February 2008

Feminism and the English language...

(Tim) Despite my comments about the neocons, I'll eat humble pie and pass on this excellent Weekly Standard article by David Gelernter titled, "Feminism and the English Language: Can the damage to our mother tongue be undone."

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Bentley Rayburn for Congress...

Bentleyrayburn When our work on the Ad Interim Committee on Women in the Military done for the Presbyterian Church in America's General Assembly was finished, I'd come to have an especially deep respect for two committee members, Steve Leonard and his brother-in-law, Bentley Rayburn. Both men were solid oaks of biblical commitment who refused to give in to the forces demanding the interchangeability of the sexes, and this was at some cost to their military careers.

At the time, Bentley had not yet retired from the Air Force. His rank was Maj. General and his last two assignments before retirement April 1, 2006 were Commandant of the Air War College and Vice Commander, Air University, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; then Commander, Air Force Doctrine Center, also at Maxwell Air Force Base.

Following retirement, Bentley made a good, but ultimately unsuccessful, run for a seat in Congress from the Fifth Congressional District in Colorado. He's repeating his run this year and his candidacy warms my heart.

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Sadie Hawkins Day: Wooing as warfare's lighter side...

(This from our Denver correspondent, with a link to Relient K's Sadie Hawkins Dance)   In the English speaking world, it is a tradition that women may propose marriage only on leap years. While it has been argued that the tradition was initiated by Saint Patrick or Brigid of Kildare in fifth century Ireland, it is dubious as the tradition has not been attested before the 19th century.

Supposedly, a 1288 law by Queen Margaret of Scotland (then age five and living in Norway), required that fines be levied if a marriage proposal was refused by the man; compensation ranged from a kiss to £1 to a silk gown, in order to soften the blow. Because men felt that put them at too great a risk, the tradition was in some places tightened to restricting female proposals to the modern leap day, 29 February, or to the medieval leap day, 24 February. According to Felten: "A play from the turn of the 17th century, 'The Maydes Metamorphosis,' has it that 'this is leape year/women wear breeches.' A few hundred years later, breeches wouldn't do at all: Women looking to take advantage of their opportunity to pitch woo were expected to wear a scarlet petticoat -- fair warning, if you will."

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William F. Buckley, R.I.P....

I've known the grief of losing loved ones; my brothers, father-in-law, Mapalo, Rita... many others. Then, of course, my father. If the Lord had not been on our side, we would have been swept away.

Beyond the private sphere, I've been struck with a more public grief, but rarely. I think my grief when John Lennon died wasn't really for him, but for the death of my youth. Immediately, though, I was brought to my senses by my dear friend, Paul Cote, who suggested it was God's kindness, keeping Lennon from even greater condemnation had he lived longer.

When Francis Schaeffer died...

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Still wrestling on day two...

Ohsaameet_2Nate lost his first match at the Ohio state wrestling tournament Thursday afternoon by a tech fall in the third period. His first round draw was a wrestler picked by most experts to take first in state and he pretty much manhandled Nate, though he didn't actually pin him.

Because the tournament is double elimination--a wrestler must lost twice to be out--Nate wrestled again in a consolation round Thursday evening and won with a fall in the second period. Nate wrestles next Friday afternoon--and at that point each weight division will be down to 12 wrestlers, four undefeated and eight with one defeat each.

At left is a photo of Ohio State's Schottenheiser Arena with the tournament running. Look for the specks in section 232 on the far wall and you'll find us. Unfortunately, Nate's teammate Mattew Curcio is no longer wrestling. But for character and tenacity Matthew and his brother Joel deserve golds.

Men, we have blood on our hands...

I’ve been deeply troubled for many years as I’ve noted how pastors, elders, and Christian health care professionals don’t bother to educate, let alone speak prophetically to the church about the attacks upon the Image of God multiplying before our eyes. Most of the attacks occur at life’s vulnerable margins—the unborn, the newborn, the feeble, the comatose, the elderly—and they happen in the millions each year. The souls that die are those souls Christians should be most concerned for because, in our time, these are the widows, orphans, and sojourners in distress.

But certain forces conspire to silence our consciences, keeping us blind, passive, and unfaithful to the watchman’s duties as these attacks grow. What are those forces?

Well of course, materialism, love of comfort, greed, selfishness, fear, unbelief, hatred of the gift of discernment, and more. But, for many of us, the critical factor is our own direct and indirect involvement in bloodshed.

Directly, we ourselves have fornicated and, to escape the mess, allowed our girlfriend to hire Planned Parenthood to murder our child. We ourselves have turned away from a pregnancy at an inconvenient age—say forty or forty-five—and secretly driven to the city to have our little one murdered. We have allowed our obstetrician to talk us into killing our unborn child after an ultrasound revealed certain serious fetal anomalies of a genetic origin. We have refused to allow our loved ones to be fed by tube, depriving them of the means of the sustaining of life when death was neither imminent nor inevitable. We have institutionalized our fathers and mothers, declaring our work for the Lord more important than the Fifth Commandment; and, shortly after institutionalization, we were greatly relieved that death came quickly.

Indirectly, we have been silent in the face of changes in medical standards and technology that assault life. We have prescribed and fulfilled prescriptions for drugs we knew worked in a statistically significant number of cases (or normally) as abortifacients. On our visits to the hospital or nursing home, we have turned a blind eye to the pneumonia that is not being treated with an antibiotic...

Thieves try to rob the bikers' bar...

"I can't believe these guys were stupid enough to come into a club with 50 bikers having a bike meeting - just crazy."

(Tim, w/thanks to David W.) Heavenly Father, may the day quickly come when the spirit of the age receives a similar reception when it comes into God's sheepfold and tries to destroy God's flock. Pastors and elders who catch the thieves red-handed and don't let go--yes!

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Immigration, abortion, and fertility...

(David) Statistics suggest that twenty percent of Americans will be foreign-born in 2050, a record high immigration rate for America, eclipsing even the 1860-1920 immigration wave which peaked at fifteen percent of the American population foreign-born.

Despite conservative concern over illegal immigration, America needs immigrants. Immigration has provided a significant portion of the fuel for America's economic fire over the last thirty years. And as the baby boom generation ages, immigrants will become even more essential to American productivity. This means conservative Christians need to think about whether it's preferable to have immigrants coming legally from many non-Christian lands, or whether the illegal immigration of Roman Catholic workers from Mexico has actually been a moral boon.

Regardless, the great need of America in this realm is a reversal of the fertility-hating, child-killing philosophies that have driven our nation into this demographic rut. Christians should imitate the early Puritans by rejoicing in children, fertility, the blessings of the large and happy home and conjugal love.

And if we don't this is what our future will look like. (Thanks for the link, Marc)

Transplant ethics

(David) Read this story in the New York Times on a handicapped young man hastened to death by a transplant surgeon and realize:

  1. That transplant ethics in non-matched-pair major organ transplantation are virtually non-existent.
  2. That ever since the Harvard Ad Hoc Committee on Brain Death advanced the "brain death" criteria for a declaration of death in 1968 the medical definition of death has been a forty-year slip-and-slide--all driven by the need for (young) people to die so that organs can be harvested.
  3. That far from exceptional, what took place with the young man at the heart of the NYT story is not uncommon in transplant circles. ( Six or seven years ago when I was a correspondent for World magazine I urged World to permit me to do a story on brain death and transplantation. World didn't go for it, but in researching the article I quickly found three young participants on TBI locked-in-syndrome chat boards who had been declared brain dead by doctors who then immediately followed up their declaration of brain death with the request to harvest their organs. The only reason I was able to find these young men and women is that parents/guardians didn't give their OK to the requests.)
  4. That, as the NYT article makes clear, even normally unfazed medical professionals are often scandalized by the actions of transplant teams.

I think it's an open question whether organ donation when a person is near death is ethically permissible. Perhaps it can be construed as a person giving his life for another, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. But parents and guardians who have medical professionals come to them for the right to harvest organs from loved ones need to be very careful in thinking their decision through. Except in cases of catastrophic trauma the situation will usually be some permutation of the case described in the NYT article.

Pigs is Pigs, Part 3

Wrestling_1 (David) My oldest son, Nate, took 4th place in Ohio's Northwest District wrestling tournament last weekend--which means he's one of sixteen Division 3 189 pounders to wrestle for the state championship at Ohio State's Schottenstein Center this weekend. Nate won his first two matches, took a fall in the second period of his third match to the eventual district champion, won his fourth match and lost his final match for third place on points.

Wrestling_2I don't know of a better sport for developing character in young men than wrestling. Of course, Nathan's coach, Mario, is a real man of God who loves him like a son. In another setting wrestling might not be as powerfully formative as it's proven for Nathan. Personally, I'd love to see PCA churches more eager to develop biddy wrestling programs than art shows for community outreach--though I suspect such an approach would appear dismally lowbrow, even, horrors, baptistic, to many in the PCA.

Wrestling_3In the first picture Nathan's wrestling for a place in the state tournament. He wins this match.

In the second and third pictures, Nathan's wrestling for third place--a match he eventually loses.

Wrestling_4_4 In the final picture, Nate's resting having just won a place in the state tournament. To his left is his youngest brother, Isaiah, who knelt in his corner with the coaches each match.

Women deacons for the PCA: the nub of the issue, along with a proposal...

(Tim) In the discussion of the common practice of women serving alongside men as deacons within the PCA, one man comments, “I’m trying to figure out under what circumstances I’d need to think about submitting to a deacon.”

This is the nub of the issue and the fact that it’s so rarely discussed indicates either ignorance concerning the teaching of Scripture about the order of creation of man and woman, or a deliberate clouding of the issue by those opposed to that order. No doubt both are present across our denomination.

Authority isn’t the heart of the office as it is with elders, but to say the office of deacon is not one of authority, but service, is not to say the sex of the one being promised submission is immaterial to congregational vows.

If those pushing women deacons in the PCA were simply to call them “deaconesses” and make it clear that the implementation of the calling would be hedged about with clear lines of demarcation between deaconesses and deacons--all centered on the issue of reserving to men only the exercise of substantive authority over men--many of us would make common cause with them. The fact that this is precisely not what’s being practiced or argued for is most telling. Is this clear?

Moving on in victory toward peace and harmony...

Libertideacon(David) Let's think for a moment about the meaning of presbyterial life.

If the essence of presbyterianism is elders willingly subjecting themselves to their brethren...

And if ordained elders should never willfully violate the PCA's standards without first submitting their teaching or course-of-action to presbytery for approval...

And if those who come to possess beliefs substantially opposed to settled portions of PCA standards should leave the PCA for a denomination sympathetic to their new convictions rather than mar PCA harmony by staying and fighting...

Then what, pray tell, are we to make of PCA churches actually laying hands upon women (and men) in services of "commissioning" to the diaconal office?

And what are we to make of this overture to the PCA's 2008 General Assembly from the Philadelphia Presbytery asking General Assembly to sanction retroactively the ordination of women to an office clearly forbidden them by PCA standards?

And finally, why has no one sought to discipline these churches and this presbytery?

The irony is so thick you could cut it.

(Thanks for the link, Andrew)

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