Thursday, February 14, 2019

"What's Jesus Got To Do With It?"

Nashville Public Radio interviews Vanderbilt Divinity School New Testament Prof. Amy-Jill Levine, who was my main NT professor there during my M.Div. studies. Web page here.


Sunday, February 3, 2019

How ISIS drove Muslims to Christian Faith

NBC News: Life under ISIS led these Muslims to Christianity "If heaven is made for ISIS and their belief," said one convert, "I would choose hell for myself instead of being again with them in the same place, even if it’s paradise."
While residents are still dealing with the emotional scars left by the brutality of ISIS, Omar says many people in Kobani have been open-minded about Christianity.

Image: Omar reads the Bible at the Church of the Brethren

Omar reads the Bible at the Church of the Brethren in Kobani, Syria.  NBC News
“Most of the brothers here converted or come to church as a result of what ISIS did to them and to their families,” he added. “No one is forced to convert. Our weapon is the prayer, the spreading of spirit of love, brotherhood and tolerance.”

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Over the edge of evil

Serving Democrat politicians want laws to allow the deliberate, pre-meditated killing of infants outside the womb. How else to explain the words of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, who openly ...
endorsed infanticide and tried to make it sound as harmless as he could. When asked by a radio host if he supported Virginia legislator Kathy Tran’s proposed law to permit abortion while a woman was in labor, Northam replied:
This is why decisions such as this should be made by providers, physicians, and the mothers and fathers that are involved. When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of the mother, with the consent of physicians, more than one physician by the way, and it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus which is non-viable. So in this particular example, if the mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if this is what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physician and the mother. (italics added)
Here is the video:


Please note that Northam thinks this is perfectly okay because, after all, "The infant would be kept comfortable" right up until it is destroyed. Maybe the SS should have taken that tack at Auschwitz because, "We will be nice to you right up until we brutally kill you" can't possibly be wrong.

The Federalist points out that the bill being discussed here was presented by Virginia Delegate Kathy Tran, who said this during a subcommittee hearing:
“How late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?” [subcommittee chairman Todd] Gilbert asked.

“Through the third trimester,” responded Tran. “The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.”

“Where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth, that she has physical signs that she is about to give birth, would that still be a point at which she could request an abortion if she was so certified?” Gilbert asked.

“She’s dilating,” he continued, using the term for a woman’s cervix naturally opening to allow a baby to exit his mother during birth. “I’m asking if your bill allows that.”

“My bill would allow that, yes,” she said.
Which is to say, Tran wants the law to allow the mother to tell the doctor to kill the being-born or newborn (Northam: "the infant would be delivered") infant. While Northam said that more than one physician needs to be consulted, Tran insisted that only one be permitted for the go-ahead.

I do not know words nearly harsh enough to condemn the overt, public murderousness of today's progressivism. And on the same day that Gov. Northam, considered a rising star in the Democrat party, said that just-born babies should be killed on the mother's whim, the extraordinary hypocrisy of his party was on full display by Sen. Sherrod Brown, D.-Ohio, who said, talking about President Trump,
"Real populists don’t engage in hate speech and don’t rip babies from families at the border."
But the law already allows babies to be literally ripped - as in ripped apart - inside the womb and now Democrats want to allow living, delivered infants to be ripped from life itself.

I used to listen attentively to by left-of-center friends and ministerial colleagues on the matter of public policy, even though I hardly ever found that I could agree with their positions. But I did try to understand their point of view and how they justified it, whether on secular or biblical bases.

That door is now slammed shut. After Tran/Northam/Brown, There is no "understanding" possible that stays on this side of insanity. From now on, I absolutely refuse to tolerate any lecturing by a "progressive" on the subject of morality on any issue, and this is now my number one reason why.

That abortion, inc., in America today is openly racist does not matter to its advocates, whose most vocal and public members are white women. Why do I say that? because according to the Guttmacher Institute (2014 data), of women who had an abortion,
Thirty-nine percent were white, 28% were black, 25% were Hispanic, 6% were Asian or Pacific Islander, and 3% were of some other race or ethnicity. ...
... three-fourths of abortion patients were low income—49% living at less than the federal poverty level, and 26% living at 100–199% of the poverty level.
Which means that minority infants were killed in the womb far out of proportion to the share of those demographics in the general population. Same with income levels - the "low income" demographic described as obtaining three-fourths of abortions are minorities to a very high degree.

In New York City, for example, more black babies are killed in the womb than are born alive, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Office of Vital Statistics.

But progressives won't talk about that because shut up.

Doctor Anthony Levantino performed 1,400 abortions until he abandoned that practice. Here is part of his testimony to Congress on how second-trimester abortions are done. For third-trimester abortions, the baby is chemically killed in the womb and two or three days later the mother's body ejects the dead infant through the birth canal, usually with inducing drugs' assistance.

When someone demands that a woman must have "the right to choose," remember that this is what that choice means:


As Lincoln said about slavery, "If this is not wrong, then nothing is wrong." But "wrong" is far too wimpy a word to describe this. This is over the edge of evil.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Digital heroin addiction worsening

I have used, though did not invent, the term "digital heroin" to refer to people's addiction the glowing-screen devices, especially smart phone and tablets, and especially by children. Comes now further, abject confirmation. From the Daily Mail, "Generation of child web addicts: Youngsters are becoming so obsessed with the internet they spend more time on YouTube than with friends as parents struggle to keep control of their online usage."
Children have become such screen addicts they are abandoning their friends and hobbies, a major report warns today. Researchers found under-fives spend an hour and 16 minutes a day online. Their screen time rises to four hours and 16 minutes when gaming and television are included. Youngsters aged 12 to 15 average nearly three hours a day on the web – plus two more hours watching TV. The study said YouTube was ‘a near permanent feature’ of many young lives, and seven in ten of those aged 12 to 15 took smartphones to bed. It concluded: ‘Children were watching people on YouTube pursuing hobbies that they did not do themselves or had recently given up offline.’ A growing number of parents admitted to researchers that they had lost control of their children’s online habits.
Next is a report on Nashville's local Fox affiliate, "Study: Increased screen time in young children associated with developmental delays."
A new study from psychologists and doctors in Canada found increased screen time in young children can cause issues with children reaching developmental milestones. Researchers studied 2,441 mothers and children with higher levels of screen time for children aged 24 and 36-months-old. Researchers then examined developmental milestone test results in the same children at 36 and 60-months-old. The study found on average, 24-month-old children were watching 17 hours of television per week, 36-month-olds watched 25 hours per week, and 36-month-olds watched 11 hours per week. The totals reflect findings children on average in the U.S. watch to 2 hours and 19 minutes of screen time each day. For each age group, children with increased screen times showed poorer performances on developmental testing when they reached the next age group. Developmental evaluations included communication, gross motor, fine motor, problem solving, and personal-social skills. The totals are well above the recommended 1 hour per day of screen time watching high-quality programs. Researchers say about one quarter of children are not developmentally ready for school entry and the trend parallels an increase in screen time use by children.
Many parents use glowing screens as a sedative to pacify their children I have seen this in public too many times to count. But people, these thing are literally addictive, and when children (a) learn they will be given a screen to stop pitching a fit, and (b) they cannot help pitching the fit anyway because they literally are suffering from withdrawal symptoms, then the parent-child-screen interface becomes a self-reinforcing do loop. My kids escaped this, fortunately. Our youngest was 14 when the first smart phone came out and none of them got a smart phone until they were in college (if then). But I have, no kidding, seen infants who cannot even walk yet with their very own smart phones - and now you can buy those phones especially built for small kids (more accurately, for parents of small kids who visually identify those phones with toys, as the makers intend them to do).
Yes, this is sadly real - just click here.
What is the tie-in to these kids' futures? Well, consider that researchers both in the US and Europe have discovered that IQ scores are getting lower, and the younger one is, the greater likelihood his/her IQ is lower than a generation before. And while glowing screens do not seem to explain all the fall, they are absolutely part of it.

Falling IQ scores may explain why politics has turned so nasty

Western IQ scores are falling. Is it computers or something else? Parents, take this seriously!

Monday, January 14, 2019

"Help! Help! I'm being repressed!"

We have long known and studied dignity cultures and honor-shame cultures. Now sociology professors Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning say there has emerged a new kind of social-interaction dynamic: victimhood culture, explaining an incident at Oberlin University.
The Oberlin student [who took offense at an email] took a different approach: After initially emailing the student who offended her, she decided to publicly air the encounter that provoked her and their subsequent exchange in the community at large, hoping to provoke sympathy and antagonism toward the emailer by advertising her status as an aggrieved party.   
 But she was met from the original emailer with even more strident claims that she had victimized him even more. And it went downhill from there - "There is no end to conflict in a victimhood culture."


What's distinguishes this culture from honor-shame or dignity cultures? The professors explain:
It isn’t honor culture. “Honorable people are sensitive to insult, and so they would understand that microaggressions, even if unintentional, are severe offenses that demand a serious response,” they write. “But honor cultures value unilateral aggression and disparage appeals for help. Public complaints that advertise or even exaggerate one’s own victimization and need for sympathy would be anathema to a person of honor.” 
But neither is it dignity culture: 
“Members of a dignity culture, on the other hand, would see no shame in appealing to third parties, but they would not approve of such appeals for minor and merely verbal offenses. Instead they would likely counsel either confronting the offender directly to discuss the issue, or better yet, ignoring the remarks altogether.”
The culture on display on many college and university campuses, by way of contrast, is “characterized by concern with status and sensitivity to slight combined with a heavy reliance on third parties. People are intolerant of insults, even if unintentional, and react by bringing them to the attention of authorities or to the public at large. Domination is the main form of deviance, and victimization a way of attracting sympathy, so rather than emphasize either their strength or inner worth, the aggrieved emphasize their oppression and social marginalization.” 
It is, they say, “a victimhood culture.”
Read the whole thing, "The Rise of Victimhood Culture" in The Atlantic.

Now I have two responses. The first is that victimhood culture is literally childish. It is a dynamic that resides at elementary-grade level, although, as the professors explain, college students today are far more adept and energetic in it than small kids. It is taking personal disagreements or conflicts to well, this level:


Remember one of the first rules of economics: That which is subsidized increases. When posting one's latest "I'm being repressed!" event across social media or public forums become routine, it will become rewarding. Posters become affirmed in their grievances and over time (not a long time!) want that affirmation again and again. So their level of "I'm offended" get lower and lower, their sprint to public revelation becomes quicker and sooner, and their claims of harm become ever-more insistent and exaggerated.

In short, victimhood culture is not about justice or peacemaking or conflict resolution. Quite the opposite: it is about domination and conflict creation and lengthening the fight, all the better to be affirmed. Victimhood culture is at bottom selfish, self-centered, and ultimately self-defeating.

My second response is that victimhood culture is very specifically contrary to the teachings of Christ, so anyone who thinks him/herself a Christian who engages in it very seriously needs to get a new understanding. Let me start with a referral to my essay of how Jesus rebutted the honor-shame dynamic that was firmly entrenched in first-century Judea, "How Jesus invented individual liberty."

Then how to get even with others the right way.


More urgently than ever, this is what we must teach our children.