Monday, October 31, 2005
Who are the folks behind Third Way? According to their website, "The management team of Third Way, and its sister organization, the Third Way Institute, is composed of political entrepreneurs who have served in senior positions in Congress and the Clinton Administration and also have extensive experience running successful national advocacy groups."
What then is their purpose? "Third Way is a new and unique political organization: a strategy center for progressives. Third Way develops policy and communications products to help senators and other progressive leaders better advance their values in red states and counties where progressive ideas have lost resonance."
They have now released an "issues brief" on the issue of abortion: The Demographics of Abortion: The Great Divide Between Abortion Rhetoric and Abortion Reality.
One of their goals is to put "the right on defensive." Far from feeling defensive, however, I found their study to be very illuminating and very well put together, and highly recommend it to all who are concerned about abortion. It has five parts:
Part I: Who Has Abortions?
Part II: Why Do Women Have Abortions?
Part III: When Do Women Have Abortions?
Part IV: Where Do Women Have Abortions?
Part V: What Does It Mean To Be Pregnant and Unmarried?
Most of us know that since 1973 (the landmark year of Roe v. Wade) there have been 40 million abortions in America. But if you are like me, that number has become an abstraction. One of the most helpful things about reading this brief is to see that number broken down. 1 of every 3 American women will have an abortion by the age of 45.
What follows is an outline and recap of their study:
Part I: Who Has Abortions?
1. More than 1 in 5 pregnancies end in abortion. (Typical year = 4.1 million live births, 1.3 million abortions, 900,000 miscarriages. 21% of all pregnancies end in abortion, 14% in miscarriage, and 65% in birth. When miscarriages are factored out, one in four of the remaining pregnancies end in abortion.)
2. Abortion rates in the U.S. have been steadily declining. (All-time high was 1.6 million in 1990; the latest year available for info, 2000, showed the number at 1.3 million. From 1995 to 2002, the number of teens having sex declined. Also during this time period, contraceptive use was on the rise.)
3. 75% of all abortions are to women under 30. (Median age = 24. Nearly 1 in 5 abortions are performed on teenages. 1 in 3 are performed on women between ages 20 and 24. 1 in 4 are performed on women over 30.)
4. Most women who have abortions are unmarried. (Less than 1 in 5 are married.)
5. When a teenager becomes pregnant, abortion is a likely result. (For girls under 15, there are 8 abortions to ever 10 live births. For girls 15-19, there are 4 abortion to ever 10 live births.)
6. Women who have abortions tend to be low income, but that could be a factor of their age rather than their poverty status. (Only 1 in 5 cite inadequate finances as a reason for seeking an abortion.)
7. Whites account for the most abortions, but relative to their population, Blacks and Hispanics have a disproportionate share of abortions. (Whites are 69% of the national population and have 41% of the nation's abortions. Blacks are 12% of the population and have 32% of the abortions. Hispanics are 13% of the population and have 20% of the abortions.)
8. There is a vast gap between the rhetorical positions that religious leaders take on abortion and the actual practices of the laity in those religions. (Catholics are 24% of the population and have 27% of the abortions. Protestants are 49% of the population and have 43% of the abortions. 13% of those having abortions are self-described Born-Again or Evangelical Christians.)
9. At the time most women have an abortion they already have a child. Half have had a previous abortion.
Part II: Why Do Women Have Abortions?
"Reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies by 10% would eliminate more abortions in three days than would banning late term abortions over the course of a full year."
1. Half of all pregnancies are unplanned; most unplanned pregnancies lead to abortion.
(For every 100 pregancies in America, 52 were planned and 48 were unplanned. Among the unintended 48%, the percentage of abortions to live births is 54% to 46%.
2. Very few abortions are performed because of fetal abnormalities, health of the mother, rape or incest. (3% cite fetal abnormalities; 3% cite health; 1% cite rape or incest.)
3. There is no single dominant reason that women choose to have an abortion, but there is one overwhelming factor: the pregnancy was unplanned.
4. When a teenager has an abortion, parents are often a factor in the decision. (30% of minors seeking abortion attributed their decision in part to the fact that their parents wanted them to have an abortion. Parents of pregnant daughters favor abortion over childbirth 4 to 1.)
Part III: When Do Women Have Abortions?
1. Roughly 9 out of 10 abortions are performed in the first trimester. (88% occur within 12 weeks--the end of the first trimester.)
2. The reason most women give for having an abortion after 16 weeks was not realizing they were pregnant.
3. The most likely person to have a later term abortion is a girl under age 15.
Part IV: Where Do Women Have Abortions?
1. Though abortion rates are generally lower in culturally conservative states, they are still very high.
2. Most abortions occur in the state where the woman lives.
3. It is unclear whether strict parental consent laws have an impact on teen abortion rates. (9 of the 10 states that attract the most out-of-state abortions have moderate to strict parental consent laws.)
Part V: What Does It Mean To Be Pregnant and Unmarried?
1. There is no correlation between out-of-wedlock births and abortion rates.
2. The ratio of teen abortions to adult abortions is the same in states with strong, moderate, and weak parental consent laws. ("It is quite possible that if teens were forced to notify
parents of a pregnancy, abortion rates would go up, not down.")
In selecting Third Circuit judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. for the Supreme Court, President Bush has made a truly outstanding nomination that deserves widespread acclaim. By any objective criteria, it is doubtful that there is anyone now or in recent decades (yes, not even Chief Justice Roberts) whose experience and qualifications better prepare him for the Supreme Court.(HT: Powerline)
Judge Alito’s entire career since graduating from Yale Law School in the mid-1970s has been devoted to public service in the law. His range of experience dealing with difficult questions of federal law is unmatched. After a prestigious clerkship on the Third Circuit, he worked as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey for four years. Then, as assistant to the Solicitor General, he briefed and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court for four years. He next served as a deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel—the office that was previously headed by Rehnquist and Scalia and that advises the White House Counsel’s office and the entire executive branch on the proper meaning of the Constitution and other federal law. In 1987, Alito became United States Attorney in New Jersey. In that capacity, he was responsible for all federal prosecutions in New Jersey for three years (including the successful prosecution of a Libyan-sponsored terrorist who planned to attack various New York targets). And for the past 15 years, Alito has served with great distinction on the Third Circuit.
Just as the Left attacked Roberts, it will attack Alito. But President Bush has again selected an outstanding nominee whose intellect, character, experience, and, not least, proper understanding of the role of the courts will earn the deep respect of the American people and of all fair-minded observers.
Sunday, October 30, 2005
[Update: it's official.]
For more information on Mr. Alito (nicknamed, Scalito, since his views often resembled Justice Scalia's), see:
Friday, October 28, 2005
Thursday, October 27, 2005
Here's the story.
Here's President Bush's statement.
Here's Ms. Miers' letter.
CNN is also saying that Senator Frist called President Bush last night to tell him that the votes for Ms. Miers' just weren't there.
I think the President and Ms. Miers did what's best for the country, and they should be commended for that.
Since I'm on a roll with my predictions, I'll venture another one: The President will nominate Theodore Olson. From what I know, he would be easily confirmed, the base would enthusiastically rally around the President, and he would be a superb Associate Justice.
"This speech," he writes, "is chock-full of clumsy, unskilled writing... Mechanically, this speech reveals a mediocrity in composition that is truly disturbing."
"What about the content? Unfortunately, that doesn't improve the picture much at all, either.... [I]t should make everyone wake up to the threat Miers represents. In fact, this speech gives so mamy reasons to oppose Miers that it's a wonder she hasn't already repudiated it as a youthful indiscretion. There's hardly a passage in here that gives any credence to the notion of Harriet Miers as an originalist, or even a conservative." He concludes:
I'm off the fence for good now. I oppose the Miers nomination. I have no objection to allowing Miers her day in front of the Judiciary Committee; if the Bush adminstration wants to subject itself to that kind of political damage, let it. The quality of her prepared speech strongly suggests that the White House will deeply regret that decision, but quite frankly, that will be their problem. The Judiciary Committee should reject her, as should the Senate, once her nomination hits the floor.
But if the White House has any sense left, they'll quickly withdraw her from consideration and spare itself further embarrassment.
And more bad news for Ms. Miers: Leonard Leo, on leave from the Federalist Society to act as a conduit between the White House and conservatives, has suddenly quit his role in that regard. Further, Wednesday was that day that Ms. Miers was supposed to turn in her revised questionairre--an embarrassing "do-over" request from the Senate Judiciary Committee--and she failed to do so.
More on Ms. Miers' writing from David Brooks (commenting before the release of her 1993 speech above):
Of all the words written about Harriet Miers, none are more disturbing than the ones she wrote herself. In the early '90s, while she was president of the Texas bar association, Miers wrote a column called "President's Opinion" for The Texas Bar Journal. It is the largest body of public writing we have from her, and sad to say, the quality of thought and writing doesn't even rise to the level of pedestrian....
I don't know if by mere quotation I can fully convey the relentless march of vapid abstractions that mark Miers' prose. Nearly every idea is vague and depersonalized. Nearly every debatable point is elided. It's not that Miers didn't attempt to tackle interesting subjects. She wrote about unequal access to the justice system, about the underrepresentation of minorities in the law and about whether pro bono work should be mandatory. But she presents no arguments or ideas, except the repetition of the bromide that bad things can be eliminated if people of good will come together to eliminate bad things.
Throw aside ideology. Surely the threshold skill required of a Supreme Court justice is the ability to write clearly and argue incisively....
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers said in a speech more than a decade ago that "self-determination" should guide decisions about abortion and school prayer and that in cases where scientific facts are disputed and religious beliefs vary, "government should not act."
In a 1993 speech to a Dallas women's group, Miers talked about abortion, the separation of church and state, and how the issues play out in the legal system. "The underlying theme in most of these cases is the insistence of more self-determination," she said. "And the more I think about these issues, the more self-determination makes sense."
Ed Whelan--who has reserved judgment until now--finds this speech to be the last straw:
I have tried hard to give the White House and Harriet Miers the benefit of the doubt on her nomination and to withhold judgment. But I can no longer do so. The damage from this disastrous selection has gotten worse and worse every day, and there is every reason to think that it will continue to compound.
The badly muddled thinking in the speech that Miers delivered in 1993 (and that the Washington Post reported on today) is only the latest in a mounting pile of evidence that makes it implausible to hold out hope any longer that Miers will prove to be a sound judicial conservative. I don’t see how anything she says at her hearing — or anything else that realistically emerges between now and then — can offset this evidence.
Harriet Miers has earned the president’s trust and deserves our respect, and it is lamentable that some folks, in their deep disappointment at her nomination, have been excessive in their criticisms of her. But I see no reason why anyone concerned about the problem of judicial usurpation of the political processes should trust that a Justice Miers would be part of the solution. . . .
At this point the only course of action that will entitle Miers to continued respect is for her to ask the president to withdraw her nomination. Pronto.
Mr. Steele has a new book coming out this Spring on these themes:
White Guilt : How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era
(Harper Collins; May of 2006)
Also worth noting is that John McWhorter, author of the book, Losing the Race: Self-Sabatoge in Black America, will be publishing a sequel due out at the end of the year: Winning the Race : Beyond the Crisis in Black America (Gotham; December 29, 2005). Here is the Amazon.com description:
Four decades after the great victories of the Civil Rights Movement secured equal rights for African-Americans, black America is in crisis. Indeed, by most measurable standards, conditions for many blacks have grown worse since 1965: desperate poverty cripples communities nationwide, incarceration rates have reached record highs, teenage pregnancy and out-of- wedlock births are rampant, and educational failures are stifling achievement among the next generation. For years, prominent sociologists and pundits have blamed these problems on forces outside the black community, from lingering racism, to the explosion of the inner-city drug trade, to the erosion of the urban industrial base and the migration of middle-class blacks to the suburbs. But now, in an important and broad-ranging re-envisioning of the post-Civil Rights black American experience, acclaimed author John McWhorter tears down these theories to expose the true roots of today’s crisis, and to show a new way forward.
In Winning the Race, McWhorter argues that black America’s current problems began with an unintended byproduct of the Civil Rights revolution, a crippling mindset of "therapeutic alienation." This wary stance toward mainstream American culture, although it is a legacy of racism in the past, continues to hold blacks back, and McWhorter traces all the poisonous effects of this defeatist attitude. In an in-depth case study of the Indianapolis inner city, he analyzes how a vibrant black neighborhood declined into slums, despite ample work opportunities in an American urban center where manufacturing jobs were plentiful. McWhorter takes a hard look at the legacy of the Great Society social assistance programs, lamenting their teaching people to live permanently on welfare, as well as educational failures, too often occurring because of an intellectual climate in which a successful black person must be faced with charges of "acting white." He attacks the sorry state of black popular culture, where indignation for its own sake has been enshrined in everything from the halls of academia to the deleterious policy decisions of community leaders to the disaffected lyrics of hip-hop, particularly rap’s glorification of irresponsibility and violence as "protest." In a stirring conclusion, McWhorter puts forth a new vision of black political and intellectual leadership, arguing that both blacks and whites must abolish the culture of victimhood, as this alone can improve future of black America, and outlines steps that can be taken to ensure hope for the future.Powerful and provocative, Winning the Race combines detailed research with precise argumentation to present a compelling new vision for black America.
From the Back Cover
Acclaim for Winning the Race:
"This is the work of a serious man who knows what the demons are and realizes that they must be identified and fought, not glibly redefined so as to maintain the old order of mush-mouthed ineffectiveness."
—Stanley Crouch, author of The Artificial White Man and The All-American Skin Game, Or the Decoy of Race
"John McWhorter demolishes the liberal conventional wisdom about the sources of poverty, crime, family breakdown, and other social ills that afflict the black community today, and offers a compelling alternative vision of how to move beyond the current crisis. Winning the Race is a must-read for anyone with a serious interest in the problem of race in modern America."
—Stephan Thernstrom and Abigail Thernstrom, authors of America in Black and White: One Nation, Indivisible and No Excuses: How to Close the Racial Gap in Learning
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
Sex, Romance and the Glory of God - Part 1 (MP3)
Sex, Romance and the Glory of God - Part 2 (MP3)
Message to Men (MP3)
Humility: True Greatness (MP3)
The Cross Centered Life (MP3)
The Soul of Modesty (MP3)
Message to Women: What Christian Wives Need to Know (MP3)
True Beauty (MP3)
A Woman's Beauty Regimen (MP3)
What To Do About the Things We Can't Do Anything About (MP3)
Also of interest: Challies reviews CJ's new book.
Hilter’s name is synonymous with power, evil, and genocide. Jesus’ name with love, peace, and humility. Put the two in a room together, where they are visited by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, executed by the Nazis for his association in a plot to assassinate Hitler, and you won’t believe your ears. This third book in the intriguing Great Conversations series takes Jesus to the twentieth century to confront one of the world’s most influential people of all time––and address fundamental issues of life and death, violence and the value of human life.
At what point do we determine that we are conforming to the world? Frankly, I don't think the world is all that impressed.
Amherst Regional High School has banished the term "freshman"- a move the principal calls overdue, but some students say oozes political correctness.
Beginning this year, students in ninth grade are now referred to by the gender-neutral title "ninth-graders."
"This is 2005 and the word 'man'or 'men' no longer refers to all people," said Samantha Camera, a social studies teacher at the high school. She said the change was an opportunity to use more inclusive language.
The school is changing everything from its official documents to its morning announcements to reflect the new term. . . .
ARHS Assistant Principal Marta Guevara, who spearheaded the change, said the decision to move away from 'freshman' was a result of conversations among faculty that began after the controversial production of The Vagina Monologuestwo years ago.
"We want conversation, we want for kids to bring forward their thinking," said Guevara. "It's a great conversation to make them aware of the possible misogynistic, oppressive or non-inclusive language."
Guevara said such conversations could eventually mean doing away with all class terms, such as "junior,""senior," and "upperclassmen." These changes are not under discussion at this point.
Monday, October 24, 2005
More info: Read Ms. Parks' Wikipedia biography. Also, a film was made of her story in 2002: The Rosa Parks Story.
Update: CT reprints an interview they conducted with her a decade ago.
Sunday, October 23, 2005
"I believe it is almost inevitable that Ms. Miers will withdraw or be defeated."
Update: Chuck Schumer: "I think, if you were to hold the vote today, she would not get a majority, either in the Judiciary Committee or on the floor," said Democratic Senator Charles Schumer, who appeared on NBC's "Meet the Press" show Sunday.
The movie is now out; it stars Charlize Theron, who was no doubt cast for her striking resemblance to the miner she plays. The film's web site is remarkably preachy, posturing the movie as a landmark in the battle against sexual harassment. The New York Post's review of North Country confirms that the movie is awash in liberal stereotypes. But one jarring note jumped out at me:Inspired by Anita Hill's testimony at the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Josey talks Bill, a local hockey-hero-turned-lawyer (Woody Harrelson, in his best work in years) into mounting a lawsuit. And like Hill, Josey is confronted by the mine owner's "nuts and sluts" defense that focuses on her own sexual past.
The real Jenson case was filed in 1985, six years before the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearing. So this particular embellishment is pure fiction. Why did the moviemakers throw it in? Why do you think? The Supreme Court is in the news, and Justice Thomas is a hero to conservatives. So the liberals who made North Country went out of their way to slime him, shifting the movie's time line by six years just so they could slander a Republican. No wonder conservatives hate Hollywood.
In two weeks, Anne Rice, the chronicler of vampires, witches and—under the pseudonym A. N. Roquelaure—of soft-core S&M encounters, will publish "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt," a novel about the 7-year-old Jesus, narrated by Christ himself. "I promised," she says, "that from now on I would write only for the Lord." It's the most startling public turnaround since Bob Dylan's "Slow Train Coming" announced that he'd been born again.
Saturday, October 22, 2005
In their unseemly eagerness to assure Miers's conservative detractors that she will reach the "right" results, her advocates betray complete incomprehension of this: Thoughtful conservatives' highest aim is not to achieve this or that particular outcome concerning this or that controversy. Rather, their aim for the Supreme Court is to replace semi-legislative reasoning with genuine constitutional reasoning about the Constitution's meaning as derived from close consideration of its text and structure. Such conservatives understand that how you get to a result is as important as the result. Indeed, in an important sense, the path that the Supreme Court takes to the result often is the result. (my emphasis)
As for Republicans, any who vote for Miers will thereafter be ineligible to argue that it is important to elect Republicans because they are conscientious conservers of the judicial branch's invaluable dignity. Finally, any Republican senator who supinely acquiesces in President Bush's reckless abuse of presidential discretion -- or who does not recognize the Miers nomination as such -- can never be considered presidential material.
And Democrats, with their zest for gender politics, need this reminder: To give a woman a seat on a crowded bus because she is a woman is gallantry. To give a woman a seat on the Supreme Court because she is a woman is a dereliction of senatorial duty. It also is an affront to mature feminism, which may bridle at gallantry but should recoil from condescension.
Friday, October 21, 2005
I encourage you to check it out. Their motto is: “The humanity of the unborn is evident.” To learn more about SET, click here.
This morning John Piper sent me the following email, with permission to post:
Thursday, October 20, 2005
Creativity, quickly executed
David Allen was less impressed with my motto:
Clutter, slowly accumulated.
Kelly M. Kapic, Covenant College
A Peculiar Communion:
John Owen's Trinitarian Approach to the Lord's Supper
Wayne Grudem, Phoenix Seminary
Why Do Poor Nations Remain Poor?
Economic Causes and Biblical Solutions
Everett Berry, The Criswell College
Theological vs. Methodological Postconservatism:
Stanley Grenz and Kevin Vanhoozer as Test Cases
R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
An Evangelical Theology of Sexuality:
Where Do We Start?
We Need to Talk:
Theology and Philosophy in Conversation
J.P. Moreland and John Franke
Truth and Knowledge:
Theological and Philosophical Perspectives
(presentations and responses)
Michael A. G. Haykin, Toronto Baptist Seminary
Proof of Orthodoxy
Jeffrey Niehuas, Gordon-Conwell
An Argument Against Theologically Constructed Covenants
R. Scott Clark, Westminster (California)
Alien or Proper to Luther's Doctrine of Justification?
Vern Poythress, Westminster (Philadelphia)
The Presence of God Qualifying Our Notions of Grammatical-Historical Interpretation
Why have so many conservatives suddenly revolted against President Bush, nearly five years into his presidency? I think their split with Bush is ill advised, counterproductive, and in some ways childish. But there's no doubt it's happening and it's serious. And there's more to it than disappointment with his nomination of Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court. So why exactly has this revolt broken out now? I've come up with six reasons, and there may be more.
Here are Mr. Barnes' six reasons:
1. A revolt was inevitable, sooner or later, simply because Bush is not a conventional conservative.
2. Bush has not courted leaders of the conservative movement.
3. The White House has grown a bit arrogant and self-centered.
4. Four, Bush is down. His job approval is at an all-time low.
5. The press is happy to abet the revolt.
6. The Miers nomination didn't just trigger the revolt. It provoked deep anger toward Bush as well.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned a major policy speech on Iraq delivered by President Bush. (It can be read in its entirety online.)
Columnist John Podhoretz described it as “one of the most important presidential addresses of our time.”
Michael Barone—whose knowledge of American politics is without parallel—called it an “excellent speech,” and identified three things that Bush had not expressed before: (1) the identification of the source of terrorism we are fighting against; (2) a narrative framework for what is going on in Iraq; (3) what could happen if we fail in Iraq.
Here are some notes from it:
First, President Bush identified the enemy by name:
Some call this evil Islamic radicalism; others, militant Jihadism; still others, Islamo-fascism. Whatever it’s called, this ideology is very different from the religion of Islam. This form of radicalism exploits Islam to serve a violent, political vision: the establishment, by terrorism and subversion and insurgency, of a totalitarian empire that denies all political and religious freedom.
Next the President three key components of the strategy of the Islamo-fascists:
1. These extremists want to end American and Western influence in the broader Middle East, because we stand for democracy and peace, and stand in the way of their ambitions.
2. The militant network wants to use the vacuum created by an American retreat to gain control of a country, a base from which to launch attacks and conduct their war against non-radical Muslim governments.
3. The militants believe that controlling one country will rally the Muslim masses, enabling them to overthrow all moderate governments in the region, and establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.
The President then outlined five elements to our strategy in the war on terror:
1. We’re determined to prevent the attacks of terrorist networks before they occur.
2. We’re determined to deny weapons of mass destruction to outlaw regimes, and to their terrorist allies who would use them without hesitation.
3. We’re determined to deny radical groups the support and sanctuary of outlaw regimes.
4. We’re determined to deny the militants control of any nation, which they would use as a home base and a launching pad for terror.
5. The fifth element of our strategy in the war on terror is to deny the militants future recruits by replacing hatred and resentment with democracy and hope across the broader Middle East.
The President offered a key commitment: “Our commitment is clear: We will not relent until the organized international terror networks are exposed and broken, and their leaders held to account for their acts of murder.”
He also issued a key challenge: “The time has come for all responsible Islamic leaders to join in denouncing an ideology that exploits Islam for political ends, and defiles a noble faith.
And throughout the speech, he made a point to respond to naysayers, who (1) look at the job ahead and adopt a self-defeating pessimism, (2) question the durability of democracy in Iraq; (3) claim that American would be better off by cutting our losses and leaving Iraq now.
Wednesday, October 19, 2005
Interview with John Piper
John Piper and Justin Taylor
With a single stroke--the nomination of Harriet Miers--the president has damaged the prospects for reform of a left-leaning and imperialistic Supreme Court, taken the heart out of a rising generation of constitutional scholars, and widened the fissures within the conservative movement. . . . .
There is, to say the least, a heavy presumption that Ms. Miers, though undoubtedly possessed of many sterling qualities, is not qualified to be on the Supreme Court. It is not just that she has no known experience with constitutional law and no known opinions on judicial philosophy. It is worse than that. As president of the Texas Bar Association, she wrote columns for the association's journal. David Brooks of the New York Times examined those columns. He reports, with supporting examples, that the quality of her thought and writing demonstrates absolutely no "ability to write clearly and argue incisively."
The administration's defense of the nomination is pathetic. . . .
Tuesday, October 18, 2005
I am guessing my neighbourhood is all-too-typical in that most people arrive home from work and immediately drive their cars into the garage. More often than not they do not emerge again until the next morning when they leave for work once more. It would be a terrible breach of Canadian social etiquette for me to knock on a person's door and ask them for a small gift or even just to say "hello" to them. Yet on Halloween this barriers all come down. I have the opportunity to greet every person in the neighbourhood. I have the opportunity to introduce myself to the family who moved in just down the street a few weeks ago and to greet some other people I have not seen for weeks or months. At the same time, those people's children will come knocking on my door. We have two possible responses. We can turn the lights out and sit inside, seeking to shelter ourselves from the pagan influence of the little Harry Potters, Batmans and ballerinas, or we can greet them, gush over them, and make them feel welcome. We can prove ourselves to be the family who genuinelly cares about our neighbours, or we can be the family who shows that we want to interact with them only on our terms.
She tells the story of her own daughter--born with Down syndrome--and observes that many people are choosing to abort their unborn Down children. Here's how she closes her piece:
What I don't understand is how we as a society can tacitly write off a whole group of people as having no value. I'd like to think that it's time to put that particular piece of baggage on the table and talk about it, but I'm not optimistic. People want what they want: a perfect baby, a perfect life. To which I say: Good luck. Or maybe, dream on.
And here's one more piece of un-discussable baggage: This question is a small but nonetheless significant part of what's driving the abortion discussion in this country. I have to think that there are many pro-choicers who, while paying obeisance to the rights of people with disabilities, want at the same time to preserve their right to ensure that no one with disabilities will be born into their own families. The abortion debate is not just about a woman's right to choose whether to have a baby; it's also about a woman's right to choose which baby she wants to have.
Update: After posting this, I noticed that Albert Mohler did the same. He suggests some further resources as well: George Neumayr, "The Abortion Debate That Wasn't Under the Radar," (originally published in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer), AAPD Web site. George F. Will, "Eugenics by Abortion -- Is Perfection an Entitlement?," (originally publshed in The Washington Post), AAPD Web site. For additional resources, visit the Web site of the American Association of People with Disabilities.
(1) Lotteries lie about the true path to financial security.
(2) The lottery preys upon the poor.
(3) The lottery puts government in the position of preying on citizens.
(4) The lottery leads citizens to prey on fellow citizens.
Monday, October 17, 2005
"I'm not somebody who wants to run for office. I haven't ever run for anything," Rice told NBC. "I think I'm doing what I need to do, which is to try and promote American foreign policy, American interests, the president's democracy agenda at an extraordinary time."
Pressed by host Tim Russert, Rice said, "I don't know how may ways to say no."
"So," asked Russert, "no ...?"
A few seconds of silence followed. "Tim," Rice said, "I don't know how many ways to tell people that I have no interest in being a candidate for anything. ... No."
(HT: Xavier at RBA)
You get your big break. You are a writer for the Associated Press. Your columns will be read around the world.
And then . . . it comes. The Big Assignment.
Write about what is in Karl Rove's garage.
This has to go down as one of the stranger stories I've seen--not because of the content--but because someone thought it was worth writing about, turning it in, and then publishing it!
After a lifetime of receiving pseudo-awards and ribbons (like the infamous "Participation" ribbon and the "Good Sportsmanship" award) I'm happy to announce that I've finally received a real award: The Warnie. Sponsored by Adrian Warnock of Adrian Warnock's UK Evangelical Blog, the Warnies are given by Adrian to Christian bloggers of his choosing. I'm honored that Adrian would give me such a nod, and I encourage you to check out his helpful, edifying blog.
And unlike this Oscar winner--who recently went topless on Italian TV--I promise to keep my shirt on. (The link is safe.)
Thanks again, Adrian.
Here's how Norlinger opens his review:
What a surprise, Thomas Sowell has written another brilliant book. He’s written about 30 of them — books, that is, and brilliant ones, or at least excellent ones. You won’t find a dud in the bunch. His books are on race, education, history, economics — and there is a quirky autobiography befitting the man. Sowell has also written hundreds of scholarly essays, magazine pieces, and reviews. He has done a newspaper column almost continually since the late 1970s. He is a model of the public intellectual, to use a term he probably doesn’t like.
Typical in a Sowell book are a raft of facts, a cold bath of logic, and myth-destruction. He has a quality that is priceless to a writer, or scholar: fearlessness. Sowell cares not a fig about popularity, and he does no jockeying whatever to affect his status. Reputation is unthought of. He says what he finds to be true, the consequences be damned. Many people claim to operate this way; precious few do.
According to the notes of the call, Mr. Dobson introduced them by saying, "Karl Rove suggested that we talk with these gentlemen because they can confirm specific reasons why Harriet Miers might be a better candidate than some of us think."
What followed, according to the notes, was a free-wheeling discussion about many topics, including same-sex marriage. Justice Hecht said he had never discussed that issue with Ms. Miers. Then an unidentified voice asked the two men, "Based on your personal knowledge of her, if she had the opportunity, do you believe she would vote to overturn Roe v. Wade?"
"Absolutely," said Judge Kinkeade. "I agree with that," said Justice Hecht. "I concur."
Now how should a Christian react to that? On the one hand, our first inclination might be to rejoice. After all, if Ms. Miers is confirmed and becomes an associate justice, then we are one step closer to overturning an absolutely immoral law. But on the other hand, disappointment should be our main reaction to this story. Whether we like it or not, such revelations go against "the way things work" in Washington. If the story is true, it is a serious blunder--and may even involve Mr. Dobson and others being subpeoned by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Fund goes on:
Shortly thereafter, according to the notes, Mr. Dobson apologized and said he had to leave the discussion: "That's all I need to know and I will get off and make some calls." (When asked about his comments in the notes I have, Mr. Dobson confirmed some of them and said it was "very possible" he made the others. He said he did not specifically recall the comments of the two judges on Roe v. Wade.)Obviously these questions put Mr. Dobson in an exceedingly awkward position--and yet I have to say that it stretches credulity to think that he would not recall whether or not the judges gave assurances regarding Roe.
I predict this is going to be another long week for the White House--and for Focus on the Family.
Sunday, October 16, 2005
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Saturday, October 15, 2005
"For days now, beautiful, blonde - and one senses highly ambitious - young reporter Michelle Kosinski has been on the scene for Today in New Jersey, working the story. In an apparent effort to draw attention to herself, in yesterday's segment she turned up in hip waders, standing thigh-deep in the flood waters.
Taking her act one step further, this morning she appeared on a suburban street . . . paddling a canoe. There was one small problem. Just as the segment came on the air, two men waded in front of Kosinki . . . and the water barely covered their shoe tops! That's right, Kosinski's canoe was in no more than four to six inches of water!
An embarrassed Kosinski claimed the water was deeper down the street but that her producers didn't want to let her go there for fear she'd drift away. But Katie and Matt, perhaps peeved by her attempted scene-stealing, couldn't resist ribbing her.
Matt: "Are these holy men, perhaps walking on top of the water?"
"Gee, is your oar hitting ground, Michelle?" inquired Katie, as she and Matt dissolved into laughter.
From the Editors: We regret to inform our readers that, following this on-the-record conversation, Brennan Manning called our office to apologize. He reiterated that he had been "disoriented, confused, and depressed" lately and that certain details he provided were not true. He did not help identify a child from his apartment complex. He did not help an elderly woman get a ride. And while he was the last one to leave his apartment complex, "the truth is that there was nobody around here for me to help," he said in a voice message to Christianity Today. "The essential truth: I lied."
(HT: Kevin Cawley)
Friday, October 14, 2005
(HT: Hugh Hewitt)
Today I found a PDF of the "Only Jesus" lyrics and music, for those who might be interested.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
And Peggy Noonan (as usual) offers some wise perspective on the whole debacle. After suggesting a number of options for ways to move forward (e.g., Miers could withdraw, be appointed to a federal court), she writes:
The White House, after the Miers withdrawal/removal/disappearance, would be well advised to call in leaders of the fractious base--with heavy initial emphasis on the
conservative establishment--and have some long talks about the future. It's time for the administration to reach out to wise men and women, time for Roosevelt Room gatherings of the conservative clans. Much old affection remains, and respect lingers, but a lot of damage has been done. The president has three years yet to serve. That, I think, is the subtext of recent battles: Conservatives want to modify and, frankly, correct certain administration policies now, while there's time. The White House can think of this--and should think of it--as an unanticipated gift. A good fight can clear the air; a great battle can result in resolution and recommitment. No one wants George W. Bush turned into Jimmy Carter, or nobody should. The world is a dangerous place, and someone has to lead Washington . America
An essential White House mistake--really a key and historic one--was in turning on its critics with such idiotic ferocity. "My way or the highway" is getting old. "Please listen to us and try to see it our way or we'll have to kill you," is getting old. Sending
LauraBush out to make her first mistake as first lady, agreeing with Matt Lauer that sexism is probably part of the reason for opposition to Ms. Miers, was embarrassingly inept and only served to dim some of the power of this extraordinary resource.
As for Ed Gillespie and his famous charge of sexism and elitism, I don't think serious conservatives believe Ed is up nights pondering whiffs and emanations of class tension and gender bias in modern
. It was the ignorant verbal lurch of a America K Streetbehemoth who has perhaps forgotten that conservatives are not merely a bloc, a part of the base, a group that must be handled, but individuals who are and have been in it for serious reasons, for the long haul, and often at considerable sacrifice. They don't deserve to be patronized by people they've long strained to defend.
And next time perhaps the White House, in announcing and presenting the arguments for a new nominee to the high court, will remember a certain tradition with regard to how we do it in
. We don't say, "We've nominated Joe because he's a Catholic!" A better and more traditional approach is, "Nominee Joe is a longtime practitioner of the law with considerable experience, impressive credentials, and a lively and penetrating intellect. Any questions? Yes, he is a member of the Catholic church. Any other questions?" America
That's sort of how we do it. We put the horse and then the cart. The arguments for the person and then the facts attendant to the person. You don't say, "Vote for this gal because she's an Evangelical!" That shows a carelessness, an inability to think it through, to strategize, to respectfully approach serious facts--failings that, if they weren't typical of the White House the past few months, might be called downright sexist.
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God
Listen (coming soon) | Read Manuscript
Christ’s Grace and Your Sufferings
Sovereignty, Suffering, and the Work of Missions
Suffering for the Sake of . . .
Joni Eareckson Tada
During a section of the paper where he was explaining the differences between compatibilistic and libertarian freedom--which can be difficult intellectual terrain--Dr. Talbot empathetically paused to acknowledge the mind-stretching material and what his listeners should do about it. It was a unique moment, for few philosophers pause to be pastoral in their presentations! I told him afterward that I thought it was one of the best excurses I'd ever heard. He's graciously typed up his extemporaneous aside and given me permission to post it here:
Now let me pause here for a minute. We’re dealing with some really, really difficult stuff here. But I’m asking you to love God with your whole minds. We are commanded to do that. Jesus commanded us in the Great Command. Paul made a very similar appeal and exhortation in Romans 12:1 and 2. You find the same sort of thing happening in Proverbs 2 and 4, where we’re told we are to seek wisdom as we would seek silver and gold. And then, interestingly enough, the Old Testament, in Job 28, tells us about ancient mining techniques; and, boy!, the people who were seeking silver and gold in ancient times were doing a really difficult thing. Job 28 talks about them going to the ends of the earth, to desolate places where there are no animals, tunneling underground, hanging upside down, and chipping away at the rock. We are supposed to love God with our minds like that. And, while I know this happens at John’s church, it happens in very few places in the
, where we are challenged to love God with our whole minds. I tell my students regularly, “A good reader is a confused reader. A good reader is a confused reader. The more questions you have in reading a page of material, the better a reader you are.” And a good listener is a confused listener. You can’t understand all of what I am saying today as I say it. If you want to see some more of this, look at my piece on “True Freedom” in Beyond the Bounds because in fact it deals with a lot of today’s topic. But the business here to learn to kind of hang on for the ride, knowing that God wants us to understand these things so that we can give him adequate glory. United States
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
He concluded his biblical survey--which is well worth reading--with this allegory. If it doesn't make sense, you may have to go back and read the whole article, which contains a critique not only of paedobaptism (of Reformed, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic varieties) but also of Baptist theology as currently practiced.
For many centuries there lived in the distant land of Allegoria the “Ringist” society. This society obtained its name because of an ancient custom which dominated its culture for many centuries. Among the “Ringists” there was an ancient law, “The Law of the Ring,” which decreed that no one could wear a ring on his or her finger unless that person was married. It also decreed that one must wear such a ring if married and that it must be placed on the left hand during the marriage rite. There were different variations of the marriage rite but every one of them involved the placing of a ring on the left hand of the man and woman being married. This custom existed for many centuries and was so influential that becoming married was often referred to as “putting on the ring.”
After a time the legality of “The Law of the Ring” was challenged, and as a result the national court of Allegoria declared this Law invalid. The wearing of a ring could no longer be limited to those who were married. Consequently there arose in the “Ringist” society an immediate economic boom among ringmakers, and soon various practices arose. A group arose who called themselves the “Pre-Ringists.” They placed rings on their children at a very early age. When asked why they did so, they responded that they did so in the hope that one day their children would become married and this would encourage the child’s future nuptials. There also arose a “Post-Ringists” group who did not wear rings until at least two years after marriage. They argued that a marriage should first be proven as successful and stable before they dared to wear rings and present themselves as examples of what marriage is to be like. Needless to say, they would never dream of putting a ring on the hands of their children. Of course, there were “Traditional-Ringists” who sought to maintain the old Ringist cultural practice, but this group became divided over whether the ring should be worn on the second or third finger of the left hand. One of these groups experienced an additional split centered around whether the ring could be made of material other than gold. Both of these splits further weakened the traditional viewpoint.
As time progressed the “Traditional-Ringists” died out, and there arose considerable debate between the “Pre-” and “Post-Ringists” as to which of their practices was superior. Psychological studies were made as to the influence of ring-wearing on children. Sociological analyses were conducted as to the value of ring-wearing for children raised in the “Pre-Ringest” and “Post-Ringest” denominations.
An ancient manuscript was one day discovered stemming from the earliest “Ringest” society. This manuscript was many centuries older than any “Ringist” manuscript in existence. As scholars began to study it, they came across an expression that caused great confusion. That expression was “putting on the ring.” At the present time there is animated debate among the “Pre-” and “Post-Ringists” as to what this expression means.
We shall see.
Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Steve mentioned at the DG conference that he did all of the flying of the Jungle plane for the movie.
Professor Schreiner recently gave his paper at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. You can listen to it online: Penal Substitution as the Heart of the Gospel.
His talk can be outlined as follows:
- The Sinfulness of Humanity
- The Holiness of God
- The Sacrifice of Christ
- Concluding Reflections
And here is how his rich, exegetical address begins:
The theory of penal substitution is the heart and soul of an evangelical view of the atonement. I am not claiming that it is the only truth about the atonement taught in the scriptures. Nor am I claiming that penal substitution is emphasized in every piece of literature, or that every author articulates clearly penal substitution. I am claiming that penal substitution functions as the anchor and foundation for all other dimensions of the atonement when the scriptures are considered as a canonical whole. I define penal substitution as follows: The Father, because of his love for human beings, sent his Son (who offered himself willingly and gladly) to satisfy his justice, so that Christ took the place of sinners. The punishment and penalty we deserved was laid on Jesus Christ instead of us, so that in the cross both God’s holiness and love are manifested.
The riches of what God has accomplished in Christ for his people are not exhausted by penal substitution. The multifaceted character of the atonement must be recognized to do justice the canonical witness. God’s people are impoverished if Christ’s triumph over evil powers at the cross is slighted, or Christ’s exemplarly love is shoved to the side, or the healing bestowed on believers by Christ’s cross and resurrection is downplayed. While not denying the wide-ranging character of Christ’s atonement, I am arguing that penal substitution is foundational and the heart of the atonement.
On his blog Dr. Mohler writes:
Hugh asks a good question about making Christian decisions in the face of tragedy and disaster. The Christian obligation to assist those in need is made clear by Christ, who identified love of neighbor as second in Christian priority only to love of God. Generous support for worthy aid and relief programs is a Christian duty. And yet, global needs defy the ability of any single Christian, family, or church to respond. To twist the title made famous by Francis Schaeffer -- How shall we then give?
A few principles offered for consideration:
1. Give where the need for your gift is greatest and the impact of your gift will be clearest. The right donation at the right time given in the right way will make the greatest difference.
2. Give through organizations you can trust to distribute funds honestly, strategically, equitably, and with the lowest overhead expenses. Expertise "on the ground" in strategic areas of need is invaluable.
3. Give through organizations that are fully accountable to the Christian church. I prefer to give through denominational agencies that are directly accountable to their churches. I do contribute occasionally to Christian organizations that are not part of established denominations, but have an excellent track-record for faithfulness and effectiveness. [See the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability for further information on financial integrity.]
4. Give where your heart is directed through prayer and informed awareness. There are countless needs and endless possibilities for worthy giving. Where does God direct your heart as you pray? What needs come most readily to your awareness?
5. Give where the Great Commission impact is a priority. Jesus blesssed those who give a cup of cold water "in the name of a disciple." [Matthew 10:42]. I give where I can be most assured that others will receive this gift and aid in the name of Christ and for the cause of the Gospel.
6. Use this decision-making process as a way to teach your children to give. Explain what you as a family will do without so that others may be helped. Explain how you made the decision to give to this cause in this way. Help them to share the joy of giving.
I hope these principles help you and your family sort through these issues. Visit the discussions at OneTrueGodBlog.
The administration indeed has a plan: Weaken the Sunni insurgents and turn the job of defeating them over to Iraqis; isolate the Islamic jihadists and let American Special Forces commandos deal with them; and, finally, woo Sunnis to the new government through the appeal of democracy. It's a simple plan, and at the moment it's working.
Former president Bill Clinton said last week that Iraq looks like "a quagmire." He's wrong. On the subject of Iraq, it's Washington that looks more like a quagmire. That was true in Vietnam, too. By the mid-1970s, America was winning in Vietnam, but support in Washington and the country had plummeted. Now we're winning in Iraq and beginning to lose at home. That's a recipe for defeat.
Monday, October 10, 2005
every Republican president over the past half century has stumbled when it comes to naming nominees to the high court. Consider the record:
After leaving office, Dwight Eisenhower was asked by a reporter if he had made any mistakes as president. "Two," Ike replied. "They are both on the Supreme Court." He referred to Earl Warren and William Brennan, both of whom became liberal icons.
Richard Nixon personally assured conservatives that Harry Blackmun would vote the same way as his childhood friend, Warren Burger. Within four years, Justice Blackmun had spun Roe v. Wade out of whole constitutional cloth. Chief Justice Burger concurred in Roe, and made clear he didn't even understand what the court was deciding: "Plainly," he wrote, "the Court today rejects any claim that the Constitution requires abortions on demand."
Gerald Ford personally told members of his staff that John Paul Stevens was "a good Republican, and would vote like one." Justice Stevens has since become the leader of the court's liberal wing.
An upcoming biography of Sandra Day O'Connor by Supreme Court reporter Joan Biskupic includes correspondence from Ronald Reagan to conservative senators concerned about her scant paper trail. The message was, in effect: Trust me. She's a traditional conservative. From Roe v. Wade to racial preferences, she has proved not to be. Similarly, Paul Weyrich of the Free Congress Foundation recalls the hard sell the Reagan White House made on behalf of Anthony Kennedy in 1987, after the Senate rejected Robert Bork. "They even put his priest on the phone with us to assure us he was solid on everything," Mr. Weyrich recalls. From term limits to abortion to the juvenile death penalty to the overturning of a state referendum on gay rights, Justice Kennedy has often disappointed conservatives.
Most famously, White House chief of staff John Sununu told Pat McGuigan, an aide to Mr. Weyrich, that the appointment of David Souter in 1990 would please conservatives. "This is a home run, and the ball is still ascending. In fact, it's just about to leave earth orbit," he told Mr. McGuigan. At the press conference announcing the appointment, the elder President Bush asserted five times that Justice Souter was "committed to interpreting, not making the law." The rest is history.
Harriet Miers is unquestionably a fine lawyer and a woman of great character. But her record on constitutional issues is nil, and it is therefore understandable that conservatives, having been burned at least seven times in the past 50 years, would be hesitant about supporting her nomination.
Sunday, October 09, 2005
Friday, October 07, 2005
Crossway has just published the ESV Children’s Bible. This edition contains the complete ESV text plus 214 illustrations and material geared toward kids at the beginning and end of the volume. Crossway designed the Bible to emphasize the Word of God.
The material at the beginning helps children learn how to read, meditate on, and apply the Bible. Read an excerpt from the front (130K PDF; the areas that look pink—technically, magenta—appear a deep red in the printed version. These excerpts come from proofs prepared for the printer and don’t have color-correction applied).
The 80 pages of material at the end introduce children to the message of the Bible. The material reviews key events and ideas found in the Bible and doesn’t shy away from tough topics like sanctification. It talks about some ways to study the Bible and how to apply it to kids’ lives. Parents can go through this material with their children. Read an excerpt from the back (469K PDF).
Here are all the topics covered in the supplemental material:
- The Bible, God’s Message to Us
- What the Bible Says About Itself
- How to Use the Bible
- About This Bible
- Who Is God? What Is God Like?
- God Makes Himself Known
- God Chooses a People for Himself
- The Ten Commandments
- From Old to New Testament
- Jesus: God’s Righteous Son
- Good News!
- The Gospel of Jesus
- What Is Salvation?
- Salvation Explained
- Sanctification: Becoming More Like Jesus
- The Fight of Faith
- Fighting the Fight of Faith
- Verses That Will Help Me Fight the Fight of Faith
- The Promises of God
- Go into All the World
- How Will You Respond to What You Have Read?
- Bible Reading Tips
- Bible Reading Plan
- Learning to Pray
- Bible Memory
We’ll be giving away some of these Bibles to readers of this blog in the near future.
Here’s Crossway’s description of the Bible:
Kids—Here Is a Bible Just for You!
The ESV Children’s Bible is the whole Bible, created just for kids! Young Children will love the 200-plus full-color illustrations. All Children will love that this is a real Bible, the same as grown-ups read, not a simplified Bible or storybook that they will soon outgrow. Families will love to explore together all of the beauty and riches of God’s Word.
The ESV Children’s Bible is…
Ideal for Kids 6-7—to enjoy the pictures and begin to read along at home and in church.
Ideal for Kids 8-9—to read on their own and memorize key verses.
Ideal for Kids 10-12—to read and learn from the many features about…
- The Message of the Bible
- The Plan of Salvation
- Becoming More Like Jesus
- The Promises of God
- Introductions to Each Book of the Bible
- How to Read the Bible
- How to Pray
The ESV Children’s Bible is a real Bible for real kids—a Bible to cherish for life.