Two Cars Spinning

On the morning of June 23, 2016, I was working with my head down in a local coffeeshop. Tunes blared in my ears as I stared and typed. Then, in a moment, someone left and the room got quiet. This place was never quiet. I looked up.

At 12:09pm, a westbound silver minivan made a blind turn across four lanes of traffic and hit a small eastbound black SUV, sending both cars spinning. The crash totaled both cars, demolishing the front left corner of the SUV. I had never seen an entire wheel assembly lying on the pavement, but there it was.

 

At the scene, people swirled, helping each driver and the passengers. The woman in the SUV shook terribly, surprised that her simple trip down the hill became a nightmare. Men swept the busy street. Police arrived on the scene. EMS removed the injured woman from her car. I directed oncoming traffic to the nearest detour.

There was a palpable mourning across that intersection. We mourned the pain, the terror, the shock. We moved to help. But only one driver was at fault. 

Which brings us to the the hot topic of the last thirty-ish months: police shootings.

Instead of merely looking at a wreck the way a child does, “Wow, that’s a mess,” we should be mature in our thinking and consider the biblical claims of the following:

  1. God values human life, regardless of ethnicity, age, criminal history, socioeconomic class. All life is valuable in the first place.
  2. The government bears the sword, and in our culture that most directly means the local police force.
  3. Police officers are called to enforce laws. If they do not do so, they are putting other citizens in danger and are themselves liable for the damage criminals subsequently cause.
  4. Not all crime is equal. Please read the Old Testament. There is unquestionably a civil hierarchy of sins. “Every sin is the same” is nonsense, in this life and in the next. Some sins are culmination of years of sinning, others are momentary acts. Some give a bruise; others take a life.
  5. All unjust killing, whether of the preborn in the womb at the local Planned Parenthood (a direct slap in the face to parents) or of a citizen by a police officer, is evil and must be prosecuted.
  6. Every human is a sinner and tainted, mind, body, and soul, with sinfulness. Every human, because he is a  sinner, is an innate self-server, racist, and liar. 
  7. Sinfulness doesn’t excuse mistrust in an entire system, because you are a sinner, too. Transparency and accountability are needed.
  8. Policemen have hard jobs and are not perfect. You and I likely do not know the first thing about what it takes to approach a dangerous situation and handle everything involved. This doesn’t mean they’re always right or always wrong.
  9. It is not a sin for an authority to shoot a dangerous criminal. Please see #2 and #3.
  10. The media, being full of self-serving sinners (#6), have a vested interest in speaking half-truths and outright lies to make better “news.” This news, in these cases, is not the truth at all.
  11. The viper-tongued media puts police officers and citizens at risk. Please see the Dallas shootings and the widespread anger toward police.
  12. Marching is one thing; loving is quite another. Both have their place, but one is immeasurably more important. You also don’t have to march with people in order to love those people.
  13. Disobedience is not necessarily racism. A hatred of authority by one party (a young man, let’s say, detained by a police officer) does not necessarily equal a surface-level racism by the acting authority. The facts, instead, must come to light. The officer may have been acting in a racist fashion, or the young man may simply hate authority, or both.

Each of these can (and maybe should) be expanded into a separate post, but for now these categories are important because they help us think through issues like that of Mike Brown, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Philandro Castile, and the host of part-myth, part-real stores the media tells us. 

If this local crash were a more “sensational” story, there’s no telling how the media might have portrayed it. It might have been an issue of environmentalism, or driver brutality, or racism.

Eyewitnesses know that, in the wreck on June 23, both drivers lived. Both suffered very real damage to their lives, bodies, and potentially souls. Either driver could have avoided the wreck.

In this case, only one was at fault.

Privileged Hate

It’s really weird what’s going on in the West right now: we hate and maim and murder the least of these (children, via “abortion”) and trumpet the guilt of the “privileged” class. This madness is one reason I feel the need to respond to Dr. Christena Cleveland. 

Dr. Cleveland was asked by Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ) leadership to speak to women, and men, at their recent national staff conference. We’ll leave the obvious “I do not permit a woman to teach or exercise authority over men” violation for another time and just deal with what she said, publicly and on the record. Exploring the “feminist” decision of Cru might be labeled sexist bigotry – forget that it’s addressed plainly in Scripture.

Over and over again, Dr. Cleveland wants Cru staff to feel guilty about their privileged backgrounds (how she knows all of their privileged backgrounds?). This, dear friends, is classism. Dr. Cleveland deeply wants privileged people to feel guilt over their “privilege.” Marx does much the same thing in the pages of Communist Manifesto, so it’s nothing new, really.

If classism is treating people differently based on their social or economic “class,” and it is evil, then we should also clarify the name of its brother, racism. Racism is treating any human differently, positively or negatively, based on skin color. Strangely, in the name of “racial reconciliation,” Dr. Cleveland speaks as a racist, too:

  • “Crusade needs to divest itself of whiteness and maleness,” she claims at one point.
  • The white, privileged class has “inherited a fault,” in gaining land 100+ years ago through government programs.
  • With a bit of class, race, and religious guilt, she claims, “Christians are accommodated in the West.”

The madness of liberalism is the desire to use racism to combat racism, to use murder to combat “unwanted” children, to use welfare to encourage work. The Bible does none of these. In fact, the Word of God goes to great, careful lengths to avoid racism when speaking of race, to avoid classism when speaking of class:

  • For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. Romans 10:12
  • For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace… Ephesians 2:14-15
  • Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all. Colossians 3:11

Phrases like “no distinction” and “there is not” teach us to stop looking at each other through the eyes of class and race. Trying to fight the fires of pride with more fiery arrogant racism is nonsense, Dr. Cleveland. Only Christ is the answer. Of him you spoke very little, seeming more interested in discussing race, class, and “white guilt.”

The Bible, conversely, is careful to condemn all of us – with actual evils we have done, not false ones – that we would come together to Christ.

 

 

Need a Tax Break? Murder Your Child

That’s what the IRS says, apparently.

In a report yesterday from Life Site News (complete with IRS links, for those concerned about “bias”), IRS publication 502 states that “legal abortion” can be cited as a medical expense for 2014.

I forgot, how again is murdering another person part of “medicine”? Isn’t that the exact opposite of the Hippocratic Oath? Or has that oath been changed to suit our murderous desires?

Beyond this madness of calling baby dismemberment “medicine,” there is the matter that, according to IRS Publication 501, the federal government does not allow the same tax credit for a stillborn child. Translation: if your child dies on his own, it’s not medicine; if you kill him, it is.

This is the most backward understanding of “medicine” imaginable.

No wonder that the federal government gives the abortion industry over $520 million a year – it is incentivizing the war on preborn children for taxpayers, too.

Dear Exhale, Abortion Isn’t Peacemaking

Steve Peacock over at WND reports that pro-choice “pro-voice” group Exhale is touring the country telling “hopeful” stories about murderous “mothers” who are “brave” enough to speak.

My open challenge to Exhale is this: visit the site and discuss with me how you can call abortion “peacemaking.” Your pledge reads:

I am pro-voice.

I believe open, honest, vulnerable storytelling is a powerful and radical act of courage that can change the world in the midst of hostility, attacks, and demonization.

I trust that connecting through diverse personal experiences can humanize toxic conflicts and reveal complexity hidden within “us vs. them” divisions.

I pledge to be pro-voice in my everyday life by listening openly, speaking personally, connecting respectfully, taking leadership, and building community around polarized issues and stigmatized experiences.

I’m honored to follow a long and powerful line of peacemakers.

Lots of observations are in order:

  1. “I am pro-voice” is a euphemism for “I support the butchering of children.”
  2. “Radical act of courage” is straight-faced hypocrisy by people who sacrificed their own children for their selfish desires. The strong executing the weak is never considered “courage.”
  3. Pro-lifers are not the ones making ” ‘us vs. them’ divisions.” Pro-choicers are the ones tearing babies limb from limb.
  4. “Listening openly” in this context means nothing more than “condoning weepy-faced murder.”
  5. I almost can’t believe you wrote about any “long and powerful line of peacemakers.” How again is abortion “peacemaking”? Who is at peace? Is Exhale trying to help serial killers be at peace with their scream-less victims and their screaming consciences? And are you proud of this?

For reference, I stand and have always stood on this simple logical breakdown:

Premise #1: Murder is always wrong.
Premise #2: An unborn child is a full human being.
Premise #3: Abortion ends the life of an unborn child.
Conclusion: Therefore, abortion is always wrong.

Feel free, Exhale “Pro-Voice,” to disagree. But do so along logical principles. Are you “brave” enough to tell us your logical principles?

Manhood at the Master’s Feet

The Psalms and Matthew 18-19 tell us that manhood is more than bullets, brawn, and beast-killing. Jesus was the manliest man who ever lived, and he bounced children on His knee:

Then children were brought to him that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” 15 And he laid his hands on them and went away. (Matthew 19:13-15, ESV)

Jesus says, “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them,” but American men say, “Leave the children to the women, I’ve got hunting to do,” – as though killing animals, even to feed your family’s bodies, is more important than spending time with them to feed their souls.

Jesus says, “Children are a blessing;” American men say, “Children are a burden,” – as though pouring one’s life into someone else’s is not the best use of our relational time on this earth.

Cultural views of manhood reduce children to annoyances, play-toys, or “choices.” Jesus has a better stance: children get blessings, and they give blessings.

Dads and would-be dads out there, maybe instead of listening to Planned Parenthood, mainstream media, or hip-hop artists, we should sit at the Master’s feet.

You Can’t Teach Critical Thinking if You Don’t Believe Anything

Or, “The Great Lie of American Secularism”

“Critical thinking,” everyone says, is a buzzword in education these days. Conference speakers, school administrators, parents, and political leaders all kick the dust around it. Yet true critical thinking remains an enigma. Why?

Because you can’t teach critical thinking if you don’t believe anything.

The logic is simple:

  • Premise 1: Critical thinking is the set of thinking skills involving synthesis, analysis, creation, and evaluation.
  • Premise 2: Each of these skills require a set of definite criteria, i.e. stated beliefs.
  • Premise 3: American secularism devalues any defined criteria, and, in fact, provides none of its own.
  • Conclusion: Secularists can’t teach critical thinking.

If you find these statements controversial, or have never thought of the implications of your own beliefs, take a moment to break these thoughts down.

Critical Thinking Defined (Premise #1)
The first premise isn’t controversial – it’s a simple definition of critical thinking, or “higher-order” thinking skills. Philosophers and educators have agreed on these for thousands of years. The pyramid of thinking skills goes up from knowledge to comprehension to application to synthesis/analysis to creation to evaluation.

Bloom's Taxonomy

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Thinking Skills

Critical thinking skills, in other words, are the development and deepening of acquired knowledge with direction in its development. By definition, the skills have to go somewhere. Understanding this, premise 1 stands.

Higher-Order Thinking Skills Require Beliefs (Premise #2)
Premise 2 is where I may lose some people, and where the crux of my argument lies. Beliefs not only help critical thinking, they essentially enable it. There is no true “critical thinking” that cannot take apart knowledge and put it back together within an external control, a worldview.

Remember, the meaning of “integrity” is soundness, wholeness, honesty of life. The key question is, “What is the principle with which we will synthesize and analyze?” Secularists have no principle but themselves, who are ever changing as the weather (remind anyone of Jude 1:12-13?). Thus, true synthesis and analysis are impossible without coherent worldview principles.

In mathematics, breaking down numbers into parts, equations, or proofs requires a controlling principle, i.e. the soundness of our number system. Without this, analysis and synthesis fail in numbers, as in the rest of life.

When it comes to the skills of creativity, we live in a strange culture. To American secularists, “creativity” is its own value, apart from beliefs and morality. Historically, beauty has been valued for its conformity to truth. In a truth-less culture like ours, however, a painting or motion picture or song is called “good” without any baseline meaning for the word “good” itself. As Al Mohler has observed, however, character terms like morality and integrity “lack all content if they aren’t specifically tied to worldview convictions.” Thus, teachers who teach creativity without conviction are like well-wishers who send sailors off in on a voyage to nowhere, saying, “Have a great journey!”

Now we can see where the highest critical thinking skill, evaluation, will go. Without worldview, evaluation also fails. If all the steps before it have flown apart at the seams, we should not expect evaluation to succeed. Evaluation is the culmination of study and thought. Without beliefs, both those preceding skills and the end result are impossible. To put it another way, how are we to evaluate if we have nothing to evaluate against?

American Secularism Believes Nothing (Premise #3)
Of course, it is impossible to believe nothing. Everyone has a worldview. But here we mean, “nothing positively defined outside ourselves.” We truly believe we are the measure of all things. The universe’s buck stops with us. We ought  to command the waves, the wind, the seas, and the stock markets – and we’re mystified when we can’t.

Because of our radical individualism, we believe that no truth exists outside of ourselves. If enough of us agree on something, that can become a cultural “truth,” but that “truth” fails when it face a “truth” from another culture. Again, the war of little “truths” proves that we believe in no Truth at all, only what works for us until culture or personal discernment proves otherwise.

Every secularist has a worldview, but the sine qua non of the secular worldview is that truth doesn’t exist.

Secularists Can’t Teach Critical Thinking
If premises 1, 2, and 3 are true, the conclusion is that belief-less secularists can’t teach belief-dependent critical thinking. Critical thinking is a bundle of skills that depends not only on raw knowledge, but on a coherent worldview – an integrity of thought – that enables and propels honestly critical thinking.

Further, thinking that only aims to support self (the primary secular principle) can never be truly critical, because critical thinking requires the critical evaluation of ourselves. We are the ones who must finally be evaluated, not merely do the evaluating. Without self-evaluation, all of our learning becomes an exercise in narcissism, hypocrisy, and vanity.

Even more, for critical thinking to reach its true end, we must evaluate ourselves now – because we will one day be evaluated by God, according to His perfectly coherent, perfectly true worldview.

Is the Unborn a 14th Amendment Person?

[This post is the fourth in a series on Francis J. Beckwith’s seminal article, “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law.” Part 1 is called, “The Lies and Fallacies Beneath Roe v. Wade;” Part 2, “Novel Inventions of Abortion Law;” and Part 3, “19th Century Anti-Abortion Law.”]

B. Is the Unborn a Person under the Fourteenth Amendment?

Blackmun and the abortion-hungry Court had one more legal foundation to tear down: the unborn’s right to the personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment. The relevant part of the amendment reads:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any  person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Blackmun cites three reasons why the unborn are not Fourteenth Amendment persons: the Constitution doesn’t define them as such, Texas had no cases holding the unborn as Fourteenth Amendment persons, and abortion’s de facto practice in the nineteenth century. As Beckwith argues, “each reason is seriously flawed,” (p.51).

First, Blackmun’s logic on the Constitution’s definition of “person” merely begs the question. The Constitution didn’t aim to define “person” biologically. Without such a definition, the lack of one cannot exclude the unborn. To do so is to construct an argument from ignorance, but it wasn’t the last time in Roe that Blackmun did so. Further, though the development of the unborn was not known at the time of the Constitution but was at the time of Roe, Blackmun allowed no room for that in his analysis, (p.51-52).

Stories Live Out Truth

I’ve been saying for a while, in various conversations with students, teachers, and parents, that Christians (and conservatives in general) have failed to defend the philosophical foundations which once made our country the freedom-loving, capitalism-enjoying, life-defending, worship-freeing nation it was meant to be. Those days, clearly, are gone. Now all parts of the “right” (our country’s term, not mine) are fighting for our philosophical lives.

Here, however, I am not assuming that all Christians are conservative politically or that all conservatives are sympathetic to Christian views. I am only saying that Christians and conservatives share some of the same public values, and that Christians should care about the truth being told in our country.

This is why Rod Dreher’s recent piece, “Story Lines, Not Party Lines,” is so important. In it, he makes the case for the importance of stories and why America needs conservative true stories so badly:

Kirk understood that the world might be won or lost on front porches, in bedrooms at night, around family hearths, in movie theaters and anywhere young people hear, see, or read the stories that fill and illuminate their moral imaginations. If you do not give them good stories, they will seek out bad ones.

“And the consequences will be felt not merely in their failure of taste,” Kirk said, “but in their misapprehension of human nature, lifelong; and eventually, in the whole tone of a nation.”

One direct application for me was this: what stories am I telling my family, my students, my friends and church and world? The world may be won or lost according to stories like mine.

Why? Because, as Dreher explains, “Stories work by indirection: not by telling us what to believe but by helping us to experience emotionally and imaginatively what it is like to embody particular ideas.” Embodiment must come with ideas, and is not optional.

This squares well with the Bible’s tight balance between positive doctrinal literature (epistles, wisdom, prophetic writings), positive and negative narrative accounts (OT history), and those that skillfully intertwine both (Pentateuch, Gospels, Acts, Revelation). God Himself sees truth as not only abstract but very livable. Jesus Christ was and is and always will be truth embodied in flesh.

Our children, husbands and wives, churches, friends, schools, and nation desperately needs stories worth telling – the kind of stories that are worth mimicking, the kind of stories that are worth building our lives on. Are you telling those stories, or are you leaving it up to the televison, internet, or paperback section?

The Lies and Fallacies Beneath Roe v. Wade

[Introductory note: Back in 2003, Dr. Francis J. Beckwith, Professor of Philosophy & Church-State Studies at Baylor University, wrote a full-on expose of the Supreme Court’s supremely flawed reasoning in Roe v. Wade, entitled, “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law.” After reading and notating the paper, I am offering a seven-part series outlining his main arguments with further commentary. I’m no law expert, but a simple course in logic (or understanding the basic logical fallacies) is all we need to see the lies beneath the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade.]

The Fear of the Lord and the Facts of Abortion

Long ago, the fear of the Lord and good sense told me that US abortion law was on shaky ground at best. Even middle schoolers – yes, twelve-year-olds – know it’s wrong to kill an unborn child. How is it that the grown-ups are so much smarter and get it wrong? Because we as a country no longer fear the Lord.

To prove the shaky ground is actually no ground at all (and illustrate the fact that our country no longer fears the Lord), Francis Beckwith has done us all a service. His 2003 paper, “The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law” is a logical expose of the Supreme Court’s fallacious, misleading logic and outright lies in interpreting constitutional law.

That alone is enough to read the entire 36-page essay, but here’s a taste of Beckwith’s darkness-exposing analysis:

The current law in the United States, except for in a few states, does not restrict a woman from procuring an abortion for practically any reason she deems fit during the entire nine months of pregnancy. That may come as quite a shock to many readers, but that is in fact the state of the current law (p.38).

Beckwith uses the same command of current and past abortion law to untangle several gnarled issues, outlined below:

I. What the Court Actually Concluded in Roe

In this section, Beckwith quotes the Roe decision extensively and exposes Justice Harry Blackmun’s argument piece by piece:

  • “Therefore, Roe does nothing to prevent a state from allowing unrestricted abortions for the entire nine months of pregnancy,” (p.39).
  • “Thus, reproductive liberty, according to this reading of Roe, should be seen as a limited freedom established within the nexus of three parties: the pregnant woman, the unborn, and the state. The woman’s liberty trumps both the value of the unborn and the interests of the state except when the unborn reaches viability,” (p.39).
  • “[Justice Blackmun’s] framework has resulted in abortion on demand,” (p.39).
  • “Blackmun’s choice of viability as the point at which the state has a compelling interest in protecting prenatal life is based on a fallacious argument,” (p.40).
  • “The Supreme Court so broadly defined health in  Roe’s companion decision, Doe v. Bolton (1973), that
    for all intents and purposes, Roe allows for abortion on demand. In Bolton, the Court ruled that health must be taken in its broadest possible medical context and must be defined ‘in light of all factors—physical, emotional, psychological, familial,  and  the  woman’s  age—relevant  to  the  well  being  of  the  patient’ because ‘[a]ll these factors relate to health,’ ” (p.40).
  • The 1983 U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee concluded the same, stating that that “no significant legal barriers of any kind whatsoever exist today in the  United States for a woman to obtain an abortion for any reason during any stage of her pregnancy,” (p.40).
  • Furthermore, the Court (as Gosnell and Planned Parenthood events have proven) left the interpretation of the viability of the fetus open to mean whatever “meaningful life” may mean, determined “exclusively by the pregnant woman,” (p.42).

In other words, because Blackmun did little to protect the rights of the unborn over against the rights of an abortion-hungry mother, his regime has (rather logically) resulted in abortion-on-demand as the modern status quo.

Next time, we’ll dive into part 2, “How the Court Found a Right to Abortion,” and it’s really more like they invented it.

The Disgraceful, Cowardly Media

Why are the major media outlets in the US afraid to report on the multiple child murder trial of abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell? Kirsten Powers writes that they’ve lost their sense of human justice:

You don’t have to oppose abortion rights to find late-term abortion abhorrent or to find the Gosnell trial eminently newsworthy. This is not about being “pro-choice” or “pro-life.” It’s about basic human rights.

The deafening silence of too much of the media, once a force for justice in America, is a disgrace.

Which is to say, the media cares more about cash and reputation than the truth.

Is This What We Want Boys to Do?

Former angry teen and current high school teacher Peter Brown Hoffmeister writes on the hidden link in America’s school shootings: angry young men who love violent video games:

I asked one of [the violent video game-playing students] later, and he said that he played Call of Duty “an average of 40 hours per week, at least.”

Is this what we want angry, adolescent boys to do? Do we want to give them this practice? Do we want them to glorify violent actions, to brag about violence in the school’s hallways? Or even worse, given the perfect equation of frustration + opportunity + practice, do we want them to do as Weise, Roberts, and Lanza did, and act out these fantasies in real life? Do we want them to yell, “I am the shooter” as they enter a crowded mall – as Roberts did? Or dress like video-game shooters – as Lanza and Roberts were – before heading into a murder spree?

Especially with teenage boys, we have to decide what we want them to do, what we want them to love, what we want them to emulate. Even if they don’t end up shooting people in a school, if they’re practicing car-jackings, knifings, and putting on body-armor as first-person shooters, what are they preparing to do with the rest of their lives? Will these video-game practice sessions make them better husbands or fathers? Will these boys become patient and understanding friends? Better co-workers?

In other words, do these video “games” contribute anything positive to any real relationship a young man has?

Victoria’s Secret Hates Women

Saying something like this (i.e., getting to the heart of the issue) is important in a contentious situation like this because it gets to the heart of the issue. Victoria’s Secret, proprietor of intimate women’s clothing, is now marketing a line of underwear for teens and preteens. Teaching women to find their self-worth in looks is deceptive and vain (Prov. 31:30), but now training teens to dress like whores and prostitutes? Pure hatred.

Seem a little strong? Track with me. Victoria’s Secret hates women because:

  1. Marketing to teen girls is demeaning. First and foremost, a woman’s worth is more than a sexual mirage. Personhood is given by God, never defined or ultimately masked by clothes or relationships or sexual acts. A girl’s personhood is of utmost value; we must honor her from conception to death.
  2. Marketing to teen girls is insubordinate. If Victoria’s Secret though what they were doing was right, they should at least have the decency (which they don’t) to speak to a young woman’s parents about her private wear. Are you going to let a lingerie-clad lady show up at your door and peddle to your daughter? Didn’t think so.
  3. Marketing to teen girls is dirty. In Leviticus, God presents to us over and over the idea that sin is “unclean.” It’s why we call certain things “dirty.” If you don’t want to read a description of something, or see it, or think about it because that would sicken your soul, it’s dirty.
  4. Marketing to teen girls is pedophiliac. Yep, we need to go here, because, otherwise, when will it end? Will we stand by and let Victoria’s Secret enlist our kindergarteners in their ad campaigns? As mom Amy Gerwing writes, “In this age when female sex trafficking is becoming a wide-spread crisis, is it really responsible for Victoria’s Secret to entice our impressionable young girls with this ‘come hither’ message?”

The last one sums it up: Victoria’s Secret markets slutty underwear to young girls because they love cash more than purity, thus encouraging the world to see these future ladies as the same lustful playthings as their underwear.

The Chalmers Center Helps Without Hurting

In my last post, I mentioned Corbett & Fikkert’s excellent book, When Helping Hurts. Here is the organization connected with (inspired by?) the book: The Chalmers Center.

Check them out for financial literacy and economic programs in the Americas and in the Majority World.

Why I’ve Stopped Giving Handouts

A Street Minister Rethinks Giving Money for Nothing

My Story
Like so many passionate young people ten years ago, I became enthralled with the radical generosity of God’s grace and began ministering directly to the homeless in my city. It gave me a feeling, quiet though it was, of self-righteousness in my own generosity.

Weeks and months of these one-sided relationships passed, and I saw change neither in the giver (me) nor the recipient. All of my handouts were doing nothing.

My friends and I would discuss our desire to help the poor, but come to no practical consensus about how to do so. Our handouts did nothing, and left us feeling violated – conscientiously and financially. It was as though the poor sought out idealistic young people to emotionally abuse with their sob-stories.

When “Helping” Hurts
But the pieces didn’t click together until we read When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert. Their main points (outlined creatively in this video) are:

  1. At the deepest level of need, poor people, like all people, have broken relationships (with God, others, creation, and self).
  2. Though we may try to help the poor, “good intentions aren’t enough.”
  3. Poor people (like all people) need Jesus Christ and His local church to heal broken relationships at the root of poverty.
  4. The image of God in all people means that each of us has dignity, worth, and ability to work hard. “The ultimate solution to poverty comes not from the outside in, but from the inside out.
  5. Practically, we should only help the poor in ways that they cannot help themselves (i.e., pay for work, not for nothing).

Wow, even watching that video reminds me of the great harm I’ve done, we’ve done, in giving handouts to homeless people who willfully choose to beg rather than work. And these are the “handouts” I’m talking about – not all types, just the dishonest, undignified types.

There is a woman we meet who works hard and still has unexpected troubles, then there is a man who comes to our church to beg off of everyone. The first should be helped and counseled; the second rebuked and cast out if he continues his dishonest ways.

Giving handouts to those who can and should work instead tells them that it’s okay to beg, steal, lie, and cheat to get their cash. Instead, we ought to be pointing them to the Christ who is able to help us each fulfill our callings wherever we need to serve, work, and love.

A Moment on White Guilt
I’m not big into talking about this (Doug Wilson is one who does it more faithfully and carefully), but we ought to think long and hard about how money and privilege entitle us neither to withhold generosity nor succumb to guilty handouts. The people around us need better “love” than that; their souls are worth more.

I know I often “feel bad” because I grew up with opportunities that maybe others didn’t have, but there’s nothing wrong with opportunities. We know not why the Master gives one manager ten talents, the next five, and the last just one. We just know He gives them and calls us to account for them.

So Paul’s word to the rich in Ephesus makes more sense:

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty,
nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches,
but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.
They are to do good, to be rich in good works,
to be generous and ready to share,
thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future,
so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
1 Timothy 6:17-19 ESV

Let us who are rich in this present age do good with the talents our Lord has given us, with an eye toward loving others and storing up treasure, not in self-righteous works, but in heaven. These “good works,” however, ought not indebt the poor to our own “goodness,” nor maim the image of God within them, but stoke the fires of Godly passions.

Art Still Has a Place

Those independent movies on Netflix alone are worth the monthly fee. I remembered that tonight.

Whether it’s the strange flick about a half-crazed hospital inmate bribing a little girl with a tall-tale legend or the romantic comedy about the painted man on stilts, these artful movies still matter. Here’s why:

Stories go beneath the surface. Stories reach beyond us. Stories point to the eternal.

A good story isn’t a tall tale that tattles on sin and tatters reality; it’s (as songwriter Andrew Peterson has written) a “window in the world.” It illumines reality, particularly eternal reality.

The only way to see art, stories, music, movies, and the like in such ways is to see them through the lens of Scripture. We can’t know God’s reality without trusting His Word.

But it works the other way, too: good art can help us know the Bible better, too. Though the power direction always works in one way (good art draws its power from truth, not the other way around), art can reflect the power of truth in very powerful ways, too. When our hearts have become hardened to words, sometimes we need to be shocked into feeling the power of truth again.

Good art does just that.

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