Archive for the ‘Christianity’ Category
Remember moments of Oscar night rebellion? Marlon Brando comes to mind. Someone on Twitter said they were happy that the Oscars were devoid of politics.
Actually, politics did enter the artistic arena–it’s just that for the average God-believing American, it went unnoticed because it is part of their culture.
For the Academy, though, Matthew McConaughey’s speech was profoundly counter cultural and “weird”.
This is where we are in America: Thanking God, humbly and passionately, is viewed as strange, different, and even subversive.
America has been transformed, alright. You’re a rebel if you’re a sincere God believer and willing to say so.
When the BBC hosts pilloried me about remaining mute and not opinionating in the wake of the Newtown tragedy, I noted that it seems like we should at least be quiet until families are notified. It’s unseemly to be politicizing a very personal tragedy.
“This isn’t about politics,” one host shrieked,”it’s about GUNS!”
I responded,”Well, the solution to the gun issue the president brought up would be political.”
The host continued by saying that he felt the reason I hadn’t written about the tragedy and that the NRA hadn’t spoken about it was because we were ashamed. I countered with the fact that I was, presently, talking to the BBC about the tragedy and defending Americans rights to keep and bear arms. I was not ashamed to defend that.
But I was ashamed that defending the Constitution had to be done in this way at this time.
It was unsettling. It was too soon. And yet, someone had to push back against the philistines willing to ride on the backs of dead children to pursue their political agenda. And though sickened, I spoke up.
Jonah Goldberg captures this disgust nicely. Please read his whole post. Here’s a snippet:
I haven’t written much about the Newtown shooting. I did write my first column of the week about it because I felt I had to chime in. But I resented it. Maybe it’s because I’m becoming too sentimental about kids. Maybe it’s because I’m sick to death of death. Maybe it’s some other personal failing on my part, but I nonetheless resent being dragged into the political maw so quickly after a bunch of little kids were picked off by a madman with a gun. I agree with 90% of the things written by my colleagues about guns and gun control and the second amendment over the last week, but I nonetheless find it a bit grotesque that it’s necessary for anyone to be celebrating or defending guns before these little, little, kids have even been buried. It feels indecent to me.
It is indecent.
No, your ends do not justify these means.
I have to wonder: Do the folks indulging in this orgie of political posturing know loss and death? Are they so distanced from sorrow that they cannot empathize with the parents and suffering families? Are they such zealots for their cause that they’re willing to step on a heap of dead children to fight for it? Do they not see what they’re doing?
Maybe it’s just that when you’re a humanist, your instinct is to blame humans. If your worldview is that people are essentially good, that they’ve been nurtured wrong, or society failed, and then evil, evil guns were around, then blaming parents, doctors, teachers, gun manufacturers, “society” is the route one goes. And this time, the usual blamable subjects don’t quite fit that worldview. The boy’s mother, school officials, psychologists, everyone, were trying to do something to help him. The boy couldn’t be helped or wasn’t helped soon enough. Maybe he didn’t want to be helped.
So, it’s the guns and people who have guns who are evil. Someone must be blamed.
It is devastating to look at the deaths of twenty children and see the horror unfold in a lovely community (that did all the right gun control things) and for evil to still happen.
One feels helpless.
Helplessness is the natural human state. Humanists just live under an illusion — more laws, or better people, or the right resources will make all societal ills vanish. No, they won’t.
And so, we see folks fighting like badgers about guns, because it feels like Something Can Be Done. It’s better to be angry and active, then passive and helpless.
Rather than talking about guns or laws or even mental illness, Professor Kennedy talked about the nature of man, of suffering, and of our walk on the earth. To me, it seems like we should be talking about those things.
Instead, we’re talking about guns. It is, as Jonah says, indecent.
Imagine reading this in The Atlantic:
The Twitterverse is already taking notice of the “holy” pairing of last month’s sensation New York Knicks point guard Mohammed El Arabi with this afternoon’s sensation: New York Jets quarterback Abd Al-Ala Awwal. (We’re still getting used to typing that last one.) New York City’s professional sports won’t be lacking in the Qu’ran thumping department. As you may have already heard, the New York Jets have traded a fourth round pick to the Denver Broncos for Abd Al-Ala Awwal’s services. For now, the trade sort of puts a stop to the schadenfreude surrounding Abd Al-Ala Awwal and the Peyton Manning acquisition. So what now? Well jokes, of course. For some–the pairing of the very-Muslim, pro-life, Allah-loving Tebow and New York City might be bit odd. (However, we’re guessing there’s some cheering going on around the New York Post and Daily News sports desks). We won’t know how this will work out for the Jets until the fall. But with Allah, Mohammed El Arabi, and Abd Al-Ala Awwal on New York City’s side, who’s going to take the blame for next season’s losses?
Or better yet, this:
The Twitterverse is already taking notice of the “unholy” pairing of last month’s sensation New York Knicks point guard George Carlin with this afternoon’s sensation: New York Jets quarterback Christopher Hitchens. (We’re still getting used to typing that last one.) New York City’s professional sports won’t be lacking in the The God Delusion-thumping department. As you may have already heard, the New York Jets have traded a fourth round pick to the Denver Broncos for Hitchens’ services. For now, the trade sort of puts a stop to the schadenfreude surrounding Hitchens and the Peyton Manning acquisition. So what now? Well jokes, of course. For some–the pairing of the very-Atheist, abortion loving, God-hating Hitchens and New York City might be bit odd. (However, we’re guessing there’s some cheering going on around the New York Times and Wall Street Journal sports desks). We won’t know how this will work out for the Jets until the fall. But with biology, George Carlin, and Chris Hitchens on New York City’s side, who’s going to take the blame for next season’s losses?
And then read this:
The Twitterverse is already taking notice of the “holy” pairing of last month’s sensation New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin with this afternoon’s sensation: New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. (We’re still getting used to typing that last one.) New York City’s professional sports won’t be lacking in the bible-thumping department. As you may have already heard, the New York Jets have traded a fourth round pick to the Denver Broncos for Tebow’s services. For now, the trade sort of puts a stop to the schadenfreude surrounding Tebow and the Peyton Manning acquisition. So what now? Well jokes, of course. For some–the pairing of the very-Christian, pro-life, God-loving Tebow and New York City might be bit odd. (However, we’re guessing there’s some cheering going on around the New York Post and Daily News sports desks). We won’t know how this will work out for the Jets until the fall. But with God, Jeremy Lin, and Tim Tebow on New York City’s side, who’s going to take the blame for next season’s losses?
The aforementioned was actually written.
God-hating. Christian-despising. American-loathing.
Our modern media is very out of touch with America.
Christopher Hitchens died yesterday, here in Houston at MD Anderson.
A faithful atheist, Christopher Hitchens wrestled with God. I appreciated watching it in action. It was like witnessing Jacob go round after round with the Maker begging to be blessed. Hitchens wanted to be blessed with belief, I believe.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but it seemed to me he felt cursed by not being allowed entre into an intellectual world he couldn’t understand. His unbelief limited his understanding of the world both literary and literal and unlike so many, he seemed aware of his lack. He seemed to resent it. So, he fought.
An honest believer of any stripe fights. The mindless, whether atheist or God-fearer, makes a mockery of belief itself. Some might be surprised that a man who seemed to so despise God would be respected by believers. Here’s been my experience: the fighters acknowledge Something whether conscious or not.
Reminds me of the verse Revelation 3:15:
“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.”
In a politically correct world of facile sophistry, Christopher Hitchens was either hot or cold. He certainly wasn’t lukewarm.
He didn’t brook the flabby self-congratulation of the likes of Bill Maher the king of cheap and easy pseudo-intellectualism.
One of my favorite Hitchens moments was between Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan in a debate moderated by the incomparable Tim Russert. At one point, Hitchens decried Andrew’s whining like a little girl. It was offensive, un-p.c. and completely deserved.
One of the most painful Hitchens exchanges was Hitch and his brother debating over the existence of God. What pained me was Christopher’s brother Peter’s pain.
Peter wrote about his journey to Christianity (well worth the read):
Being Christian is one thing. Fighting for a cause is another, and much easier to acknowledge – for in recent times it has grown clear that the Christian religion is threatened with a dangerous defeat by secular forces which have never been so confident.
Why is there such a fury against religion now? Because religion is the one reliable force that stands in the way of the power of the strong over the weak. The one reliable force that forms the foundation of the concept of the rule of law.
The one reliable force that restrains the hand of the man of power. In an age of powerworship, the Christian religion has become the principal obstacle to the desire of earthly utopians for absolute power.
While I was making my gradual, hesitant way back to the altar-rail, my brother Christopher’s passion against God grew more virulent and confident.
As he has become more certain about the non-existence of God, I have become more convinced we cannot know such a thing in the way we know anything else, and so must choose whether to believe or not. I think it better by far to believe.
And then he writes of his brother:
My brother and I agree on this: that independence of mind is immensely precious, and that we should try to tell the truth in clear English even if we are disliked for doing so. Oddly enough this leads us, in many things, to be far closer than most people think we are on some questions; closer, sometimes, than we would particularly wish to be.
The same paradox sometimes also makes us arrive at different conclusions from very similar arguments, which is easier than it might appear. This will not make us close friends at this stage. We are two utterly different men approaching the ends of two intensely separate lives.
Let us not be sentimental here, nor rashly over-optimistic. But I was astonished, on that spring evening by the Grand River, to find that the longest quarrel of my life seemed unexpectedly to be over, so many years and so many thousands of miles after it had started, in our quiet homes and our first beginnings in an England now impossibly remote from us.
It may actually be true, as I have long hoped that it would be, in the words of T. S. Eliot, that ‘the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’.
And if that peace could come…
Well, we all get old and we all soften, or most with any shred of wisdom do. And so, the question was asked by Mark Judge,”Is Christopher Hitchens about to convert?“
My initial answer to the question was a version of “isn’t it pretty to think so”? My second thought was who can know the mind of men? And that reminded me of I Corinthians 2:11 (again in the King James version because I’m partial):
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”
Or said in a modern way, “After all, who knows everything about a person except that person’s own spirit? In the same way, no one has known everything about God except God’s Spirit.”
We can only know believers by their fruit and forgive me, but Christopher Hitchens was withering. Ultimately, his belief is between him and God. It is for all of us.
Either way, I’m thankful for Christopher Hitchens. His keen mind and incisive questions forced a believer to be better in his answers.
And that is why I’ll miss Christopher Hitchens most–his unintended consequences. It is with great irony that he caused many who were learning, to come to the truth–even if he couldn’t.
UPDATED: Please read his brother Peter’s eulogy. It’s excellent. A smidgeon:
He would always rather fight than give way, not for its own sake but because it came naturally to him. Like me, he was small for his age during his entire childhood and I have another memory of him, white-faced, slight and thin as we all were in those more austere times, furious, standing up to some bully or other in the playground of a school we attended at the same time.
This explains plenty. I offer it because the word ‘courage’ is often misused today. People sometimes tell me that I have been ‘courageous’ to say something moderately controversial in a public place. Not a bit of it. This is not courage. Courage is deliberately taking a known risk, sometimes physical, sometimes to your livelihood, because you think it is too important not to.
Another moving tribute by his friend, Peter Robinson.
The story of enslavement to freedom is inherent in the Judeo-Christian culture. During this week where emancipation–being freed from slave owners and ultimately our own limitations–is a central focus, it was fitting, then, for Iris Blue to join me. She spent months in “the hole” in a Harris County (Houston) jail. She suffered addiction to heroin. She fought wardens. And she did it all to herself, willfully, angrily and stubbornly. Her story is inspiring and I hope you’ll listen to it. We talk about child-rearing, the church, and who is Jesus?
In the second half, another, less successful religion is discussed: Global Warming. Charlie Martin, now the science editor at Pajamas Media discusses the latest happenings and the bitter clinging to a discarded belief.
Not content to show Obama with a halo, the New York Times is now creating images of him with a cross in the background.
Good grief. I guess the separation of church and state no longer applies when it comes to The Sainted One.
This is the definition of sacrilege. But I’m not sure the editors at the New York Times know God–that’s why they’re fooled by Obama.
A couple arguments surround the Brit discussion: One, should anyone be talking about Tiger’s relationship to God? Two, can Buddhism “save” Tiger like Christianity can save Tiger?
Charlie Martin and I both write pieces for Pajamas Media today talking about this issue. Here’s a bit of what I say:
There was a time when discussing one’s Christian faith may have been less controversial, but I don’t know. Even fifty years ago, there would have been a presumption that people would view Tiger Woods’ actions as immoral and a sign that he had some sort of emptiness in his life. Back in the day, such wanton infidelity was simply not spoken of publicly. It would be too shameful. Now the media spreads every sort of salacious detail of a celebrity’s life, and everyone is free to comment. Why should there not be a comment on his faith, too? We know that Tiger likes rough sex and sex without condoms and sex with porn stars and has super-human, possibly steroid-enhanced endurance. Should his spiritual beliefs be off-limits while his sexual exploits are fair game?
Discussion about either seems unseemly. Tiger’s sex life should be personal, and his relationship with God is even more intimate than that. His own careless actions made his sex life public. Does that free people to speculate about his spiritual life? It seems a personal relationship with Tiger would give a friend some cause to talk with him about God. A calling out like Hume’s seems destined to fail.
Then Charlie says:
Hume’s right that Buddhism doesn’t offer Tiger forgiveness from a deity or redemption. All Buddhism can do is remind him that he’s responsible for his actions and the consequences of those actions (the real meaning of karma) and remind him that his suffering now is one of those consequences. With that comes the recognition that you need to make amends to those you’ve hurt and try to remedy your behavior in the future.
Maybe that’s not as good as being forgiven and redeemed, but to me it seems a lot more productive.
To which I respond:
As to Brit’s theological assertion that Buddhism would not offer Woods the sort of redemption that a relationship with God and Jesus would offer, Buddhists like Charles Martin admit that Buddhism won’t give redemption or a relationship. The emphasis is on karma — what goes around comes around — and how Tiger is reaping the rewards of it.
In Christianity, the karmic notion is nothing new. Galatians 6:7 makes clear that God is not mocked and that we reap what we sow. The Christian philosopher C.S. Lewis noted a “Tao” of belief that most great religions share, and how this is centered around some version of the Golden Rule: do unto others as you would have them do to you.
Charles implies that in Christianity, there is no attempt to “make amends,” while in Buddhism that is the core tenet. As for remedying faults, the Greek word metanoia — translated as “to repent” — means to change. It implies a before and after. A Christian demonstrates his change by actions. “By their fruits you shall know them.” (Matthew 7 is a good book to read about condemning and discernment and repentance.) It’s not repentance or forgiveness of sin. It’s both.
Please go read both of our full articles.
Also, Brit Hume on O’Reilly said something interesting last night. He said, and I’m paraphrasing, that just mentioning Christianity is inflammatory, that no one wants to hear it. Do you agree?
Can President Obama Be Ambiguously Christian Forever?–UPDATED The Obamas Didn’t Want The Nativity Scene?Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Remember the Ambiguously Gay Duo from Saturday Night Live? Yeah, well, President Obama reminds me of them whenever he makes vague references to “divine” anything like he did in his Nobel Peace Prize speech today.
He’s so ambiguous that 39% of Israelis believe that President Obama is Muslim.
President and Michelle Obama didn’t want the Nativity scene? Do you notice how inclusion means being nothing? Become everything to everybody and end up nothing to nobody….the danger of Barack Obama’s stance on, well, everything.