Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Myth of Tolerance; or A Nation of Children

When was the last time you heard anyone on TV hollering about “tolerance”?  You do not hear many calls for “tolerance” for this sort of person or that sort of person anymore, do you?  To the contrary, the 1990s and early 2000s are over and there is a new political narrative in this country to talk about.  Let’s go over some events of the past twelve months:

1) December 2013: Duck Dynasty Controversy (with commentary)

2) April 2014: Mozilla CEO resigns, opposition to gay marriage drew fire | Reuters

Someone from the SFist blog reported on the matter at partly as follows:

Brendan Eich, Mozilla's anti-gay CEO, made the right decision to step down today. He will resign as CEO of the for-profit Mozilla Corporation as well as a board member of the nonprofit Mozilla foundation.

A comment on this last piece: undoubtedly its author, Brock Keeling, has the well-being of Mozilla in mind when he speaks of the “right decision.”  OkCupid’s opposition to Mozilla’s erswhile CEO obviously would have led to job layoffs at Mozilla and in turn led to a condition of hundreds of miserable, starving children of unemployed former employees of Mozilla if Brendan Eich had not stepped down.

“There’s no place in our society for it, and there’s no place in our league. We all get along. We all play with different races of people when you're in sports. That's what makes sports so beautiful. He’s put his own team in a tough situation. So I believe that once Commissioner Silver...does all his due diligence, gets all the information gathered, he’s got to come down hard. He shouldn’t own a team anymore. And he should stand up and say, ‘I don’t want to own a team anymore.’ Especially when you have African Americans renting his apartments, coming to the games, playing for him, coaching for him. This is bad for everybody. This is bad for America.


He's got to give up the team. If he doesn't like African Americans and you're in a league that is over 75% African Americans...When you've got the president of the United States saying that this is bad. You've got fans around the country—different races of people—saying it's bad, it is time for him to exit.”

“No place in our society”?  Even if your White next-door neighbor and his wife have regular, private discussions among themselves about how they think your new Black neighbors down the street have brought down property values in your neighborhood, how is that per se affecting (to say nothing of harming) Magic Johnson or any other Black person?  Meanwhile, Sterling is right about one thing in life: government has no legal right (except in extraordinary circumstances) to force anyone to sell his or her property.  Contrary to Magic Johnson’s assessment of the matter, Sterling does not have to give up anything, unless “got to give up the team” means I want Donald Sterling to give up the team.

4) May 2014: More recently the news broke concerning HGTV’s decision to render the Benham Brothers relatively jobless: CP | Believers Rally After HGTV Cancels Reality Show Starring Christian Twin Brothers Who Oppose Abortion, Homosexuality, Divorce.  This continuation of a trend, as it turns out, was only the first chapter of a larger story: SunTrust Banks recently broke financial ties with the Benham brothers, before quickly reversing their decision in a manner much like that of the Duck Dynasty incident:  CP | SunTrust Banks Reverses Decision to Drop Benham Brothers Following Strong Backlash From Conservative Customers.

5) May 2014: This last one dawned on me after Thursday, May 15 when for various reasons I had to sit and endure the audio of the Katie Couric Show.  “The Week That Was” was a guest-panel segment that ran on Thursday instead of Friday this time around, and one of the life lessons to be learned of the segment is that “sensitivity training” for Don Jones is a good thing: Michael Sam Kiss Cam & Donald Sterling Controversy – Katie Couric.  The background story is here: Miami Dolphins Fine, Suspend Safety Don Jones for Tweet Against Same-Sex Kiss | Christian News Network.

Never forget that training and education are two different things.  Training is what you do to your muscles and muscle groups.  Training is what you do to ensure that your brain recalls certain actions in a proper sequence.  Training is what you do to force certain results of different systems of the human body.  Education, on the other hand, is what you offer to intelligent beings such that they should make an informed decision on what course of action to take, whether right or wrong.  So if anyone thinks that “brainwashing” is a bad thing, then he should know that sensitivity training is no different and know that there are people in the Western World who approve of brainwashing.

Even before all this there was the whole matter of the Chick-Fil-A boycott of 2012, not to mention the continued trend of pseudo-obligatory apologies in national American politics.  What all of this suggests is the sum of two possibilities.  On the one hand, it could be that all the people who rhetorically and by propaganda used to beat people over the head to make them “tolerant” of Arabs, or non-Whites, or homosexuals as such were never interested in global tolerance but only particular tolerance--you know, the kind of Tolerance® that they want people to have or, in other words, tolerance for me but not for thee.  On the other hand, it could be that many of today’s liberals are simply hypocrites or children who forget that tolerance in general means exactly that: that people who believe in general tolerance are not exempt from the requirement to put up with people, deeds and beliefs that they do not like.

And let no one attempt to redefine what these people earlier meant in the use of the word “tolerance.”  For it is clear that in yesteryear “tolerance” meant more than simply restraining an urge to beat gay passers-by with baseball bat, but rather precluded various actions such as demands that certain people be punished with a lack of employment.  Despite whatever the word “tolerance” once meant from the mouths of liberals and the Gay Lobby, what it is now is something that should be considered in the light of both Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm.  Orwell’s cautionary tales were not written for people who live on a planet other than Earth and they were not written precisely for people who already exist within a societies like communist Cuba or the Soviet Union; they were written because of the innate ability within each of us to morph into that which we used to hate and abhor.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Wednesday- Random Thoughts

1) Even if all Christians were hateful, bigoted and intolerant, it does not somehow make homosexuality (or any other sin) ok.

2) It may show Christians as inconsistent, but not necessarily wrong.

3) If a child thinks he’s a rabbit, do we need to start feeding him carrots? Our gender is in our nature-it dictates whether I am a human or a boy…Allowing this only adds to the confusion. Greg Koukl

4) I like food that is made with just about any combination of these ingredients: pasta, bread, cheese, meat

5) Personal responsibility is painful at times.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Is Your Faith Like That of a Mormon?

Mike Leake over at Borrowed Light had this post about how the Christian faith is unlike a Mormon's faith because it is not a blind faith or a leap of faith.


Awhile back I had the opportunity to share the gospel with a couple of Mormon missionaries. They explained to me the way that Joseph Smith received the Book of Mormon. Here was a bit of my response.
“So…let me get this straight. Joseph Smith saw these golden plates. And he was permitted to read them. But nobody else was with him…”
They corrected me and informed me that one other fella was with him and saw some of it, but later denied the whole thing. (If I’m getting some of my Mormon history incorrect please forgive me, I’m only going by what these two chaps told me).
“Okay then, so one other guy saw it but then later denied it. But nobody (and I really was emphatic on the nobody) else saw these golden plates? And this doesn’t bother you? Why didn’t he show other people these golden plates?”
“No, he tried to show other people,” they informed me. “But when he went to show them the plates had disappeared and an angel told him later that they weren’t ready to see it. So yes, Joseph Smith was the only one that saw the golden plates. And no, that doesn’t bother me. We have faith. It is by faith that we believe and receive these things.”
Now pause with me for a moment and ask yourself a question. “Is my faith different than that of these Mormon missionaries?”
Sadly, a number of Christians have an understanding of faith that is similar to these Mormon missionaries. Their faith is a blind faith. It is a faith that values the unverifiable claims of Joseph Smith as somehow a more pure test of faith than a reasoned faith.
Misunderstanding John 20:24-29
In part I believe this comes from a misunderstanding of John 20:24-29 in the account of the aptly named Doubting Thomas. Here Thomas refuses to believe that Jesus is really resurrected until he can see with his own eyes and touch the wounds of Jesus with his own finger. The Lord Jesus in his grace shows up and admonishes Thomas to touch his side. As he does this he admonishes Thomas, “Do not disbelieved, but believe”. Thomas responds in faith—a faith that responds to sight.
Jesus notes his faith as sight response and then says, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.
It is at this point that many make a leap that is not in the text. They read this as if what Jesus is saying is that there is the faith of sight and there is a blind faith—and those with blind faith are better than those that see with their eyes. Not seeing=blind faith. But is that really what Jesus is saying?
We have imposed this idea of blind faith onto the text. What Jesus is contrasting is the faith of Thomas and the other disciples—that see Jesus with their eyes and were able to touch him with their hands—with that of those that will believe after the Ascension. Once Christ returns to the Father then the faith of sight is no longer an option until His return.
Yet this does not mean that our faith is a blind faith. Notice the way that Paul reasons with the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 15 about the resurrection. He points to the written Word of God in 15:3-4; the written—verifiable, see with your eyeballs and see with your brain–Word of God. he then backs it up with eyewitness testimony in 15:5-6; go ask those 500 other dudes that are still living and they’ll tell you the same thing, type of testimony.
There isn’t in 1 Corinthians 15 any sort of, “Well, you see we saw an empty tomb and the risen Lord, but whenever I went to go tell somebody else…well the darndest thing happened, he was back in the tomb and he had disappeared. But you know I still believe what I saw—after all that is faith—believing in something that cannot be verified”.
There is none of that. And there is none of that because the Bible doesn’t exalt blind faith. There is the faith of sight that was given to the apostles and will some day be given to us. And there is reasonable faith—an I’ve tested this thing and found it legit type of faith. But there is no such thing as an “I just feel this in my heart and know that it’s true” type of faith in the Bible.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Monday- Random Thoughts

1) “Changing the World” is hard work. I am not sure the Bible suggests that that is our mission. No matter what our churches or Vidal Sassoon Jesus says. 

2) Coveting is one sin, in the 10 Commandments, that has to do with our feelings - There is some need for us to push back on our feelings. How does this apply to homosexuality or other sins people try to say they can't help their feelings? Maybe we can, to some degree?

3) Just because we are able to do something does not mean we should.

4) A bird flew in our house the other day. It scared Bethany (it might have something to do with my girlish screams, but I'm not sure). She called it a Sting-Bird because it was trying to sting her stuffed monkey.

5) I often take comfort in the ordinary. Otherwise it is easy for me to despair that everything is the same, or despair that I am not living as radical, on fire, extreme Christian life as others (not God) say I should.

6) It is easy for me to get depressed about things, but not as easy to talk about it.

7) Except bacon.

Friday, April 25, 2014

21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask- Book Review

I have two daughters, who are 7 and 4. So, when I first saw the title of Alex McFarland’s book, the 21 toughest questions your kids will ask about Christianity, I thought it would be good since I would be entering in the next few years the realm of the difficult questions.

The questions that McFarland answers include ones about God the Father, Jesus, the Church, the Trinity and the Bible. The breath of the subjects cause some concern about the content. These are some heavy-duty questions. He starts off the book with why God allows evil and suffering.

Of course, he is only able to give thumbnail sketches dealing with some of these topics, but the answers he gives are not simply the usual bumper sticker type answers we get from some in American evangelicalism. Also, unlike some “Christian” books, he uses the Bible throughout each chapter to ground his answers in the only way that truly matters.

The answers he provides will be an encouragement to the parent, youth leader and young adult who reads them. I can highly recommend this book for anyone who deals with teens or even for those who would like some solid reasons, using logic and Scripture (yes, those do go together). This would be a good starter book for someone new in the faith or to the study of apologetics.

I was given this book from Tyndale Books for free in exchange for an honest review.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Making Decisions & God's Sovereignty

I found this quote about making decisions and understanding God's will. I have done some studying in this area with regard to the idea that there are two wills of God, called different things by different folks. I have mostly understood it as God's Moral will versus His Sovereign will. In regard to living our lives trying to be "in the will of God", we are given guidelines in His moral, but we are not given an indication, beforehand, of His Sovereign will. DB

"We should not be concerned with the sovereign will of God when we face a decision (except that we need to be ready to accept whatever the Lord has planned)

The guidance we need for our choices does not have to be somehow mined from the mysterious and unknowable plan devised among the Holy Trinity in eternity past. Rather it is a relatively simple process of finding out what the Bible says and doing it." Dave Swavley

Monday, April 14, 2014

Music Monday: Beatles- Abbey Road

To mark the 44th anniversary of the breakup of the Beatles today, high schooler Dylan Gardner recorded 15 seconds of every song from the second side of Abbey Road, the final album the band recorded. HT 22 Words.

Friday, April 04, 2014

The culture around us is dying: Supplemental

The previous post is linked: here.

Over the past few years, different states’ highway agencies have, according to apparent federal guidelines, been introducing changes to road signs with the aim of making them easier to read or understand (and with the cost of your tax dollars).  So, are these new road signs absolutely easier to read or understand?  Nope.  For instance, the Clearview font with its combination of majuscule and miniscule letters simply is not easier to read than road signs that use only capital letters; for there is a difference between all-caps in a road sign and all-caps in an indemnity section of a service agreement that you read on a computer screen.  This is yet another example of what the movers and shakers of our society do today: they possess a horrible tendency to make changes that are nothing less than wasteful, counterproductive and foolish.

Tomorrow’s movers and shakers are today’s  high school students.  I understand that teenagers are not as wise, smart, and sophisticated as they think they are; I understand that better than most since I was an introspective, observant semi-contrarian even in junior high.  Still, the actions of the first group of students in the following news item are ridiculous by any standard; hat tip to a certain trucker: Furor at Catholic high school after nun presents Church teaching on homosexuality |

The silver lining of this cloud is the separation of the tares from the wheat, as it were.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

OkCupid: Save the Date

On 3 April 2014 Reuters ran the story that, well, «"Mozilla's new CEO, Brendan Eich, is an opponent of equal rights for gay couples," the message said. "We would therefore prefer that our users not use Mozilla software to access OkCupid."»

So let’s all check back with the staff of OkCupid in five years, after the movement for equal rights of those wanting group marriages or marriages with siblings or with inhuman entities has gained ground and become as strident as the Gay Lobby is.  Should it be discovered that OkCupid is equally old-fashioned and hateful in their dealings with the hyper-celebrated social groups of the next zeitgeist, some of us will remember OkCupid’s hypocrisy and what they did to Mozilla back in 2014.

And now that you are done reading this blog post, go out and find yet another Web browser--besides either IE, Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or any other popular one--to use because one thing is certain: there are one or two employees who developed those browsers yet are sexist in their use of insults and slurs; the same people are also unwittingly prejudicial and/or needlessly insulting in their thoughts and dealings with conservatives, Republicans, Southerners, country folk, gun owners, Christians, Muslims, Jews, and really practically any other social group.  (I could pull contemporary anecdotes to support what I am saying here.)  Go ahead and think about drawing up a new Constitution for the United States while you’re at it; freedom of speech per the First Amendment derives from a document written by racist slave owners anyhow.