A nation killing itself

Anticipating the possibility the monstrous Roe v. Wade decision might be overturned eventually, New York State passed landmark legislation to ensure the practice of sacrificing children to convenience will continue… and that the value of unborn life will continue to fall:

New York, with a newly empowered Democratic legislature, legalized late-term abortion on Tuesday and removed criminal penalties for botched abortions or other violence that leads to an in utero baby’s death. The sweeping law would remove the state’s ability to prosecute a Kermit Gosnell–type offender or a person who kills a child in utero through domestic abuse, for example.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, was not bashful about putting his signature to the new abortion law, wearing a pink tie, cracking jokes about how many years it took to pass the law, and ordering the World Trade Center to be lit in pink in celebration.

And the governor made sure to sign the bill on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, to make a statement.  Most concerning is the fact this legislation permits abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy, provided the mother’s life or health is at risk.  The act does not define health risk, however, leading some to believe this could be a loophole to allow near or full-term abortions under the guise of “emotional health risk” or other such interpretations.  The new law also moves regulation of abortion from the criminal law code to the public health code, lessening the impact of any sanctions.

Some news coverage of the event noted New York’s abortion rate is already twice the national average, with 23 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age.  That statistic conceals the true impact, however.  New York States own reported statistics show that for the period 2012 to 2014, there were 712,497 births in the state.  Over the same three-year period, there were 285,127 abortions.

This means just over 1 in 4 pregnancies in New York end in abortion.  1 in 4!

New York City is a center of world banking and commerce, with fantastic amounts of money flowing through it.  Fortunes are made and lost every day.  Could it be New Yorkers are literally sacrificing their futures for the fleeting prosperity of the moment?  If so, they would hardly be the first.  Governor Cuomo celebrated the new law by ordering the new Freedom Tower (the replacement for the Twin Towers toppled on 9/11) to be lit in pink.  That prompted someone to update this old image with the same color.moloch

We have descended from the piousness of the Pilgrims to the practices of the pagan Ammonites.  They, too, sacrificed children in the hope of material prosperity.

reverse gospel Today, the Ammonite civilization, such as it was, is dead.  When we’re extending a big pink middle finger towards the heavens, should we expect any different?

Pray for our nation!

Constructing controversy

Pardon the long post as I parse the issue du jour.  Given the wide reach of Outrage, Inc., you may have heard how a group of MAGA-hat-wearing Catholic high school boys surrounded and intimidated a Native American elder in Washington D.C. Saturday, treating him with utter disrespect.

What you probably didn’t hear was:

  1. The young men were waiting for their charter bus as instructed by their teachers, and passing the time laughing and socializing as high-spirited young men do.
  2. They were harassed and insulted for about half an hour by a small group of radical “Black Hebrews,” who accused whites (and Donald Trump) of being pro-homosexual, and who called a black teen in the group “nigger” and urged him to abandon his white friends.
  3. The Native American elder, Nathan Phillips, who appears to be a professional grievancemonger, walked into the group of kids and began beating his drum inches from the face of one of them.

How do I know these things?  Because I sought out and viewed longer film clips than the carefully selected 90-second vignettes and still photos curated by the liberal legacy press, including a nearly 2-hour one filmed by the “Black Hebrews” themselves:

 

Timestamps (please note: the “Hebrew” cameraman is very liberal with his profanity):

Beginning: notice the “Hebrews” are first yelling at the Native Americans, telling them they “lost their land” because they “worshipped creation rather than the Creator.”  One can only imagine the coverage had this been a group of white Christians saying that to the Native protestors.  They go on to claim that “native Americans, Hispanics and blacks” are the “real” children of Israel, and the Jews of today are “imposters.” (44:00)  This is the thrust of the first 45 minutes of the video.

At 44:30, the cameraman notices a few students standing by with “MAGA” sweaters and hats.  “These are the people who are going to f*** your country up, Mr. White Man” the cameraman says.

At 46:18 the speaker refers to a nearby priest (who was probably part of the March for Life) as a “faggot” and “Father Hands.”  By this point more students are showing up (remember: they’d been told to gather at the Jefferson Memorial to be picked up by their bus).  The speaker refers to all of them (Catholics) as “child-molesting faggots” like “your president, Donald Trump.”

At 49:00, while arguing with a black man who’s calling them out for their hateful speech, the cameraman asks why he wants to fight with his “brothers” with “all these dirty-a** crackers behind you, with their red Make America Great Again hats on… racist b*stards…”

This is what these kids unknowingly went into, following their instructions on where to assemble at the end of the March for Life and visiting D.C.  I’m reasonably sure they had never encountered anything quite like it back in Kentucky.

The speaker begins to address the kids directly (50:00), saying it’s only whites “who shoot up schools.”  When the kids turn away from him, he begins to ridicule them.  At 53:00 he notes some of the kids had come back, after taking their hats off.  (Remember – they were where they’d been told to go… could it be they were trying to diffuse the situation?)  At 59:00, seeing more and more kids show up, “look at all these demons… vicious crowd.”

By 1:07:00, the speaker is focused solely on the kids, calling them “incest babies” and such.  The kids (all but one on a skateboard — not clear if he’s part of the school group) keep their distance.  They begin chanting school spirit cheers, to drown out and mock the abuse being hurled their way.

Only at the one hour, 12-minute mark do we finally first see Nathan Phillips, the “Native Elder.”  He and a group with cameras behind him, walks up to the group of kids.  He moves to them… not the other way around.  Note: the kids were already chanting school spirit chants in response to the insults of the Black Hebrews.  They did NOT start in response to Phillips and his drum. As one kid later wrote to a local TV station, from their perspective, it was like Phillips wanted to join in with them or something.

Over the next couple minutes, Phillips continues to work his way into the group of teens.  This is how he became “surrounded.”  He is the instigator of confrontation, not the teens.  He stops in front of one bewildered young man and continues to beat on his drum.  Frankly the kid shows admirable restraint at this invasion of his personal space.  He also seems to be quite aware of the number of cameras being shoved in his face.  What would most adults do in such a situation?

At 1:17:00, as the groups have converged, an adult’s voice can be heard telling the kids “back it up.”  The kids move back from the “Hebrews.”  Just before 1:19:00, the Hebrews start insulting a black student for associating with the rest of the group.

Sadly, the school has already issued a condemnation of the kids based on initial reporting.  (Feel free to let them know they made a mistake.)  Meanwhile various reporters are looking to identify the teens, with one even asking on Twitter that people with copies of the school’s yearbook contact her!  This is completely unacceptable.

The school’s objective was to have their kids participate in the March for Life protest against the continuing scourge of abortion.  But it’s safe to say these kids learned some unintentional, yet valuable lessons about the condition of their country and the mendacity of the press.  It remains to be seen, however, how much they’ll pay for those lessons at the hands of people who hate them simply because of who they are.  And yet the kids are supposed to be the racists?

A flood of evidence

Scientists are still seeking an explanation for a significant gap in the geological record:

When the famed explorer John Wesley Powell bumped, splashed and thrashed his way down the Colorado River in 1869, he discovered one of the most striking geologic features on Earth. Not the Grand Canyon — although that too is a marvel — but a conspicuous boundary between the sunset-colored sediments of the upper walls and the dark, jagged rocks below them.

Powell had learned to read the layers of desert rocks like pages in a book, and he recognized that the boundary represented a missing chapter in Earth’s geological history. Later, researchers realized it was more like an entire lost volume, spanning roughly one-fifth of Earth’s existence, and that a similar gap existed in many places around the world.

There must have been some sort of special event in Earth’s history that led to widespread erosion,” said Steve Marshak, a geologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies what has come to be known as the Great Unconformity. (emphasis added)…

Since there are so few rocks from that period, the researchers had to look for other kinds of clues to figure out what happened. They reasoned that the missing layers probably went through the full geologic spin cycle: They would have been broken down into sediment and washed out to sea, then deposited on the ocean floor and recycled into the mantle during subduction before finally melting into the magma that feeds volcanoes.

Keller’s team found stark variations in the oxygen and hafnium in zircons, consistent with the continents losing an average of 2 to 3 vertical miles of rock.  “We are talking about an absolutely huge amount of crust being eroded,” he said. “In which case, we should have noticed it missing — and we have.”  (emphasis added)

The story’s headline notes a leading theory for this erosion being repeated eras of glaciation — “snowball earth” — but the story also notes the theory may not explain the rate of erosion.  Here’s another idea:

In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, on the seventeenth day of the second month—on that day all the springs of the great deep burst forth, and the floodgates of the heavens were opened.  And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights… The waters flooded the earth for a hundred and fifty days. (Genesis 7:6-10, 24; emphasis added)

The Flood was more than just torrential rain.  The “springs of the great deep” imply massive tectonic upheaval — just the sort of thing to produce the enormous recycling of crust described in the linked article above.  There’s no question these combined effects could account for the erosion and “Great Unconformity,” because Scripture also tells us:

Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water.  By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed.  By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.  (2 Peter 3:3-7; emphasis added)

There IS a ‘great unconformity’ between the world that is, and the world that was.  There is an even greater unconformity between the world that is, and the world that is to come. The present world is filled with evidence of the Creator and the truth of His Word — for those who “have ears to hear.”

No matter what credentials are attached to one’s name, there is no excuse for denials.  Sadly, that won’t prevent many of today’s most brilliant scientific minds from reflexively ruling out any chance that Scripture has something to tell them.

A More Merciful God?

I’ve just finished reading a book that really provoked me into a closer examination of Scripture and my understanding of it.  It’s humbling to realize that even as I close in on five decades on this earth, there are things I’ve never considered and discussions of which I’ve been ignorant all this time.

The book coveris “A More Merciful God: Truth is Older Than Tradition.”  It’s a powerful critique of the common traditional view that those who fail to put their faith in Christ will suffer an eternity of conscious pain and torment.  Prior to reading it, I was only aware of two schools of thought about the destiny of the lost: the aforementioned traditional view, and universalism, which posits that even the lost eventually are relieved of their suffering and restored after a period of punishment.  The latter view being patently unfounded in Scripture, I’ve held to the traditional view, as horrifying as it is when you really stop and consider it.  In “Amazing Grace” we sing of how after 10,000 years of praising God we’ll have “no less days… than when we first begun.”  This is rightfully an encouragement to the believer, an anticipation of our future with our Creator.  Left between the lines of that great hymn, though, is the thought those same 10,000 years leave “no less days” of agony and torment for the lost in eternity.

What if tradition is not only wrong, but slandering the character of God in the process, making it more difficult for people to come to faith in Him?

There is another viewpoint of which I’ve been unaware till now: conditional immortality. … Continue reading

Struck down, but not destroyed

Christians around the world today face persecution from many sources.  Nevertheless, we always have this hope: we are not forsakenand He who is in us is greater than he who is in the world.

Iraq has made Christmas Day a national holiday, its government confirmed this morning.

The Iraqi Cabinet approved an amendment to its national holidays law which creates a new official one ‘on the occasion of the birth of Jesus Christ‘.

Previously, Christmas Day had been designated as a religious break only for the Iraqi Christian community, but the amendment extends the holiday to everyone.

There are thought to be only around 300,000 Christians remaining in the country, the vast majority of whom are Aramaic-speaking ethnic Assyrians.

Before western countries’ invasion of the country in 2003, Iraqi Christians numbered around 1.4 million, but the onslaught of violence forced hundreds of thousands to flee, either to Iraqi Kurdistan or further abroad.

They have also found themselves persecuted on religious grounds by so-called Islamic State in recent years.   Christians living areas under ISIS control were ordered to pay a large tax, convert to Islam, or be killed.

But now their Lord is being recognized officially.  The Iraqi people have suffered tremendously for decades, first under a ruthless dictator, then in an international crossfire between the West and radical Islamists.  But it is just like our God to bring beauty from such ashes.  I was one of thousands who served there, what seems like a lifetime ago, and I pray this is but the start of a great work by the Spirit in that land.

Merry Christmas!  The Christ Child is still in the business of setting captives free.

Tigris River

Note: there’s an observation made by the composition of this photo I took. See if you can find it.  If you do, feel free to share it in the comments.

Saturday Sounds

This is not usually considered a “Christmas” song.  And yet, Christmas has no meaning apart from the message it conveys.  One of our ministers shared last week at church that his daughter’s coworker, upon being wished a “Merry Christmas,” said she couldn’t remember whether Christmas was whether we “celebrate the birth or the killing of our God.”

Yes, it’s a shocking commentary on how ignorant of the basic doctrines of the faith our country has become.  But it’s also a reminder: neither the birth or the killing of Christ has any meaning without the Resurrection.

What a work we have, to tell those around us what all this really means.

Substituting factions for faith

A person’s life is meant to have meaning, and for that meaning to derive from a relationship to their Creator.  It’s no surprise, then, that those who reject God are driven to seek meaning anywhere they believe they can find it.  Some turn to self-destructive vices in an ever-more-vain pursuit of moments of perceived happiness.  Other alternatives, though, while not as immediately and physically destructive, ultimately lead to the same futility.  One important current example is in our political climate.

Seduced by scientism, distracted by materialism, insulated, like no humans before us, from the vicissitudes of sickness and the ubiquity of early death, the post-Christian West believes instead in something we have called progress — a gradual ascent of mankind toward reason, peace, and prosperity — as a substitute in many ways for our previous monotheism. We have constructed a capitalist system that turns individual selfishness into a collective asset and showers us with earthly goods; we have leveraged science for our own health and comfort. Our ability to extend this material bonanza to more and more people is how we define progress; and progress is what we call meaning…

But none of this material progress beckons humans to a way of life beyond mere satisfaction of our wants and needs. And this matters…

[S]ocial-justice ideology does everything a religion should. It offers an account of the whole: that human life and society and any kind of truth must be seen entirely as a function of social power structures, in which various groups have spent all of human existence oppressing other groups. And it provides a set of practices to resist and reverse this interlocking web of oppression — from regulating the workplace and policing the classroom to checking your own sin and even seeking to control language itself. I think of non-PC gaffes as the equivalent of old swear words. Like the puritans who were agape when someone said “g–damn,” the new faithful are scandalized when someone says something “problematic.” Another commonality of the zealot then and now: humorlessness.

The same cultish dynamic can be seen on the right. There, many profess nominal Christianity and yet demonstrate every day that they have left it far behind… This is why they could suddenly rally to a cult called Trump. He may be the least Christian person in America, but his persona met the religious need their own faiths had ceased to provide. The terrible truth of the last three years is that the fresh appeal of a leader-cult has overwhelmed the fading truths of Christianity.

This is why they are so hard to reach or to persuade and why nothing that Trump does or could do changes their minds. You cannot argue logically with a religion — which is why you cannot really argue with social-justice activists either. And what’s interesting is how support for Trump is greater among those who do not regularly attend church than among those who do…

And so we’re mistaken if we believe that the collapse of Christianity in America has led to a decline in religion. It has merely led to religious impulses being expressed by political cults… And this is how they threaten liberal democracy. They do not believe in the primacy of the individual, they believe the ends justify the means, they do not allow for doubt or reason, and their religious politics can brook no compromise.

I found these to be interesting thoughts, particularly coming from a writer who seems to believe he can reconcile his Roman Catholic practice with being an openly gay political pundit.  One of my first thoughts is that perhaps the Spirit is getting through to him.  I hope that’s the case.  He is correct about politics replacing theological faith as a source of meaning in our culture.  He is also correct about the effect of that on both Left and Right.  I supported Trump in 2016 because I thought that, even with his personal baggage, he’d do less damage than Her Hillariness.  I still hold a modest hope that he’ll be able to enact long-lasting reforms in some critical areas.  But unlike other Trump supporters I’ve encountered (who’ve made me very uncomfortable at times), I do not see him as America’s secular messiah, and I remain well aware of his flaws.

Sullivan may or may not have grasped the deeper point of his ponderings.  Reading the entirety of the piece, I’m not sure.  He compares the “Great Awokening” of modern times to the “Great Awakening” of old.  Only if we have another “Great Awakening” will our people once again channel their energies toward pursuing Christ.  And it is that pursuit that produces the fruit which previously sustained our society.  May God grant us revival, from “Awoke” to “Awake.”  As we’re painfully finding out, finding our identities in anything other than Him is a very poor substitute indeed.