Some people will point to things like this and condemn contemporary American values. We Americans don’t care about the world around us, and we only want to be entertained.
But I don’t think this is a particularly American phenomenon. I think it’s just a function of being human. As I read the Onion’s satire, I immediately thought of St. Augustine crying over Dido.
In the Confessions, Augustine admits that when he was younger, Dido’s death in the Aeneid made him cry. He cried over her suicide, and he cried because of her love for Aeneas. Then he upbraids his younger self because he should have been crying over his own state of self-dying to God and, I believe, by extension the world’s dying state.
Would Augustine cry over Krypton? I think so. If Augustine shed tears for Dido, then of course he would grieve for that dying world. But you might say, “The Aeneid is a classic of Western Civilization, and Man of Steel is just another superhero movie!” The two aren’t actually so far apart. Every complaint that critics have made against Man of Steel could also be directed against the Aeneid. Unoriginal source material. Check. Lacking in humor. Check. Ridiculously overblown fight scenes. Check.
I don’t think it’s wrong to grieve for fictional characters. Augustine’s problem was that he cried over the fictional world but didn’t cry for his own. If the death of a fictional planet prepares our hearts to grieve, if it provokes a knowledge that this world too is passing away, then let us enjoy the movie without shame. If the fictional world merely helps us escape from this dying world, then we’ve got a problem. When entertainment numbs the pain and makes us forget that this world is broken, we’ve begun to amuse ourselves to death.
We shouldn’t let Krypton’s destruction keep us from praying for Syria. Let Krypton’s destruction remind us that this world is passing away. Let Dido’s death remind us that apart from a savior we all lay dying before God.
Let me begin with a disclaimer. I spent 13 years as a student in the public-school system. My mother just retired after teaching in the public-school system for more than 28 years. I married a public-school teacher, though she quit after our first child was born. My wife’s mother was a public-school teacher until her death a few years back. My little brother—public-school teacher. I’ve been in and around the system my whole life.
Since I’m so familiar with the public-school system, I wasn’t at all shocked when I read the Associated Press’s article on the National Council on Teacher Quality. The NCTQ reports that we’re doing a pretty lousy job preparing new teachers for the classroom. They looked at more than a thousand teacher-training programs at colleges and universities, and they weren’t impressed.
Through an exhaustive and unprecedented examination of how these schools operate, the review finds they have become an industry of mediocrity, churning out first-year teachers with classroom management skills and content knowledge inadequate to thrive in classrooms.
Some folks in the educational-industrial-complex are calling foul. I admit that the NCTQ worded its report provocatively. They’re trying to get a reaction. Just because it’s provocative doesn’t mean it’s not true.
Everyone knows that America’s public schools are in sad shape. Some schools are better than others, but even the best public schools in America don’t inspire a Halleluiah chorus.
However, I’m not hopeful that addressing the NCTQ’s concerns will help much. It’ll be a step in the right direction, but I think fixing public education will take more than some incremental improvements in teacher training.
The AP’s correct when it points to teacher quality as being the biggest problem in our public schools.
“There’s plenty of research out there that shows that teacher quality is the single most important factor,” said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a supporter of the organization’s work.
Democrat Markell said: “We have to attract the best candidates” possible.
It’s not merely a matter of better training. The school system needs better college students to embark on a career in education. Look at standardized tests. SAT and GRE scores demonstrate that education majors are some of the poorest students on the college campus. Why? Why are the talented kids majoring in other things? It’s not for the money. Kids with some of the best test scores tend to major in English. You’d think they’d be smarter than that and major in something that will prepare them for a career.
The best students aren’t avoiding teacher-training programs because the programs are substandard. Dear NCTQ, better programs won’t fix the problem. Our best and brightest avoid the public-school system because they felt its soul-crushing power for thirteen years.
The public school is designed to take all types of students and churn out a consistent product. By it’s very nature it shoots for mediocrity. “Teach to the middle” is the mantra, whether it’s spoken out-loud or not.
Our best and brightest leave high school and, for the first time, breathe freedom. Is it a surprise that few decide to return? But a few do go back. Like Socrates who saw the Sun and crawled back into the cave to tell his countrymen, some young idealists do return. They dream of “making a difference.” And the system rewards their brave nobility by crushing their souls again.
The public-school system is a bureaucratic nightmare. Nameless forces try to micromanage a teacher’s every action. A form exists for every imaginable task. But the bureaucracy is necessary. We must micromanage because we know that so many of our teachers are substandard. But it’s a perverse world that we live in. The only ones who thrive in this soulless leviathan are the most mediocre of the lot. Mediocrity can fill out the paper work. Mediocrity likes meetings and workshops. Mediocrity can play the game. Our best and brightest teachers, however, suffocate in this atmosphere.
Nothing’s going to change because most Americans just don’t care. Oh, we weep and gnash our teeth. We say, “Someone needs to do something!” We shout about accountability. But honestly, we don’t care about education and educators. We just want a babysitter. We need some place to park our kids so we can get back to making money. The state’s more than happy to oblige. They need us all making money so that we can pay enough taxes to keep Social Security afloat for another year.
Until we create a system in which our best and brightest teachers can thrive, we’ll have mediocrity. But mediocrity will do for now. Mediocrity can babysit.
*Now allow me to remind you of my disclaimer at the beginning. Don’t tell me that there are some really great teachers out there. I know it. I’m related to some of them. My little brother, bless his heart, is a brilliant idealist. But the good teachers are in the minority, and if the NCTQ is to be believed their numbers continue to dwindle.
Over the last couple of months, I have written a few posts related to Calvinism’s place in the Southern Baptist Convention. Recent events at Louisiana College have figured prominently in discussions on this topic. Last week at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention, Joe Aguillard, the president of Louisiana College, granted an interview to Baptist 21‘s Jonathan Akin. In the interview, Aguillard gets the chance to tell his side of the story.
My colleague at Houston Baptist University, Sara Frear, entered the blogosphere today. I think her inaugural piece, “No News Is Good News,” might be of interest to many readers of First Things. At one point she writes:
But is the good really the norm? With all the brokenness of the world, all the lives of quiet desperation, why does the bad, even of the explosive variety, come as a surprise? Why not see the bad as the norm?
Looking at the question as a historian, Sara contemplates the fact that evil still startles us in spite of its commonness. You’d think we’d be used to the bad news by now.
My sister-in-law recently alerted me to a humorous announcement in the bulletin of her Catholic parish. The priest of Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond, LA, would like for his parishioners to know:
PLANS FOR PARISH SWIMMING POOL SCRAPPED!
After much study, our ﬁnance committee has determined it would not be feasible to construct an indoor swimming pool in our church. As a result, we can now announce with certainty that those who have been arriving for Mass as if dressed for the pool need not do so. Also, we hope to keep the air conditioning cranking until well into October. So you do not need to wear shorts, tube‐tops, spaghetti straps, camis, or mini shirts to Mass.
I hadn’t seen this bit of satire before, but it turns out that it is a variation of a joke that’s been floating around for at least a couple of years. Though the announcement is humorous, it seems that the priest’s complaint against casual dress is real. Why don’t people get dressed up for church anymore?
It’s not just the Catholics who have started wearing swimsuits to church. My Baptist tradition tends to be “low church,” and we started the slide towards casual dress a long time ago. Some Baptist churches still expect the pastor and maybe the deacons to wear a coat and maybe a tie, but most congregations have abandoned even a tacit dress code.
“Church shouldn’t be so stuffy.” “Let’s all get comfortable.” I can’t for the life of me understand how some folks are “comfortable” in skimpy clothing. We keep the air conditioning too cold for that. I find that in Houston July and August are the most important months for layering.
But it’s not just about comfort. Church is a place where you can be yourself. We encourage people to be “authentic.” We tell people, “Come as you are!” What people hear is, “Tasteful clothing is optional!” These days it’s important for everyone to be an individual who’s authentic, so it’s very important for us all to come to church in flip-flops and shorts. We want to show off our individual style that’s just like everyone else’s. And really shorts and flip-flops are so authentic. I mean, really, like, that’s who I am. I wear these to the office everyday. Don’t you?
But we mean it when we tell people to come as they are. The gospel tells us that we can’t clean ourselves up. God won’t be fooled by my bowtie. I’ll still be a mess no matter what I’m wearing. I suppose that there’s a gospel imperative for chucking the dress code. Come as you are. But wait; there’s more to the gospel.
The gospel also says that Christ doesn’t leave us as we are. He clothes us in his own righteousness. I think we can do something with this. I propose an addition to the liturgy (for my Baptist brothers, that’s a fancy word for “order of service”).
When a man or woman enters the church building dressed for a day at the beach or perhaps the gym, let us be ready. I propose that every congregation have white bathrobes at hand. You “came as you are” with bare shoulders or exposed thighs (I’m talking to men too). Your sins exposed for all to see (too many Oreos, tanning bed, body piercings, etc.). In order to symbolize being clothed with the righteousness of Christ, we will cover you with a spotless bathrobe. When we, sinners, come to Christ, he doesn’t leave us in our sins. Shouldn’t we do likewise for our brothers and sisters who come to church dressed in tank tops? After all, didn’t Christ say, “I was naked and you clothed me.” It’s our Christian duty to help. It’s our Christian duty to hand them a bathrobe.
And remember, Church should be comfortable. Nothing’s more cozy than a fluffy white bathrobe.
Dean Koontz recently released the latest installment in his Odd Thomas series, Deeply Odd. These supernatural thrillers have gained quite a following among conservatives because the books reject moral relativism and critique America’s political correctness.
Though they are thrillers, the books are also funny, and Koontz’s political commentary is especially witty. But they are worth reading because they have a fabulous hero. The series chronicles the adventures of Odd Thomas, a simple fry cook with a special gift. Odd sees dead people, and he uses this gift to solve crimes and right wrongs.
Odd is an entirely likeable character. Though he’s just a simple fry cook (who happens to see dead people), Odd is a classic hero. He’s faithful, brave, dutiful, and just about every other heroic trait you can think of. Most importantly he’s humble. Odd knows that he must step in and right wrongs, but he never feels in charge, and he always feels inadequate.
But Odd isn’t the only likeable character. Koontz populates these books with a number of quirky and fascinating good guys. It’s this quality that I think makes the Odd Thomas books worth reading. Interesting villains are easy for authors. John Milton’s Satan and George Lucas’s Darth Vader steal the show. The thriller genre is especially known for churning out the fascinating bad guys. Everyone remembers Annie Wilkes from Misery and Hannibal Lector from Red Dragon, but who were those other characters again?
In the Odd Thomas series, Koontz intentionally makes the villains pedestrian, even clichéd. In Deeply Odd the hero comments:
Evil is not imaginative. It inspires the same transgressions over and over again, with such infinitesimal variation that only the weak-minded are not quickly bored by that way of living. It seeks to destroy, and destruction takes no imagination. Creation takes true imagination, the making of something new and wondrous, whether it’s a song or an iPad, a novel or a new cooking surface more durable than Teflon, a new flavor of ice cream or spacecraft that can travel to the moon.
The villains are a little boring, but Odd’s friends are delightful. These friends are not complex characters in the sense that they are heroes with flaws. Rather they are complex because they show the reader new ways to love life, love beauty, and love the truth. And they’re fun. The good guys tend to have a lot of fun in these books.
These fun good guys operate within a distinctly Christian framework. Good is good. Evil is evil. Acknowledging the difference brings the heroes joy. Brother Odd is probably the funniest of the books so far, and it takes place in a Catholic monastery. The characters do not necessarily espouse orthodox Christian theology (although Odd does seem to get more orthodox as the books wear on), but Christian themes are found throughout. Faith, hope, and love figure prominently, along with the notion of self-sacrifice.
In Deeply Odd Odd Thomas must track down some kidnapped children before something bad happens to them. The book contains the trademark political commentary. This passage from the beginning of the book seems to take a shot at Obama.
The line between moral behavior and narcissistic self-righteousness is thin and difficult to discern. The man who stands before a crowd and proclaims his intention to save the seas is convinced that he is superior to a man who merely picks up his own and other people’s litter on the beach, when in fact the latter is in some small way sure to make the world a better place, while the former is likely to be a monster of vanity whose crusade will lead to unintended destruction.
Honestly though, the political commentary doesn’t sparkle quite as much as it did in previous books. My speculative nature wonders if our current political climate is wearing on Koontz. The two most recent books are less funny, and they have taken a turn towards the phantasmagoric. Koontz seems to be setting up a final show down between good and evil in the next book.
Deeply Odd is a worthwhile addition to the series, which now spans six books (or seven if you count the e-book serial). None of the sequels match the original, but the sum of the series seems to be more than the parts. The books are quirky, and they won’t suit the tastes of everyone. But I think they’re worth reading. They acknowledge that this world is broken, and they can be a bit scary at points. But if you’re paying attention they’ll also encourage you to love the good, the true, and the beautiful.
In my post “Why We Don’t Have Lutheran Baptists,” I wrote, “Both reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin, had similar doctrines of soteriology.” Since that post went up, my inbox has been peppered with alerts from Google notifying me that Lutheran bloggers and commenters have taken issue with my assertion. I didn’t expect to arouse anyone’s ire, and I’d like to revisit this historical question in hopes of shedding some light on my position.
I had assumed that it was common knowledge that Melanchthon modified Luther’s soteriology to make more room for human free will. Luther’s writings about salvation sound like Calvin. There’s good reason for this. Both Luther and Calvin were dependent on Augustinian soteriology. Moreover, Calvin is dependent on Luther. The first edition of Calvin’s Institutes borrows much from Luther’s Short Catechism. When one is dependent on the other, they are going to be similar.
The biggest complaint that I received from Lutherans was that I obviously couldn’t understand the issue at hand because I neglected to mention the importance of Lutheranism’s doctrine of the sacraments. Calvin and Luther might sound superficially alike, but since they don’t view the sacraments similarly, their soteriologies cannot be similar. This is a very curious assertion.
As I’ve already mentioned, Melanchthon softened Luther’s hard doctrine of predestination. It seems to have been forgotten by many Lutherans that in 1540 Melanchthon also tried to eliminate the “real presence” from the Eucharist in a revision of the Augsburg Confession. Melanchthon’s ideas about the Eucharist actually ended up influencing the Reformed tradition. How’s that for a twist? But after Luther’s death, a faction that historians call gnesio-Lutherans (“authentic” Lutherans) opposed Melanchthon’s modifications to Luther’s theology.
In his magisterial The Reformation: A History, Diarmaid MacCulloch has a wonderful passage describing disputes between these two Lutheran factions and how these disputes helped define the relationship between Lutherans and Calvinists. These disputes especially concerned soteriology and the sacraments.
Lutheranism’s internal arguments about salvation and the Eucharist became all the more bitter because after the 1555 Peace of Augsburg they represented not only a contest for God’s favour but a political competition to possess the newly acquired legal status of Lutheran Protestantism within the Empire. Worse still, they were played out against the background of the disputes between Lutheran and Reformed Protestants: these reached a defining moment in the decade after the 1549 Consensus Tigurinus, when the emerging champion of Reformed theology John Calvin exchanged insults with the Hamburg gnesio-Lutheran Joachin Westphal about eucharistic doctrine. To complicate matters further, Calvin emphatically agreed with the ‘original’ Luther (and therefore with the gnesio-Lutherans) against Melanchthon on predestination, but he disapproved of Luther’s assertions about eucharistic presence and sympathized with Melanchthon in his efforts to modify them. In the end, in the intricate and convoluted disputes leading to a resolution of the doctrinal impasses within Lutheranism, it was what Calvin or the Reformed believed that decided what mainstream Lutheranism would pronounce as orthodoxy. If Calvin had affirmed it, then they were against it (although naturally this was not how they argued in public or in print).
MacCulloch concludes by saying, “Lutheran orthodoxy therefore emerged as playing down the doctrine of predestination (with Melanchthon) and affirming the real presence in the Eucharist (against Melanchthon).” From the Calvinist point of view, the Lutherans chose the exact wrong options available to them from their own tradition. They should have stuck with Luther on predestination (like Calvin did) and Melanchthon on the Eucharist (like Calvin did).
David Koyzis asks why we have Calvinist Baptists, but no Lutheran Baptists. He makes some good points in his piece. There is a certain awkwardness when discussing Calvinists within the Baptist tradition. Baptists are called Baptists because we baptize those who profess belief in Christ, while Calvin believed that it was the church’s responsibility to moisten infants. A Baptist could not really adhere to all Calvin’s teachings.
When we speak of “Calvinist Baptists” we refer to Baptists who affirm Calvin’s soteriology. Why not call them Lutheran Baptists? Both reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin, had similar doctrines of soteriology. (I know some people will disagree with that last statement, but those people are wrong.) My friend and colleague, Jerry Walls, has even called Thomas Aquinas a Calvinist. How does “Thomistic Baptists” sound? Why does Calvin get all the credit?
The reasons are mostly historical. One should not underestimate the role of Calvin’s Institutes. Calvin created a handbook for faith and practice that helped transplant reformation into new contexts. While Luther’s writings are more entertaining, they aren’t systematic. If a Protestant has a question, chances are, the Institutes has an answer.
Calvin’s writings affected the English-speaking Christians. The Westminster Divines injected Calvinism into the Anglican church. Various nonconformists and congregationalists began to drift away from the Anglicans. Their theology became a modification of a modified Calvinism. Some of these congregationalists became convinced that paedobaptism was illegitimate. They modified a modification of a modified Calvinism.
We talk about Calvinism and Baptists because a rather distant historical connection exists. The English reformation owed more to Calvin than Luther. Baptists come from the English tradition. (I know some people will want to trot out a continental anabaptist and call him a founder of Baptists, but those influences are minuscule compared to the English congregationalists.)
Even Calvinist Baptists recognize this terminology’s inadequacy. When Calvinist Baptist are talking among themselves, they are much more likely to refer to themselves as “Reformed Baptists.” This preferred terminology tends to confuse anyone who is not a Reformed Baptist. But many Baptists within the SBC who believe in Calvin’s soteriology avoid all extraneous labeling. They just want to be Baptists. There are more accused Calvinists than self-identified Calvinists.
I was amused when I read Koyzis’s piece because I am a Baptist who has often said that I am more of a Lutheran than a Calvinist. What can I say? I like polemics. Usually, however, I refer to myself as an Augustinian Baptist. Most people are too afraid to ask what that means.
In recent years, Southern Baptists have been debating Calvinism’s role within the convention. Over the last couple of decades there’s been a resurgence of Calvinist theology in the SBC which some members have not welcomed. Though there are many points of tension, predestination is the most controversial doctrine.
At the SBC’s annual meeting in 2012, the Calvinism Advisory Committee was formed to address the role of Calvinism within the SBC. The committee included prominent Calvinists and non-Calvinists. After a year of work, they just released their statement.
The statement is a call for Baptists to remain united in purpose in spite of their diversity in theology. It admits that tensions exist within the convention, but it calls for Baptists to affirm the truth of Scripture and trust one another. It reaffirms the central purpose of the Baptist Faith and Message as the SBC’s statement of faith, a faith statement broad enough to include both Calvinists and non-Calvinists.
The Calvinism Advisory Committee’s entire statement is worth reading, but I feel this passage is the most important:
We affirm that Southern Baptists stand together in a commitment to cooperate in Great Commission ministries. We affirm that, from the very beginning of our denominational life, Calvinists and nonCalvinists have cooperated together. We affirm that these differences should not threaten our eager cooperation in Great Commission ministries.
We deny that the issues now discussed among us should in any way undermine or hamper our work together if we grant one another liberty and extend to one another charity in these differences. Neither those insisting that Calvinism should dominate Southern Baptist identity nor those who call for its elimination should set the course for our life together.
We affirm that The Baptist Faith and Message, as adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in 2000, stands as a sufficient and truthful statement of those doctrines most certainly held among us. We affirm that this confession of faith is to serve as the doctrinal basis for our cooperation in Great Commission ministry.
We deny that any human statement stands above Holy Scripture as our authority. We also deny that The Baptist Faith and Message is insufficient as the doctrinal basis for our cooperation. Other Baptist Confessions are not to be lenses through which The Baptist Faith and Message is to be read. The Baptist Faith and Message alone is our expression of common belief.
I think the committee’s approach is a good one. I appreciate the amount of humility and cooperation that the members must have exhibited in coming up with this statement. I pray that the Southern Baptists will continue to preach the gospel and seek truth in a spirit of cooperation.
This morning I tumbled down a rabbit hole of divinely inspired social media. I always knew that I could connect with friends and acquaintances through Facebook and Twitter, but I hadn’t considered using those platforms to strengthen my connection to God. As it turns out the Internet offers ample opportunities to reach the divine.
For those of you who haven’t figured it out yet, Facebook and Twitter are different genres. They’re both social media, but each has its own emphasis. Facebook helps you keep up with friends, while Twitter is the place for pithy commentary on the world. God obviously knows the difference between the two.
You can follow multiple Twitter accounts that claim to speak for God, and most of them tend to be fairly snarky. God attempts to tweet ironically, but unfortunately he’s not very funny. TheTweetOfGod tends to be a little cleverer and a lot angrier. He also seems to be very concerned with selling his snarky book. I’m not sure that TheTweetOfGod actually believes in himself. More than 500,000 people follow Jesus on Twitter, but I can’t figure out why. Though he attempts to be witty, his tweets don’t even make sense half the time.
Facebook’s divine presences tend to be kinder, gentler deities. The Gods of Facebook like posting cute pictures. GodQuotes doesn’t really post very many quotations from God, but he does upload numerous pictures of landscapes. Nothing says “God” like light breaking through the clouds. Sometimes he mixes it up and gives us a picture of a cute child or a puppy. Don’t just settle for “liking” GodQuotes because you won’t want to miss out on God’s official page. This Facebook page specializes in scary pictures of Jesus coupled with inspirational sayings. Speaking of Jesus, don’t forget to check out Jesus Daily. This page delivers just the right mix of sentimentality, humor, and guilt.
The Gods of Facebook tend to be a needy bunch. They shamelessly beg you to “like” all their kitsch. If you don’t “like” this picture then you’re not thanking God for love. Shame on you. But these Facebook pages are about more than liking to be liked. They also offer valuable opportunities. God’s Official Page and Jesus Daily both want you to get an online degree from Liberty University. Jesus Daily also hopes that you might pay for a program to get out of debt. Just to be clear, these aren’t Facebook ads; these are status updates containing affiliate links. Not that there’s anything wrong with affiliate links, but I’m just surprised that God needs the cash.
After looking at all this divine social media, I have a suspicion that God isn’t actually running these accounts. Why don’t the Gods of social media sound like the God of the Bible? The Gods of Twitter are flippant, ironic, and snarky, and their counterparts on Facebook are earnest, heartfelt, and saccharine. Their messages either conform to contemporary culture or exhibit empty emotivity. Might it be that we tend to make God in our own image? It seems that these accounts tell us nothing about the Lord our God, but they tell us a great deal about what our culture wishes he were like.
Dr. Levatino testified before Congress regarding the realities of abortion. His description is difficult to listen to, but Americans need to know what is really going on. Watch to the end. He ends with comments on the topic of abortion and women’s health. In discussing saving women’s lives, he says, “Abortion would have been worthless in that situation.” We don’t hear enough of this kind of testimony.
Yahoo Sports reports that basketball player Kevin Durant had his tattoo finished. The religious tattoo covers Durant’s entire back and includes a basketball-wielding angel, a portrait of Christ, and a verse of scripture.
The scripture is James 1:2-4.
Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
At least that’s what it’s supposed to say. It looks like the artist transposed the “t” and the “u” in “mature,” making “mautre.”
Durant will be able to put this verse into practice immediately. Consider your misspelled tattoos a sheer gift, friends. At least the challenge isn’t coming from “all sides.” It’s just coming from the back.
UPDATE [10:56 pm]:
Durant posted a new pic of the tattoo in which “mature” appears to be spelled correctly. It’s a little shiny, but it looks like a quick correction job.
G. K. Chesterton wrote, “Science in the modern world has many uses; its chief use, however, is to provide long words to cover the errors of the rich.” A rich man cannot be a thief. He must be a kleptomaniac. America, the richest society in the history of the world, applies this use of science with diligence.
We apply it most diligently on behalf of our children. No red-blooded American child would misbehave. Our children have disorders.
In an article entitled “Why French Kids Don’t Have ADHD,” Marilyn Wedge says, “In the United States, at least 9% of school-aged children have been diagnosed with ADHD, and are taking pharmaceutical medications.” In France she says the number is less than half a percent. Why don’t French kids have ADHD?
Is ADHD a biological-neurological disorder? Surprisingly, the answer to this question depends on whether you live in France or in the United States. In the United States, child psychiatrists consider ADHD to be a biological disorder with biological causes. The preferred treatment is also biological–psycho stimulant medications such as Ritalin and Adderall.
French child psychiatrists, on the other hand, view ADHD as a medical condition that has psycho-social and situational causes. Instead of treating children’s focusing and behavioral problems with drugs, French doctors prefer to look for the underlying issue that is causing the child distress—not in the child’s brain but in the child’s social context. They then choose to treat the underlying social context problem with psychotherapy or family counseling. This is a very different way of seeing things from the American tendency to attribute all symptoms to a biological dysfunction such as a chemical imbalance in the child’s brain.
The real question is not “Why don’t French kids have ADHD?” The real question is “Why do American kids have it?” After all, we’re the ones who are abnormal.
We really don’t have an ADHD epidemic in this country. Our brains are not less healthy than the French. Instead, we have an epidemic of parents looking for a scientific excuse for their own disappointment in their children, and we have a glut of lazy doctors willing to prescribe whatever drugs parents request.
Hyperactivity? Yes, many of our children are hyperactive. Inability to focus? Yes, many of our children cannot focus their attention on a particular task. I’m not saying that the symptoms of ADHD aren’t real. These symptoms, however, do not stem from biological imbalances that require medication. The problem isn’t our children; the problem is us. We’ve created their social context, and it’s not a place where they can thrive. It’s time to admit that parents are the problem, not the children.
Let me add that I don’t think that parents need medication either. Maybe we can learn from the French.
I don’t usually keep up with Mark Driscoll and his Mars Hill Church, but today I read a tweet that led me to this recent video from his Resurgence ministry.
In the video, Driscoll tells Christians that they need to learn from each other, rather than criticize each other. He’s speaking to Evangelicals. He claims that Evangelicalism has been “tribalized.” In order for these tribes to be effective they need to cooperate and learn from each other.
This talk of “tribe” is trendy thanks to guys like Seth Godin. Mark Driscoll has always been a trend follower.
He claims that the tribes of Evangelicalism manifest themselves through “magazines, publishing houses, blogs, social media, conferences, and schools.” These tribes are led by tribal chiefs. How do you know if you’re a tribal chief? Driscoll has four characteristics. 1. Tribal chiefs determine who’s in and who’s out. 2. Tribal chiefs have convening powers. 3. Tribal chiefs practice clumping. 4. Tribal chiefs endure a lot more criticism than average.
I don’t find any of these ideas particularly remarkable. It’s the idea that he’s left out which I find truly remarkable. He talks about magazines, publishing houses, blogs, social media, conferences, and schools, but he never mentions the church. What role does the church play in his “resurgence”?
Throughout the history of Christianity, the local congregation, often partnering with other local congregations, has been the primary vehicle for accomplishing the things that Driscoll wants done. He wants more people to hear about Jesus. Why would he ignore the biblical and historical instrument which delivers Christ’s gospel to the world? A blog and a Twitter account can’t do the work of the church in either its local or universal manifestations.
I also think his emphasis on “tribal chiefs” papers over another hole in his discussion. As I look at his four characteristics of a “tribal chief,” I am reminded of a different job title. It sounds like Driscoll is describing a pastor. Have pastors suddenly become irrelevant to Christianity? Obviously not because most of Driscoll’s name dropping concerns prominent pastors. But he’s marginalized the church, so its leader must be recast as “tribal leaders.”
I find this distasteful. The church is the body of Christ. From the church’s institution, the office of pastor has been of central importance. Christianity has its own traditions, language, and culture. Why would Driscoll jettison those things in favor of trendy jargon? Tribes and tribal chiefs. Sounds decidedly pagan to me.
Driscoll’s right. Evangelicalism needs a resurgence. But it needs a resurgence because its leaders embrace the ephemeral and neglect the depths of the church’s traditions and culture. In a world where pop culture has such a short lifecycle, people desire something with roots. Churches and their leaders need to offer something distinct.
I’ve criticized Driscoll quite a bit in this piece. I suppose that I’ve just solidified his position as a “tribal chief” by fulfilling his fourth characteristic for him. Let him have his tribe. I’m rooting for the church.
A few weeks ago, I wrote about some of the controversies plaguing Southern Baptist colleges. In one of these controversies the administration of Louisiana College dismissed three religion professors, in spite of the fact that they all affirmed the school’s statement of faith. Kevin McFadden was one of the professors who lost his job. This past weekend he wrote a helpful piece in which he advises Christians dealing with theological disagreements.
He directs his advice specifically to Southern Baptists, but his three main points can help all denominations dealing with theological controversy.
1. We need to recognize that some doctrines are more important than others.
2. We need to hold to our confessions.
3. We need to be people of integrity.
I think this last point is key, and Christians neglect it too often. We can’t follow points one and two if we’re not following point three. McFadden identifies a real problem within the SBC with this passage.
The problem at Louisiana College is a remarkable lack of integrity among the leadership of the college and the leadership of Louisiana Baptist Convention. And I think this lack of integrity is rooted in something deeper I have observed in the Southern Baptist Convention—a culture of flattery and glad-handing and even outright lying for the sake of personal or political gain. I love the Southern Baptist heart for evangelism and revival. But revival needs to start at home. We need to pray that God would grant us repentance of sin and faith in his Son, that he would pour out his Spirit and give us integrity. And we need to beware of the spread of the hypocrisy that is in our midst (see Luke 12:1–3).
Many Christian denominations have been racked with controversy lately. McFadden reminds us that it doesn’t have to be this way. Ecclesiastical politics divides us more often than doctrinal purity. McFadden encourages us to something better.
Robert Downey Jr. is back as Tony Stark in Iron Man 3. I found his performance every bit as delightful as previous installments.
Though still witty, Tony Stark has lost some of his brashness in this movie. His encounter with aliens in The Avengers has left him shaken and prone to anxiety. He’s asking himself how he can make sense of life post-Avengers.
Director Shane Black had to wrestle with a similar question. I can only imagine that after seeing The Avengers he asked himself how am I supposed to follow that? In my estimation he managed to answer that question quite well.
This third installment in the Iron Man franchise matures Tony emotionally. In the first movie, Tony is a millionaire playboy, who has a life-changing experience. He rises from the dead, so to speak, in order to atone for the past and save lives. In the sequel, we find Tony still wrestling with the same demons that plagued him in the first film. He’s abusing alcohol, and he cannot break free from the party lifestyle. The second movie frustrated me because Tony was stuck in this rut. What happened to the life change?
Shane Black gave me the new Tony Stark that I had been waiting for. Tony’s given up the booze and parties. He’s in a stable relationship with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow). He’s still plagued by demons, but these demons of confusion and anxiety mark a man who is wrestling with his world. He’s no longer attempting to numb himself to the pain around him.
Though I like the film’s narrative arc, it wasn’t flawlessly executed. Black recycles some of the villain’s motivation from earlier movies in the franchise. I detected a fairly large plot hole towards the end of the film, but I won’t elaborate because I don’t want to spoil anything.
The good outweighs the bad. There’s an especially beautiful scene in which Tony saves Pepper, sacrificing his own safety. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Tony Stark grow up. I think you will too.
*If you’re the kind of person who whines about too many superhero movies, then you can read my defense of the genre that I wrote last summer.
Geza Vermes died today from a reoccurrence of cancer. Religious studies has lost one of its most erudite and colorful scholars.
Vermes was born to Jewish parents and converted to Roman Catholicism with them before WWII. After the war he became a Roman Catholic priest, but then returned to Judaism while in his 30s. Not long after publishing his English translation of the Dead Sea Scrolls, he began teaching at Oxford. His scholarship concerning the origins of Christianity is especially weighty.
It has almost become a cliché to point out that his Jesus the Jew (1973) was revolutionary, but its impact was indeed massive. I remember seeing the book for the first time in our home when I was a teenager in the 1980s and being somewhat taken aback by its title and its appearance, with lots of Stars of David all over it. In the early 1970s, with the new quest for the historical Jesus still in full swing, it was still de rigueur for Jesus to be depicted as some kind of Lutheran figure championing his gospel in contrast to a law championed by petty legalists. The exciting thing about reading Vermes’s book was that he had actually read the rabbinic texts that many a New Testament scholar only pretended to know.
Vermes’s work that I enjoyed the most was his thorough revision of Emil Schurer’s monumental The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ. It’s an incredible resource for those investigating the earliest years of Christianity.
I certainly haven’t always agreed with Vermes, but he was always worth reading. His mastery of the primary sources was awe inspiring, and he almost always dealt with the sources in a judicious manner.
I’m sorry that his education led him away from Christianity, but I’m thankful that I can stand on his scholarly shoulders.
Student loan debt is scary. That’s the message of this video.
In B-movie style, this short film dramatizes that many young Americans are suffocating under their student loans and other debts. The problem is all too real, but most Americans still take out student loans without a thought. After all, what can we do? Higher education costs continue to spiral upwards, and American businesses still view the college degree as a prerequisite for the “good” jobs.
Once upon a time, Americans viewed student loans as “good debt.” Education was an investment in the future. This debt would increase earnings potential, which would offset the cost, thereby leaving the debtor in a better economic situation.
Once upon a time, Americans also viewed home mortgages as “good debt.” A family home was an investment in the future. The home loan business, as we all know, got a little out of whack (that’s a technical economic phrase). Too many Americans borrowed too much, and too many of these homes turned out to be bad investments. We learned that borrowers have to exercise wisdom and responsibility.
Student loans are even trickier than mortgages. If you find yourself upside down in your home, you could (though I don’t recommend it) just hand the keys to the bank. You can’t give back your college education. You’re stuck with those loans.
I see two morals to the above video. First, if student lonas are crippling you, you’ve got to face the problem. Get serious, and pay them off. Fast. Cut expenses to the bone and get rid of the debt. The web is full of inspiring stories of people who have payed off tens of thousands of dollars on small incomes. It can be done. Second, if you’re thinking about taking out student loans, use wisdom and act responsibly. You don’t want the blessing of a college education to turn into a curse.
Summertime in America. It’s a different kind of season. Kids are out of school. Parents are taking vacation days. The weather is warm, the beaches are full, and even the most business-minded among us loosen the collar just a bit.
Summer has a slower pace, and that slower pace makes it the ideal time to catch up on your book reading. I suggest that you give some thought to which pages you plan to flip through in the coming months.
Planning your summer booklist might seem to rob these golden days of their spontaneity. However, we make travel plans in order to have a successful vacation. In the same way, let’s make booklists in order to have a successful reading holiday. Here are my suggestions for a fun-filled summer of bookishness.
1. Read some fiction. Some of you are saying, “Duh, that’s what summers are for.” But some of you need to be given permission to read some fiction. You feel that you ought to plug away at the biographies and the histories and the political tomes. Lighten up and read something about humanity’s possibilities rather than its actualities.
2. Read a how-to book. Those of you who read nothing but fiction need to branch out too, and summer is a great time for the how-to book. I’m not a big a fan of this genre, but I try to read at least one a year. Last year, I revisited Stephen Covey’s Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. This summer I’m reading Verlyn Klinkenborg’s Several Short Sentences about Writing. Find a book that will inspire or teach you.
3. Read something old. Get caught up on all those books that you wish you had read back in college. Read some of your old favorites again. I used last summer to atone for my sin of never having read Trollope.
4. Read an “it” book. Read something currently on the bestseller list. Summer is the best time to shove your entire stack of reading aside and indulge in what everyone else is reading. Jump on a bandwagon and pull some friends along with you. It’s fun to be “current” at least once a year.
5. Have a theme. Summer demands a theme. Plus themes make life more fun. Organize your reading around a central idea, and let the books speak to you and to each other. Some of the most fun I’ve had with themes occurred when I let the outside world penetrate my reading life. Many years ago I read Alex Garland’s The Beach, saw the film adaptation, and visited the Thai beach where the movie was filmed all within the space of a couple of months. Last year, I was watching BBC’s Sherlock, so I read most of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s work. From there I jumped to P. G. Wodehouse’s Psmith books. Wodehouse actually coined the phrase, “Elementary, my dear Watson,” in Psmith Journalist. I bet you didn’t know that.
So have fun with your reading this summer, but read with purpose.
Kermit Gosnell’s attorney, Jack McMahon, made his closing arguments yesterday. In his statements, he attempted to make Gosnell seem like a respectable businessman who cares about his community.World Magazine reports that the attorney tried to convince the jury to look past the fact that Gosnell is an abortionist.
During his closing argument, McMahon acknowledged the testimony about Gosnell’s actions was hard to take. But he urged jurors to forget about that as they mulled their verdict.
“Abortion—as is any surgical procedure—isn’t pretty,” McMahon said. “It’s bloody. It’s real. But you have to transcend that.”
McMahon wants us to “transcend.” This is precisely what we must not do. McMahon is right that abortion isn’t pretty. It’s bloody and real. But it isn’t just like any other surgical procedure. There is something beautiful about even the most bloody and real surgeries. Heart surgery is beautiful because it heals. When EMTs rushes to the scene of an accident, we call them heroes because they promote the good, the true, the beautiful, no matter how bloody and real things get.
Abortion is different because it’s murder. We all know it in our guts. We shouldn’t be surprised to find out that some people still condone the murders. History is full of people who justify murder for this or that reason. It’s hard to take, not because it’s bloody, but because it’s wrong. It isn’t pretty because it’s sin.
McMahon isn’t really asking us to transcend; he’s asking us to transgress. If we equate abortion with any other surgical procedure, we equate murder with healing.
Abortion isn’t pretty. Gosnell’s attorney is right. But it isn’t pretty because it’s wicked, not because it’s bloody.
Last week, I suggested that some conservative Baptist theologians are finding Baptist denominational colleges inhospitable. Though probably dismissed for different reasons, Jarvis Williams at Campbellsville University and three professors at Louisiana College were all let go in spite of the fact that they affirm all the standard Baptist statements of faith.
One Baptist leader has decided to do the right thing. This weekend Paul Chitwood, the executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, announced that he and other leaders would look into the situation at Campbellsville University. On his blog Chitwood wrote:
In the next few weeks, a group of judicious and respected Kentucky Baptist leaders will engage representatives from Campbellsville University in what we trust will be an open and honest dialogue. The purpose of this undertaking is to better understand the theological convictions that chart CU’s course and whether or not those convictions are still compatible with the mission our Lord has given the churches of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
Recent news that the university will not tenure a popular professor in their school of theology has solicited both an outpouring of support for the professor and swirling accusations about the university. For most Kentucky Baptists, a personnel matter at one of our nine agencies or institutions is a matter that should be handled privately by the administration without interference by the public.
Claims, however, that CU retains other professors in the school of theology who reject biblical authority and professors in other disciplines who affirm evolution, are difficult for many Kentucky Baptists to swallow. This is especially true when well over $1 million of their missions offerings are helping pay the salaries of those professors every year.
He notes that Kentucky Baptists are concerned over the things that they are hearing about Campbellsville University, and he suggests that “open and honest dialogue is necessary.”
Chitwood should be praised for promoting transparency in this situation because Kentucky Baptists deserve open and honest dialogue. The leadership of the convention and the leadership of the university should work quickly to resolve the concerns of the churches. Read the entirety of Chitwood’s announcement here.
Unfortunately, not every state convention of the Southern Baptists values open and honest dialogue. In spite of appeals for him to get involved in the debacle at Louisiana College, David Hankins, the executive director of the Louisiana Baptist Convention, has declined to demonstrate any leadership. Hankins’s silence in the face of LC’s theological battles, financial woes, and accreditation difficulties is bewildering.
Louisiana Baptists deserve open and honest discussion just as much as Kentucky Baptists do, but instead it appears that Baptist churches in Louisiana should expect the backroom meetings of the good ole boys’ network. I spent most of my life as a Louisiana Baptist, and this situation, which is all too familiar, grieves me.
Perhaps we should expect this situation because Louisiana has a reputation for shady politics. But should Christians really settle their problems using the methods of Huey Long?
Let me end on a positive note. Kudos to Paul Chitwood and Kentucky Baptists.
On Monday, Mark Tooley of the Institute on Religion and Democracy responded to my piece on some unfortunate comments by Fred Luter. In my piece I cautioned Christians about confusing church and state. I’m thankful for Tooley’s response, and I agree with some of his points, though not all.
First, I’d like to say that I affirm Tooley’s point that “God is sovereign over all.” I never intended to argue that nation-states operate autonomously from God’s will.
Second, I’m skeptical of a human institution’s ability to become an “instrument of [God's] favor.” The Bible seems quite clear that the righteousness of humans and their institutions falls short of meriting favor from God. Any perceived favor should be reckoned to God’s common grace and his long-suffering mercy.
Third, the Church is the only institution that can expect God’s favor precisely because its origin is divine, not human.
I think our differences are not as great as Tooley might have assumed. However, I do acknowledge that deep-seated differences probably exist. These differences undoubtedly derive from differing hermeneutics driven by theological presuppositions. As an Augustinian Baptist, I realize that my perspective on the world can be quirky.
I thank Mark Tooley for the dialogue. It gives me the chance to sharpen my thoughts and see where I am being less than clear.
Christian colleges and universities have every right to maintain their denominational heritages. I teach at Houston Baptist University, and I am pleased that our school explicitly holds to its Christian mission:
Many universities call themselves Christian, but cannot bring themselves to talk about the central narrative of the Christian faith – the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection. Yet as Father Richard John Neuhaus has written, “If what Christians say about Good Friday is true, then it is, quite simply, the truth about everything.” The implications of such truths are worth studying and knowing to the fullest – truths we all must confront to have a life worthy of our Creator’s purpose.
Therefore, it is right and good for Christian institutions to ask their faculty to teach in accordance with central tenets of the Christian faith. Recently, however, a couple of Baptist colleges have dismissed theology faculty because they hold to Baptist principles. Read that last sentence again; I know it sounds wrong.
Jarvis Williams at Campbellsville University
Earlier this week, Patrick Schreiner reported that Jarvis Williams, an associate professor of New Testament and Greek at Campbellsville University, would not have his contract renewed. The case is curious since Campbellsville University is a Baptist school, associated with the Kentucky Baptist Convention, and CU is letting Williams go in spite of the fact that he is a fine Southern Baptist scholar. Schreiner writes:
He is a Christian conservative who is committed to biblical authority and the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.
We have heard from a reliable source that they retain several faculty members who are not part of Baptist traditions, professors in the school of theology who reject biblical authority and biblical inerrancy.
Williams has published three books over the last few years and a number of articles. He is an African-American who has worked toward racial reconciliation within the church. And most importantly, Williams is passionate about proclaiming the Christian gospel. What more could a small Baptist university hope for?
According to Schreiner, Williams’ theology is the problem; he is too conservative for his institution. It is ironic that someone who received his PhD from the flagship seminary of the Southern Baptist Convention is no longer welcome to teach at a university associated with the SBC. It seems that at Campbellsville University the administration only extends academic freedom to those professors who disagree with the school’s founding principles.
The Case of Louisiana College
Unfortunately, Williams’ experience at Campbellsville is not an isolated incident. Earlier this year Louisiana College, owned by the Louisiana Baptist Convention, informed three young Christian Studies professors that their contracts would not be renewed. Jason Hiles, Ryan Lister, and Kevin McFadden were given no warning or justification. Though the president of LC refused to comment about why he dismissed them, he published a letter at the time claiming that he would not tolerate Calvinism on campus.
All three of these professors at Louisiana College graduated from Southern Baptist seminaries. All three affirmed the Southern Baptist statement of faith with no reservations. They were accused of Calvinism, but Southern Baptists have a long history of Calvinist representation within the convention. The president of LC, on the other hand, has some charismatic and prosperity-gospel leanings that do not fit so well within the Southern Baptist tradition. It is sad that Louisiana Baptists are more willing to countenance the prosperity gospel, which is not their tradition, than they are Calvinism, which is an integral part of their tradition.
Accreditation woes have exacerbated the theological tumult at Louisiana College. SACS put the school on academic warning for the second straight year; next year they have to get their house in order or face probation. The school has been operating in the red, and the physical plant is in need of massive renovations. This theological battle serves as a smokescreen to distract from the real issues that the school faces.
When news broke about the nonrenewal of these contracts, the student body of Louisiana College launched a social media campaign. Most of the college’s trustees, however, seemed to ignore the firestorm of criticism. (I recommend Thomas Kidd’s First Thoughts post on the LC fiasco.)
Now it is time for me to expose my bias. Jarvis Williams, Ryan Lister, and I attended church together about ten years ago. Jason Hiles, Kevin McFadden, and I taught at Louisiana College together before I moved to Houston Baptist University. Of course I’m biased, but that does not mean that my criticism is wrong. These men have been treated ill by their respective institutions.
It seems odd that young bright scholars trained in Southern Baptist seminaries are no longer welcome in Southern Baptist denominational colleges and universities. Thoughtful conservative professors are under attack from both the “freethinking” academics, who only value a certain type of academic freedom, and the anti-intellectual fundamentalists, who seem to distrust all thinking.
It is a hard thing when a Southern Baptist cannot find a home in his own convention.
On Friday, thanks to the work of Mollie Ziegler Hemmingway and Kirsten Powers, anyone who uses social media probably noticed his feed blow up with references to Kermit Gosnell, the abortionist currently on trial for eight counts of murder. Most media organizations had ignored the trial, but now that the public has gotten wind of “this local crime story,” more scrutiny will fall on Gosnell and his clinic.
Kermit Gosnell committed atrocities at his practice in Philadelphia on a daily basis. I will not recount the charges against him here, but this piece at the Atlantic sums it up pretty well. No doubt, as we learn more about this story, the reality will become more and more disturbing. But what will we do with this disturbing news?
The Gosnell trial should strengthen the pro-life movement. Testimony at the Gosnell trial will horrify every American, both pro-life and pro-choice. No one who hears about the “rain of fetuses and blood” will remain unmoved. In order to get the most traction out of this trial, the pro-life movement must make a key point. The unsafe conditions of the clinic do not cause our gut-wrenching response.
Americans are experiencing a gut-wrenching response because we are being forced to take stock of abortion itself. Yes, the conditions at the clinic were scandalous. Yes, the practices of the doctor and his staff were outrageous. But would we have the same reaction if an optometrist had gotten arrested for performing unlicensed radial keratotomy in a dirty alley? No. Our horror stems from the very act of abortion itself, the most brutal and distasteful act tolerated in America today. The conditions of the clinic have merely caused us to look at something that we would rather ignore.
Many Americans will begin to question why it is legal to sever a baby’s spine in the womb when it is murder to sever the same baby’s spine in the examination room. Since when did murder take geography into account? Pro-lifers must encourage reflection on these questions, and this trial will give us the opportunity. How many more trials like this one (and there will be more) will it take to end abortion completely?
While we take the opportunity to sway the court of public opinion, this case also gives the pro-life movement an opportunity for legal reforms limiting abortions. Here in Texas, we are considering a bill that would require all abortion providers to meet the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Of the forty-two providers in Texas, only five currently meet these standards. A handful of other states have already passed similar measures. These laws will significantly reduce access to abortion.
In light of the horrors that took place in Gosnell’s clinic, stiffening the regulations on abortionists should be a no-brainer, and I think these abuses should enable us to propose regulations that are even stiffer than those proposed in the Texas bill. Pro-life groups need to propose anti-abortion bills in all the states legislatures. These bills should aim at reducing the number of abortions and forcing abortion clinics to upgrade their medical capability in cases of emergency. These bills should also be tailored to ensure that the new regulations are easily enforceable.
We need to honestly admit that we are attempting to reduce the number of abortions. We also need to honestly make the case that we care about the wellbeing of the mother. And we need to remind everyone that if a baby survives an attempted abortion, then under the current laws, that child is a patient who needs immediate access to life-giving medical care. As we go about these tasks, let us look forward to the day when a child in the womb will enjoy those same rights. Human rights must not be affected by a baby’s “geography,” but we need to make the case.
Yesterday Mahmoud Salem published a piece in the Daily News Egypt, entitled “Morsy’s Christian Problem.” In the piece, Salem condemns the Egyptian government’s lack of protection for the Christians in that country. He acknowledges that President Mohamed Morsi claims to defend Egypt’s Christian population, but Salem demonstrates the hollowness of Morsi’s support.
Salem lists the acts of violence directed against Egyptian Christians since Morsi took office. He notes that the president’s government successfully defends certain buildings from protestors, but inexplicably cannot protect church buildings. Salem’s piece should cause all Christians to pray for their brothers and sisters in Egypt.
But Salem does not merely criticize Morsi. He also indicts the West for valuing democracy over human lives. He ends his piece with these words:
In other news, during those clashes, European Union officials were in Egypt discussing with the president and opposition figures the parliamentary elections and how they intend to monitor them, with the Egyptian newspaper citing Catherine Ashton promising to help Egypt get that IMF loan, so that the EU, alongside the US can continue to prop the Muslim Brotherhood regime as it continues its reign of terror. I have a suggestion, EU: How about we resort to your magical ballot box to solve Morsi’s Christian problem once and for all? We can start a referendum asking whether or not to burn all of Egypt’s churches and kick all the Christians out. I am positive it will pass with a stunning rate, and then the state can persecute the Egyptian Christians and attack their churches legitimately. After all, the ballot box has spoken. Dear EU, you can monitor that if you like.
Salem notes one of the perils of democracy. It all depends on who is doing the voting. Let’s pray for Christians in Egypt.