Archive | Culture

Another chance to catch a glimpse of what is coming true

As we begin 2017, it is good to think about what has been and what is to come. There were many people who started 2016 not knowing that it would be their last. I’ve known them. And so have you. We are not so different from them, are we?

When I look in the rearview mirror, I see the years gathering up behind me, and I can hardly believe how quickly they’ve piled up. As life rattles forward, it seems the earth makes its annual journey a little quicker than the year before. Where have the years gone?

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“Nonjudgmental affirmation” is not a parenting strategy

National Geographic has released a special issue titled “Gender Revolution,” and it includes one article offering advice for parents of transgender children. Here is the bottom line:

Your most important role as a parent is to offer understanding, respect, and support to your child. A nonjudgmental approach will gain your child’s trust and put you in a better position to help your child through difficult times.

When your child discloses an identity to you, respond in an affirming, supportive way…

In short, parents must affirm whatever identity a child embraces or risk “harming” their child. But there are some obvious questions that never get asked and answered in this article. Are children really helped when parents decline to make judgments about what is best for their child? Must parents accept and affirm any identity that a child might assume? What kind of child-rearing strategy is it that disallows moral discernment and mandates unconditional affirmation? Continue Reading →

The remarkable woman behind “In the Bleak Midwinter”

Last year, Karen Swallow Prior had a fascinating piece at TGC about the author of “In the Bleak Mid-Winter.” Her name is Christina Rossetti (1830–1894), and Prior writes that she was a woman of “deep Christian conviction.” Prior concludes:

The paradox of Rossetti’s life is that her “spirit of self-postponement” produced some of the finest Christian poetry written—the gift of herself, given to her Savior and received by the world.

I commend to you the rest of Prior’s essay, which you can read here. I also recommend two versions of the song that are staples around my house during this time of year. My favorite version is Shawn Colvin’s, and a close second is from the Indigo Girls. The audio and lyrics are below. Enjoy. Continue Reading →

Why all the excitement about the movie “Dunkirk”?

Today, Warner Brothers released the first full-length trailer for the forthcoming movie Dunkirk (see above). I assume that most of you reading this know why this film is so highly anticipated. But I am writing for those of you who may not. The story of the evacuation from Dunkirk during World War 2 is one of the most riveting true stories that you will ever hear. It is a story of heroes, common and uncommon. It is a story of national valor and courage, and for that reason the story is beloved and cherished. What happened at this little fishing village in the north of France in 1940? Continue Reading →

The child was sick so they killed him. And it’s legal.

The stakes couldn’t be any higher or more grave than they are in this report:

A terminally ill minor has become the first child to be euthanized in Belgium since age restrictions were lifted in the country two years ago, according to several sources.

A Belgian lawmaker told CNN affiliate VTM that the physician-assisted suicide happened within the past week.

The child, who was suffering from an incurable disease, had asked for euthanasia, Sen. Jean-Jacques De Gucht told VTM. The identity of the child and age are unknown.

“I think it’s very important that we, as a society, have given the opportunity to those people to decide for themselves in what manner they cope with that situation,” said Gucht, a supporter of euthanasia legislation.

According to the BBC, the child was 17-years old. Lest you think this is far removed from us, just remember that physician-assisted suicide is already legal in the states of Washington, Oregon, California, and Vermont. We are not so far behind.

What does this precedent mean? Like in the United States, a child cannot decide by himself that he wants to die. According to the report, the child must understand what euthanasia is and the parents must also give consent to let it happen.

But what does it mean for a child to know what euthanasia is? Does he really understand death and mortality? Do his parents who must give consent even understand? Do they understand that every life is sacred because it is created in the image of God? Do they understand that “consent” does not nullify the dignity that God has given to that precious life? Do they understand that if we only value lives that meet a minimum threshold of “quality,” then none of us are safe? As a society, do Belgians (and we) understand that just because consent is required today does not mean that it will be required tomorrow?

If life is only reckoned as valuable based on utility or quality of life, then when society deems such lives unworthy of living consent may no longer be required. Utilitarianism can be a conscience-crushing, life-destroying moral argument. And we must oppose it wherever it raises itself up against the image of God (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is a slippery slope that we must not go down, but it appears we are already on the move.

Lord have mercy.

How trigger warnings shut down Christian speech

Alan Levinovitz is a professor at James Madison University, and he argues in The Atlantic that “trigger warnings” in university syllabi have the effect of shutting out Christian viewpoints. He explains:

According to anonymous in-class surveys, about one-third of my students believe in the exclusive salvific truth of Christianity. But rarely do these students defend their beliefs in class. In private, they have told me that they believe doing so could be construed as hateful, hostile, intolerant, and disrespectful; after all, they’re saying that if others don’t believe what they do, they’ll go to hell…

The unpleasant truth is that historically marginalized groups, including racial minorities and members of the LGBT community, are not the only people whose beliefs and identities are marginalized on many college campuses. Those who believe in the exclusive truth of a single revealed religion or those who believe that all religions are nonsensical are silenced by the culture of trigger warnings and safe spaces. I know this is true because I know these students are in my classroom, but I rarely hear their opinions expressed in class.

Read the rest here.

A sober warning about “The Transgender Contagion”

If you haven’t read David French’s article “The Transgender Contagion” yet, let me encourage you to do so. One paragraph in particular is worth highlighting. French writes,

We’re not far from the day when a child will be taken from a loving home simply because the parents refuse to believe that their little girl is actually a little boy. We’re already living in the days when telling your girl child that she shouldn’t undergo treatments that will render her infertile and painfully mutilated is deemed to be intolerant. And we refuse to believe that such behaviors are at all influenced by peer groups or social trends. Instead, your daughter is simply “trans,” just as she is either black or white.

If you think this is an overstatement, you are not paying attention. The medical community has embraced the transgender revolution, and dissent from its ideology is no longer allowed. Continue Reading →

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If pedophilia is a sexual orientation, now what?

I have written in this space before about the idea that pedophilia is a sexual orientation, that it’s just another element of human sexual diversity not to be condemned but understood and sympathized with. We are now at the next stage of normalization. Indeed, the DSM-V already recognizes pedophilia as a sexual orientation (p. 698). But now we have a full-length academic book arguing the same: Pedophilia and Adult-Child Sex: A Philosophical Analysis, by Stephen Kershnar.

In this book, Kershnar questions whether pedophilia should be considered a mental disorder and/or morally wrong. His argument is that it can only be considered a mental disorder if and only if two conditions are met: (1) if the condition causes harm and (2) if the harm results from a dysfunction in a mental mechanism. Kershnar contends that pedophilia is a “natural function” with an “evolutionary explanation.” Thus it does not meet the second criterion. He further argues that pedophilia doesn’t harm the pedophile and that it does not necessarily harm a “willing” child. So pedophilia doesn’t clearly violate the first criterion either (pp. xviii-xix). Continue Reading →

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When free men shall stand…

It is hard to imagine that July 4, 1776 was anything but bittersweet for the men who signed the Declaration. They knew the principles they were standing for, and they knew what it would cost them to stand: “With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.” It would cost them all of that and more.

On July 4, 2016, two-hundred and forty years hence, we find ourselves at another bittersweet moment. Our nation desperately needs leaders and statesmen to stand for principle and to be willing to do so at great personal cost. Where are those leaders? Continue Reading →

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Supreme Court refuses to defend religious liberty for pharmacists

Last week, I was at a meeting hosted by The Alliance Defending Freedom. There I was introduced to a Christian family who was ordered by the State of Washington to sell abortion-inducing drugs in their family-owned pharmacy (see their story above). This family and two other pharmacists believe that killing unborn children is wrong, and so they sued the state for relief.

In 2012, a federal court ruled that the law violated the free exercise clause of the first amendment and that the law was “riddled with exemptions for secular conduct, but contain no such exemptions for identical religiously-motivated conduct.”

In 2015, however, a federal appeals court overruled and said that the pharmacists and family must violate their consciences in order to do business in Washington State. The family and the pharmacists appealed their case to the Supreme Court.

This morning, the Supreme Court denied to hear their appeal. It means that the lower court ruling stands and that they cannot do business in Washington State unless they are willing to violate their religious beliefs.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote a dissent against the Supreme Court’s decision, and he was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Clarence Thomas. You need to read this excerpt from the dissent:

“This case is an ominous sign. At issue are Washington State regulations that are likely to make a pharmacist unemployable if he or she objects on religious grounds to dispensing certain prescription medications. There are strong reasons to doubt whether the regulations were adopted for—or that they actually serve—any legitimate purpose. And there is much evidence that the impetus for the adoption of the regulations was hostility to pharmacists whose religious beliefs regarding abortion and contraception are out of step with prevailing opinion in the State. Yet the Ninth Circuit held that the regulations do not violate the First Amendment, and this Court does not deem the case worthy of our time. If this is a sign of how religious liberty claims will be treated in the years ahead, those who value religious freedom have cause for great concern. The Stormans family owns Ralph’s Thriftway, a local grocery store and pharmacy in Olympia, Washington. Devout Christians, the Stormans seek to run their business in accordance with their religious beliefs…. Ralph’s has raised more than ‘slight suspicion’ that the rules challenged here reflect antipathy toward religious beliefs that do not accord with the views of those holding the levers of government power. I would grant certiorari to ensure that Washington’s novel and concededly unnecessary burden on religious objectors does not trample on fundamental rights.” [underline mine]

The fortunes of religious liberty are waning in our country right now. The notion has been diminishing in the popular consciousness, and now the Supreme Court is declining to defend our first freedom as well. Alito is right, this is a “cause for great concern.” If the state can ignore the first amendment and coerce these Christians to violate their conscience, then the state can do anything.

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