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December 29, 2003

Forget about the Parents

Yet another federal judge has stricken down a state law requiring parental notification before a minor can have an abortion. According to this judge, it didnít have sufficient protection for the health of the minor. Another federal judge in another state concluded that it violated the minorís right to privacy.

This is crazy. When I went out for high school football, I had to get my parents to sign a form giving consent. I have an idea that practice still obtains. So why can a teen age girl get an abortionĖmanifestly a procedure with hazardsĖwithout parental notification?

There is something truly strange about the privileged position of abortion in American law.

December 27, 2003

Dean Plays the Religion Card

Howard Dean has just made his campaign more interesting. He has said he is going to talk about Jesus. The initial reaction from some quarters has been, well, skeptical. Is he merely using religion as a part of his "Southern Strategy," acknowledging that he canít win the White House without winning in the south? Or has he come to the realization that he canít win as the most secular of all the candidates?

What makes his announcement odd is that he made it at all. Why announce that you are going to talk about Jesus. Why not just talk about him? His initial statements will prove interesting as Christians examine them.

"Christ was someone who sought out people who were disenfranchised, people who were left behind," Dean told the Boston Globe in Christmas Day editions. "He fought against self-righteousness of people who had everything ... He was a person who set an extraordinary example that has lasted 2,000 years, which is pretty inspiring when you think about it."

Inspiring. When you think about it. Yes, of course, Jesus was a great man, a great teacher, a great champion of the poor. I suppose Governor Dean thinks that acknowledging these things makes one a believer in the Jesus of the Bible. But to believe no more than this about Jesus flies in the face of logic. As C.S. Lewis said, either Jesus was who he said he was, or his was a madman, a fraud, or worse. Jesus claimed to have existed from the foundation of the world. He claimed to be God in the flesh. Will the Governor acknowledge this? It might well cost him the Moslem vote.

Real Christians may not be that impressed with a man who believes Jesus was a good man. Real Christians believe he was literally The Son of God with all that entails. It will be interesting to see how he is questioned on these issues. For Jesus would have some hard things to say to the leadership of this country.

December 25, 2003

The End of the World?

Everyone knows the end of the world is coming. The only questions left are when and how. Scientists tell us that in 3 to 4 billion years our sun will blow up and turn our planet into a cinder, so there really is an end to all this. It doesnít matter to us whether it 3 billion or 3 million, our end is a lot sooner than that. Even the Bible tells us there is going to be an end to this "world" this system. It suggests that if God doesnít stop us, we will end up destroying ourselves.

But it speaks of time called "the Day of the Lord," when Christ will return and Godís wrath will descend on disobedient man. There are little snippets here and there in the New Testament about this time and what it means for mankind. Paul left at least one early church in a stew over the question because of the way he spoke of the end times. But when you think about it, Christ had ascended to the Father with a firm promise that he would be coming back. There was absolutely no reason for the early church to think it would be some 2000 years. Read what Paul said to these new Christians that caused them to react and come to understand why Paul had to straighten this out in his second letter to them. Click here to read his letter.

December 23, 2003

The Non-Appeaser

Appeasement had a good name in 1938. Nations were still laboring under the illusion that if they gave, for reasons of state, concessions to the likes of Adolf Hitler, that they could have peace. There were those who knew better, but no one was listening at the time.

As an accident of history, or perhaps through a benevolent God working out some obscure plan, America has a non-appeaser for a president at this extremely dangerous moment in time. It may be that 9-11 would have knocked the appeasement out of any president at the time, but that does not seem at all certain, given the political debates heating up as we approach a presidential election.

The problem is that evil men do exist, and they can only be dealt with by superior force. William Safire speaks to the problem this week in the New York Times:

As American tanks began to roll through Iraq to overthrow Saddam, Libya's longtime terrorist, Muammar Qaddafi, came up with a strategy to avoid being next on the regime-change list: pre-emptive surrender.

Nobody calls it that, of course. Diplomats and doves want to treat the dictator's epiphany as the result of patient negotiation stretching back for decades. Some Republicans claim he was softened up by a bomb dropped his way in the Reagan years. But three years after that, his terrorists murdered 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am 103.

Subsequent sanctions led to economic pain and the threat of a coup. After acknowledging Libyan responsibility, he has been trying to get U.S. oil companies back by promising to pay damages to the families of his victims.

That was not what caused this tyrant suddenly to confess to buying and developing chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, and to promise to reveal all to inspectors. He was transformed into a pussycat by the force of American arms in stopping the spread of mass-destruction weaponry.

Read the remainder on the NYT editorial page. You have to register, but itís free.

December 22

Psalm 29

(Psalms 29 KJV) "A Psalm of David.

Give unto the LORD, O ye mighty,
give unto the LORD glory and strength.
{2} Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name;
worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.

{3} The voice of the LORD is upon the waters:
the God of glory thundereth:
the LORD is upon many waters.
{4} The voice of the LORD is powerful;

the voice of the LORD is full of majesty.
{5} The voice of the LORD breaketh the cedars;
yea, the LORD breaketh the cedars of Lebanon.
{6} He maketh them also to skip like a calf;
Lebanon and Sirion like a young unicorn.

{7} The voice of the LORD divideth the flames of fire.
{8} The voice of the LORD shaketh the wilderness;
the LORD shaketh the wilderness of Kadesh.
{9} The voice of the LORD maketh the hinds to calve,
and discovereth the forests:
and in his temple doth every one speak of his glory.

{10} The LORD sitteth upon the flood;
yea, the LORD sitteth King for ever.
{11} The LORD will give strength unto his people;
the LORD will bless his people with peace."

This is a late psalm in that it mentions the temple. That being the case the author may never have heard the voice of Jehovah himself, but the legends of that voice must have formed a powerful image in the minds of all the people. When God came down on Mount Sinai, the whole mountain shook and started to smoke. And when God spoke the words of the Ten commandments, his voice rolling down the sides of the mountain and echoing into the distance, it must have been enough to loosen a manís insides. It was powerful enough to break huge trees.

That last idea in the psalm, that Jehovah will give strength to his people is interesting in that it doesnít specify Israel. "The People of God" seems to include more than a few tribes. In the time of Paul, there were many non-Jews who believed in God and rejected all idols. They had not gone so far as to be circumcised and to keep all the rituals of Judaism, but they did keep the commandments of God. They were called "God Fearers" by the Jews. Most likely, this is who God was talking about when he told Paul in a dream, " Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city." (Acts 18:9-10).

They may also be the "other sheep" Jesus mentioned, "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd." (John 10:16)

December 20, 2003

Fort Taliban?

The new US Commander in Afghanistan is planning a new approach to reconstruction. He plans to establish "bases to provide reconstruction aid in provinces plagued by Taliban attacks." It is a fascinating development with its roots in the old Wild West. In days when Indian raids made it dangerous all over the West, the Army established a network of forts, secure areas from which the cavalry could dominate an are and provide security for settlers. Old ideas can sometimes work again. Read the article here.

December 12, 2003


{13} I had fainted, unless I had believed
to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.
{14} Wait on the LORD:
be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say, on the LORD." (Psalm 27)

"Be of good courage" may not speak so much to the way you feel as to what you do. Even the bravest men in battle know fear. But they fight as though they were not afraid. That is what courage is all aboutĖovercoming the fear, not denying it.

There is a corollary to faith. Faith does not involve knowing with certainty. If one knows, faith is not needed. Rather faith is deciding to trust even in the absence of certainty. It has more to do with what you do than with what you feel.

December 11, 2003

Hillary for President?

Robert Novak is a savvy insider with connections that go nearly everywhere. Important people will return his calls. And when he tells us that Democrats are getting worried about Howard Dean and where he will take the party, you can believe that Democrats are getting worried. The problem is, if Dean wins on the first ballot at the Democratic convention, itís all over. What Democratic politicians will now try to do is prevent Dean from winning that first ballot. He will come into the convention ahead, but perhaps without a clear majority.

The problem with Dean among Democrats is not so much his policy, but his "loose lips." He has a habit of shooting from the hip and making goofy statements. I expect the Republican National Committee has enough film clips of these to make some pretty entertaining campaign ads.

One thing, though. The Democratic convention next year will not be nearly as boring as it has been. Stay tuned.

December 2, 2003

Democrats Boxed In?

I think it was Rush Limbaugh who said the Democrats start getting crazy when they are out of power (or was it the other way around?). Whatever the case, Joe Klein this week opines that: "We have reached a moment of transcendent weirdness in American politics and perhaps a defining moment in the 2004 presidential campaign." I was wondering if I was the only one who noticed. The parties seem almost to have switched sides on a whole range of issues that they used to stand on. The Republicans are spending like drunken sailors and the Democrats are calling for fiscal restraint. Is it my imagination, or wasnít it the other way around, say, 20 years ago?

It is fairly clear what is going on, though. Bill Clinton moved to the center to get elected, and GWB is doing exactly the same thing. Only Bush is going for bigger stakes than that. He wants a strongly republican congress as well. Look at the present round of Republican spending as an investment in the next set of Supreme Court justices. Believe it or not, that is a much bigger issue than either medicare or energy.

Bush is making two huge gambles and is staking his presidency on them for what he perceives to be the good of the country. One is the move to plant democracy in the middle east. The other is do whatever the voter want so he can move the courts to the right in his second term. The stakes are higher than most people realize, on the one side for our security, on the other for our history.

There is a big year ahead in politics. Klein: "The Bush Administration is outsmarting the Democrats at every turn. The economy seems to be recovering. If Iraq is stabilizedóa huge ifówhat will the Democrats run on? Their intellectual cupboard is bare, and the election may be slipping away."

Do Real Men Teach? An Essay by Richard Kisel








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