American Evangelicals and Left Behind

November 27, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Culture, Faith

The Day I Got Left Behind

As unfounded as many of the theocracy accusations from the far-left are, American evangelicals, especially those raised on Left Behind theology, are facing some tough questions right now, and will face many more in the future… The Call of Duty Blog – http://www.codserver.org/

               

Leviticus, The Onion, and Homosexual Conduct

November 24, 2008 by Alexandra Windsor  
Filed under Culture, Faith

The Onion has a column in its current issue entitled, “I’m Not One Of Those ‘Love Thy Neighbor’ Christians.” Like many Onion articles it is funny and takes conventional rhetoric and twists it to reveal a truth. It lacks some of the subtler shades of nuance of many other Onion pieces, which is often the case for their pieces which focus on Christianity (no doubt because they are too unfamiliar with the subject matter to properly mimic the tell-tale details necessary for really good satire).

The premise of the column, as can likely be gleaned by the title, is that a Christian is defending herself from unfair stereotypes people have of Christians. The joke is that all the stereotypes she lists are things that are more or less universally admired about the Christian message (but which we often, it is assumed, do not regularly practice): love the neighbor, turn the other cheek, serve the poor, etc. The writer is clearly supposed to be a typical member of the Religious Right.

We’re not all “Jesus Freaks” who run around screaming about how everyone should “Judge not lest ye be judged,” whine “Blessed are the meek” all the time, or drone on and on about how we’re all equal in the eyes of God! Some of us are just trying to be good, honest folks who believe the unbaptized will roam the Earth for ages without the comfort of God’s love when Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior returns on Judgment Day to whisk the righteous off to heaven.

One line in particular is particularly revealing of how the Left views traditional Christians (and it gets to the main point of this post):

And although we believe that the moral precepts in the Book of Leviticus are the infallible word of God, it doesn’t mean we’re all obsessed with extremist notions like “righteousness” and “justice.”

What is it with the Left and the book of Leviticus? Time, and time again I hear defenders of homosexual activity make arguments premised on the idea that Christian opposition to sodomy is based on Levitical prohibitions. Usually such a person thinks they’ve really ended all discussion when they make some sort of snarky comment along the lines of, You must support the death penalty for people who wear polyester and cotton. This argument became especially popular after President Bartlett made it in the TV show the West Wing when he confronted a Laura Schlessinger clone.

Two things baffle me about this line of thought: First, where the heck did they get the idea that Leviticus is the basis upon which Christians oppose homosexual acts? Second, the basic understanding among almost all Christians that many of the rules of the Old Testament are no longer operative in Christianity is not an obscure or difficult to understand Christian doctrine – in fact it plays a pretty central role in the New Testament.

Regarding the first. I was raised in a fairly fundamentalist/evangelical Christian environment.  I heard little about the natural law, the procreative ends of the conjugal union, or even the traditional family as the basic cell of society. I did hear plenty of Biblical proof texts for what kind of behavior is right and what is wrong. I recall very little reference to the Old Testament when it came to homosexuality. There was some I guess, but for the most part we heard about the New Testament passages (there were several). I recognize that there is controversy surrounding the interpretation of these texts. And I recognize the perils of doing moral theology by means of proof texting. My point is only that the idea that Christian opposition to homosexual activity is rooted in a single Old Testament verse is absurd.

More baffling to me, is the seemingly complete ignorance those on the Left have of Christianity and its relationship to Old Testament law. I say this because to understand that Christians believe that certain obligations under Old Testament law were jettisoned with the life, death and resurrection of Christ does not require a high level of scholarship. It’s pretty much right there in any English translation of the New Testament. One need not know Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic to understand that Christians were no longer obligated to follow Jewish dietary restrictions. Extensive studies of biblical exegesis are not necessary to see that circumcision was no longer required. New Covenant/Old Covenant distinctions are pretty common among most practicing Christians.

Once again, my point is not to say that the relationship between the Mosaic law and Christianity is a simple subject. (Indeed I would commend Taylor’s own excellent work on the Jewish roots of our faith as an example of why ordinary Christians need and can greatly benefit from the solid and difficult scholarship of scholars.) What I am saying is that no Christian with halfway decent formation is going to find his whole world view shattered upon hearing some passages from Leviticus prohibiting conduct considered acceptable today.

I suppose what I really wonder is whether or not the Left is sincerely misguided as to Christian belief on the topic or if they are being entirely disingenuous when they make these arguments.

               

Obama skips church, heads to gym

November 24, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Faith, Headlines, Politics

From Politico: By & | 11/23/08 3:41 PM EST

President-elect Barack Obama has yet to attend church services since winning the White House earlier this month, a departure from the example of his two immediate predecessors.

On the three Sundays since his election, Obama has instead used his free time to get in workouts at a Chicago gym.

Asked about the president-elect’s decision to not attend church, a transition aide noted that the Obamas valued their faith experience in Chicago but were concerned about the impact their large retinue may have on other parishioners.

“Because they have a great deal of respect for places of worship, they do not want to draw unwelcome or inappropriate attention to a church not used to the attention their attendance would draw,” said the aide.

Both President-elect George W. Bush and President-elect Bill Clinton managed to attend church in the weeks after they were elected.

Read full article from Politico by clicking here.

               

Debt is slavery

November 23, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Culture, Headlines, Politics

The Gross National Debt of the United States:

Above is the National Debt of the United States of America. Every Senator, Congressman, and President should have this is as the screensaver on his or her computer.

Things for us to remember:

Precious treasure remains in a wise man’s dwelling,
but a foolish man devours it. (Proverbs 21:20 )

The rich rules over the poor,
and the borrower is the slave of the lender. (Proverbs 22:7)

               

Breaking News: Obama hires Emily’s List Executive Director

November 23, 2008 by Eric James Wilson  
Filed under Culture, Politics

The Politico reports that President-elect Barack Obama has asked Ellen Moran, currently Executive Director of EMILY’s List, to serve as his Communications Director – a senior staff position in the White House.

This appointment represents a troubling sign to those in the pro-life community who have hoped Mr. Obama’s outspoken support for abortion would be moderated by a need to bring the country together.  EMILY’s list is a political action committee (pac), which has raised over $240 million to elect pro-choice, Democratic women.

               

Newt Gingrich to become Catholic

November 19, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Faith, Headlines, Politics

Newt Gingrich is preparing to enter the Catholic Church at Easter of 2009.

               

Obama discusses his Christian faith in interview

November 17, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Faith, Headlines, Politics

In 2004, Chicago Sun Times columnist Cathleen Falsani interviewed Barack Obama about his Christian faith. It’s a rather interesting interview. It provides insight into Obama’s conversion and his profound respect for Reverend Jeremiah Wright (at least his respect for Rev. Wright in 2004).

Here’s an excerpt:

FALSANI:
Who’s Jesus to you?

(He laughs nervously)

OBAMA:
Right.

Jesus is an historical figure for me, and he’s also a bridge between God and man, in the Christian faith, and one that I think is powerful precisely because he serves as that means of us reaching something higher.

And he’s also a wonderful teacher. I think it’s important for all of us, of whatever faith, to have teachers in the flesh and also teachers in history.

FALSANI:
Is Jesus someone who you feel you have a regular connection with now, a personal connection with in your life?

OBAMA:
Yeah. Yes. I think some of the things I talked about earlier are addressed through, are channeled through my Christian faith and a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Read Falsani’s full 2004 interview with Barack Obama concerning his faith: Obama’s Fascinating Interview with Cathleen Falsani.

               

American Catholic bishops weighing in on American politics

November 16, 2008 by Eric James Wilson  
Filed under Faith, Headlines, Politics

Last week, the American bishops of the Catholic Church wrapped up a crucial meeting in the midst of what has turned out to be a very busy fall. With hundreds of bishops speaking about the need to vote with properly formed consciences and the extent to which a candidates’ stance on the issue of abortion should inform an individual’s vote, there was great interest in their Fall General Assembly.

It is too early, as some may have expected, for the bishops to address the question which has been hotly debated in Catholic circles. That question is, of course, whether Catholics can vote, in good conscience, for a candidate for office who supports abortion when another, pro-life alternative candidate exists. Of course, this is a terse summary of the situation surrounding Catholics and abortion. A number of similar questions require answers, such as can “Pope John XXIII Catholic” Vice President-Elect Joe Biden and “ardent, practicing Catholic” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi be said to be faithful Catholics despite their efforts to flout Church teachings on critical moral issues?

I think we will all benefit from time to decompress from the effects of the campaign’s heated and divisive rhetoric before we examine these questions as they relate to the Obama Presidency. Indeed, time alone may reveal that President-Elect Obama’s promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) “first thing” as President was political pandering to the radical Left, and his personal ambition and political deftness (as well as our prayers) may drive him to the center on the issue of life. *

Freedom of “Choice” Act

Nevertheless, FOCA, which has become an icon for what amounts to Doomsday for pro-life Americans – a reversal of the Mexico City Policy, elimination of the Hyde Amendment, destruction of conscience clauses – was discussed at some length during the bishops’ meeting. In his closing statement on Wednesday, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), while congratulating Obama, warned that

“FOCA would coerce all Americans into subsidizing and promoting abortion with their tax dollars…Aggressively pro-abortion policies, legislation and executive orders will permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans, and would be seen by many as an attack on the free exercise of their religion.”

Cardinal George and a handful of his brother bishops warned that such actions would leave the Catholic Church no choice but to close the doors of hundreds of Catholic hospitals since they could no longer refuse to provide abortions. This would inevitably result in a serious decimation to millions of Americans’ access to quality health care and would be anything but a boon to women.

Thousands of pro-life doctors would have no choice but to quit practicing medicine because they object to conducting abortions as part of legally required care. Religious leaders would have no choice but to remain silent on abortion because they would be accused of making hate speech since FOCA would federally prohibit any “interference” in abortion. Millions of pro-life Americans would have no choice when their tax dollars and insurance premiums would be used to help others get abortions.

Blessing the unborn

While is may seem that we may be without recourse in the political arena for the time being, the bishops are making efforts to change the culture. During their meeting, the bishops approved the “Blessing of a Child in the Womb,” which reads thus,

“May almighty God, who has created new life now bless the child in your womb. The Lord has brought you the joy of motherhood: May he bless you with a safe and healthy pregnancy. You thank the Lord today for the gift of your child: May he bring you and your child one day to share in the unending joys of heaven.”

This new blessing makes it abundantly clear that the new life created in the womb is, in fact, a child of God, and any family seeking this rite in their church will bear powerful witness to their fellow Catholics about the sanctity of the unborn life. With our nation’s 67 million Catholics in a broad state of disarray on what the Church teaches on various moral issues (viz. Nancy Pelosi, Doug Kmiec, etc.) the bishops are coming to the painful realization that this is not the age of the well-educated laity.

Cutting off ACORN

Lastly, we might file this item in the “better-late-than-never” column, the Chair of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), Bishop Roger Morin, reported that it had not been giving funds to ACORN, the controversial, partisan organization which has been implicated in extensive criminal activity and voter registration fraud, since June. Consequently, no funds from the annual CCHD collection were given to ACORN to register Mickey Mouse and myriad other characters to vote.

Despite these assurances that ACORN will no longer be receiving Church funds, the CCHD reputation is irreparably tarnished and some bishops, like Bishop Robert Baker of Birmingham, Alabma, are refusing to participate in the annual CCHD collection – the chief source of the group’s funds.

It doesn’t seem like anything earth-shattering emerged from the bishops’ meeting, but it did serve to demonstrate that they are steeled for the fight as they lead their flock through this challenging time. And that’s something in which I choose to take comfort.

* I readily admit this is, perhaps, too optimistic since his “Transition Team” website, change.gov, gives the following statement in President-Elect Obama’s “Women Agenda”: “Barack Obama understands that abortion is a divisive issue, and respects those who disagree with him. However, he has been a consistent champion of reproductive choice and will make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as President. He opposes any constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decision in that case.” (http://change.gov/agenda/women_agenda/)

               

Apply here for gov’t money $$$

November 13, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Headlines

This bailout mentality is getting to be ridiculous. ABC News’ The Newser has this today:

Ap_paulson_081106_main This morning Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson addressed a skeptical press about the latest plans for those 700 billion dollars that were appropriated for the “TARP” — or Troubled Asset Recovery Program. Now Paulson says Treasury won’t buy those “Trouble Assets” — one of the many metamorphoses this program has had in its young life.

In the meantime, care to apply for some TARP money? Turns out there’s a five-page, downloadable document to fill in — if you’re interested…here’s the link.

More from ABC’s the World Newser, click here.

               

Prayer for Veterans’ Day (Episcopalian/Anglican)

November 11, 2008 by Taylor Marshall  
Filed under Faith

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

American Book of Common Prayer (1928, Military Edition) “Prayer for all in the service of our country”

               

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