Politics, Fatherhood, Education, Money, Church Leadership, Evangelism, Missions…

My friends at Clearnote Church in Bloomington recorded the following videos last week. I don’t know Pastor Walker, but I was deeply encouraged and challenged by his faith. Set aside an hour and watch the two videos below…

Matthew Walker Part 1 from Clearnote Church.

Matthew Walker Part 2 from Clearnote Church.

John Calvin on just causes of war…

Now here are the only two just causes of war: the good and common safety of the people, and the honour of God, which is included here in the second place. Not that God’s honour should be considered of least value, but the main thing is often placed at the end and at the tail, as being of the most value. Be that as it may, men will never have a just cause for waging war except for the common good and conservation of the public condition, or for the honour of God. These should take precedence over all that men can conceive. However, if we consider, on the other hand, the reasons which have always caused wars, we will find that the majority stem from avarice and ambition.

-From Calvin’s sermon on 2 Samuel 10:1-12

Male, female, transitioning female, transitioning male, ex-male, ex-female, other…

It is a complicated process getting a passport when your gender has been “reassigned” or is transitioning toward being reassigned. Note how the picture you submit must “accurately reflect your current appearance.” I don’t think they mean a male/ex-female/transitioning-female should look like a male or that a female/ex-male/transitioning-male should like like a female. That would be hopelessly old-fashioned. I think they just want to make sure that those who are confused about their sexuality aren’t confused by the fact that a photo of you should look like a photo of you. That’s actually helpful instruction for those who look in the mirror and can’t see what’s there.

Margaret Sanger would be so happy…

The environmentalist group Population Matters has called for a world with “fewer emitters, lower emissions.” (“Emitter” may be the most charming euphemism ever conceived for an infant.) Population Matters runs a program whereby environmentally-conscious Westerners purchase carbon-offsetting family-planning credits. In other words, concerned citizens give the group money to fund birth control in developing countries to make up for their own carbon-gobbling lifestyle. In case you’re curious, Population Matters estimates that it only takes $144.20 per year to keep enough of the great unwashed from reproducing to offset a typical American’s existence.

-From Jonathan Last’s What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster, 35

Disney and family planning…

The movement [scientists warning of overpopulation] was in such a lather that in 1967, Disney produced a movie for the Population Council, titled Family Planning. The movie, translated into 24 different languages and featuring Donald Duck, lectured viewers that if families didn’t drastically cut back the number of kids they had, “the children will be sickly and unhappy, with little hope for the future.”

-From Jonathan Last’s What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster, 34

"Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way…"

That the Christianity of the New Testament is a thing most repugnant to us men (to the Jews a stumbling block, to the Greeks foolishness), that it is as though calculated to stir us men up against it, that as soon as it is heard it is the signal for the most passionate hate and the cruelest persecution, of this the New Testament makes no concealment; on the contrary, it affirms it as distinctly and decisively as possible. It is heard constantly when Christ is talking with the Apostles, saying that they must be well prepared for what awaited them. And the Apostles’ talk bears sufficient witness to the fact that they had to experience the truth of what was foretold.

It therefore never could occur to anyone who understand himself Christianly, that he might be angry at a man if he were to become the object of his hate and resentment for telling him what Christianity really is. By no means, for when he understands himself Christianly he must find this quite natural.

Be even the man who is most exasperated against him must agree with him on one point and understand why he finds it shocking that there is a whole family of parasites (called to be teachers of Christianity and bound by an oath upon the New Testament) who support themselves by palming off in the name of Christianity what is after their own taste (the absolutely decisive proof that it is not the Christianity of the New Testament), support themselves by preaching under the name of Christianity what is exactly the opposite of the Christianity of the New Testament, pluming themselves upon a royal commission, which is just as ridiculous as in a game of cards to want to take a trump with a simple card, or as wanting to legitimate oneself as a shepherd by a testimonial from the wolf.

This is the shocking thing. Perhaps too it is without an analogy in history that a religion has been abolished by…flourishing. But note that in saying “flourishing” Christianity is understood as the opposite of what the New Testament understands by Christianity. The religion of suffering has become the religion of mirth, but it retains the name unchanged.

This is the shocking thing, that the situation is if possible made twice as difficult for Christianity as it was when it came into the world, because now it is confronted, not by pagans and Jews, whose whole resentment must be aroused, but by Christians whom the clerical gang of swindlers has made to believe that they are Christians, and that Christianity is set to the melody of a drinking song, only still merrier than such a song, which after all is constantly accompanied by the sad reflection that it soon is over and “in a hundred years is all forgotten”; whereas the merry Christian drinking song, according to the assurance of the priests, “lasts an eternity.”

-Soren Kierkegaard in Attack Upon “Christendom”

"Honey, we're changing our name to Dylan. Actually, you better pick…"

People do not know what they are doing; because they do not know what they are undoing. – from Chesterton’s The Thing

Just stumbled upon this article by the Oxford and Princeton ethicist formerly known as William Crouch. He’s formerly known as Crouch because he and his fiancée have determined to both change their surnames when they are married. His facile mind has reasoned thus:

As with so many gender-biased traditions, this one has pretty disturbing roots. The legal concept of coverture came from England and caught on in 19th century America: the idea was that a woman, upon marriage, becomes the property of her husband. She had no right to vote or take out a bank account because she could rely on her owner to do that for her. And, of course, she couldn’t be raped by her husband—because she was essentially her husband’s property, and he was free to do with her what he wished.

We’ve made progress on these issues (though some remarkably late). But the tradition of taking the man’s name remains and, given its background, it seems to me it’s simply bad taste to carry on with it, in the same way that it would be bad taste to put on a minstrel show, no matter how pure the intentions.

You might say that we need some rule, and that taking the man’s name is as good as any other. But is this true? Why not go with whichever name sounds better? Or which name is associated with the coolest people? (MacAskill clearly beats my birth surname “Crouch” on both counts, having a better ring and being the name of both Giant MacAskill—a forebear of my fiancée’s who has a claim to be the world’s strongest ever man—and Danny MacAskill, a trial-biking legend who, also being descended from Giant MacAskill, must be a very distant cousin.)  Or any other choice made by both parties.

Crouch has added his voice to a growing post-Christian chorus whose understanding is completely ignorant of God’s Word. It is becoming increasingly clear that the Christian capital that has steadied the ethics of our nation for some time is running out. The radical egalitarian agenda is incapable of recognizing, honoring, and rejoicing in authority. The suggestion that a woman take her husband’s name as a sign of his authority is rejected as a relic from a dark, oppressive, unenlightened age. Cranmer’s old vows that the wife “love, honor, and obey” are laughable and insufferable to Crouch and his fiancée.

The reason a woman takes a man’s name is not that she becomes his property but that she gives testimony to her husband’s God-given authority and delights herself in the comfort and protection that follow therefrom. As I just said, such authority/hierarchy/patriarchy is hated today. Evangelicals hate what God’s Word says about men and women and marriage (for example, check out the website of Christians for Biblical Equality), and they save face by mocking Scripture’s teaching. And so today’s male is expected to limp wrist it from the wedding altar on, which he’s only happy to do because he’s thoroughly healed from his neutering.

Scripture teaches us that authority is good. The problem today is we’ve believed the lie taught to us…that authority is bad and only and ever used for oppression. Such is the case when authority is dislodged from Scripture. When there is no governor on authority, in the form of all men everywhere submitting to their Creator, then we do indeed get oppression. Yet, as we submit ourselves to God’s ethics, authority is blessing and comfort and assurance and a cozy blanket with a cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter night.

The woman takes her husband’s name in order to show respect to her man (Eph. 5:33). The woman takes her husband’s name in order to announce to the world she has a protector and a lover (Eph. 5:25-27). The woman takes her husband’s name as a sign of her deep commitment to her husband, following Eve’s lead (after reading Gen. 2:18, read the Holy Spirit’s explanation in 1 Cor. 11:8-9). The woman takes her husband’s name in order to honor God’s Word (Titus 2:5), to witness to the marriage of Christ and His Bride, the Church (Eph. 5:22-33), and to thumb her nose at the world’s hatred of femininity (Gen. 2:23).

Or, you could listen to the sage advice of our clear-thinking ethicists and go with whichever name is associated with the coolest people… Honey, we’re changing our surname to Dylan.

Proof of sports idolatry: The Greatest Ever conversation…

When I’m traveling in my car, more often than not I listen to ESPN sports radio. Lately, a lot of airtime has been devoted to the question of who was/is the greatest NBA player of all time: LBJ or MJ. The who-is-the-greatest discussion resurfaces constantly. If any athlete is having a stupendous year his name is floated around by those who desperately want to say he is The Greatest Football/Basketball/Hockey/Baseball Player Ever To Play The Game. It is a nauseating conversation because it is an impossible difficulty for a radio personality to resolve. A hundred year span of professional sports is a complicated system to analyze…perhaps a little less complicated than the task we give to our weathermen (analyzing the complicated system of global weather) and our doctors (analyzing the complicated system of our bodies, none of which are the same). How do you really compare two guys who didn’t play during the same era, against the same pitchers, in the same ballparks, with the same equipment, etc…

Inevitably, though, one of the talking-heads anoints a current player as The Greatest Ever. He has no good arguments, no good comparisons, no good statistics. What he does have is the desire to have a justification for his unceasing obeisance to a great god…no less than The Greatest Ever. All the passion, all the money, all the enthusiasm, all the time, all the devotion, all the chants of praise, all the three-hour sermons (interrupted by commercials for other gods) then make perfect sense. Sports today allows for no atheists.

Behold, dogs are a gift of the Lord, the fruit of the kennel is a reward…

Picked up (i.e. downloaded) a copy of this new book, What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster by Jonathan V. Last:

I’ve only read the first few pages, but I thought I would share some of what he’s written that struck me…

First, he explains that a population’s fertility rate must be 2.1 if it hopes to stick around. “If the rate is higher, the country’s population grows; lower, and it shrinks.” What is the US’s fertility rate? 1.93—below the replacement rate. Japan and Italy are at about 1.4. In his intro, Last says Japan consumes more adult diapers than baby diapers.

Last writes that Americans are more interested in having pets these days than in having children:

The pet market has been steadily increasing in America since the 1980s, with people not only acquiring more furry little dependents, but spending more on them, too. In 1994 Americans spent $17 billion on pets; by 2008 that number had risen to $43 billion. But 2010, even in the face of the massive recession, it had climbed to over $48 billion. The evidence suggests that pets are increasingly treated like actual family members: In 1998, the average dog-owning American household spent $383 on medical care for their dogs; by 2006, that figure had risen to $672. Expenditures on doggie grooming aids more than doubled from $59 to $127. In surveys from 1947 to 1985, fewer than half of Americans reported they owned a pet. Today American pets now outnumber American children by more than four to one.

…A bill put forward in Congress recently called for a $3,500 tax break for pet-care expenses—which is more than families get for a child. The HAPPY Act (Humanity and Pets Partnered through the Years) happily failed to reach a vote on the floor of the House.

What to Expect When No One’s Expecting, Intro