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Saturday, April 20, 2019

News Weakly - 4/20/19

The Burnt Cathedral
The big news of the week seems to be the disaster in Paris. The venerable Notre Dame cathedral burned. It was devastated in an apparently accidental fire. There was a universal sense of horror from the thousands of onlookers. There are photos of a seemingly miraculous preservation of the interior in places. The loss of this landmark is really difficult.

Given the decline of Christianity in Europe and America, one might be tempted to draw a parallel. "The church is burning, but the holy is saved." Very few French people were concerned about the loss of a "sacred place," but they felt the loss of a "national treasure," a beloved landmark. In terms of parallels, it would seem that the church burned down after the cows had already left. Oh, that's mixed metaphors, but you get it. They're planning to rebuild the building. There are no plans to restore Christ to the nation or the world.

The Laguna Beach, California, police department really messed up. They included American flags on their police car paint job. The louses. Laguna Beach is an artist community and some of the community just complained because they didn't get to have an input. But others are complaining that it's too "aggressive" and think that American flags on American police cars are offending immigrants and visitors. Only proving that you can do nothing these days without offending someone.

Rights Shmites
New York City appears to be having a serious measles outbreak. As a result, Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided to force vaccinations for 212,000 people living, working, or attending school in four zip codes or face a fine. You can get vaccinated, produce proof of vaccination within 3 days, or pay a $1000 fine. A group of orthodox Jews in the area have sued to prevent the violation of their religious freedom. They believe (for reasons I don't understand) that a measles vaccination is a violation of their religious beliefs. The government doesn't care. "First Amendment? We've already determined that you don't get that. Move along." The judge says so.

I get "quarantine" or "isolate" or even "You don't get to ignore the vaccination requirement because you're scared it might cause autism," but this country has religious freedom as a basic right. Now it's being kicked again and again to the curb. (And, hey, how does a $1000 fine prevent measles?)

Tough Love? No, Thanks!
Australian rugby player Israel Folau has been cut from Rugby Australia for posting on Instagram that "hell awaits homosexuals." Chief executive Raelene Castle said, "It was made clear to him that any social media posts or commentary that is in any way disrespectful to people because of their sexuality will result in disciplinary action." Further, Billy Vunipola was formally warned by the Rugby Football Union for liking Folau's post.

In a similar story, several road workers were fired for putting up "Bridge Out" signs on the road to a bridge that was removed and being replaced. "Posting signs that are in any way disrespectful to people because of the road they're on will result in disciplinary action," their supervisor stated. Oh, wait ... maybe not. Please note, world: Warning someone of impending disaster is not the same as disrespecting them. I would consider that it is disrespectful to encourage people to continue to their doom. And, hey, while I have your attention, world, let me ask: do you know Jesus?

Banning Hate?
This week Facebook banned some far right groups and individuals from their service on the basis that "Individuals and organisations who spread hate, or attack or call for the exclusion of others on the basis of who they are, have no place on Facebook." It sounds wise and reasonable, but you can surely see that "spread hate" or "call for the exclusion of others" is a hair's breadth away from excluding any biblical Christian since "You're a sinner and need Christ" or "We're a church; we don't hire those who disagree with our beliefs to lead us" are classified today as hateful. And what Facebook excludes many others will also.

Drawing Conclusions
Well, the poll is out. According to Gallup, church membership in the U.S. is down sharply in the past two decades. In 1999 something like 70% said they were church members; today's count is around 50%. Further, it seems that the slippage -- that 20% -- have not gone elsewhere. They've gone to "no religion." Among those who do classify themselves as religious, those who are church members have fallen by 9%.

(Important note: This was a Gallup poll. "Church membership" is not merely Christian churches. It is all of them, including JW, LDS, Islam, etc. That will, on its own, throw off the numbers we Christians are looking at.)

What can we conclude? Well, clearly America is no longer a Christian nation. (Hint: America was never a Christian nation. Nations can't have a saving relationship with Christ.) We could likely surmise that America, like the major trends in most developed nations, is losing its religion, so to speak. That's not news to us, either. I might conclude that the numbers are headed in a more honest direction. Polls in earlier decades said upwards of 75% of Americans were "Christian" but 5% said it made any difference in their lives. I suspect when we get closer to 5% of Americans as members of Christian churches, we'll be closer to reality. I also think it is abundantly clear that America is no longer the "missionary nation" -- the sender. We are quickly and seriously becoming the genuine mission field. And I think it should be obvious that as America loses its religion, it will lose the religious values that informed her. As such, expect a decline in morality, civility, family values, the value of the human being in the image of God, and, oh, yeah, reason (Rom 1:28). Hang on (real) Christians; it's gonna be a bumpy ride.

Brain Damage
Bobby Azarian is pleased to report that if you believe that the Bible is God's inspired Word and we ought to live our lives by that inspired Word, it is likely that you are suffering from brain impairment. Good news! Apparently it's not your fault!!

Beginning with the stunningly ignorant "Religious beliefs can be thought of as socially transmitted mental representations that consist of supernatural events and entities assumed to be real," the story descends into sheer stupidity. The fundamental starting point of this argument is that there can be no Supreme Being concluding, therefore, anyone who operates as if there is can only be brain damaged. "Religious fundamentalism refers to an ideology that emphasizes traditional religious texts and rituals and discourages progressive thinking about religion and social issues." Because, after all, if there is a God and He did give us His Word, He would certainly be more "progressive" ... than His Word, right? Assumptions about faith opposed to reason or evidence or faith that disallows challenges or questions are faulty assumptions. "Since religious fundamentalism involves a strict adherence to a rigid set of beliefs, cognitive flexibility and open-mindedness present a challenge for fundamentalists." False. Standing on fundamentals because they are fundamental does not preempt flexibility or open-mindedness. On the other hand, a mind so open that it can ignore fundamentals is headed toward disaster. (Think, "I can step off this cliff because I'm open-minded enough to think that the Law of Gravity is merely a suggestion.") Oh, and the best news! Their findings "could allow us to someday inoculate against rigid or radical belief systems." Great! We can eliminate God! Who has the brain damage now?


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

I think the evidence shows the Notre Dame fire was caused by arson.

Hundreds of churches in France have been torched or otherwise vandalized by Muslims.

The police, etc, are afraid to say the truth.

Stan said...

Could be. The current news cycle is accidental. Since the cathedral had little to do with Christ -- even in the minds of the French -- I wouldn't think it would make a good anti-Christian statement to bother. But how much of current events do we actually get true news about?

Marshal Art said...

The Burnt Cathedral

"Very few French people were concerned about the loss of a "sacred place," but they felt the loss of a "national treasure," a beloved landmark."

I would not disagree with that sentiment being accurate. To them it would be no different than the destruction of the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre. "It just so happens" that this landmark is also a church.


I'm offended by so many taking offense at anything and everything. I'm considering being offensive just to "resist".

Rights Shmites

I never understood the requirement for vaccinations in order to attend a school. The percentage is low for those for whom the diseases in question are life threatening, and they are lowered by the fact that many fully buy into the vaccination narrative. To me, one's religion is but one possible reason why a parent might object to such mandates. Simply being the parent with the right to determine how medical care is provided one's own child should be enough.

As to those who vaccinate their kids, are they fearful that the vaccines are worthless? Are the school administrators? If they're the essential preventative they're said to be, then all those who vaccinate their own kids should have nothing to fear from those who don't...seems to me.

Tough Love? No, Thanks!

This is long past ridiculous. As a white, Christian conservative male, I'm still a legitimate target of scorn. Somehow I don't lose too much sleep over it. Again, I'm considering indulging in more offensiveness.

Banning Hate?

See above.

Drawing Conclusions

I'm not technically a member of the church I've been attending for the last several years. My job makes it difficult to attend with regularity, though my wife goes without me. I'd even need to take a day off to become a member, which I would do if we could decide whether or not we're going to take that step. We're also considering moving out of state in the next couple of years, so the decision is more difficult (not like a HUGE difficulty...I just can't think of a better way to put it at present). We do contribute at collection time, and attend other events the church holds. So, if I was to be surveyed, I'd consider myself a member for the purpose. I'd certainly say I'm a "practicing" Christian (and need lots more practice, too).

Brain Damage

Brain damaged? I'm good with that.