Friday, October 31, 2008

Richard Dawkins Says Religious Education of Children Worse Than Physically Abusing Them

Richard Dawkins, evolutionary proponent, atheist, is planning to study the effects of fairy tales, including Harry Potter, as well as the "Judeo-Christian" myth on children. He perceives these to all be negative effects.

He goes on to state that teaching kids religious tenets is to abuse kids. In fact, it is worse than physical abuse.

The UK Telegraph reports:

Speaking recently at a conference of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, a group of Britons who have renounced Islam, Prof Dawkins said: "Do not ever call a child a Muslim child or a Christian child – that is a form of child abuse because a young child is too young to know what its views are about the cosmos or morality.

"It is evil to describe a child as a Muslim child or a Christian child. I think labelling children is child abuse and I think there is a very heavy issue, for example, about teaching about hell and torturing their minds with hell.

"It's a form of child abuse, even worse than physical child abuse. I wouldn't want to teach a young child, a terrifyingly young child, about hell when he dies, as it's as bad as many forms of physical abuse."

I'm curious by his statement about a child being too young to know what its views are about the cosmos or reality. Isn't that why we teach children? A child's views are wrong until he is educated, and then they may still be wrong depending on what he is taught. A child learns its views by being taught. Probably at issue is Prof. Dawkins desire to teach my kids atheism and evolution.

I'm further curious by Prof. Dawkins' moral concerns. If God does not exist, to what authority is he appealing when he says that teaching children religion is abuse. Says who? And is this "who" someone I am obligated to listen to?

Further, his moral structure is stratified: somehow he knows that religious education is worse than beating a kid. Where does this moral system come from? (And if there is no hell, why does it matter?)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

9 Actual Names of Mediocre Horses

I checked out from the library The Best American Nonrequired Reading (of 2007). A potpourri of absolutely unnecessary reading, but some of it is humorous, like the section "Best American Names of Horses Expected to Have Undistinguished Careers." Here are my 9 favorites:
  1. Colic the Wonder Horse
  2. Daddy Drinks Because I'm Slow
  3. Shoulda Bought a Monkey
  4. Stupid Gypsy Curse
  5. This Is Your Horse on Drugs
  6. Tripsy McStumble
  7. Luck o' the Amish
  8. Torpor Unbound
  9. Limp to Victory

My Commentary Picks, 1 Kings - Lamentations

Here are my go-to commentaries for 1 Kings - Lamentations.

For my picks on the first books of the Bible, click here.

In the first part of this section, I have little critical input because I have so few commentaries on these books (in some cases, just 1), but here's my list.

1-2 Kings: I recently discovered I had no significant commentary on these two books, so I found John Piper's recommended and bought his favorite, 1, 2 Kings (New American Commentary) by Paul R. House. I've perused it, and it looks good.

1-2 Chronicles: I really like the two volumes by Martin J. Selman, 1 Chronicles and 2 Chronicles (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, or TOTC).

Ezra and Nehemiah: Ezra & Nehemiah (TOTC) by Derek Kidner. The TOTC commentaries are slimmer, but they're packed with good stuff. And Derek Kidner is very readable. His insights are pithy and profound.

Esther: Esther (TOTC) by Joyce Baldwin, another good scholar

Job: I have 3 I go to, but if I had to pick 1, it would probably be Job (Everyman's Bible Commentary) by Roy Zuck. If you want to fall in love with the book of Job, this is your commentary, because it highlights the wealth and grandeur of the book. The Everyman Bible Commentary series is more of a layman's commentary, and the series does a great job of explaining texts, at least the OT books do; I don't believe I've read any of the NT ones.

Psalms: For serious study in Psalms, it's hard to relegate myself to one commentary. So I'll break my rule (again) and mention 2: Psalms 1-72 and Psalms 73-150 (TOTC) by Derek Kidner and The Treasury of David by Charles H. Spurgeon. Kidner has a way of capturing the outline and gist of each psalm, and Spurgeon helps you see the wonder and beauty of each individual verse.

Proverbs: Proverbs (TOTC) by Derek Kidner

Ecclesiastes: Either Ecclesiastes (in Vol. 5 of the Expositor's Bible Commentary) or Ecclesiastes (Bible Study Commentary) by Louis Goldberg

Song of Solomon: I've never done anything in ministry with this book. I read A Song for Lovers by S. Craig Glickman in college, and that was very good. I also have Song of Songs (in Vol. 5 of the Expositor's Bible Commentary) by Dennis F. Kinlaw, but I've not consulted it, though I do like Kinlaw.

Isaiah: Tough call because there are many good ones, but I'll go with Isaiah (NIV Application Commentary) by John Oswalt

Jeremiah and Lamentations: Jeremiah & Lamentations (TOTC) by R. K. Harrison

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ron Paul Facts

Came across some Ron Paul facts, in the Chuck Norris facts genre:
  • Ron Paul has so many morals, he has to pay for two seats on a plane.
  • Ron Paul could lead a horse to water AND convince it to drink, but he doesn't believe the government has the right to so he refuses.
  • It was going to be called the Paul of Rights.
  • When fascism goes to sleep at night, it checks under the bed for Ron Paul.
  • Ron Paul has no alarm clock, but instead wakes every morning to the call of freedom.
  • Ron Paul doesn't cut taxes. He kills them with his bare hands.
  • Ron Paul can recite Pi to 1776 places.
  • Ron Paul is not watching you.
  • Ron Paul's car doesn't turn left.

I think I could like Ron Paul. I like conservative, which is why I like Gov. Palin.

Monday, October 27, 2008

9 Reasons I'm Glad I Don't Live in Chicago

Times occur when I either don't have time or ideas for blogging. In those cases I like the lighter side of my lists of 9. You may not enjoy the lighter side. Oh well. At least it's a quick read if you feel absolutely compelled to do so.

We went to Chicago for a long weekend. While it may be fun to visit, still there are reasons I'm glad I don't live there.
  1. Traffic
  2. Not much of a big city boy
  3. Toll roads
  4. Cost of living
  5. Would probably feel like my voting a waste of time
  6. Chicago probably a priority target for terrorists
  7. Long commute to Northside
  8. Not sure how to celebrate Casimir Pulaski Day
  9. I'd miss my wife and kids

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

On Politics

Thomas Sowell notes that October is typically characterized by polls that give Democrats a good margin. Then, in order to be considered credible, they make their polls more accurate shortly before election day. Why the inflated numbers beforehand? To create a general impression that the Dems. are winning. Perhaps to discourage Republicans from voting, too. It's an interesting article and perhaps worth a full read.

One blog post asks why, with all the good things in Obama's favor (record campaign contributions in Sept., record crowd in St. Louis, Colin Powell's endorsement)--why is McCain closing the gap?

Gov. Sarah Palin is coming to Fort Wayne Saturday, reportedly in the evening at the Coliseum. That is one rally I would consider going to if I weren't going to be gone.

Just a reminder to vote, no matter what the polls say. Do your civic duty. If you don't know who to vote for, feel free to give me a call.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

You Can Only Accept or Refuse Salvation

Hebrews 12:25: "See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks."

D. L. Moody comments on this text:

"You can only do one of two things, take it or refuse it. You have all been in a house where the waiter passed ice-water to a number of people sitting together, and seen how some would take it and some would not; so the cup of salvation is passed among you to-day. How many of you will accept it? Are you almost persuaded? Remember a hair's breadth from heaven is not an inch from hell."

--The Best of Dwight L. Moody

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

9 Hobbies I Could Take Up but Haven't

  1. jigsaw puzzles
  2. baking
  3. gardening
  4. writing poetry
  5. trees
  6. visiting Civil War battlefields
  7. traveling state routes to take in rural America
  8. book discussion group
  9. hiking

Sunday, October 12, 2008

October 12, 1492

"Columbus's fleet consisted of only three vessels ... and a crew of ninety men. Leaving port in August 1492, the expedition eventually passed the point where the sailors expected to find Japan, generating no small degree of anxiety, whereupon Columbus used every managerial skill he possessed to maintain discipline and encourage hope. The voyage had stretched to ten weeks when the crew bordered on mutiny .... Finally, on October 11, 1492, they started to see signs of land: pieces of wood loaded with barnacles, green bulrushes, and other vegetation. A lookout spotted land, and on October 12, 1492, the courageous band waded ashore on Watling Island in the Bahamas, where his men begged his pardon for doubting him."

"Columbus was the first to set foot on dry land, carrying the royal standard.... The men kissed the white coral beach, which was almost too bright to look at in the noonday sun. Then their eyes filled with tears, as they knelt and bowed their heads. Columbus christened the island San Salvador--"Holy Saviour"--and prayed:

"'O Lord, Almighty and everlasting God, by Thy holy Word Thou hast created the heaven, and the earth, and the sea; blessed and glorified be Thy Name, and praised be Thy Majesty, which hath deigned to use us, Thy humble servants, that Thy holy Name may be proclaimed in this second part of the earth.'"

1st paragraph: Larry Schweikart and Michael Allen, A Patriot's History of the United States, p. 4.
2nd & 3rd paragraphs: Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, p. 41.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Why I'm Looking Forward to Men's Fraternity

Our church started Men's Fraternity this week, a 3-year course developed by Robert Lewis in Little Rock. The purpose of the course is to help men understand what it means to be a man, and specifically, what the Bible says it means to be a man.

I am excited about this course. Lewis talked (via DVD) about the fact that most men cannot give you a clear definition of what it means to be a man. There is a great deal of confusion of what masculinity and manhood at its essence is.

Why am I looking forward to this course?

For one thing, reading two books a few years ago revealed the importance of understanding what manhood is so that I can communicate that to my son. Robert Lewis's own Raising a Modern-Day Knight showed me the importance of rites of passage in a boy's/man's life.

Lewis talked today about 1 Corinthians 13:11, "When I became a man, I put away childish things." When does a boy become a man, and how does he know when that occurs? That's part of the burden of Modern-Day Knight. One of the tangible results of that book is that every year, on the anniversary of his baptism (June 13), I take Andrew out to eat and basically say to him, "Remember your baptism!" I remind him of what he committed to and of who he publicly declared his Lord to be.

James Dobson's Bringing Up Boys reminded me and impressed upon me the truth that men are vastly different than women. I know that seems like a ridiculous understatement, but the truth is (as even Lewis pointed out today in the DVD), feminism has effectively taught us the falsehood that, apart from anatomical differences, men and women are essentially the same. No, we are different, and manhood properly understood is to be celebrated, just as womanhood properly understood. Celebration of manhood is virtually unknown in our culture.

Dobson raised my awareness to this when he got me thinking about how men are portrayed today in movies and TV: childish, idiotic, stupid, and so forth. Consider in the past such shows as Father Knows Best, Leave It to Beaver, and The Andy Griffith Show. Dad's generally wise. Consider today such shows as The Simpsons, Everybody Loves Raymond, Home Improvement, The King of Queens, and Family Guy. Consider commercials where men are portrayed as immature, childlike individuals--consider electronics commercials and beer commercials for instance. Men are stupid and juvenile; that's what is generally portrayed in movies, TV, and commercials.

I want to pass down a biblical understanding of masculinity to my son. I have to actively do so, because the world is bombarding him with messages that men are simply boys who make more money and have bigger toys.

Unfortunately, there are many 20-, 30-, and 40-year-old men who have not put away childish things. Their lives revolve around "living for the weekend" or video games or watching sports
on TV. I don't want that for my son. It's empty and falls so far short of the potential dignity of manhood. It's the difference between the knight and the jester.

Another reason I am excited about Men's Fraternity is that it's an opportunity to connect with other men on a regular basis about men-related issues (and I don't mean how the Colts or the Cubs did). I have longed for this kind of setting because I think that sharing seriously with other guys about our struggles and accomplishments can go a long way in making us better husbands, better fathers, better Christians, better citizens, better neighbors, better men.

Just as we don't understand all the issues relating to womanhood and femininity, women, despite their claims and their amazing perception, don't fully understand some of our struggles and drives (and I'm not just talking about sex). "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another."

Friday, October 10, 2008

North Korea Worse than China for Believers

The Voice of the Martyrs comments on the zero religious freedom allowed by the North Korean government:

"It is difficult to comprehend a place so terrible that Christians must flee to Communist China for a modicum of religious freedom. But make no mistake--for Christians, North Korea is hell manifested on earth."

"North Korea is more than a dictatorship. It is a totalitarian regime where its citizens must not only support their communist leaders, but they must worship them as if they were living gods."

"North Korean children are taught to sing worship songs found in a book of 600 'hymns' that give praise to Sung and his son Kim Jong Il, the nation's current leader." [Kim Il Sung was the founder of modern North Korea.]

--October 2008 issue, pp. 3-4

My Commentary Picks, Genesis - 2 Samuel

I often get the question, "Kent, what is the best commentary on __________?"

(Okay, I don't know if I've ever gotten that question. But in our current cultural climate of answering questions that no one's asking, I propose to give my answers over the space of a few posts. Besides, it may in fact be helpful to someone.)

So here are my number one go-to commentaries for Genesis-2 Samuel.

Commentary on the whole Bible: Matthew Henry's Commentary. If I could only have one commentary period, this is the one I would want. He's exegetical, though his scholarship is 300 years old or more, and he's also devotional.

Genesis: Hard to narrow down to one. My first pick is Creation & Blessing by Alan Ross. A close second is Genesis (NIV Application Commentary) by John H. Walton.

Exodus: Exodus (NIV Application Commentary) by Peter Enns

Leviticus: The Book of Leviticus (New International Commentary on the Old Testament, or NICOT) by Gordon J. Wenham

Numbers: Leviticus, Numbers (NIV Application Commentary) by Roy Gane

Deuteronomy: The Book of Deuteronomy (NICOT) by Peter C. Craigie

Joshua: The Book of Joshua (NICOT) by Marten H. Woudstra

Judges: Okay, confession time. On some of the books of the Bible, I have quite a few commentaries, on some I have very little, and on the rest I have just adequate stuff. Judges falls in the last category for me. When I've been in Judges, I've found that Keil and Delitzsch's Commentary on the Old Testament has served me well, and John J. Davis's Conquest and Crisis: Studies in Joshua, Judges and Ruth has also helped.

Ruth: Same as Judges

1-2 Samuel: I have the opposite problem here: I have too much to recommend. One book on each book of Samuel? Get 1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart and 2 Samuel: Out of Adversity, both in the Focus on the Bible series, both by Dale Ralph Davis. Davis is both scholarly (in an accessible way) and applicational. If you can't find Davis, get 1 & 2 Samuel (NIV Application Commentary) by Bill T. Arnold.

A New National Anthem?

Some subtle Messianic overtones to this anthem. Okay, not so subtle at all.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Reading to Sara

One of the things Sara and I enjoy doing together is reading, usually me reading aloud to her (while she's cooking or doing something else). We just finished another book tonight, Snitch, by Rene Gutteridge. All in all we've read 36 books together (and the fact that I know that probably tells you something about me). We've enjoyed most of them. Here are some of our favorites:
  • Magnificent Obsession (Lloyd C. Douglas)
  • Ivanhoe (Sir Walter Scott)
  • A Walk Across America (Peter Jenkins)
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (Betty Smith)
  • Dave Barry Does Japan (Dave Barry)
  • Home to Harmony (Philip Gulley)
  • Three (Ted Dekker) -- Okay, maybe not our favorite, but definitely unique and memorable

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

John Piper's Invitation to the Cussing Pastor

In his Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller refers to Mark Driscoll, trend-setting pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle, as the cussing pastor.

A recent controversy sprung up over John Piper's invitation to Mark Driscoll to come speak at his pastor's conference at the end of last month (ironically focused on "The Power of Words and the Wonder of God"). Steve Camp and Ingrid Schlueter, among I presume others, think that Piper has lost his mind. Known for his foul language in the pulpit, how can Piper Driscoll's approach?

Further, Piper also invited Paul Tripp to speak at the conference. He has no problem using the "s" word when speaking. Schlueter indicates she will no longer endorse Piper and his ministry.

I agree with Schlueter and Camp that foul language and the pulpit do not go together. Even pagans know that: "Pardon my French, Pastor."

I'm puzzled as to Piper's take on this. He seems intrigued by Driscoll's use of language. He talks about Driscoll's controversial use of language. If he's referring to the foul language in the pulpit, it's not so much intriguing to me as it is pandering to the world. It's not sophisticated; it's lowest-common-denominator, potty-mouth stuff, the kind of stuff that kids used to get their mouths washed out for.

I'm not walking away from Piper. I love most of his stuff. I love his passion for God. But his invitation to Driscoll and Tripp trips me up a bit.

Sanity & Wisdom from Ben Stein

At least 2 years old, it is nonetheless refreshing to read someone who breathes the fresh air of common sense.

Okay, That's Just Creepy

Check out this Obama worship march.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Proof Isn't So Convincing

In Jesus' story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man in Hades suddenly has evangelistic concerns for his 5 brothers. Abraham closes the discussion with this statement: "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

This statement highlights a number of things.

It highlights the power of the Word of God ("Moses and the Prophets") in convincing people.

It shows that proof isn't always as convincing as we think it ought to be. This no doubt has something to do with men's darkened minds and hardened hearts (Eph 4:17-19).

It reminds us that something more is needed in converting men and women. Carefully crafted apologetical arguments are good, and can be instrumental in bringing people to salvation, but it is ultimately the Spirit of God working on men's hearts that allows them to be convinced in the first place.

Apologetics is great, but prayer even more so. We should be skilled in both, especially the latter.

Monday, October 6, 2008

9 Things I Would Like to Go Back and Change about Today

  1. Not get in that argument with Andrew
  2. Not continue the argument with Andrew 1/2 hour later
  3. Not read that blog post about a likely Obama win
  4. Not read that other blog post about a likely significant Democratic gain in the Senate
  5. Not eat that extra doughnut for breakfast
  6. Not eat that second helping of Hamburger Helper for supper
  7. Not spend that half hour scanning blogs
  8. Not go into Pat's office to hear that the stock market was in a free fall
  9. Not give into temporal fears while my Lord stands so nearby

Friday, October 3, 2008

Full of Idols

Gladys Aylward had been a missionary to China for almost 20 years when she heard a Chinese Christian earnestly pray for Gladys's native England. When she inquired as to the reason for his concern, he indicated that England was full of idolatry: "England, the land that sent us the gospel, is worshiping other gods."

"What do you mean?" Gladys asked.

"To them sport, film stars, wealth, amusement--all are far more important than God."

Gladys had a hard time believing what was she was hearing.

Later that same Christian supplied Gladys with newspaper reports on England. Gladys wrote, "Every item of reported news from England, every picture, was concerned with a film star, or a sportsman, or a horse race--not one mention of God."

Hmmm. Obviously an apt description of America now. We are a nation of idolaters.

(Cited: Gladys Aylward: The Little Woman, by Gladys Aylward)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

9 Pieces of Music That Make Me Smile

These are my current favorites.
  1. Piano Concerto No. 3 (Rachmaninov)
  2. Piano Concerto No. 1, 3rd movement (Tchaikovsky)
  3. Symphony No. 4 (Brahms)
  4. Symphony No. 3, "Eroica" (Beethoven)
  5. Symphony No. 3, "Symphony of Sorrowful Songs" (Gorecki)
  6. "Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini" (Rachmaninov)
  7. "The Four Seasons" (Vivaldi)
  8. "The Planets" (Holst)
  9. "Ma Vlast" (Smetana)