Archive for the ‘Pop-Culture’ Category

Over the past year popular atheist writer Christopher Hitchens (my personal fav of all the “new” atheists) has been debating Christian theologian Doug Wilson. This latest exchange, from the Huffington Post is one of Wilson’s best efforts. My apologies for the title but those are his words, not mine. I found them provocative enough to make me willing to take the heat from angry parents!

From the perspective of a Christian, the refusal of an atheist to be a Christian is dismaying but it is at least intelligible.  But what is really disconcerting is the failure of atheists to be atheists.  That is the thing that cries out for further exploration.

We can understand a cook who sets out to prepare a reduction sauce, having it simmer on the stove for three days.  But what we shouldn’t get is the announcement afterwards that he has prepared us a souffle.  The atheistic worldview is nothing if not inherently reductionistic, whether this is admitted or not.  Everything that happens is a chance-driven rattle-jattle jumble in the great concourse of atoms that we call time.  Time and chance acting on matter have brought about, in equally aimless fashion, the 1972 New York Yankees, yesterday’s foam on a New Jersey beach, Princess Di, the arrangement of pebbles on the back side of the moon, the music of John Cage, the Fourth Crusade, and the current gaggle representing us all in Congress.

If the universe actually is what the materialistic atheist claims it is, then certain things follow from that presupposition.  The argument is simple to follow, and is frequently accepted by the sophomore presidents of atheist/ agnostic clubs at a university near you, but it is rare for a well-published atheistic leader to acknowledge the force of the argument.  To acknowledge openly the corrosive relativism that atheism necessarily entails would do nothing bet get the chimps jumping in the red states.  To swallow the reduction would present serious public relations problems, and drive Fox News ratings up even further.  Who needs that?

So if the universe is what the atheist maintains it is, then this determines what sort of account we must give for the nature of everything–and this includes the atheist’s thought processes, ethical convictions, and aesthetic appreciations.  If you were to shake up two bottles of pop and place them on  a table to fizz over, you could not fill up an auditorium with people who came to watch them debate.  This is because they are not debating; they are just fizzing.  If you were to shake up one bottle of pop, and show it film footage of some genocidal atrocity, the reaction you would get is not moral outrage, but rather more fizzing.  And if you were to shake it really hard by means of an art school, and place it in front of Michelangelo’s David, or the Rose Window of Chartres Cathedral, the results would not be atheistic appreciation, but more fizzing still.

If the atheist is right, then I am not a Christian because I have mistaken beliefs, but am rather a Christian because that is what these chemicals would always do in this arrangement and at this temperature.  The problem is that this atheistic assumption does the very same thing to the atheist’s cause for atheism.  The atheist gives us an account of all things which makes it impossible for us to believe that any account of all things could possibly be true.  But no account of things can be tenable unless it provides us with the preconditions that make it possible for our “accounting” to represent genuine insight.  Atheism fails to do this, and this failure is a spectacular one.  Nor does atheism allow us to have any fixed ethical standard, or the possibility of beauty.

read it all here

Great time at our first Awakenings meeting!  We had a good turnout, with about 130 people attending and we are expecting many more next week.  It’s definitely not too late to invite a friend.  Below is a list of the remaining sessions.  Pray that God will work and move in people’s hearts and that he will draw even more people to explore these deep and important issues with us next Wednesday at 5:45 at Trinity Church, 3000 North Kings Hwy, Myrtle Beach S.C.

5:45 Dinner

6:15 Talk

6:50 Small Group Discussion

Session II (9-30-09): Can I discover God on my own?

Session III (10-07-09): What is a Savior and why do I need one?

Session IV (10-14-09): Who is Jesus?

Session V (10-21-09): Could Jesus really change my life?

Session VI (10-28-09): Why do people go to church?

Session VII (11-04-09): How can I grow spiritually?

Session VIII (11-11-09): How can my life be meaningful?

truckstopA great story from CNN. I saw one of these trucker chapels on my way to Alabama a few weeks ago. Now I know what it was!

JACKSON, Georgia (CNN) — “I gave up smoking, women and drinkin’ last night,” the singer shouts, “and it was the worst 15 minutes of mah life!”

The music blaring from the radio tonight is country. The dessert special is peach cobbler. And the customers are wide-bodied truck drivers, lumbering into a Georgia truck stop at suppertime.

But another group of truckers nearby is singing a new song. They amble into a truck stop trailer adorned with pictures of Jesus and sing the hymn “O Happy Day” in wobbly bass voices.

“I’ve been back and forth between God and Satan over the years,” trucker Harold “Jumper” McBride says as he stands to share his story. “It was a rough life, but I finally found that saving grace to make life a whole lot better.”

It’s the Wednesday night service at “Chaplain Joe’s” truck stop chapel service. The chaplain himself, a lanky, bearded man with tan cowboy boots, sits in the back of his narrow chapel, saying the loudest amens.

For 28 years, the Rev. Joe Hunter has been a chaplain to the truckers. Though most ministers preach to people in the pews, he takes God to people on the go. He reaches out to truckers at fuel stops, in parking lots, on the CB and through a radio show called “Heaven’s Road.”

He hears all sorts of stories: tales of loneliness, thoughts of suicide, struggles with guilt. A Vietnam veteran, he’s even lived a little of what he’s heard.

Yet Hunter says most truckers reaffirm his faith in human nature.

“Every snowflake is different, and God created us that way to be unique,” he says. “I’ve learned to appreciate the goodness of people. I believe there’s some good in everybody, and I love to try to find it.”

read the whole thing here

I have long wondered how internet video chat, anonymous blogging, online video gaming, role playing and a whole host of other modern innovations would contribute to a subconscious feeling of disembodiment. Once you and I separate ourselves from the notion that we were made by a creator which invests us with transcendent meaning and purpose, what intellectual resources do we have left to draw on to preserve our sense of self, mentally, physically and spiritually? It seems that’s what Bruce Willis’ new film “Surrogates” is clicking into. I’ll be interested to see what they make of it. Check out the official preview below.

Rosemary Port, a formally anonymous blogger was recently unmasked by Google when the internet search company was forced to reveal her real name during a defamation lawsuit.  Port’s blog “Skanks in NYC” was responsible for maliciously slandering model Liskula Cohen among others.  Port is currently planning to sue Google for “outing” her.  What is interesting about this case is Port’s assumption that since the internet can mask her identity, she should not be held responsible for her speech.  Irresponsible speech posted on the internet anonymously is nothing new.  In fact it is becoming increasinlgy common (see cyberbullying).  But what is so interesting about the internet is that it provides a loss of inhibition that was previously reserved only for those under the influence of alcohol.  At least when someone drank too much they can blame their irresponsible behavior on the alcohol.  But apparently we fallen human beings don’t need alcohol to prompt us to be malicious.  All we need is anonymity.

hat tip: kendall

Google is to be sued for $15 million (£9 million) by an anonymous blogger who was unmasked by the internet search company.

Rosemary Port said that Google had failed to protect her right to privacy when the company obeyed a court order to reveal her name after she used her blog to accuse a former Vogue model of being a “psychotic, lying, whoring … skank”.

Liskula Cohen, 36, won a landmark case in a New York court last week, forcing Google to disclose the online identity of Ms Port, 29, a Fashion Institute of Technology student, who created her “Skanks in NYC” blog a year ago using Google’s program.

Legal experts said that the ruling stripped away some of the anonymity provided by the web, making people who post offensive blogs, videos or tweets more responsible for their anonymous statements.

read it all here

This article, written by Beth Spraul was featured on the Capital Hill Baptist website. Because I’m a guy and watch a lot of action movies, I would never event think of deconstructing a chick flick. However, Beth does and her insights are quite provoking. The excerpt posted believe boldly and powerfully explains that the source of joy and happiness in a marriage is actually not the spouse, but Jesus Christ. Really good stuff. Enjoy!

It is good and right for women to desire marriage and a godly husband, but we must realize that all husbands will hurt us in some way eventually and that marriage is hard work as two sinners rely on Christ in the work of dying to their selfishness and growing their relationship.

Consider this last but most important point in contrast with this lie. Although marriage will certainly provide tremendous joy in your life, it will fall significantly short of making all things right. There are parts of this life in a fallen world that will remain difficult and broken, simply because of the presence of sin, regardless of when or whom you marry. Even the commitment, love and romance between a faithful husband and wife cannot answer all of this life’s longings. We need to remember that there is someone who will make all things right, but he isn’t your husband or husband-to-be, but rather Jesus Christ, the One who was crushed for your transgressions (Isa. 53) and bridged the infinite gap between you and your Creator by his death on the cross (Col 2:13-14). Being united to him in his death and resurrection will ultimately make all things right not in this life, but in the life to come.

If we as women approach our husbands with expectations that he will be the primary source that takes away all our loneliness, insecurities, fears and longings for love, we hold him to a standard no human being is able to meet in this life. We set ourselves up for great disappointment through these unreasonable expectations. When our husband doesn’t deliver such total sweeping happiness to our lives, we can be tempted to blame him when it is our own worldly and idolatrous expectations that are to blame! Such expectations can even lead us to be discontented wives who are unsatisfied with the day to day realities of life and responsibility in marriage. We
can become unsatisfied with our husband’s love.

read it all here

About every other week, I confront popular pluralist notions that have become a large part of the way Americans think. For example, pluralists contend that no one religion can know the fullness of spiritual truth, therefore all religions are valid. But while it is good to acknowledge our limitations, this statement is itself a strong assertion about the nature of spiritual truth. A common analogy is often cited to get the point across which I am sure you have heard — several blind men trying to describe an elephant. One feels the tail and reports that an elephant is thin like a snake. Another feels a leg and claims it is thick like a tree. Another touches its side and reports the elephant is a wall. This is supposed to represent how the various religions only understand part of God, while no one can truly see the whole picture. To claim full knowledge of God, pluralists contend, is arrogance. When I occasionally describe this parable, and I can almost see the people nodding their heads in agreement.

But then I remind the hearers that the only way this parable makes any sense, however, is if the person telling the story has seen the whole elephant. Therefore, the minute one says, ‘All religions only see part of the truth,’ you are claiming the very knowledge you say no one else has. And they are demonstrating the same spiritual arrogance they so often accuse Christians of. In other words, to say all is relative, is itself a truth statement but dangerous because it uses smoke and mirrors to make itself sound more tolerant than the rest. Most folks who hold this view think they are more enlightened than those who hold to absolutes when in fact they are really just as strong in their belief system as everyone else. I do not think most of these folks are purposefully using trickery or bad motives. This is because they seem to have even convinced themselves of the “truth” of their position, even though they claim “truth” does not exist or at least can’t be known. Ironic isn’t it? The position is intellectually inconsistent. (Tim Keller)

In its pure form Pluralism is a fact. It’s not an opinion or a belief or a religion. In other words, not every one believes the same things. We live in a society that’s very diverse, not just ethnically, but also religiously. But when pluralism starts to become a philosophy, when it starts to become a religious dogma, then it becomes a different animal. And that’s what I want to call relativism — or religious relativism, philosophical pluralism. It goes by different names but that is the dogmatic religious assertion that all religions are basically the same, that no one knows the truth about God. And no one can know the ultimate truth about God in a way that invalidates other peoples’ religious opinions and the belief that it’s arrogant to say that you have the truth religiously and it is arrogant to try to persuade other people to believe what you believe religiously. That’s relativism, philosophical pluralism. And I would say that’s the default belief of most people you run into in our city.– whether they’re religious or not, most people think about religion that way.

Here is what I want to urge on you and try to unpack in several ways. And that is that relativism is itself a religious belief. It is a dogma. Relativism is. It has affirmations and denials and a missionary force. One of the affirmations of relativism is that God is ultimately unknowable. No one can know the truth about God. But how do one know that to be true? This assumes an ultimate understanding of spiritual reality. All religions are ultimately the same. All religions are following a path to God. It doesn’t matter how you believe, it matters how you live. Do you see this? Those are religious statements. Those are matters of religious beliefs, dogma. Doctrines! If people say, “No, I’m not religious. I’m saying you can’t know. I’m saying, Nobody can know the truth about God. I’m not claiming that I’ve got a corner on it.” But if you look at it closely, the statements of religious relativism are every bit as dogmatic as the statements of the Koran or the Bible. It’s a religious dogma.

read it all here