Beyond Technology – Thoughts on Ultimate Issues (God, Life, Right and Wrong)

Christian Denominations: Part of God’s Plan?
(original post date May 30th, 2007)

Many Christians (including myself) have bemoaned the fragmented nature of Christendom. However, Louis Markos points out in his new article, The Threefold Witness of the Church: THE CATHOLIC PETER, THE ORTHODOX JOHN, AND THE PROTESTANT PAUL*, that the differences in the worship and attitudes of apostles Peter, John, and Paul may be reflected in the three great divisions of Christendom:

“We need, in fact, the Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches, for they carry within them the unique legacies of Peter, John, and Paul.”

*Two notes: this is a PDF file (Abobe Reader, start your engines!) and this links to the entire magazine. Go to page 43 to read the article. But, don’t miss out on the rest of a very intriguing publication.

Thanks and a tip of the hat (borrowed from Jimmy Hatlo) to Mike Potemra of NRO’s The Corner.


My Response to Paul Watson

(original post date May 12th, 2007)

This: (my newest granddaughter, Alice McKinney)

She represents life. Who would be happier if she weren’t born? Greenpeace co-founder and president of Sea Shepherd, Paul Watson. In his May 4th editorial, The Beginning of the End for Life as We Know it on Planet Earth?, he calls for the reduction of humanity to one billion (and in a May 11th interview with talk-show host Laura Ingraham, he says that number may even be a bit too high).

As far as Paul Watson is concerned, she’s just another part of the human virus, the “AIDS of the Earth.” He sees no difference between a human baby and a baby seal – except that he’s more concerned about the baby seal than the baby human.

He’s not the only one who’s convinced that much of mankind has to go. University of Texas professor Eric R. Pianka’s been teaching this for years.

I’m betting that Alice, or somebody like her, will grow up and help provide solutions to the problems of this planet. Sadly, as long as people like Watson, Pianka, and their many allies are around, many people will be convinced that the world is better off without children.


Wilberforce for President? Wilberforce for President!

original post date April 5th, 2007

If you’re hungry for real moral leadership in the US, William Wilberforce may be the answer. At least the folks at Draft Wilberforce ‘08 think so.

Overlooking for the moment a few obvious problems (A – he’s dead, and B, he’s not a native-born American), Wilberforce’s combination of moral fervor, determination, and ability to reach across traditional ideological barriers to accomplish great public good are quite appealing to an electorate looking for a better president.

If Wilberforce can’t answer the call (and I suspect he’s awfully busy right now, as well as unavailable for other reasons), is there a real candidate out there who’s not afraid to take on what’s wrong with the world?



The Wesley-Wilberforce Connection

original post date March 18th, 2007

The release of the movie and book Amazing Grace has brought about a new interest in William Wilberforce’s fight against the slave trade in the British Empire.

Along with Wilberforce, one of the pioneers of the struggle was the founder of the Methodist movement, John Wesley. His abridgement of an American Quaker’s anti-slavery tract was published as Thoughts Upon Slavery in 1774, and the last letter Wesley ever wrote before his death in 1791 was written to Wilberforce. Here’s an excerpt:

Unless God has raised you up for this very thing, you will be worn out by the opposition of men and devils. But if God be for you, who can be against you? Are all of them together stronger than God? O be not weary of well doing I Go on, in the name of God and in the power of His might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.

This encouragement came at an important time for Wilberforce, for his 1791 petition against the slave trade would be defeated that year, and again in 1805, before it was finally adopted into law in 1807.

We may never know in this life how vitally important a letter, a phone call, an email or IM chat session might be in encouraging someone to keep trying to do what is right in the face of seemingly impossible odds. John Wesley died before he could know that his encouragement, as well as the encouragement of others, would help William Wilberforce to continue pressing for the end of the slave trade until victory was achieved.

H/T to Herbert McGonigle of the Wesley Fellowship, whose Holiness Today article on Wesley and Wilberforce inspired this post.



Amazing Grace…Amazing Movie…Amazing Challenge

original post date March 14th, 2007

Recently, we attended a packed house showing of Amazing Grace, the new movie about William Wilberforce’s fight to stop the slave trade in the British Empire. The film is, in a word – amazing.

The cast (including veterans Albert Finney and Michael Gambon, Ioan Gruffudd, Romolo Garai, and musician turned actor Youssou N’Dour among others) inhabits, rather than merely play-acts, their roles. You can see the passion, the agony (both physical and spiritual in the case of the chronically-ill Wilberforce), and the struggle to hold power for the benefit of a few or to renounce it for the good of all. Amazing Grace captures the era with both the pictorial perfection that we’ve come to expect from English-based film production, and, what’s more rare today, a respect for the manners, morals, and language of the time period. Amazing Grace is truly ‘you are there’ moviemaking.

What’s more amazing is that Amazing Grace captures the horror of slavery through objects that suggest slavery’s inhumanity (slaver’s chains and a tour of an empty slave ship) , speeches, and quoted excerpts from books, rather than with prolonged footage of slaves being transported (often with a 1:4 chance, or less, of survival) or being worked past endurance.

As viewers, we are asked to engage our hearts and our minds to decide, along with the people of Wilberforce’s day, whether the slave trade should continue (the ’status quo’ of that time) or stop. They were forced by Wilberforce and his allies to think through the consequences of slavery and asked to put an end to it, not merely react with momentary sympathy to an individual account in a newspaper, so quickly read and even more quickly forgotten.

Amazing Grace is an amazing film, all right, but it should be something more. Right now, Africans are still being enslaved in Darfur and elsewhere. Peoples around the world of diverse colors and races are in the grip of various tyrannies. It is time for Christians and other believers in God to wrestle with the same question that bedeviled Wilberforce: is it possible to serve God in public and work for the betterment of humanity? In his case, the answer was a resounding Yes! In our time, the answer is no less clear in its call to faith and duty.

People may disagree about exactly what should be done in Darfur, the Middle East, and elsewhere. But, as William Wilberforce’s example demonstrates, doing nothing merely permits evil to persist. In Wilberforce’s day, a combination of the influence of the church, the work of men (and women) of good will, and the power of the British Empire coincided to put an end to the monstrous practice of the slave trade in the Empire. Wilberforce and his allies finally triumphed when they agreed that the contribution of each group was necessary to achieve final victory. Perhaps a similar combination of faith, works, and force is needed to stop today’s slavers and tyrants.



Meet William Wilberforce

February 23rd, 2007

Who is William Wilberforce? Moviegoers can now discover the man who led the fight to abolish slavery in the British Empire. Wilberforce inspired Abraham Lincoln and the anti-slavery movement, making him instrumental in ending slavery in the entire English-speaking world. See his story on the big screen in Amazing Grace, or get the rest of the story through Eric Metaxas’ new book Amazing Grace – William Wilberforce & the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery.

Why Amazing Grace? If you’ve ever sung the hymn Amazing Grace, you’ve sung the words of the man who was Wilberforce’s mentor, John Newton. In the words of Wilberforce’s biographer, Eric Metaxas, in an interview with National Review Online’s Katharine Jean Lopez:

…Newton’s greatest achievement — greater than writing that world-famous hymn — may have been when he advised the newly converted Wilberforce not to leave politics, but to stay there so that God could use him there. It’s to his endless credit that Newton advised Wilberforce that way at such a crucial moment. One might say that it changed the world — and I do.

Watch it. Read it. Do it.



Darwin’s Day, or Lincoln’s? Why I Vote for the Man from Illinois

original post date February 12th, 2007

By an amazing twist of fate, both Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on February 12, 1809. Some celebrate this day as “Darwin Day” (and some churches got in on the act a day early by hosting “Evolution Sunday” services). I prefer to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday, instead.

Whatever the merits of Darwin’s theory of evolution as a scientific theory, its application (some would say misapplication) to human relations as “Social Darwinism” have been highly toxic, leading to eugenics, abortion and sterilization (as a means of removing “harmful genes” from humanity), and even the Holocaust.

Lincoln’s battle against a nation “half slave and half free” (June 16, 1858 “House Divided” campaign speech), on the other hand, was an early blow in the long battle to recognize all peoples of any color as truly human. Even before becoming president and signing the Emancipation Proclamation, he defended the Declaration of Independence’s statement “we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” vigorously (July 10, 1858 speech at Chicago).

Who has inspired more good actions and a better humanity? Darwin or Lincoln? In my mind, it isn’t even close.

(H/T to PowerLine)



‘Never Again?’ – Don’t tell the folks in Darfur…

original post date May 19th, 2006

The fighting in Darfur may be about over, but the genocide in Darfur (and genocide it is, whether the UN wants to admit it or not) won’t be over until the people have food, homes, and security. The rallies in Washington DC may be over, but the needs persist. Pray, give, and work for help.

Darfur and other humanitarian problems shouldn’t be a left or right issue, just a human issue.


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