F & L in the News - Faith & Learning Forum

Archive for the ‘F & L in the News’ Category

[244] It’s Coming

If any good can possibly come out of the attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka, leaving over 300 dead and the assault on the California synagogue, I hope it will be to heighten the awareness of the rising tide of religious persecution around the world, including in the United States.

There is more persecution of Christians today than ever before.  It’s coming here.  In fact it is already here–visible if you have your eyes open.

Here are some global facts:  One of 9 Christians experience persecution.  Each month 345 people are killed for faith-based reasons.  Each month, 105 churches or Christian buildings are burned or attacked.

We live in a flood of noise–information, data, facts, and non-facts.  Some of it comes from Christian sources. Yet you rarely hear a snippet—not even in our churches–about how badly our Christian brothers and sisters are treated around the world—or even here.  How they are being murdered.

The Christian-friendly media ripped into Obama and Hillary for statements denouncing the Sri Lanka attacks, using the term “Easter worshippers” rather than “Christians.”  What about the Christian media, the churches, the Christian colleges, and other sources of news for Christians?  Where are these people?

American Christendom remains blind and docile.  Subtle (and not-so-subtle) persecution of Christians is rampant in the United States.  Once acknowledged as a “Christian country,” in many settings it is now no longer politically correct to identify oneself as a Christian.  Not in Hollywood, not in the mainstream media, not on the talk shows, and not in the world of secular politics.

The secular progressives are hard at work in driving any mention of God out of the public discourse.  Out of the schools.  Out of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Off our coinage.  They are using the laws to do it.  And it is working.  Yet I almost never hear a sermon on this.

Remember that long ago slogan, “Take back our country for Christ”?  How archaic!  About as contemporary as leisure suits.  We are nowhere near taking.  We have been largely taken.  Our country is slowly being placed under the dominion of secular-progressivism in all things.  Sri Lanka and the attack in California should awaken us to that. DC

[243] The Side Door

We have been deluged with news of celebrities and other well-heeled citizens buying their children’s way into elite universities.  In short, instead of having their offspring earn their way into the front door of these august institutions–via test scores, grades, and other conventional criteria–they have been writing checks to strategically-placed university personnel who can slip their unqualified prospective students though the side door.

Their devious machinations have been ingenious–bribing coaches in non-revenue sports to enter their children’s names as athletic recruits and sliding them past the admissions people.  On the surface, everybody wins.  The kids get into the elite institutions, the coaches get some welcome extra cash, and the parents are assured they have given their already privileged adolescents every advantage possible.

Not exactly.

Clearly these academic institutions are being compromised, and some more worthy would-be freshmen’s places are taken by outliers.  But there is another, more concerning matter to consider.

These parents have criminalized not only themselves, but they have tainted their children by making them part of an illegal scheme—children, who in many cases, may not have had no knowledge that they were unqualified to enter the front door.  No different from the football or basketball coach who engages in unethical recruiting, they are tarnishing these would-be students by drawing them into a despicable scheme.

They are teaching their children that operating outside the rules is not only acceptable; it is the way to go if life’s front door is closed.  And that may be more powerful than anything these students will ever learn in the classroom.  DC

[242] Trust

We are indeed in perilous times.  Those who fear for the future of the republic have well-founded concerns.  The reason is the absence of trust.

Republicans do not trust Democrats.  Dems definitely do not trust Trump, and the citizenry does not trust the news media—print or electronic.  In short, there seems to be no larger bridge that unites the disparate groups.

We have been polarized for so long that it is hard to remember previous eras in which political partisans would intensely disagree with those “across the aisle” but never questioned the patriotism or intentions of their ideological adversaries.

Partisans no longer merely disagree.  They hate.  The contempt is expressed in personal attacks on the character of their opponents.  The media is equally divided.  We now know when we choose a source for news we are also choosing an obvious point of view.  About the closest one can come to getting an even-handed view of life in these United States is to watch news feeds from another country, but they also have points of view.

Let’s return to trust.  Relationships are built on trust.  When trust collapses, relationships end.  In a United States we need trust to survive.  DC


[241] No Collusion

We now have the Mueller verdict.  Trump and his minions did not collude with the Russians in the 2016 election.

We now face the other side of this two-plus national agony—all the nefarious (and likely illegal) shenanigans of Trump haters among the Deep State that appear to have propelled the investigation in the first place.

Whether or not you feel another investigation of possible wrongdoing among the Deep Staters should be launched, an important question looms.

What is in the best interests of the nation?

Clearly justice is a pre-eminent concern.  From that angle, a “bring-in-the-fuzz” careful examination of Trump-negative manipulation is in order, with the culprits exposed and punished.

But there is another very practical concern.  An institution (and that includes a republic) can take only so much boat-rocking before it comes loose from its moorings.  Vicious polarization generates zero credibility for each side in a time in which we need to establish trust and rapport.

We are faced with a dilemma as ancient as the scriptures—justice vs. mercy, or perhaps grace.  In this instance, however, how we respond may have reverberating effects on the future health of our nation. DC

[240] Marijuana

The pro-pot advocates have essentially won, and that is a big deal of campuses—Christian and secular.  Marijuana has long been regarded by its advocates as basically harmless.  In fact, I have been hearing that marijuana is harmless since I was in college, more decades ago than I choose to count.

But that is nonsense. It is not harmless.

First, as with alcohol, marijuana use impairs functioning.  Hence, driving, and other mind-body activities, become less certain—more dangerous.

But let me go in another, less cited issue.  A psychotherapist friend of mine once said something to the effect of, “Show me a marijuana user and I will show you an emotional midget.”

Powerful words, but ones containing much truth.  We develop mental and emotional maturity by engaging problems, whether they be intellectual, personal, spiritual, whatever.  Our personality gets stronger through problem-solving.  Marijuana does not help us do that.  Instead of taking on cognitive challenges, it is a form of withdrawal, opting out.  Put the problem aside and get high.

This avoidance behavior of dropping out becomes, for many, a consistent pattern—a habit.  When it does, mental and emotional development is retarded.

Although there are some compelling arguments to be made for the medicinal value of pot, recreational use is not without potential consequences.  “Pothead” connotes many things, but mental and emotional maturity are not among them. DC.

[239] Veer

Remember four years ago when Republicans were skeptical about Trump, concerned that he would be too far to the left of the party?

Well, to reword an old saw, “The more things change the more they become different.”  Not only has Trump positioned himself safely inside the Republican foul lines, but that position, coupled with his less than diplomatic style, has pushed the Democrats to the left.

Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bernie Sanders are a long way from Dems like Al Gore, Bill Clinton—both Baptists, and Joe Lieberman, a practicing Jew, and should any of these candidates be elected the nation is likely to change quickly.  I suspect it will continue to veer in the direction of Western Europe and its secular culture, only at an ever faster pace.

Let’s be careful here.  The concern is not about basic Republican or Democratic ideology—small vs. large government for example, or even capitalism vs. socialism.  It is about a Judeo-Christian foundation vs. a secular progressive agenda, with the latter dominating the far left of the Democratic Party.  I don’t think I need to tell you that not every Republican is God-fearing or that no Democrat is, but we are not talking about individuals here.  We are talking about a spiritual clash here, one that will do much to determine the basis of our national moral values and our hospitality toward matters of faith.


[238] The Reality

Amid the furor over the Trump presidency, something is lost: the current national political paralysis is not about Trump—his style, his wall, or his showdown strategies.

It is about power.

Over a half century ago John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage detailed members of congress who sacrificed politically to do what they believed was right for the country.

I see few if any such profiles now.

Instead of people who place the best interests of the United States above party affiliation or personal ambition I see people in serious combat for power–on both sides of the aisle.

Over a decade ago Mitch McConnell made clear his goal to make Obama’s presidency unsuccessful.  This was before Obama had even settled in the Oval Office.  Democrats were promoting impeachment before Trump’s first national address.

Why?  Because servanthood is being sacrificed on the altar of power.  Servanthood is about listening and working toward consensus, the common good.  Power is about domination of the vanquished.  When the vanquished are members of the opposite political party we are vanquishing our own citizens.


[237] Deception

One thing stood out to me after the deaths of Sen. John McCain and President George Herbert Walker Bush.  The Democrats and the liberal media treated them with respect, even trumpeting their careers and service.  This in a time in which neither Republicans nor Democrats seem to find any redeeming value in any member of the opposite party.

So what do we make of this?  This anomaly is not about people wanting to speak respectfully of the dead.  It is about celebrating McCain and Bush’s resistance to Trump.  Surprise!  It is all about politics.  It is all about advancing the party’s agenda by citing these two figures for their refusal to support the now undisputed leader of the Republican Party.

And it’s disgusting.  Neither McCain nor Bush got much respect from the Dems during their lifetimes.  The Dems unloaded on McCain in his presidential run in 2008 and in his campaigns for the senate.  Bush was vilified by Clinton in 1992 and his son was the political punching bag of the Obama campaign.

If you are reading this as a swipe at the Democratic Party you are missing the point.  I expect Republicans would do the same if given similar circumstances.

No, this is about something as old as Genesis 3.  It is about deception, the toxin of democracy. DC

[235] Celebrity Deaths

I have a fascination with notable deaths in each calendar year.  I recently happened on to a website on celebrity deaths in 2018.  Suicide was a common cause.  So were drug overdoses and heart attacks at early ages (possibly related to cocaine use).

Remember, these are celebrities—people our culture celebrates as symbols of success—people held up as superior to the masses of people who venerate them.

But in many cases it is all a sham.  They are failures, by their own standards.  The suicides tell us there was not enough of substance to sustain life.  In the drug deaths it is the same story.

My mother had a trite plaque in our home.  It read, “Only one life, ‘twill soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.”

Those who decide to do that are celebrities, people who live a life worth celebrating. DC

[234] Celibacy

With respect to priestly sexual misconduct in the Catholic Church, “The hits just keep on coming.”

How long will this go on?  I say, for as long as the church holds to the tradition of requiring celibacy in the priesthood.

Sexuality is a basic component of human life.  The sex drive rivals that of eating or drinking.  Therefore, celibacy needs to be seen as a gift rather than a choice.  Paul advocated celibacy but stated in 1 Cor. 7:9 that it is better to marry than burn with passion.

Not only does celibacy severely reduce the number of men choosing to enter the priesthood (and drive many out), it places many priests in a sexual bind, putting them at  war with their sexuality.

Regrettably, the priesthood has become a haven for gay men who–wanting desperately to control acting out on their orientation—believe required celibacy is the answer.  The unending tide of sexual abuse of young boys is testimony to the tragic misguided nature of such a choice.

Keep in mind these felonious sexual activities do not include all the unreported illicit adult liaisons—hetero or homosexual—among wearers of the Catholic cloth.

There is no biblical basis for celibacy.  Peter–viewed as the original pope–was married.

Tradition is a powerful element in Catholicism.  It trumps scripture in some cases.  When it does it can leave destruction in its wake.  DC

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