Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Today's Posts

Besides the Verbal Annoyance, Why Shouldn't Caroline Kennedy Be a Senator?

Effective Sex Education Means Character Education

Chrysler's "Thank You" Ads Only Rub Salt in the Wound

Do You Have to Clean Your House Before the Paramedics Decide to Save Your Life?

Cuba: "The Longest-Running Failure in the New World"

Besides the Verbal Annoyance, Why Shouldn't Caroline Kennedy Be a Senator?

It's not just the endless "you knows" that make Caroline Kennedy a terrible option for a Senate appointment. Check out Howie Carr's giving Caroline the "Profiles in Chutzpah Award" in his Boston Herald column.

...See, JFK’s only surviving child wants Hillary Clinton’s seat in the U.S. Senate, although she has absolutely no qualifications for the position other than her last name, which by the way used to be Schlossberg until last summer.

Now all these dreadful, sweaty Albany and D.C. parvenus who actually had to run for political office are complaining about Ms. Kennedy’s ever-so-Kennedy-esque attempt to cut in line ahead of them. So Caroline grants - or should I say, grahhhhnts - an interview to the Associated Press, and she has the audacity to play the victim card. To get the Senate seat, she says, “I have to work twice as hard as anybody else.”

Huh? You’ve never worked a day in your life, honey. Your pampered-poodle existence makes Uncle Teddy look like a working-class hero. Poor Uncle Teddy is worth a mere $103.6 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Caroline’s gotta be good for at least three times that.

“I am an unconventional choice.”

No, Caroline, you are about as conventional as it gets. You’re operating under the oldest rule in the book, the golden rule. He (or she) who has the gold, rules...

By the way, if you haven't yet taken a look (and a listen) to Kennedy's performance in that now infamous New York Times interview (138 "you knows"), you've got to check out the video (with running counter) over at Perfunction. There's a whole lot more there on Kennedy's yearnings to be a Senator and related items too. Good stuff.

And there's also this tidbit passed along by Ace of Spades:

She also was asked to explain why she failed to vote in a number of elections since registering in New York City in 1988, including in 1994 when Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan was up for re-election for the seat she hopes to take over.

"I was really surprised and dismayed by my voting record," she said. "I'm glad it's been brought to my attention."

And the MSM goes after Sarah Palin as inept!

Effective Sex Education Means Character Education

Kathryn Jean Lopez weighs in on the latest flapping of liberal sociologists against abstinence-based sex education. There's good stuff here (there always is with Lopez) but here's a couple of my favorite paragraphs:

...It's no shock to anyone who understands human nature, never mind kids, that any virginity pledge that fixates on brute carnal relations is not going to work. Repeating the mantra "Don't do it," even when you've got a teen doing the repeating, isn't enough. How could it work? Popular culture is obsessed with sex. We can't even manage a family dog movie ("Marley & Me") without Jennifer Aniston taking off her clothes. And until that changes, of course, a hormone-mad teenager will be sorely tempted to join in the seemingly ubiquitous fornication, pledge or no pledge.

Does that mean we pass out condoms at school because we're not going to change the culture anytime soon? No. It means kids need support and reasons engage in activities other than sex. Abstinence has to be about saying "yes" to something in order to work. We need to focus on the idea that kids can actually think, and should want more from a relationship than sex. We need to be open to programs that aren't all about copulation, but about character education...

Chrysler's "Thank You" Ads Only Rub Salt in the Wound

Were you a bit ticked off when you saw those splashy Chrysler ads thanking you for giving the incompetent auto maker your money? Ticked off primarily because you didn't have any choice whatsoever in giving them your money?

Join the club.

Here's part of a Fox News story on the bonehead move.

Chrysler is facing a backlash from taxpayers and conservative groups after the ailing auto company took out a series of full-page newspaper ads last week to thank Americans for "investing" in the company through the government's $17.4 billion auto industry bailout plan.

Critics say the company, which is expected to receive about $4 billion of that bailout money in the near term, should not be spending its already limited resources on pricey advertisements.

"It's quite ridiculous to be spending that kind of money," said Princella Smith, national spokeswoman for American Solutions, an organization headed by former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich. "Those ads are just a precise example of the fact that they do not get it ... and it's just in our faces."

The ads ran last week in several major daily newspapers, including USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Since USA Today and The Wall Street Journal are two of the highest-circulation newspapers in the country, full-page ad rates are steep. A full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal runs between $206,000 and $264,000, and a full-page ad in USA Today runs between $112,000 and $217,000.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said in a written statement to that Chrysler should give back the money.
"Years ago there was a robber who was really polite. He said please and thank you while he was robbing people. At the end of the day, people had their money stolen. Saying thank you doesn't make it OK. They should give the money back," Norquist said...

Do You Have to Clean Your House Before the Paramedics Decide to Save Your Life?

Who is qualified to hold the scales of life and death? It seems as if these two British ambulance workers think they do.

And just what tipped those scales in their minds against a 59-year old man who had suffered a heart attack? The ambulance guys figured his unkempt house meant he didn't deserve medical treatment!

The results are that a man died (perhaps needlessly) and, because they were overheard through an open telephone line declaring the man "was not worth saving," the two ambulance workers have been arrested.

Cuba: "The Longest-Running Failure in the New World"

From an editorial in Investor's Business Daily comes illuminating commentary on Cuba's 5o years of economic disaster and a careful chronology of just how Fidel Castro and his collectivizing criminals managed to mess things up so badly.

New Year's Day marks 50 years of communist rule in Cuba. The Castro oligarchy will trumpet its survival and celebrate. But the reality, up close, is that it's the longest-running failure in the New World...

Its inflation-adjusted gross domestic product is a mere 5% of what it was in 1958, the year before Castro took over, according to Jorge Salazar-Carillo of Florida International University.

"It's a major failure," Carmelo Mesa-Lago, a University of Pittsburgh economist, told IBD. "Cuba is unable to increase food production to meet its needs and now imports 84% of its food. Cuba produced 7 million tons of sugar in 1952. This year, it's 1.5 million tons. This is the result of economic policy of collectivization, killing of individual incentive, inefficiency, constant changes of policy."

Reliable data are hard to come by. S&P refuses to rate the country for that reason. The regime conceals its failures. But if long lines at the Spanish embassy seeking immigration aren't enough of an indicator, the chronology of Cuba's economy tell an important story...

The rest of the editorial, including that detailed (and damning) record of failure is right here.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Today's Posts

"The Companionship of Jesus"

The Sorry State of the Media (In Their Own Words)

Cuba's Ongoing Crimes Against Humanity

Government Schools: The "Motor-Force" of the Socialist Revolution

The 5% Rule

"The Companionship of Jesus"

Everyone is looking for love, for the intimacy of a stimulating, caring and trustworthy friend. Here's a Sunday morning sermon (perfect for any other time of the week too) that looks at various Scriptures to see how only Jesus Christ can effectively handle that immense job.

"The Companionship of Jesus" is right here at Exposition 101, available for listening now or for downloading as a podcast.

The Sorry State of the Media (In Their Own Words)

They're here! The Media Research Center's Quotes of the Year in all their liberal, laughable lunacy. And yes, you could have bet that Chris Matthews sensual response to Barack Obama's oratory would win first place (“I have to tell you, you know, it’s part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obama’s speech. My — I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I don’t have that too often...No, seriously. It’s a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment.”) but you probably missed several others who were justifiable contenders.

And that's not even mentioning the finalists for such dubious MRC distinctions as the Obamagasm Award, the Pummeling Palin Award, the Pay Up Patriots Award, the Streisand IQ Award, the Great Goracle Award, the Mad King George Award, the Admitting the Obvious Award, and more.

Let's go to the videotapes!

Cuba's Ongoing Crimes Against Humanity

Marking the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Jordan Allott & Daniel Allott write "Cuba's Hidden Heroes" for the American Spectator.

It is a fine piece, reminding us again of what the MSM so defiantly ignores; namely, the plight of Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet and hundreds of other political prisoners still cruelly languishing in Cuban prisons -- and the thousands who have been persecuted, tortured and murdered under the banner of Castro's Communism.

Government Schools: The "Motor-Force" of the Socialist Revolution

It's a very uncomfortable, embarassing issue for Christians. And when raised, it often leads to irrational denial and fighting words. But the facts...Well, they just cannot be denied.

The issue? The profound and long-lasting damage done to our nation's youth as government schools coercively baptize kids (Christian and non-Christian alike) in the deep dip of secularism, political liberalism, distortion of history, and overt antagonism towards Christianity.

Phyllis Schlafly, bless her heart, continues to raise the alarm. Here are a few paragraphs from her latest wake-up call.

Why did 18-to-29-year-old evangelicals vote for Barack Obama despite his apostasy on the fundamental moral issues of abortion and same-sex unions? They voted 32 percent for Obama, twice the percentage of that demographic group who voted for John Kerry in 2004.

Many of these young people identify "social justice" as the reason that led them to relegate the prime moral issues of life and marriage to the back burner. But the term "social justice" does not define a moral cause -- it is left-wing jargon to overturn those who have economic and political power.

What caused young evangelicals, the children of the so-called "religious right," to change their moral imperatives so dramatically? Most likely it's the attitudes and decision-making they learned in the public schools, which 89 percent of U.S. students attend...

In 1983, Humanist Magazine featured an article that boasted, "The battle for mankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom." [William] Ayers put it this way: "Education is the motor-force of revolution."

Ayers became a leading advocate of "social justice" teaching -- i.e., getting students to believe that they are victims of an unjust, oppressive and racist America. Community organizers can then use these young people to vote and otherwise carry out Ayers' "revolution."...

The National Association of Scholars reports that use of the term "social justice" is today understood to mean "the advocacy of more egalitarian access to income through state-sponsored redistribution." That is academic verbiage for Barack Obama's assertion that he wants to "spread the wealth around."

"Rethinking Schools" is a Milwaukee-based organization that publishes instructional materials to assist teachers how to "weave social justice issues throughout the curriculum." Lessons include "Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers" and "Reading, Writing and Rising Up: Teaching About Social Justice and the Power of the Written Word."

Howard Zinn, author of the anti-American "People's History of the United States," urges educators to prioritize "social justice" education over political neutrality. In a 1998 interview, he said "quiet revolution" to move us toward "democratic socialism" was his goal in writing "People's History."

The thinking of teachers is further molded at expensive conferences, financed by billing the taxpayers. The National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) sponsors seminars with titles such as "Our Work as Social Justice Educators," "Teaching for Social Justice in Elementary Schools," "Dismantling White Privilege and Supporting Anti-Racist Education in Our Classrooms and Schools" and "Creating Change Agents Who Teach for Social Justice."

This "social justice" curriculum results in a heavy cost in time not spent on the basics. Young Americans who are exposed to Ayers' radical left-wing ideas generally have little background information to help them evaluate bias and errors...

The 5% Rule

In an article in Fortune magazine covering the Bernard Madoff scandal, writer Mitchell Zuckoff drops in an illuminating tidbit about "charitable foundations."

...Federal law requires foundations to spend 5% of their funds each year on good works and administrative costs. Some foundations exceed that requirement in times of need, such as post-Hurricane Katrina, and some are designed to spend themselves out of existence over a set period of time. But most foundations closely adhere to the 5% rule. By doing so, they offer their creators the prospect of philanthropic immortality. As long as a foundation's principal earns 5% a year - not always possible in a given year, but a reasonable goal over time - a foundation endures, and so does its sponsor's vision...

But, keep in mind, 5% of a billion dollars is still quite a chunk of change.

FYI -- The largest foundations in the United States are dominated by those tilted towards the financing of leftist causes. The top ten (using 2004 figures):
1) Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation ($28.8 billion in assests)
2) The Ford Foundation ($11.6 billion)
3) J. Paul Getty Trust ($9.6 billion)
4) The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ($9 billion)
5) Lilly Endowment Inc. ($8.6 billion)
6) W. K. Kellogg Foundation ($7.3 billion)
7) The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation ($6.5 billion)
8) The David and Lucile Packard Foundation ($5.3 billion)
9) The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation ($5.3 billion)
10) Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation ($5 billion)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Today's Posts

Must Reading for Pro-Life Activists

EU Parliament Awards Free Speech and Then, the Same Day, Represses It

The NFL's Matt Lepsis: From a Rocky Mountain High to a Dallas Seminary

Caroline Kennedy vs Sarah Palin: A Sad Study of Media Bias

Next In Line for Government Bailouts? Arts Organizations.

MSM Leaves Iraq War Behind: Not Enough Bad News There

Boy, I Sure Want to Get Started in the Pro-Life Movement. How Much Does It Pay?

Must Reading for Pro-Life Activists

Matthew Eppinette, over on the blog run by Americans United for Life, recommends a couple of articles in the current issue of First Things. I'm glad he did because both are thoughtful, important reads for pro-life activists.

The first is “The Pro-Life Movement as the Politics of the 1960s” by Richard John Neuhaus from which Matthew quotes, "Whatever else it is, the pro-life movement of the last thirty-plus years is one of the most massive and sustained expressions of citizen participation in the history of the United States. Since the 1960s, citizen participation and the remoralizing of politics have been central goals of the left. Is it not odd, then, that the pro-life movement is viewed as a right-wing cause?"

And the second article Matthew suggests is written by First Things editor Joseph Bottum entitled, "Abortion After Obama."

EU Parliament Awards Free Speech and Then, the Same Day, Represses It

Last week, the European Parliament, meeting in Strassbourg, France, gave its Sakharov Prize honoring free speech to Chinese freedom campaigner Hu Jia. Bravo. The same day, the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament cancelled a screening of the Dutch film "Fitna" [a short film by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders] on the grounds that criticizing Osama bin Laden and other terrorists is tantamount to "racism" against Muslims...

Gerard Batten, a British member of the European Parliament, hit it on the head in stating, "The banning of this film is a direct attack on free speech. A parliament that constantly talks of freedom, democracy and tolerance has shown once again that these are empty words when it does not agree with what is being said." Obviously the European Left has become increasingly dependent on Muslim votes and is caving into the demands of a radical Muslim minority...

The European Parliament, multiculturalists and PC fanatics in Europe are acting more in line with Islamic censorship decrees than with Western tradition of free speech. The European Parliament seems to endorse it in China, but not in its very own meeting halls.

(From a Washington Times editorial, December 26)

The NFL's Matt Lepsis: From a Rocky Mountain High to a Dallas Seminary

Kurt Oyer, a fellow Broncophile, passed along this compelling story from the Denver Post about Matt Lepsis. Lepsis was an outstanding prep athlete in Texas, an All-Big 12 standout in football for the University of Colorado, and a stellar performer for the Denver Broncos in the National Football League. But that success didn't keep him from getting hooked on a "Rocky Mountain High" of a much different, much more dangerous sort.

...Eventually, Lepsis made the leap to doing drugs on his way to work. Some time during the high times and fast life of Matt Lepsis, though, he started having moments of reflection. It struck him as odd that he would buy a car and a month later, he would want another one. "I'm like, what's going on here?" he said.

Prior to the Broncos' fourth game at Indianapolis, Lepsis sought out kicker Jason Elam, an ardent Christian, during the plane ride. Lepsis had begun his flight toward a life with Christ, although the takeoff was bumpy.

True story: When Lepsis approached Elam a couple of weeks later, he said he was ready to become a Christian. But could he continue his drug habit?

"As funny as it sounds now, I was completely serious," Lepsis said.

Luckily for Lepsis, but not necessarily the Broncos, the drug habit was easier to break than the embrace of the Lord.

"For the first time in my life, I understood who Jesus was and why he died and the sacrifice he made, and I was completely consumed by it," Lepsis said. "It was a pretty radical thing that happened to me right in the middle of season. I could not concentrate on football anymore..."

Lepsis, now studying theology in a seminary at Dallas, is anxious to tell his story of rescue, revelation and redemption. In fact, here's a couple of other news stories where he does just that: the Seattle Times, the Colorado Springs Gazette, and this particularly detailed story in Winston-Salem's JournalNow.

Caroline Kennedy vs Sarah Palin: A Sad Study of Media Bias

Victor Davis Hanson describes the dramatic contrast in the MSM's treatment of these two public figures in a short piece for NRO's The Corner:

The putative Caroline Kennedy candidacy for senator has had the odd effect of reopening the media can of worms treatment of Gov. Palin. Compared to Sarah Palin's almost immediate immersion into crowds and public speaking, Kennedy seems like a deer in the headlights before the media that is either ignored or asked to submit written questions. Palin was a natural; Kennedy can't finish a single sentence without "You know" or "I mean." Palin's family saga and daily grind were populist to the core; Kennedy is a creature of a few blocks' radius in Manhattan and Martha's Vineyard.

Outsider and lower-middle-class Palin toughed it out in Wasilla for years of politicking on a 16-year slog through Alaskan old-boy politics; Caroline Kennedy in regal fashion apparently skipped voting in about half of New York elections, and has never run for anything.

Reporters swarmed over Palin's pregnancies, and her wardrobe, but apparently took on face value that Caroline's fluff books were really a sign of either erudition or scholarship.

Conservative Palin endured liberal Charlie Gibson's glasses0on-the nose pretentiousness, and Katie Couric's attack-dog questions; insider Kennedy I doubt will meet with either, much less sit down with a hostile questioner like a Glenn Beck or Bill O'Reilly. Her friendly New York Times "interview" proved an embarrassment—rarely have so many words been spoken with so little content.

But, no, the real embarrassment proves to be the media itself that apparently can't see this weird unfolding self-incriminating morality tale: It is not just that Palin is conservative, Kennedy politically-correct (e.g., pro-abortion, gun control, gay marriage, etc), or Palin a newcomer to public attention, Kennedy a celebrity since childhood. Rather it is the aristocratic value system of most NY-DC journalists themselves who apparently still assume that old money, status, and an Ivy-League pedigree are reliable barometers of talent and sobriety, suggesting that the upper-East Side Kennedy's public ineptness is an aberration, a bad day, a minor distraction, while Palin's charisma and ease are superficial and a natural reflection of her Idaho sports journalism degree.

A few generations ago, Democrats would have opposed Palin but appreciated her blue-collar story, and applauded a working mom who out-politicked entrenched and richer male elites. But now the new aristocratic liberalism has adopted the values of the old silk-stocking Republicans of the 1950s—and so zombie-like worship rather than question entitlement.

Next In Line for Government Bailouts? Arts Organizations.

...Many organizations that spent years building large endowments to provide more stable sources of support have seen them decimated. A number of our most loyal donors have watched their own investment portfolios be depleted and cannot provide their traditional funding. Our audience members cannot buy as many tickets as they have in the past. And our board members are less able to involve friends and associates in our fundraising galas and other activities.

This perfect storm has already weakened the fabric of our nation's arts ecology. Over the past several months, the Baltimore Opera Company, Santa Clarita Symphony, Opera Pacific, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and others have closed or come close to closing. There probably will be a torrent of additional closures, cancellations and crises in the coming months.

We are losing the entertainment and inspiration we need more than ever during this terribly scary time. As we try to rebuild America's image abroad, we are losing our most potent goodwill ambassadors. As we reshape our economy, we are losing the organizations that teach our children to think creatively. And as we celebrate the diversity of our nation, we are losing the voices that have traditionally helped change society's thinking...

Michael Kaiser, the president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, has an answer to this catastrophe and, you guessed it, it includes the government giving arts organizations more of your money.

We need an emergency grant for arts organizations in America, and we need legislation that allows unusual access to endowments. Washington must encourage foundations to increase their spending rates during this crisis, and we need immediate tax breaks for corporate giving.

What other failing enterprises are next in line for government money? Department store chains? Publishing companies? Liberal churches? The Detroit Lions?

When will this madness stop? Well, at least not until the news reports covering bailout scheme after bailout scheme begin to remind people of two things: 1) The money that the government promises doesn't grow on trees; it must come from American taxpayer's pockets. And 2) The American taxpayers have but a fraction of the money amounts being pledged anyhow.

The proverbial piper will most certainly be paid for our stupidity and false hopes...but it's a piper far different than those playing for Michael Kaiser's Kennedy Center.

MSM Leaves Iraq War Behind: Not Enough Bad News There

The New York Times' Brian Selter admits (kinda') that the mainstream media is flat out uninterested in Mr. Bush's war. Well, since he started winning it, that is.

Quietly, as the United States presidential election and its aftermath have dominated the news, America’s three broadcast network news divisions have stopped sending full-time correspondents to Iraq.

“The war has gone on longer than a lot of news organizations’ ability or appetite to cover it,” said Jane Arraf, a former Baghdad bureau chief for CNN who has remained in Iraq as a contract reporter for The Christian Science Monitor.

Joseph Angotti, a former vice president of NBC News, said he could not recall any other time when all three major broadcast networks lacked correspondents in an active war zone that involved United States forces.

Except, of course, in Afghanistan, where about 30,000 Americans are stationed, and where until recently no American television network, broadcast or cable, maintained a full-time bureau.

At the same time that news organizations are trimming in Iraq, the television networks are trying to add newspeople in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with expectations that the Obama administration will focus on the conflict there...

Boy, I Sure Want to Get Started in the Pro-Life Movement. How Much Does It Pay?


I am seeking a paying job in ministry, not just volunteer work. I want to get started in the pro-life movement as this is an issue that is dear to my heart. I attend _________ church here in _______ and it appears that I agree with your doctrinal statement. Who would be the best person to talk to about seeking a position in your ministry?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Today's Posts

Christmas Day One 2008

Who Gives You Shakespeare, Dickens, Dumas...and Charlton Heston Too?

Tim Tebow's Had Quite a Year...And He Played Some Football Too.

The Year's Highs and Lows in Pop Culture

Bailouts Without Strings or Oversight

A Failing Grade for Congress...And the Future Looks Even Worse

Christmas Day One 2008

What a Christmas!

First an early breakfast with Mom and friends over at her assisted living cafeteria. Then opening presents in her upstairs apartment while listening to music and exchanging memories of Christmases past.

Then back home to prepare dinner with Christmas music blaring in the background -- Bing Crosby, the Carpenters, the Irish Rovers, the Platters, etc. Then what have become our traditional Christmas guests arrived: Patrice & Linda Kabore (and their children Kevin, Kenania and Kaitlyn), and extended family members Jonathan & Meelom, Patrick, and Innocent & Lynette (and their son Nethania).

When dinner came around it was ham, green beans, Mexican cheesey rice, fresh baked cheese bread, and lime jello/cottage cheese fluff with desserts of Christmas cookies, chocolate chip cookies and individually created ice cream sundaes, complete with a gang of toppings, whipped cream and maraschino cherries on top!

And then there was the lively, warm-hearted conversation, Burkina Faso music, and the entertaining play with the kids. What a Christmas, indeed!

The evening was considerably quieter with first the cleanup, then hot mugs of tea as we watched Christmas in Connecticut. What a terrific film it is with the writing crisp and engaging, the music charming, and the performances of Barbara Stanwyk, Dennis Morgan, and Sydney Greenstreet absolutely first-rate.

Finally, we closed out Christmas Day One with reflections on the delightful Christmas dinner parties we've already hosted this year (5) and some fine-tuning for the 4 still ahead of us. You see, Claire and I celebrate the Christmas season from Thanksgiving on but the "official" festivities involve the Twelve Days of Christmas and Epiphany. So we're anything but through with Christmas yet.

Yesterday will be hard to top, that's true. But you better believe we'll give it a try!

Who Gives You Shakespeare, Dickens, Dumas...and Charlton Heston Too?

New to The Book Den today are an eclectic bunch of posts focusing, respectively, on Charlton Heston, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Harold Pinter and the 1920 poem "Mary's Burden" by Eleanor Farjeon.

But once you zip over there, you may find yourself captured by items ranging from Sherlock Holmes to George M. Cohan, from Donovan to Kon-Tiki, from G.K. Chesterton to the Notting Hill Napoleons.

Check 'em out and Merry Christmas, Day Two!

Tim Tebow's Had Quite a Year...And He Played Some Football Too.

It's been quite a year for Tim Tebow. After all, he spent his spring break as a missionary in the Philippines with his father's organization. He then organized a flag football tournament to raise awareness for orphans in Gainesville and around the world. He also found time for speaking engagements in several prisons across the state of Florida, at a business conference in Croatia, and at the Southern Baptist Convention's International Mission Board in southern Asia.

And, oh yes, the young man plays college football. Had a decent year at that too.

In 2008, Tim Tebow added to an already impressive collection of national football awards. He was a close contender in this year's Heisman (he won it last year as a spohomore) but he walked away with sole possession of the 2008 Wuerffel Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Disney Spirit Award. And Tebow just might have a national championship to show for the year as well. He will lead Florida against the Oklahoma Sooners in the Jan. 8 BCS National Championship Game in Miami.

Here's more from Baptist Press.

The Year's Highs and Lows in Pop Culture

Brent Bozell's column today looks at just a few of the best and worst moments in American popular entertainment this year.

(I think you can guess which side "Dexter" drops in on.)

Bailouts Without Strings or Oversight

From an editorial in today's Honolulu Star-Bulletin:

Through the blind generosity of Congress and the Bush administration, some of the nation's largest banks have been bestowed with billions of dollars from taxpayers. So is it too much to ask banks for an accounting of how such largesse is being used?

Yes, says an Associated Press survey of 21 banks that received at least $1 billion in federal money.

The AP reports that not a single bank would provide specific answers. What's worse is that they don't have to. There is no process to compel the banks to disclose how they're spending the money.

A congressional oversight panel can't get the administration or Treasury Department officials to explain what it's doing or its strategy in giving out the nearly $350 billion released so far for the program...

A Failing Grade for Congress...And the Future Looks Even Worse

Says Congressman Connie Mack IV, "If the question is, 'What did Congress achieve?' I would say this Congress achieved growing the size and scope of government and placing a huge burden of debt and taxation onto our children. I don't think it's a record that the Congress should be proud of."

"The current leadership in the Congress has put up more and more government - higher taxes, more spending and less freedom. I think we're heading in the wrong direction."

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Today's Posts

"The Christmas of the Talking Animals"

"Isn't There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas Is All About?"

Is Global Warming Becoming a Cold Topic?

Belarus' Communist Government Continues to Ban Christian Service

Campbell's Soup Now Advertising In Leading Homosexual Magazine

Castro is Still "One Helluva Guy" to Clueless Ted Turner

Sarah Palin Compares Well with Margaret Thatcher

"The Christmas of the Talking Animals"

If a quiet 1/2 hour ever comes along in your hectic holiday schedule, you might enjoy this rural Christmas story I wrote several years ago. I think you'll find it a winsome, wholesome story with a very old-fashioned ingredient; namely, a spiritual moral. It's a story (not strict autobiography, by the way) about a 9-year old boy and his lively imagination who spends a remarkable Christmas at his grandpa's Missouri farm in 1952.

Word got out about the story among our friends and a recorded version ended up playing on KGBI several Christmas mornings. We just thought about it again this year and Claire suggested we burn some CD copies and send it around to a few special people. And we did that.

But she then suggested an even better idea. Embed the recording of "Christmas of the Talking Animals" into our Exposition 101 web site. That way anyone who wants to could get at it. And so we have done that too. We hope you enjoy it.

Merry Christmas!

"Isn't There Anyone Who Knows What Christmas Is All About?"

Here's someone.

Is Global Warming Becoming a Cold Topic?

The Wall Street Journal's Benny Peiser explains four reasons why Europe is "cooling" on global warming. May I trouble you to note the particular relevance of #4? I print it in bold below.

...The Brussels summit symbolizes a turning point. The watered-down climate deal epitomizes the onset of a cooling period in Europe's hitherto overheated climate debate. It may lead eventually to the complete abandonment of the unilateral climate agenda that has shaped Europe's green philosophy for nearly 20 years.

The reasons for the changing political atmosphere in Europe are manifold. First, the global economic crisis has demoted green policies nearer to the bottom of the political agenda. Saving the economy and creating jobs take priority now.

Second, disillusionment with the failed Kyoto Protocol has turned utopian thinking into sobriety. After all, most of the Kyoto signatories failed to reduce their CO2 emissions during the last 10 years. There are also growing doubts about the long-term viability of the EU's Emissions Trading Scheme. The price of carbon credits has collapsed as a result of the financial crisis. The drop in demand and the recession are likely to depress carbon prices for years to come. As a result, the effectiveness of the extremely volatile scheme is increasingly questioned.

Third, a number of countries have experienced a political backlash over their renewable energy schemes. Tens of billions of euros of taxpayers' money have been pumped into projects that depend on endless government handouts. Each of the 35,000 solar jobs in Germany, for instance, is subsidized to the tune of €130,000. According to estimates by the Rhine-Westphalia Institute for Economic Research, green subsidies will cost German electricity consumers nearly €27 billion in the next two years.

Perhaps even more important is the growing realization that the warming trend of the late 20th century has, for the last 10 years or so, essentially come to a temporary halt. The data collected by international meteorological offices confirm this. This most peculiar fact is rarely mentioned in policy debates, but it certainly provides decision makers with a vital respite to reconsider their climate policy options...

Belarus' Communist Government Continues to Ban Christian Service

Three Catholic priests in the western Grodno Diocese and another priest and three nuns from the Minsk-Mohilov Archdiocese face a ban on religious work in Belarus beginning after Christmas. These latest actions mark a total so far of 28 foreign religious workers officially forbidden from working with local religious communities since 2004.

Marina Tsvilik of the state Office of the Plenipotentiary for Religious and Ethnic Affairs told Forum 18, "These are not bans. They've just not had their permission to work extended."

Campbell's Soup Now Advertising In Leading Homosexual Magazine

The American Family Association is encouraging letters and e-mails of protest to Campbell Soup Company President Douglas Conant. The issue? Campbell's recent enlistment in the homosexual agenda.

In the December, 2008 and January, 2009 issues, Campbell Soup Company bought two, two-page advertisements in the latest issues of the nation's largest homosexual magazine, "The Advocate." The ads promote their Swanson line of broth. In one of the December ads, the Campbell Soup Company highlighted the lives of two lesbians with their son. The others feature New York City chefs. See the ads here.

Campbell Soup Company has openly begun helping homosexual activists push their agenda. Not only did the ads cost Campbell's a chunk of money, but they also sent a message that homosexual parents constitute a family and are worthy of support. They also gave their approval to the entire homosexual agenda.

The AFA therefore urges this email be forwarded to Campbell Soup Company President Douglas Conant. And after sending your email, the AFA suggests a follow-up phone call to Campbell Soup Company (800-257-8443) and their Swanson division (1-800-442-7684) asking that the company at least remain neutral in this part of the culture war.

Castro is Still "One Helluva Guy" to Clueless Ted Turner

In a stirring article for Front Page Magazine, Humberto Fontova details just a few of the horrific crimes committed by Castro, Guevara and other Communists -- crimes that are inexplicably ignored or even justified by the likes of such thug apologists as Robert Redford, Stephen Soderbergh, the New York Times and Ted Turner.

During a December 10 Fox News interview with Bill O'Reilly, cable television tycoon Ted Turner, a longtime admirer of Fidel Castro, made the astonishing claim that Castro's Stalinist regime never killed anyone.

O'REILLY: Fidel Castro, do you admire the man?


O'REILLY: Now, he has murdered people. He's imprisoned people. There are political prisoners now. He won't let his people use the Internet. Nobody can use that. And you admire the guy?

TURNER: Well, I admire certain things about him. He's trained a lot of doctors, and they've got one of the best educational systems in the developing world. And you know, he's still popular with a lot of people down there...

O' REILLY: But he's a killer. He's a killer. He's a guy who…

TURNER: But that has never, to my knowledge, that's never been proven. I mean…

O'REILLY: He's executed political prisoners. I mean, he enslaves people who don't see it the way he sees it. Come on. He runs a dictatorship.

Even the Cuban revolution’s most die-hard apologists have never made so transparently preposterous a claim, and for good reason. According to the Black Book of Communism, 14,000 men and boys had been executed in Cuba by 1964 – the equivalent of more than 3 million executions in the United States. Yet the communist’s defenders continue to march. "VIVA CHE! VIVA FIDEL!" bellowed Jesse Jackson while arm-in-arm with Fidel Castro at the University of Havana in 1984. (Jesse Jackson, by the way, wrote a book condemning capital punishment.)

Indeed, like al-Qaeda generations later, mass murder (often in public), was always key to the Communist quest for and maintenance of power. Communists have always wanted this to be known, as a means to intimidate opposition...

Note that all of Guevara's above quotes are found in his own diaries. Some of these diaries were fashioned into a movie four years ago by Robert Redford (The Motorcycle Diaries). Others provided the screenplay for Che, the four-and-a-half hour “epic hagiography” (as described by the New York Times) directed by Stephen Soderbergh and starring Benicio Del Toro titled, released stateside just last week. Although the above-mentioned directors and producers profess rigid fidelity to Che's diaries, one searches their film in vain for these quotations.

Instead, many of the scenes are altogether fictitious. When Che Guevara entered the Cuban city of Santa Clara during the anti-Batista skirmishes, he promptly ordered the firing squad to murder dozens of “war-criminals” said to be linked to the overthrown government of Fulgencio Batista. This “battle” added up to six casualties on both sides, but Soderbergh and Del Toro – mindlessly sycophantic to their Castroite sources – depict it as a Caribbean Stalingrad that somehow produced scores of war criminals on one side! The New York Times, which “reported” on this “battle” as it “raged,” didn't bother to look into this numerical discrepancy...

The charitable explanation for Turner’s affection for Fidel is that it is fundamentally about business. Back in 1997, when CNN craved a Havana Bureau, Turner's sales pitch was not particularly subtle: "Castro is one helluva guy!" he gushed to a capacity crowd at Harvard Law School during a speech. "You people would like him! Most people in Cuba like him." Within weeks, CNN was granted its coveted Havana Bureau, the first ever granted by Castro to a foreign network. Whitewashing Castro’s record may be good business. But it’s hard to believe that after all this time Turner is really the dupe that his recent remarks suggest.

Ted Turner, of course, has long been an incredibly arrogant person, enjoying the notoriety of his atheism, his disdainful dismissals of Christianity, his opposition to basic American interests abroad, and his mindless defense of America's enemies.

For instance, in addition to the numskull remarks he made to Bill O'Reilly about Fidel Castro, check out this video snippet from a conversation last month with Tom Brokaw. In that program, Turner not only managed to blame the new Cold War on the United States but also came up with this nugget about Vladimir Putin's leadership of the KGB -- "And the KGB, I think, was an honorable place to work. And it, it gave people in the former Soviet Union, a communist country, an opportunity to do something important and worthwhile."

Sarah Palin Compares Well with Margaret Thatcher

John O'Sullivan, the executive editor of Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty in Prague, was a special adviser to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. And it is from his experience in that latter role that he compares (positively, by the way) Mrs. Thatcher and Sarah Palin.

Interesting, hopeful reading.

...Though regularly pronounced sick, dying, dead, cremated and scattered at sea, Mrs. Palin is still amazingly around. She has survived more media assassination attempts than Fidel Castro has survived real ones (Cuban official figure: 638). In her case, one particular method of assassination is especially popular -- namely, the desperate assertion that, in addition to her other handicaps, she is "no Margaret Thatcher."

Very few express this view in a calm or considered manner. Some employ profanity. Most claim to be conservative admirers of Mrs. Thatcher. Others admit they had always disliked the former British prime minister until someone compared her to "Sarracuda" -- at which point they suddenly realized Mrs. Thatcher must have been absolutely brilliant (at least by comparison).

Inevitably, Lloyd Bentsen's famous put-down of Dan Quayle in the 1988 vice-presidential debate is resurrected, such as by Paul Waugh (in the London Evening Standard) and Marie Cocco (in the Washington Post): "Newsflash! Governor, You're No Maggie Thatcher," sneered Mr. Waugh. Added Ms. Coco, "now we know Sarah Palin is no Margaret Thatcher -- and no Dan Quayle either!"

Jolly, rib-tickling stuff. But, as it happens, I know Margaret Thatcher. Margaret Thatcher is a friend of mine. And as a matter of fact, Margaret Thatcher and Sarah Palin have a great deal in common...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Paranoid, Grinchy and Eager to Sue: Welcome to a Modern Christmas

I think I'll nominate this Rod Liddle piece from the Spectator as today's must-read. As the editor's describe it: "Rod Liddle offers a festive tour of the world at Christmas 2008: irrational fear, ignorance, stupidity, vexatious litigation, a foolish longing to abolish ‘risk’, and Christmas parties that, we are warned, have ‘absolutely nothing to do with Jesus.’"

It's a wacky world indeed but reading Liddle's column will be a nice sanity check for you. Here's a sample:

...In the north of England a boy was not allowed to attend his school’s Christmas party because his parents had insisted, ever since he joined the school, that he should not be required to attend lessons in Religious Education. The school presumably thought that they were being scrupulous in abiding by the wishes of the parents — but apparently not. The boy’s mum, a Ms Dawn Riddell, was incandescent at the ‘cruelty’ inflicted upon her poor son. Christmas parties, she said, have got ‘absolutely nothing to do with Jesus’. I think that’s one of my favourite quotes of this year or any year. And that’s where we are now, too.

Those Santa-based examples above, drawn from the liberal, developed, democratic world, do not contain absolutely everything which annoys people about how we are now, but they cover a fair few bases. Utter stupidity and ignorance, an irrational and institutionalised fear of paedophiles, an institutionalised but perfectly rational fear of litigation, vexatious litigation, the triumph of health and safety legislation over everything (allied to a fear of vexatious litigation), the notion of equal rights taken to absurd conclusions, the ability of an individual to become enraged when an imagined right has been infracted, corporate and local council obeisance to a PC agenda with which no sane person would concur, and so on.

It has become a cliché, every Christmas, to point out this sort of thing — so much so that it has its clichéd corollary in the liberal press, its equally steadfast mirror image, that none of it is true. But it is true, colloquially and in fact; even though my examples above might be dismissed as singularities by those who, for reasons I do not quite understand, wish to deny how things are. There was a piece in the Guardian recently by a chap called Dave Hill who set out to knock down the story that Oxford had recently, in a fit of PC-mania, decided not to have a Christmas festival this year but instead ‘winter lights’. And it became evident as you read his piece that though he wished to knock the story down, it was perfectly true, at which point Dave began instead to justify how seasonal celebrations change over the years and that ‘winter lights’, therefore, were fine and dandy...

Everybody Loses in Lost Pants Lawsuit

A former judge who lost a 2007 lawsuit seeking $54 million in damages over a lost pair of pants saw his appeal rejected yesterday.

Roy L. Pearson
[photo at right] sued a Washington D.C. drycleaners in 2005 claiming it did not live up to its promises of "Satisfaction Guaranteed" or "Same Day Service" when it lost pants he had brought in to be altered.

When the owners of the drycleaner refused Pearson's insistence that they buy him a new suit, he sued them for $67 million, - later reducing the suit to $54 million.
Pearson argued in part that the drycleaner's satisfaction claims constituted fraud.

Thursday the three appellate judges rejected Pearson's appeal saying he failed to show evidence of fraud and supported the rejection of the lawsuit in 2007.
Although the lawsuit has wound through the courts for almost four years and has been rejected twice, Pearson still could bring the case to a nine-judge appellate court or attempt to have the U.S. Supreme Court hear the case.

Since Pearson filed the lawsuit he has lost his job as district court judge after a supervising panel found his suit reflected poorly on the city.

The following statement from Lisa Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), is a response the D.C. Court of Appeals’ rejection of a new trial for Roy Pearson against a Washington, D.C., dry cleaner.

“We hope the rejection of Roy Pearson’s request for a new trial marks the last chapter of this frivolous legal saga over a misplaced pair of pants. Unfortunately for Jin and Soo Chung, this victory is more bitter than sweet. Though they continue to ‘win’ in court, their case has cost them emotionally and financially, resulting in the loss of two of their three dry cleaning locations. Those who say that the Chungs’ victory in this case proves that our civil justice system works are ignoring the facts.”

An American History Quiz -- And What It Teaches About Intergenerational Dependence

Once upon a time in a land far, far away (west Omaha, to be exact) I tried an educational experiment that yielded some very interesting results about history, experience and the generation gap. Let me explain how it worked.

I was speaking to a group of older Christians at a local church. Most of the folks in the audience were retired from paid employment but they certainly weren't retired from life itself. I opened the meeting with the ominous declaration that I had prepared an American History quiz for them: 10 questions which I wanted them to answer on individual sheets of paper. Well, the reaction to a “pop quiz” is almost always the same, no matter what the age of the crowd or the situation -- groans, looks of shocked dismay, and nervous movements that range from wiggling in the chair to abject flight from the room!

However, after I soothed their fears with the assurance that no grades would be given and no notes would be sent home in case of poor performance, these veteran saints settled down and accepted the task at hand. And they soon experienced the relief (even joyful pride) when they saw the positive results. For after the totals were added up, the average score was nearly 90%. That’s a B plus average. Not at all bad for a test for which there had been no prior study at all. Unless, of course, you understand that merely paying attention to life as you live it counts as prior study. That itself is one of the important lessons to be learned from the experiment.

90%! Pretty impressive historians these guys turned out to be, right? I wonder what the average would be if, say, a younger audience were to take the same quiz. I wonder how YOU would do. Do you? If so - get ready because here it comes. It's the very same pop quiz I gave to those seniors; 10 simple questions about the history of our own country.

1) Who was Jackie Robinson?
2) Who was President of the United States during World War Two? (Look out, this is kind of a trick question.)
3) Who was Benny Goodman?
4) Who was Al Capone?
5) What general led the Confederate armies in the American Civil War?
6) Who led the Rough Riders up San Juan Hill?
7) Who was Clark Gable?
8) What was a U-boat?
9) Who was Charles Lindbergh?
10) Who was Wyatt Earp?

That’s it - ten simple questions. And the answers need only be general identifications in order to get credit. I didn’t require specific dates or other details.

How did you do? Did you even get close to the 90% those senior citizens did? If not, then you should take careful note of the second lesson to be learned in this experiment; namely, that older people in our society have a wealth of information about life, culture, history, business, relationships, finance, and just plain living. In particular, young Christians should be honoring and appreciating the knowledge gained by the older crowd and utilizing their knowledge and spiritual gifts to enrich church life. As these older believers showed by this simple history quiz, they are an important repository of learning - a valuable resource that should not be ignored.

Let me now mention the second part of my experiment. A couple of weeks after I had given the quiz to these retirees, I gave the very same quiz to a group of 20 high school students who were nearing completion of an American History course. Most of them were getting ready to graduate. Would you like to know how they fared on the same quiz? Well, they didn’t score as high as the older people did. Not even close. Their average was less than 30%! And that's with at least two of the answers having been included in class presentations just previous to the quiz! Oh, one more thing; these senior high students who fared so poorly on the quiz compared to the elders were enrolled in a Christian high school.

This discrepancy should be viewed as an alarm clock for us all - an alarm to awaken us to the crying need for higher quality education for our youth, including American history and culture. And, trust me, being able to play complex video games, text messaging your buddies, and knowing all of the contestants on American Idol does not qualify as cultural attainment.

So, let’s start shaking things up in order to better educate and inspire our youth. Older Christians should put a higher priority in their own lives on Bible study, reading, listening, conversing, and writing. That way the elders are not only examples to the young; they're making sure that their own minds are being richly furnished so that they'll have something worthwhile to pass on. The older believer must help the younger appreciate the critical importance of investing time and effort in learning. These are practical, necessary and thoroughly biblical lessons.

So, by all means, we need to stop neglecting the wonderful resources we have in our midst, resources quite crucial to the completion of the church's mission. The Bible makes it clear that education of the young is a primary responsibility of the mature, so believers should be far above the world in exhibiting an intergenerational fellowship. We’re singing a lot of songs nowadays about breaking down the walls --- let’s make sure the walls of generation get broken down too.

So old folks, take the time and effort and patience to tell your stories to those following behind you. And young folks, take the time, effort and patience to hear what they have to say. You may just find them more interesting and relevant...and smarter...than you think.

Oh, by the way, need the answers to the quiz?

1) The first African-American allowed to play in major league baseball.
2) Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
3) Big Band clarinetist and bandleader.
4) Chicago gangster of the 1920’s and 1930’s.
5) Robert E. Lee
6) Teddy Roosevelt
7) Movie star
8) German submarine
9) Aviator - the first to fly solo over the Atlantic.
10) Old West lawman and gunfighter

Friday, December 19, 2008

Today's Posts

Only Christians Are Guilty of Intolerance in Canada

From Obama's Energy Geniuses: $10 a Gallon Gas?

Church Discipline Under Fire

Only Christians Are Guilty of Intolerance in Canada

You've got to check out Ezra Levant's exposure of both an extremist Muslim "cleric" and of the bigoted bullys running the sadly misnamed Canadian Human Rights Commission.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has rejected a human rights complaint filed against a radical Muslim imam who published an viciously bigoted book about gays, Jews, women, Christians, and even called for the murder of infidels...

The book plainly meets all the tests of section 13, including the jurisdictional test -- it was written by a radical Muslim cleric here in Canada, named Abou Hammaad Sulaiman Al-Hayiti, and it was published on the Internet by him, too.

More importantly, Al-Hayiti's book seethes with hate. According to Lebuis's careful notes, it included statements such as these (I've included only a portion of them)...

Dear reader, don't get me wrong. I don't believe it should be against the law to have this much hate in your heart. I'd want to make sure that Al-Hayiti's calls to violence (cut an apostate's neck, kill Hindus and Buddhists, etc.) didn't meet the standard of criminal incitement, and I'd hope that CSIS was attending his sermons to make sure he wasn't going even further off the cuff. But plain old-fashioned anti-Semitism, misogyny, anti-gay bigotry, etc., ought to be legal. The answer is denunciation, debate, marginalization, etc. -- not government censorship.

But that's not the approach taken by the CHRC. They have prosecuted Canadians for much less. But they refuse to prosecute anyone who, well, isn't Christian.

As readers will know, I was specifically acquitted of section 13 charges for publishing the exact same words for which Rev. Stephen Boissoin was found to have committed "hate speech", by both the CHRC and the Alberta HRC. That's because I'm Jewish, and Rev. Boissoin's Christian. HRCs have a special hate for Christians.

And, despite the fact that there do exist a number of radical Muslim inciters like Al-Hayiti in Canada, not a single radical Muslim (or radical Tamil, or radical Sikh) hate-monger has ever been prosecuted...

From Obama's Energy Geniuses: $10 a Gallon Gas?

Enjoying the $1.67-a-gallon gas for your holiday travels? Well, enjoy it while you can because the guys President-elect Obama is appointing in key positions want gas prices to be much higher.

Let’s start with his Secretary of Energy, Dr Steven Chu. From our friends at the National Taxpayers Union:

Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

Here is the original WSJ source. Chu has also been quoted saying, “Coal is my worst nightmare.”

For Department of the Interior, Obama selected Senator Ken Salazar, D-Colo. Back when gas was four dollars per gallon, it was Salazar on the Senate floor who would be perfectly okay with $10 per gallon gas.

Granted, Salazar’s complacency with $10 per gallon gas was in objection to drilling in the United States, calling it a phantom solution. But one sure way for gas to reach these astronomical prices is to restrict supply. And the amount of energy available offshore, 19.1 billion barrels of oil and 83.9 trillion cubic feet of natural gas—approximately 30 years’ worth of imports from Saudi Arabia and enough natural gas to power America’s homes for 17 years, is nothing to sneeze at:

The Institute for Energy Research has the full scoop on Salazar here.

So we have two men, heading up two extremely important energy departments, supporting gas prices in the upward bounds of $10 per gallon. Happy holidays!

(Nick Loris, "$10-a-gallon Gas?" in today's The Foundry, a blog sponsored by the Heritage Foundation)

Church Discipline Under Fire

Here's a woman in Florida who is having an ongoing sexual fling with someone to whom she isn't married. That, the Bible clearly explains, is a quite serious sin.

Furthermore, because the woman claims to be a Christian and is a member of an evangelical church, she is subject to church discipline. And no, Katie Couric and company, the church discipline the Bible requires doesn't involve stocks, dunking or branding ala The Scarlet Letter.

It simply means that the church is informed of the backslider's rebellion, the person is prohibited from taking part in church fellowship, and members are discouraged from continuing friendly relations with the offender until such time as there is genuine repentance demonstrated and subsequent restoration by the church leadership.

This is the Bible's teaching: clear, unequivocal and wise. It is a course of action which upholds the church's standards and protects the church's reputation. It also underscores the seriousness of the backslider's waywardness from the Lord, helping them to get right with God. And when there is repentance, the church is taught by Scripture to shower grace upon the prodigal and welcome them back.

And, one other important note -- following this course isn't optional. If a pastor and the church elders are following the Bible, they must be faithful to this teaching as to all others in God's Word. Even though the world scorns it (as the slant in this article certainly indicates) and even if the nanny state tries to force church leaders to abandon the practice, church discipline as taught in Scripture should be carefully, respectfully observed -- both the public censure and the mercy-filled restoration when backsliders repent.

But this article is a case in point of how the world pressures church leaders to forsake their biblical responsibilities. It's been happening for quite awhile now with issues like abortion, homosexuality, evolution, and even the existence of hell. Pastors are roundly criticized for preaching what the Bible teaches on these matters rather than toeing the lines drawn by a secular culture that disrespects (no, make that hates) the Bible's meddling in its affairs.

And even without having to resort to "hate crime" legislation or lawsuits, the secular culture has been successfully winning this contest. Preachers are cravenly caving in, preferring being comfortable, popular, likable, and lazy to being faithful in teaching the "whole counsel of God."

I suggest church leaders reading this article take it as a wake up call of what will be the next attack on the the church's responsibilities to stand for righteousness. They should put the topic of church discipline on the agenda for their next elders or governing board meeting and carefully go over their policies. They should make sure they've got things right according to the text; they should rededicate themselves to praying for purity in their church; and they should consecrate themselves anew to standing on the Lord's side no matter what comes.

Oh yes, one more observation about the gal in Florida...doesn't the hypocrisy and irony just drip from the story? After all, here we have a woman claiming she's being irreparably damaged because the church is shunning her because of her open fornication and yet here she is telling even the sordid details of her actions to a public newspaper?

It emphasizes again the purpose behind the whole affair; namely, a disgruntled woman and a disgruntled secular culture trying to force their sexual standards (or lack thereof) upon the church.