October 20, 2020

Saturday Ramblings, February 15, 2014

Did you miss the Christian Oscars?  Okay, that is not their official name, but The Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. This year’s big winners included Duck Dynasty, Frozen, Iron Man 3, Grace Unplugged and The Bible. Quote of the night goes to Mark Burnett (producer of The Bible mini-series): “America was built on two things: the Bible and free enterprise”. Now you know.

The New Yorker ran a story on the Christian Oscars. The same magazine looked at when and how we became secular.

Quick, what do Catholics, Mormons, Lutherans (LCMS) and Southern Baptists have in common?  Opposition to gay marriage, of course.  What else?

Imagine the Mona Lisa carried around a crowded city in a donkey cart, then placed on smurf blanket for examination, having part of it  cut off to check the value, being briefly offered on eBay, then disappearing in the hands of Hamas.  Laughable, right?

Handout of bronze statue of the Greek God Apollo in GazaNo, its not the Mona Lisa, but one expert claimed it holds the same value. The 2000 year old bronze statue of Apollos was apparently found by a fisherman in Gaza, who took it home on the donkey cart.  Joudat Ghrab’s mother was not happy when she saw the naked Apollo carried into the house, demanding that his private parts be covered. “My mother said ‘what a disaster you have brought with you’ as she looked at the huge statue,” said Ghrab. The statue is in perfect shape, except for the two missing fingers Ghrab and his brother cut off to see if they were gold. One was melted down by a jeweler.

A year ago Tuesday, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he was becoming the first pontiff to resign in more than half a millennium. Benedict’s longtime private secretary credited the  stunning decision with opening the way to the “enormous impact” Pope Francis is having on the church and world at large. Benedict says he has “no regrets”.

Sochi has 20,000 Muslims.  But no mosque.

Want to keep track of when U. S. drones kill someone?  There’s an app for that.

Bob Jones University has apparently decided they are not a fan of GRACE after all. A year ago they hired Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment to investigate allegations of sexual abuse. But a month before the results of the 13-month investigation were due to be published, it has fired the firm, and requested that the investigation halt and remain confidential.

“From my admittedly limited vantage point, the gravest dangers for us seem to be not legalism but antinomianism, not intellectualism but sentimentalism, not scrupulosity but laxity, not despair but presumption, not all-out retreat but all-out assimilation, not pharisaic ritualism but anti-liturgical iconoclasm, not missionary timidity but evangelical over-hastiness, not self-referentialism but self-forgetfulness (and not the good kind), not stifling uniformity but disjointed miscellany, not clericalism but, for lack of a better word, laicism.” So writes Michael Hannon in First Things, reacting to the New Evangelization ideas current in the Catholic Church.

Within the last six months, two bastions of conservative evangelical higher education, Biola and Moody, dropped their prohibition against drinking.  CNN notes that this is part of a broader trend toward Protestants becoming more accepting of alcohol, especially beer. The article also states many Christians view it as a way to connect with non-believers.  John MacArthur, by the way, is having none of it: “It is wrong-headed, carnal, and immature to imagine that bad-boy behavior makes good missional strategy. The image of beer-drinking Bohemianism does nothing to advance the cause of Christ’s kingdom. Slapping the label ‘incarnational’ on strategies such as this doesn’t alter their true nature. They have more in common with Lot, who pitched his tent toward Sodom, than with Jesus, who is ‘holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens'”.

This could get confusing.  Facebook  announced Thursday that it will let users choose from “custom gender” options on the site, providing a drop-down menu that includes “Gender Fluid,” “FTM,” “MTF,” and about 50 [editor: 50???] other terms.  A statement released by the company said they worked closely with Network of Support, a group of leading LGBT advocacy organizations, “to offer an extensive list of gender identities”.  No word yet on John MacArthur’s opinion of this.facebook

This could get confusing, part 2. The Maine Supreme Judicial Court ruled the rights of a transgender girl from Orono were violated when school administrators made her use a staff bathroom at her elementary school instead of the girls’ restroom.  Nicole Maines was born Wyatt Maines, but had identified as a girl since an early age. School officials became aware of her gender identification when she was in the third grade, when students and teachers began referring to Nicole as “she.”  This is following a recent California law that lets students of that state choose their bathroom and the gender of their sports team by which gender they say they  identify with.  I surely can’t see any un-intended consequences of this one, can you?

In un-related news, Mary Ann Johnson won the California girls state tennis title.

In un-related news, Mary Ann Johnson won the California girls state tennis title.

Pew Research Center reports that support for the death penalty has decreased from 78% in 1991 to 55% today.  Your thoughts, imonkers: Is the death penalty ever justified?

The creator of Salvation Mountain has passed away.  Leonard Knight, a self-described “little hobo bird,” spent three decades painting a mountain in the desert of Imperial Valley (California) He painted pastoral scenes and biblical quotations, all supporting a universal theme: “Love Jesus and keep it simple.”th (3)

Children in Belgium will soon legally be able to end their own life.  The Belgian Parliament has  lifted the age restrictions on euthanasia (the King’s signature will make it law).   Joni Eareckson Tada commented,  “Society’s unwritten moral law has always led us to save our children, not destroy them – and certainly not to allow them to destroy themselves.”  And isn’t not being able to make adult decisions kinda the whole point of childhood? Your thoughts?  Should there  be a right to die?  And what age restrictions (if any) would you place on it?

Do you need to forgive your parents?  I came to a place where I had to do just that.   Leslie Leyland Fields talks about why it’s so hard to forgive our parents and why we must anyway.

Famous birthdays this week include Cotton Mather (1663), Thomas Malthus (1766),  Abraham Lincoln, (1809), Charles Darwin (1809), Frederick Douglas (1818), and Jack Benny (1894) who provides this week’s video, where he plays a contestant on Groucho Marx’s “You Bet Your Life” Program.



  1. “Facebook announced Thursday that it will let users choose from “custom gender” options on the site, providing a drop-down menu that includes “Gender Fluid,” “FTM,” “MTF,” and about 50 [editor: 50???] other terms.”

    Whatever happened to “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (Geneses 1.27) Is there an addendum to this verse somewhere in Scripture that my search engine failed to find? I’m not what you would call “YEC,” but still…

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      I think a couple issues are in play here. First, there is a small (I’ve read 0.033%) number of children born with some sort of hermaphroditic condition. Second, there are people (including children) with normal biology, but who feel that their “true self” is not the same as their biological gender. Third, there is a large social movement on the left which desires to do away with the whole scheme of what they call “binary” sexual identity. Instead of male and female being normative, they would say there is no “normative” in any sense of the word (except an oppressive societal expectation), and there are not two genders but many. Gender, for these people, is not a binary, fixed-at-birth choice between male and female. Gender is fluid, multi-faceted, changeable, and determined solely by the feelings of each individual.

      My own take, for what its worth, is that we should show compassion and understanding for true hermaphrodites, and those involved should do what they can to help the child (including flexibility in applying gender rules). But to make those children the basis for re-defining the basic distinction between male and female is folly of the first order.

      • Err, the preferred term is “intersex.” You might want to look that up; “hermaphrodite” is very outdated and hasn’t been used by the medical community for years.

        As for trans people, again, maybe you guys need to get educated. I’m not trying to go all PC on you, but…I’ve known some trans folk. It’s not at all what you’re assuming. Check the documentary “Becoming Chaz” and also the storyline of character Sophia Burset on “Orange is the New Black” for starters. Both are on Netflix’s streaming service.

        • tophergraceless says

          I feel the image of the tennis player is a rather insulting joke. Especially in light of people like the South African athlete Mokgadi Caster Semenya. Gender is a far more complex issue than most of us care to think about. It would only be doing our duty to listen to transgender people’s own stories before passing our uninformed judgments on them. I like the above suggestions and I also recommend “This American Life” it has a few episodes that talk to transgender individuals especially the second part of the episode “Somewhere Out There”

          • tophergraceless – +1.

          • Daniel Jepsen says

            I disagree. I was merely suggesting (in humor) one way that the law could have un-intended consequences. I was obviously not referring to any particular persons, especially Semenya, who is neither Californian nor a Trans.

          • But Caster Semenya *is* intersex, Daniel.

            Again, I can only suggest (strongly) that you spend some time with folks who are actually living out what you are objecting to. You might well have a very different perspective in time – if nothing else, you (and others) will, I hope, begin to grasp a little of what these folks go through and have more compassion in consequence. Trans people seem to be hated/resented by many gay and lesbian people, and violent crimes against trans people are committed by gay/lesbian folks, not just straight people.. And then there’s verbal and emotional abuse and… well.

            Please try to let folks speak for themselves. It’s something I’m still learning to do, and I freely admit that I simply don’t get what it is like to be in their shoes.


          • Daniel, you said “I disagree.” I’m not sure what you’re referring to, which might just be my somewhat muddled Saturday a.m. self speaking, but… If you could clarify, I’d appreciate it.

            Thanks in advance.

          • Daniel Jepsen says

            Numo, I meant I disagreed that the tennis player joke was an insult. I certainly didn’t intend for it to be so.

            I don’t know if Semenya is intersex or not. I don’t think the “gender report” has been made public. But the law in CA, from my understanding at least, is not focused just on those who are intersex but also and especially those who are intact biologically but who identify (or claim to identify) with the other gender. Semenya, has never claimed to be an anatomical boy who feels she is a girl.

            By the way, maybe its just me, but the term “intersex” seems too ambigious. Sex, in our culture, can mean one of at least three things: gender, orientation, or activity. When I hear “intersex” I am not sure which meaning is in play. Thus, my preference for the older term.

            But I agree that we need to listen and be charitable to Trans people, and I apologize if my post seemed dismissive. I have a lot to learn.

          • tophergraceless says

            “I was merely suggesting (in humor) one way that the law could have un-intended consequences.”

            But that is why I brought up Semenya. You supposed “un-intended consequence” was exactly what she was accused of. She looked masculine, even though she had always presented as a women. she had to be tested and it was a fiasco and embarrassing to her. I guess what I’m trying to say is that the un-intended consequence you imagine happening because of this ruling are ludicrous and insulting and reflects an ignorance of transgendered and intersex persons and their lives.

          • Danile – I agree that the tennis player thing is in poor taste.

            As for Semenya, she tested as intersex, back when some runners made an issue of it in (I think?) Beijing, during the Olympics previous to the ones in London.

          • btw, “intersex” is the preferred medical term, as it covers a wide spectrum of conditions.

            Read up and you’ll see, Danile.


          • Daniel – my apologies for mistyping your name!

          • Sorry for yet another comment, but the law in CA is about trans people specifically. They may or may not be intersex as well, but I think getting some clear definitions of terms here would help in discussion.

            Cool? 🙂


          • Daniel Jepsen says

            Cool. Which is why Semenya is a red herring, since she has never claimed to be trans.

            And I agree that clear definitions would be very helpful in this debate. I apologize if I have added to the confusion.

          • Daniel – De nada! It *is* confusing, for me as much as for anyone else.

            Intersex refers to a fair number of physical conditions. One example: it used to be routine for parents of infants with “ambiguous” (medical term) genitalia to choose to have their children operated on – to be either girls or boys, period. Google “John Money” and see what you get. He was at Johns Hopkins medical school, and there are some cases in which he committed egregious wrongs against children re. this very thing.

            But the best thing to do is to check the medical definitions of ” intersex”; then “trans,” and go from there.

          • P.S.: I don’t think Semenya is a “red herring” at all, especially in reference to your caption for the pic of the tennis player.

            Look, I worked at a place where there was a young woman who had a beard – very light, but there. It’s not uncommon for some women with intersex conditions to have this show up as a secondary characteristic. the woman in question had shaved for years, because she felt ashamed and because she went through a *very* hard time once she hit puberty (from peers, etc.), but at that point had decided to stop.

            She was not androgynous-looking in the least, apart from that.

        • Semenya again: some of her competitors likely wanted to see her disqualified so that they could have a better chance of winning. Sad but true.

      • Isn’t this all kind of backwards? The one thing that is immutable, gender (its built into our DNA and cannot be erased), we now believe is irrelevant and subject to emotional or psychological whims, BUT the one thing that CAN be changed (for the most part) by psychological and behavioral means, sexual orientation, is judged to be immutable, even to the point that psychological techniques are outlawed for children.

        This can only happen in a largely prosperous nation that has come to believe that religion is a suit of clothes that you put on once a week and should be kept to oneself while scientists claim that something can appear out of nothing, as in The Big Bang. I only wish that I could be around in another 100 years to see what we can think up next!

        • I think gender is different from the physical (e.g. DNA) characteristics. It’s why we have words like cisgender (which means you identify your gender the same way your physicality (e.g. DNA) does.

        • Actually a person can have more than one set of DNA (chimera) and for a small percentage of people who are intersex they are intersex because one set of DNA is XX and the other XY.

          It is also possible for a person to be genetically one sex but to appear physically as the other (e.g., complete androgen insensitivity syndrome where genetic males XY appear to be female). BTW in Texas legal precedent (Littleton v. Prange) seems to be that chromosome makeup determines one’s legal gender so there may well be some couples in Texas who are unknowingly in a same-sex marriages due to the wife actually being XY in her chromosomes.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Here’s my take on the matter, from an SF novella. The situation is two paravulpine aliens at a holiday party:

      “Now talking strange, I used to think humandri were hermaphrodite — like scat-worms and Quellan, except they could also change sex at will. Like Shuuth and the nimshuuthdri. I was almost at coming-of-age before I realized they were born male or female, just like us.”

      Now it was Khrysha’s turn to drop her mouth and ears in astonishment. “What? How?”

      “First time I came across humandri, I think I was about twelve at the time. I was filling out personal info on an online form that had to have been written by them. When I came to ‘Gender’ – that’s what they call ‘Sex’ – they had over a dozen choices instead of ‘Tod, Vixen, or Quellan’. And a long footnote explaining ‘which of these do you feel best describes you?’ as if you could switch at will! Then when I got into gaming, you could spot humaan players a parsec away because they’d sex-bend or herm their pelts! What would you conclude?”

    • Marcus Johnson says

      I think what happened was Facebook realized they were not a Christian institution.

      Hey, it only took them ten years…

    • Well, what happened was that not everyone believes in the same book as you. Sorry if that shocks you.

    • What happened is that Facebook is a publicly traded corporation dreamed up by hacker/ social media guru Mark Zuckerberg, and is a communication centerpiece for a billion people all over the world.

      In other words, I don’t believe there was ever any question that Facebook was a Bible-believing institution.

    • I’m only surprised there’s only 50. Think about it. If gender self-conception is like a sine wave, and we’re dealing with real numbers (as opposed to integers) then you can pick any point on that sine wave and get a unique number and you can keep doing that and there will always be numbers left to pick.

      I like to think of it like the Vulcan IDIC (Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations).

      • yes… like the continuum of sexual orientation, which I realize most posters/readers here don’t agree with.

        However, that doesn’t make it any less real, and I am not talking about paraphilias here (like pedophilia or bestiality), but totally gay/lesbian, totally straight, and all the points in between. I’ve known a number of gay men who enjoyed having sex with women, but that didn’t alter the fact that they identified as gay (though my hunch is “bi, with a stronger attraction to people of the same gender”).

        Make of that what you will, since being bi is derided by many in the gay community as well as by straight people, and is very often both misrepresented and misunderstood.

        • To be super-clear: I am *not* talking about abusive sexual behaviors that are innately damaging to the abused (children, animals), but to same-sex d/or heterosexual sex engaged in by consenting adults.

  2. We want what we want.

  3. Headless Unicorn Guy says

    Did you miss the Christian Oscars? Okay, that is not their official name, but The Annual Movieguide Faith & Values Awards doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue.

    Movieguide. Ted Bear. I remember him from Christianese radio in the Eighties. Christian watchdog who originated the “tally-sheet” movie review consisting of “25.444 uses of profanity (broken down by (redacted) cussword), 35.2 uses of lascivious dress, 41.377 times taking the name of the LORD in vain, ZERO presentations of God’s Plan of Salvation, etc”.

    “Just like the Oscars, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

  4. I am having trouble squaring Jon MacArthur’s argument in his article with this quote from the very same article, “freeing us from asceticism”.

    Choosing to refrain from alcohol and other recreational substances is asceticism. Choosing “self-control, sober-mindedness… restraint of fleshly lusts”, as he holds up as a christian ideal, is an ascetical process. There’s nothing wrong at all about that being the case, but it makes his whole article silly.

    • “They have more in common with Lot, who pitched his tent toward Sodom, than with Jesus…” he said, as Jesus finished turning water into wine and was accused by the Pharisees of being a winebibber.

      Does John MacArthur actually read the Bible, or just the study notes in the MacArthur study edition?

      • I, too, wonder how MacArthur can stand to read his Bible, as pervasive as wine and wine drinking is throughout it.

        Oh, I forgot, it’s grape juice, and grape juice drinking, not wine…..

      • The part that got me was that MacArthur sees Jesus as “separated from sinners.” Huh? Not sure what Bible he’s reading to get that from the incarnation, when Jesus was accused of precisely the opposite. Not to mention the minor detail of the temple curtain being rent during the crucifixion. Talk about missing the point!

        I think this, like many MacArthur’s writings and messages are pretty eisigetical and thus much more of a window into his particular rigid position and approach than an actual engagement with the story of scripture.

      • I’ve always felt very strange about the idea of a study Bible with one person’s name on it. I’ve never known a teacher I’d trust that much. David Jeremiah just released one too. There is absolutely no need for it, but I guess when guys like these preach through the entire Bible a couple of times, it’s time to compile your notes and consolidate it in one location. …so why don’t they just do the old-fashioned thing and publish a devotional commentary like Matthew Henry and Adam Clarke?

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          Usually the name on the book is the author or editor. “The MacArthur Study Bible” implies MacArthur wrote the Bible. (Which might very well be true of that edition; remember Charles Taze Russel?)

        • I agree, Miguel.. My kids gave me a 1599 Geneva Bible, considered to be the first “study Bible.” As I understand it, the comments were written by several individuals.

          • I haven’t actually held one of those, but I hear they are pretty darned good. The modern remake of it, the “Reformation Study Bible” by Ligonier is really top notch as well. Bringing together a team of top scholars definitely yields better results, imo. The Lutheran Study Bible (the LCMS one) is also outstanding. But honestly, I only use them to look things up, so the notes could have been published separately.

      • Headless Unicorn Guy says

        Does John MacArthur actually read the Bible, or just the study notes in the MacArthur study edition?

        Back when I was mixed up in that end-of-the-world cult and Dake’s Annotated BIble was the ONLY Revealed Word of God, I don’t think anybody actually read the King Jimmy center columns, only Dake’s notes in the side columns. Would explain a lot of the weirdness back then…

  5. Dan Crawford says

    “America was built on two things: the Bible and free enterprise”. American history provides a vivid demonstration that “free enterprise” functions with no reference to the Bible.

    • On the positive side, and quite tellingly, free enterprise appears to work every bit as well in places like Singapore, Hong Kong, or Japan — none of which could be described as being even remotely Christian.

      Then again, if all we need to do with the Bible is to distill it into principles, then we should not be surprised that we can do the same with economics.

  6. ‘Is the death penalty ever justified?’ The law justified death for the woman caught in adultery. The Lord Jesus chose grace and mercy. (John 8)

    I saw a Barna survey on this where only 38 percent of all adults surveyed supported capital punishment. Yet 40 percent of practicing Christians did. And most telling for me, only 5 percent (I pray of the first larger group) believe Jesus would. Yes, some crimes break my heart. But not only is no man beyond redemption, no man is unworthy of redemption.

    • And human judicial decisions about guilt or innocence are far from infallible.

      • So, Robert, are you saying that since judgement is not perfect EVERY time then we should abandon judgement altogether? At what level would you accept judgement? 90% accuracy? 95%? 99%? Do you know what percentage of those put to death were actually found to be innocent at a later date?

        Executions SHOULD cause us emotional and psychological pain, ESPECIALLY for the Christian, unlike abortions which as enshrined as a personal choice and legal right, and even celebrated as such. How many of THOSE victims are innocent? Please excuse me, I know this is an unfair thing to say in relation to the death penalty, but I am just trying to make a point about ANY human judgement.

        • I don’t want to discuss the subject of abortion. That’s a different debate, and I think it muddies the issues involved here.

          Because the penalty of capital punishment leaves no redress for an incorrect judgement, not even the far-too-little redress of leaving some part of a persons life to live after exoneration, I think it is a special case that should require 100% accuracy in judgement. We’re talking about the full power of the state being brought against one of its own citizens in a bid to end his or her life. It’s a special case.

          In addition, even if such infallibility of judgement should be possible, until the penalty of capital punishment, the death penalty, is fairly used against all classes of citizens, and not just certain classes, it is unjustifiable in a society struggling to achieve racial and ethnic parity.

          • Robert, the same could be said of drug convictions and sentences in the USA. Predominately minority convictions, abandoned by the appeals process for lack of money and interest to serve years without remedy while white and monied majorities get the best representation and version of “justice”. Should we then abandon THOSE as well? Should we institute a special class of penalties for those over represented and abandoned minorities? Of COURSE not! The justice system cannot act in such a manner and, unfortunately, we have to deal with imperfection in human judgement WITHOUT abandoning that judgement.

            And btw, I DID mention that my comment on abortion wasn’t fair, but that I made it as a statement on human judgement.

          • Oscar,

            “The justice system cannot act in such a manner and, unfortunately, we have to deal with imperfection in human judgement WITHOUT abandoning that judgement.”

            I didn’t say a word about abandoning legal judgements; I was talking about why the death penalty should be abolished as a punishment for being judged guilty.

      • Yes! That was my concern and why worked for and I am glad that the death penalty was overturned in my state of IL. We 13 (13!!!) people who were convicted with reasonable doubt (a great many were actually kater exonerated!) in the crime in which they were charged on Death Row!

        Had the state killed these innocent people, it would have been in the name of our state, which would have made each and every one of us an accessory to murder.

        When we have a perfect judicial system, then I’ll support the death penalty. Until then, I support life imprisonment without parole (because some people are not fit to live safely with others).

      • Robert, I think Plato discussed this rather well. Are you familiar with his arguments?

    • Steve, I think the question should be properly put as “Do you believe society is justified in using the death penalty?” As a Christian I could NEVER be the one to “pull the switch”, nor can I square Jesus’ words with promoting the death penalty, but society, by and large, is NOT set up on Christian principals, nor is it bound by them in general. They set up laws and rules for the good order and function of the administration of that government. If they deem that putting a mass murderer to death as a point of justice then it should be so. In a sense it is an outrage to claim that “all human life is precious” while, at the same time flaunting the life and words of a Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, Richard Ramirez, et. al. in the faces of the victims’ families. Fortunately all are now dead albeit not all by state sanctioned means.

      Where does justice come in? When some are now calling “life without the possibility of parole” as state sanctioned torture are we then to resort to the European model of NO life sentence, where the murderer can walk free after serving a determinate sentence? Is there justice in THAT?

      This is a complicated subject that defies easy solutions, but I thing that this country’s changing attitudes on the subject are due more to “process fatigue” where endless appeals and advocacy has made us weary of the discussion. In fact the discussion has devolved into sloganeering and thoughtless verbal ejaculations rather than logical discussions of justice. I believe that if the populace could see a condemned person put to death in a timely manner then their attitude would probably change back toward support rather than equivocation.

      Of course, these are my “off the top of my head” reactions. I COULD be wrong…

      • Oscar,

        Not on the basis of Christian faith, but on the basis of prevailing and developing shared societal values, I believe the death penalty should be abolished.

        To the degree that I am a citizen of a particular nation, as well as a Christian, I can’t simply lay the responsibility for determining what constitutes just punishment for crimes at the feet of someone else. You may not be willing to pull the trigger yourself, based on your Christian principles, Oscar, but your tax dollars go toward paying for someone else to pull the trigger, so that someone else is your proxy, and mine.

        Since it is obvious that human justice is not infallible, and that the penalty of capital punishment leaves no room for error and no chance of redressing an unjust judgement, and since capital punishment is disproportionately used against certain classes of people and not others, I believe it should be abolished.

        • First you have to document an unjust execution. There have been a number of exonerations on death row, and these get plenty of press. And if you take the records of who are committing the crimes, and in what proportion to the ethnicity of the populace as a whole, you will see that it is white men who are in the majority of those executed.

          It appears that we have a societal problem that produces a class of people who commit these crimes. The ethnic rate of criminality is NOT egalitarian in its distribution. We cannot say that since African Americans are 10% of the population, for example, that they then should be 10% of the prison population, or that Anglos should be 51% of the population, etc. It just doesn’t happen that way.

          What we SHOULD do is to deal with facts on the ground, NOT on our fears and suspicions. Like I said before, it is a complicated situation that require REAL discussion where it counts.

          • You may be right about how some of the bias in the criminal justice system works out, although I think it’s a terribly complicated issue in which the question of proportionality has to be asked in a number of areas.

            But my primary objection to the application of the death penalty remains that it is a total punishment that leaves no ground on which redress for error or corruption can be made. It involves the state using its power against one of its own citizens in a way that leaves nothing, and in a way that makes exoneration subsequent to punishment meaningless. No state should have this power against its own citizens. Even one innocent party executed as a result of a mistaken guilty verdict or corruption is TOO MUCH.

            As far as I’m concerned, special criteria should be met before the death penalty can be imposed, one of which is fairness, the other and more important of which is infallibility in determining the guilt of the accused.

            That’s where I stand, and that’s what I support.

      • You could be wrong, Oscar, but I suspect your nuanced post is pretty much on-target overall. I’d just add that another major reason for the decline in the support has been the raft of DNA-based exonerations over the years, all of which illustrate the high-pressure nature of the criminal trials and the pitiful legal representation the defendants too often receive. Such trials, more than any other, deserve the highest of standards, but they too often fall well short.

        Apart from that , my own “off the top of my head” thought is that Christians who point to specifically to the OT for their support of the death penalty completely ignore the practical realities of what it takes to go from accusation to execution — even in biblical times. “Suffer not a witch to live,” while not a particularly burning issue today ( I didn’t just say that), might be what the Law demanded, but it says nothing about what constitutes a legitimate court, who has standing to accuse whom, who can be a witness, statutes of limitation, retrials, etc., etc., etc.

        Yet of course the rabbis DID know such considerations were all-important, and that’s why over the years rabbinic thought developed to the point that the death penalty, for all practical purposes, could hardly ever be applied at all. But we Christians are almost completely ignorant of such midrashic insights into these questions. After all, what would they know about it — besides actually having lived out the Law for 3500 years?

        • Trevis – very much “yes” to your comment on the long, ongoing discussion on this and other issues within Judaism.

          We have a *lot* to learn…

        • We don’t even need the OT to try to justify executions. Even Jesus said “Those who live by the sword must die by the sword” (not that I’m using that quote to justify executions), but I’m trying to say that governments have the duty to establish order, and right now the death penalty is the law. And if it IS the law then the government bears the responsibility of ensuring its fairness. If THAT is not possible then it needs to change the penalty to one it CAN properly administer. Further, since in the USA “We, the People” ARE the government then it is up to us to press the issue to our representatives.

          Personally, I am sick of the elaborate, deadly dance that has evolved around this subject, and even though ultimately injustice toward the victims’ families is perpetuated it is STILL a case of bad or worst case scenarios.

      • I could never pull the switch, either, but that begs the question: who do you think *should* do it? Plenty of people of all religions – and none – object to capital punishment on religious/ethical grounds. I might be reading you incorrectly, but it almost sounds as if the tsdk should be delegated to people who aren’t evangelical xtians. ???

        • No numo, you ARE reading it wrong. You are assuming that ALL evangelicals are opposed to the death penalty, but that is not the case. Further, if a Christians wants to be employed in government then that person should count the cost before entering its employ. It is NOT a choice of “careers”, it is a choice that carries responsibility as well. If there are things that “must” be done then we also MUST be aware of them as well.

          • OK – I just can’t help thinking that this creates a huge ethical dilemma for anyone of good conscience, regardless of their beliefs.

            And that it might create a trade or class of people akin to the headsmen of not all that long ago…

    • But not only is no man beyond redemption, no man is unworthy of redemption.

      Actually, Christianity has always held the opposite to be true. We believe that Christ came and died for the UN-worthy, and that there is nothing we can do to merit his grace and forgiveness. How does taking the life of another human being make you worthy of being “rehabilitated?” That is simply injustice, period. An eye for an eye, a life for a life: proportional justice has been the backbone of civilization for centuries, so whether or not we should continue the death penalty, you can not argue that a guilty murderer who receives it is being treated unfairly.

      What about the victims? Are they beyond redemption? And especially, what about the victims of repeat offenders whose “rehabilitation” failed? Extending compassion in these scenarios is about so much more than just poor criminals.

      • Exactly Miguel! Jesus COULD have delivered the thief on the cross, but He DIDN’T! What He DID do was grant him peace in the afterlife. Further, even Paul stated that the Roman government doesn’t “bear the sword in vain”. He knew that such judgement was part and parcel of the world we live in. And was Jesus just joking when He said “Those who live by the sword must die by the sword”? I am not arguing for or against the death penalty, but I AM arguing against those who want to impose Christian values, or moral ambivalence, on a secular government.

        • How do any of us know that the other men were being justly put to death?

          Look back at both English and American penal codes, and you don’t have to go too far before you find the death penalty being invoked for incredibly trivial offenses, a la Jean Valjean’s theft of a loaf of bread in Les Miserables.

          • In fact, in colonial America, the death penalty was allowed in cases of theft….if you received leniency, it meant a branding in a publicly visible place to mark you out as a criminal…


          • And that’s just it. I did use the word “if.” A man who does murder is not being treated unfairly with a death penalty. A common thief IS being treated unfairly. But that is no reason to deny it to murderers. However, in view of faulty convictions, they should only be given sparingly and with the greatest pains taken to ensure certainty. I certainly don’t want the job of making those decisions, but neither do I want to live in a society where murderers fear no consequences.

        • Okay, guys, I’m not an ierrantist, and I’m not going to get involved in proof-texting.

    • Call me a Christian anarchist if you wish but I decline to bow to the idols of ‘social order’ or ‘fairness’. To say that Jesus condoned capital punishment because he didn’t supernaturally intervene would be to suggest that he condones martyrdom, famine, war and plain murder because he doesn’t likewise intervene. Excuse the disagreement but I believe when He said to love our enemies, He meant just that – people we rightly hate and otherwise rightly wish destroyed. As for Paul, he taught us much. But he wasn’t our lord.

  7. If the law passed in Belgium had been the law of the land in this country when I was a child, and more so when I became an adolescent, I might not be alive today. With intolerable psychological suffering, as hard to define as that is, providing sufficient grounds for treatment by euthanasia, I probably would not have made it through my teenage years.

    And the provision that requires the consent of parents would not necessarily have prevented it, because my parents were very psychologically damaged people themselves, as was the family dynamic, and I had an uncanny ability to manipulate them to the goals I desired.

    Does the widespread dysfunction of family systems not throw up red flags around the idea of permitting the euthanizing of children? Does the fact that children traditionally have not been very valued beings, and that the idea that they deserve special protections and treatment is only a very recent development in societies, not provide ample warning that Belgium, and whatever other nations follow their example, is heading down a very dangerous road?

    • Daniel Jepsen says

      Robert, thanks for sharing that.

      I agree with you completely.

      • “Society’s unwritten moral law has always led us to save our children, not destroy them – and certainly not to allow them to destroy themselves.”

        I actually think that Tada is wrong about this. I don’t think that, generally speaking, children have been highly valued or protected by societies, including Christian societies. I think that the idea that children should be protected, and are entitled to a societally sanctioned sheltered and protected stage of life that we call childhood, is a very recent, and salutary, development. I think this development should be nurtured and supported, and I fear that the Belgian law just passed will undermine that development, and that frightens and angers me. That’s perhaps the main reason I oppose this law.

        • Agree, and also worry about the regulation of this law. It’s not hard to imagine some internet groups gas lighting teens into suicide.

          • I agree, but I checked out a number of news stories, and the law is applicable to children and adolescents who are terminally ill (as with cancer) – it excludes everyone and everything else.

            At least the parameters are clear-cut.

          • numo,

            If that’s so, that it only applies to terminally ill children, it still makes me very uncomfortable, but it’s a different discussion and issue, about the general legitimacy of euthanasia as medical treatment, an argument which I suppose children were bound to be dragged into once it became a live option.

            I’m not ready for this brave new world.

          • Robert – not sure I’m any more “comfortable” with this than you are – but yes, it’s an entirely different issue/question, given that it is about terminally ill people only.

            Sometimes pain becomes intolerable, far beyond the capacity of medicine to tame, let alone treat. And that’s one of the big considerations here, I’m sure.

            There are some cases where I honestly believe that assisted suicide is not wrong; to keep a terminally ill person alive when they are in agony is one of those things that begs the question.

          • Brianthedad says

            Numo, help me understand how capital punishment, with due process (I know, it’s not perfect, bear with me) to determine guilt and punishment is somehow always wrong, but letting the doctor kill off your sick child is ok? *This* begs the question, but capital punishment is always wrong? I’m lost.

            Robert F, brave new world indeed. Where are the phosphorus recovery plants?

          • At the risk of dragging this out… Have you ever been in such severe physical pain that you truly wanted to die, and that no drug could touch per relief?

            Neither have I, but many terminally ill people suffer horribly as a result of that kind of pain, whether from cancer or other terminal illnesses.

            Dealing with severe chronic pain is hard enough, but the kind of pain I’m talking about eclipses it utterly.

            With that in mind, please reread my previous comment and hopefully you’ll see the point I was trying to make. I doubt this is even applicable to 99 and 9/10ths of juvenile cancer patients’ cases. But that 1/10th deserves compassion, and a choice.

          • Cancer treatment (chemo and radiation) are incredibly hard for anyone to go through, regardless of age – for all the medical advances of the pssdt fifty years, this is one thing that hasn’t changed.

            Another is this: the level of pain experienced by many people with terminal cancer.

            If anything, the argument can be made that we too often artificially prolong life via what are referred to in medicine as “heroic measures.” All too often, we play God by refusing to move to palliative care.

            No matter who is suffering, it’s a hard call. And it is especially difficult with kids. Nobody’s talking about withholding treatment; it’s about kids with Stage 4B cancer. (When death really is the inevitable outcome.)

            If you talk with people who work with cancer patients, or who have gone through it themselves, it becomes a whole other ballgame. I’m all for trying to make people well when there is hope, but for all of us, the time comes when that’s no longer an option. At that point, other concerns – like comfort, quality of life and easing the person’s suffering as much as possible – are paramount. It’s hard to imagine what juvenile patients and their parents go through, really.

        • In my above comment, I meant to say that children have NEVER been highly valued or protected by societies, including Christian societies.

    • Do you suppose that one of the goals is to aid in suicide prevention, as well as to encourage people to seek counseling?

      Not saying that I agree with the law, but I can see that it might be intended to help forestall teen suicides – and if it works, then…

      • I can’t possibly know if that’s one of the purposes of this law. I have to take it at face value, and say that there are surely other, less extreme ways of forestalling teen suicides.

        Does Belgium have a high suicide rate among teens?

        • I think it’s mainly a way to get psych evaluation and treatment to kids who appeal to the law. In allowing a last resort, it can stand as an emotional and psychological barrier against suicide attempts.

          At least, that is my take, and believe me, I hear you re. great emotional distress when younger.(more than I’m willing to say in a public post.)

      • I am willing to bet that any kid who wants to be allowed to die in a legally-sanctioned manner is going to have to go through very intense screening, therapy (likely therapy for the parents as well), etc etc etc.

        My hunch is that it’s a fail-safe more than it is a green light for euthanasia.

        • But I don’t think you hear me about the romanticized idea we have as societies about how we are so interested in the welfare of children. It’s not true.

          Children traditionally have not only had no special status in societies, but have been practically owned by their parents, who could more or less do with them as they wished. And I don’t actually think it’s part of human nature to take care of the children first, unless they are your own children AND you happen to be the kind of parent who means to do well by them, and is emotionally capable of doing well by them.

          I think this law is too extreme. I think it sends a bad message. I think there must be better ways to address teen suicide. I think, whether or not it was promulgated with the goal you suggest, this law will promote and support suicide as medical therapy for depressed and troubled children and youth, instead of putting the onus on society for providing real medical treatment and therapy. I think the suicides will increase as the result of the law, and that it will all become quite normal and accepted.

          Humanity is capable of horrible things, and it shouldn’t tempt itself with extreme “cures.” The darkness is just an inch below the surface.

          • “Children traditionally have not only had no special status in societies, but have been practically owned by their parents, who could more or less do with them as they wished.”

            Hence…. “Pro-Choice”

          • yes, all you have to do look at photos of kids (whether from the 19th c. or right now) who are forced to be working at very young ages to see that.

            And it took an incredible amount of effort to get child labor laws written into US legal codes.

            We’re no better in that respect than the people we tend to look down on, imo.

            But I think the whole Belgian thing needs to be seen in perspective, and I’m off to hunt down what I can.

          • Stop the presses: the law pertains to terminally ill children only, and there are all kinds of safeguards that are supposed to kick in. (Whether they do or not is another thing.)

            Believe it or not, I think that in certain cases this might be a viable and merciful option for the child to *choose* for themselves.

          • Re: the link you provided: Peter Singer interviewed as a responsible bio-ethicist for the article? Seriously? I can’t follow anywhere Singer leads, and I have to question the editorial wisdom that goes to him for expert opinion.

          • I don’t know who he is, actually.

          • Singer is a moral philosopher and bio-ethicist at Princeton University. He proposes the view that killing a newborn human being is not killing a person, because newborns lack the qualities that constitute a person: rationality, autonomy and self-consciousness. His argument in favor of abortion takes the tack that although the fetus is human, it isn’t a person because it lacks the aforementioned qualities, and so it may be killed. He also believes that those with a permanent developmental disability that involves an IQ below a certain level, lacking the same qualities, should be euthanized to prevent their suffering, and to prevent the use of limited resources on those who lack the necessary qualities to constitute a person.

  8. “…the gravest dangers for us seem to be not legalism but antinomianism…”

    At first, I thought this quote corresponded with the story on BJU and GRACE, rather than the quoted directed toward the Catholic church. But I think it is at the heart of one of the biggest and oldest blind spots plaguing the church. As I have quoted from Dr. Rod Rosenbladt’s “The Gospel for Those Broken By the Church” (see sponsor link to the right), the root cause of antinomianism IS legalism. While reading Galatians earlier this week, this reality jumped out at me like never before in these words by Paul, “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4). Later, Paul states, “So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16). There really is no break in the subject matter: seeking justification through the law separates us from grace; that separation leads to the tyranny of the flesh. Instead, Michael Hannon seems to be leading the Catholic Church down the same road to ruin of Francis Chan with the idea that trying harder, being more strict, and treating people worse, and cranking up the fires of moralism. legalism, enthusiasm, and “radicalism” will purge the church from its problems, not realizing it will merely burn it down.

    To cure antinomianism, one must first cure legalism. To cure legalism, one needs the Gospel.

    • Thank you for this. +1

    • “….the root cause of antinomianism IS legalism…”


    • I think I follow you though I have no idea what you mean by “treating people worse”. I did grow up in a more fundamentalist church (Church of Christ) and did spend ten years a non-believer as a result. And without a doubt the impossibility of justification was to blame. But I find the new ‘radicalism’ a horse of a different color – motivated more by love for God and the restoration of His kingdom rather than fear of some eternal punishment (Chan’s unfortunate book on hell notwithstanding.) No, I appreciate Chan, Claiborne, (Tim) Suttle, and their ilk who are prodding evangelicals to get out of their well padded theater seats and get busy being Christ’s body on Earth.

      “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 8:42

      • And all I hear is “do more do more do more”…oh, and we should have more Spirit ala International House of Prayer.

        Nope. That way is utter death.

      • By making people feel worse, I mean the Pharisaic practice to “tie up heavy loads and put them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them” (Matthew 23:4). I went through this with an earlier rendition of “radical” Christianity while in college, where the pastor ran down the congregation week after week that they weren’t doing enough. These new guys do the same thing, but their “radical” lifestyle example amounts to selling books and guest appearances to tell others how miserably unchallenging their faith is. It seriously leads to forms of depression. It would be hypocrisy if people didn’t expect this crap from celebrity “preachers”.

        • Anyone associated with the Vineyard movement or churches influenced by it during the 80’s may be able to relate (pre-animal sounds).

    • Another way I’ve thought of it is this: A true antinomian is a non-existent creature. Much like a true nihilist or a true relativist. You can’t erect a theology that claims their is no law without implicitly labeling a category of belief, and presumably practice which follows, as being against that theology.

      It’s just that everyone picks and chooses which sins they want to focus on, and then calls the people that aren’t focusing on their favorite sins “antinomian.”

      • I agree. People cherry- pick their legalism. Legalism is the ultimate self-indulgence. The name Gerhard Forde is mentioned around here occasionally. He describe this in his writings quite well.

      • It’s true that there are actually no antinomians, but there are people who insist that they use no norms as guidelines in their lives or thinking, and falsely criticize those who admittedly have such norms as “legalists.” That’s a fundamentally dishonest position.

  9. Don’t look now, but Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, not 1806. And George Washington was born in 1732. People who were born before the invention of the all-inclusive “Presidents Day” were taught these facts in grade school. The dumbing down of America continues….

    • Or maybe it was just a typo on Daniel’s part and that he, like you and I, doesn’t remember NOT knowing that Lincoln was born in 1809.

      I will say that when I was a child no one seemed too keen to point out that Lincoln and Darwin shared precisely the same birth date. Maybe we were dumber then than I realized….

      • Daniel Jepsen says

        Been there, I fixed the typo on Lincoln. The birthdays are always the last thing I write on these, and it is usually late on Friday night after a long work week.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      And both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the same day. So if you want to jerk a few chains, instead of Lincoln’s Birthday, celebrate it as Darwin’s Birthday.

      • We just celebrated Darwin Week at the College of Charleston – by celebrated I mean someone is sure to take credit for praying the giant (to us) ice storm that shut down all but two of the lectures and most of South Carolina. And, by celebrated, I mean the fight to have the words “natural selection” removed from our state’s science standards by Representative Mike Fair this week. He serves as a deacon at my in-law’s church. My mother-in-law is very proud of his fight. (Mercifully the snow days allowed him to ACTUALLY READ the standard he had very publicly opposed. He dropped his fight.)

      • And Aldous Huxley, C.S. Lewis, and John F. Kennedy died on the same day. I remember Kennedy’s death, but Lewis’ life has had far more of an impact on me.

  10. I grew up in the Imperial Valley and met Leonard several times. He was quite possibly the nicest person you’ll ever meet. Some of the stories behind his mountain are quite incredible. Without leaving his little town he has sent a message of hope around the world as photographs of his mountain have been published in numerous countries.

    In my last conversation with him, he expressed some of his frustration that he was unable to worship with any of the churches his in town. He would not attach his project to their ministries, and they didn’t take very kindly to this. But he didn’t let it keep him down: this guy thrived in the wilderness, in more ways than one.

    • I only saw it from the air – – it’s still on my desert “bucket list”. I talked to someone who knew Leonard before dementia set in, and they confirmed he always seemed full of joy: not only the obvious Gospel joy, but also the creative joy of new artistic possibilities simply when someone would donate leftover house paint or other materials.
      I found the link to Huell Howser’s visits, starting at 26:45:

      • The guy simply loved Jesus more than anything else, it was practically all he’d ever talk about. Yes, he was also way into his art project, but for him it was just a practical way to share Jesus with more people. If I remember correct, he originally accepted Jesus growing up on a farm and was so excited he had to tell as many people as he possibly could. The original plan was a hot air balloon with the message on it. This eventually crashed in Niland, where he decided to paint it on a hill instead. He gave us some postcards and jigsaw puzzles of the hill for free, ’cause even his merchandising was just another way to spread the message. I tell you what, going out to the hill was exciting ’cause you got to see Leonard. The mountain was just an extra. I am so blessed to have met him.

        Random bit of trivia: His mountain also housed the largest spare tire tree museum in the world. (Possibly the only one.) It did feel a bit like you had stepped into a Dr. Seuss book when you entered it. Even architects visited the place for inspiration and ideas.

        Even more random: The mountain is on government land. There were multiple attempts to level it. These were, believe it or not, practically met with divine intervention.

  11. Well, I’ve personally become opposed to the death penalty because I’ve read too much in recent years about how ridiculously far from perfect the determination of guilt can be in those cases. (Shorter version: If you come from political leanings that distrust the government, why trust them with something like this?)

    As for Burnett’s quote, at least he recognizes that the Bible and free enterprise are different things…

  12. America was founded on slavery, genocide and rebellion…when will Christian America-firsters ever get that and stop with the you-must-join-our-culture-war-because…propaganda? When?

    • Thanks for saying what I’ve been thinking.

      Maybe I was just a “weird” kid but when I 1st read a school text entry on the Boston Tea Party, I was stunned – because the local news media was full of outcries against vandalism at that time.

      Juxtapose the two and you get…?!

    • You say that as if genocide, slavery and rebellion are not long standing Christian values.

    • Vega Magnus says

      Never. They conveniently forget that the bad stuff happened. I remember my history teacher for my A Beka homeschool videos tried his absolute hardest to form a convincing argument that the American Revolution was NOT a rebellion. Because we can’t endorse rebellion. The students might start listening to rock’n’roll and dancing if we do.

      • I’ve heard that, too, Vega. I’ve also heard a pastor or two declare that we shouldn’t celebrate Independence Day because the Bible says that you should obey the laws of the land and those revolutionaries weren’t doing so.

        Why does it seem that so many Christians can’t deal with the complexity of issues? The US wasn’t simply founded by happy, Godly people who only wanted to create a place where they could freely sing God’s praises. Reality is so much more complicated than that. God’s love for us may be simple, but the rest of it is not.

      • Fortunately, I didn’t have to sit through very many of those vids, Vega, so I didn’t catch the Revolution-wasn’t-a-rebellion idea, but I DO distinctly remember my ca. 1985 A Beka civics textbook making the claim that while apartheid was obviously not a good thing, lots of people in southern Africa went to SA looking for good-paying jobs, so how bad could it really be? Even several years later, when Mandela was released and I had long since started college in a secular environment, I’m ashamed to say how unmoved I was about the positive developments in SA in those days.

        Oh, wait. I do suddenly remember my “Americanism vs. Communism” class. Not sure if I ever became an Americanist.

  13. Death Penalty.

    I was for it as a valid punishment for years. But as I’ve aged I’ve come to a different conclusion. Basically that we can’t trust our (the US) or most any other large legal systems to implement it fairly. (Interesting term I know.)

    Prosecutors are in their jobs to win. As anyone who’s practiced in the criminal law field. Even after DNA or other later found fact completely exonerates many convicted people the DAs are incredibly reluctant to go back and allow the convictions to be overturned. Incredibly reluctant. As I heard recently; “Would you rather have a good lawyer or be innocent?” First choice is the answer if you don’t want to go to jail.

    Our society has complete inverted the point of a jury of our peers. The original intent was to have a jury that KNEW the defendant so they could come to decision based on their knowledge of the person. Now it means getting a group of people together who in theory know nothing about the case so they can only see the facts as spoon fed through the court process.

    The police want to close cases. And in many cases rounding up someone who was poor or of the wrong skin tone and getting a confession or stacked case was accepted by both the police and public who really didn’t want to know about the details. I’ve repeatedly heard multiple people inside and outside the system say, “Well it doesn’t mater if they are innocent of this crime, they certainly are guilty of others so this one will do to get them into jail.” This has changed a lot over the last 50 years but is till an issue in many parts of the US. Much less the rest of the world.

    In theory a valid death penalty could be dealt with at the small tribal/village level where everyone knows everyone (which is where the Biblical situations come from) but then again, look at all the Biblical stories about corrupt leaders who put their own power above the lives of others. David anyone?

    • Well said! Enough hair splitting already. Read Conrad Black and understand what a fearsome beast the US prosecutorial system is. It is insane to trust this system with life and death

  14. Forgiving your parents. Wow. That touches a nerve. Or 10.

    My relationship with my mother mostly broke for good (after 30 years of hard times) when she we getting ready to take a switch to my 5 or 6 year old son for disobeying her. He was obeying me. When I told her to back off her comment was “Well I may have messed up raising my kids but I’m certainly going to fix my grandchildren.” We never allowed her to be alone with them again.

    In later years in discussions with my brothers (we were never close and now understand why) we discovered we all had various issues with her. Just in different ways. But one comment way was her firmly held Christian belief that children should obey their parents till the parents are dead. This extended to things like discussions on almost any topic. You must agree with her or get yelled at. Which leads to not talking to her about almost anything other that “would you like a glass of water?” Not buying the couch see wanted you to put in your living room was grounds for a fight.

    I’ve come to peace with my situation. I’d like to help her in her old age. So would my brothers. But to be around her you either have to lie about things constantly or start getting berated about how you are wrong about most anything. And she’d not senile, just convince only she has the answer to everything if having a conversation with her sons.

    It took my dad’s death for most of this to really come out as we discovered he was keeping her in check most of the time.

    Forgiveness, not sure how to do that.

    Mostly at peace and no longer resentful. Yes.

  15. Re death penalty: I agree with RobertF and David L. (In addition, I have read that the appeals process, no matter the outcome, costs much more than housing a prisoner for life; for those with concerns about government expenditures, I would think this would be significant.)

    Re forgiving one’s parents: I believe it is necessary for maturity. It is not whitewashing or denying; it is telling the whole truth about how the parent’s behavior affected me. It’s about grief (which is scary, because of the huge feelings and because our culture in general does not allow it). It’s about coming to a place of no resentment and no wish for payback, and to a place of having compassion for one’s parents, viewing them in their reality as well. Codependence and ongoing toxicity are brought to a halt within us bit by bit. It does not mean that reconciliation is always possible, or advisable. In nearly all instances it is a process, and takes as long as it takes; having a support system helps a lot, and is often sadly lacking among Christians. There are real benefits with engaging in this difficult work.


    • “Re forgiving one’s parents: I believe it is necessary for maturity. It is not whitewashing or denying; it is telling the whole truth about how the parent’s behavior affected me.” True indeed, Dana. And it’s also true that I have to accept the forgiveness of my children for what I’ve done to them.

  16. Daniel, thanks for the Jack Benny clip. My first time seeing him other than with Lucille Ball. Very funny.

    • Yeah, I had not seen it before either. I can’t help but feel that the comedians of his generation had a much better sense of timing and of physicality than most today (who rely more on outlandish or shocking material).

      • That’s because they learned and worked in vaudeville rather than in comedy clubs.

        • Of course, there was also burlesque, which was lots raunchier. You’re seeing clean material by Jack Benny; not sure that his work was always that way. The same goes for others of his era.

          • Headless Unicorn Guy says

            There was no hard dividing line between vaudeville and burlesque; the two blended into each other depending on how much the performer could get away with. What we know as vaudeville is filtered through close to 100 years of nostalgia and Hays Office movies; the original was probably wilder and crazier, more like The Gong Show.

            Wasn’t just Jack Benny who came out of vaudeville; most of the big names of the 30s and 40s did as well. Marx Brothers, George Burns, Three Stooges, you name it. TV Variety shows, from Ed Sullivan to Laugh-In to The Gong Show, were vaudeville done in front of cameras.

            In his later years, Groucho Marx used to reminisce about vaudeville to his next-door neighbor Alice Cooper. Once he had some fellow old vaudevillians attend one of Coop’s live stage shows — you know, “Welcome to My Nightmare” et al, the over-the-top ones that gave all the Christian activists multiple strokes? According to the story, the old vaudevillians pronounced Coop’s show “classic vaudeville”.

          • I started watching a British TV show (Lost Empires) that’s centered on “variety,” which seems to have been the top half of their music hall (equivalent to vaudeville and burlesque), so that Jack Benny clip fits right in.

            The “empires” of the title was a chain of theaters, like Pantages over here during vaudeville’s heyday.

            I bet those vaudevillians appreciated Cooper *far* more than most of his teenage fans.

  17. I do have questions regarding the moral legitimacy of using euthanasia or assisted suicide as a medical treatment or therapy in the case of extreme psychological suffering for adults, if it is their desire: if, when we talk about psychological suffering of sufficient severity to warrant euthanasia we are talking about psychological illness, then how would one suffering such psychological illness be of sound enough mind to choose euthanasia for him or herself? If because of unsoundness of mind the decision is made by a guardian or other, or there is some sort of advance notice indicating that the sufferer would choose euthanasia or assisted suicide over unbearable psychological suffering, how would those to whom the decision is left determine if the psychological suffering is sufficient to warrant death as a therapy? Isn’t that a subjective decision, and since the mental competence of the sufferer would be impaired, how could the decision makers use the sufferers current assessment of their own state to determine that euthanasia was warranted? Are we talking about euthanizing those with mental illness based on another person’s decision? Are there other kinds of psychological suffering, that don’t involve mental illness, that warrant euthanasia as treatment, and, if so, what are they?

    • Brianthedad says

      I think you’re spot on Robert F. This is a final solution so the questions you are asking are critical. I don’t think they can be answered. And can psychiatrists be sure? Sure enough to sign a death warrant? You are being consistent in your thinking regarding both the death penalty and euthanasia.

      • Regarding using advance notices to decide for the termination of a person suffering from psychological disorder, I suppose whole classes of illness would have to be indicated as intolerable by the person writing the advance notice.

        For instance, they would have to indicate that if they were to become schizophrenic, they would want to be euthanized as treatment, or if they were to develop multiple personality disorder, or if they were to become debilitatingly and intractably depressed, etc., etc. So it wouldn’t be degrees of suffering that would warrant euthanization, but just having the condition at all.

        This is qualitatively different from an advance notice indicating that in the event of my becoming incapacitated, I do not want this or that type of medical treatment or therapy, because it involves determining that entire classes of mental illness, regardless of severity, are rightly treated by euthanasia.

        This is scary stuff.

  18. If John MacArthur gets anything right, I don’t know what it is. I suppose he gets the prosperity gospel right. But then again, a broken clock is right twice a day. if you just hate everything, you’ll end up hating some of the bad stuff at some point.

    • DreamingWings says

      “if you just hate everything, you’ll end up hating some of the bad stuff at some point.”

      A very wise and insightful point.

  19. I hope they don’t dynamite that statue of Apollos, the way their co-religionists did the Buddhas of Bamiyan.

    • Err, did you check the story? It’s been stolen, initially “confiscated” by police, and was on Ebay briefly.

      Most people in the ME know that antiquities are (potentially) worth a lot of money, and many have worked on archaeological digs, so it’s not surprising that this has happened. Sad, though.

  20. I believe that the death penalty is never justified. The Early Church clearly taught and believed this consistently. It’s a deviation from Christ’s teachings and message to believe that ANYONE is EVER beyond redemption.

    Whenever someone is killed by a follower of God in the Scriptures, it is with God’s express and directed commandment to do so. The Holy Wars stopped when David was made King of Israel; and when you look in the New Testament, the only instance we have of God killing anyone is Him directly taking their life.

    All that to say, we as human beings do NOT have the wisdom or perspective to decide when someone’s life should be ended. Only God does.

  21. In other movie news, Christian test audiences apparently objected to a scene from the upcoming movie “Noah,” in which the titular character gets drunk on wine after the Flood. (Presumably they were all offended by the omission of the rather dramatic biblical scene which ought to have immediately followed.)

    • If so, there had better never have a movie about Lot, who had two daughters that got him drunk and had incest with him. People have the illusion that the Bible is a nice book, written by nice people, about nice things, and its message is: be nice. They’re confusing it with Veggie Tales.

      That’s why I cringe when I see editions like the “Precious Moments” Bible. How would they do the scene in 2 Kings 2, where Elisha calls up two she-bears to slaughter a gang of youths? “These are the Precious Moments that warm our hearts.”

      The Bible is brutally honest about these things. It is an Eastern book that doesn’t submit to our modern Western sensibilities.

  22. So, has anyone EVER learned Jack Benny’s REAL age?? ;o)

    • Per Wikipedia
      “Benny was born Benjamin Kubelsky February 14, 1894…”

      And of course we can always trust Wikipedia to be perfect in their facts. …

  23. In the past decade my thinking on the death penalty has changed dramatically. This change may be a direct result of the feud over the Penal Substitutionary Atonement Theory.

    If for no other reason, I am against the DP because it lends further confusion in both society at large and in the Christian subculture that “justice” and “retribution” are equivalent terms.