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[209] Secular Privilege

Mary Poplin teaches at the Claremont Graduate University in Claremont, California. She was interviewed for Christianity Today by Andrea Palpant Dilley. The link for this interview is http://www.christianitytoday.com/women/2017/september/lets-save-university-from-secular-privilege.html?share=pHjigdVEUe8xbGWiBaFAwEykQok7NvnX.

Poplin, who has experience in secular research universities, isolated five characteristics of the secular university system that severely undercuts its effectiveness.

First, while the university sees itself as a free and open marketplace for ideas, is free and open only to those ideas that come from a secular worldview.

Second, it claims to value pluralism, a co-existence of many ideologies and mindsets. It is not.

Third, its secular worldview does not prepare its graduates to enter a world that is filled with religious belief of varying sorts, with Christianity the dominant one. Their graduates’ distorted view renders many ineffective.

Fourth, it establishes “speech codes,” a political correctness in which one can say some things but not others.

Fifth, in its feeble attempt to mollify religious groups, the university has taken an “interfaith” approach, one that enables students of varying religious traditions to engage in “so-good: activities. This is totally ineffective as it fails to account for the distinct nature of religious frameworks—the basis of their identities. DC

[208] Millennials

Bruce Wydick, professor of economics at the University of San Francisco, made a salient point published by Christianity Today (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2017/september-web-only/elishas-prophetic-message-for-millennials-stop-leaving-your.html?share=pHjigdVEUe/oDFhRmAFPL1VGzmyzBKo6&start=2). He notes that millennials are caught in a major dilemma. On one hand, they are looking for existential meaning, a non-material justification for life. On the other, they flee commitment.

These forces are at war with each other. To find meaning—to live a life of meaning—requires commitment.

Yet commitment is difficult in an age of jaded thinking and among a generation characterized by skepticism. He points out that millennials are characterized by wanting to keep their options open. Wydick notes that among millennials, only 26% are married, 29% are religiously unaffiliated, and half are politically independent.

Wydick sees millennials as approaching life with an eye toward cutting ties and opting out when a decision does not yield “value,” He states that this thinking is pervasive among university students “in decisions related to graduate school, careers, marriage, and even spiritual commitments. …It’s all about keeping the options open.”

This is not an effective life strategy.

Wydick says he does not know a single student “who has been successful in college by keeping all of their academic options in play. There is no older adult I’m acquainted with that has had a successful career while perpetually keeping their career options open. I am unaware of any married couple with a happy marriage without narrowing their relationship options.”

Commitment brings meaning. Wydick recalls sociology professor Tony Campolo stating that “continually searching inwardly for meaning is like peeling away the skins of an onion. We keep peeling and peeling, ultimately finding that there is not a whole lot there except that little pale bulb inside the onion—not the most impressive part of this vegetable…We are defined by our commitments.”

For the faith-and-learning community, scholarship begins with humility, and that humility generates a commitment to the leading of the spirit of God. Faith and learning, then, is a humble enterprise. It trusts that the spirit of truth will lead us into all truth (John 16:13)—a truth that brings meaning and purpose.

[208] It’s About Abortion

Now that our nation is knee-deep in sexual harassment charges, the focus has returned to one, William Jefferson Clinton with an eye toward a bit of revisionist history. It seems his picture is coming down from the Democratic mantelpiece while the Dems reconsider his legacy.

Amid this overnight chaos one question continues to be asked: Why did the party assist Hillary in protecting him from the many very believable allegations?

The answer is that he was a champion of women’s rights. I never knew it was a competition with an acknowledged champion. By the way, Al Franken is also a self-proclaimed champion of women’s rights. Perhaps it is a co-championship.

But I digress.

Here’s the punchline. These “championships” are not about women’s rights. They are about abortion rights. And that is not a women’s issue. There are legions of would-be fathers who enthusiastically seek and will pay for a “termination of pregnancy” (to put it euphemistically) to free themselves of the obligations associated with fatherhood. And just as teachers confront school boards with an exhausting list of demands before they go on strike, only to abandon all those demands in favor of a pay increase, so also do all other women’s issues recede from sight when abortion is back on the table (if you will pardon the expression). In other words, had Clinton (and others) been four-square on the side of women on every gender issue, but been pro-life, he would have been outed as a masher years ago.

It’s not about women’s rights. Never has been. It’s about abortion.

[207] Follow the $

You don’t have to care much about football to notice how inconsistent the NFL and its owners have become over players kneeling during the National Anthem. When Colin Kaepernick was the only one, a year, they solved the problem by keeping him out of the league. In a short time, however, multiple Colin Kaepernicks emerged, and the league has been scrambling for workable strategies ever since.

Some owners became sanctimonious advocates of the poor and the oppressed, praising the social concern of the players, all but approving the kneeling. In fact, that great social reformer, Jerry Jones, went on the field and kneeled with his team while the song was being played, although a few weeks later the Cowboy owner put the hammer down and demanded compliance with league rules. Over in Green Bay, players locked arms in unity, apparently with the approval of the corporation–though just exactly what the unity was about was a tad unclear.

Don’t be fooling yourself. None of these strategies are about respect for the National Anthem nor have the owners suddenly become amateur sociologists, filled with a missionary zeal for social reform. No, they are in a panic. Their brand is suffering. TV ratings are plunging, sponsors are pulling ads, and income is down. All this amid dull games and growing evidence of brain injury to players. And there is no immediate end in sight. When facing this kind of economic negative landslide, the only avenue available is to follow—or maybe better—pursue the money by employing anything—even appeasement—to regain equilibrium.

For the faith-and-learning adherent, all this is disgusting. All this posturing is nothing more than living a lie, and trying to sell a lie. That is what raw commercialism is. DC

[207] Eyes

By most current standards, Michael Douglas has been an amazing success. He has excelled in a variety of aspects in both television and film, particularly acting. He has been able to all but select his roles, rather than settle for a script tossed on his coffee table. He has uncountable wealth and a stunning wife, Catherine, Zeta-Jones, a first-rate actress in her own part.

Michael Douglas is the gold standard for success.

That is, if you look at him through secular eyes.

But what if you don’t? What if you don on some spiritual lenses. Is he still successful?

First, there is no evidence that he is a believer. He has a father who lived a dissolute moral life, one after which young Douglas patterned much of his behavior, conduct that destroyed relationships. He has gone through a savage divorce with an ex-wife, Diandra, whose actions suggest she despises him. That marriage produced a child who descended into the chasm of drug dealing and drug abuse, spending six years in prison. Douglas took responsibility for his son’s plight, calling himself “a bad father,” while stating that as devastating as life in the slammer can be, prison may have saved his son’s life. His current wife, with whom he has had one separation, suffers from bouts of depression.

So just how successful is Michael Douglas?

This blog is not really about Douglas. He is nothing more or less than a sinner like you and I, and one for whom I regularly pray. This is about us. For those of us see Douglas as a success, who celebrate and revere him, a question awaits: With what eyes are we going through life?

Spiritual eyes lead us to a life of purpose and direction as Christ’s disciples–success in this life and the next. Secular eyes make us no different from Douglas and those like him, eyes that may lead us to professional achievement and considerable wealth, but ones that yield a bitter harvest. DC

[206] Hacked

Hacked, by Donna Brazile, has become a political thunderbolt. A major figure in Democratic politics for three decades, Brazile is now the target of her party’s rage for stating that Hillary Clinton and her minions—in cahoots with DNC Chairwoman, Debbie Wasserman Schultz–had gained sufficient control of the Democratic National Committee to all but “rig” the 2016 Democratic nomination.

Is anyone surprised?

I’m not.

Not because I do not like some of the actors in this drama, but because this story is but a parable of current political operating procedures.

In both parties.

Look at it. Political corruption is so ubiquitous that no one has any real street cred. Hillary, with her much publicized book, What Happened, has been dealt a near fatal blow by her former political comrade, Donna Brazile.

Brazile has been discredited for feeding Hillary debate questions, sub rosa, to give the candidate a cheating edge going into a debate. This unethical act was sufficiently egregious to remove Brazile from not only the campaign, but also her job at CNN, the electronic home of liberal punditry. Her self-inflicted professional wound was so severe that skeptics have understandably wondered if Brazile’s motivation to render her tell-all represents was simply to save her rapidly disappearing career. And Debbie Wasserman Schultz, once a rising political star, was caught snuggling too close to Hillary in the primary campaign, and is now disgraced.

On the Republican side, the campaign was typified by character assassination, replete with accusations of lying, deceit, and political skullduggery.

Hacked is a good word. It not only applies to the specific content of Brazile’s book, but also the condition of our political processes in general. DC

[206] Anger

Trump-loathing, road rage, stand-in-line arguments… People are angry today, seemingly like never before. Television news programs occasionally do features on public displays of anger.

Why so much?

Here are two reasons. From a social psychological standpoint, despite the pervasiveness of social media aimed at celebrating individuality, people are increasing aware of how little control they have of their lives. Terrorist attacks, sudden economic downturns, and the conglomerating of businesses and corporations are just a few examples of how easy it is to become a victim through no action of one’s own. When we run into a problem there is rarely a genuine decision-maker to whom we can turn for resolution. There is no local bank president who can straighten out that error. When we want to call a company about a problem, we either get a recorded message, or worse, discover the institution only accepts email.

We may have a social media presence, but not much in the face of the social forces with which we are confronted.

But there is a larger spiritual reason. We live in a faithless, secular culture. We are reinforced with the secular notion that life’s only meaning is what we give to it. There is no truth, and maybe more important, all we have for sure is now—our three scored and ten—and that 70-year span is running out a day at a time.

An angry culture is not an accident. Neither is an angry home, and I know of many of these—among professing Christians. The call to faith for all Christians—from parents to members of the academic community–to seek humility and grace has never been louder. DC

[205] National Anthem

To use the words of Archie Bunker, everyone’s bowels are in an uproar over the athletes’ behavior upon the playing of the National Anthem. Just dare to make a comment on this matter in any group setting and you can get ready for a long and emotional discussion with many participants.

Remember Gamaliel, when Paul was assailed for divisiveness because he was preaching the gospel? The wise man encouraged the riled up throng to relax. He said that if the gospel were nonsense it would fade away. If it were truth, it would not, and worse, they would be opposing God by attacking Paul.

I remember the hot 1960’s well. In that era, angry African-American spectators did not stand for the National Anthem at public events. There was similar finger-pointing and lots of hostile, verbal repartee.

The republic remained. I would recommend the Gamaliel approach in our time. DC

[205] Culture Audit

I think the church needs a cultural audit. I look at how married it is to middle class culture rather than a more sober view of scripture. Here is what I mean. Many evangelicals are not welcoming to homosexuality, abortion, or the removal of the death penalty. I am not taking issue with them on that. There is much to studied, discussed, and prayed over with respect to these matters. I take issue, however, with the church’s more permissive posture toward divorce, racism, gossip, and ignoring the poor.

In short, the church seems to pick and choose the sins on which they focus, being much more tolerant of the transgressions long-practiced within their own culture and tradition, than those outside their own demographic heritage.

That is a selective gospel. It is a “create your own” discipleship. It is a somewhat comfortable discipleship. It is not a call to genuine discipleship.

Please understand, I am not suggesting where exactly the church boundaries need be on these matters. I am suggesting that its posture on each should not be so easy to predict. DC

 

[204] Trivialization

It is important to realize that the goal of the secular-progressives is to drive God out of the culture. They do it stealthily, largely through the courts, perverting the separation of church and state doctrine as they attempt to erase any recognition of the divine from our major institutions—government, education, media, etc. When confronted with charges of atheism, their adherents quickly circle the wagons and argue that they are all for religious freedom, just none of “that God thing” in the public arena.

Here is the issue, my friends. To the extent that they are able to succeed in their repeal-but-not-replace God quest, they accomplish a much larger and demonic goal: They trivialize religion as a meaningless component of human life. Once religion is out of the Pledge of Allegiance and public school system, millions of children can matriculate through our educational system scarcely encountering even the thought of God.

It is that trivialization that generates much of the spiritual apathy in the culture. God is not bad. God is not good. He is functionally dead. With work to do, lunch to eat, and movies to watch, God is simply unimportant.

My biggest concern is that millions of Christians are unaware that this is going on. And the longer they remain asleep the more religious freedoms will erode. Jeanine Pirro of Fox News, in her speech at the National Religious Broadcasters convention, stated that the rights of Christians are being undermined and persecution already exists from just these types of initiatives.

She knows. I know. You know. I presume some clergy know. Yet, I almost never hear a sermon about this. No alarm clock is ringing. And nothing will further the secular-progressive march than continued slumber. DC

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