On the radio show Sunday, two special presentations on the nature of the soul and on atheism. Live only, no podcast. Listen live on the air or stream it on your iPhone with the new STR app, or other smartphone.
The role Christians and the church are to play in the public square and politics has a long legacy in the U.S. Not so in the U.K. where the public/private divide has been pretty well set in place for quite some time. But that's changing because Christians are beginning to see their rights eroded and also because churches take part in government social programs.
Candidates are becoming more vocal about their religious convictions and moral values informed by religion, religious think tanks are raising public discussion about topics like religion's role in society, and more minority candidates are entering politics whose religion plays a significant role in shaping their views. World magazine reports (entire article by subscription only).
"It's always been important to me that my Christian values also tallied with my values in politics," he said. "I've tried to look at all the policies of the Labour Party in that light and that if Jesus was looking at these policies He would find something He could approve of."...
Even the Liberal Democrats' party leader Nick Clegg, who declared himself "not a man of faith," said "Christian values" are central to his policies. "I do believe in the separation of church and state," he told the Christian magazine Faith Today. "But that doesn't mean keeping faith out of public life."...
Mentions of God or religion in British politics have historically been rare....
Brits also face religious freedom controversies that Americans have only glimpsed. Christians have been charged for publicly speaking of homosexuality as a sin, most recently a Baptist street preacher just three days before the election. A Christian doctor was barred from sitting on a public adoption panel when she asked to abstain from adoption decisions involving same-sex couples. Others have been banned from wearing crosses in the workplace. "The rights Christians thought they had in this country are being eroded," said David Muir, head of Faith in Britain....
[Paul] Woolley [director of Theos, a Christian think tank] says Britain may be gradually escaping what he calls "the Enlightenment trap," the separation of faith from public life. Candidates and voters, he said, are challenging "the assumptions to do with secularization."
Frank Beckwith makes an excellent point in this legal analysis that refutes the parallel that is drawn between banning interracial marriage and same-sex marriage. The parallel, of course, trades on the obvious offense of the former in our history and the sense of fair play and equal rights that good people cherish. But the parallel drawn is a false one, though there is a parallel that actually works against the proponents of same-sex marriage.
Proponents of same-sex marriage claim that legal efforts clarify the definition of marriage is a ban on same-sex marriage, but that isn't the case at all. A ban requires something already be in effect, have a history of practice. Same-sex marriage isn't being banned, and that's a significant difference with the supposed parallel with interracial marriage. That was a ban in fact.
Legal restrictions of interracial marriage was a revision to millenia of human history. Race had never been part of the definition of marriage, so the efforts to ban it were revisionistic not an effort to conserve and protect marriage as an institution. Of course, same-sex marriage is revisionistic, also overthrowing the definition of marriage for all of human history. And this is, ironically, the actual parallel between the two.
Opponents of same-sex marriage aren't seeking to ban any practice of common law well-established in human history, such as was the case in banning interracial marriage. It was a revision of current law, just as the efforts to legalize same-sex marriage are revisionistic and revolutionary. In both cases, those that sought to protect the institution of marriage from revision are consistent in the efforts to keep marriage from being fundamentally changed, to maintain a definition well-established in law.
So there is a parallel between the two, but not the one advocates of same-sex marriage think there is. The parallel isn't in their favor because the two efforts compare in their efforts to change the institution of marriage. Based on that legal parallel, it actually illustrates how revolutionary and, frankly, cavalier such efforts are to fundamentally redefine an institution that has served humanity and society very well since the dawn of human history.
The story last week that a scientist had created life in his lab was exaggerated, it turns out. Now that other scientists are taking a look at the research, they are downplaying the significance of what happened.
Jim Collins, a bioengineer at Boston University, said: “What they have created is an organism with a synthesised natural genome.
“But it doesn’t represent the creation of life from scratch or the creation of a new life form”.
In order to create the synthetic cell Dr Venter created an artificial version of the DNA for a very simple form of bacteria.
One of the things I enjoy about LOST, in addition to the wonderfully creative story telling, is that it draws on ultimate themes that are true about humanity. Deep truths that God has written on our hearts. It's what Francis Schaeffer called "the back of the book." There are things that are true of all people.
Desire for restoration and redemption. Good, evil. Need and seeking purpose.
Man's tragic brokenness, need for healing, and magnificent dignity.
Love and community. Final fulfillment and reconciliation. These
themes were all through the six seasons of LOST and they were
beautifully portrayed in the finale.
Of course, the theology is wrong. Their solution to man's dilemma is grievously wrong. Non-Christians aren't going to get the theology right; they're only dealing with general revelation. But as God's creatures, they understand some of the general, ultimate things that are true about all of us, told an amazing story, and I think that's why LOST captured the audience it did.
Our characters got what all of humanity desires. They found their purpose, reconciliation, and (most of them) redemption. We all die sometime, and this reunion is some time in the future after the survivors have lived out their lives, which we can fill in with our imaginations. It still gives us something to think about. Jack finally fulfilled his purpose, found peace, and was our hero. It's going too far to say he was a Messiah figure, but his death represents the greatest kind of love - to sacrifice for others. And of course, Michael Giacchiano's evocative music helped tell the story of the struggle in life and death the characters faced. I really think a significant portion of LOST's success and ability to connect with viewers to tell the stories is due to his music.
The universalism at the end was pedantic. The solution to these ultimate themes is obviously wrong. A lot of questions weren't answered, but there was resolution.
LOST tapped into fundamental truths of humanity and told an epic story of struggle along those themes. And it sought to give the characters what all humanity desires in the end, a happy ending. That is excellent story telling. The program told us true things about humanity and our condition. It's our job and privilege as ambassadors for Christ to tap into those deep feelings and intuitions people have and point them to the answer and ultimate object of their desires, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes without Him.
Here's a really excellent post by Lael Arrington about three alternate endings to LOST.
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By the way, one of the great things about the software by the great folks at Subsplash/Church App we used to create the app is that the content is dynamic. We can add new content and improve the formatting of content without you needing to update the app.
And if you're wondering, the iPad and android apps are on the to-do list.