Monday, September 26, 2005

Abortion associated with immorality?!?

Fox News Article on how the Democratic Party needs to "regain the faith" of religious voters. I found the following sentences rather amusing:
Democrats believe in God and lead moral lives every bit as much as Republicans do. To suggest the contrary is simply a lie.

But somehow, Republicans have equated any support for gay rights and a woman’s right to choose an abortion with immorality. Democrats have varying views on these subjects, with many Democrats supporting parental notification for an abortion and opposing gay marriage. But often that gets lost in the noise from the extreme right.

My initial reaction to this (in my younger-generation vernacular of course) is simply "are you for real?!?" There is no doubt in my mind that both party's members have some scandalous life styles, but ideologically, there is no comparison. Of course gay rights and abortion rights are moral issues! (I'm not saying there aren't other arguments against them as well, but the primary ones are about the morality of such things.) Can someone really believe that these aren't moral issues? Is that really possible today? I'm amazed that we've divorced ethics from morality (as if this could really be done) in such a way that people can really view killing unborn babies as an a-moral issue. Can this really be any simpler? Those who believe the Bible will tend to believe that killing babies is wrong; henceforth, they will see it as immoral to support the right to kill a baby. It doesn't seem too outrageous to me that a woman's right to choose an abortion is equated with immorality, but then again, I'm probably just part of the irrelevant noise from the extreme right. Reconnecting with the religious voters is going to be difficult when you don't understand how abortion is associated with immorality…

Friday, September 16, 2005

Random quote

I found this quote the other day. It makes a lot of sense to me.

"Ever wonder why people are so determined to reach for white picket fences, supposed normalcy, a nuclear family? Well, try growing up without one."
-Chuck Eddy, The Village Voice, 1/03

Out, out brief candle

I'm amazed sometimes at the astounding ability of great authors to capture emotion with words.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day
To the last syllable of recorded time,
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.


Thursday, September 15, 2005

Making distinctions and Harry Potter

I recently read all of the Harry Potter books (yes, I realize this makes me way behind the times). I enjoyed the story and now I look forward to the last book coming out that actually resolves the conflict. What I wish to comment on here, though, is all the loud hype about these books promoting witchcraft so that children should not be reading them. Dare I say that is just simply ludicrous? It is my assertion that if your children are unable to tell the difference between the magical world in a fictitious novel and real Biblical Christianity, you've failed to teach them how to make real distinctions. Perhaps they shouldn't be reading any fiction at all then because they might be tempted to confuse reality and make-believe!

Everything I've read in criticism of the books talk about things such as promoting witchcraft and blurring right and wrong distinctions. The witchcraft association is simply unfounded. No doubt the world is filled with magic, but that is the basis of the fantasy world. This is no different than The Lord of the Rings--this fantasy world is fundamentally different from the real world in that it has magic all around. This is a far cry from pagan and Wicca practices today which is no where near as widespread. From Focus on the Family, I found this "conclusion:"
Rowling has stated that she believes in God and that accusations of Harry Potter books leading kids into sorcery are rubbish. (Though evidence suggests a heightened interest in the subject among children.) How sad that such an imaginative, gifted writer lacks the spiritual insight to give Harry, Luna and a legion of Potter fans the simple, illuminating truth about death—and life—found in Scripture. What readers are left with is a saga steeped in witchcraft that, because of skillful storytelling and pro-social morals, has many families ignoring its spiritual counterfeits.
Perhaps this is going to be a wake up call for some people, but if you base your life on any other book besides the Bible, you WILL HAVE A SPIRITUAL COUNTERFEIT! If you expect Harry Potter to teach you or your children about God, then you will be led astray. But then of what other book is this not true? I'm flatly amazed that this is even suggested--who is getting their spirituality from Harry Potter books??? If you think the Lord of the Rings will teach you how to get to heaven, well, you'll be disappointed there too. Of course, this takes nothing away from either LOTR or Harry Potter as good stories--they are just that, good stories. Enjoy them! Praise God that he has given such gifts to people that they can write entertaining stories that might encourage your children (or you) to practice reading.

The other assertion about the book mentioned frequently was "blurring right and wrong distinctions." This one might hold a bit more water in my reckoning, but only if the child lives in a bubble. Who's good and who's bad definitely gets a little bit fuzzy sometimes, and some of Harry's choices commonly aren't easy to make. Things even seem to work out all right sometimes when he makes bad choices, but I fail to see how this makes the book into something horrible. Are Christian morals taught in it? Some are and some aren't, but like I said before, if you are trying to get your religion out of Harry Potter books, maybe you should seek help... The book is no more offensive than the daily newspaper in terms of the morality it presents, and I would even argue that the virtues it extols are sometimes much better than the newspaper's.

Being an engineer, I'm not nearly as imaginative as some people, but I can still see creativity if it is staring me in the face (well most of the time). Just as Paul told that Corinthians that idols are nothing in the world, so the same idea applies here. Christians can give thanks to God for such gifted writers as Rowling, even if the writer herself doesn't acknowledge the true God. You can enjoy reading (just as the Corinthians were free to enjoy the meat) whether the book's author was a Christian or not (or the meat was sacrificed to an idol or not). Praise God for the great gifts he has given to men!

Friday, September 09, 2005

Piles of stones

I've always kind of found the story in Joshua 4 to be interesting.
4 Then Joshua called the twelve men whom he had appointed from the children of Israel, one man from every tribe; 5 and Joshua said to them: “Cross over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of the Jordan, and each one of you take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the children of Israel, 6 that this may be a sign among you when your children ask in time to come, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you?’ 7 Then you shall answer them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it crossed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. And these stones shall be for a memorial to the children of Israel forever.” (NKJV)
Joshua knew there would come a time when the miraculous signs that brought Israel out of Egypt would cease. Moses had warned them years earlier not to forget the Lord (Deuteronomy 4) after they had children and grandchildren. It is not that God wouldn't be with them, or that he wouldn't be actively involved in their lives, but that he wouldn't be doing the miraculous signs and wonders as he had before. It is in those times that they would be most likely to forget the Lord their God, so to remind them, Joshua erected a pile of stones. He then goes onto assume that their children would ask them "What do these stones mean?" This was to serve as a reminder to tell their kids the glorious deeds of the Lord. Strangely, this is the same thing we should be doing today: telling our children, and all who will hear about the glorious deeds of the Lord.