Wednesday, April 30, 2008

National Day of Prayer, May 1

Obsessed with sex

Is the whole world obsessed with sex, or is it just our society? Polygamous mormons, pedophile priests, and that perverted Austrian dungeon of evil. Many would blame men in general, or testosterone, or religion, or more specifically, fundamentalism.

But it's not just the men. See The big list: Female teachers with students.

And now my daughter's hero, Hannah/Miley is going the way of sensuality, photographed by a female photographer who specializes in the racy, and with her father in the picture.

Miranda Devine, with the Sydney Morning Herald, writes (May 1):

Every artist wants to subvert hypocrisy and artifice. And childhood, after all, is the ultimate artificial construction. It exists only because responsible adults deliberately set out to protect children from predators and situations their young brains are not yet wired to deal with.

But in an era in which all taboos must be broken, the reigning philosophy is that every truth must be told, every emotion liberated, no matter how destructive, or unreasonable, because there is nothing worse than repression.

Well - news flash - yes, there are worse things: child neglect, sexual abuse, childhoods cut short, depression, eating disorders, academic failure, violence against women, and all other manifestations of the premature sexualisation and objectification of girls in our culture.

That Billy Ray was present through most of the photo shoot and even posed for a snap with his daughter is no surprise to those familiar with 21st century permissive parenting.

The rest of the article here.

Is this what's happening / been happening:

"Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen." (Romans 1:24-25)

Friday, April 25, 2008

1 Corinthians 5

"Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." (1 Corinthians 5:6-7)

This chapter gives us some insight on the nature of the church and on the use of authority. The church has an authority to exclude. It is not all-inclusive in the sense that any lifestyle is acceptable to the membership. This principle itself is not acceptable to many people.

Such authority can be heavy-handed and petty, but it should not be. The case in 1 Cor 5 involved an arrogant, unrepentant, seemingly enlightened acceptance of a very gross immorality. One that even the unbelievers found repulsive. It needed to be dealt with. As Mark Dever says, "the church does not discipline for sin, but for unrepentant sin."

There is a tendency for us to be uncritical of our friends and critical of those outside our circle of thought and life. The church is to counter that tendency. We are to challenge one another to the high standards of kingdom life, while remaining totally open to outsiders who have yet to embrace Christ.

  • Has the concept of authority (as being good) been totally lost in our culture?
  • Where do we see good examples of the use of authority in the church?

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Monday, April 21, 2008

Social Darwinism

Some have tried to downplay the relationship between Darwin's view of natural selection and what is called "social Darwinism." Darwin himself saw the implication:

“Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed...

At some future period, not very distant as measured by centuries, the civilized races of man will almost certainly exterminate and replace throughout the world the savage races.”

--Charles Darwin, from The Descent of Man

Quoted by David Klinghoffer in "Don't Doubt It"

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Papal view on religion in the U.S.

An interesting excerpt from Benedict XVI's April 17, 2008 speech before the bishops of the United States at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington:

It is in this fertile soil, nourished from so many different sources, that all of you, Brother Bishops, are called to sow the seeds of the Gospel today. This leads me to ask how, in the twenty-first century, a bishop can best fulfill the call to “make all things new in Christ, our hope”? How can he lead his people to “an encounter with the living God”, the source of that life-transforming hope of which the Gospel speaks? Perhaps he needs to begin by clearing away some of the barriers to such an encounter. While it is true that this country is marked by a genuinely religious spirit, the subtle influence of secularism can nevertheless color the way people allow their faith to influence their behavior. Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs? Is it consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching, or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death? Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.

For an affluent society, a further obstacle to an encounter with the living God lies in the subtle influence of materialism, which can all too easily focus the attention on the hundredfold, which God promises now in this time, at the expense of the eternal life which he promises in the age to come (cf. Mk 10:30). People today need to be reminded of the ultimate purpose of their lives. They need to recognize that implanted within them is a deep thirst for God. They need to be given opportunities to drink from the wells of his infinite love. It is easy to be entranced by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and technology place before us; it is easy to make the mistake of thinking we can obtain by our own efforts the fulfillment of our deepest needs. This is an illusion. Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by ourselves cannot attain, our lives are ultimately empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). The goal of all our pastoral and catechetical work, the object of our preaching, and the focus of our sacramental ministry should be to help people establish and nurture that living relationship with “Christ Jesus, our hope” (1 Tim 1:1).

In a society which values personal freedom and autonomy, it is easy to lose sight of our dependence on others as well as the responsibilities that we bear towards them. This emphasis on individualism has even affected the Church, giving rise to a form of piety which sometimes emphasizes our private relationship with God at the expense of our calling to be members of a redeemed community. Yet from the beginning, God saw that “it is not good for man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). We were created as social beings who find fulfillment only in love - for God and for our neighbor. If we are truly to gaze upon him who is the source of our joy, we need to do so as members of the people of God. If this seems counter-cultural, that is simply further evidence of the urgent need for a renewed evangelization of culture.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Remembering 4.16

Back to Corinthians, chap 4

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! Without us you have become kings! And would that you did reign, so that we might share the rule with you! For I think that God has exhibited us apostles as last of all, like men sentenced to death, because we have become a spectacle to the world, to angels, and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are held in honor, but we in disrepute. (1 Corinthians 4:8-10 ESV)

Often we think our ministry would be more effective if we were more impressive in worldly terms. If only we were more popular, young, hip, cool, learned, wealthy, successful (in worldly terms), a mover and shaker, more on top of things, even more "victorious" in an outwardly impressive way.

Paul makes it clear in chapter 4 that apostolic ministry was not as impressive in those terms as the ministry posture of the Corinthian church. It almost sounds like the contrast between an uncouth street preacher and an affluent mega-church.

It strikes me that people see the authenticity of our life in Christ precisely when we don't "have it all together". It is when we are in pain, in hunger, in isolation, in rejection, in poverty that the life of Jesus is manifest and people see the reality of the world beyond this one.