support payments, and also uses it to reduce welfare rolls and even pay back the state retroactively for welfare a mother has recieved. All of this frequently on the flimsiest (or even nonexistent) evidence that the father is even the father.

It's becoming increasingly clear that this is not being done in the interest of the child, but in the interest of bureaucrats and the financial health of the welfare state.

More Dem News 

It may be that you've heard all you care to hear right now about the Democrats, but if not, check out this article at WorldNetDaily by Hugh Hewitt about Terry McAuliffe, the DNC chairman, and his latest slanders of Bush. Apparently he's decided that National Guard service isn't really military service. The things he said were so loopy that even Katie Couric, that great bastion of mainstream sanity </sarcasm> thought it was too much.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Dean's collapse  

Here's a great piece on what happened to the Dean campaign. Clay Shirky argues that it was a collapse of appearance, not substance, that the campaign was never there- it just looked like it was. It seems a brilliantly argued piece. Check it out!

Link via Instapundit.

Monday, February 02, 2004

This is Way More Interesting (and gross) Than the Super Bowl Halftime Show (featuring Janet Jackson) 

Exploding Whales!

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