Sunday, May 29, 2016

Anti-American Rhetoric Pervades Even Conservative Denominations

On an episode of Issues Etc. examining pop culture apocalypticism, Lutheran Minister Jonathan Fiske admonished that believers need to get away from an American Republican view of Christianity that we are meant to live a good life here and now to a ripe old age after which we go on to our eternal reward in Heaven.

Interesting how the default term to denigrate these days out of the mouths of so many professional relgionists is “America”.

Furthermore, is his enunciation of the term “Republican” also invoked to besmirch the ideological proclivity of those assembling under the banner of the GOP to believe that the path towards the broadest swath of prosperity for the greatest number is to be found in individuals for the most part left alone to pursue their own well being, dreams and callings?

Does Rev. Fiske intend to cast as much aspersion upon an American Democratic view of Christianity that instead sees the path to a society approaching something akin to justice as one where the individual is nothing more than a cog in whatever group one happens to be a part of for the purposes of the government dispersing its largess to favored demographics and constituencies?

Furthermore, is the desire to maximize pleasure and evade misery necessarily a distinctively American characteristic?

Or is it that America through the blessings of the Almighty has been more successful than most regimes in achieving this most desirable yet elusive state of affairs?

For one will find that the average Third Worlder (unless brainwashed by the likes of fanatic Islam) is usually as averse to pain as most Westerners.

It is just that their respective society has not been as successful in alleviating these vicissitudes.

Often those given towards ostentatious verbalized declarations of their own piety articulate a willingness to welcome increased suffering.

However, was it not the God such souls claim as their primary loyalty the one that imbued part of His creation with that mysterious quality known as life along with a desire to see that distinct gift continued for as long as possible?

Though it may be ended as a result of a wide variety of intervening contingencies, if the believer strives to live by these principles God has established in the social sphere, won't the odds be in your favor for a life characterized by a bit less trouble?

After all, does not Scripture urge one to honor your mother and father so that your days upon the Earth might be long?

That text even admits it is a Scripture that dangles before the hearer a carrot in order to encourage compliance.

By Frederick Meekins

There are answers if you know where to look for them Faith in Christ Lives JOIN the Faith in Jesus Network

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Pope Downplays Islamist Invasion

In an interview downplaying the Islamist invasion of the West, Pope Francis assured in a La Criox interview that he has seen “Muslims come to venerate the Virgin Mary and St. George.”

That doesn't cut it.

Unless you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved, you are still going to Hell no matter how highly you think of His earthly mother.

She was, after all, a sinner in need of a savior like every other human being.

In the same interview, the Pope went on to assert that the state must be secular and that the ones that are confessional in nature in that they adhere to an established creed end badly.

So, as a sovereign state of its own, does this assessment also apply to the Vatican?

Will those of a mindset similar to Ian Paisley or Jack Chick at their most militant be invited to establish a print shop on Vatican territory as a symbol of this dedication to pluralism?

by Frederick Meekins

There are answers if you know where to look for them Faith in Christ Lives JOIN the Faith in Jesus Network

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Baptist Church Opposed To Old Glory Has Pro Wrestler Address Student Body

On its SermonAudio page, Berean Baptist Church of Fayetteville, North Carolina uploaded a discussion on the use of social media facilitated by professional wrestler Brad Cain.

Admittedly, I have enjoyed professional wrestling from time to time over the course of my life and don't really know much about this individual.

But it must be pointed out that any other time this church is so wrapped up in practicing its religion 24/7 that the leadership denounces Christians that enunciate a strong devotion to or respect for the American flag.

But apparently it is acceptable to watch professional wrestling.

Just don't root for Sgt. Slaughter or Hacksaw Jim Duggan while doing so.

Both SermonAudio and Berean Baptist Church seem to have little problem with promoting a doctrinal schizophrenia

For example, in his remarks, Brad Cain announced his own practice of “social media free Sundays” as if such a custom made him holier than thou.

Yet according to his Wikipedia entry, Cain has played a homosexual as part of his ringside persona.

One would think that would upset God a bit more than if you check Facebook.

Elsewhere on the SermonAudio website, there are diatribes passing as Biblical exegesis insinuating that your daughter will possibly become a lesbian if she enjoys Little House On The Prairie or the town tramp if she is allowed to leave the house in pursuit of a college education or even premarital employment.

If the response is that ministries enjoy the discretion and Christian liberty to upload from a wide range of perspectives, just say something positive about Catholicism even if you don't agree with that system in its entirety and see how long your account remains active on the site.

By Frederick Meekins There are answers if you know where to look for them Faith in Christ Lives JOIN the Faith in Jesus Network

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Didn't Pious Ideologues Lay Foundation Of Trumpism?

Syndicated Columnist Cal Thomas has published a commentary critical of presidential candidate Donald Trump titled “The itching ears of Trump fans”.

In the piece, Thomas astutely points out where the billionaire's bold promises often lack specifics as to how the proposals could be implemented in a way that would minimize the disruption from an uncooperative opposition as epitomized by the Occupy movement and BlackLivesMatter not above the use of what most Americans would categorize as violence in the attempt to sway public opinion and policy.

But did not Thomas himself play a part in paving the way for the ascent of Trumpism?

In “Blinded By Might”, Cal Thomas admonished how the truly devout ought to dichotomize their worldviews to separate what constitutes spirituality from what constitutes competent political leadership or governance.

Now that droves of Evangelicals and Roman Catholics have flocked to a candidate that might not abide by Biblical behavioral norms in his personal life but who not only speaks bluntly about the nation's problems but in a manner that does not act like everything wrong in the world is America's fault, theologians and even conservative pundits that set this ball in motion nearly twenty years ago stand gapping in dumbfounded amazement.

In his commentary, Thomas levels condemnation at Donald Trump for speaking out of both sides of his mouth.

But isn't Thomas a bit guilty of this himself?

In referencing the cruel things Trump's disturbingly fanatic supporters have called Thomas, the witty correspondent confesses being called “old” probably hurt worse than even being called a sack of excrement.

But of that particular verbal put down, Thomas writes, “Remember when age used to go with wisdom unless proven otherwise?”

Yet any other time in his desire to gain the favor of the media elite, Thomas has mocked both Tea Party gatherings and Trump rallies for being composed primarily of elderly White faces.

But one cannot get much more elderly and White than Cal Thomas.

Does he intend to consistently live by the principles he now professes by surrendering the place he does occupy in the media or the no doubt hefty check he receives for doing so?

By Frederick Meekins There are answers if you know where to look for them Faith in Christ Lives JOIN the Faith in Jesus Network

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Morality Of Stem Cell Research

In light of the suffering endured by beloved celebrities such as Christopher Reeve and Michael J. Fox, many Americans have been swayed as to the propriety of stem cell research as a potential cure for alleviating some of the most horrible conditions imaginable such as paralysis, Parkinson’s, and cancer. However, as with many of the other things set before him promising comfort and prosperity, the believing Christian must weigh the costs and benefits on the scales of Biblical truth before he can either accept or reject what this technology may have to offer.

Thus far we know the following. Medical science has determined that stem cells posses the potential of being altered into other kinds of cells. This could potentially make them useful in curing various kinds of diseases.

The controversy arises over the source from which these cells are harvested. One possible source are mature stem cells obtained from adults. This extraction does not harm the donor. The drawback is, however, that it is believed it may not be possible to manipulate mature stem cells into becoming the different kinds of cells doctors and scientists may need to treat all the conditions begging for medical attention.

On the other hand, it has been suggested that stem cells obtained from embryos may be a more fruitful source. These may prove easier to alter since they have not yet matured. The main drawback, however, is that the embryo must be destroyed in order to obtain the stem cells for research and experimentation.

This debate has become one of the foremost issues in contemporary American politics as both sides make a number of compelling ethical claims. On the one hand, advocates of embryonic stem cell research often suffer from afflictions those of reasonably good health cannot possibly understand at this given point in our lives. It is only natural that they and their loved ones would want research into what could be the most effective cure. Yet on the other hand, there are concerns about the destiny of the embryo from which the stem cells are taken since the fertilized egg is a self-contained genetically distinct living human organism.

The foremost ethical principle bearing on this dispute is the sanctity of human life. Interestingly, in this case the principle is being invoked by both sides of the debate. Thus, one almost needs the wisdom of Solomon in attempting to apply the concept in a judicious manner.

Since the suffering are beings made in the image of God, medical science does have a duty to do what it can to ease the misery of the profoundly ill. That said though, society in general and the medical establishment in particular must go out of its way to defend innocent human life that cannot protect itself.

It is against the law to destroy an eagle egg which is essentially an unborn eagle. Then why should it then be permissible to kill an unborn child since it is a principle Biblical in origin traditionally accepted throughout Western society that a human being is infinitely more valuable than any animal? For if His eye is on the sparrow, then I know He’s watching me.

Furthermore, with all the efforts by activists lobbying for funding for embryonic stem cell research, it is doubtful that most of the public is being told the entire picture regarding these developments in medical science.

According to columnist Charles Krauthammar, who is himself a paraplegic and a trained physician, in a column from October 15, 2004 titled “Anything to get elected” posted at claims of those such as John Kerry and John Edwards that hold out the hope of such miracle cures only if Americans vote for the right candidates, “In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery.” Krauthammar goes on to point out that it could be another generation before scientists are anywhere close to finding a cure for paralysis and that NIH stem cell researcher Ronald McKay has admitted that “stem cells as an Alzheimer’s cure are a fiction but that people need a fairytale.”

Furthermore, even if embryonic stem cells prove more malleable than their adult counterparts, we might not like the results. According to a story by Steven Ertelt titled “Embryonic Stem Cell Research Causes Tumors”, University of Rochester researchers found that, while stem cells injected into the brains of rats to ease the symptoms of Parkinson’s did help a number of the rodents, a number of the cells began growing in a manner that would have led to tumors.

Apart from the harm that might befall the recipients of the procedure, it would still remain morally dubious even if it returned the patients to robust health and vitality. Writing in another column entitled “Stem Cell Miracle?: An Advance This Side Of Bush’s Moral Line” appearing in the January 12, 2007 Washington Post, Charles Krauthammar admits that, even though he himself supports abortion and does not believe life begins at conception, he is leery of what may result should some kind of restriction not be placed on embryonic research. Krauthammar warns, “You don’t need religion to tremble at the thought of unrestricted embryo research. You simply have to have a healthy respect for the human capacity for doing evil in pursuit of the good. Once we have taken the position of many stem cell advocates that embryos are discardable tissue with no more intrinsic value than a hangnail, then the barriers are down. What is to prevent us from producing not just tissues and organs but humanlike organisms for preservation as a source of future body parts on demand?”

This possibility has been explored in a number of imaginative contexts such as “Gene Rodenberry’s: Earth Final Conflict”, where one episode depicted human bodies not quite allowed to develop consciousness kept in a state similar to suspended animation until their organs were needed. In “The Island” starring Ewan MacGregor, clones were kept in a guarded facility until their parts were needed by their genetic progenitors.

The fundamental guiding principle of medicine is to do no harm. That lofty ideal ought to apply to both the patient seeking services as well as the individual from which the cure could very well be extracted.

By Frederick Meekins

There are answers if you know where to look for them Faith in Christ Lives JOIN the Faith in Jesus Network

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Intellectually Excavating Indiana Jones Unearths Epistemological Artifacts

As a discipline, archaeology examines the artistic and technological remains of various cultures in the attempt to learn more about them. Often from these objects, students learn about more than the subject's material nature but also insight into the beliefs and paradigms important to the human species at a particular time.

Probably the most prominent representative of the discipline in public culture is none other than Indiana Jones, with Stargate's Dr. Daniel Jackson coming in at second. As a narrative itself created at a particular point in time, the Indiana Jones movies themselves can be placed under investigation to unearth what our own culture has believed at various points in recent history as well as the ideas shaping those having such influence over our own society.

Through comparing "The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" and the other films of the Indiana Jones saga, especially with "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade", one can detect the shifts taking place all around us as to what the broader popular culture perceives as foundational truth. For example, though the films should not be seen as a systematic theology upon which to base one's faith, "Raiders of the Lost Ark" and "Last Crusade" had at their base Judeo-Christian assumptions in that artifacts connected with this tradition, namely the Ark of the Covenant and the Holy Grail (the cup used by Jesus Christ at the Last Supper) were actual historic objects and, since these objects in legend exude a power that cannot be explained by conventional science, one assumes they are connected to the divine.

In the latest film of the series, "Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull", ultimate wisdom and power is not seen as originating in a traditional conception of God as in "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" or "Last Crusade" or even in spirits as in "Indiana Jones & The Temple Of Doom". Rather in the latest installment, the source of enlightenment happens to be those entities with the bulbous heads and lanky limbs we have come to know as extraterrestrials whose crystalline skulls in this story can serve as powerful tools through which to augur the future, communicate with these beings, and to gain control of the world. Though an entertaining story, it may have considerable basis in reality --- or at least in the worldviews of its high level producers.

For example, the opening scene with Indy trouncing through the military hanger is set in none other than Area 51 and the top secret project he alludes to working on 10 years prior to the events of the story is none other than the Roswell crash. Some might flippantly dismiss these as urban legends that have taken on lives of their own beyond the significance of any incidents that may have occurred in these locations that now fire the imagination. However, it is pretty hard to ignore the Nazca lines which were not discovered by modern man until the discovery of flight and the existence of a tribe of Indians that mutilated the shape of their skulls to make themselves appear as if they were from beyond this earth.

Even these can be dismissed as historical or anthropological curiosities as human beings have believed or done some rather bizarre things since nearly the dawn of time. The thing is that there are those among the influential who would imbue intelligences from beyond this earth with a metaphysical prominence going above that which you would bestow upon someone from another country as being different from but frankly no better ontologically than you ultimately.

While a highly creative individual, to Steven Spielberg, these creatures are much more than imaginative characters or plot elements. Rather, the acclaimed director has had an interest and belief in the paranormal throughout much of his life beyond that of a mere narrative device and he has been reported to have had a number of encounters with the unexplained.

In the movie, the quest was not so much to verify whether or not transterrestrial life simply existed as a biological fact but rather that enlightenment was somehow obtained from these beings and as such they were worthy of the adoration and devotion once reserved for God Himself. As the public comes to embrace this worldview more and more, we are beginning to see a shift from viewing beings like this in a solely naturalistic context of beings from another planet not all that unlike our own to, as in the case of “The Kingdom of The Crystal Skull” as coming from a realm transcendent to our own from what could be referred to as another dimension.

Thus, in essence, in terms of our paradigms, the Western mind has come full circle to an extent but on a less sure footing than when it set out on the quest to comprehend the cosmos in which we find ourselves. It use to be believed that nonhuman intelligences originated from another realm (initially Heaven but tossed out when they followed Lucifer/Satan into rebellion). Then as the West increasingly fell under the spell of what Francis Schaeffer termed “modern modern science” (meaning science opposed to the existence of the spiritual realm), such entities were believed to come from other planets

However, as the New Age movement has become so entrenched that it is no longer new anymore and prefers even fancier titles such as "cosmic spirituality", now it seems our alleged betters along the path of evolutionary consciousness take on the best and worst depending upon one’s perspective. For example, in the latest Indiana Jones adventure, no longer are the gods of the dawning order disembodied spirits we cannot see but rather they posses physical form we can relate to even if it differs vastly from our own. And yet even though they are like us, they also come from a place apart from and above our own so as to avoid banality by providing us with the hope of a somewhere possessing a transcendence we can still aspire to.

Those watching “Indiana Jones & The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull” can feel free to do so with a clear conscience as it is primarily an entertaining adventure story. However, as with the protagonist of this series, viewers should take with them the assorted philosophical equipment necessary to avoid the pitfalls and traps they are likely to encounter as they undertake an expedition into this realm where imagination intersects belief.

By Frederick Meekins

There are answers if you know where to look for them Faith in Christ Lives JOIN the Faith in Jesus Network