En Gedi: Finding rest in the wilderness!

  • Grab My Button!

    BWS tips button
    <a href="http://dadsdevoted.com"><img src="http://i496.photobucket.com/albums/rr323/baileytribe/blog/blckwhite_button.jpg" alt="BWS tips button" width="125" height="125" /></a><div style="border: 1px solid #DDD; margin: auto; padding: 5px 10px; background: #F8F8F8 none repeat scroll 0pt 0pt; overflow: auto; height: 100px; line-height: 1.5em;">***</div>

Posts Tagged ‘Mohler’

The End of the Nation? Russia Chooses Death Over Life

Posted by Scott on October 7, 2008

Reports out of Russia indicate that the recent military clash with Georgia may have represented something more like desperation than opportunism.  Murray Feshbach of The Washington Post reports that, all things considered, Russia is actually close to a national collapse.

“Predictions that Russia will again become powerful, rich and influential ignore some simply devastating problems at home that block any march to power,” Feshbach reports.  “Sure, Russia’s army could take tiny Georgia. But Putin’s military is still in tatters, armed with rusting weaponry and staffed with indifferent recruits. Meanwhile, a declining population is robbing the military of a new generation of soldiers. Russia’s economy is almost totally dependent on the price of oil. And, worst of all, it’s facing a public health crisis that verges on the catastrophic.”

The health crisis turns out to be a barometer of sorts — and a warning of a far greater disaster that looms.  Russia is falling into the rank of nations with the lowest life expectancy and highest rates of early death.  No one appears concerned enough to do anything.

As Feshbach reports:

Recent decades, most notably since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991, have seen an appalling deterioration in the health of the Russian population, anchoring Russia not in the forefront of developed countries but among the most backward of nations.

This is a tragedy of huge proportions — but not a particularly surprising one, at least to me. I followed population, health and environmental issues in the Soviet Union for decades, and more recently, I have reported on diseases such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic ravaging the Russian population. I’ve visited Russia more than 50 times over the years, so I can say from firsthand experience that this national calamity isn’t happening suddenly. It’s happening inexorably.

According to U.N. figures, the average life expectancy for a Russian man is 59 years — putting the country at about 166th place in the world longevity sweepstakes, one notch above Gambia. For women, the picture is somewhat rosier: They can expect to live, on average, 73 years, barely beating out the Moldovans. But there are still some 126 countries where they could expect to live longer. And the gap between expected longevity for men and for women — 14 years — is the largest in the developed world.

The recent military incursion into Georgia, brutal as it was, may represent a futile attempt to show force while Russia still has force.  The number of young men of military age in the population is crashing — as is the number of young women who could give birth to future soldiers.

In order to understand this, consider this shocking headline from the St. Peterburg Times [Russia]:  “Experts — 64 Percent of Russian Pregnancies End in Abortion.”

As the paper reports:

The low birth rate remains one of the key reasons behind Russia’s ongoing demographic crisis. According to official statistics, every fourth teenage girl in Russia has some form of gynecological ailment or reproductive health disorder.

Each year in Russia, more than 64 percent of all pregnancies end in abortion, while in Western European countries the level is below 25 percent. By comparison, there are 10 to 15 abortions per 100 pregnancies in the U.K. and 5 or 6 per 100 in the Netherlands.

One in ten women who undergo an abortion in Russia is below 18 years of age, doctors say. Gynecological disease rates for teenage girls in 15-17 age group, have jumped by an alarming 30 percent in the last five years.

In a twist only Fyodor Dostoevsky might understand, Russian authorities, alarmed by the population collapse, declared 2008 as the ‘Year of the Family.’  Government campaigns to encourage bearing children were launched, but with no apparent impact.  In a stunning disconnect, the government still offers free abortions.

What country can live with aborting 64 percent of its babies?  How can such a nation survive?  It has brought death into its own wombs.  The babies who are born are the lucky few.  The vast majority never see life outside the womb.

In recent days The Los Angeles Times has reported that a small pro-life movement has begun in Russia, but without much influence as of yet:

A fledgling antiabortion movement is beginning to stir in Russia. Driven by a growing discussion of abortion as a moral issue and, most of all, by a government worried about demographics, doctors and politicians are quietly struggling to lower what is believed to be one of the world’s highest abortion rates..”

 

“The attitude has changed,” abortion practitioner Alexander Medvedev said. “Even in community clinics, doctors are trying to dissuade patients from abortion. Now teenagers come to see us with already two or three abortions, and it’s horrible.

The report indicates that some medical authorities and social observers are truly concerned, and exceptions for late-term abortions are harder to obtain. Nevertheless, the sheer number of abortions defies comprehension and appears unlikely to fall.  A reluctance to define the issue in moral terms means that authorities try to argue from the grounds of public health and population needs.  But once the moral ground is abandoned, so is the hope of any recovery.

Lincoln Steffens, an American apologist for the Bolshevik Revolution and the early Soviet regime, once infamously declared of the Soviets:  “I have been over to the future, and it works!”  Well, the current crisis in Russia may well be a warning of the future collapse of civilization.  Once a nation takes the Culture of Death into its heart, what rescue is possible?

________________________

The more familiar form of the quotation from Lincoln Steffens (“I have seen the future and it works!”) was not made known until after his death and may be a misquotation supplied by his widow.

 

 

For more on the article go to Al Mohler  and other articles by Dr. Al Mohler Jr.

Advertisements

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

“Not to Destruction, but to Salvation”

Posted by Scott on September 12, 2008

by Albert Mohler, Jr.

The most senior California bishops of the Episcopal Church came out in favor of same-sex marriage in the state on Wednesday.  The bishops then called on voters to defeat Proposition 8 — the constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

From the statement released by the bishops:

As Episcopal Bishops of California, we are moved to urge voters to vote “No” on Proposition 8.  Jesus calls us to love rather than hate, to give rather than to receive, to live into hope rather than fear.  On Tuesday, November 4th, voters in California will be given the opportunity to vote for or against Proposition 8, which would amend the state’s constitution to reserve marriage as only between a man and a woman.  Since the California Supreme Court’s ruling in May that civil marriage should be provided to all of the state’s citizens whether the genders of the couple are different or the same, faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other.  Furthermore, marriage provides these couples the same legal rights and protections that heterosexual couples take for granted.

Proposition 8 would reverse the court’s decision and withdraw a right given.  Proponents of Proposition 8 have suggested that this amendment to the Constitution would protect marriage.  We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage.  Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike.  Society is strengthened when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.

The sweeping statement represented an unconditional support for same-sex marriage.  In one of the most revealing sections of the statement, the bishops celebrated the fact that the decision handed down by the California Supreme Court meant that “faithful gays and lesbians have entered into marriage as the principle way in which they show their love, devotion and life-long commitment to each other.”

The use of the term “faithful gays and lesbians” indicates that the bishops see active homosexual relationships as fully moral and thus to be celebrated.  They offered enthusiasm about the display of love, devotion, and commitment among homosexual couples.

“Society is strengthened,” they argue, “when two people who love each other choose to enter into marriage, engaged in a lifetime of disciplined relationship building that serves as a witness to the importance of love and commitment.”

Note that the bishops simply refer to “two people who love each other.”  Why two?  Once marriage is transformed from the union of a man and a woman into a union without respect to gender — and on the claim that marriage is a “fundamental right” — how can the number two be anything but arbitrary?

Tellingly, the bishops offered no substantial biblical or theological defense of their statement.  Instead, the bishops relied upon generalized language about “the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect and witness of monogamy.”  They added that these should be celebrated and affirmed “to gay and straight alike.”  The Bible contains absolutely no generalized affirmation of monogamy.  Indeed, the Bible commands monogamy in marriage, defined without question as the union of a man and a woman.  The “Christian values” the bishops cite in favor of their support of same-sex marriage are aberrant abstractions from the biblical text, from the Christian tradition, and from the moral witness of the church.

The church is not to respect what the Bible clearly identifies as sin.  Furthermore, some loves are explicitly prohibited within the Scripture.  The bishops stood to endorse activities and relationships that every previous generation of Christians had understood to be sin.  No previous generation has been confused about the issue of gender with respect to marriage.  The bishops announced their defiant stance against Scripture, tradition, and the practices and beliefs of most Christians worldwide — including most within their own Anglican Communion.

In the majestic language of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, a prayer offered at the consecration of a bishop includes these words:  “Mercifully behold this thy servant, now called to the Work and Ministry of a Bishop; and so adorn him with innocency of life, that, both by word and deed, he may faithfully serve thee in this Office, to the glory of thy Name, and the edifying and well-governing of thy Church; through the merits of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Holy Spirit, world without end.  Amen.”

Later, a prayer calls upon the Lord to grant the bishop grace to “use the authority given him, not to destruction, but to salvation; not to hurt, but to help: so that, as a wise and faithful servant, giving to thy family their portion in due season, he may at last be received into everlasting joy.”

Those beautiful words, “not to destruction, but to salvation,” take on a deadly significance in the case of these bishops.  They are leading their own church to destruction, and encouraging in the larger society what the Bible condemns as sin.  These are shepherds who are leading their own flocks right off a cliff.

 

My two cents worth is that these Bishops are nothing more than lip servicing their faith.  It is not embedded deep into their hearts.  These could be described as the ones that on the day of judgement come before Christ and say,

“Lord, Lord we performed miracles in Your name and did all these good works in Your name.”  Jesus will simply tell them, “depart from me, I never knew you.” 

This day is coming folks…the warnings are out there, but the people do not want to hear it, however, it is the duty of the pastors, preachers, Bishops, and teachers to tell the truth from God’s word and not be swayed by public opinion, public wants or what they say they need.  Helping them to live further in their sin by making it ceremonially “ok” is not a Christian act.

Scott Bailey 2008

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Pastor Believes in hell-Alert the Media!!!!

Posted by Scott on September 10, 2008

Written by Albert Mohler Jr.

Hell just emerged as an issue in Election 2008, and the campaign now enters a zone where politics and theology collide.

The catalyst for this emergence of eternal punishment as an issue is a “Belief Watch” column in this week’s edition of Newsweek magazine.  In “A Religious-Right Revival,” Lisa Miller suggests that the nomination of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as the Republican nominee for Vice President represents a resurgence of the so-called “Religious Right.”

There is something to this argument, of course, given Gov. Palin’s record and positions on key controversial issues.  Her pro-life credentials, even taken alone, would be enough to encourage many evangelical Christians, as the response to her nomination now demonstrates.

But what makes Lisa Miller’s article most interesting has nothing directly to do with abortion, marriage, or any social issue.  The most interesting (and revealing) part of her article is a sentence that does not refer to her campaign, nor to her role as Governor, but to her church:

The senior pastor of that church, in sermons that circulated online before they were taken down last week, preaches hell for anyone who isn’t saved by Jesus.

In the event a reader might miss that sentence, the magazine put the words, “The senior pastor of Palin’s church preaches hellfire for anyone who isn’t saved by Jesus” in large type in both print and electronic editions.  In other words, these words are intended to catch a reader’s eye as newsworthy — an attention grabber.

Miller went on to explain that the fact that her pastor preaches such a message “puts her squarely in the tradition of the old-school religious right.”

Of course, belief in hell as the just punishment of the impenitent is part and parcel of historic biblical Christianity.  Taken at face value, the belief that “anyone who isn’t saved by Jesus” faces the verdict of hell is as normative as any other Christian belief.

There is no way to read the New Testament without encountering the very clear message about the reality of hell.  “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul,” Jesus warned.  “Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” [Matthew 10:28].

True, there are those who have denied both the reality of hell and the exclusivity of the Gospel.  Some attempt to deny that those who do not believe in Christ will spend eternity in hell.  Nevertheless, even those who propose doctrinal theories such as universalism and inclusivism (or those who promote annihilationism with reference to hell) must admit that their position does not represent what most Christians throughout the centuries have believed — or believe now.  We should be concerned that these theories may be spreading in influence, but it should hardly be surprising to find that an evangelical pastor preaches historic Christianity.

What this article in Newsweek represents is the absolute confidence that discovering people who believe that those who do not believe in Christ will go to hell is supposed to be shocking.

So we find in Sarah Palin’s pastor an evangelical who believes in hell and preaches the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the only means of escaping hell.  In other words, he is an evangelical preaching like an evangelical.  Alert the media.

_________________________

See my articles “Hell Under Fire,” Parts One and Two, and my chapter in the book, Hell Under Fire.

See also my review of Richard Florida’s new book, Who’s Your City, at The Reading List, here.

Join us today for “Ask Anything Wednesday” on The Albert Mohler Program.

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Private Conviction About Murder? Al Mohler Jr. Explains

Posted by Scott on September 8, 2008

   

   

Speaking Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for Vice President, made headlines by stating that he accepts “as a matter of faith” that human life begins at conception, but he would not impose that view on others as a matter of law.

Sen. Biden’s statement is similar in form to those offered by other Catholic politicians like former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.  Nevertheless, what it really represents is far more horrifying than may be recognized at first.

Speaking on “Meet the Press,” Biden responded to a question from Tom Brokaw.  The anchor had asked Biden what he would say if Sen. Barack Obama asked him when human life begins [see video clip here]:

I’d say, “Look, I know when it begins for me.” It’s a personal and private issue. For me, as a Roman Catholic, I’m prepared to accept the teachings of my church. But let me tell you. There are an awful lot of people of great confessional faiths-Protestants, Jews, Muslims and others-who have a different view. They believe in God as strongly as I do. They’re intensely as religious as I am religious. They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life-I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception. But that is my judgment. For me to impose that judgment on everyone else who is equally and maybe even more devout than I am seems to me is inappropriate in a pluralistic society. And I know you get the push back, “Well, what about fascism?” Everybody, you know, you going to say fascism’s all right? Fascism isn’t a matter of faith. No decent religious person thinks fascism is a good idea.

Biden first calls the issue “personal and private,” an interesting way to introduce a statement about a matter that inevitably has relevance to public policy.  He claims to accept the teachings of his church, but then states that other religions hold to other views, and these believers “believe in God as strongly as I do” and are equally religious.

We live in a pluralistic society, he argues, and it would be improper for him to “impose” his judgment on others, who may be “equally and maybe even more devout than I.”

He then realizes something of the intellectual problem he has just created and argues that, for example, all good religious folk would oppose fascism, and thus we can presumably establish that as public policy.  “No decent religious person thinks fascism is a good idea,” he concludes.  So is the new criterion for public policy to be what a “good religious person” might think?

Brokaw then asked Biden about his support of abortion rights, given what he has just said about his belief that life begins at conception.  Biden answered, “I voted against telling everyone else in the country that they have to accept my religiously based view that it’s a moment of conception.”

Kate Phillips of The New York Times explained Biden’s predicament this way:

In the interview Sunday, Mr. Biden tried to walk the line between the staunch abortion-rights advocates in his party and his own religious beliefs. While he said he did not often talk about his faith, he said of those who disagree with him: “They believe in their faith and they believe in human life, and they have differing views as to when life — I’m prepared as a matter of faith to accept that life begins at the moment of conception.”

Sen. Biden may have been attempting to “walk the line” politically, but a closer look at his actual argument is truly horrifying.

Sen. Biden says, and we must take him at his word, that he accepts as a matter of faith that human life begins at conception.  But, he argues, he is perfectly willing to support a woman’s right to choose to end that human life.

The killing of human life is called homicide. Murder is the willful taking of a human life.  The senator has here stated that he believes abortion to be homicide, but he defends a woman’s right to kill the unborn human life within her because he would not impose his beliefs about human life (and thus about homicide) on others.

In other words, if we take Sen. Biden seriously, he would defer to others who believe otherwise when it comes to the law.

How can he live with this?  There are significant questions about the extent to which some matters can properly be legislated.  But there is no question that the government — any government — must take a stand on the question of human life.  This is why the abortion issue simply will not and cannot go away.  The government takes a side on this question, like it or not.

I believe Sen. Biden to be a serious man, and that is what is most frightening about this.  Can a morally serious man really say that he believes that unborn babies are human beings, but that it should be a protected right to kill them?

Posted in devotion | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A Worldview Gone to the Dogs . . . Literally

Posted by Scott on July 2, 2008

The news out of New York City has to do with Leona Helmsley, a woman whose name (plastered all over Manhattan) became synonymous with the materialistic excesses of the 1980s. Helmsley, who died last August, still manages to make the news — this time with regard to her instructions concerning the multi-billion dollar trust she left behind. Her instructions: The entire trust is to be spent on dogs. Billions of dollars.

Leona Helmsley became a presence in the news and the media through her involvement in the management and promotion of the many properties held by her husband, the late Harry B. Helmsley, who built a legendary fortune in New York real estate. Their many holdings included New York’s prestigious Helmsley Palace Hotel, for which Leona did her own television advertisements as the “queen” who stood guard over her palace.

As it happened, she was later to go to prison for massive income tax evasion. The media coverage of her fall was ruthless and savage, and there appeared to be few tears. To the contrary, reports emerged in the media and in the course of her federal trial that revealed her to be, if anything, more ruthless and savage than the media coverage.

As The New York Times explains, she “was best known for her sharp tongue and impatience with humanity.” Further, “for many Americans, she later became a symbol of unbridled arrogance and belief in entitlement.”

Well, she is about to become a symbol of something else — someone who hated humanity so much that she has instructed that her billions be spent on dogs.

Here is how The New York Times explains the issue in today’s edition:

Her instructions, specified in a two-page “mission statement,” are that the entire trust, valued at $5 billion to $8 billion and amounting to virtually all her estate, be used for the care and welfare of dogs, according to two people who have seen the document and who described it on condition of anonymity.

It is by no means clear, however, that all the money will go to dogs. Another provision of the mission statement says Mrs. Helmsley’s trustees may use their discretion in distributing the money, and some lawyers say the statement may not mean much anyway, given that its directions were not incorporated into Mrs. Helmsley’s will or the trust documents.

“The statement is an expression of her wishes that is not necessarily legally binding,” said William Josephson, a lawyer who was the chief of the Charities Bureau in the New York State attorney general’s office from 1999 to 2004.

Still, longstanding laws favor adherence to a donor’s intent, and the mission statement is the only clear expression of Mrs. Helmsley’s charitable intentions. That will make the document difficult for her trustees, as well as the probate court and state charity regulators, to ignore.

There is one additional aspect of the story that deserves attention. According to sources who claim to have seen the document and know of its development, the trust was originally designed to “help indigent people” as a first goal, with the welfare of dogs a secondary goal. In 2004 she deleted the first goal.

The legal issues are unsettled, but an earlier will, involving a much smaller portion of the estate, was probated with her Maltese “Trouble” receiving a $2 million trust fund (Helmsley had set it at $12 million).  The paper reports that news of that trust fund set off death threats against the dog.  The canine is now protected at a cost of $100,000 per year.

The coverage in The New York Times reflects the judgment that this is a grotesque misuse of funds.  Millions of Americans are sure to recoil in revulsion at this woman’s wishes — even considering her priorities warped, weird, and immoral.

But why?  For the simple reason that we really do know that human beings are not mere animals.  This moral judgment is part of creation itself, and it is a powerful moral intuition.  We really do know that feeding fellow human beings is more important than feeding dogs, and that care for humans should take precedence over care for animals.

The biblical worldview honors animals as creatures in whom the Creator takes pleasure and in whose existence He is glorified.  But human beings alone bear the image of God, and can know the Creator.

Confusion about this abounds.  Radical animal rights activists claim no moral distinction between human beings and other creatures.  Spain proposes to give apes and other “hominids” legal rights.  Professor Peter Singer of Princeton University argues that some domestic animals such as cows and pigs should be granted moral preference over human infants in some situations.  Scientists grounded in a naturalistic worldview are more and more hard pressed to define just what makes humans unique as a species.  Leona Helmsley is not alone in her confusion.

Dogs can give humans so much pleasure.  Our home includes a relatively unintelligent but totally charming beagle named Baxter.  As a boy, I found that the wagging tail of a dog was irresistible as a sign of friendship.  As a rule dogs make few demands, crave human companionship, and love to be happy.  What’s not to like?

But anyone who thinks that a dog is as morally significant as a human being is lacking in moral judgment.  If this were not the case, The New York Times would have buried this story in its legal notices. 

The case of Leona Helmsley — whatever the eventual outcome of legal battles ahead — makes this point with absolute clarity.  Her worldview had, quite literally, gone to the dogs. 

by Al Mohler Jr.

Posted in Christianity | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Post-Truth Era Strikes Again!

Posted by Scott on March 7, 2008

by Dr. Albert Mohler Jr.

The question of truth has always haunted authors of controversial stories — including both fiction and non-fiction. Nevertheless, non-fiction was understood to represent a claim to be a true, even if highly interpreted, account of reality. Or, at least that has been the understanding until recent times.

Now, in the age of Stephen Colbert’s concept of “truthiness” and what others have called a “post-truth era,” the lines between fiction and non-fiction are becoming more and more blurred. This is true even in the case of some well-known, popular, and influential works.  Does the truth matter anymore?  Do we care if fiction is presented as non-fiction?

In 1992 Guatemalan author Rigoberta Menchu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, largely on the basis of her book, I, Rigoberta Menchu, in which she claimed that she and her family had been subjected to horrible persecution by right-wing Guatemalan forces and the government. While it is likely that this was true, at least in general terms, serious questions have been raised about specifics in her story. Is this not a problem?

In 1976 Asa Earl Carter released another book destined to be a best-seller. Writing under the pseudonym of Forrest Carter the book appeared as The Education of Little Tree. The book was presented as an account of the life of a young Native American boy. It later turned out that the story was not an autobiography at all, but a work of fiction. Nevertheless, the book is still cited as a non-fiction account in many contexts.

President Ronald Reagan had asked historian Edmund Morris to write what many considered the authorized biography covering his life and presidential administrations. Readers were shocked when Morris’s book, Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan, appeared. The book was not a traditional biography at all. Instead, Morris wove together fictional and historical materials so that the reader is never sure which is which. After controversy ensued, the book’s publisher had the audacity to claim that Morris’s methodology actually represented an improvement or advance in the biographical form.

Two years ago, James Frey was forced to admit that his purported memoir, A Million Little Pieces, was not a truthful account of his struggle with drug addiction.  Then, just last week, the literary world was shaken by the news that Misha: A Mémoire of the Holocaust Years by Misha Defonseca is yet another fake.

All this is background to today’s revelation in The New York Times that the book world has been rocked by yet another literary admission.  Truth has been victimized again.

From the story:

In “Love and Consequences,” a critically acclaimed memoir published last week, Margaret B. Jones wrote about her life as a half-white, half-Native American girl growing up in South-Central Los Angeles as a foster child among gang-bangers, running drugs for the Bloods.

The problem is that none of it is true.

Margaret B. Jones is a pseudonym for Margaret Seltzer, who is all white and grew up in the well-to-do Sherman Oaks section of Los Angeles, in the San Fernando Valley, with her biological family. She graduated from the Campbell Hall School, a private Episcopal day school in the North Hollywood neighborhood. She has never lived with a foster family, nor did she run drugs for any gang members. Nor did she graduate from the University of Oregon, as she had claimed.

Riverhead Books, the unit of Penguin Group USA that published “Love and Consequences,” is recalling all copies of the book and has canceled Ms. Seltzer’s book tour, which was scheduled to start on Monday in Eugene, Ore., where she currently lives.

Here is the most interesting section from the paper’s report:

“I’m not saying like I did it right,” Ms. Seltzer said. “I did not do it right. I thought I had an opportunity to make people understand the conditions that people live in and the reasons people make the choices from the choices they don’t have.” Ms. McGrath [editor for Riverbend] said that she had numerous conversations with Ms. Seltzer about being truthful. “She seems to be very, very naïve,” Ms. McGrath said. “There was a way to do this book honestly and have it be just as compelling.”

That is the saddest aspect of this entire controversy.  This statement just about says it all:  “There was a way to do this book honestly and have it be just as compelling.”  The truth would have served just as well — and would have led to none of these embarrassments and humiliations.

We may live in what some would style a “post-truth era,” but the fact remains that the distinction between fiction and non-fiction matters — and far beyond the literary world.  The truth always matters, and only the most deluded may believe that we can live without it.

Still, there is hope in all this.  Every one of these revelations has brought a sense of outrage.  This just might be a sign that an instinct for the necessity of truth survives even yet.

Posted in dr. mohler | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Masculinity without Manhood?

Posted by Scott on March 7, 2008

by Dr. Albert Mohler Jr.

It does not take great intellectual sophistication to see that we are in a period of widespread gender confusion. As with so many other developments of our times, our evolving language betrays more substantial shifts in the culture.

Writing in The Boston Globe [warning, article includes crude language], Mark Peters argues that the proliferation of “man” terms indicates this confusion over manhood and masculinity.

“Hey guys. Is it time for a manogram? Did you get your manimony check?,” he asks. Then he points to the bigger picture:

If you feel like you’re seeing man words everywhere, you’re not alone. Movies, TV shows, ads, and the Web have been pumping them out. Some are painful puns, some crude slang, and as a genre, they say a great deal about our ever-in-flux gender roles.

Man words come from many man caves. Manimony (alimony paid to fellas) got a boost when it was used on “Cashmere Mafia” this month, just as “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” spread manscaping, which encompasses shaving, waxing, plucking, and other deforestation of the male bod. Manny – the word, not the ballplayer – was popularized by stories about Britney Spears’s male nanny, and mancation caught on after Vince Vaughn said it in “The Break-up.” Commercials feature man laws, man food, man suits, and man thongs. US soldiers in Iraq call the traditional Muslim dishdasha a man dress, while a resurgence of traditional manly activities has led some to discuss a menaissance.

So a “manogram” is a prostate exam and a “mankini” is a swim suit popular in Europe — where it should stay. Peters, who is a keen observer of language, understands well that these linguistic innovations indicate confusion.

Here is the most important section of his article:

How to act like a man is a humdinger of an issue if you are one. The late Steven L. Nock, a professor of sociology at the University of Virginia, said in an e-mail to me last year that it doesn’t take much for women to prove that they’re “real women” in the widely accepted senses, but men are in a more slippery situation, especially with the role of father/protector/provider not considered as necessary or desirable as it once was. “[M]asculinity must be continuously earned and displayed. It is never won,” Nock wrote. Without a traditional role to embrace, being a man requires constantly defining yourself in opposition to all things female: “No wonder things like man-purses attract attention.”

Peters, citing the late Steven L. Nock, argues that men “are in a more slippery situation” precisely because “the role of father/protector/provider [is] not considered as necessary or desirable as it once was.”

This really does get to the heart of the issue. Men should not expect to be comfortable with an understanding of masculinity that is not based in these roles and responsibilities. When manhood is not defined in these normative terms, confusion necessarily follows — complete with a new and confusing vocabulary.

In a biblical perspective, manhood is defined in these roles and responsibilities.  A man is defined in terms of who he is and what he does in obedience to God.  A society that rejects or sidelines these roles and responsibilities — that does not honor fatherhood and hold it out as expectation — will sow seeds of disastrous confusion.  The damage to our language is among the least of our problems.

While the Bible clearly honors men who forfeit the blessings of wife and children for the sake of the Gospel (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 7:7-9, 32-28), the history of the Christian church indicates that these represent a minority.  The normative expectation is that a young man will mature to take on the role of “father/protector/provider” that Peters correctly sees as “not considered as necessary or desirable as it once was” within the secular culture.  Those men who are faithfully living out these responsibilities are not likely to be too concerned about finding true masculinity.  They are living it.

When this expectation is no longer normative, it should be no surprise that men struggle to define masculinity.  The focus shifts from family to fashion accessories.  Our language betrays our confusion, but the confusion reveals a larger betrayal. 

We lie to ourselves if we believe that we can hold onto a healthy masculinity without honoring true manhood. 

Posted in dr. mohler | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Boys…diagnosed with ADHD, but are they really? Dr. Mohler Jr.

Posted by Scott on February 27, 2008

OK, So What Kid Doesn’t Fit this Description?

When thinking of signs of our times, consider this advertisement from a Nebraska newspaper. The ad was brought to my attention by a helpful listener to the radio program.

Now, let’s think carefully about this. Can’t sit still? Can’t play quietly? Loses things? Does not seem to listen? Has difficulty paying attention? Is fidgety? Honestly, do you know any 6 to 12-year-old children who do not fit this description?

The number of children — especially boys — diagnosed with ADHD has skyrocketed in recent years. While some boys may well have some kind of genuine problem, the vast majority appear to be diagnosed as, well . . . boys. As physician Leonard Sax, author of Boys Adrift, explains, a diagnosis of ADHD lets everyone off the hook, so to speak. The boy is told he is not responsible for his behavioral problems, the parents are relieved of anxiety over inadequate parenting, teachers and bureaucrats have a new pathological slot into which boys can be filed, and drug companies get to sell pills. Everybody wins.

But, as Dr. Sax argues, the diagnosis and the drugs can have far-reaching consequences for the boy. I am not a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a pharmacologist, or a medical professional of any sort. I am a former boy, however, and I know very well that every boy I have ever known would fit the categories described in this advertisement.

I would write more about this, but I just can’t sit still. Now, what were we talking about?

Dr. Albert Mohler Jr. (February 27th, 2008)

Posted in dr. mohler, Mohler Jr. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »

A New Voice in the Abortion Debate-Fathers!

Posted by Scott on January 28, 2008

A new voice is emerging in the abortion debate, and this voice is a powerful witness to the tragedy of killing the unborn. This voice is the voice of the fathers of abortion.

“We had abortions. . . . I’ve had abortions,” says Mark B. Morrow, a Christian counselor and participant in arranging four abortions. Morrow was speaking to a gathering of men who have become antiabortion activists through reflection on their own experiences and their own lost children.

Stephanie Simon of The Los Angeles Times provides a report on this new movement in “Changing Abortion’s Pronoun,” published in the January 7, 2008 edition of the paper. Here is her introduction to the story:

Jason Baier talks often to the little boy he calls Jamie. He imagines this boy — his son — with blond hair and green eyes, chubby cheeks, a sweet smile.  But he’ll never know for sure. His fiancee’s sister told him about the abortion after it was over. Baier remembers that he cried. The next weeks and months go black. He knows he drank far too much. He and his fiancee fought until they broke up. “I hated the world,” he said.  Baier, 36, still longs for the child who might have been, with an intensity that bewilders him: “How can I miss something I never even held?”

That question haunts many men, as Simon’s report makes clear. These men are raising their voices against abortion and the Culture of Death, and they call themselves “post-abortive men.” As Simon explains, “Abortion is usually portrayed as a woman’s issue: her body, her choice, her relief or her regret. This new movement — both political and deeply personal in nature — contends that the pronoun is all wrong.”

The concept of “post-abortion syndrome” has gained currency in recent years as women who have experienced abortions speak of their trauma and pain. As the paper’s report acknowledges, these reports of post-abortion pain and deep distress were cited in the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision allowing the government to ban partial-birth abortions.

The focus on the voices of men is new, but it reveals again that abortion takes a toll on all concerned, including those who are the fathers of aborted babies. The stories vary with the individuals involved. Some of these “post-abortive men” demanded and facilitated the abortion, others never knew of the pregnancy until it was too late.

More from Mark Morrow:

Morrow, the counselor, described his regret as sneaking up on him in midlife — more than a decade after he impregnated three girlfriends (one of them twice) in quick succession in the late 1980s. All four pregnancies ended in abortion.  Years later, when his wife told him she was pregnant, “I suddenly realized that I had four dead children,” said Morrow, 47, who lives near Erie, Pa. “I hadn’t given it a thought. Now it all came crashing down on me — look what you’ve done.”  A few months ago, Morrow reached out to the ex-girlfriend who aborted twice. They met and prayed together, seeking peace. After they parted, she spilled her anger in a letter: “That long day we sat in that God-forsaken clinic, I hoped every moment that you would stand up and say, ‘We can’t do this’. . . but you didn’t.”

“Look what you’ve done.” Those words come with a haunting sense of reality, guilt, and grief. These voices are also causing concern among abortion rights advocates. As Simon reports:

Abortion rights supporters watch this latest mobilization warily: If anecdotes from grieving women can move the Supreme Court, what will testimony about men’s pain accomplish?  “They can potentially shift the entire debate,” said Marjorie Signer of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, an interfaith group that supports abortion rights.

We can only respond with the hope that she is right. While the primary focus of the pro-life movement should be on the unborn baby who deserves to be born, a focus on the effects of abortion on both the women and the men involved holds the potential of reaching more minds and hearts.

A new voice is being heard in the abortion debate — and it’s about time.

Albert Mohler Jr.

-Scott Bailey 2008

Posted in Mohler Jr. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Does Marriage Matter?

Posted by Scott on January 28, 2008

The “My Turn” column in each week’s issue of Newsweek is always one of the most interesting features in the magazine, and it is often the first page I read. The January 14, 2008 edition featured a column that demands attention — and has attracted plenty.

In her article, “Yes to Love, No to Marriage,” Bonnie Eslinger writes of choosing love but insists that she has absolutely no need of marriage. “I am a 42-year-old woman who has lived life mostly on my own terms,” she explains. “I have never sought a husband and have still experienced intense, affirming love. I have explored the world and myself and sought understanding, knowledge and a sense of how I can best contribute. Ten years ago I left a New York career to return to California and pursue a writer’s life.”

She also became a foster mom to a teenage girl . . . and then she met Jeff. As she recalls, “Meeting Jeff–an intelligent, creative, thoughtful man–became the icing on the rich cake of a life not wasted cruising singles bars and pining over lost loves.”

As the relationship moved forward, Jeff thought of marriage and then asked Bonnie to marry him. Here is how she tells the story:

Last year Jeff asked me to marry him, and I willingly gave my heart to the intent of his question. We are committed to spending our future together, pursuing our dreams and facing life’s challenges in partnership.

Yet I do not need a piece of paper from the state to strengthen my commitment to Jeff. I do not believe in a religion that says romantic, committed love is moral only if couples pledge joint allegiance to God.

Bonnie Eslinger willingly gave her heart to “the intent of his question,” she insists, but not to marriage. Her explanation is straightforward — she has no need of “a piece of paper from the state” and is not a believer in any religion that would demand that romance, sex, and “committed love” be restricted to marriage — a couple’s “joint allegiance to God.”

In one sense, the column is not shocking. Rates of heterosexual cohabitation are growing annually. Marriage has been subverted by easy divorce, pummeled in the mass culture and in entertainment, confused through debates over same-sex relationships, and sidelined by a generation that is extending adolescence past age thirty.

In another sense, Bonnie Eslinger’s column is surely noteworthy for its candor — and its evasions.

Her candor is bracing at points.  Consider this section:

I don’t need a white dress to feel pretty, and I have no desire to pretend I’m virginal. I don’t need to have Jeff propose to me as if he’s chosen me. I don’t need a ring as a daily reminder to myself or others that I am loved. And I don’t need Jeff to say publicly that he loves me, because he says it privately, not just in words but in daily actions.

Few paragraphs offer such eloquent testimony to the absolute victory of personal autonomy as an ideal.  The first-person pronoun appears no less than eleven times in that short paragraph.

Where is Jeff?  Bonnie Eslinger argues that she responded positively to “the intent of his question” when he proposed marriage.  But, if marriage was his question, how can his “intent” be so easily reduced to cohabitation?

Marriage is not primarily about what we as individuals think we want or need.  It is about a central public commitment that the society needs, that couples need, that children need, and yes, that the spouses need.  Marriage is a public institution, not merely a private commitment.  It identifies the couple as a pair committed to lifelong marriage and thus to be respected in this commitment.  The fact that our society has weakened marriage offers only further incentive to get it right and to strengthen this vital institution.

The traditions of the wedding ceremony are important as a part of solemnizing and recognizing this covenanted relationship — but the traditions are expendable.  Marriage is not.  There is a universe of difference between a private promise and a public pledge.  Marriage is about a public vow made by the man to the woman and the woman to the man whereby they become now husband and wife.

Bonnie Eslinger’s column has sparked controversy on both sides of the cultural divide.  Ironically, one interesting piece of testimony to the enduring power of marriage is the fact that, even in 2008, this column has met resistance as well as agreement.  There are things we really cannot not know, and one of these truths is that marriage really does matter.

__________________

We discussed this issue on Monday’s edition of The Albert Mohler Program [listen here].

-Scott Bailey 2008

Posted in Mohler Jr. | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments »