Monday, December 19, 2005
Top Christian stories...
To: National & International Desks
CAROL STREAM, Il., Dec. 19 /Christian Wire Service/ -- Evangelicals' activist efforts moved from the courts to the streets this year, as humanitarian relief efforts dominated religion news in Christianity Today magazine's annual list of top ten stories.
"While most of the attention was on evangelicalism as a political or economic power bloc, the movement's real energies this year were in aid and relief work," says Ted Olsen, news director and online managing editor of Christianity Today. "If you want to see how evangelicals used their size, look at how churches and ministries changed lives in the Gulf Coast and Southeast Asia. The culture wars pale in comparison to the ‘armies of compassion.'
"And with Billy Graham ending his crusade ministry, we're seeing a change in a major area of evangelistic activism, too," Olsen says.
Olsen and other Christianity Today editors and writers compiled the list. They are available for interviews. The complete top ten list can be accessed online at http://ChristianityToday.com/ct/2006/001/8.18.html. Copies of the magazine are also available upon request.
Christianity Today's Top Ten religion news stories are:
- Hurricane Katrina pounds Gulf Coast and the evangelical church helps with aid.
- Tsunami spurs massive relief effort for Southeast Asia.
- Benedict XVI succeeds John Paul II as Pope.
- Terri Schiavo dies, inciting conflict over end-of-life decisions and evangelical politics.
- Supreme Court vacancies trigger debate, as many Christian conservatives rally for "strict constructionists" to fill openings.
- Evangelicals target global poverty, joining with rock stars to lobby G-8.
- Media spotlight religion, bringing reporters into churches and promising more religion coverage.
- Billy Graham leads the final crusade of his ministry in New York City.
- Stem-cell research worries many, with evangelical opinion generally divided.
- Narnia hits theaters and Hollywood seeks Christian viewers – and dollars.
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Cast your vote – who is more ‘in the bubble’ – George W. or Newsweek?
“Bush’s World,” reads the front cover of this week’s Newsweek. “The Isolated President: Can He Change.”
Of course the president is isolated what with every nutcake terrorist here and abroad that would love to place flying lead in his cranium. Of course Mr. Bush is isolated – insomuch that he doesn’t read the editorials of the Washington Post and the New York Times. Of course W. is out of touch, when a steady diet of talking heads on television would only serve to place fruitless ideas of highly partisan flaks to his cognition.
But the funniest part of all of this is that two self-important writers from the media elite - Evan Thomas and Richard Wolffe of Newsweek - think that someone else – anybody else! – is “isolated” from the rest of the world. These are the same kind of guys who wonder where all these “red states” came from. And how the rest of the country can be so backward on issues like homosexual rights, full-blown abortion-on-demand, guns, traditional values and paying less to the federal government to do jobs they don’t want the federal government to do.
Maybe this president is isolated, and maybe, as the authors suggest, more than ever before in the history of the presidency. So? Effectiveness does not lie in focus groups and talking to people who leak and taking Truman-esque strolls across D.C.
But let’s just say it does, and then lets apply the same standard to the media.
The Lichter, Rothman and Lichter studies began back in the 1980’s to take the “balanced” façade off the national media. They interviewed, it will be remembered by some, 238 journalists from the entire spectrum of mass media including the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Time,
The research is old but the reality lives. Guess what? The media elite were liberals. A healthy majority even admitted it; even more admitted it of their colleagues. Half had no religious affiliation at all; only 8 percent attended church or synagogue weekly. Just 17 percent placed themselves on the conservative right of the political spectrum. Only 9 percent were convinced that homosexuality was morally wrong. Fifty-four percent saw nothing wrong with adultery; only 15 percent "strongly agreed" that extra-marital affairs were wrong. Ninety percent believed a woman should have a right to an abortion.
These were the people controlling the news flow of the nation. And that was just the start of such a raw look at our friends in the media centers of the nation. Every indices since seem to indicate much the same. Said CBS News reporter Bernard Goldberg much later in 1996: “No, we don’t sit around in dark corners and plan strategies on how we’re going to slant the news. We don’t have to. It comes naturally to most reporters.”
And such a left-of-center bent to the news, as well as a Newsweek cover that touts an out-of-touch president, does indeed come naturally to reporters, writers and editorialists. They are at least as “bubbled” as the president they mock. Oh, certainly, they don’t think they are, but recast your eyes on the statistics, know that they haven’t changed much across two and a half decades and then remember that in their own minds they are the middle of mainstream.
Can he change? I don’t know about the president, but those writing about his tenure in office from the offices of periodicals like Newsweek, well, don’t expect ideological repentance any time soon.
Friday, December 09, 2005
Chalk me up as someone not too overly dismayed over the use of “Happy Holidays”, a verbal usage trend that that is hardly days, but decades old.
Far more provocative was this excerpt from Bush comments at that lighting of the National Christmas tree:
Glad you made it.”
The American Family Association does have a point, however. It is a bit disconcerting that Ridgeway Elementary School in Dodgeville, Wisconsin recently sponsored a “Winter Program" featuring a secularized version of "Silent Night":
Winter winds whirl and bite.
How I wish I were happy and warm,
Safe with my family out of the storm.
Unquestionably, instances like these are dismaying. But let’s face it, Labafana, “Happy Holidays”, and Santa replacing Jesus are hardly 2005 issues. This sort of thing has been going on for years in the public circle. And while we can blame the rabid secularists and the liberal behind every bush, we may as well admit it – it is the fault of evangelicalism – it is our fault.
While many of our churches refuse to have services this Christmas Sunday, we might want to reflect on how many of us have shared Christ with a friend or associate in the last month. Or, how many of us compassionately reached out to the hungry, the poor, the disenfranchised, the unborn, the imprisoned, the elderly this week (something Jesus apparently thought a requirement of those heaven-bound cf. Mt. 25:31-46) How many of us have called legislators to impact family-friendly (or unfriendly) legislation at our state capitols or in Congress? How many of us have given above our church tithe (if we even do that) to causes that our on the cutting edge of the culture wars in this nation.
The truth is, we too often love to tackle “Happy Holiday” type issues because in all likelihood it obfuscates the truth of our lives. We are evangelicals without evangelism, Christians without compassion, saints without sanctifying presence, holy ones without an urge to spread wholesomeness.
It is our fault, this secularization of culture. Let us be about changing that root cause before intensifying our efforts against “
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
It might have been two academicians tired of Mirecki giving KU a bad name...
But, who knows. Mirecki says he was beaten.
Inappropriate use of language - re: a personal relationship with Jesus?
This guy thinks "personal relationship" is a bit strong - maybe a reflection of our therapeutic culture. I disagree, but his perspective is worth reading.
Where the language of personal relationship has a very questionable pedigree in secular pressures, amidst a therapeutic culture, to cut God down to a manageable size, the language of faith is deeply rooted in scripture. Where the language of personal relationship is always ambiguous and inexact, meaning whatever the speaker happens to privately mean, the language of faith has been deeply examined for more than two thousand years. Where the language of personal relationship sounds implausible or perhaps even impossible, at least as far as the plain sense of such language goes, the language of faith serves as an invitation to ponder mystery and overcome unbelief. The apostle John put it this way: "This is [God's] command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us" (1 John 3:23). That seems, to me, the real meaning and purpose of life.
Monday, December 05, 2005
Walk the line
I went to see the Johnny Cash biopic "Walk the Line." I wasn't as thrilled as it seems most of the critics are. Wished they had covered his climb back to the Christian faith. They, for the most part, decided not to go there.
Here's an article to that effect. And another.
Growing up in Arkansas, Cash professed a belief in Christ at age 12. But as Christianity Today magazine wrote after his death in 2003, Cash lost sight of him in a haze of addiction, family problems and failing health. He described sex and drugs as demons and once said, "All of a sudden there'll be a beautiful little Percodan laying there, and you'll want it."
Years before he died at 71, Cash had found Christ and his June. Together, they gave him strength to turn his back on the devil. He was the same melancholy man whose hurts made him a poet. But he was older now, wiser, with an unmistakable contentment you could hear in that baritone.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
KU's Pauk Mirecki - At Least He's Honest! Matt's new AgapePress Column
Bothered by Mirecki of the University of Kansas? We have worse problems...