Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why we love government
... The bottom line: We love government because it enables us to accomplish things that if done privately would lead to arrest and imprisonment. For example, if I saw a person in need, and I took your money to help him, I'd be arrested and convicted of theft. If I get Congress to do the same thing, I am seen as compassionate....

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Web 'fuelling crisis in politics'
...But rather than work out these dilemmas in partnership with their elected leaders, they were encouraged to regard all politicians as corrupt or "mendacious" by the media, which he described as "a conspiracy to maintain the population in a perpetual state of self-righteous rage".

Whether media was left wing or right wing, the message was always that "leaders are out there to shaft you".

He went on: "At a time at which we need a richer relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had, to confront the shared challenges we face, arguably we have a more impoverished relationship between politicians and citizens than we have ever had.

"It seems to me this is something which is worth calling a crisis." ...

Friday, November 10, 2006

'Arrows for the War'
When the Gospel Community Church in Coxsackie, New York, breaks midservice to excuse children for Sunday school, nearly half of the 225-strong congregation patters toward the back of the worship hall: the five youngest children of Pastor Stan Slager's eight, assistant pastor Bartly Heneghan's eleven and the Dufkin family's thirteen, among many others. "The Missionettes," a team of young girls who perform ribbon dances during the praise music, put down their "glory hoops" to join their classmates; the pews empty out. It's the un-ignorable difference between the families at Gospel Community and those in the rest of the town that's led some to wonder if the church isn't a cult that forces its disciples to keep pushing out children.

But after the kids leave, Pastor Stan doesn't exhort his congregation to bear children. His approach is more subtle, reminding them to present their bodies as living sacrifices to the Lord, and preaching to them about Acts 5:20: Go tell "all the words of this life." Or, in Pastor Stan's guiding translation, to lead lives that make outsiders think, "Christianity is real," lives that "demand an explanation."

Lives such as these: Janet Wolfson is a 44-year-old mother of eight in Canton, Georgia. Tracie Moore, a 39-year-old midwife who lives in southern Kentucky, is mother to fourteen. Wendy Dufkin in Coxsackie has her thirteen. And while Jamie Stoltzfus, a 27-year-old Illinois mom, has only four children so far, she plans on bearing enough to populate "two teams." All four mothers are devoted to a way of life New York Times columnist David Brooks has praised as a new spiritual movement taking hold among exurban and Sunbelt families. Brooks called these parents "natalists" and described their progeny as a new wave of "Red-Diaper Babies"--as in "red state."

But Wolfson, Moore and thousands of mothers like them call themselves and their belief system "Quiverfull." They borrow their name from Psalm 127: "Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their enemies in the gate." Quiverfull mothers think of their children as no mere movement but as an army they're building for God.

Quiverfull parents try to have upwards of six children. They home-school their families, attend fundamentalist churches and follow biblical guidelines of male headship--"Father knows best"--and female submissiveness....

...Pride argues that feminism is a religion in its own right, one that is inherently incompatible with Christianity. "Christians have accepted feminists' 'moderate' demands for family planning and careers while rejecting the 'radical' side of feminism--meaning lesbianism and abortion," writes Pride. "What most do not see is that one demand leads to the other. Feminism is a totally self-consistent system aimed at rejecting God's role for women. Those who adopt any part of its lifestyle can't help picking up its philosophy." "Family planning," Pride argues, "is the mother of abortion. A generation had to be indoctrinated in the ideal of planning children around personal convenience before abortion could be popular."

Instead of picketing clinics, Pride writes, Christians should fight abortion by demonstrating that children are an "unqualified blessing" by having as many as God gives them. Only a determination among Christian women to take up their submissive, motherly roles with a "military air" and become "maternal missionaries" will lead the Christian army to victory. Thus is Quiverfull part of Mary Pride's whole-cloth solution to women's liberation: embracing an opposing way of life as total and "self-consistent" as feminism, and turning back the tide on a society gone wrong by populating the world with right-thinking Christians. ...

A march of middle-class miserabilists
‘Trees don’t rape.’ Daubed in a red scrawl on a green placard, and held aloft by someone marching behind a giant papier mâché hare (under the banner ‘Hare today, gone tomorrow…’), this protest slogan captured the tenor of Saturday’s march in central London against climate change chaos.

It summed up the anti-human bent to the whole thing. The sledgehammer-subtle implication of a slogan like ‘trees don’t rape’ is that humans do; unlike trees, we rape, both literally (women) and metaphorically (nature). It also encapsulated the marchers’ childlike, Disney-esque love for all things natural: celebrating an insensate object like a tree because it ‘doesn’t rape’ is enough to make those annoying anthropomorphists of the animal rights lobby look almost progressive by comparison. And it captured the kneejerk moralism driving the demonstration. This was no political march backed up by scientific facts, but an outburst of shrill middle-class disgust with the greedy masses and their bad habits. ...

...What united them all, however, was a petty authoritarianism. Strip away the dashes of colour, the dancing, the hymn-singing (seriously) and the big bright animals (there was a papier mâché rhinoceros as well as a hare), and this was in essence a demo demanding less debate and more stringent measures outlining what people can do and consume. I’ve been on a lot of marches in my time – some good, some bad, some loud, some lame – but this was the first demo I’ve seen that effectively called on the authorities to punish us; not that they should leave us alone or give us more jobs, rights, welfare, whatever, but that they should actively intervene in our lives and stop us from driving too much, holidaying too much, eating too much and living it up too much. It was summed up in the chant: ‘What do we want?’ ‘Carbon taxes!’ ‘When do we want them?’ ‘Now!’ That was said with real passion, believe it or not. My favourite placard of the day had a picture of Tony Blair and the words: ‘Action to match the rhetoric! Yearly enforceable emissions reductions targets of three per cent at least! Nothing less will do!’ Strewth....

Is this the end of the road for traffic lights?
Most traffic lights should be torn up as they make roads less safe, one of Europe's leading road engineers said yesterday.

Hans Monderman, a traffic planner involved in a Brussels-backed project known as Shared Space, said that taking lights away helped motorists, cyclists and pedestrians to co-exist more happily and safely.

Road users take more care in Drachten as signs have been removed

Residents of the northern Dutch town of Drachten have already been used as guinea-pigs in an experiment which has seen nearly all the traffic lights stripped from their streets.

Only three of the 15 sets in the town of 50,000 remain and they will be gone within a couple of years.

The project is the brainchild of Mr Monderman, and the town has seen some remarkable results. There used to be a road death every three years but there have been none since the traffic light removal started seven years ago.

There have been a few small collisions, but these are almost to be encouraged, Mr Monderman explained. "We want small accidents, in order to prevent serious ones in which people get hurt," he said yesterday.

"It works well because it is dangerous, which is exactly what we want. But it shifts the emphasis away from the Government taking the risk, to the driver being responsible for his or her own risk....

Sunday, November 05, 2006

On Manhood, Women and Homosexuals
...One of the aspects I find among those who "follow the exgay path" is how erotically they speak of Jesus. Jesus, in effect, becomes their new gay lover who holds them in His arms. They constantly write about how they no longer "need" gay sex because they are too busy "loving Jesus" in ways they usually describe that are more erotic that the most steamy novel you can buy at the cut-out bin at Wal-Mart....

Evangelical Leader Quits Amid Allegations of Gay Sex and Drug Use
As every pastor knows, we are always at risk from the sin in us and the sinful temptations around us...

My suspicion is that as our culture becomes more sexually rebellious, things will only get worse. Therefore, as a means of encouragement, I would like to share some practical suggestions for fellow Christian leaders, especially young men:

...Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either....

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Matter of New Life and Meth
...Alas for Haggard, this qualified admission might have had a bit more credibility had it not been for the earlier performance (which was very impressive, although the “what’d you say his name was?” gilded the lily slightly)....

Friday, November 03, 2006

Sex as a Weapon
...But with Christian womanhood restored and redeemed, a crucial character in the Christian conservative morality play has gone missing: the seductress. It is no longer acceptable to speak of loose women and harlots, since sexual promiscuity in a woman is the fault of the man who has failed to exercise his "headship" over her. It is his effeminacy, not hers, that is to blame. And who lures him into this spiritual castration? The gay man.

Christian conservatives loathe all forms of homo- and bisexuality, of course, but it is the gay man (singular; he's an archetype) who looms largest in their books and sermons and blogs and cell group meetings. Not, for the most part, as a figure of evil, but one to be almost envied. "The gay man" is the new seductress sent by Satan to tempt the men of Christendom. He takes what he wants and loves whom he will and his life, in the imagination of Christian men's groups, is an endless succession of orgasms, interrupted only by jocular episodes of male bonhomie. The gay man promises a guilt-free existence, the garden before Eve. He is thought to exist in the purest state of "manhood," which is boyhood, before there were girls.

Most Christian conservatives are deadly earnest in their proclamations of love for the sinner, even as they hate the sin. Indeed, that love is at the heart of books like Wild at Heart, and Jim George's A Man After God's Own Heart, and Every Man's Battle, a self-help manual for giving up masturbation which was co-authored by a couple of buddies. They love the gay man because he is a siren, and his song is alluring; and because they believe that the siren is nonetheless stranded at sea, singing in desperation from a slippery perch on a jagged outcrop of stone. The gay man, they imagine, is calling to them; and they believe they are calling back — as if all of human sexuality was a grand and tragic game of Marco Polo.

Church Leader Says Haggard Admits To Some Indiscretions
A sudden about-face in the scandal facing New Life Church's pastor.

After Pastor Ted Haggard went public Wednesday night denying allegations of a homosexual affair, senior church officials told KKTV 11News Thursday evening, Pastor Ted Haggard has admitted to some of the claims made by a former male escort. The church's Acting Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley, tells KKTV 11 News that Pastor Haggard has admitted to some of the indiscretions claimed by Mike Jones, but not all of them. ...