Religion

re·li·gion: a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conductof human affairs. Posts in this category pertain to religious matters and issues.

Fascist Nanny State in Nebraska

Filed in Religion, Social IssuesTags: Christianity

Unbelievable:

Rush talked about the atrocity committed in Nebraska, in which the State removed a five-week-old baby from the home of his parents for a week, in order for the baby to undergo state-mandated blood tests. The parents objected to the testing on religious grounds, so the state prosecutors went to a judge and then sent armed sheriff's deputies to the house to remove the baby.

The baby, still nursing from his mother, was placed in foster care not only for the blood to be drawn, but also to await the return of the results of the bloodwork.

Hey, Nebraska: do you remember the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States?

Such blatant disregard for the First Amendment is the very reason we have the Second Amendment.

Get Hunter “The Punter” Smith’s Autograph!

Filed in Religion, SportsTags: Christianity, Colts, Indiana, Indianapolis, Music, NFL

To all my Colts-fan friends: here's an easy way to get an autograph from Colts punter Hunter Smith. His band, Connersvine, is releasing an album October 23, 2007. Pre-order the album, and it will come with an autographed insert. See the official web site for details.

Oh, and for those of you in Indy, you might be interested to know that Connersvine will be having a CD release party at Trader's Point Christian Church, on the far northwest side.

Something I Should Have Done Long Ago…

Filed in Politics, ReligionTags: Republicans, War on Terror

Now is as good a time as any.

Given that, at least for now, I am throwing my support behind the yet-to-officially-announce Fred Thompson, and more importantly, given the following statement by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice before the Senate Appropriations committee (5/12/2005):

Mr. Chairman, before I begin my actual testimony, I want to speak directly to Muslims in America and throughout the world. Disrespect for the Holy Koran is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, tolerated by the United States. We honor the sacred books of all the world's great religions. Disrespect for the Holy Koran is abhorrent to us all.

I am officially renouncing any support for Ms. Rice, for any elected office. CondiBlogs (which appears to be defunct now, anyway) is no longer linked from this site.

With all due respect, the United States is governed by the Constitution, the First Amendment to which protects the most basic and fundamental rights of a free society: the right to free speech, political expression, and practice of religion. Therefore, this most fundamental freedom of our society demands that the United States tolerate disrespect for the Koran - or, any other statement of political, social, philosophical, or religious belief.

Besides, the ideas espoused by the "holy" Koran are themselves disrespectful (of Jews, Christians, polythiests, and all other "infidels" who do not submit to Islam), abhorrent (killing and enslaving innocent women and children, forcible marriage and rape of women, dismemberment, beheading and torture of infidels, etc.), and entirely unacceptable in a free society.

If Ms. Secretary cannot understand these truths, I cannot support her, in any capacity.

Stanislav Shmulevich Koran Hate Crime Case Beginning to go Viral

Filed in Politics, Religion, Social IssuesTags: War on Terror

The Stanislav Shmulevich story I discussed yesterday is beginning to go viral.

LGF updates with a report that Phil Orenstein of Democracy Project is getting involved, and also that many lawyers are lining up to help with the defense.

The mainline blogosphere is taking notice, as Michelle Malkin, Allah Pundit (who agrees with my legal analysis that the felony charges are baseless), Neal boortz, and others are beginning to weigh in.

More blog reactions: Infidel Terrorist, Side Effects May Vary, Jihad Watch.

Why is this case important? Consider that Omar Ahmed, the chairman of the board of CAIR - the group behind the escalation of the valdalism to the level of a hate crime - spoke the following (H/T Halal Pig) [emphasis added]:

"Those who stay in America should be open to society without melting, keeping Mosques open so anyone can come and learn about Islam. If you choose to live here, you have a responsibility to deliver the message of Islam ... Islam isn't in America to be equal to any other faiths, but to become dominant. The Koran, the Muslim book of scripture, should be the highest authority in America, and Islam the only accepted religion on Earth."

This statement represents the true intent of CAIR, MSA student groups at college campuses across the country, and Islam as a whole. Islam is not merely a religion (if it can even be called that); it is a fascist socio-political movement, the goal of which is world domination and subjugation to Islamic law. We must stand together against Islam's goals of conquest, or we will all fall together - and the Land of the Free will be no longer.

Outrageous: Sharia Law in New York

Filed in Politics, Religion, Social IssuesTags: War on Terror

Completely, utterly, outrageous: Sharia law has now taken precedence in New York.

LGF reports (and follows up on) the story (with a hat tip to Purple Wombats) of Stanislav Shmulevich, who was arrested on felony counts of aggravated harassment and criminal mischief, for throwing a Koran into a toilet at Pace University. From the wire story:

A 23-year-old man was arrested Friday on hate-crime charges after he threw a Quran in a toilet at Pace University on two separate occasions, police said.

Stanislav Shmulevich of Brooklyn was arrested on charges of criminal mischief and aggravated harassment, both hate crimes, police said. It was unclear if he was a student at the school. A message left at the Shmulevich home was not immediately returned.

...

The school was accused by Muslim students of not taking the incident seriously enough at first. Pace classified the first desecration of the holy book as an act of vandalism, but university officials later reversed themselves and referred the incident to the New York Police Department's hate crimes unit.

Yes, you read that correctly: two felony counts, aggravated harassment and criminal mischief - classified as hate crimes - for throwing a Koran in the toilet.

According to this story, Stanislav was caught by a security camera as he was leaving a (Muslim) meditation room where the Korans were stored.

This incident is clearly a First Amendment, free speech and establishment challenge, and reeks of involvement by CAIR.

As has been pointed out in the LGF comments, burning the American flag, displaying a crucifix in a vat of urine, and displaying a painting of Mary covered in dung are all considered forms of protected religious or political speech. Flushing a Koran, however, is now considered a hate crime.

Here are the New York Penal code definitions of aggravated harassment (First Degree, Second Degree) and Criminal Mischief (First Degree, Second Degree, Third Degree, Fourth Degree).

Granted, I'm no lawyer, but the felony escalation of the criminal mischief charge appears to be specious, and the aggravated harassment appears not to apply whatsoever. On the former charge, no explosive was used (first degree, class B felony), the Koran was not worth $1,500 (second degree, class D felony), and the Koran was not worth $250 (third degree, class E felony). At best, Stanislav committed a class A misdemeanor (fourth degree).

On the latter charge, Stanislav neither communicated with a person via phone or any form of written communication nor physically touched a person (second degree, clauses 1-3, class A misdemeanor), nor did he damage premises used primarily for religious purposes (first degree, class E felony). That no actions (spoken or written communication, or physical contact) were directed at any person, the "hate crime" provision of the first degree charge is irrelevant.

If you value your freedoms as an American, you had better be absolutely outraged at what is happening here.

Personally, it makes me want to go buy a Koran, wrap it in bacon, throw it on the glowing charcoal of my Weber, and douse the charred remains in the toilet - and then post a picture so the intolerant, fascist scum at CAIR and elsewhere can choke on it.

After all, as has been pointed out on various comments threads:

The Koran is itself a hate crime against Jews and Christians.

Amen!

More coverage from Digg, Hot Air, Jawa Report, Texas Hold 'Em, UrbanGrounds, Deep Thoughts, Pierre Legrand’s Pink Flamingo Bar, Riehl World View, JustOneMinute, Saber Point, Israel Matsav (twice), Relapsed Catholic, Dog Opus, 186K Per Second, Never Ye Melted, Hindu-Jewish-Christian Rightwing Conspiracy.

Pregnant: “She Is” or “We Are”?

Filed in Personal, Religion, Social IssuesTags: Christianity, Family, Fatherhood, Marriage

Steve Carr blogged in agreement with this Christianity Today article denouncing fathers who use the phrase "we are pregnant". His lead-in and closing sentences sum up his agreement:

The author, a man by the way, believes that sentence to be both inaccurate and demeaning. When men drop that phrase, he believes, they are actually belittling all that the woman endures during and after the pregnancy...So no matter how secure I am in my fathering skills far be it from me, or any other of us guys, to declare that “we’re pregnant.”

When I read his post, I had to comment, to convey my opposing opinion:

Steve, I completely disagree with you. When Stephanie was pregnant, I always said we were pregnant - not because I wanted some of the attention due solely to Stephanie, but because I had a rightful place in the experience. And as you well know, we fathers are part of that experience, for better and for worse.

We shared the difficult physical and emotional stresses of pregnancy, just as we shared the joys of being blessed with the spiritual and physical care of a new life. I proudly embraced my God-given role as Stephanie’s supporter, encourager, and confidant, even as I did not experience the most intimate experiences with which only a woman is blessed (and cursed).

I couldn’t care less that society marginalizes the role of the father - even through the experience of pregnancy, labor, and delivery. God has blessed me with the role of husband and father, and proudly will I thus declare my rightful place in that role.

Besides, if you believe that little phrase, “…a man will leave his father and his mother, and the two shall become one flesh,” then it is only right that every experience, good, bad, and otherwise, is shared equally by husband and wife.

So, I proudly declared that we were pregnant, and when God blesses us with another child, I will do so again. It in no way belittles Stephanie, nor her role in the child-bearing process; to the contrary, it affirms God’s plan and desire that this process be experienced as a man and a woman, united as one, in Him.

I wanted to take some time to address the original article, and also to expound upon my comments above.

Here, the author, Mark Galli, begins his argument:

A male friend, married to a lovely women, comes up to me beaming and says, "We're pregnant!"

"Wow!" I reply, with inappropriate sarcasm. "When I was a young man, only women could get pregnant."

I've heard this phrase—"We're pregnant"—too much recently, but it's time to move beyond sarcasm. The intent is as understandable as the execution is absurd. It arises out of the noble desire of men (and future fathers) to participate fully in the childrearing. And I understand that for many men, it simply means, "My wife and I are expecting a baby."

Here I have my first point of disagreement with the author (a point which will be developed further momentarily, but which I introduce here): my use of the phrase, "we're pregnant," is not "to participate fully in the childbearing" but rather to identify with complete involvement and unity in my relationship with my wife.

He continues:

But the first dictionary meaning of pregnant remains, "Carrying developing offspring within the body." Whenever a word is misused, it means the speaker is unaware of the word's meaning, or that the cultural meaning of a word is shifting, or that some ideology is demanding obeisance. Probably all three are in play, but it's the last reality that we should pay attention to. It is not an accident that this phrase, "We're pregnant," has arisen in a culture that in many quarters is ponderously egalitarian and tries to deny the fundamental differences of men and women.

Introducing the dictionary definition of "pregnant" here is a specious argument. Obviously, the speaker of the phrase "we're pregnant" is not unaware of the word's meaning, as the definition of "pregnant" in no way biologically ambiguous (as demonstrated by the author's sarcastic comment in the article's introductory paragraph). Likewise, "cultural shift" of the connotation of the term is irrelevant. Thus, we are left with the third point of the argument: that some ideology is demanding obeisance.

And what is this ideology that the author argues thus demands deference? Namely, "...a culture that in many quarters is ponderously egalitarian and tries to deny the fundamental differences of men and women."

First, let me clarify: I am speaking as a Christian. I do not inherently ascribe to cultural mores, especially when we live an culture in which those mores increasingly differ from the ethical standards to which I as a Christian ascribe. Thus, my use of the phrase "we're pregnant" may very well have a fundamental difference from any secular uses of the phrase. I do not believe that Christian culture resembles that which the author describes above. With that understanding in mind, let us continue with the author's argument:

This phrase is most unfortunate after conception because it is an inadvertent co-opting of women by men—men using language to suggest that they share equally in the burdens and joys of pregnancy. Instead, pregnancy is one time women should flaunt their womanhood, and one time men should acknowledge the superiority of women. Men may be able to run the mile in less than four minutes and open stuck pickle jars with a twist of the wrist, but for all our physical prowess, we cannot carry new life within us and bring it into the world. To suggest that we do is a slap in the face of women.

It is also a slap in the face of our Creator, who made us male and female. We were not created with interchangable parts or traits, nor is it our purpose to duplicate or replace one another.

That's not a happy thought to many, because egalitarian culture resents differences. We believe (wrongly) that differences by their very nature are unequal. History would seem to support this assumption. The sad history of most cultures has assumed that male traits (authority and leadership) are superior to female traits (meekness and service). But that is more a product of human pride than of the created order. In the end, we have no objective standard by which to judge the intrinsic value of differing gifts and abilities.

Gender egality and gender differences both rightfully belong in Christian philosophy. As Christians we recognize the wisdom and sovereignty with which God made man and woman spiritual beings equally in His image and having equal intrinsic value, just as we recognize and appreciate that God created man and woman different physically, physiologically, and emotionally - and created to hold unique roles in the life for which He created them.

However, God also created man and woman to live in relationship with one another, in a manner symbolic of our relationship with Him. The most fundamental such relationship between man and woman is that of husband and wife in marriage - a relationship directly analogous to and symbolic of Christ's relationship with His bride, the church. Let us take a moment to explore the biblical nature of these relationships.

On Marriage:

4 "Haven't you read," [Jesus] replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,'[Gen. 1:27] 5 and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'[Gen. 2:24 ]? 6 So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."

Matthew 19:4-6 (NIV)

On Christ and the Church:

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Ephesians 5:21-33 (NIV)

On Unity in Christ:

26 You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:26-29 (NIV)

12 The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Now the body is not made up of one part but of many...

I Corinthians 12:12-14 (NIV)

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

I Corinthians 12:26 (NIV)

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I Corinthians 12:27 (NIV)

In my opinion, the analogy between the relationship between husband and wife and the relationship between Christ and His church is perfectly clear. Now, I don't want to take the analogy farther than Scripture implies, but I don't think it is going too far to say that the intimacy and unity between a husband and wife is analogous to the intimacy and unity between Christ and His church. In fact, I believe God intended this symmetry between these relationships, so that through marriage men and women would develop a greater understanding of the intended nature of their relationship with God.

So when we are told that in the body of Christ, when one suffers all suffers and when one is honored all rejoice, I believe the symmetry applies also to the marriage relationship. It is God's divine intent that the two united as one suffer together just as they rejoice together.

Do these shared experiences demean or belittle the unique role husband and wife each play in the marriage? Not at all. Consider again the words of Paul:

28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

I Corinthians 12:28-30 (NIV)

God clearly intends for the different parts of the body of Christ to play unique, individual roles according to the direction and gifting of the Holy Spirit; likewise, God clearly intends for husband and wife to play unique roles in the marriage. Even so, the many parts share equally in the experiences in which each one suffers or rejoices. Therefore, God ordained a marriage relationship that is both egalitarian in intrinsic value and shared experiences, and discriminatory in role and gifting - just as God ordained the same characteristics for the body of Christ.

Therefore, it is only natural that a husband would identify with his wife's experience of pregnancy. That he cannot empathize with the physical, hormonal, and emotional changes and stresses of pregnancy is completely irrelevant; he still experiences all of those stresses and changes both directly in his relationship with his wife and vicariously through his wife. And just has he cannot experience the full measure of his wife's suffering through pregnancy, neither can he experience the full measure of her joy.

Thus, far from being a "co-opting of women by men", much less a "slap in the face of women" or - heaven forbid - "a slap in the face of our Creator", a husband's proclamation that "we're pregnant" is an affirmation of both his God-ordained relational unity with his wife and his God-given role of supporting his wife through the suffering and joys of pregnancy.

Back to the article; after the author spends several paragraphs defending the undisputed argument that men and women are created with differences, he begins his conclusion:

My point is simply this. I continue to look for ways to encourage us all to relax a little about gender. I'm hoping that after the tumult of the last 30 years—during which time women have rightly learned a great deal about things like leadership and men have rightly learned a great deal about things like nurturing—we can once again affirm what culture after culture in human history seems to confirm: We are created male and female, both fully loved in God's eyes, but created with unbridgeable differences.

I think perhaps the author needs himself to relax a little bit about gender. It seems counter-productive, if one's objective is to "relax a little bit about gender," to denounce the use of a phrase that is intended solely to emphasize the relational unity between husband and wife in marriage during pregnancy.

Also, I disagree that male and female were "created with unbridgeable differences." As individuals, yes: men and women cannot hope to bridge their created differences; however, men and women were never intended to live as individuals. Our Creator endowed us men and women with differences that are intended to be complimented and completed in the marriage relationship. God did not create gender differences to be unbridgeable; rather, God Himself bridges those differences through the bond and covenant of marriage

(Again, I note the symmetry between the marriage relationship and the body of Christ, since God also intended that the differences with which He endowed each unique part of the body all compliment and complete one another, and all such differences are bridged through His Holy Spirit.)

Finally, the author concludes:

Better than the language of equality, I believe, is the language of fulfillment. "God created man in his image, male and female he created them." That is, we do not reflect the divine image when we try to duplicate or co-opt or replace each other. It's only when we participate with each other, with all our differences as male and female—as married couples, as friends, as co-workers—that we begin to fill out the image of the Triune God who created us.

Whenever that happens, I believe God once again says, "It is very good."

How truly ironic! A husband who uses the phrase "we're pregnant" epitomizes the principle of participation with his wife; indeed, the phrase is the epitome of "language of fulfillment."

Therefore, I stand by my original conclusion:

So, I proudly declared that we were pregnant, and when God blesses us with another child, I will do so again. It in no way belittles Stephanie, nor her role in the child-bearing process; to the contrary, it affirms God’s plan and desire that this process be experienced as a man and a woman, united as one, in Him.

OYB May 21

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Samuel 29-31
NT: John 11:55-57, John 12:1-12
Ps: Psalm 118:1-18
Pr: Proverbs 15:24-26

Gospel Thread - OT:

No direct gospel references in today's OT reading.

Gospel Thread - NT:

13 They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, "Hosanna!" "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" "Blessed is the King of Israel!" 14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 15 "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt." 16 At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

John 12:13-16 (NIV)

Per the NIV footnotes, see Psalm 118:25-26 and Zechariah 9:9.

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.

Psalm 118:14 (NIV)

This chapter will more directly relate to Messiah as it continues.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB May 20

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Samuel 26-28
NT: John 11:1-54
Ps: Psalm 117
Pr: Proverbs 15:22-23

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB May 19

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Samuel 24-25
NT: John 10:22-42
Ps: Psalm 116
Pr: Proverbs 15:20-21

Gospel Thread - OT, NT, Psalms/Proverbs:

There are some gospel references in today's readings, but I am too exhausted to type them today...

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.

OYB May 18

Filed in ReligionTags: Christianity, Devotions, One Year Bible

Today´s reading:
OT: I Samuel 22-23
NT: John 10:1-21
Ps: Psalm 115
Pr: Proverbs 15:18-19

Gospel Thread - OT:

No direct gospel reference in today's OT reading.

Gospel Thread - NT:

14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

John 10:14-18 (NIV)

Jesus' metaphor speaks for itself.

Gospel Thread - Psalms/Proverbs:

No direct gospel reference in today's Psalms/Proverbs reading.

The One Year Bible Blog´s comments for today.