Monday, December 31, 2007

Darwin, foreign policy and naivete on the Left

Sharon Schminkle, former a reporter for the Star Tribune and who now covers science and foreign affairs for the liberal online news journal, recently wrote a piece entitled, "Here's hoping....for Charles Darwin's spirit."

In it she writes,
But somehow I wish his open-minded spirit and dogged intellectual honesty could visit our 2008 political arena where the question of how we humans got our origins will, once again, divide America.

Full disclosure: The editors asked me to write about my greatest wish for next year. This isn't my greatest wish, given wars raging around the world and many other reasons to worry about my children's future. But I've wanted to write this piece ever since I had a chance last summer to view Darwin's papers at Cambridge University in England.

Schooled by clerics, Darwin wrestled with faith in an omniscient creator even while he stretched his mental horizons to ponder evidence that mysteries of Earth's intricate life could be explained by a scientific theory.

"I am in an utterly hopeless muddle," Darwin wrote to his friend Asa Gray in November, 1860. "I cannot think that the world, as we see it is the result of chance; & yet I cannot look at each separate thing as the result of Design."

That muddle is central to my wish. It isn't easy to open the mind and think creatively about America 2008, its urgent needs and its role in the world. Such thinking requires the humility to drop partisan defenses and listen to the other side. It demands attention to the details of national policy at a time when the overwhelming preferences are entertainment and shopping.

Darwin did it and came up with a theory that gives a common thread to all life on earth — the lives of Christians and Muslims, Hutus and Tutsis, lowly microbes and astrophysicists.

Maybe this is my greatest wish after all. Maybe Darwin's spirit even could make a difference in those wars around the world.

After learning more about what Darwin actually believed and the consequences of his ideas, I take issue with Schminkle's description of him as this heroic figure who was driven by an "open-minded spirit and dogged intellectual honesty" and came up with a theory which "gives a common thread to all life on earth — the lives of Christians and Muslims, Hutus and Tutsis, lowly microbes and astrophysicists."

John West in his new book "Darwin Day in America" digs into Darwin's writings and develops an interesting picture of Darwin's work, beliefs and ideas. I think one could argue that Darwin did tremendous damage to the value of human life, notwithstanding Schminkle's claim that Darwin provided a common thread to all of life, by driving a wedge between faith and science and providing the intellectual/scientific rationale for "scientific materialism" -- the destructive philosophical belief that all of life and the universe is merely the result of a chance, mindless, purposeless process devoid of a Creator. Scientific materialism provided the intellectual basis for communism and the dehumanizing uses of science in the West for such things as eugenics. These ideas have been highly destruction to humanity.

Darwin himself rejected Christianity and theism. West notes in Darwin's first edition of
The Origin of the Species that "[Darwin] claimed that he had probably been a theist because he saw the 'impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including the result of blind chance or necessity.' But that belief too had gradually eroded. 'The old argument of design in nature which formerly seemed to me to so conclusive, fails, now that the law of natural selection has been discovered.'" And in his Autobiography, Darwin said, "..I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic."

As West writes, "Stephen Jay Gould was right to argue that 'Darwin applied a consistent philosophy of materialism to his interpretation of nature,' and that according to his theory matter was 'the ground of all existence; mind, spirit and God as well, are just words that express the wondrous results of neuronal complexity.' ... Whether or not Darwin wished to call himself a materialist, his theory had the consequence of making a materialist understanding of man and society finally credible." (Again materialism is the belief that all there is is the material. Our minds, ethics, and ideas are merely the result of a godless, chance, random, material process and therefore have no intrinsic meaning or value.)

To then view Darwin as the model for looking at geo-political, foreign policy issues, as Schminkle suggests, is incredibly naive. Certainly, we should listen to various points of view and be humble, but to embrace Darwin and his ideas will only lead to the moral and intellectual confusion so evidenced by the cultural and political Left. The Left rejects notions of transcendent truth, the "fallenness" of man, e.g. that man is sinful and thus does evil, and the need, in the case of the U.S., to aggressively protect its citizens and confront evil acts carried out by individuals and encouraged by particular nations -- all critical elements in addressing the dangerous world we face. To embrace Darwin as the paradigm for deciding what our foreign policy should be is both naive and dangerous.

Friday, December 28, 2007

It looks like Ford Motor Co. is into more than just selling cars -- promoting sex changes

The American Family Association, which has called for a boycott of Ford Motor Co. because of their aggressive advocacy for and support of homosexual causes including redefinition of marriage, has brought to light another of Ford's efforts along these lines -- promoting sex changes.

According to an AFA email action alert,
The December 18 edition of The Advocate, a magazine for homosexuals, featured the transgender issue. A transgender is a person appearing or attempting to be a member of the opposite sex, as a transsexual or habitual cross-dresser. The Advocate article showed numerous pictures of people who had sex operations to change from male to female, and vice-versus (I'll spare you the details).

Ford Motor Company placed a full page ad for its Volvo brand in the publication.

Ford offers medical benefits to help pay expenses of those who choose to undergo sex change operations. Ford pays for mental health counseling, hormone therapy, medical visits, and short-term disability after surgical procedures for employees who desire to change their sex.
These benefits are chronicled by the homosexual advocacy group Human Rights Campaign Fund.

Ford has had enormous trouble financially this past year and it's bizarre that they would aggressively push a radical social agenda inimical to the values of the vast majority of their customers.

If you want to learn more about the Ford boycott and what Ford is up to go to AFA's web page on the boycott.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Is America a Christian nation?

The question: Is America a Christian nation? This question usually makes the Left go apoplectic. But a recent Gallup poll, which found that 82% of Americans identify themselves as Christians, makes that a legitimate question.

Legally, America isn't a Christian nation. It's not written in our Constitution or an act of Congress. You don't have to be a Christian to be an American citizen.

Culturally, that's a different and more interesting question. We speak of nations made up predominantly of Muslims as Muslim nations. So in that sense if America is predominantly made up of Christians that would make us a Christian nation.

Yet just because people identify themselves as Christians yet never darken a church door, don't believe the basic tenets of the Christian faith or live in accordance Christian teaching that doesn't make them Christians. I think that is increasingly the case in America. Barna Group has done research suggesting that around eight percent of the American people subscribe to the historical, orthodox beliefs of the faith.

And of course then there's the question of what is the influence of Christianity in shaping the cultural beliefs and mores of the nation. I think Christian ideas and ideals are still dominant though they've been significantly eroded by secularism and postmodernism. I'd say culturally we are still a Christian nation but that notion has been eroding in the past few generations.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Normandale Community College's "embrace" of Islam. Where's the "respect for diversity"?

Katherine Kersten ran an interesting column earlier this week on Normandale Community College's turning over their "meditation room" to Moslem students who have turned it into a veritable mosque.

The response of the College's dean of students, Ralph Anderson, was your typical PC response:

Normandale's administration is facilitating the room's Islamization. The college's building crew erected the barrier separating men's and women's sections, according to Ralph Anderson, dean of student affairs. College officials also posted signs at the room's entrance asking students to remove shoes -- a Muslim custom before prayers. This was "basically a courtesy to Muslim students," Anderson said.

Despite the room's Islamic atmosphere, Anderson says it "is open to everyone."

Why is the meditation room segregated by sex? "Muslim students prefer that areas be divided into male and female," he said. "Other students don't care."

Doesn't sex-segregation present a constitutional problem in a public educational institution? "I don't want to comment on that," he said.

Personally, I think public institutions should accommodate religious expression. Modern attempts to sanitize our public institutions from religious expression or content are clearly wrong headed and undermine the important role religion plays in our society. However, Normandale's response goes far beyond accommodating the religious needs of Islamic students. It actually embraces Islam by allowing the "mediation room" to be turned into a mosque.

The College's response highlights the cultural Left's hypocritical treatment of different religious faiths. Let's say a group of fundamentalist Christian students want to take over the room for their religious services, would the school have stood by and let them do it - much less help them do it? No way. But because Islam isn't Christianity, it doesn't seem to be a problem.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Minnesota Monitor and OutFront Minnesota seek to reinterpret the Bible on homosexual behavior

The liberal news blog Minnesota Monitor in a post last weekend highlights efforts of homosexual activists who want to set the record straight on "The Biblical Roots of GLBT Oppression." The article and the activists say biblical texts addressing homosexual behavior don't really mean what they say and the consistent interpretation of those texts for thousands of years have gotten it all wrong.

This concern with the biblical arguments is inspired by incoming Archbishop Nienstedt's recent public statements of Catholic teaching on homosexual behavior.

Who's pushing this respond to traditional biblical teaching on homosexual behavior? None other than OutFront Minnesota. The author of the story says:
I provide very brief interpretations as presented at a Bible Self-Defense Course organized by OutFront Minnesota; the Faith, Family, Fairness Alliance; and Soulforce, as well as information from progressive religious websites. These are not the only interpretations, and are simply my understanding of the progressive arguments presented.
The material includes the usual revisionist work on the Apostle Paul, Leviticus passage and the Sodom and Gomorrah account.

An excellent resource for the orthodox, biblical view of homosexual behavior is Professor Robert Gagnon, Associate Professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Society. His webpage and links provides a treasure trove of information on the topic.

Frankly, I welcome a debate on the biblical views of homosexual behavior. Discussing the topic on the moral, philosophical and theological level will only heighten and deepen the debate. While OutFront Minnesota wants to arm their activists with quick rejoinders to biblical arguments, I think it will only serve to more clearly reveal the fundamental flaws in the arguments and thinking of homosexual activists.

I believe the Bible articulates fundamental truth about human existence, truth, and justice. The more the Bible is discussed the better.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Obsessed with sex.

Social or religious conservatives are usually accused of being obsessed with sex because of their concern about pornography, sex saturated messages in the media, and so forth. I think the ones obsessed with sex are those who have elevated sex to religion in our culture. Those who view sexual expression, nearly any sexual expression at any time, as a form of personal liberation and even salvation.

A case in point is another
Star Tribune editorial last week castigating what they refer to as "abstinence only" sex education. The first two lines of their editorial reveals their obsession.
Abstinence-only sex education is ineffective, unrealistic and can actually do more harm than good. Studies show that the "just say no'' approach to informing teens about sex just doesn't work.
Imagine that, encouraging children to wait until they are married to have sex "can actually do more harm than good."

The historical champion of birth control and laissez faire sex, Margaret Sanger, who is an icon of the contraceptive and birth control movement, voiced similar angry objections to abstinence and its advocates. As Chuck Colson noted in his book How Now Shall We Live:
[Sanger] adamantly opposed "the 'moralists' who preached abstinence, self-denial, and suppression," and described Christian ethics as "the cruel morality of self-denial and 'sin'". She hoped to replace it with her own morality of sexual liberation, promising that the release of sexual energies was "the only method" by which a person could find "inner peace and security and beauty."...

And she resorts again to religious language: "Through sex, mankind may attain the great spiritual illumination which will transform the world, which will light up the only path to an earthly paradise."
The Strib editorial goes on to compare US kids to European kids to make the point that with contraceptives US kids can have their cake - have sex - and eat it too- not give birth.

The problem with this approach to sex is sex isn't just about having a good time and avoiding giving birth. There are of course other health issues like STDs which spread regardless of what form of birth control one uses. And there's the debasing of sex by making it a leisure sport which does untold emotional and moral damage to people who treat it as such. What sex is ultimately about is uniting a man and a woman in a marriage relationship which bears the fruit of children.

Finally, the hypocrisy of the Star Tribune's position is revealed in the last paragraph of the editorial:
The president has based this aspect of his health care policy on ideology and theology rather than what is best for teens. Congress can do better by devoting federal dollars to inclusive, comprehensive sex education.
They accuse their opponents of being driven by ideology and theology when in fact that's exactly what they are driven by.

The question is which side is right? Which position is true? In this case I say look at the fruit of the two views. ("Wisdom is proved right by her actions.") Free love and free sex have never been free as we see from the sexual revolution, e.g. death, disease, despair and emotional damage. As opposed to the fruit of chastity and fidelity to marriage, e.g. faithfulness, children, hope, health, commitment and a future. That's ultimately the choice we face.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Why would they vote to recognize Islam but not Christianity?

From FRC

Last night, the House of Representatives voted on a benign resolution, H.R. 847, "recognizing the importance of Christmas and the Christian faith." Not surprisingly, the initiative, sponsored by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa), passed overwhelmingly--despite nine Democrats who voted against it and ten members (nine Democrats and one Republican) who voted "present."

Interestingly, the 17 Democrats who voted either "nay" or "present" weren't motivated by the so-called "separation of church and state," since they were seen formally recognizing Islam back in October. H.R. 635, sponsored by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.), recognized the "commencement of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and spiritual renewal, and commended Muslims in the United States and throughout the world for their faith." Perhaps these congressional scrooges took issue with the wording of the Christmas resolution.

Or did they have a bigger problem rejecting "bigotry and persecution directed against Christians, both in the United States and worldwide"? Maybe they disagreed with the expression of their "deepest respect to American Christians and Christians throughout the world." Whatever their reasoning, these 17 Democrats have some explaining to do.

How can they possibly promote Islam in the same breath that they attack Christianity, the very faith that buoyed our nation at its founding? The following voted "no" on H.R. 847 and "yes" on H.R. 635: Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), Yvette Clarke (D-N.Y.), Diana DeGette (D-Co.), Alcee Hastings (D-Fl.), Jim McDermott (D-Wash.), Bobby Scott (D-Va.), Fortney Stark (D-Calif.) and Lynn Woolsey (D-Calif.). Those who voted "present" on H.R. 847 and "yes" on H.R. 635 include: Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.), Donald Payne (D-N.J.), Janice Schakowsky (D-Ill.), Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fl.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and John Yarmuth (D-Ky.).

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Rhode Island Supreme Court rules state does not have authority to grant divorce to same-sex couple

The Rhode Island State Supreme Court showed uncommon restraint by voting to limit same-sex marriage to Massachusetts. In a 3-2 ruling, the judges said "the state's family court lacks the authority to grant the divorce of a same-sex couple because Rhode Island lawmakers have not defined marriage as anything other than a union between a man and a woman."

CLICK HERE to read the Associated Press article.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

It's OK to spank children.

That's what a new report from the American College of Pediatricians says. The modern liberal mindset is any form corporal punishment is a form of children abuse. This new report says otherwise. had this to say about the new report:
ACP carefully reviewed the available research on corporal punishment and concludes, in its position statement on the subject, that disciplinary spanking by parents can be effective when properly used. "It is clear that parents should not solely rely upon disciplinary spanking to accomplish control of their child's behavior," says the just-released position statement. "Evidence suggests that it can be a useful and necessary part of a successful disciplinary plan."

Den Trumbull, MD, FCP, principal author of the statement explained, "When a child defies a parent's instruction, spanking is one of a few options parents can consider to correct the misbehavior." Trumbull added: "Spanking is most appropriate with children 2 to 6 years old, and when milder types of correction have failed."
The story also noted that the Massachusetts legislature is considering legislation that would ban spanking. And UN folks are trying to get nations to ban the practice.

I thought one of the study's conclusions was quite strong in favor of allowing spanking. "An unconditional, legal ban against all physical punishment of children by their parents would be irresponsible and unfounded based on current data."

Though there will be quibbling with some of the reports conclusions, I found it very significant that a national medical group would affirm common sense regarding the appropriate use of spanking. Of course, the appropriate use of spanking was recognized a few millennia ago. Proverbs 13:24 says, "He who withholds his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently."

Monday, December 10, 2007

Liberal former Star Tribune columnist Steve Berg calls evangelicals intolerant. But who's really intolerant?

Mitt Romney's speech on religion, faith and politics and in particular questions about his Mormon faith has been generally well received on the right and center right side of the political spectrum and even by some on the left. Chris Matthews said it was the best political speech of the year. Of course, many on the left didn't like it because Romney talked about the important role religion plays in our nation's public life and criticised secular efforts to marginalize religion. It's not surprising then that folks like Steve Berg, former liberal writer for the Star Tribune and now columnist of the a liberal blog news page for former Star Tribune writers and others took a less favorable view of the speech. In fact, Berg saw it as an opportunity to take a swipe at evangelicals.

Berg's column was titled, "Mitt Romney's call for tolerance praised, but will it appeal to a traditionally intolerant group?" He then goes on to say, "He gave a speech in which he appealed to Christian evangelicals for tolerance of his Mormon beliefs when, in fact, a good portion of evangelicals define themselves by their intolerance of other religious views..." This is another example of the tired, worn out liberal usage of the word intolerance. Just because a person doesn't agree with the views of another person, whether religious or political, doesn't necessarily mean one's intolerant. I can tolerate the person and his views, but I just don't agree with them. What's wrong with that? Of course, secularists are intolerant of what they view as the intolerance of evangelicals. Of course this doesn't constitute intolerance on their part because they're right and evangelicals are wrong. This intolerance by secularists is accompanied by an air of being "open minded".

Then there's Berg's effort to recast a different understanding of our national religious heritage. Berg said, "
The notion that God is responsible for granting America's political freedom is foreign to many Catholics, liberal Protestants and other believers, and is obviously troubling to secular Americans." Thus the belief that our rights come from God is somehow a foreign and thus "troubling" concept. Well, where does this "troubling" concept come from? None other than Thomas Jefferson. Yes all one has to do is look not to a cabal of evangelicals but to the founders of our nation and in particular Thomas Jefferson who penned our Declaration of Independence. It states: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, ad the Pursuit of Happiness."

Secularists have attempted to recast our national understanding of itself for many years, suggesting that we really are a secular polity and religiously motivated sentiments should remain private. The founders would have viewed this idea as a foreign concept. As John Adams said, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." And Adams also said, "It is religion and morality alone which can establish the principles upon which freedom can securely stand. Religion and virtue are the only foundations...of republicanism and of all free governments."

If nothing else, Romney's speech has triggered a healthy discussion over the role of religion in America's public and political life.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Staying married should carry a carbon credit.

Study: Marriage is Good for the Planet

by Devon Williams, associate editor
God’s design for family helps the environment.

A new study out of Michigan State University shows that the growing divorce rate is hurting more than just the families and children — it's also bad for the Earth.

By examining data from 12 countries, Jiangua “Jack” Liu, senior author of the study, and his associate Eunice Yu, found that married households are more efficient with water, energy and land use. On the other hand, divorced couples require an extra 38 million rooms and spend 46 percent more per capita on electricity and 56 percent more on water than married couples.

Liu also found that if divorced households had combined to have the same average household size as married households, there could have been a million fewer households using energy and water.

“People have been talking about how to protect the environment and combat climate change, but divorce is an overlooked factor that needs to be considered,” Liu said in the online version of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study reports that, while the proportion of divorced households has rapidly increased around the globe, some countries have implemented plans to combat the problem and help the environment at the same time. Couples who want to get divorced in one Indonesian district must donate 25 tree seedlings, South Africa’s Independent Online reported.

Jenny Tyree, associate marriage analyst for Focus on the Family Action, said marriage may be the most cost-efficient environmental plan available.

“The results of this study support the benefits of marriage, not just for families, but for our environment,” she said. “It makes sense that more households — as a result of family breakdown — would use more resources. We're pleased to see that God's design for family is consistent with good environmental stewardship.”

What to expect from 2008 Minnesota Legislative Session? Haggling and Posturing

What should we be expecting from the 2008 Minnesota legislative session? A lot of haggling and posturing and not a lot of substance. Why? Because there isn't much money to go around. The state is projecting a $373 million budget deficit by the summer of 2009. That's about 1% of the state's general fund budget. It shouldn't be too hard to scale back a bit especially for a 1% reduction over a year and a half time period. Especially in light of the $1.95 billion deficit the state faced in November of 2001. Even with that huge deficit there were no tax increases.

DFLers in the legislature will demand tax increases to cover not only the deficit but provide for other spending projects. Ultimately, Governor Pawlenty holds all the cards, along with the Republican minority in the state House who will be needed to uphold any vetoes of tax increases. If they hold firm there will be no tax increases and therefore no big health care and education initiatives.

The lack of money will act as a bottleneck on all the health care, education and other social spending programs proposed for individual legislators. If there's no money then they won't have a lot to do.

DFL'ers want to close a "corporate tax loophole" for foreign corporations which would bring in about $244 million. Pawlenty said he's supports doing that if the new revenues are used for tax cuts which means there is no net increase in state taxes.

As a result, the 2008 legislative session will see a lot of haggling and posturing but not a lot else. That's not a bad thing if your chief concern is the possibility of state shrinking the family budget by raising taxes.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Religous triangulation

Many have commented on Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee’s "brilliance" as a pure politician. His morning interview with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough highlighted his lightening wit and ability to triangulate the secular and sacred as well.

The interview started with a shot from above the White House looking down. The bumper music was Jimmy Hendrix' "All along the watchtower."

Joe Scarborough, MSNBC Host:

“Governor, let me start by asking you, now that you are ahead, are you going to lose your sense of humor? Can you still talk to us about Hendrix and cougar hunting and Willie Geist?”

Mike Huckabee, (R) Presidential Candidate:

“Well, I certainly would hope so, Joe. In fact, when I heard the bumper music coming in, "All Along the Watchtower," it occurred to me there is a shot of White House, Hendrix music playing, that's the Huckabee White House. Hendrix music blasting throughout the White House as the president stands all along the watchtower.”

My mouth dropped. In one sentence Huckabee captured the secular and the sacred – all on the fly.

Populist indeed.

Saying that Jimmy Hendrix would be played in a Huckabee White House shattered any myth of a religious fundamentalist preaching against the secular evils of rock-and-roll.

“Hey Doris, 'ja hear that? This Huckabee is just like us. Rock on!”

Yet with the same sentence he captured religious imagery that connected not just with Christians but Jews, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses as well.


(I wonder if our biblically ignorant press realized they had been triangulated and the victims of a secret religious code language known only to white, suburban evnagelicals?)

Here are some examples.

From “The Doctrine and Covenants of the Chruch of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Section 101”
Revelation given to Joseph Smith the Prophet, at Kirtland, Ohio, December 16, 1833.

54 "And behold, the watchman upon the tower would have seen the enemy while he was yet afar off; and then ye could have made ready and kept the enemy from breaking down the hedge thereof, and saved my vineyard from the hands of the destroyer."

For the Jew and Christian:
Ezekiel 33:7-15

"O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me... if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but His blood will I require at thine hand…if thou warn the wicked of his way to turn from it; if he do not turn from his way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul..."

And who calls themselves the Watchtower Society? Jehovah’s Witnesses.

CDC notes that teen pregnancies and out of wedlock birth rates are up in US and Minnesota

The CDC reported today that in Minnesota, the percent of teen births increased from 6.8% in 2005 to 7.0% in 2006 and the out of wedlock birth rate increased from 29.8% in 2005 to 31.7% in 2006. Nationally, the teen pregnancy rate increased from 10.2% to 10.4% and out of wedlock birth rates increased from 36.9% to 38.5% during the same time periods.

I believe the rise in teen pregnancy and out of wedlock birth rates is attributable to the ‘anything goes approach’ to sex we see the teen culture. And now it’s being pushed in schools through unhealthy comprehensive sex education programs which only makes matters worse.

The rise in out of wedlock birth rates is a very troubling development. It’s at all time highs and puts at risk the well-being of all concerned, especially children. Kids raised without the benefit of two parents are 5 to 6 times more likely to be raised in poverty, get in trouble with the law, have problems in school and personal problems.

As I said in a news release, "The sexual revolution of the sixties and its progeny today, as seen in these CDC figures, has been a disaster. It’s left in its wake a trail of broken hearts, disease, sickness, and even death. Our kids and society deserve better."

Excerpts from Mitt Romney's speech on religion

"We separate church and state affairs in this country, and for good reason. No religion should dictate to the state nor should the state interfere with the free practice of religion. But in recent years, the notion of the separation of church and state has been taken by some well beyond its original meaning. They seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God. Religion is seen as merely a private affair with no place in public life. It is as if they are intent on establishing a new religion in America — the religion of secularism. They are wrong."

"The founders proscribed the establishment of a state religion, but they did not countenance the elimination of religion from the public square. We are a nation 'Under God' and in God, we do indeed trust."

"We should acknowledge the Creator as did the founders — in ceremony and word. He should remain on our currency, in our pledge, in the teaching of our history, and during the holiday season, nativity scenes and menorahs should be welcome in our public places. Our greatness would not long endure without judges who respect the foundation of faith upon which our Constitution rests. I will take care to separate the affairs of government from any religion, but I will not separate us from 'the God who gave us liberty.'"

"My faith is grounded on these truths. You can witness them in Ann and my marriage and in our family. We are a long way from perfect and we have surely stumbled along the way, but our aspirations, our values, are the selfsame as those from the other faiths that stand upon this common foundation. And these convictions will indeed inform my presidency."

"The diversity of our cultural expression, and the vibrancy of our religious dialogue, has kept America in the forefront of civilized nations even as others regard religious freedom as something to be destroyed."

"In such a world, we can be deeply thankful that we live in a land where reason and religion are friends and allies in the cause of liberty, joined against the evils and dangers of the day. And you can be certain of this: Any believer in religious freedom, any person who has knelt in prayer to the Almighty, has a friend and ally in me. And so it is for hundreds of millions of our countrymen: we do not insist on a single strain of religion — rather, we welcome our nation's symphony of faith."

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Ideas have consequences

By John Helmberger

Two stories in the span of one week regarding the tragedy of teen suicide beg for a response. On November 27th, the Mpls Star Tribune reported on Beltrami County’s number 1 ranking in Minnesota for suicides among youth and young adults (Suicides Haunt Beltrami).

Then on December 4th, the Pioneer press ran a story on the plague of teen suicides afflicting Jamestown, ND (Tackling taboos in a town beset by suicide).

Both stories underscored uncertainty about the causes of this anguishing problem. "There is no black box to search for with suicides," said a researcher with the National Institutes of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md. "We are still learning, still looking. The problem is that many times, unlike a disaster, we are unable to pinpoint exactly where to look because these stories themselves are so individualized."

The Star Tribune reported that suspected causes include poverty, isolation, chemical abuse and family fragmentation, all of which should be investigated.

But here’s a suggestion for the government and health officials who are trying to get to the bottom of the problem: look in the schools. Try examining the link between what we teach kids in Science about where they came from, and the value they place on their own lives.

With our schools and the media relentlessly indoctrinating kids with the idea that they are no more than an evolutionary accident of nature, should we be surprised when they conclude that their lives have no real meaning and aren’t worth living? Should it come as a shock that kids value themselves and their lives so little that they decide to end it all at alarming rates, sometimes over seemingly trivial problems? Maybe they’re just doing what grows logically out of what we’ve taught them to think.

Ideas have consequences.

It’s time for Darwinian naturalism to start taking responsibility for the hopelessness it feeds in young people.

Pawlenty's appointment of "strict constructionist" to Minnesota Supreme Court upsetts Star Tribune columnist

Liberal Star Tribune Nick Coleman, who seemingly dislikes anything conservative, is not surprisingly upset with Governor Pawlenty's appointment of Chris Dietzen to the Minnesota Supreme Court. Dietzen has served on the Minnesota Court of Appeals for the last several years and was appointed to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy left by Justice Sam Hanson who has gone back to private law practice. That means Pawlenty has appointed three of the seven justices to the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Coleman was particularly upset by Pawlenty description of Dietzen as a person who "has proven himself to be a strict constructionist who will follow the rule of law with impartiality," Pawlenty went on to say, "In a time when legislating from the bench has unfortunately become commonplace, Judge Dietzen has continually used judicial restraint and common sense."

Where has the Minnesota Supreme Court been egregiously activist and legislating from the bench? The biggest example is the Court's 1990s decision
Doe v. Gomez which found a constitutional right to abortion funding in the Minnesota Constitution. The result? Minnesota taxpayers paying for thousands of abortions each year.

As with most presidents and governors, their most long lasting legacy is often who they appoint to their respective supreme courts.

Hitchens and D'Souza debate Christianity v. atheism

Atheist Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza debated at King's College in New York City the topic, "Is Christianity the Problem?" Hitchens obviously said yes while D'Souza said no. I thought it interesting that Catholic theologian Michael Novak thought D'Souza got the best of it.

You can decide for yourself by viewing or listening to the debate here.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

To whom shall he pray?

Not long ago political pundits insisted on writing off religious voters. Today, or at least in the Iowa primary, its all about the religious vote; the outcome of which may affect the national dialogue.

It's no longer whether faith should be a factor - but which faith.

Polls show Iowan's favor Romney and Huckabee, both men who take their faith seriously and take their faith with them whether in church on Sunday or on the stump during the week.

And there is the rub.

It seems that Iowa conservatives want a President who will get on his knees and pray to the maker of the universe before releasing a nuclear warhead. (Hideous that there are those who would cry foul at such a humble act.) Now some are asking themselves "to whom shall he pray?"

Tomorrow, Mr. Romney may answer that question, but with two candidates who take their faith seriously it is certain that Iowan's will be on their knees before the final votes are cast as well.

What is truth? What is compassion and love?

The "What is truth?" line was made famous by Pontius Pilate in his confrontation with Jesus the day before His crucifixion. That continues to be the issue confronting all of us and particularly in present day America.

That comes to mind when I saw the protest by homosexuals against Catholic Co-Adjudicator Archbishop Nienstedt who is being castigated for simply restating the Catholic view of homosexual behavior.

So many in our post-modern society believe we decide what is true when in fact we have no such luxury. It's laughable really. Like saying we can legislate a change in the law of gravity.

The same thing applies to the issue of compassion and love. Nick Coleman doesn't see a lot of compassion in the Archbishop's comments. In fact the exact opposite is true. Compassion involves desiring the best for other people and if people are doing something which will harm them now and for eternity, it's the compassionate, loving thing to warn the people that what they are doing is putting their lives at risk. That's exactly what the Archbishop Nienstedt is doing as he states in his response to Coleman's column.

Here's the Archbishop's response to Coleman's charges:

In a Nov. 28 column, Nick Coleman accuses me of not being compassionate toward friends and relatives of persons with same-sex attractions. I vigorously deny the charge. For 13 years I prepared priesthood candidates for celebrating the Sacrament of Penance by counseling them to welcome persons with warmth, compassion and understanding. Anyone who has celebrated that same sacrament with me knows I follow my own advice.

What Coleman wants is for the church I represent to be accepting and compassionate toward homosexual acts and lifestyles. And that can never be.

Coleman further claims the Catechism of the Catholic Church does not say that homosexual acts are a "grave evil." What it does say is the following: "Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity (Genesis 19: 1-29, Romans 1: 24-27, 1 Corinthians 6: 10, 1 Timothy 1:10), tradition has always declared that 'homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.' ... Under no circumstances can they be approved."

As a priest and bishop, I have the responsibility before God and in the name of Jesus Christ to call all men and women to conversion, the first step of which is recognizing sinful activity for what it is. Sometimes that is not a comfortable thing to do, but it is always the compassionate thing to do.




Way to go, Coadjutor Archbishop Nienstedt.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Old media Star Tribune befuddeled by technology based letters to editor

According to Jeff Davis at Minnesota Majority, over 60 letters have been written to the Star Tribune in protest of Nick Colman's attack on Archbishop Nienstedts letter outlining the Catholic Church's position on homosexuality.

Do you think any were printed? "NOT ONE of the over 60 letters critical of Coleman's column submitted through our online letter writing tool were published by the Star Tribune," says Davis.

Seems the editorial department suffers from technophobia, an unnatural fear of letters from conservative readers that use an online letter writing tool.

Think about what that means. The ever shrinking Strib can use any means to bombard the public with its post modern ideology, but, when the public responds using technology, they refuse to print the results.

What is it that de-legitimizes a fast-response, technology based public response? Were the letters any less genuine because they filled in a form?


An elitist oligarchy is a sure sign of a declining newspaper.

Is religion declining or growing in American?

I recently came across an interesting talk by Princeton sociology professor Robert Wunthnow "Myths About American Religion" given at a conference sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, among others.

He discussed what he views as five myths about religion in America.

One, America is in the midst of a religious and spiritual awakening.
Two, There is no secularization [happening in the church].
Third, Politics is driving people from the church.
Fourth, Membership in evangelical denominations is growing.
Fifth, The culture war is over or never happened.
I think he's right in suggesting that general religious sentiment is not necessarily growing in America and his myths are generally on target though I think he broad brushes a couple of things too much. I do think the seeds of a spiritual awakening are present though not on a macro level in society. And his fourth myth, that membership in evangelical denominations is growing is a bit misleading because in that section he says,
None of this is to suggest that conservative Protestantism is declining or is not a vibrant factor in American religious life. It does, however, chal­lenge observers to be more nuanced in their inter­pretations. Evangelicalism is not experiencing the huge growth suggested by figures from stories about megachurches.
What are the reasons for the decline in church attendance and religious practice? The only one he gives is people are delaying getting married and because church attendance is more likely among married folks with children the numbers of people attending church is down.

I think major influence is the ubiquitous nature and influence of materialism. That in our incredible material prosperity many people have bought into the illusion that we really don't need God. That we can "do it quite well on our own thank you". We've lost sight of the fact that our blessings, both material and spiritual, ultimately come from the hand of God.

And of course, there's a philosophical aspect to this materialism or secularism which permeates our educational institutions and the broader media. It's the belief that what's really real is only what we can physically touch and experience. A spiritual realm is merely speculative at best. Religion when discussed is like any other pastime, e.g. sports, music, movies, or personal fitness. It's something people treat as a consumer product rather than addressing the fundamental questions about man's existence, e.g. what is man, why do I exist, what does God expect of me, and where do I go when I die.

Ultimately, a society can't long survive if materialism/secularism is the reigning view. It denies reality. Europe which is on the cutting edge of this materialist/secular road is a culture in decline for many reasons and most obviously evidenced by the fact that it is a culture not reproducing itself. They are a dying society.