Archive for December, 2010

A Case for Marriage – G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

14 Dec

Yesterday I wrote about how Christmas being about Christ would be better communicated by how Christians live that people attaching the abbreviated name “Xmas.”

Along the same lines is the debate about the governmental definition of “marriage.” There’s different cultural forces in the debate about that word. Christians are told that everyone is offended by them saying the name of the Federal Holiday “Christmas” so they must not say it. You must not ask people to be tolerant of your perspective. With marriage, there is a very purposeful effort to create a new definition, which would be legally forced on everyone to accept. One point being: you will not be tolerated for your beliefs (calling Christmas “Christmas”), but you will be legally required not to tolerate but to accept and have your children taught someone else’s beliefs (changing the millennials-old religious concept of “marriage.”)

This isn’t the first time in American history that marriage has come under attack. Possibly a greater attack was when divorce was made legally quick and easy. Today Christian marriage doesn’t stand out in American culture from non-Christian marriage. Christians, including multiple pastors by whom I’ve been taught, have divorced. We’ve caved. We’ve gone the convenient route of compromising our covenants. We’ve changed beliefs about marriage because it became legally and socially acceptable to break our bonds of covenant, which are supposed to symbolize the commitment of God to his people. We aren’t acting like Hosea, we’re acting like Hosea’s wife.

I’ve often thought that the case for Christian marriage wouldn’t be a verbal sparring or a federal constitutional amendment. (My libertarian side doesn’t think the federal government should get into this debate, but leave it up to the states. Neither side of the argument agrees with me as everyone would seemingly rather force their ideas on everyone rather than allow choice.) I’ve thought the stronger case would be for there to be a revolution regarding the theology of marriage among Christians.

G. K. Chesterton makes a surprisingly logical and secular case for Christian marriage in Orthodoxy. It’s part of a great chapter by a great book by perhaps my new favorite author – but I’ll write more on Chesterton and this book later. Here Chesterton is writing about his disagreement with his peers that believe a perfect utopia would be the dissolution of all personal bonds. He sees that as a dystopia. It seems that Chesterton’s comments lean toward a perspective that argues for protection of the marriage concept as something that is for the good of society.

What is your perspective? Here’s Chesterton:

I could never conceive or tolerate any Utopia which did not leave to me the liberty for which I chiefly care, the liberty to bind myself. Complete anarchy would not merely make it impossible to have any discipline or fidelity; it would also make it impossible to have any fun. To take an obvious instance, it would not be worth while to bet if a bet were not binding. The dissolution of all contracts would not only ruin morality but spoil sport. Now betting and such sports are only the stunted and twisted shapes of the original instinct of man for adventure and romance, of which much has been said in these pages. And the perils, rewards, punishments, and fulfilments of an adventure must be real, or the adventure is only a shifting and heartless nightmare. If I bet I must be made to pay, or there is no poetry in betting. If I challenge I must be made to fight, or there is no poetry in challenging. If I vow to be faithful I must be cursed when I am unfaithful, or there is no fun in vowing.

You could not even make a fairy tale from the experiences of a man who, when he was swallowed by a whale, might find himself at the top of the Eiffel Tower, or when he was turned into a frog might begin to behave like a flamingo. For the purpose even of the wildest romance results must be real; results must be irrevocable. Christian marriage is the great example of a real and irrevocable result; and that is why it is the chief subject and centre of all our romantic writing.

And this is my last instance of the things that I should ask, and ask imperatively, of any social paradise; I should ask to be kept to my bargain, to have my oaths and engagements taken seriously; I should ask Utopia to avenge my honour on myself.


Christmas and X-Mas

13 Dec

Sharing the Joy of Jesus' Birth

Since I was a child I’ve heard people lamenting “the X where Christ used to be” in Xmas.

Once I learned Greek I learned that χ (chi) is the first letter of χριστυς, the Greek word the biblical authors used for “Christ,” or “Messiah.” After a bit of research, I realized that for centuries Christians have been abbreviating words with chi instead of writing out “Christ,” such as in the ixthus (the Greek word for “fish”), which is an acronym that in Greek stands for Jesus Christ God’s Son Our Savior. While it may be a way for people to avoid “Christ” and just focus on the Catholic “Mass” of Christmas, it wasn’t started maliciously. (Coincidentally, none of my evangelical friends are seeking to follow or promote the “Mass” part of “Christmas.”)

What would be a stronger case for Christmas – Evangelicals arguing with non-Christians that they should call a day by the name of the Catholic Mass, or, Christians acting like Christ as we remember his birth?

Christians who say that Christmas should be about Christ yet celebrate Christmas in identical ways as non-Christians are silenced by their actions.

Rather than merely yelling “It’s about JESUS!” at people, perhaps the point would be communicated better by more Christians, who by their name are also supposed to be about Christ, lived out the idea that Christmas is about Jesus – not presents, chocolate, decorations, etc. On Christmas we celebrate the greatest sacrifice in history – God, to testify to the truth, lowering himself to the form of a fragile human baby to grow up and be the sacrifice for the world.

Celebrating this ought to look very different that a winter solstice festival, or a celebration of a fat man who delivers gifts to greedy children.

Shouting a catchy slogan at the world is perhaps not what Jesus had in mind when he told us “as you are going throughout the world make disciples.”

If all we have is words, we are condemned by Christ quoting Isaiah in Matthew 15: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.”

Live Christmas differently if you want to communicate that it is about Jesus.


Adoption: A Parenting Gauntlet [Link]

09 Dec

Here’s an excerpt from this excellent article by a father who himself was adopted when he was 1 1/2 about what he and other kids who were adopted struggle with.

I was adopted when I was 1 ½ years old.  There aren’t many relevant details to tell about the actual adoption right now apart from the fact that I know (now) my biological mom loved me but couldn’t keep me, and my adoptive parents acquired me (and my twin sister) and grew to love me.  My life has been pretty good.  I’m a normal-ish person.  I have no major quirks, and I’m happy.  However, hindsight makes trials appear less rigorous than they actually are; I might have turned out differently had not a few things gone my way.  Of course, everybody has hurdles in life that they must overcome; it’s not like adopted kids have it tough while everybody else gets a free ride.  But, it is true that adopted kids have special issues that most kids will never have to deal with.  They have to resolve feelings that most other kids don’t, and that necessitates a different kind of parenting.

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Chanukah History [video]

02 Dec

Here’s an entertaining way to learn a little bit about Chanukah.

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TSA Procedures are not about safety (Part 1)

01 Dec

(I’ve thought about blogging on the Transportation Security Administration’s new procedures, but every time I start another news story hits. At this point, there’s too much for one post, so I figured I’d get started.)

TSA PatdownThe Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has implemented new procedures which include a special type of full-body X-Ray whose radiation is absorbed into your skin and the tissue just under the skin, to produce a naked image of the passenger, and/or the passenger must be patted-down including the passengers sexual organs.

One basic question about this is:

What’s the point of these new procedures?

Napalitano and the TSA says its necessary for safety.

For safety? Airport security was dramatically changed after 9/11. In the last 9 years, how many commercial plans have been successfully used in terrorism? 0. That means whatever’s been going on has had a 100% success rate.

“BUT THERE’S BEEN ATTEMPTS!” Certainly, there was the shoe bomber (Episcopal, right?), and now we take off our shoes to go through airport security. There was also the failed underwear bomber (Presbyterian I think?).  There’s real questions about whether the new procedures would have even detected the underwear bomber’s device.

Further, these devices and pat-down-feel-ups will not detect anything hidden inside of one’s body.

So, as far as any information the public has, these new techniques will not improve on the 100% success rate we’ve had for 9 years without them.

Perhaps the government has other information that hasn’t yet been published on wikileaks. Perhaps we are under imminent threat by terrorists who will use on-the-skin devices to try to commit terror. Perhaps the only way we will be safe from known threats is to hit the terrorists with these new procedures. These new procedures were in place just in time for the busiest travel day of the year. If there’s ever times to use heightened security, it’s when there’s evidence of a threat at a specific time, or the busiest travel days of the year.

What better time to want to blow up a plane than when more people are flying, lines are backed up, everyone is stressed out and in a rush. It’s then that one would most easily slip through undetected.

And it was on the busiest travel days of the year that the TSA played a very sly hand and didn’t enforce the new procedures to deflate the threat of “Opt-Out Day” when many people were going to refuse the scan. When the threat was greatest, they stopped the procedures they said would keep us safe.

And no planes were used to crash into buildings. The standard procedures continued to be 100% effective.

I’ve heard Michael Medved and others write off concerns about this – it’s not that invasive, it’s not that embarrassing. But those aren’t the point. The point isn’t that you or I feel embarrassed, the point is that there’s constitutional issues here about unlawful search. The point is that the government is lying and in the name of security they’re testing to see how much freedom we’re willing to give up when promised safety.

Are you willing to take off your belt and your shoes? Yes.

Are you willing to have your bags x-rayed? Yes.

Are you willing to go through a metal detector? Yes.

Are you willing to be splashed with radiation that will increase your rates of infertility and cancer and/or be subjected to sexual assault by government employees?

Are you willing for your children to be splashed with radiation that will increase their rates of infertility and cancer and/or for your children to be subjected to sexual assault by government employees?

We do not forfeit our rights when we fly on a plane. The purchase of a product or service from a private company does not cause your civil rights to be terminated or suspended.

Clearly the issue is not about security. The TSA was very clever in playing up the concerns and then yanking out the rug from under”Opt-Out Day” so now everyone believes this was just media hype. In the process, the American people have agreed to submit themselves to sexual abuse by the government.

I thought we were supposed to be proud of the call “Give me liberty or give me death,” but instead we together chant “Give me liberty or take it away but tell me it’s for my own good.”