Friday, December 30, 2011

The Rest of the Ten Most-Read Posts of 2011

  1. Moral Bankruptcy is a post about the boy-girl wrestling controversy and the bankrupt arguments for treating girls just like boys that are to be found at Her.meneutics (Christianity Today's blog for women).
  2. Religious feminists seem Desperate to see a woman in the White House.  The post includes a clip from a Bachmann speech containing an astonishing number of errors in one short segment.  The Congresswoman's star seems to be fading and she may be out of the race in another week or two.
  3. Stolen Identity and True Grit is both a review of the movie and a counter to Carolyn Custis James's feminist reading of it.
  4. Feminism, Consciousness-Raising, art therapy and looking like nothing so much as a Children's Play Group.
  5. Air-brushed Scriptures are the basis for women in ministry - a video clip from N.T. Wright which I had a hard time giving a charitable read.
  6. The Cultural Tsunami disperses was my post on the end of the Oprah! show and the overwrought reactions among Evangelical girl bloggers, as if we all now have a Oprah-shaped void in our souls.
  7. The Question was another post which looked a the Bachmann phenomenon and Byron York's question to her in one of the first debates. I still say York was right to ask the question and the post explains why.
  8. Molech Today's Priestess left me horrified and then angry.  How any publication claiming to be Evangelical and Christian can publish a cold-blooded recitation of a woman's decision to engage in Pre-Implantation Genetic testing and then having the embryos destroyed is still mostly beyond my comprehension.  Thankfully, the CT empire has since severed their contractual relationship with the writer.
  9. In The Herodias Syndrome, I point to an excellent article of that name which tells of the problems with women, contraception and pastoral timidity.

No surprise that the fun, uplifting, positive posts got far fewer reads.  There is something perverse in us to prefer controversy.

The Big Story of 2011: Denver Seminary and Gnostic Feminism

This was a wild-ride of a blogging year for me.  The night before my birthday, a fellow alum dropped a major scandal in my lap begging, me to do something about it.  At least I thought it was a major scandal.  The president of Denver Seminary dismissed it as a bit of  "iGossip".  The school did, however, admit to dereliction of duty in not properly vetting the video promoting the Gnostic women's center run by a fellow alum and classmate of mine.  And, they pulled the video from their website.  A minor skirmish won though Denver Seminary is still wholly captive to the heresies of religious feminism and that battle is lost.

It was by far and away the most read issue on the blog this year. I'm folding together the five posts to take the top spot in the 10 Most Read Posts of the year:

In a melodramatically titled first post, The Death of Denver Seminary, I crack open the embarrassing de facto endorsement of a gnostic women's community center, Pomegranate Place.  I'll readily admit to being in shock when I wrote this post. I kept trying to figure out whether or not it was a hoax.

In the first follow-up post, Denver Seminary's Transformation, I highlight one of the Affiliate Guides of Pomegranate Place.

The Wrap-up post is my report on a meeting I had with the school's VP for Advancement.  The comments also include an enlightening exchange between Vaun Swanson (the foundress of Pomegranate Place) and me.

An Open Letter to Mark Young, President of Denver Seminary is a full explanation of the problems with the school's de facto endorsement of Pomegranate Place and utter failure to exercise discernment, abandoning their position of trust in the Evangelical community.  In this post I detail some of the major philosophical and theological errors promoted by Pomegranate Place.

Finally, my report of a meeting that left my skin crawling.  After a failed bit of game-playing on Vaun's part, she and I finally met to talk about her work with the women's center she had established.  During the meeting she made it clear that, whether or not she realizes it, she is selling a Christ who cannot save.  In short, Vaun Swanson serves a Gnostic Christ.

It was a tough couple of months.  To see my alma mater fail so thoroughly in elementary discernment, to hear a former classmate embrace and teach a sulfurous deception, and to then see no godly men connected with the school stand up and call them out was disheartening . . .

At least it would have been if God hadn't blessed me in the middle of it all with a new friend.  She is a warrior for truth, a woman of discernment with a heart for teaching philosophy and worldview to women.  I encourage you to get to know Sarah Flashing and the Center for Women of Faith in Culture.  Without Sarah's wisdom and her national blogging platform, I doubt Denver Seminary would have paid much attention to one irritating alumna.

*in 2012 what I hope will be my last post on the decline of Denver Seminary will be a report on the first religious feminism conference held there back in ----- 1973.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hey kid! I wish you were dead

Something disturbing has been happening in relation to abortion law.  It's been around for a few years now but I haven't seen any specific, substantial response to the chilling phenomenon of "wrongful life" lawsuits.  In these lawsuits which turn the classic "wrongful death" cases around and seek, among other monetary awards, "punitive damages for having to live with a disabled child".

Can you imagine saying that to your child?  Not in the heat of frustration and anger, but in cold clinical language in a courtroom. These suits are ostensibly filed on behalf of the child, claiming an early death by abortion would have been preferable to a life that is less than perfect.

Tragically, these kinds of lawsuits have become commonplace in Israel where they should be a little bit more leery of a Lebensunwertes Leben legal philosophy.  Read the article by Dr. Denise Hunnell here.

On a related note, Rape Exception is one of those nonsensical devices used by politicians and others who don't have the courage to follow through on the defense of antenatal life.  Sara Johnson asks the question I've been asking for what seems ages, Why Do We Kill Babies Instead of Rapists?

Aren't the sequelae of postmodern thinking grand?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Feminism's sacrament: Abortion

Think about it for a moment.  Just think about feminism's aims and goals for women and what is required for women to reach those goals.

Have you gotten there yet?

Amazingly, many people haven't.  It's not a slippery slope, but it is a logical consequence of feminism.  Ready access to abortion is required for the feminist agenda.  Birth control isn't good enough.  More than 50% of the women walking through the doors of your local "women's health" clinic seeking an abortion were already using  birth control in the month they got pregnant.  And that's according to Planned Parenthood's own reckoning.  Even SCOTUS recognized the societal dependence on the availability of abortion in its decision in the case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey.

It's really quite simple.  For a woman to have a career equivalent to a man's, she can't behave much like a normally healthy woman.  Controversial, but true. A normally healthy woman gets pregnant when she has sexual intercourse.  It even happens with a certain frequency when she or her partner are using contraception/birth control.  That's what is supposed to happen for a normally healthy woman who has sex.  But a woman pursuing a career like a man can't be taking maternity leave every couple of years.  She has to be on the job like a man, without leave and without time out for sick kids, daycare failures, etc.

So she can't be a normally healthy woman.  If she is, she is patently not equal to a man in terms of career commitment.

In short, abortion is an absolute requirement as a back-up to failed birth control.  We could always pretend career women are celibate.  Uhm, no we can't.  As Frederica Mathewes-Green points out in her Touchstone article, feminism's twin goals were:

  1. Greater access to public life (careers, politics)
  2. Increased sexual freedom
Those are the major tenets of the religion (relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity) of feminism.  It's sacrament is abortion.  Now some will quibble about the language, but one definition of sacrament is:

something regarded as possessing a sacred character or mysterious significance

It's hard to see how anyone can argue that abortion has anything but a sacred character or mysterious significance when we see organizations such as NOW use efforts to stop the Prenatal Non-Discrimination Act (which outlaws sex-selection abortions) in their fundraising literature.  Abortion is such an integral part of the feminist agenda that they will not countenance any restriction on access to abortion -- even those abortions which target girls specifically.

What is most disheartening about all of this is that feminism has become so deeply ingrained in our society, that even conservative/orthodox Christian believers cower at the merest possibility that women and men are not equivalent actors in all three spheres of life - home, church and society. It's the reason Complementarians hide behind the "Equal but Different" mantra.  It's also the reason even the supposedly sexist ESV is under near-constant revision (four times in ten years).

The truth is, that if you want to talk about ontological reality, human dignity and worth - yes, there we are equal.  And the Church has always taught this - across all three branches of historic Christianity for two millennia.  But what the church has also recognized is the paradox at the heart of Christian anthropology - that while we are equal, we are also different, made for different purposes, teleologically distinct.  

And therein lies the problem.  As long as the feminists, religious and secular, are allowed to define the terms of discussion, paradox will always be denied.  They will reduce it to contradiction.  And Complementarians will be caught in a defensive, "Yes, but . . ." posture.

I happen to know it is a great privilege to be a woman.  To be numbered among the keepers of society's emotional resources (see Goldberg, Why Men Rule) and to share a tiny bit of something with the Theotokos which no man will ever share.  The saddest realization of all is that feminists reveal their contempt for their own sex when they attempt to compete in a "man's world" for a man's position on men's terms.

Thanks to Denny Burk  for the "heads up" on Frederica's excellent article.

Nigeria's Not-So-Silent Night

Boko Haram (the name means: Western education is sinful) has claimed responsibility for a series of bomb attacks in Nigeria claiming the lives of over 30 people so far. The first, and deadliest of the five, occurred at St. Theresa's Catholic Church in a suburb of the capital city of Abuja and resulted in 27 deaths.  Due to fire and extensive damage to the church building, the death toll there is expected to rise. One witness to the St. Theresa's bombing saw a family of five perish in their car which was next to the explosion.  One report has angry Christian youth preventing the removal of bodies, demanding President Goodluck John see the devastation personally first.

Boko Haram  is a violent Islamist group loosely modeled on the Taliban and calls for a strict Islamic state in Nigeria.  They have primarily targeted security forces and state institutions but last year claimed responsibility for a series of Christmas Eve bombings targeting churches.  They regard Christians as well as Muslims who don't follow their brand of Islamic ideology as infidels.  The group claims members have traveled to both Somalia and Chad for training.

BBC coverage

The bombings are a shocking reminder that Mark Steyn's Christmas Eve column, Silent Night, was more than necessary.  As Steyn reminds us, the persecution of Christians is one of the most unreported stories in what used to be known as Christendom.  The practice of silence not only occurs among the media, but Christian leaders as well.  We can't let this be the last word (from Steyn's article):

When Lord Sacks, chief rabbi in England, rose in the House of Lords to speak about the persecution of Christians, he quoted Martin Luther King. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.

Nearly 17 years go, I was privileged to make a short-term trip to visit with Christians in Ukraine.  Back then we were told that Christians in the areas formerly controlled by the Soviet Union believed we in our material comfort had forgotten them and they were praying for our persecution so that we would be reminded.  Still today, Christians around the world hear our silence almost as loudly as the beatings, the imprisonments and the bomb blasts.

Don't let another silent night, another silent year pass.  Get informed, write letters and donate to the cause of religious liberty. Here are three organizations you can begin supporting today:

Open Doors

Persecution Project

Christian Solidarity

Pray, Act, Give.  Start Today, right now.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Weekend Round-up, Christmas Edition

The gift that has keeps on taking: The Obama administration's NIH director has approved yet more funding for embryonic stem cell research

In the Tough Girl's Guide to high holiday expectations, The Crescat reminds us that Christmas isn't high school and there are more important things to think about than whether or not you have a date for the "big event".  It is, after all, the celebration of Someone Else's birthday.

Just say "no" to the red kettle, has been my response to the news about the Salvation Army's stance on abortion.  My friend, Leroy Huizenga, offers a more nuanced response and a nudge to proactive action rather than reactive protest.

Turning the tables on rich, white do-gooders who seem to think the poor brown folk inhabiting the, ahem, dark continent are stupid -- a group of African musicians have released a response to Band-Aid's, "Do They Kow It's Christmas?" with proceeds going towards teaching discipline, literacy and contraception in British schools. 

Christmas around my house would be incomplete without the St. Olaf Choir's Christmas Festival.  Enjoy!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How Just is the Denial of a Basic Human Right?

A recent exchange between Tim King of Sojourners and Jonathan Witt of the Acton Institute illustrates the problem with the concept of "Social Justice".  Witt points out in his American Spectator article, that "social" is a modifier that is often used to obscure the essential meaning of a concept - in this case, justice.  The Gospel is already a social message.  It's not a private or solitary concept that must be modified to be properly understood or implemented. And justice is already a clear concept which, while it does often apply first to individuals, is only muddied and endlessly evolving in the hands of the religious left when modified as in the term, "social justice". 

The concept of social justice has a history reaching back nearly two centuries in Catholic use, but it has been co-opted and morphed by the religious left into an ill-defined program of coercive wealth-transfer administered by the government.  The problem is that these federal programs are often inefficiently administered.  In addition, because money is fungible and not all equitably used, bad actors can enhance their position and power (this goes for international aid as well as individual recipients of welfare payments).  Programs administered at a level far from the recipient can also destroy more efficient and effective local solutions - the opposite of distributism*.  When this happens countries that had been exporters become net importers and big daddy government replaces real fathers as the source of income and protection (resulting in what has been called the feminization of poverty).  This top/down model of charity/aid has trapped many a country and many a family in a "vicious cycle of paternalism and dependency" (Witt).

So, while social justice has legitimate roots, the way the term is used by the religious left emphasizes a top-down government-based approached rather than a local community and organization-based approach which includes churches and civic groups. The concept as used by the religious left most notably ignores or dismisses that most basic of human rights - the right to life.  See Sojourners own position on abortion which refuses to take a stand against abortion and in support of the right to life.

For what is justice without life?

For more on distributism, see:  American Chesterton Society

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

At Home and Abroad

Nina Shea is a champion of religious liberty.  We should listen to her when she cautions us against overblown rhetoric about the real dangers to religious liberty at home - real, but we cannot mistake their gravity in comparison to labor camps and death squads.  Shea, in an interview with Kathryn Lopez published in the NCR, urges Christians not to forget the intense persecution endured by believers abroad.  Besides prayer she suggest citizens need to take advantage of their rights to insist the president and members of Congress defend persecuted believers.

A good place to start would be writing the President, Secretary Clinton and your members of Congress urging them to focus attention on the case of Asia Bibi in any interactions with the government of Pakistan.  Bibi is a 45-year-old mother of five who is on death row for defending Christ in a discussion with Muslim her co-workers.  To learn more about Asia Bibi's case, read here.

This week, International Christian Concern brings us the story of Farrin whose mother was  drug addict, her father a drug dealer who spent time in prison.  Enduring abuse from her father and brother, she escaped three times.  Finally at the third attempt she managed to get away and stay away.  But with no means of support, she fell victim to men who used her.  This resulted in her becoming a prostitute and turning to alcohol in order to numb the physical and emotional pain. Read the rest of her story here.

Whether at home or abroad, and whether we are defending conscience rights of health care workers in our local hospital or writing the State Department about Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani or Asia Bibi, the team at Breakpoint reminds us that we are all missionaries.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My new hero: Christian Bale

Actor Christian Bale is my new hero.  While in China to promote his film, The Flowers of War, Bale decided to make a side trip.  A mere 8-hour car ride later, he was assaulted by plain-clothes security officers who refused to identify themselves (photo above).  His crime was trying to visit pro-life activist, Chen Guancheng.  Unfortunately for the Chinese government, Bale was accompanied by a CNN crew.  After the guards slugged, shoved and pushed, they gave chase in a grey minivan for more than half an hour. The publicity will not help Beijing which has set Bale's film as its entry for the Oscars.

Chen, who is blind, was arrested in 2006 for his work exposing the government's use of coercive family planning and violent force in efforts to enforce the "one child" policy.  Today, Chen remains under strict house arrest and there are serious concerns about his health.  No on is allowed to see him and his case has been raised at the highest levels, including by Secretary Clinton. 

In video shot in the vehicle on the way back to Beijing, Bale looks ill at ease.  He said on camera, "This doesn't come naturally to me.  But this was just a situation (pause) I couldn't look the other way."  "What I really wanted was to shake the man's hand and say, Thank you, and tell him what an inspiration he is."  Further in the video Bale says, "I'm not being brave, doing this.  The local people who are standing up to the authorities and insisting on going to visit Chen and his family, and going and getting  beaten up for it ... I want to support what they are doing."  As Bale also observes, China seem to be terrified of this blind man, which shows an intrinsic weakness in the fabric of the country. 

Shandong province, where Chen lives, appears to be particularly brutal in its pursuit of population control.  Villagers have been known to sleep in the fields to avoid family planning officials.  Recent reports have them stabbing a man to death and forcing two family members to beat each other.  A woman died during a forced abortion at six months of pregnancy.  They have also detained, fined and tortured extended family members of suspected policy violators.

Thanks to the tireless work of other heroes like Reggie Littlejohn and Steven Mosher, the spotlight on China's repressive and murderous government will not dim soon.  Actions like Bale's help intensify public attention on the human rights abuses of the Beijing regime.  So go see the new Batman movie as well as Flowers of War, to support Bale.  And please follow the work of Population Research Institute and Women's Rights Without Frontiers to keep yourself informed.

For further information:

Story and video here:  The Blaze

From Women's Rights Without Frontiers: The Chen Guancheng Report

Weekend Round-Up

In a remarkable feat of Newspeak, Diana Thomas and her World Egg Bank pretend to help solve  women's infertility with the wonders of frozen eggs.  The World Egg Bank has recently expanded into the UK and is working on agreements to include Canada and Australia.  The problem is that these women are still themselves infertile.  They have taken advantage of women who are often mis-informed about the risks of egg donation, sometimes thinking it is nothing more risky than a simple medical procedure.  All for the sake of creating the illusion that they are mothers in a way adoptive mothers are not. 

And what do these children do when they find out later in life that their social dad is not their biological father?  For that story, see the newly released, Anonymous Father's Day .

This week, many activists and supporters of religious liberty were biting their fingernails until Congress did the right thing and re-authorized the USCIRF.  The 11th-hour reprieve, however, shows that neither the Democratic leadership in the Senate or President Obama are entirely serious about supporting the work of the Commission (it had been set to pass by unanimous consent until it was held up by the 2nd highest ranking Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin of IL).  Add to this the State Department's new directive to elevate LGBT rights as a foreign policy priority, it will increasingly fall to NGOs and citizens to keep the spotlight on religious persecution around the world.

Here the work of Open Doors becomes even more important. On January 4, 2012 they will release their annual Watch List in which countries are ranked according to the intensity of persecution within their borders. North Korea, the often forgotten closed and brutally repressive regime, has topped the list for the last ten years.  Iran and Afghanistan are near the top as well.  In the past year, there have been 300 confirmed martyrs in Nigeria alone.  The figures for North Korea are likely worse but are not known with any accuracy because of the tight restrictions on information flowing in and out of the country. 

International Justice Mission has a number of job openings.

Alex Perottet at Crisis Magazine talks Nunsense about the Pill.  Well, he doesn't write nonsense.  Instead he illustrates the false claims being made in an effort to make birth control truly universal.

The Heritage Foundation has a nifty resource for candidates in its Candidate's Briefing Book.  It covers a wide range of topics with suggestions for policy initiatives and resources for additional information.  One glaring omission, however, is the issue of abortion.  With a presidential contest where Republican candidates are seeking to oust the most actively pro-abortion President in history, a glance through the sections on "Family & Religion"' and "Healthcare" plus a search using two different page formats turned up not one single mention of abortion.  With that noted, it looks to be an excellent resource for both candidates and voters.

With so much seriousness around us here, I want to end on a happier note.  I mentioned this gift from God in last week's round-up but included a photo of a different child with Down's syndrome.  Last week's photo was a reminder about how many babies don't survive long after prenatal testing comes back with a diagnosis of Trisomy 21.  Their lives end in abortion.  We have lost an untold number of treasures because of something that can only justly be described as the practice of eugenics.  But little Taya Kennedy was blessed with a mom who treasured her.  And now she is the darling baby supermodel taking the modeling world by storm.  In closing this week, I give you model extraordinaire, Taya:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Weekend Round-up

Sigh . . . . . . . . .

As I begin this post, yet anouuuuuuther Republican presidential debate is on.  Whoopie.  Do we expect any big surprises at this point?  There is only one surprise I am hoping for.  If you follow me on Twitter, you likely already know what it is.  If you don't, well, it doesn't involved either front runner.  In a few weeks we'll know if the grassroots-groundswell that appears to be building is real.  If a certain back-in-the-pack candidate doesn't place at least a strong second in the Iowa caucuses come next month, then I won't be watching any more debates, I'll be contemplating whether I can stomach voting for the Republican nominee or casting about for a third party candidate.  The one thing I will not do is ever, ever again cast a vote for any candidate running under the flag of Deathocrats.

The National Catholic Register and First Things are both pondering the fight for religious liberty/rights of conscience in this country and why Catholics so often feel alone.  Are Evangelicals AWOL?  Yes and No.  The problem, as ever with the continually fragmenting Evangelicalism, is that there is no unified voice.  No Evangelical/Protestant equivalent of the USCCB.  So the question is, can we unite behind Chuck Colson or do we need to get behind the already ecumenical Manhattan Declaration group?  I don't know.  But I know we have to take the question seriously.

Ed Driscoll has an interesting piece on, The Closing of the Barackian Mind

Jody Bottum contemplates the End of Canterbury ?  I hate to tell him, but it ended back in 1976 when TEC authorized women's "ordination".  What we are watching now are merely the death-throws which are likely to be accelerated by the early exit of the Druid of Canterbury.

George Clooney keeps on doing the job President Obama and Secretary Clinton should be doing.  This week, he's highlighting Starvation as a weapon of war.  When will the United States, under Clinton and Obama, take effective action against Bashir and his criminal regime in Khartoum?  Don't hold your breath.

This week, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unexpectedly did the right thing in blocking the FDAs plan to make "Plan B" available over-the-counter without a prescription to minors. Yeah, like pimps and sex traffickers were cheering that move.

With the recent news about a less invasive and more accurate prenatal screening test for Down's Syndrome (a mere blood test which is 98% accurate), the threat to the most vulnerable among us, those deemed as "life unworthy of life" is more serious than ever. Would we have missed this treasure?

Speaking of percentages and those with Down's Syndrome: