March 2004

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A Little Leaven...

We all process life through our own personal filters and, after twenty years in pastoral ministry, mine are hopelessly pastoral. So you may smile to hear that reading this news item led me to daydream, just for a moment, about how much easier it was for these leading men of the village to bathe Mr. Kasokong than it is for elders of Christ's church to work to end similarly public scandals within God's Household.

'Smelly' Kenyan given public wash

Fed up neighbours in Kapenguria, a remote town in north west Kenya, have forcibly washed a 52-year-old bachelor.

The farmer John Kasokong had allegedly not bathed for 10 years and his odour reportedly overpowered local people.

Irritated by his state, four muscular men trapped him while on his way from his farm and tied him down with ropes before giving him a thorough wash.

Many people are said to have watched the public drama including the local chief.

Neighbour Rogers Kimwei said they could not bear Mr Kasokong's body odour and were forced to hatch a plan to clean him.

The Word of Reconciliation...

Here's a link to an open letter by Pastor John Piper that serves as a good biblical reminder that there is an eternal chasm between Christians and Jews that will never be crossed except through the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross, and that this chasm is not the product of Protestant or Roman Catholic or Gentile anti-Semitism, but of the decree of God the Father that His Son is the only worthy sacrifice for our sins.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Any efforts to bring about fraternal understanding and civic peace must stop short of saying there will ever be any true reconciliation between Jews and Christians outside of the Cross of Christ. And as this was a scandal back within the Roman Empire in the time of the Early Church, so it remains the principal scandal today causing such hostility towards Mr. Gibson's movie from the chattering classes.

We Christians love Jews enough to call them to faith in that Jew of Jews, our Lord Jesus Christ, Who became sin that we might become righteous, Who died that we might live, Who took on every burden of the Law that we might become lawless, saved by grace alone through faith alone.


For every Baby Doe, 10,000 Grandma Does...

With seventy-seven million baby boomers approaching second childhood (assuming most of us finally dispensed with our first), the projected cost of providing health care and other forms of assistance is staggering. Responding to a recent piece titled "Japan Seeks Robotic Help in Caring for the Aged" that ran in the The New York Times, Dennis L. Kodner wrote the editor:

Assistive devices... can be helpful tools, but will ultimately prove unable to close the huge gap between the disabled elderly's growing need for long-term care and the diminishing supply of paraprofessionals who provide hands-on assistance.

In our country, experts project the need for an additional 750,000 long-term care workers by 2008. Yet existing evidence suggests that many of these jobs will go unfulfilled. (NYT, March 9)

No wonder the growth industry in medical ethics is no longer abortion, infanticide, or even eugenics, but euthanasia. Chick Koop, father of pediatric surgery and long-time member of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, while serving as Surgeon General under President Reagan almost twenty years ago, warned of this coming danger:

My great concern is that there will be 10,000 Grandma Does for every Baby Doe.

-C. Everett Koop, Action Line: Christian Action Council Newsletter, Volume IX, No. 5, July 12, 1985, p. 3. (Christian Action Council is now Care Net.)

Poetic (or Divine) justice may demand that these parents themselves suffer euthanasia at the hands of their children. We're dealing with cosmic levels of blood guilt here, and God only knows how it will be connected in His divine economy. Suzanne Rini may well have it right:

Teachers, leave them kids alone...

Mark Steyn contributed an interesting piece to the January 2004 New Criterion, Expensive illiterates: victimhood & education; in which (while frying larger fish) he laments the failure of our occupying forces to exercise as high a degree of control over Iraq's educational establishment as we have over other aspects of Iraqi national life.

Ever since the coalition victory last spring, the Americans have been in charge of the Iraqi school system. On the face of it, this should be no different from any other sphere of administration under the liberators: British and American soldiers train the new Iraqi army, British and American police train the new Iraqi constabulary, British and American civil servants train the new Iraqi public service. But one from the entire American educational establishment seems to have been allowed anywhere near Iraq's schools....

This is very different from the way the British Empire dealt with the matter in the days when thousands of schoolmarms from the Welsh valleys and the industrial Midlands were dispatched to remote colonial outposts. John Southard of Emory University has characterized imperial education thus: 'Colonizing governments realize that they gain strength not necessarily through physical control, but through mental control. This mental control is implemented through a central intellectual location, the school system.'

A couple weeks ago I had a chance to talk with the father of a young woman who has been coming to Sunday school at our church at the invitation of one of our church families. Recent immigrants from India, and Hindu, I asked the father what the common attitude was in India towards the British.

He responded by speaking with pride of his nation's historical association with the British, making it clear he nursed no bitterness.

I asked why, in his judgement, there was such a different post-colonial experience in Africa?