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November 26, 2003

Who Is Losing the Culture Wars?

I recently said that Christians are not merely losing the culture wars, but that we have already lost. It turns out, though, that there is a counter trend and we could miss it if we arenít watching. John Leo, writing in U.S. News, pointed this out in a recent column. Some points:

The liberal worldview still dominates the news business, the arts, the entertainment world, publishing, the campuses, and all levels of schooling. Itís the media and educational status quo. But five years ago, CBS probably could have gotten away with a cheap-shot miniseries on the Reagans. Now it canít. This is partly because of market forces, as conservative columnist Robert Bartley and liberal columnist Richard Reeves both pointed out. Reeves called the miniseries "commercially insane." Large conservative audiences no longer accept many liberal products, so those products are adapted or abandoned. The other reason for the ditching of the Reagan miniseries is that the conservative media world is now good at gang tackling. From Matt Drudgeís Drudge Report (which framed the issue of the miniseries) to Fox, the bloggers, talk radio hosts, and the columnists, everybody piled on.

[There] is a new paradigm in pop culture: conventional liberalism is the old, rigid establishment. The antiliberals are brash, funny, and cool. Who would have thought?

It was obvious that the democratization of the media would bring new voices into the field, but who knew that so many of those voices would be conservative, libertarian, or just cantankerously opposed to entrenched liberal doctrine? The conservative side is far from winning the culture wars, but the debate is broader and fairer now. The near monopoly is over.

I would not have thought so, and I think this has crept up on a lot of us. The younger generation may be smarter and deeper than we have given them credit for being. Churches and evangelists should take serious note.

November 24, 2003

What Really Works

Want to know what the reason is that black kids lag behind in school? Really? Mort Zuckerman pulls no punches and tells us what really works.

November 20, 2003

Another Passing

Mankind has a drive to meaning. The Book says that God has set eternity in manís heart yet so that he cannot find out the end from the beginning (Ecclesiastes 3:11 NIV). That doesnít keep us from trying.

Today, I am speaking at the funeral of Marilyn Lewis, a beautiful soul whom God has taken before her time. I plan to begin with the words of Job: "Man that is born of woman is few of days and full of trouble." There is no better time to reflect on the this idea than when God has taken someone, not only too soon, but in far too painful a way. And I would like to find out the end of this, why it has to be so.

It is not that I am not aware of reasons that God may have, but all my reasons seem to fall short. And who am I to justify God? He doesnít need me to make him look good. But there is a lesson in this, and it is one that Job had well in hand right from the start. It is probably the reason he made it through the trial. He probably said it with some vehemence: "Though he slay me, yet will I trust him." I donít have to know the reason for suffering to trust God through it. Sometimes I think this may be the object of the exercise.

I donít know exactly what I will say at the funeral. It may depend on the faces of those who are there. It always depends on the Spirit. You might spare a prayer for Stuart Lewis, a man who found great meaning in being there for his beloved in her hour of trial. His love sustained her, but probably, her trust in him was just as important.

November 19, 2003


Driving home tonight, I was listening to a taped lecture dealing with the history of World War I. I had known, but hadnít focused on the fact that the Great War, as it was called, was ignited by a simple terrorist attack. The Serbian Black Hand terrorist group assassinated a Hungarian archduke and one thing led to another.

The thing that struck me as the teacher laid out the war, the suffering, the casualties, the dead, was the utter irrationality of nearly everything about that war. Human beings can be stupid, but are we really that stupid? I was left with an overwhelming sense of a spirit of great evil and destruction at large in the world. The word that came to mind was Apollyon. It is the name of the great spirit Abaddon whose name in both Hebrew and Greek means, "Destroyer." He is the great enemy of life and God and everything God stands for.

John saw this ugly beast in vision and described the event in Revelation 9.

(Revelation 9:1-11 KJV) "And the fifth angel sounded, and I saw a star fall from heaven unto the earth: and to him was given the key of the bottomless pit. {2} And he opened the bottomless pit; and there arose a smoke out of the pit, as the smoke of a great furnace; and the sun and the air were darkened by reason of the smoke of the pit. {3} And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. {4} And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. {5} And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. {6} And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. {7} And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. {8} And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. {9} And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. {10} And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months. {11} And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tongue hath his name Apollyon."

The curious thing about this is that we are apt to credit the seven angels with seven trumpets sounding in the very last days. But there are times in the world, and this is one of those times, when one has a profound sense that the great Destroyer is already at large with his minions. It is a good thing to remember that Johnís description is of a vision, not of real time events. I worry a little about this wicked spirit being at large in a world with nuclear weapons. But I can only worry a bit, because my hope is in God, his power and his life.

I know how the story comes out. God wins in the end.

November 15, 2003

Not a Religious War?

For political reasons, the government likes to say that the war on terror is not a religious war. So this morning, an Islamic terror group blew up two synagogues in Istanbul. What would it take for it to become a religious war?

November 10, 2003

The Violent Century

It may come as a surprise to learn that the most violent century in the history of man was the late, unlamented, 20th century. It did for me until I thought about it. But what really left me gasping was the scope and distribution of the violence. Serious scholars estimate the dead from wars at near 38,000,000. That surprised me because I thought WWII killed that many people. But then it turned out that by war, they meant battle. It did not count another important statistic--The number of people killed by their own governments in categories including genocide, political murders, mass murders of any description: 169,000,000.

I suppose one would have to weigh Iraq in that balance as well. The number killed in war there is eclipsed by the number of Iraqis killed by the regime.

November 8, 2003

The "Peace Process"

If I suggest to you that politicians are liars, you are likely to roll your eyes and what else is new. Why belabor the obvious? But if I ask you what is the most consistent subtle lie perpetrated by every politician of every stripe in every society in the world, what would you say? What one idea, uttered again and again by Republican and Democrat, Muslim and Christian, Israeli and Palestinian, is the most deceptive idea in the world political arena?

The answer is clear. It is the the idea of a "peace process." I am starting to grit my teeth every time I hear the phrase, because I am convinced that not a single person who talks about peace believes for a moment that peace lies anywhere in our future. The Moslems have been at war with the rest of the world for a thousand years. Why should we assume that we will have peace with them in the lifetime of any living person?

You say I should not tar all Muslims with the same brush? Okay. Some Muslims. But the underlying truth is still the same. Islam is no more a religion of peace than is Christianity. Surely everyone knows that Christians have killed Jews and Moslems, Moslems have killed Christians and Jews, and sometimes, even Jews have killed Christians and Moslems.

Perhaps we should be more circumspect when we speak of peace. Anyone who thinks we are going to make peace with the Arab world is dreaming. I suppose we thought we were at peace with them until four airliners were turned in to giant fuel bombs and over 3000 Americans lost their lives on September 11, 2001.

And why did they do that? What was the issue? What was it they wanted that we could have given them and prevented the destruction? And if we had given them that, what would they have wanted next?

I become impatient with American politicians who tell us this is not a religious war. They need to stop spinning the truth. This is a classic religious war. We didnít make it a religious war. Our enemies did. And we canít make it not a religious war by denying it and talking about peace. As much as we hate it, we are going to fight a religious war or we will have to knuckle under to one of the most evil regimes ever seen on this planet. Given the power, they would be worse than Hitler, worse than Stalin.

The one saving grace of Islamism is that it has kept its people poor and backward. Imagine if these people were as technologically advanced in our day as the Germans were in their day. For the other side in this religious war, talk of peace is an instrument of war, just as it was in Hitlerís plan.

Maybe you arenít old enough to remember or you havenít studied your history. Hitler signed every kind of peace agreement. For him, treaties were instruments of war, useful in disarming his enemies while he continued to build one of the most efficient war machines in the history of man. Did you know Hitler was recommended for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1938! Leading the campaign for years was the renowned author, Gertrude Stein. As early as 1934, she told a reporter that Hitler should be awarded the Nobel peace prize, "because he is removing all the elements of contest and of struggle from Germany. By driving out the Jews and the democratic and Left element, he is driving out everything that conduces to activity. That means peace...By suppressing Jews ... he was ending struggle in Germany" (New York Times Magazine, May 6, 1934).

The Palestinians talk of peace while they are financing suicide bombers. They talk of cease fires while they prepare car bombs. When will the rest of the world wake up to realize what the Israelis understand all too well? That talk of peace is nothing more than a means of killing more Israelis. The Palestinians want a Palestinian state that is purged of Jews. Nothing else will suffice.

Someone will write and tell me the Israelis are just as much to blame as the Palestinians.

They may be right, but it doesnít matter. Thatís what everyone has got to come to see. It doesnít matter who is right. All that matters is that there will be no peace. Not now, not ever as long as man rules on the earth. Human beings have no choice but to fight on. And on. And on. We have a terrible time understanding this. We think other people are like we areĖthat they want peace.

But no, there are people in this world of ours who want death and destruction. They love it more than life.

Recently, one of their own people was nominated and won the Nobel peace prize. She is an Iranian Lawyer named Shirin Abadi. The hard liners in Tehran were not happy at all. They were quoted as saying, "The decision by the Western oppressive societies to award the prize to Ebadi was done in order to ridicule Islam." They also observed that a "serious revolutionary confrontation with the tribe of infidels" is yet to come and they voiced hope that the tongues of the infidels "be cut from their mouths and the poisonous pens broken in their hearts".

Now, that old criminal Yasser Arafat says he is ready to talk peace yet again. While he does so, he refuses to yield control of the security apparatus, the only hope the Palestinians have of putting a lid on criminal acts of terror.

We really should make up our mind to it. For the foreseeable future, we are going to be at war. Every small peace we attain will only be a respite in an ongoing war. And it is abject foolishness to deny that it is a religious war. People donít commit suicide to advance a purely political cause. The evil men who drove those airliners into the twin towers did it for religious reasons. The suicide bombers in Israel who kill women and children do it for their god.

I said that talk of peace is a lie. But we should probably accept that the people who repeat the lie donít think it is a lie. They hope for peace against all hope. And they have created an ersatz peace. They call it "The Peace Process."

I think that is a tacit admission that they donít really believe that peace is possible. Against all hope, they engage in the "peace process." The assumption is that as long as we are talking, we arenít fighting. And that would work if we were dealing with people who wanted peace. But when we are dealing with people who want our destruction at all costs, people who are wiring up another bomb while we talk peace, we are living in a foolís paradise. (Psalm 120)








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