Talking?

Apparently there’s a new stage in dating. It’s called Talking.

“Talking,” I discovered, is a widely accepted stage in current guy/girl relationships wherein a young man and a young woman get to know each other without better defining the relationship. This isn’t even a real stage of the relationship; it’s a pre-stage. They’re not just friends; they’re not really dating or pursuing marriage; they’re “talking.”

What do ya’ll think of Talking and JD Gunter’s assessment?

 

 

Lessons from Chick-Fil-A and Duck Dynasty

During my tour of duty in the pro-life movement–my politics haven’t changed; I’m just not active in the cause anymore–I witnessed no small number of folks who had great energy for the cause. Unfortunately, in their zeal to save babies and promote Christian values, their home lives were a shambles.

  • Some would experience marital breakup.
  • Some would struggle with drug/alcohol abuse.
  • Some would have pre-marital/extra-marital sexual affairs.
  • At least one would have an abortion herself.

This was but a microcosm of what went on nationally.

  • Prominent ministers–who supported conservative causes–would go down in sex scandals. From Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart to Ted Haggard, the examples are voluminous.
  • Prominent pro-life leaders had personal scandals of their own. Randall Terry, anyone?
  • Some prominent conservatives–such as Anita Bryant–would experience divorce.

On top of that, the left discovered what appeared to be a winning strategy: attack and force conservatives to retreat. If they are in entertainment, pressure sponsors and producers and booking agents to ensure that they get blacklisted.

This is why Hollywood is all but devoid of conservative Christians. (Making matters worse, the “Christian entertainment” industry is itself rife with scandal.)

Against this backdrop, the Christian has three choices:

  1. Attempt to blend in with the world, and play the game of “go along and get along”. This means never speaking up when confronted with the lies. You cower and become “undercover”, occasionally resorting to arguments that sound like, “Well, all Christians aren’t like that…”
  2. Contest them while failing to address their arguments in an intelligent manner. (This is something to which Farmer Tom referred in his comment on the previous thread.)
  3. Hit them hard, addressing the key underlying issues, and make a strong case for your position.

Obviously, choices (2) and (3) carry significant risk. The Apostle Paul opted for (3), and was not widely-received. While the Gospel spread throughout the Roman world, Paul often found himself in jail on good days, beaten severely–even stoned and left for dead–on bad days.

You may not face physical persecution, but–in a worst-case scenario–you could lose your job. You may lose out on any future chance for promotion. You could get blackballed out of your profession.

Against that backdrop, the Christian needs to acquire wisdom and formulate a prudent game plan. Here are some lessons…

1. You need to gain strength in your own walk. You can be the most zealous pro-life advocate–and even have great debating skills. But if you aren’t grounded in the Scriptures and lack spiritual mileage, you are akin to a new believer who just became the pastor of a church: you’re heading for disaster.

In this case, I recommend becoming a good listener. Listen to what the left says. But also seek counsel from pastors who are reputable. Read some good resources. Josh McDowell (Evidence that Demands a Verdict), Vox Day (The Irrational Atheist*), Michael Behe (Darwin’s Black Box), David Kupelian (The Marketing of Evil), Norman Geisler (When Critics Ask/When Skeptics Ask), Phillip Johnson (Darwin on Trial) are good resources for understanding the logic of the skeptics. But, most of all, read the Bible. As you read the Old Testament, read it with respect to the Gospel. (In the first century, the OT was the Bible: they read it Christologically.)

2. Have your own house in order. Anita Bryant’s downfall was less a victory for the gay rights movement as much as it was a (proverbial) self-inflicted gunshot wound by Anita Bryant herself. By filing divorce, this forced particulars of her home life to the forefront.

She claimed that her husband subjected her to cruelty. He contested that assessment. We’ll never know who is right, but one thing is for sure: irrespective of who was at fault, her house was not in order.

On this front, I recommend the following.

  • If you are married, make sure that–as far as it depends on you–that you are loving your wife as Christ loved the Church (if you are the husband) or submitting to your husband as to the Lord (if you are the wife). If there are severe issues in your home, then you should leave the Culture Wars to others and get the logs out of your own eye.
  • If you are married and your marriage is in good shape, you need to discuss–soberly–the implications of taking a stand with your spouse. If you find yourself on the receiving end of the backlash, you could experience a major financial setback. Your career could be in peril. You need to ensure that your family understands the risks. Even if you are a minister in a church that is supportive, you are still going to experience backlash, as Mark Driscoll has pointed out.
  • If you are single, make double-sure that you have your Ps and Qs in order. You must also count the cost and understand the risks.
  • As far as it depends on you, try to ensure that you are financially prepared for the backlash. The Robertson and Cathy families were already wealthy when they entered the Culture Wars. While this is not always possible for everyone, it does help to be forward-thinking and have a Plan B and/or a Plan C in the event that you suffer a financial setback.
  • You must resolve with your spouse that, irrespective of what happens, you are going to trust God and love your spouse, being united on the home front for better or worse. The Robertson family held their ground and didn’t blink.

3. Don’t back down. Ever. The bullies on the left will use every tactic under the sun–active and passive. You will be called a homophobe, a bigot, a hatemonger, insensitive, intolerant, sexually-repressed, Neanderthal. You will need to be prepared to respond without being reactionary. You will need to be prepared to call BS and cut to the deceptions in their reasoning.

While Phil Robertson expressed a perfectly valid Biblical objection to homosexuality, what really burned the folks at GLAAD was his articulation of certain particulars of male homosexuality. I.e., he connected homosexuality with sex acts associated with that lifestyle. And he did it in otherwise libertarian, jocular fashion.

Whereas the left enjoys framing the discussion of homosexuality in terms of “rights” and “discrimination”, the discussion of medical particulars–especially the transmission of disease–is something they seek to avoid.

Rather than wilt and grovel, Phil Robertson stood by his remarks. The family didn’t back down.

4. The Church–even in her fragmentation–responded in united fashion. The response by the Church–in both the Chick-Fil-A and the Duck Dynasty flaps–was critical to the ensuring an authoritative impact. Would that the Church were united on a host of other matters…

Now more than ever, we need to move toward a united front among the Church in the United States. A large reason why the Church has had such a hard time in the last 50 years is the divided nature of the Church. All shades of Baptists have a tendency to fight each other, as well as non-Baptists. PCA Presbyterians are too busy kvetching over “Federal Vision” when they aren’t throwing hand grenades at the Church of Christ. Non-denominational Christians tend to be all over the map. Those in the Cessationist camp barely recognize Pentecostal/charismatic folks.

As with Chick-Fil-A, the Christian consensus came to the side of the Robertsons. And neither the gates of Hell–nor the whiners at GLADD or the MSM–could prevail.

That, my friends, is the winning formula.

*I do not endorse Vox Day’s open theism, but The Irrational Atheist is nonetheless a clinic in how to critically analyze the arguments of the atheist.

It’s Game On in the Culture Wars

Most of the regulars here–except perhaps MrsLarijani, who wasn’t around when this happened–remember the fall of Anita Bryant. She became the symbol for victory for the left in general, the Gay Rights movement in particular.

Anita Bryant was a beauty queen who became Miss South Carolina in 1958, and a runner-up in the 1959 Miss America pageant. From there, her music career began to rise. She would become the face of Florida orange juice industry. She was outspoken as a Christian, and lobbied for causes dear to social conservatives. While many on the left found her obnoxious, they tolerated her.

That began to change in 1977, when Dade County (FL) passed an ordinance banning discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. At the time, it was a huge victory for the gay rights movement.

Anita Bryant proceeded to swing into action, leading the charge to repeal this law. National Christian leaders–particularly Jerry Falwell–supported her in this effort, which was successful, as voters repealed it by a 69-31 margin.

From there, the gay rights crowd proceeded to destroy the career of Anita Bryant. They mobilized, they wielded influence behind the scenes, they threatened her sponsors.

The Florida Citrus Commission did not renew Bryant’s contract. Her leads with promoters began to dry up. Her cash flow slowed to a trickle. She was blacklisted.

Making matters worse, she would eventually divorce her husband–thus alienating herself from her allies in the Church–and never regain her footing. Her business efforts resulted in bankruptcy. Twice. Anita Bryant was done in showbiz.

The warning to Christians in the business and entertainment world was clear: if you cross the gay rights movement, we will bury you. That was the standard for 30 years.

That changed two years ago, and in the most unlikely fashion.

A man from Georgia–S. Truett Cathy–founded the Dwarf Grill in 1946. That small restaurant would become Chick-Fil-A. From the ground up, the Cathy family grew that small outfit into a very profitable national business run by high, Christian standards of excellence six days a week. (They are closed on Sundays.) They worked hard and, in spite of their conservative Christian orientation, stayed out of the culture wars.

In 2011, that all changed, as one of the Chick-Fil-A restaurants in Pennsylvania agreed to provide sandwiches at a conference of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which opposed same-sex marriages. The gay rights movement sought to bully Chick-Fil-A into submission by threatening boycotts to “kiss-ins”.

The Christian response–helped in large part by former Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR)–was huge: Chick-Fil-A saw record profitability. The indication was that Christians have just about had enough of the left-wing bullying.

Dan Cathy is no Anita Bryant.

This year, the Robertson family–of Duck Dynasty fame–received a baptism by fire in the culture wars.

The Duck Dynasty series–a reality show run by A&E, based on a family of intelligent, self-made millionaires with a happy-warrior redneck Christian flavor– is the most profitable in the history of cable television.

Phil Robertson–the family patriarch, who played college football and was ahead of Terry Bradshaw on the depth chart–was outspoken, both on-screen and off, about his Christian faith, particularly of his story of a former decadent hedonist who experienced a life of repentance through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The Duck Dynasty episodes end with the family praying together before a meal. When A&E expressed interest in cutting that out of the show, Phil Robertson held the line: keep it or cancel the show. A&E grudgingly demurred.

That was until last week, when, in an interview with GQ magazine, Phil Robertson made some pointed statements about homosexuality. For one, he called homosexuality a sin, and–to the horror of everyone on the left–stated the obvious: “It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying?”

The response from the left was nothing short of apoplectic. A&E suspended Phil Robertson “indefinitely”, and gay rights groups immediately began targeting Duck Dynasty sponsors. The gay rights groups were seeking to do to Robertson what they did to Anita Bryant.

As with Chick-Fil-A, they failed. Badly.

For one thing, the Robertson family response has been unified. It helps that, as with the Cathy family, they were already millionaires many times over and did not need A&E. It also helps that the Robertson family–in spite of the baggage they have–has a handle on what is really important.

Phil Robertson is no Anita Bryant.

For another thing, Christians–not just those who would have identified with the Moral Majority in the 1980s–decided they have had enough of the left-wing bullying.

As a result, Cracker Barrel–which had pulled Duck Dynasty products from their shelves–reversed themselves and profusely apologized to their customers in near-record time.

I’m not saying that this is indicative of a national revival or even a “Resurgence” (to borrow the term from Mark Driscoll); at the same time, the Christian consensus has apparently decided that they have had enough. The dogs of the left will have their day, but the Christian consensus is not going to take it lying down.

It’s game on in the Culture Wars.

Phil Robertson Enters the Culture Wars

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson has officially joined the culture wars.

While his promotion of his faith in Jesus Christ has received some backlash, for the most part the left has tolerated him, as he has been a big money draw.

That is, until his recent interview with GQ magazine. In that interview, he said that he believed that homosexuality is a sin, and that he believed that the vagina is preferable to the anus.

As a result, GLAAD went nuts and demanded action from A&E, which, in turn, suspended Phil Robertson “indefinitely”.

(1) This is not about the First Amendment; it is about the freedom of association. The folks at A&E have the right to suspend or even fire Robertson, just as Robertson has the right to say what he said.

At the same time, it is interesting that, in the same week that a state judge in Colorado ruled that a Christian-owned business MUST bake a cake for a gay couple and thus MUST associate themselves with a covenant ceremony that is offensive to their Christian views regarding marriage–A&E gets to choose to dis-associate from a popular Christian who expresses sentiments contrary to theirs.

Ergo, freedom of association is only in play if you are endorsing homosexuality.

That leads me to my second point…

(2) To the left: get a grip, cut the histrionics, and untwist your panties.

Fact is, unlike Alec Baldwin, Robertson did not use any derogatory slurs against gays. He merely said (a) that, in accordance with Scripture, he believed that homosexuality is a sin, and (b) that, in his estimation, the vagina is more appealing than the anus.

Well HELLO! His first point is totally Biblical. Whether you believe that or not is neither Robertson’s problem nor even my problem. Quite frankly, what you believe–or not–is your business, and is of no importance to me. If you are gay, I really have no interest in how you wish to live. As with anyone else, I am for your right to be left the hell alone.

His second point is a matter of common sense, as sodomy carries particular medical risks for obvious reasons. You don’t have to like what I am saying, but that is not my problem.

Class dismissed.

Discuss Amongst Yourselves

I must admit, I haven’t been out to Boundless much this year. Much of that is due to my nasty work schedule.

But I’m FB friends with Lisa Anderson. So I saw a link on her feed to a piece she wrote for Today’s Christian Woman. And yes, I felt bad for her.

While there were some things she probably wishes she had done differently in her younger (20s) single years, I’d say it is a sad commentary that singleness into her 40s is the price that she pays for not having done everything right during those years.

I’ve met both Lisa Anderson and Martha Krienke. Each seem like they’d make otherwise good catches. Yes, everyone has baggage; yes, everyone has faults; and yes, I can see where–being in their position–it could present a perceived threat to a would-be suitor.

(Seriously: pursuing someone who is very high-profile in the Christian singles world? If you screw up, you run the risk of being a topic on one of her posts on what to watch out for. I say that not to put down Lisa or Martha, but rather to point out a potential risk that they carry that most other gals do not.)

Still, Lisa and Martha are decent folks. They take good care of themselves, they have good theological grounding, they’d probably make very good wives. I’m not quite sure–aside from the extra risks I mention, as well as geography–why some of the regulars at Boundless don’t otherwise try to give them a chase.

A Snapshot of a Demographic Time Bomb

First, some stipulations:

  1. I’m not a Catholic;
  2. I oppose abortion–yes, even in cases of rape and incest–and also oppose contraceptive methods that are potentially abortifacient. Those should be criminalized;
  3. Aside from (2), I have no concern for micromanaging the family planning choices that husbands and wives make. That means any contraceptive method that does not kill children is your business.

With that out of the way, we have this observation from a Catholic Priest. (HT: Vox Day)

More than 20 years ago, I was the President of a county Right to Life chapter. In that capacity, I often spoke to church groups as well as high school classes. Back then, I pointed out that, because our birth rate is below the replacement level, we would eventually suffer economically, as programs such as Social Security and Medicare would face the specter of financial insolvency. I also pointed out that this was going to become a very big deal in countries like Japan, Russia, and most European countries.

Today?

  • Social security and Medicare are in danger of insolvency;
  • Russia is in dire trouble due to its low birth rate;
  • Ditto for Japan;
  • Ditto for most of Europe.

Most industrialized countries–including the United States–are filling their demographic gap via expanded immigration. That dynamic, however, is causing its own unintended consequences. Hispanics now pretty much own California and most of the American Southwest. Muslims–whom we imported from Iraq, Chechnya, and Somalia as “refugees”–now pretty much own entire towns and regions.

Irrespective of your views on life issues, Mr. Sauppe is correct in his observation. The mathematics of the Baby Bust–directly the result of contraception and in-utero infanticide on demand–is the direct cause of the demise of many a Parish and Catholic school. It is a snapshot of what is happening in the larger macro economy.

The following here is more chilling, although I did not find it surprising:

I, and St. Mary’s, closed the school that May 2010. Now three years later, I am razing the school building. It breaks my heart every time I go into this closed school. It is only 50 years old and yes, the windows and heating are in need of replacement, but otherwise the building is in good shape. You could not build as solid a building these days. There has not been a week without someone bringing the school closure and now razing up to me and how sad it is.

But the cost of insurance and the cost of heating an empty building has become too burdensome for an aging and a decreasing congregation. A part of this decrease has happened because I have preached against the Culture of Death.

I have modestly preached against contraception and sterilization, but for many of my parishioners it is too late. Most of them are done with raising more children. They have had their two kids twenty, thirty, forty years ago and some women don’t want to hear about the Culture of Death. They decide to go to other parishes where the pastor doesn’t prick their consciences.

Having grown up in the 60‘s and 70‘s with many “Don’t call me Father” Priests, I knew that the problem was a lack of orthodoxy. Twenty years ago when I was ordained, I thought that if I just preached the faith and celebrated a solemn Sunday Mass people would turn around. But, after twenty years, my experience is that a few parishioners will write letters to the Bishop, some will leave murmuring, but the standard fare is benign indifference. Instead of encountering joy and submission to the Natural Law and the Church’s teaching on human life and its dignity, I have found Catholic Christians either complacent or complicit with the Culture of Death. It was reported that over fifty percent of Catholics voted for a pro-abortion president who at a recent Texas Planned Parenthood convention asked God to bless them. If I have found any fruit, it has mostly come from home-schooling families.

I have also found this to be the case with Protestants as well. It reminds me of something a certain Apostle said (II Timothy 4:3-4):

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.

Health Insurance Getting Dropped: a Real-Life, Small Business Example

KM–a friend of mine and Cubbie’s–is a physician in Central Kentucky.

Here is her response to my recent post:

Here is an example for you…

I am a small business owner (8 employees plus myself) who has provided group health insurance since opening my business. Six of those employees were covered by health insurance and my group plan, this past year, cost 70k yearly (it went up about 30% per year). This is a huge expense for a small business. I received a notice that our plan did not meet compliance with Obamacare’s new regulations. Therefore, I dropped our health insurance and, instead, opted to give a stipend for employee directed coverage. While the stipend will still cover their expenses, most of them are discouraged by the huge hassle. I am a bit relieved, however, to be stepping OUT of the insurance business.
As any reader can attest here: KM is being quite generous with her workers.

What We Have; When We Can

When I was growing up, we had very little during those many years my dad was starting and growing his own business. He did well, had a successful career, and recently sold his business and retired, making a pretty buck, or many. But I still remember the days when I wore the cheapest of clothes from the cheapest of stores. I didn’t think much of it, and I always had a favorite dress I was very sad to out-grow.

During these lean years, my mother always found ways to give to others. She loved to bake, and bake well, so she made tons of homemade goodies at Christmas. It didn’t cost much; it was a labor of love; and she received much joy in giving. (I’d go nuts if I baked that much at one time every year.)

There is one Christmas, though, that will always stand out in my mind. I can see myself, old and senile, forgetting my own name, and yet remembering this one hour of my life.

My mom searched for a needy family – a truly needy family. And she found one. There was a family who escaped from some country (I do not remember the details). The were living in a very cheap, one-room, hotel, with a small kitchenette. There were the dad and mom and children – three, if I remember correctly. My mom went to the same cheap stores we shopped at and bought clothes for all the children and both parents. She bought groceries. And she prepared a Christmas meal. All of us went together one evening, after dark, to deliver Christmas to this family.

When we arrived, there was absolutely no food in the fridge or the cabinets. I’ll never forget that. I do not remember their faces, but I remember the people. I remember that they were thankful and peaceful. I remember that they were not bitter or angry. I remember that my mom gave them the gifts, put the food in the fridge, spent some kind minutes with them, and we left. They had some mattresses on the floor to accommodate all of them. It was a very small room. But they were very gracious and very grateful.

I’ll just never forget it. If memory serves me, my mother did more things for them, including recording this man’s story of escaping from somewhere with his family. We didn’t have much, but my mom always gave anyway.

I think that is the one thing I am most grateful to my mother for modeling. I don’t think she ever did it with the purpose of modeling for us kids. I think she did it because that is who she was, who she is.

I have always looked for ways to help. With a special needs kid, I am always limited. But I am always grateful to do what I can when I can, knowing that it is my best. This holiday season I was asked to join a private group where families could share their needs, ask for help, pray for one another, share praises, and encourage one another. It’s only been up for a week or two, and already I have been incredibly blessed. Deeply blessed.

There are families out there who have lost most everything – careers, homes, vehicles, family, and all savings and income. They work whatever jobs they can find and pray that God continues to keep a roof over their head and one car working to get to and from these jobs and food on the table. They are hoping for one, maybe two gifts for their kids this Christmas. Some are weary and feeling defeated. Marriages are strained, faith is being pushed to further boundaries, and parents’ hearts are breaking over what their children are having to go through. Some are even asking for such simple things as toilet paper.

One mom asked if anyone had a specific doll for her daughter. It’s expensive new, and they are miles away from even thinking about purchasing it new. But, my daughter has one. And she’s outgrown it. And she was willing to give it away rather than sell it (even though she could make a pretty penny off it and buy tons of stuff for her family and herself for Christmas). We had a few of the doll accessories and have it all boxed up and ready to mail … along with some things for the younger brother, some specific things which we actually had.

Mom is crying. They’ve been so wounded by the church, abandoned by family. They’ve lost long-term careers. They’re living in a very small space. Their hope diving rapidly. I’ve read to my girls what this mom has written in gratitude and how these simple things – things that will only cost us shipping – are changing her heart, filling her soul with joy, and giving her hope, once again. My girls are seeing this, experiencing this, and began to find other things they could give away! We now have several boxes to take to the post office on Monday, and my girls are so excited!

This isn’t anything new in our home, but it never gets old and always brings such fresh joy. It has been so much fun picking out things for children, who would have close to nothing otherwise, that my girls have totally forgotten to put up the Christmas tree so far! (I’m not complaining – the scrooge in me is happy, happy, happy!)

It is amazing how filled with love and joy and hope and faith we become when we give what we have, when we can, with a generous heart.