pecaspers: a Blog in transition

February 1, 2011

We Can Be So Stupid Sometimes (vol. 2)

I receive emails from AFA (American Family Association), mostly because I want to know what ridiculous or hypocritical thing “Christians” are upset about currently. (I put Christians in quotation marks not to signify that I doubt the faith of members of the AFA, but because I think it is patently false to say that what the AFA represents is a truly Christian response to the world around us.) I’m all sorts of tempted to jump on a number of soap boxes here. However, I think it’s better that I just let the AFA’s latest email and my response to it speak for itself.

[This is where the text of their email begins.]
Subject: The Home Depot doubles funds to gay activist group
January 31, 2011

Dear Paul,
The Home Depot Foundation funnels money to gay activist groups.The Home Depot, through its Foundation, is now matching donations by its employees to further homosexual activism.

GLAAD (a politically active gay group) announced on its website that The Home Depot has agreed to match all contributions made by company employees, despite a company policy to the contrary.

The Home Depot policy states it will not match funds to “political groups” or “groups that have a primary focus of changing laws.” GLAAD is heavily involved in promoting same-sex marriage.

GLAAD and The Home Depot make is easy for company funds to “Go Gay!”Through its “Matching Gifts” program, The Home Depot is willing to violate its own policy to help promote GLAAD’s top agendas – homosexual marriage and more gay characters on prime-time network TV.

AFA is asking you to join a boycott of The Home Depot until it agrees to remain neutral in cultural issues.

TAKE ACTION
1. If you have not done so, sign the Boycott Pledge at BoycottTheHomeDepot.com.
2. Call your local store manager. Let the manager know that you will not be shopping at The Home Depot until the company stops supporting the homosexual agenda. You can find the number here. (click “Store Finder”).
3. Print the paper petition and distribute it at Sunday school and church.

Take Action Now Sign the Boycott Pledge Now!

It is very important that you forward this alert to your friends and family members.

Sincerely,

Tim

Tim Wildmon, President
American Family Association

[This is where their email ends, followed by some other info and links. If you don’t trust me, you can view the email on the web at http://action.afa.net/email/online.aspx?cid=1216&mid=21995980&tid=aa&utm_source=smAFA&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=1216]

[This was my reply…which I doubt ever gets read or responded to. But a brother has got to try.]

Dear Tim,

Your stated goal for the boycott of Home Depot is that they would “remain neutral in cultural issues.” For any thinking Christian, it is evident that they have already met your desire. According to Home Depot’s gift program policy, they match gifts to ANY 501(c)(3) charitable organization. That’s about as neutral as it gets. According to the way the IRS defines such organizations, they are “charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary, testing for public safety, fostering national or international amateur sports competition, and preventing cruelty to children or animals.” Unless I’m wrong, AFA is a 501(c)(3) and is therefore just as eligible for matching gifts as GLAAD is. Neutrality is achieved! You win. Now, let’s stop being contentious in the public square with those who need to hear the Gospel.

In grace and peace,

[That’s it.]

What do you think? Should Christians spend their time, resources, and energy on changing the culture of our country? Or in this case, should we attempt to counteract the time, resources, and energy others spend on influencing our culture in an ungodly direction? I think we can be both personal evangelists and culture warriors, but I know it’s a lot easier to boycott, wear t-shirts, and send emails than it is to sit down and share the gospel with someone. And I think that we (or at least those who claim to be motivated by the same beliefs we profess) sabotage our efforts at the latter by being perceived as doing too much of the former.

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September 4, 2010

…we can be so stupid sometimes…

Below is the text of an email a well-meaning Christian sadly forwarded to me:

While millions of Americans struggle to keep their homes and jobs, President Barack Obama can’t give your tax dollars away fast enough.

August 26, 2010

Dear XX-name-deleted-to-protect-the-guilty-XX,

According to the Associated Press, the Obama administration will give away nearly $6 million of American tax dollars to restore 63 historic and cultural sites, including Islamic mosques and minarets, in 55 nations. See the State Department document here.

This is an outrage! Our country is broke. And can you imagine what the ACLU and others on the secular left would say if these monies had been spent to repair Christian churches? They would be screaming “separation of church and state!” Funding Islam on foreign soil with American taxpayer money? Not a whimper.

The latest taxpayer givaway includes $76,000 for a 16th century mosque in China, $67,000 for a mosque in Pakistan, $77,000 to restore minarets in Nigeria and Mauritania, and $50,000 for an Islamic Monument in India.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says the U.S. program to restore Islamic and other cultural sites in other countries is taxpayer money well spent.

Take Action


Ask your representative to immediately condemn this waste of taxpayer dollars and begin an investigation into why American taxpayers are footing the bill to rebuild Islamic mosques overseas.

It is very important that you forward this alert to your friends and family members.
American Family Association | P O Drawer 2440 | Tupelo, MS 38803 | 1-662-844-5036
Copyright © 2010 American Family Association. All Rights Reserved

Here is my well thought-out and researched, somewhat satirical response:

According to the State Department document found here, the Obama administration will give away nearly $6 million of American tax dollars to restore, conserve, document, and educate people about a wide variety of historically significant cultural treasures in 55 nations, including a significant number of ancient Christian sites.

This is an outrage!  Our country is broke, but more importantly about two thirds of the global population has never heard the gospel.  Can you imagine what true Christians who are passionate about the Great Commission could do if only they had been allowed to give those same dollars to living Christian churches instead of the government spending it on crumbling buildings?

What is only slightly less outrageous is that some Christian groups are circulating articles that would lead people to believe that a large portion of the $6 million is going to restore ancient Islamic sites.  In fact, there are only five (5) projects on this year’s list specifically relating to Islam: two mosques, two minarets, and one Islamic monument.  These projects total $271,691, a mere 4.56% of the funds doled out in this U.S. State Department fund.  On the other hand, there are nine (9) ancient Christian sites being preserved or restored at the total cost of $1,119,524, that’s 18.78%.  The largest price tag of these is $625,000 for the 11th-Century “Church of the Holy Redeemer” in Turkey; that’s more than twice what is being awarded to all five Islam related projects combined.

This program dates back to 2001.  In 2007, under the Bush administration, your tax dollars were spent on four Islam related sites–that’s only one less than the current administration.  I don’t recall anyone making much fuss about it then, however.  Find more information on the program here: http://exchanges.state.gov/heritage/afcp.html

I’d appreciate it if you’d pass this on to everyone who mentions this issue in the next few days.

Below are the projects relating to ancient Christian history taken from the document linked to at the beginning of this article.
28. Macedonia: Conservation of Early Christian Frescoes from the Episcopal Basilica at Stobi – $72,600
30. Romania: Restoration of a 13th‐Century Fortified Church in the Transylvanian Village of Moardas – $39,185
31. Russian Federation: Restoration of the Late 17th‐Century Church of the Icon of the Mother of God of the Sign in Dubrovitsky – $81,990
49. Bolivia: Restoration of 17th‐ and 18th‐Century Colonial Chapels in Curahuara de Carangas – $41,079
52. El Salvador: Restoration of the Early 20th‐Century Cathedral of Santa Ana – $43,430
53. Guatemala: Restoration of the High Altar and Cloister of the Late 18th‐Century Convent of La Merced in Guatemala City – $94,827
56. Nicaragua: Restoration of the Mid‐18th‐Century Church of Mary Magdalene in Totogalpa – $90,243
58. Peru: Restoration of 17th‐ and 18th‐Century Paintings from the Compañia de Jesus Church in Arequipa – $31,170
61. Turkey: Conservation of the Remains of the 11th‐Century Surp Prikitch (Church of the Holy Redeemer) at Ani – $625,000

Total going to conserve or restore ancient church buildings: $1,119,524

July 30, 2009

Response to “See the Show, Be the Show” on pluggedinonline.com

Filed under: Responses to Articles — pecaspers @ 4:06 PM
Tags: , ,

Find the article I’m responding to at http://www.pluggedinonline.com/read/read/a0004658.cfm

Adam R. Holz states,

“Most of the scientists involved in this research would say that airtight cause-and-effect relationships are notoriously difficult to prove because the mere correlation of two things doesn’t scientifically prove causation. After making that disclaimer, however, the same researchers would have no problem saying that there’s a strong link between the entertainment people consume and the choices they make, especially in the case of young people.”

Let me suggest a bit of an alternative. People most likely to engage in a certain behavior, are most likely to be entertained by that behavior. The results being:

Sex:
Students who are having sex by age 16 are going to be the ones who will also be consuming a lot of sexualized content in movies, television, and music.
Their peers who are more restrained (or even just restricted) in their sexuality are also not going to find sexual humor and/or acts to be appropriate forms of entertainment.

Violence:
Again, flip the assumption of causation around and it makes a safer bet that violent people expose themselves to more violent electronic media because they like violence.

Smoking:
I’ve got to say, this one I’m pretty much on board with. I’m a big fan of old movies…like really old, 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s stuff. I’ve sat there watching Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant smoking a cigarette and thought to myself, “Man, that’s got to be the coolest thing in the world. Why don’t I smoke?” And you think I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not. I’d love to sit and smoke Marlboro Reds with Clint Eastwood until my lungs turn black if it meant that my voice would be as gravelly and awesome as his.
At the same time, we need to consider the shift of the prevalence of smoking in movies from back then up through the ’80s and those put out in the last twenty years or so. Mostly these days, it seems it’s only the bad guys who smoke. Not that that’s a true solution, Dora’s foxy nemesis rubbed off on the article’s author’s son. Still, I’m holding to it that smoking is less something everybody just does in movies now, and is more often related to the development of the characters themselves–almost universally displaying some flaw.

Now let’s look at how we can easily misread the data if we don’t understand what we’re looking at:

If it seems that not much good comes from much of the media kids consume, well, that’s exactly what researchers at the National Institutes of Health (working with Common Sense Media) concluded after examining 173 studies involving entertainment and behavior. Government researchers found that 80 percent of those studies linked media (defined as TV, movies, video games, music, the Internet and magazines) to adverse outcomes among children, including obesity, sex, smoking, drug and alcohol use, attention problems and poor grades. One of the five study reviewers, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, summarized, “The research is clear that exposure to media has a variety of negative health impacts on children and teens. … We found very few studies that had any positive association [for children’s health].”

I’m constantly amazed at how educated people miss the obvious. Check this out. “…after examining 173 studies…” “…We found very few studies that had any positive association.” Duh! You can’t get grant money for studying to see if kids learn manners from watching Sesame Street. It is FAR more profitable to be against something bad than for something good. They don’t have congressional hearings on how to increase sharing among preschoolers which leads to government funded studies the way they do regarding teen smoking. It’s kind of like saying that more people like Pepsi than Kool-Aid because Pepsi beat Coke in nation-wide blind taste tests. The dataset isn’t what is required to back up the statement being made.

Beyond the Behavior
We can only act on the information we have. No abortion-minded woman ever decided to keep her child without first being confronted with the fact that there was a child to keep and not just a mass of tissue she could have surgically removed. Stories, whatever form they take, have always been a great way to put forth arguments and information in a non-threatening way that by-passes people’s defense mechanisms.
As for the upsurge in the popularity of witchcraft, kids (including teens and adults who have no better way to spend their time) like to emulate their pop-culture heroes. It just so happens (and sadly so) that playing at or reading about being a witch leads you into dark and dangerous places that doing so with cowboys, astronauts, princesses, or kid detectives likely won’t.

And to those who say, “I don’t listen to the words, I just like the beat,” I gotta say that you can find just as good a beat without the vile words. My wife likes pasta, but she doesn’t like tomato sauce. She doesn’t just eat the marinara sauce, disregarding her dislike for it; obviously, she orders alfredo, which she enjoys, instead. That “old saw” is really a cover up for, “All my friends like it, and I am asserting my independence by being just like them.”

Asking Quarrelsome Questions
There is a difference between rejecting the idea that people do bad things because they are entertained by bad things and saying that morally abhorrent entertainment is a societal good.
I’m with Skipknot’s lead singer, Corey Taylor, (and I think it is pretty theologically sound thinking from a worldly mouth) when he says “At the end of the day, there are always going to be mental disorders and people who cause violence for no other reason than the fact that they’re f—ed up and lost.” See folks, we’re born sinners. Cain didn’t need Tony Soprano to make him want to kill Abel. Hitler wanted to take over the world without ever playing Scorched Earth. Men and women are completely capable of inventing all kinds of ways to be evil without any outside influence.

But don’t misread what I’m saying. Eve might not have eaten that fruit if the serpent hadn’t told her lies about it, about herself, and about God. Sometimes we DO do evil things in response to hearing, seeing, or reading about anothers evil actions. That doesn’t mean someone else caused it. See, this argument of causation is based on another cultural lie; it’s a subtle way of mitigating our own (or someone elses) responsibility. “He was a good kid, but those video games he played corrupted him.” “She was such a sweet girl, but then she got into that rap music, and now she dresses like a video-girl, ‘hooks up’ with random guys, and disrespects her parents.” Don’t be fooled. “He” was corrupted before the video games, and “she” was depraved before the first beat was dropped.

I’m also with screenwriter Mike White when he questions the notion that Hollywood should “give life to our most demented fantasies and put them up on the big screen without any hand-wringing.” And I do wish more entertainment providers would, “before cashing those big checks, …at least pause to consider what [they] are saying with [their] movies [etc.] about the value of life and the pleasures of mayhem.” I think we’d be much better off with artists of all kinds self-filtering their work for the betterment of society. But I’m not holding my breath because most people aren’t in business (entertainment or otherwise) for the betterment of society but for the Benjamins. So, it then becomes MY responsibility to not consume soul-destroying entertainment and to confront its influence by offering myself and others something better to think about.

July 8, 2009

A Comment on a Wall Street Journal article

Filed under: Responses to Articles — pecaspers @ 7:18 AM
Tags: ,

I commented on the following article: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124598071177158161.html

It says something that the Wall Street Journal has an article about Sunday School. I’m just not sure what. Many things can be and have been said already about what’s left out of this article. Three issues seem most obvious to me.

First, part of the problem is basically an issue of semantics. Many churches are calling their Sunday morning educational programs something other than “Sunday School” because of a misguided attempt to avoid alienating people who haven’t grown up in church. Another angle of this same issue is that many churches are moving those same programs off of the church campus and/or off of Sunday morning. So it is not as though all that many churches are departing from having scheduled gatherings for Christian teaching in a small group setting, rather some are simply calling it something else, doing it somewhere else, and/or having it some other time.

Second, as it pertains to children and youth, the sad reality is that many churches have done so poorly at passing the Gospel to the next generation that there are no school-aged children in the church to teach. I am a Southern Baptist seminary graduate currently looking for a place of service, and I’ve had the opportunity to preach a couple of times at a very small, very old, somewhat rural church. They have one adult Sunday School class, and nothing for pre-schoolers, children, youth, young adults or any other population segment in particular because there simply are none in the church. The church members have outgrown–by years, not numbers–their ministry to children, which is a tragedy. (That said, they still put on Vacation Bible School and had 20 kids show up, so there is hope yet.) Having searched through many descriptions of churches looking for staff positions, this is a rather common problem in many–at least Southern Baptist–churches.

The third problem I see in the American church is the worst. In large part, our local churches have failed to preach and teach a true and clear Gospel. People have passed through our Sunday Schools, our VBSs, our backyard Bible clubs, and sat for weeks, months, and years under our preaching; and they still think that by some exertion of their own strength they may save themselves. . . or worse, they don’t need saving at all. I do not want to say anything against the Church universal or individual churches, but as a member and to some extent as a leader I must confess for us that we have failed to teach clearly the simple facts that God is creator and He is good, that mankind as a whole and individually from the first man Adam on down has failed to live in obedience and broken fellowship with Him, that God in Jesus the Messiah died in our place as the only complete sacrifice that could appease God’s anger at our sin and impart to us His own right standing before God, and finally–and perhaps most often avoided–we (me myself, you the reader, and everyone else) must turn from ourselves and our sin and trust in and follow Jesus as our Master and Savior. . .or be judged and found to be completely lacking.

[Comment here, on the Wall Street Journal website, or both.]

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