Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Healthcare: The Good the Bad and the Disgustingly Ugly

The other day on someone else's FB page, an old friend defended nationalized healthcare and, in particular, Britain's NHS.  I knew her experience was dated and I knew there had been multiple reported problems in Britain's nationalized healthcare system, but tonight I found it was even worse than I had imagined.

I already knew that 1 in 4 NHS Trusts failed basic hygiene standards like cleaning up blood spatter and basic handwashing rules.  In another report (link no longer available) 25-30% of Trusts were found to be failing on basic safety measures like bedrails.  In addition, back in the 1990s when I first began researching NHS before lobbying against "HillaryCare", I was astounded to learn that waiting times for basic surgeries like cataracts had stretched beyond statutory limits and patients were being shipped across the channel to France for surgery.

Perhaps most troubling, as we face aging populations, one report has HALF of NHS hospitals failing to provide adequate nutrition to their elderly patients. And an Ombudsman's report found the following cases of appalling treatment of the elderly:

  • An 82-year-old woman died alone because staff didn't realize her husband had been waiting hours to see her.
  • One elderly woman spent 13 weeks in the hospital without being bathed.
  • Another woman was sent home covered in bruises, soaked in urine and wearing someone else's clothes
  • In yet another case, life support for a heart attack victim was turned off despite his wife's asking it be left on to give the family time to gather and say good-bye.
There have also been numerous reports of elderly patients being denied food and water.  

There are two things that help explain the discrepancies in Britain's healthcare system.  The first is that Britain has a 2-tiered system which allows private insurance.  The second is that their nationalized healthcare system is administered by regional trusts - which can leaves the quality of care dependent upon the ability of the regional trust's management to, well, manage.

And yet, in this country we still see pressure to move toward a nationalized single-payor system while at the same time we continue to build new hospitals with 100% private rooms!

Let me close on a happier note. The next time you hear someone complain about the number of uninsured in this country or the problems in our healthcare system. I want you to recall this story in the Denver Post about the theatre shooting this past summer:

University of Colorado Hospital worked with Medicaid and private insurers so that none of their patients paid deductibles or other out-of-pocket expenses. Doctors also wrote off expenses. CEO John Harney says his hospital wrote off more than $2 million in care.

THAT's what I love about America's healthcare (non)system. Every day, in much less spectacular ways (Thank you, God!), we give care to those who cannot pay.  And we give an exceptional quality of care.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Cultural Literacy: Kate Smith

I don't recall how it came up in conversation, but the other night I found myself asking my co-workers if they knew who Kate Smith was.  I was a little surprised to find out none of them (mostly much younger than I) had never heard of her.

Now, to be honest, since Smith retired from public life when I was still in high school, I must admit I am only familiar with her because of my enjoyment of television variety shows.  Not something your average teenager indulges in.  In fact, they are a relic of the younger days of television. Before I became familiar with her from her appearances on shows like those hosted by Dean Martin and the Smothers Brothers, she had a lengthy career as a recording artist and was one of America's most popular radio personalities - having top variety and news/commentary programs.

Kate Smith had a big voice, not one you would ever forget if you had once heard her sing.  She is most famous for making famous what Irving Berlin called his most important song:

That song was also to be the last one she performed in public, during bicentennial celebrations in 1976.  After that, she retired from public life.

Even though she was gone for 15 years when terrorists attacked on 11 September, 2001 -- that afternoon, as the terrible reality began soaking in and I realized that there were people on this planet that hated this country so very much they would commandeer full commercial airplanes and fly them into a pair of skyscrapers in New York City, the Pentagon and attempt a fourth attack on the White House -- that afternoon almost more than anything else I wanted to hear Miss Smith sing, "God Bless America".

Smith, in addition to her recording, radio and television work appeared in 7 movies herself and her voice is found on the soundtrack of 19 more, according to IMDB .  So, even though you may not know her name, you may have heard her voice.  

Go to YouTube and IMDB and get to know this American Icon.

Half the Truth

Carolyn Custis James is riding the Half the Sky movement for all its worth.  In the wake of this week's showing on PBS's Independent Lens of the movie based on the book, James has a piece in the Huffington Post this weekend.  See here.

One thing Mrs James forgets.  One thing Kristof and WuDunn deny.  One thing World Vision ignores in their partnership with Half the Sky.

Without the right to life, no other right matters.  It means nothing to have any other right if we do not first have the right to our own lives.

Nothing. Else. Matters.

James is "cut to the bone" by the accusation that Christians don't care as much about African women as we do about "the lives of unborn fetuses."  The first problem with that is that they are not merely "unborn fetuses".  They are human beings made in the image of God, same as the African women we Christians are accused of not caring enough about. 

I'm beginning to wonder where Mrs. James has really been for the past 40 years. In the 1970s I know I heard little, if anything, about sidewalk counseling and the horrors of abortion in my suburban, mostly white, Evangelical church. But I did hear about missionaries in Africa and I did wear a bracelet which helped me remember to pray for a woman who was imprisoned in the Soviet Union because she was a Christian. Since then, I've heard as much about child brides, female genital mutilation, acid attacks and a sort of enforced sati as I have about abortion.

I've been privileged to hear women (and men) who have risked their lives for the sake of others around the world. Women like Baroness Caroline Cox who has risked her life multiple times to redeem slaves -- a woman who continued the practice even when her own government (she was Deputy Speaker of the House of Lords) told her, "If you get caught, we've never heard of you".  And read about young women like Grace Akallo, a former child soldier from Uganda ( you will learn more about Grace in a week or two when I post a review of the book she wrote with my friend, Faith McDonnell).

So, if Mrs. James wants to say we haven't done enough, she'll get no argument from me.  But that's not what she says.  She uncritically uses the language of pro-abortion "family planners" to deny the humanity, the image-bearing status, of the child before birth. And then agrees with them that we have turned a "blind eye" towards other atrocities happening around the world.

And that's a lie.  It only looks that way to some because they  have turned a blind eye to the humanity and vulnerability of the child in the womb.  The have turned what should be the safest place on earth into a place of unspeakable violence, of tearing the most vulnerable members of the human family limb from limb and discarding them in the trash like so much offal (in fact, one abortionist is now facing charges for feeding the human remains of abortion to dogs).

We care about abortion, about children even before they are born, and we care about their moms because we know this comes first.  We act because we know that if we don't do this work, we won't do that work in a way that helps rather than hurts.

And hurting is precisely what Half the Sky and their partners and promoters do when they promote the myth of overpopulation and the necessity of "family planning" which harms women physically, emotionally and spiritually.

We know that the only way to really help women, instead of imposing an agenda that harms rather than helps, is to be unashamedly prolife in word and deed.

And to those who are not unashamedly prolife?  Well, I guess it probably does look like we care a whole lot more about "unborn fetuses" than we do women in Africa.  When the truth is, they are one and the same.  They are both victims of evil in this fallen world.

I wish to God they weren't.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

World Vision's Disturbing Partnership

The Independent Lens/Half the Sky movie premiered on PBS this week. The movie is the outgrowth of a movement sparked by a book of the same name from NYT columnist Nicholas Kristof and his wife, Sheryl WuDunn.  I review the book here.  As I show in my review, the book is flawed by the premises of its authors who are staunch abortion rights supporters with a prejudice against Christianity.  Their aim is more than simply admirable but their approach is so flawed that their work and the organization cannot be commended to Christians.

In spite of this, the Half the Sky phenomenon has been heavily promoted by Carolyn Custis James (echoing it in the title of her own book, Half the Church) who invited WuDunn to speak at the last Synergy conference and has used her blog and twitter feed to regular promote the Kristof/WuDun work.  Half the Sky has also been promoted by Bill Hybels and Willow Creek who turned over all three services one weekend this past May to an interview with Kristof (my reaction and video of the event available here). Willow Creek also had WuDunn speak as "faculty" for their summer leadership institute.  While Kristof is more widely known as a NYT columnist, WuDunn is every bit as dangerous to the health and well being of women around the world as evidenced by her TED talk linked in this post . In that talk, WuDunn peddles the repeatedly discredited overpopulation myth while also advocating the putting aside of morality for pragmatics in "helping" women. Putting together the overpopulation myth with education advocacy, it becomes clear that WuDunn thinks the best way to help women is to ensure they have fewer babies.  Never mind that the overpopulation and  "reproductive rights" that WuDunn supports have overwhelming victimized (before they are even born) the littlest women on the planet to the point where demographers estimate the number of missing girls may be as high as 200 MILLION.

Even though I knew many Christians had been shocked into indignation by the atrocities Kristof and WuDunn reveal, in preparing to watch the documentary I was caught up short when I noticed on the bottom right corner of the page listing sponsors that World Vision is a featured partner of the Half the Sky Movement:

Holding onto a bit of disbelief, I telephoned World Vision and was asked to email them my concerns.  I sent an email including many of the same links I am including in this blog post here. I also contacted some friends for feedback, one of whom responded to World Vision with a letter of his own (he is a pastor, theologian and missionary in Africa who well knows the devastation and abuse that western aid agencies with a pro-abortion/birth control agenda visit upon women they deem in need of their help). My concern is not simply the abortion agenda, for I understand there are legitimate projects upon which Christian groups can work with secular groups without compromising the pro-life beliefs of the Christian group.  But this is not simply a limited cooperation for a particular project, this is a major partnership which World Vision is promoting on their own web site.  

By doing so, World Vision is not simply partnering with a new movement, they are partnering with the partners of Half the Sky as well. Other partners include Marie Stopes International and Center for Reproductive Rights the former is a major international abortion provider and the latter an international advocate for uninhibited "reproductive freedom". The abortion/overpopulation agenda is neatly tied together by having the Gates Foundation as a major funder .  Melinda Gates, you may know, has created some controversy by claiming there is No Controversy in contraception. 

Because of these concerns I have outlined above, it was with deep disappointment and sadness that I received World Vision's response to my concerns.  I include the body of their response here (excluding a few words of greeting and closing which are particular to my relationship to them and past sponsorship).  Please take note that, while they assert their pro-life views, they both defend their partnership with Half the Sky as well as making positive references to family planning:

World Vision is one of 32 partners with Half the Sky, and some of these groups may approach maternal health and family planning differently than World Vision. However, we are working together toward a common goal to help women and girls reach their God-given potential in a world that would allow them to freely live, work, and express themselves. As World Vision addresses serious issues that affect the poorest of the poor, we belong to advocacy and technical networks that may include groups with whom we disagree on theological grounds or certain issues. This does not mean we endorse their positions on other issues or support these organizations. However, we are working toward the same goal, which is preserving lives and advancing the cause of those in need.
We share your concern for the well-being of all children, including those in their mother's womb. For more than 60 years World Vision has been working to save the lives of these children who are so near our Savior's heart-not only to save their lives, but to break the cycle of poverty so that they, their children, and their children's children can live healthy, productive lives.
Please be assured that World Vision inexorably opposes the use of abortion, as it runs contrary to everything for which we stand. All of World Vision's efforts seek to save, extend, and enhance life. World Vision's policy denies the use or promotion of abortion as a method of family planning in any of its projects.
World Vision's survival programs have saved countless lives of children and their mothers. Through improved nutrition, diarrhea control, expanded immunization, and birth spacing, families are healthier and more of their children are surviving the first few perilous years of life.
We are concerned that much of the progress we have seen in the lives of mothers and their children might be reversed if families do not have access to maternal education on topics such as birth spacing methods and prolonged breast-feeding practices. Children born to mothers who are too young or too old have a diminished chance of survival. The health of the mother and all children in a family is affected when births are too close together.
World Vision believes that life begins at conception and encourages family planning programs, that are proven not to be abortive in nature, in areas where the programs are desired by individuals and acceptable to both the culture and government of the region. World Vision faces challenging issues of economics and culture in its sponsorship communities around the world. Our aim is to ensure the survival of each child through community development and health efforts. We believe family planning and child spacing are only part of our efforts to enable families to enjoy healthier lives.

Nearly half a century ago, the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae fell like a bombshell on the Catholic Church as well as the wider world.  It was widely ignored, condemned and a year later termed a dead letter.  And yet the intervening decades have shown that the four broad predictions Paul VI made have come to pass.  One of them was the prediction that there would be a coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments.  Here is just one example of US foreign aid being tied to family planning.  In this, governments and foundations such as Gates work together to promote abortion, sterilization and birth control. It is not a beast you can tame, thinking you have forged a relationship of trust -- and then turn your back on it.  

Because of this, I have informed World Vision that I will not be sponsoring another orphan.  In fact, I will not knowingly give them one thin dime of my money so long as they are partnering with groups promoting practices that harm women, men and their children.  

I urge you to consider doing the same.  Contact World Vision and tell them you will not support an organization that joins hands with the Culture of Death.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I'd buy it just for the bathtubs (If'n I had a spare $949,000)

Can you be simultaneously dancing on the inside while being weighed down with sadness?  I think that's the best I can do to describe the conflict I feel this evening.  An interesting blog hit caused me to check in on our  friends at Pomegranate Place and I was greeted with this:

You can read the whole letter from Vaun Swanson here.

It seems that without free support from Denver Seminary, this formerly thriving "Oasis" for women in the heart of Denver couldn't make ends meet.  From the letter, it sounds like Vaun and her Affiliate Guides couldn't attract enough women to keep their programs going.  Are these vibrant, educated and privileged women not quite as needy as the helping hands at Pomegranate Place wanted to believe? Life Coaches and Art Therapists and Dream Workers and Transformational Breathers and assorted other therapies and therapists including the graduate of the "Jack Kerouc School of Disembodied Poetics" turned out to be not quite so marketable in this economy.

If you, on the other hand, are thriving in this economy, I know where you can pick up some great digs with not one, but two, bathtubs that I could only dream about having in my little house:

Making the men wonder

It's that time of year again ....

Yeah, not gonna do it this year, either. The Facebook breast cancer awareness game is getting more prurient, more sexually suggestive and less reticent. More unholy exhibitionism than holy bashfulness, having more in common with Eve Ensler than Alice Von Hildebrand, it's just not proper.

I'm not sure what it's supposed to accomplish anyway.  A bit of sniggering together while the men wonder just what it is you're talking about?  No it couldn't possibly mean THAT. But of course, THAT is exactly what the game is designed to imply.  My, aren't we cleaver, coming up with these little games and all you post is the appropriate response. And the appropriate response is always cryptic, designed to be sexually suggestive. 

Have we all regressed to silly adolescents trying to shock the adults?  Do we have to be semi-exhibitionists to prove we aren't prudes? I guess "fight like a girl" is the proper battle cry here because mature adults have no need of these games and recognize some things just aren't meant for public view.  Not because they are "dirty" or "nasty" or "icky", but because they are hidden for a reason, being meant for something greater than a cheap voyeurism.

So, your word for today is: pudeur.

Go look it up in your Funk & Wagnall's. And if you want to play the suggestive game, don't tag me, please.


Within moments of this blog post crossing to Facebook, I was contacted then "unfriended" by the woman who tagged me in the message.  Apparently, my deficient sense of humour causing my inability to laugh at deliberately sexually suggestive facebook memes is a problem.  As I said more Eve Ensler than Alice von Hildebrand.  It's sad this this woman was one of my mentors at Denver Seminary and a fellow alumna.  Kind of makes you wonder what kind of "spiritual formation" is going on there, doesn't it? Oh well.  

Everyday graces - The Gargoyles

Many of us rush, rush, rush through life.  Errands, work, the bits and pieces of our lives just pile on, don't they?  But there are quiet moments, ones we must make a point to notice and savor.  The next time something catches your eye, pause to capture the moment, the flash of color, or a snatch of music.  These tiny gifts are graces, occasions to remind us that there is something more to life than the rushed pace at which many of us live.

The street I drive down nearly every day provides one of these graces.  On that major street is a property that marks the corners of its walls with gargoyles, one on each side of the half-circle drive.  A woman I refer to as the gargoyles's mom decks them out during the year - fishing hats and poles for Father's Day.  Lunch boxes and back packs for "back-to-school" and when the Colorado Avalanche won the Stanley Cup, the Gargoyles were appropriately decked out with goalie masks and Avalanche Jersey.  They made the sports report that night on local television.

Today, they were presenting the passing traffic with little bouquets of fall flowers.


What are the everyday graces flowing past which you might have been too busy to savour?

Friday, September 21, 2012

Emerging from hibernation

Some creatures, generally those of a lower order, hibernate during the cold winter months.  But there is one particular variety of creature, one bearing the image of God, who exhibits an opposite pattern.  She is known to be absent from the kitchen during the hot summer months, even eschewing non-heat inducing kitchen activities such as making her own iced tea.  But we can observe the creature, Antinomia Crustulum, emerge as days grow cooler, nights crisper, and leaves begin to turn color and fall from the trees.

Such was the case today when the kitchen resounded with crashing pots and spurting water, knives chopping and spoons stirring.  The Antinomian Cook wishes she could provide you with recipes, but then she wouldn't be so antinomian, would she?  Nevertheless, she offers here a rough guide as to the day's kitchen activities and their results:

First up was the favorite fall stand by, Mexican Chicken Stew. This is a simple slow-cooker dish.  Take 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast and 2-large cans of crushed tomatoes and place them in the cooker. Turn on high to get the chicken cooking.  Add 2 chopped onions, 3-4 cloves of garlic, some salt, crushed oregano and the number of hot peppers equal to your courage.  I prefer the dried red pods, but sliced jalapenos and habaneros work just as well.  Cook for 3-4 hours, until both the chicken and onions are thoroughly done and tender.  Take the breasts pieces out, shred them and return them to the pot. This stew keeps for a few days and freezes well.  You may also add zucchini if you prefer more vegetables.

Next, it happens to be squash-is-on-sale week. Today, I bought three butternut squashes, roasted them in the oven and they are now cooling.  I will scoop them out and puree them, then freeze them in portions.  Tonight, with some of the squash, I will put together a quick soup seasoned with a delightfully complex spice mix from Williams-Sonoma:

Butternut squash can be pureed and easily made into soup using broth, milk or cream to get the desired consistency.  One of my favorite ways to change it up is to season the soup with nutmeg and add chopped apple and walnuts.  Mushrooms, chickpeas and bacon can all add a bit of protein while flat-leaf parsley or watercress and a splash of green.

There is also sauteed sweet peppers and onions with thyme on the menu.

'Tis the nesting season!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Is Christianity Sexist?

That's the title of a section in Doug Groothuis' Magnum Opus:

Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith  -     
        By: Douglas Groothuis

I'm tempted to say, "Yes, of course it is!" and be done with it. Because, truth be told, if we are to judge Christianity by Groothuis's hyper-logical paradigm, it is.  And it has to be because the central icon of Christianity is "sexist".  In marriage, a wife is to submit to her husband as the Church submits to Christ and a husband is to give himself for his wife as Christ gave himself up for the Church. Marriage presents the Church and our relationship to Jesus Christ in microcosm. Unless Groothuis wants to accuse our Lord, his Apostles and the Church as guided by the Holy Spirit for virtually her entire history of the "mistreatment of half the human race" he should re-think his advocacy of feminism. Because the Church, following the dominical practice, has never ordained women to the presiding office.

The poison of the feminist paradigm doesn't stop there. It compels him on to skirt around something that sounds dangerously close to denying God the Father as Father. "...Jesus called God his Father not to emphasize masculinity against femininity but to highlight that God is a personal and powerful being." Groothuis is right that Jesus did not call God his Father to emphasize one sex over the other.  But he is quite wrong, so very dangerously wrong, when he goes on to claim it was to show that God is a personal being.  On the contrary, Jesus called his Father because He is Father. According to Paul in Ephesians 3, human fatherhood derives from God's divine Fatherhood.  Of course the Apostles already knew how to pray to the Father, as Christ taught. In fact, while God does exhibit motherly care and the actions we associate with motherhood, He is always Father, never mother.

The feminist wish to avoid acknowledging God's fatherhood and his establishment of patriarchy in creation results in a third error which is at least a near-heresy, a form of neo-modalism wherein Jesus's maleness is held to be incidental and not essential.  Both Groothuis and his wife (see Rebecca Merrill Groothuis, Ch, 18 of Discovering Biblical Equality) make the case for their paradigm by referring to Jesus Christ's humanity as if humanity is some sort of generic foundation upon which specific male and female characteristics are overlayed. It is not. In the beginning, we are told, God made them male and female.  Both male and female are made in God's image (hence our ontological equality) but we are always either male or female (hence our teleological distinctions). Jesus's maleness is important because his taking on human flesh is important and that human flesh was and is male.

The feminists have to jump through so many hoops, I wonder they don't tire of it and have done with Christianity altogether. The have to pretend patriarchy is a result of the Fall and that Adam's creation first, with Eve being create for him, from him and being brought to him tell us nothing about how men and women are to relate in marriage. They have to pretend that Israel was established as a patriarchy because of the surrounding culture and that it was not due to God's sovereign choice and that the Bridal imagery shot throughout the entire Old Testament teach us absolutely nothing about how men and women are to relate and how authority among God's people is to look. They have to pretend that poor Jesus just had to come to us as a baby boy because women were so devalued and that He did not come, as the Scriptures say, in the fullness of time. Need I go on?

I am glad Christianity is sexist.  I am glad I have a Father in heaven who cared so much about me and you and every feminist out there, that He sent his Son who died to save me. Even though I will likely never marry, I am glad for all the beautiful bridal and marital imagery in the Bible. I won't have my own wedding reception but one day, if I am found faithful, I will sit at the wedding feast to end all wedding feasts. I am glad that I am different from a man and that even though I could not bear children of my own body, I am a mother of a different sort. I recently received the highest compliment I think I could ever have paid to me when a young mom and sister in the Lord referred to me as a "mother in Israel".

It wasn't always so. Many of you know that I once embraced the lie that Doug and Rebecca Groothuis introduced me to.  It is only by the grace of God that I have repented of that heresy.

I am sure there are many fine chapters and sections in the book and that it is a useful reference. But beware the poison of feminism that runs through it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Chick-fil-A: Setting the record straight (added info)

The man said,
         “This is now bone of my bones,
         And flesh of my flesh;
         She shall be called Woman,
         Because she was taken out of Man.”

For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
(Genesis 2:23-25, NASB)

Now I have to admit, I haven't tried to read a lot on the current lib/prog cause of the moment.  I've read some quotes from Dan Cathy (founder of Chick-fil-A) and browsed a few "how dare you" blog posts and I kinda wonder if the professionally offended class were waiting for a chance to pounce on the man who makes a damn fine chicken sandwich, treats his employees well, and (dare I say it?) trains them to be polite to their customers.

Yes, even insignificant me is watched on a semi-regular basis by some in the professionally offended class. So I am quite sure there are folks out there who think it is their job, their solemn responsibility to be on the look out for any utterance by someone who has yet to get the message. Ho Hum.

But there is one thing I would like to set the record straight on.  As far as I've read, Dan Cathy has nothing against marriage equality.  I'm pretty sure he doesn't support "marriage" equality, though.  That's a problem. Because our professionally offended class is very adept at wielding their Newspeak as an offensive weapon and those who walk into the arena unprepared are usually cowed (as we've seen so recently).

Two men can no more be married to each other than one of them can be married to his dog.  Two women can no more be married to each other than one of them can be married to her pet dolphin. Such things are metaphysical impossibilities akin to claiming to be a married bachelor or to have drawn a perfectly round square. They just do not exist in this world.  They don't exist in any world that is not imaginary.

Marriage is the publicly recognized union of man and woman.  Every single one of us has the equal right to marriage.  Sally Ride's right to marriage was no more infringed than my right to marriage because Clive Owen won't return my phone calls (OK, so I've never called him and he is married already, but you get the point, right?).  Depth of feeling does not create a right to anything, much less something as foundational to society as marriage.  Yes, marriage is limited by custom and reason in circumstances of age and consanguinity.  But again, those limitations apply to all equally.

Desire, deep emotion, years of building a life together - none of these create a right to marriage. Because that is not what marriage is.

So let's just drop the Newspeak, shall we?  You may win society's recognition of a fiction.  But that is not a victory.  It is a defeat for us all.  A defeat for our children's future and our very survival as a culture. It will be left for the children of marriage, the real thing, to pick up the pieces of the society you broke. There will be a few of these sterile "marriages" which can afford to purchase the manufacture of a child with the help of outside parties.  But they will remain few.  It will be the children of fertile marriages that rebuild the future.

I pray they are strong enough and faithful to do the hard work we will leave for them.


Thursday, July 26, 2012


After the recent unpleasantness, I've been thinking about one thing in particular.  It is an essay from Dale O'Leary on Feminism and the importance of forgiveness. Nearly twenty years ago, Dale recognized the problem in speaking to and with many feminists was their unforgiveness.  It is amazing how a bitter seed can grow into a cancer, affecting the hearing and the reading comprehension, and no amount of clarification, explanation or apology will ever be enough.  They will declare victory if you cave, but will be still more watchful for the next time you step a toe over the line.

With that in mind, read this from Dale O'Leary and see if it helps make sense of the recent brouhaha:

Before we begin to talk about feminism we need to lay afoundation of repentance. I have given many talks on the this subjectand no matter how careful I am, I find that when I am finished one ortwo women in the audience will be terribly offended by my talk. Theinteresting thing is that they are usually offended by something Ididn't say. I tried to explain the points that disturbed people morecarefully, but frankly to no avail.
Since you may face the same problem, let me explain what I thinkhappens. There has been injustice toward women by men. This should beno surprise to us. The book of Genesis tells us that the first fruitsof original sin were the disruption in the relationship between menand women.
The question is not: Have women suffered? We all agree theyhave. The question is: Why and what should we do about it? To agreethat women have suffered does not force one to agree with thefeminist analysis of what causes that suffering and what should bedone about it. The problem is that suffering creates bitterness andenvy. And feminism breeds in bitterness and envy. This is why when wechallenge feminist analysis of causes and solutions some women reactdefensively, feeling that we are denying our suffering.
Unless each of you repents personally of the sins of envy andresentment, I can tell you quite frankly that you will not be able tohear what I am saying.
Scripture says "Envy thou not the oppressor", (Prov. 3:31). Envy is a serious sin because when we envy we question the perfect wisdom of God's plan for our lives; we think that He denied us some good towhich we are entitled, particularly if we, as women, envy men, or say, heaven forbid, "I wish that I had been born a man." God made us male and female. To be displeased with His decision, challenges God's goodness. Therefore, if you have ever said, "I wish I were a man" repent of it and ask God for the grace to accept the gift of your womanhood.
Second, we must repent of all bitterness, resentment andunforgiveness. We must forgive everyone who has injured us in anyway. There are no exceptions. Every time we recite the rosary, sixtimes we say, "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those whotrespass against us". These are not idle words, If we don't notforgive, we are asking God to hold our sins. Jesus said, when hetaught the Lord's prayer, "If you do not forgive others, neither willyour heavenly father, forgive you."
People have strange ideas about forgiveness. Forgiveness doesn'tmean that you have not been harmed; on the contrary, it means theexact opposite, it acknowledges the reality of the harm. Forgivenessis isn't letting the other person off, its letting yourself off.Resentment is re-feeling. You are continually refeeling the hurt.
There are no exceptions, no hurts that can't be forgiven. If youare as innocent as Jesus, if the nails are still in your hands, ifyour persecutors are still standing around jeering at you, you muststill say "Father forgive them."
Read the rest of it here.

And to learn a piece of 2nd wave feminist history and how it helps religious feminists be so successful when they get their high dudgeon on, read this from me, written about two years ago.

Addendum: Another essay that is helps fill out the picture is The Women's Movement by Joan Didion .

Monday, July 23, 2012

Well, there went that weekend

At this point I don't know when my review of Father Hunger will get written. As for the weekend, well, insomnia and Dog the Destroyer prevented me from being able to get comfortable with a book long enough to read more than three paragraphs without nodding off.  I'm still catching up on the laundry - she managed to mix up large piles of clean and dirty laundry in an effort to get to a window to watch for my return. That will teach me to leave my bedroom door open. That is probably just as well since I suspect a few days of calm after the latest tempest stirred up by the Mistress of Scoundrels won't hurt. 

Speaking of whom, I was going to attempt to ask nicely and politely if she might do me a teensy favor.  Since I am prevented from making comments on her blog (unless I resort to the sort of subterfuge that I discovered works this weekend), I thought it odd that she had allowed  folks to discuss my commenting status a while back.  But I decided against it.  Turns out the Mistress is good for one thing - generating blog traffic.

Speaking further, this time about blog traffic, does anyone know if another tempest is brewing?  This one would be related to Denver Seminary.  I've had over a dozen page views (in the last several days) of the posts dealing with their foolishness in not checking out a pagan women's center before they decided to promote it as a "ministry".

I have one question for the Mistress of Scoundrels: If you keep blocking folks who won't bow to your superior compassion and understanding, who will be left to have all those better conversations with? Turns out even respectful disagreement isn't allowed. Shall I take up a collection to replace what will surely be soon worn out?  Yes, I make reference to your pouting chair.

Victimhood is the first refuge of the scoundrel. (Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford)

Monday, July 2, 2012

It has come to my attention

Greg Boyd has a new website.  In an introductory post he proclaims his gladness at the death of Christendom.  I'm sure he'd be equally glad to not be living in an Islamicized Europe in the next generation.  But I digress ...

On his new website, Re|Knew, he has posted some (all?) of his old blog posts.  These include his essay, The Case for Women in Ministry.  It is an essay I responded to with a post of my own, The Case Against Boyd .  I know, I know, it's a pretty pretentious title and the post could do with some editing. But honestly, this guy is supposed to be a sometime college perfesser and this is the best he can come up with?  A post full of fallacies and historical revisionism?

Silly me.  One browse around the new website and I know nothing has changed in that respect.

It does, however, leave me wondering if those who fall for the fallacies and heresies of religious feminism, when the feminists present such a weak case in their own defense -- were they just looking for an excuse, any excuse, to buy what the serpent was selling?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

The Art of the ordinary (repost)

Over at What's Wrong With The World , there is a rousing discussion going on regarding the rule of women. Some of the usual suspects have appeared, including a feminist I have seen posting on MereComments in the past. After she pulls a tired old (dare I say it?) canard out of her back pocket, attempting to dismiss a woman who is rather more well educated and mannerly than she by telling this other woman to get herself back to the kitchen, my friend, Kevin J. Jones , had this to say:

Educated minds produce more than a series of cliches. Please stop bashing the kitchen. Cooking is perhaps the greatest art of the ordinary. Anti-kitchen feminism has impoverished our cuisine and our family table traditions. It is an adjunct of fast food colonialism, to borrow academic phraseology.

That is so right, it's simply brilliant. It also speaks to one of the abiding joys of my life in the last couple of years. Since I left the angry religious feminist-me behind, it's been an amazing and (mostly) joy-filled journey. A time of discovering simple pleasures and real delight in the every day. I am back to baking my own bread, I've finally discovered a successful red cabbage recipe, Baklava is back on the menu on occasion and I may even experiment with my once-legendary Beef Stroganoff recipe to see if I can substitute Greek Yogurt for the sour cream . . . but perhaps not. Why mess with a good thing?

I take Kevin to be using "art" in two senses. The first is the sense in which art refers to a field of human endeavour (painting, sculpting, pastry making, etc.). In this sense cooking is an art of the homemaker. The second sense encompasses the skills, techniques and methods required to ply the craft of cooking.

The homemaker, kitchen wife or everyday cook can be an artist of the ordinary if she learns the techniques and applies herself to the use of these techniques with loving care and a little flair of her own. Whether it be decorating, sewing or any of the other homely (meant in the old fashioned sense) arts, she is an artist with her own palette. A still life is a still life is a still life -- or it can be if it is painted by numbers from a kit. But if the painter is Picasso or the Dutch master of the still life, Willem Kalf . . . it isn't simply a still life, it is a work of art. A turkey is a turkey is a turkey if you simply cook by the book. However, if you discover your own secret to making the holiday turkey all your own, people will beg you for your recipe.

But Kevin is right to speak of "the art of the ordinary" in another way, specifically related to food and the family table. Instead of looking forward to mom's meatloaf (and when was the last time you had a sandwich made of meat loaf the next day for lunch?) or that special way she does potatoes for the Sunday roast, we are cruising through the fast food drive up window, wondering whether to try the "next new thing" or simply get our regular serving of salt, fat, and food-like chemicals. We eat in our cars, mostly alone, and we forget after the first bite what we are doing.

We lose, in this process, fleshly connections. And, it seems, these connections are important. The French, despite what food police tell us is a horribly unhealthy diet, don't seem to be suffering for their wine and cheese. Could this possibly be because the French meal consists of small portions, eaten slowly, around a table filled with family and friends? The "Slow Food" movement, which started in Italy, is spreading across America now because people are longing for those connections -- and the enjoyment of food that itself is something so much less (and, consequently, so very much more) than the industrially-produced, semi-edible substances which fill the shelves of the center of the grocery store. It reminds me of television chef, Lidia Bastianich, who frequently welcomes her mother, her daughter, or another family member to the set to assist in the day's cooking. It also reminds me of the line with which she closes every show, something we could profit from if we aim for this more often than we aim for a drive through:

Tuti a tavola a mangiare! (translation: Everyone to the table to eat!)

P.S. The Flavor Bible is my newest tool.


Since this old post has received some attention this weekend, I am adding the old bio of Carolyn Custis James from the Common Ground website (the bio is where the term "kitchen wife" originated):

Carolyn is her husband's favorite theologian. She is not a kitchen wife. She does not keep house, cook, clean or sew, but she reads an awful lot and often talks to women (and sometimes men) from all over the world about women's struggles within the evangelical church. Lately, she has been reading a lot on the plight of women in the Middle East. She helped establish Synergy Conferences for women seminarians and women in vocational ministries, which is sponsored by her ministry organization, Whitby Forum, in alliance with Campus Crusade for Christ International and RTS/Orlando.

I didn't ask for this

I readily admit I am remarkably undisciplined.  Sometimes, in a fruitless attempt to embarrass myself into being a little more disciplined I will publish a blog post in which I say I will do this, read that book, not engage so-and-so. And then I fail. Get the picture?

However weak and ineffectual my efforts may be, the one thing I do know is that I have a unique history.  I've asked folks who should know if there is anyone else out there who used to be an "Egalitarian" involved with CBE who has repented and embraced God's good design for men and women - and, apparently, I am it*.  Not any place I ever wanted to be and certainly not any place I believe myself equipped to be.

So, much as I would like to just fade away into oblivion and write a really bad mystery novel that sells approximately 7.3 copies, I don't think that's going to happen.  And, much as I would prefer to never again type the words "heresy", "blasphemy" or "religious feminism", I don't think that's going to be possible.

So, if you think questioning my veracity or my reality (this "Kamilla" person, as one commenter recently put it) will embarrass me or shame me into silence, you can stop now.  It won't work.

As for who is preventing me from commenting on Rachel Held Evans' blog, here is the only proof I have to offer:

*I know there are many other women out there who have forsaken feminism, religious and secular, I'm just talking about the specific experience with CBE.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Here's my Question

**If you are going to toddle on over to Rachel's blog, please don't neglect to read the comments. Once again, the religious feminists are letting their slip show.  The rank demotion of homemaking to "home caretaking" and the way homemaking and motherhood are openly despised should tell you, even if their revisionist exegetical arguments have not, that this movement is NOT a godly one.

Normally, I would tell folks to just ignore anything coming from someone claiming to be a Christian while publishing blasphemy about "God Herself", but this time Rachel Held Evans has piqued my personal interest by  adding Mimi Haddad of CBE to her "ask a ..." series.  Since I am prohibited from responding on her blog, I'll just have to ask my question here on my blog.

Someone has already had the courage to asked the "slippery slope" question - why does acceptance of "egalitarianism" seem to lead to the affirmation of homosexual relationships?  No doubt this will get a chorus of "boos", but allow me to follow that up with a bit of supporting background.

CBE does have a rather spotty record of maintaining Evangelical orthodoxy outside of the "woman question". They have featured the work of openly homosexual minister, Paul Smith and his book, "Is it OK to call God Mother?" as well as a similar work for children by Jann Aldredge Clanton.  Until recently, they featured Shawna Atteberry as a listed blogger on The Scroll.  In addition to being homosexual-affirming, Clanton and Atteberry both support something called the "Christian Godde Project" which promotes worship of "Christ-Sophia" and "divine wisdom" as "a key to understanding the Divine Feminine insofar as She reveals Godde."  The Smith and Clanton books were removed from CBE's bookstore listings after public attention was focused on them.  Of the three, only Atteberry's association was discontinued at her own request - but again, this only happened after Atteberry's rank paganism was brought to public light. 

With that as background, here is my question:

In the past, CBE has disassociated from pagan-progressive writers such as Clanton. But now you seem more willing to embrace such writers, speakers and leaders such as Shane Claiborne, the gnostic Vaun Swanson and Rachel Held Evans (who writes of "God Herself"). At the same time those on the more conservative end of your constituency, I think here particularly of Doug and Rebecca Groothuis, seem to be distancing themselves from their association with CBE.

Does it not worry you that the "slippery slope" charge appears to be bearing itself out in less than a generation

UPDATE: After a few more hours' sleep, I think it would be good to add a few more pieces to the argument that CBE is falling prey to that fabled slippery slope.

CBE has hosted Jenell Williams Paris as a speaker and published her in their journal.  I have reveiwed Paris' book here where I detail some of the problems with her approach to sexuality, including the claims that celibacy can be damaging and that sexual relationships outside of marriage can be good.

In addition, not just a slippery slope but a slide into plasticized, self-defined sexuality is evident in the description of a presentation at CBEs 2009 conference, given by Megan DeFranza:

Gender Construction in Society and Church: What We Can Learn from the Intersexed **
Because of the creation of Adam and Eve, most Christians assume there are only two sexes (male and female), and that these sexes work themselves out in two genders (masculine and feminine). Intersexed persons are those born neither clearly male nor female. Some intersexed persons and their advocates are calling for recognition of a third sex category and rejection of traditional understandings of male and female, an idea not yet adequately explored by theologians. Jesus’ teaching on the eunuch may provide a resource for the intersexed and open up new ways to think about sex and gender in society and church.

That enough evidence?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Flannery for today

Reprinting a post from last year with a word or two added:

The terror of untethered "tenderness"

One of the tendencies of our age is to use the suffering of children to discredit the goodness of God, and once you have discredited his goodness, you are done with him. . . Ivan Karamazov cannot believe, as long as one child is in torment; Camus' hero cannot accept the divinity of Christ, because of the massacre of the innocents. In this popular pity, we mark our gain in sensibility and our loss of vision. If other ages felt less, they saw more, even though they saw more, even though they saw with the blind, prophetical, unsentimental eye of acceptance, which is to say, of faith. In the absence of faith now, we govern by tenderness. It is tenderness which, long since cut off from the person of Christ is wrapped in theory. When tenderness is detached from the source of tenderness, its logical outcome is terror. It ends in forced-labor camps and in the fumes of the gas chamber. -- Flannery O'ConnorMystery and Manners

Today, Miss O'Connor would be faced with a horde of trendy pomo emergent-progressive wannabe re-definers of what it means to be an Evangelical, even who the person of Christ is. A gaggle of honking geese who seem to think they know better just because they happen to be among the privileged few walking the earth today.

Funny thing is, I don't think she'd change a word.

The tragedy is, I don't think the trendies would realize she was criticizing them rather than agreeing with them.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

With thanks to Rod Dreher

“Push back against the age as hard as it pushes against you. What people don’t realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross.” -- Flannery O'Connor

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Lord's Day Rest and Fast

**Yes, I do know that my inability to hold to this fast is a sure sign of my need for it. Shall we just admit I am a work in progress?* I'm still reading through the message highlighted in the previous post, but it's already spurred me on to make a commitment I've been too scared to make.  Not that I don't go whole days without electronic interaction - but that has depended upon my mood in the past, it's not been by deliberate design or intent.

Today, I'm starting a new practice of resting or fasting from electronic media - email, Twitter, Facebook, blog-reading, all of it - on Sundays.  Nothing but the quiet of good music and the restful joy of that strange old thing we called a book - ink printed on paper pages.

To whet your appetite, I am going to work on finishing two books so I can publish the long, long overdue book reviews later this week:

Front Cover

Girl Soldier is co-authored by my friend and hero, Faith McDonnell.  Grace Akallo is the girl soldier of the title and Faith's co-author.  You can purchase the book here

At the Heart of the Gospel

At The Heart of the Gospel is Christopher West's response to his time of reflection following the controversies surrounding his way of teaching the Theology of the Body.  You can purchase it here

I'll see you sometime later this week, right now I've got a couple of good books to curl up with.

Silence and Words

Silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist.
  - Benedict XVI

read the rest of the Pope's message for World Communications Day here.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Love is a Masquerade

I soak my dental guard in Hydrogen Peroxide to sterilize it a couple times a week (on the days I don't take a toothbrush to it).  Before I drop the bit of plastic in, covered with all my friendly little mouth germs, the cup could easily be mistaken for a cup filled with water.

What if I left it on the dining table by mistake and a guest in my home thought it was their glass of water?

Would it be loving to let them take a long drink from the cup, to drain it?  Say my guest is remarkably thirsty and doesn't like the taste of my filtered tap water?  Shall I let him drink because he sincerely believes it's water, a life giving fluid?  It looks like water, clear and remarkably wet.  Like water, it has no smell. But no matter how sincere my guest's mistake, the cup contains poison.

Letting my thirsty guest drink down a glass of poisonous liquid that merely looks like water is nor more loving than the supposedly loving approach to homosexual identity offered by Andrew Marin in, "Love is an Orientation" or than the approach to the end of sexual identity offered by Jenell Williams Paris in, "The End of Sexual Identity".

The two books have already been the subject of excellent reviews:

Truncated Love is Robert Gagnon's excellent and thorough treatment of Marin
Evangelical Author: Heterosexuality is an Abomination is Peter Jones' review of Paris

Because these and other responses are far more comprehensive and in-depth than anything I would write my purpose here is to add just a few notes.

The common flaw to both books is that they get the cart before the horse.  Both authors read Scripture and biblical theology through human experience, rather than the other way around.

Paris claims celibacy can be damaging (135) and that a sexual relationship outside of marriage can be a good thing (136).  Her approach has more to do with a Maslovian view of self-actualization than it does with  Christian morality, spiritual discipline and anything like taking up your cross daily or praying to God for the grace to deal with a thorn in the flesh as St. Paul did.  Paris also quotes queer theorist Judith Butler approvingly (33) and can't quite make up her mind whether or not homosexuality is, "a thing about which valid moral judgments can be made ..." (34).

Where Paris is an anthropologist and tends to take the findings of anthropology and sociologist as normative rather than descriptive, Marin takes a more openly narrative approach, saying we need to listen to stories to understand. Both authors, rather embarrassingly, quote "authorities" such as Kinsey (Paris) and Boswell (Marin), without being aware that both have been thoroughly and repeatedly discredited.

Because neither can quite manage to call sexual activity between persons of the same sex sin, both misunderstand holiness and utterly neglect to make any call to repentance.  In fact, Marin ups the ante and reduces God's moral law to an avuncular suggestion, designed for the individual:

"God meets them, speaks to them and hears them, personally and individually telling each of his beloved children what he feels is best for their life." (129) (emphasis mine)

That's not even avuncular - it's more like Joel Osteen on a saccharine high.

In the end, what is offered by both Paris and Marin is deadlier than that cup of Hydrogen Peroxide.  Because here, we are not simply talking about a poison that can kill the body.  We are talking about a life given over to soul-destroying sin.

I don't recommend you read either book.

Note:  As a result of an email exchange with an executive of IVP in which I was included, I asked for and received a review copy of Marin. Later, when I read about the book by Paris, I asked for and received a copy of it as well since it would make sense to review them together.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

On Marriage "Equality" and, Sigh, the Hate Accusation

Sigh. Ho hum. Same song 869th verse.  Why do you focus on hate so much?

I sometimes think that if the Catholic Church ever makes the inimitable GKC a saint, I will have no choice but to succumb to the prayers of my Catholic friends and sign up for RCIA at the earliest opportunity.  Perhaps I shouldn't joke about it, but this side of the Tiber just doesn't have anyone who can compare.  Not even close.  So, whenever I hear that tired old accusation that I hate, I am an angry person, yadda, yadda, yadda, I hear the words of the wise Mr. Chesterton ringing in my ears:

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.” 

There.  I feel better now. On to topic #2 for today - the so-called battle for "marriage equality":

 Here's the deal, folks.  We all have the right to marriage under the same conditions.  Any person above a certain age may marry any other consenting person above a certain age so long as the two people are not too closely related and of opposite sexes. Love may come into it, but it needn't and throughout most of our history, it really didn't.  

If this deeply felt emotion we call love were justification for marriage, then I daresay an awful lot of us would be marrying dogs or cats or even a cannoli from Mike's Pastry in Boston.  We'd have given presents to that British guy that "married" Cindy the Dolphin instead of laughing about it.  Yeah, I did say a cannoli.  Because if we are going to go about deconstructing and reconstructing marriage, why limit it to two human beings?  Two?  Why limit it to two?  Polyamory, anyone?  You do know that cases are wending their way through our court systems already arguing for polygamy.  Right?

It all boils down to something a little bit deeper than lurv.

It all comes down to what marriage is. And for that, we have to go to the God who created marriage.  Marriage is the union of man and woman, a sexually exclusive union to last throughout this life.  It is so because God made it that way, and made it that way to show us something about his relationship to us - His relationship to Israel and Christ's relationship to the Church, his Bride.  The meaning and purpose of marriage are woven throughout the Holy Scriptures from Genesis to Revelation.  It cannot be unpicked without destroying the whole. I know it's trite, but God did create Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve or Eve and Jennifer -- much less Ken and Lassie or, you get the picture.

Two men can no more create a marriage than two women, that crazy Brit and Cindy the Dolphin, Meat Loaf and a meatloaf, or Sam and his Pet Rock.  Such things are a metaphysical impossibility - kinda like round squares and married bachelors.  That's just not what marriage is.

But if we're going to create something new and call it marriage -- can I start calling myself Mrs. Prince Andrew?  I mean, if we all get to make things up, why should consent come into it?

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A timely reminder for the battle-weary

About my so-called sisters . . .

I Corinthians 5:9-13

9I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; 10did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. 11But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. 12For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 13But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

That's the end of that.  Barring repentance, not even much-anticipated books will be reviewed on this blog.  Through long, hard experience and the quidance of wise brothers and sisters, I have come to see that even associating at the level of blog reading and commenting is unwise for it gives the impression that the idolaters and revilers are not wicked brethren to be removed from our midst.  These are removed from our midst for both our benefit and theirs.  It removes the poison from among us, benefiting us.  And it gives notice to the wicked that they are indeed wicked and fall outside the fellowship.

Think about it, give serious consideration to removing this sort of internet "fellowship" from your search history, cookies and bookmarks.  Be done with it. And leave the wicked to their own devices This is for the benefit of both of you. To borrow popular phrasing, don't be co-dependent with a reviler.