Monday, December 10, 2007

Merry Christmas!

Non-Crappy Starring You! eCards on JibJab

Its that time of year when our family takes some time off and spends a couple of weeks with extended family in South Carolina. God willing, I'll be back here in mid-January. But for now, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone. Enjoy watching my boys pummelling each other above!

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Potential of a Mormon Presidency: My Thoughts

In the wake of Mitt Romney's speech last night, many born-again followers of Jesus are asking if his Mormon faith should be a factor in their decision of whether to vote for him as President in 2008. Given all the discussion surrounding this issue in the news media and on the blogs, I thought I'd share my own feelings on the issue, and tell you how Romney's faith affects my views of him as a Presidential candidate:

Now that we have that issue out of the way, let's talk about Mitt the candidate, shall we?

Seriously, the idea that Romney's Mormonism should even be a factor in this race seems overblown to me. On the contrary, at the intersections of faith and public policy, there are many issues on which Mormons and evangelicals stand together. With this in mind, it just may be that this Latter-Day Saint could make a much better President than, say, the last two Southern Baptists who have occupied the office.

This is not to say that I'm unconcerned about Mormonism and the deceiving affect it has on its adherents. Nor am I seeking to get in line behind James Dobson, who in an attempt at supporting Romney seems to be warming up to the LDS church in a way that really makes me uncomfortable. And I would be the first to repudiate Richard Land's recent goofy remarks about Mormonism being a "fourth Abrahamic faith." Mormonism is about as close to orthodox Christianity as is Hinduism. In fact, I think in the end, Mormons have more gods than the Hindus, and that polytheistic leaning would betray any attempts to allign this sect with anything Abrahamic.

So in the end, I've been very dissapointed to hear evangelical leaders suggest that Christians can vote for Romney because "Mormonism is OK." It's not OK. We shouldn't vote for him because his faith is "OK." We should vote for him because, in spite of his heretical faith, he is a family man who holds to the same general values as those who genuinely follow Christ, and would encourage such values as President. The truth is that you don't have to like Mormonism to like Romney.

At the same time, I must say that Romney is not my first choice. Nevertheless, should he become the nominee, his Mormon faith is not reason in my opinion to deny him a Pennsylvannia Avenue address.

We don't have to pretend that he shares our faith. We just have to remember that he isn't trying to be anyone's pastor.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Movies and Atheism, Ecclesial Politics, and Other Random Thoughts

As I understand it, a torrent of protest is currently rising among evangelical Christians who want to see The Golden Compass banned from theatres because of its "stealth atheistic message." But I say "bring it on!" The free exchange of ideas is, after all, a highly held American value. Plus, from what I've seen of this film, it will only serve to remind clear thinkers that atheism never had an original thought.

The movie is based on the first part of a fictional trilogy written by British atheist Phillip Pullman called "His Dark Materials." In the third and final installment of Pullman's trilogy, the protagonist characters, in a Nietzschesque fashion, manage to kill a character who is simply called "God."

Although the cinematic version reportedly toned-down the novel's strong secularist edge, many Christians fear that this movie will encourage children to move from the silver screen to the book and subsequently be highly influenced by atheism.

Bill Donohue, President and CEO of the Catholic League, claims that these books "denigrate Christianity, thrash the Catholic church and sell the virtue of atheism."

But those willing to take a closer look at this movie and its print-media counterpart will discover that John Milton's Paradise Lost is among the main literary influences behind Pullman's work. And although Pullman vehemently denies that his writings are for the purpose of countering Christian writers such as C.S. Lewis, his own vitriolic criticism of Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia as "Blatantly racist" and "monumentally disparaging to women" together with the metaphorical similarities between the books betray his desire to set up his trilogy as a literary antithesis to authors such as Lewis.

These "behind the scenes" observations demonstrate both Pullman's dependency on Christian fantasy writers, and the larger reality that atheism, as a worldview, will always be defined in terms of its negative and reactionary foundations. The simple fact that this series was written in response to a dearth of atheist fantasy literature reveals the lack of true intelligence and creativity among the atheist community, as well as their dependency on Christian sources to produce anything of true quality.

My guess is that most children whose parents allow them to view this film will simply enjoy a good fantasy movie. Those who choose to read the books, if guided by mature Christian parents and church leaders, will simply discover what previous generations have discovered; namely, that atheism is intellectually disonest, categorically incomplete, and ultimately ethically bankrupt. I don't think that's a bad conclusion for our kids to reach.

And in other news, the emerging church and politics was a hot topic of conversation last week on NBCs nightly news. Tom Brokaw interviewed Dr. Al Mohler of Southern Seminary, as well as Tadd Grandstaff, founding pastor of Pine Ridge Church in Burlington North Carolina.

Ed Stetzer has already pointed out the most crucial of the misleading comments by the media in this regard, which you can find here. Overall, this is a good discussion.

Although my status as a Gen-Xer probably inform my own opinion of what I heard, I am largely in agreement with Tadd and his contention that younger evangelicals will not be sold out to either political party. While in the short-run this may result in the wrong people in power, in the long run, it should result in both political parties coming more closely in line with Christian principles. And as Ed has already stated, the philosophical chasm between Grandstaff and Mohler as described by NBC News isn't nearly as wide as a casual observer might think.

So, one group is pushing the idea that there is no God while those who believe there is a God display some slight differences regarding how He would have us get involved politically. Meanwhile, my local Wal-Mart greeter met me at the door two nights ago with a warm "Merry Christmas."

There are still many things that are right with the world!