Friday, July 28, 2006

Proselytizing through retail

[Alan] Wolfe, an unbeliever, told me he finds the kind of "stuff" he sees at venues such as the International Christian Retail show to be indicative of an anemic American evangelical subculture.

Wolfe said in no certain terms that he does not want Christians to "witness" to him about the gospel, but, nonetheless, he sees in Christian T-shirts, breath-mints, and boy bands the reality that Christians don't want to witness to him anyway. Wolfe said that he cannot imagine an unbeliever coming to faith through, say, a Christian bumper-sticker on the car in front of him. Buying the stuff gives Christians an easy conscience that they are carrying the Great Commission without ever having to verbally and relationally engage their unbelieving neighbors.


Whatever the "evangelistic" selling point of these products, I think the real reason they make money is an American Christianity seeking to form a common community, a common culture. Unfortunately, instead of finding this in churches, with one Lord, one faith, one baptism, we find it the same way the culture around us does: by buying stuff with the same logos. (Russell D. Moore, Mere Comments)

Another indication, to me, that most Christians today are no different than the culture around them. They just (sometimes) choose different brands.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Death penalty

Continued death penalty woes.

in Missouri, U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan has ordered the state department of corrections to make a series of improvements to its execution protocol, including employing a board-certified anesthesiologist to ensure that the drugs used in lethal injections were properly prepared.

The action came after the doctor who had been overseeing Missouri executions admitted he was dyslexic, often mixing up numbers, and after Taylor's attorneys discovered records showing doses of anesthesia were half what they should have been for some executions, including the dose that awaited Taylor.

In response to the judge's order, Missouri has said it cannot find an anesthesiologist willing to participate and plans to appeal. The American Medical Association this month reminded doctors that it views participation in executions to be a violation of medical ethics. (Reuters)

Gays in the military

I don't understand the US military's current policy regarding gays. One of the original justifications for not having gays in the military is that they'd be more subject to blackmail. Yet that is the exact environment that has been artificially created with the current policy.

The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, established in 1993, prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members, but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay.

The policy is becoming "a very effective weapon of vengeance in the armed forces" said Steve Ralls, a spokesman for the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, a Washington-based watchdog organization (Associated Press)

That's because once the military receives an anonymous tip it feels that it has the right to Ask and Ask and Ask again. (And if a serviceman lies about it, he's commiting perjury.) So now we have one less Arabic linguist. Because having a gay linguist is much more of a security risk than having no linguists, right?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The rights of the father

I haven't been following the case closely, but it looks like the guy who wanted the choice to opt out of child support payments (because his girlfriend promised him she was infertile and taking birth control) lost his case.

Last week, U.S. District Court Judge David M. Lawson dismissed the lawsuit, writing in his decision, "[Dubay] had difficulty accepting the financial consequences of his conduct so the state came to his assistance." (AlterNet)

The gist of the AlterNet article is that this is perfectly right and fair. And most of the comments appear to agree with the author.

the man's choice occurs earlier in the process...he can CHOOSE to ensure that conception does not occur by using a condom correctly

A male should take responsibility for being fertile...either abstain from sex until you are ready, or get your self "fixed"

Never mind that these arguments for earlier choice and responsibility also apply to a woman wanting to abort her baby.

There were some glimmers of consistancy in some of the comments.

I am shocked at the hypocrisy of so-called “smart & progressive” women like the writer of this commentary.

Do not force something on a man that you do not want forced upon you. It is that simple.


Everything changes IF ABORTION RIGHTS ARE TAKEN AWAY FROM WOMEN. Then, and only then, may women ethically and logically FORCE men to pay out the nose. Trap them. Do whatever. But, as long as women are able to control their own reproductive process, they have no right in this world to force a man to pay a dime for a child they choose to have.

Needless to say, I am all for a father supporting his children. It is to the benefit of society to encourage this. It is also to the benefit of society to discourage promiscuity and encourage childbearing within a traditional family. But you won't, for the most part, see the abortion crowd arguing for traditional values and against "choice" unless it is being applied to men exclusively.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Scientific progress

Praise for the forward march of science. Progressive and liberal leaders championing new scientific techniques that promise to cure disease, eradicate illness and suffering and advance the progress of the human race. Elite institutions of higher education embarking on their own initiatives, training students and supporting researchers in the new science. California's self-described progressive citizenry passing a law granting state funding and support to the cause, with other states preparing to follow suit. The intellectual elite of the country decrying the obstructionist, anti-modern views of the people who oppose or publicly challenge the underlying ethical rationale of the new science.

This might sound like our contemporary debate over embryonic stem cells, but it's actually an apt description of the eugenics movement in the United States in the early 20th century.


Like eugenics, promoters of embryonic stem-cell research talk of its endless promise, declaring it the scientific "path to the future," as two state senators from Massachusetts wrote in a recent opinion piece. Promoters claim that their science will lead to cures for a range of diseases and the alleviation of much human suffering. And they denounce those who question the ethics of their pursuit as backward or blindly religious.

But as we continue to debate the ethics of embryonic stem-cell research, it is worth recalling that movements waged in the name of scientific progress often leave a troubled legacy.

Christine Rosen

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Stem cell polarization

The polarization begins.

What you're not hearing a lot of today is the stem cell bill that Congress declined to pass. The bill that would have funded research using adult stem cells instead of embryonic. One thinks, who could be against that? After all, adult stem cells provide an awful lot of promise as well and research is research.

Those that want to risk the war to win the battle, that's who. The bill would have provided some cover to President Bush, allowing him to temper his veto of the embryonic stem cell bill with a signing of an adult stem cell bill. And that was the problem for Democrats.

I understand political wranglings. The Dems want Bush (and the Republicans) to look as bad as possible so they win elections in 2006 and 2008. But if their concern for sick people who might benefit from stem cell research is real, you'd think that research is more important than elections. Guess not.

Pro-life hypocrisy

The passage on Tuesday of a Senate bill to fund embryonic stem cell research -- and a presidential veto expected on Wednesday killing the legislation -- hits very close to home for [Debi] Martin. Her 9-year-old daughter, Jessi, has diabetes and they both hope stem cell research can some day find a cure.

Martin also feels strongly about the use of embryonic stem cells for research because Jessi was conceived by in vitro fertilization -- and Martin and her husband decided years ago to discard nine unused embryos because she could not have another child.

"I would give anything if I could have had those nine cells to give to have a cure for my baby now," she said. "And I think the worst sin of all, and I am a very religious person, I am pro-life, is to look a miracle from God in the face and throw it away." (Reuters)

Exactly how is this woman pro-life? She's thrown away nine embryos to conceive her daughter and now she wants to throw away more. Martin strikes me as someone who's pro-life when it comes to other people's decisions -- to abort an unwanted child, for example -- but pro-choice when it comes to her own decisions (to have a child via in vitro fertilization, to want that child to benefit from embryo research, etc). Would she have an abortion when push came to shove?

And yet I don't think she's that uncommon among "pro-lifers". What we have is an understandable clash between moral beliefs and our modern sense of entitlement to not be inconvenienced or deprived in any way.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Today's New England Primer

In the Summer 2006 Claremont Review of Books, Dorothea Israel Wolfson reviews the Norton Anthology of Children's Literature, and finds in it a desire to turn children into adults. This is done specifically by using literature as a tool to turn children on to "the grim realities and multicultural obsessions of contemporary adults."


Wolfson compares the kind of children's literature admired by the Norton editors to the orthodox Christianity passed along in the Puritan readers of old. The new children's literature mavens, she writes, "have more in common with the New England Primer than they dare to admit. They, too, are obsessed with death and the apocalypse, only they don't believe in redemption."

Russell D. Moore, Mere Comments

Friday, July 14, 2006

Happy Planet Index

The New Economics Foundation, a British think tank, looked at 178 countries' consumption levels, life expectancy, and happiness, and concluded that people can live long, happy lives without sucking up large quantities of the planet's resources. [...] Latin American countries dominate the top 10 happiest nations, with Colombia in second place. [...] The U.S., with the world's second-largest ecological footprint (after oil-rich United Arab Emirates), ranked an unhappy 150th. Report co-author Nic Marks says the report reveals "patterns that show how we might better achieve long and happy lives for all while living within our environmental means."


Freezing credit in Colorado

As of July 1, thanks to our local legislature, residents of Colorado can inform the credit reporting companies that they want their credit "frozen". This means no one can check your credit record or borrow money in your name without you explicitly allowing it.

Credit card companies, merchants, credit bureaus and other businesses do not adequately safeguard consumers' private financial information, making it relatively easy for thieves to steal this data and use it to take out new credit or to rack up charges on existing accounts.

[...] The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that it took the average victim of identity theft in 2004 600 hours and an average of $1,495 to clear their name; cases average two to four years to be resolved. This is up from 175 hours and $808 in out-of-pocket expenses in 2000. (CoPIRG)

As I've noted before, Congress has been mulling similar legislation but hasn't passed anything due to industry opposition. In fact, the industry has been lobbying Congress to prohibit states from passing these laws.

Monday, July 10, 2006

I am totalitarian

You are a

Social Conservative
(36% permissive)

and an...

Economic Liberal
(30% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

(Thanks to Blithering Idiot.)