Tag Archive for culture

Training Children To Be Consumers

From the cradle, children are being targeted as potential consumers. It is frightening to observe the video and images that bombard children daily. The media and popular culture at large are bombarding kids with the message that its all about me, me, me. I know this sounds like a rant but it is not without foundation. Take a few minutes to view the following video and then share your comments below.

HT: Tim Challies

Social Conditioning

“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.”

– Revelation 3:17

What do the majority of Americans need that we don’t already have? Sure there are people in our country who are homeless, hungry, and poor but poverty in the United States is like being wealthy in a country like Haiti. As Americans we have it pretty good.

If you look past the cars and the homes and the full refrigerators and look into our hearts and minds, however, what do you see? Its a frightening question that has even more frightening answers. We don’t like to ask ourselves questions like these because they reveal where our true dependence lies.

So where does Jesus fit into all this? Well according to a recent Barna study, 66% of the adult population of the U.S. consider themselves to be casual Christians. You would think that with such a large percentage of people who identify themselves as casual Christians that Jesus would be a major influence in how we view our society and ourselves. The problem is that we depend more on the culture than on Jesus himself to shape our understanding of who Jesus is and why that matters. If the time that most Americans spend watching TV is 10 or 20 times greater than the time they spend reading the Bible or hearing the Bible taught in a church that believes the Bible, then how could you expect otherwise.

There is only one cure for such social conditioning and that is to get unplugged occasionally. No I am not advocating turning your home into a monastery but it wouldn’t hurt to turn off the TV every once in a while and see what Jesus has to say about the issues we face. I find it somewhat ironic that in a culture where we have 24 hour news channels the best news that has ever been given is over on the bookshelf collecting dust. Maybe there is something we need and we need it so bad we don’t realize how bad we need it. Maybe we just need to hear what Jesus has to say in His own words.

Should We Say, “Merry Christmas” ?

bensteinAlready this year I have been confronted with the alleged effrontery of saying Merry Christmas. It seems that every year around December the ghost of Christmas holiday past rears its ugly head to guilt the majority of us who like to say Merry Christmas. The rationale being used is that such language is offensive to those who are Jewish, etc. Well, I don’t buy it. I don’t believe that the majority of Jewish people are offended by Christmas anymore than I am offended by Happy Hanukkah.

Ben Stein, a famous Jewish actor, writer, and commentator, offered a unique perspective on the whole issue of Christmas in an article that he wrote a few years ago. Here are his thoughts:

Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are.

If this is what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu.

If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.

I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.

But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

I must agree with Ben. Should we say Merry Christmas? Absolutely, and shame on anyone who is too squeamish to do so. This is the United States of America not the united states of Hollywood, or the united states of PC, or the united states of Berkley. Here we say Merry Christmas!

The Manhattan Declaration

manhattandeclarationLast week some very influential Evangelical and Catholic church leaders signed a joint statement affirming the sanctity of human life, marriage as defined by the union of one man and one woman, and religious liberty and freedom of conscience. This statement is called the Manhattan Declaration. I am posting an executive summary here for you all to read. Please consider attaching your name to this historic document by going to www.manhattandeclaration.org.

Here are a short list of those who have already endorsed the declaration:

  • Robert George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence, Princeton University
  • Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, Diocese of Washington, D.C.
  • Harry Jackson Jr., Bishop, Hope Christian Church
  • Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, Diocese of Philadelphia
  • Timothy George, Professor, Beeson Divinity School at Samford University
  • Chuck Colson, Founder, The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview
  • Ron Sider, Professor, Palmer Theological Seminary and Director of the Seminary‚Äôs Sider Center on Ministry & Public Policy
  • George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center and Founding President of the James Madison Foundation
  • Tony Perkins, President, Family Research Council
  • Jim Daly, President and CEO, Focus on the Family

Here is the executive summary:

Manhattan Declaration Executive Summary

Christians, when they have lived up to the highest ideals of their faith, have defended the weak and vulnerable and worked tirelessly to protect and strengthen vital institutions of civil society, beginning with the family.

We are Orthodox, Catholic, and evangelical Christians who have united at this hour to reaffirm fundamental truths about justice and the common good, and to call upon our fellow citizens, believers and non-believers alike, to join us in defending them. These truths are (1) the sanctity of human life, (2) the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife, and (3) the rights of conscience and religious liberty. Inasmuch as these truths are foundational to human dignity and the well-being of society, they are inviolable and non-negotiable. Because they are increasingly under assault from powerful forces in our culture, we are compelled today to speak out forcefully in their defense, and to commit ourselves to honoring them fully no matter what pressures are brought upon us and our institutions to abandon or compromise them. We make this commitment not as partisans of any political group but as followers of Jesus Christ, the crucified and risen Lord, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Human Life

The lives of the unborn, the disabled, and the elderly are ever more threatened. While public opinion has moved in a pro-life direction, powerful and determined forces are working to expand abortion, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. Although the protection of the weak and vulnerable is the first obligation of government, the power of government is today often enlisted in the cause of promoting what Pope John Paul II called “the culture of death.” We pledge to work unceasingly for the equal protection of every innocent human being at every stage of development and in every condition. We will refuse to permit ourselves or our institutions to be implicated in the taking of human life and we will support in every possible way those who, in conscience, take the same stand.

Marriage

The institution of marriage, already wounded by promiscuity, infidelity and divorce, is at risk of being redefined and thus subverted. Marriage is the original and most important institution for sustaining the health, education, and welfare of all. Where marriage erodes, social pathologies rise. The impulse to redefine marriage is a symptom, rather than the cause, of the erosion of the marriage culture. It reflects a loss of understanding of the meaning of marriage as embodied in our civil law as well as our religious traditions. Yet it is critical that the impulse be resisted, for yielding to it would mean abandoning the possibility of restoring a sound understanding of marriage and, with it, the hope of rebuilding a healthy marriage culture. It would lock into place the false and destructive belief that marriage is all about romance and other adult satisfactions, and not, in any intrinsic way, about the unique character and value of acts and relationships whose meaning is shaped by their aptness for the generation, promotion and protection of life. Marriage is not a “social construction,” but is rather an objective reality – the covenantal union of husband and wife – that it is the duty of the law to recognize, honor, and protect.

Religious Liberty

Freedom of religion and the rights of conscience are gravely jeopardized. The threat to these fundamental principles of justice is evident in efforts to weaken or eliminate conscience protections for healthcare institutions and professionals, and in anti-discrimination statutes that are used as weapons to force religious institutions, charities, businesses, and service providers either to accept (and even facilitate) activities and relationships they judge to be immoral, or go out of business. Attacks on religious liberty are dire threats not only to individuals, but also to the institutions of civil society including families, charities, and religious communities. The health and well-being of such institutions provide an indispensable buffer against the overweening power of government and is essential to the flourishing of every other institution – including government itself – on which society depends.

Unjust Laws

As Christians, we believe in law and we respect the authority of earthly rulers. We count it as a special privilege to live in a democratic society where the moral claims of the law on us are even stronger in virtue of the rights of all citizens to participate in the political process. Yet even in a democratic regime, laws can be unjust. And from the beginning, our faith has taught that civil disobedience is required in the face of gravely unjust laws or laws that purport to require us to do what is unjust or otherwise immoral. Such laws lack the power to bind in conscience because they can claim no authority beyond that of sheer human will.

Therefore, let it be known that we will not comply with any edict that compels us or the institutions we lead to participate in or facilitate abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide, euthanasia, or any other act that violates the principle of the profound, inherent, and equal dignity of every member of the human family.

Further, let it be known that we will not bend to any rule forcing us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality, marriage, and the family.

Further, let it be known that we will not be intimidated into silence or acquiescence or the violation of our consciences by any power on earth, be it cultural or political, regardless of the consequences to ourselves.

We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

Please consider signing the declaration posted at www.manhattandeclaration.org.