Nomophobia: What Words Can Teach Us About Ourselves

I stumbled across the Cambridge Dictionary’s “Word of the Year” this morning: nomophobia. Before reading the article, I began trying to figure out what the word meant, and it was one of those whiplash moments when something differs substantially from what you initially thought. I thought, “‘nomo’ from law, ‘phobia’ is obviously fear, ergo ‘nomophobia’ means ‘fear of the law.” Then I quickly thought about the ramifications of “fearing the law” and wondered what it was that made this the Word of the Year for Cambridge Dictionary.

That’s when it hit me: words are no longer built on Greek (nomos means law in Greek) and Latin roots; they’re shortened versions of other words. Nomophobia is the fear of being absent from your mobile phone. Having read the actual definition, I think I remember seeing it somewhere, but it is one of those things that is still shocking. Though the word wasn’t coined by psychologists, the term describes a deeply psychological response. I probably don’t need to describe it, but it’s similar to that feeling you get when you can’t find your kid (or parent) in a crowd. It’s an immediate, anxious, and disconcerting response to the loss of something precious.

There are certainly two ways of talking about this. One, we could say, cynically, “See, that’s why you shouldn’t be so attached to your phone. We are in such a terrible relationship to these devices. We really have fallen far.” However, I think there’s also another way of looking at this issue.

Our Lord tells a story of a lost child. The son despised his father and took his inheritance, went into a far country, and squandered it all. He returned to his father in shame and humiliation, but his father rejoiced at his return. He killed the fattened calf, dressed his son in fine clothing, and hosted a banquet. The father proclaims, “My son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” (Luke 15:24) So, we recognize a certain desperation and relief in the father, but what does this have to do with an inanimate item?

The parable immediately preceding the prodigal son is one about a woman. This woman had ten coins but lost one. Her response? She had “nocophobia,” and began to tear her house apart. When she finally finds the coin, she calls a crowd to rejoice with her. “Just so,” the Lord says, “there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10)

We sometimes spend as much as a thousand dollars on our phones, and then they integrate into our lives and connect us to those who are most important to us. We read our Bibles on them, write emails, send text messages, make phone calls, and catch up on current events. The attachment we have to our phones is more complicated than simply “get rid of them” or simply “they’re the greatest.” Our phones have real and temporal value. Why waste time or money on something about which you could easily feel indifference at its loss? At the same time, what does matter if you could gain the whole world and yet lose your soul? It may be a good time to assess your relationship to your phone, and your other temporal goods for that matter, to see if you undervalue them (which is possible) or overvalue them (which is probable).

For a good, balanced book on our relationships to cell phones, see one of my 2017 books of the year, 12 Ways Your Phone Is Changing You.

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Covenant Theology is Best: A Recommended Article

“The Lutheran lives as a child who enjoys his father’s smile for the moment; the Reformed believer lives as a man, in whose consciousness the eternal glory of God throws its radiance.” –Vos

I have just finished close reading of Geerhardus Vos’s “The Doctrine of the Covenant in Reformed Theology” and I cannot help but recommend it. In it, he walks through the historicity of the concept in Reformed theology, showing that it’s not a concept that was invented by Cocceius (as many claim). Then, he walks through the three theological covenants, the Covenant of Works, Covenant of Redemption, and Covenant of Grace. While I would not distinguish the latter two as different covenants (a view which he mentions at the beginning of his treatment of the Covenant of Grace, and one which he held to at first as well), I am in substantial agreement with his overall presentation. One of the key issues he treats is how Reformed theology is better than Lutheran theology.

Of course, one of the key disagreements I have with Vos is his view of infant baptism (which I would say is no baptism), but even here his article is helpful because it demonstrates the Reformed reasoning undergirding paedobaptism, which I think is blatantly non sequiter.

The article can be read in Redemptive History and Biblical Interpretation: The Shorter Writings of Geerhardus Vos here or here. It can also be read online for free here.

Forgetting Theology: Boyce’s Warning About Theological Apathy

The most superficial observer must perceive that in our day the sound doctrine of our Churches is much imperilled. Campbellism, though checked in every direction in which it attempted to develope itself, has left no little of its leaven among, and exerts no inconsiderable influence. The distinctive principles of Arminianism have also been engrafted upon many of our Churches; and even some of our Ministry have not hesitated publicly to avow them. That sentiment, the inevitable precursor, or accompaniment of all heresy—that the doctrines of Theology are matters of mere speculation, and its distinctions only logomachies and technicalities, has obtained at least a limited prevalence. –J.P. Boyce

I was skimming through Boyce’s “Three Changes to Theological Education” today and I came across this statement. What he’s saying, in case it’s a little unclear, is that the major false teaching that had arisen among Southern Baptists, Campbellism, had ceased to spread, but it gained a strong foothold. Second, Arminianism, a theological system that no good Baptist would confess, was now making inroads and being openly confessed. Finally, and this is the big one, the sentiment that theology is a mere matter of speculation, or that its debates are merely about words and technicalities, “has obtained at least limited prevalence.” What is so dangerous about this sentiment? It is “the inevitable precursor or accompaniment of all heresy.”

Do you care about theology? You should. Theology isn’t about word games (no matter how much some theologians today make it so); rather, theology is about declaring the whole counsel of God to the people of God. It’s about saying who God is and how all things relate to God. Get it wrong, and you have lied about the most important of all things; get it right and you have glorified the one from whom, through whom, and to whom are all things. Our theology shapes what we do, most especially on Sundays. Do you think God cares if you think rightly about him? Do you think God cares if you worship him rightly? Do you think “you shall not bear false witness” only applies to our witness about our neighbor and not, even more so, about God?

God cares what we say. God cares that we worship him rightly. The church, as that place where the people claim to have heard God and know God, and where people claim to be able to tell others about God, that place better care about theology. They better care that God is witnessed to rightly. They better care that Arminianism and Campbellism, and Socinianism and Pelagianism and Arianism and Roman Catholicism, have no place in their pulpits and aren’t comfortably avowed. For this, we need men who are trained in the truth to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

Can You Be a Reformed Baptist and Southern Baptist?

The question in the headline of this article is one that I regularly encounter. When I tell people that I was drawn to the church I currently serve because it held to the 1689 and was Southern Baptist, I usually meet the response, “Is that possible?” I’d like to give two reasons why it is possible to be a Reformed Baptist and a Southern Baptist.

1. A Reformed Baptist, in the most widely held definition, is someone who holds to the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689). This confession was not only held to by those in that city, but was brought over to America as the Philadelphia Confession (with two additions) and the Charleston Confession (which is simply the 1689). Baptists in America (I want to say “American Baptists” but that is now a particular group) were shaped by and held to the 2nd London Confession. And just in case it is believed that this was only during the early years, in 1858 The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary was founded on a confession called the Abstract of Principles. This confessional document was none other than a briefer summary of the 2nd London. Though the Baptist Faith & Message has been the widely-held document among Southern Baptists since 1925, the London Confession was the dominating confession from the beginning. To hold to 2nd London is not to cease to be a Southern Baptist; it is to hold to the document that most shaped the early years of Southern Baptists.

Further, and this gets to an important point, the Baptist Faith & Message is broader than the 1689, not contrary. The BF&M is inclusive of those who hold more strictly to the doctrines of the early Particular Baptists and those who do not. My adherence to the 1689 allows me to more fully explain what I believe regarding specific issues, while my affirmation of the BF&M allows me to cooperate with other faithful Baptists with whom I disagree on various points. Take, for instance, the article on the Lord’s Day (BF&M 8) and that on the Sabbath (LBCF 22). The BF&M requires observance of particular duties on the first day of the week, while the LBCF requires the same duties and restricts others. The BF&M allows for some freedom of interpretation of the fourth commandment, while the LBCF is less free. These documents don’t contradict; one is simply broader than the other.

2. The second point is that being Southern Baptist allows me to be more faithful to the 1689 than otherwise. There are many Reformed Baptist churches that are independent, but this is not in keeping with the LBCF (see 26.14–15). The LBCF has in it the understanding that there will be associational fellowship among the churches, and this understanding led directly to the establishment of the SBC. I don’t see how a Reformed Baptist church could be independent (according to the Confession), but then there are Reformed Baptist churches that don’t hold to the Sabbath. There are some fellowships that have developed among even the independent Reformed Baptist churches, but these, as far as I can tell from the outside, do not have the formal apparatus in place to observe the practices outlined in 26.15.

Can you be a Southern Baptist and a Reformed Baptist? Absolutely. In fact, there are many ways this is the best way to be both, since being a Reformed Baptist means you are a Southern Baptist who cares deeply about the truths of God and confessional fidelity, and being a Southern Baptist means you are a Reformed Baptist who knows how to carefully cooperate with other believers who may hold to different interpretations on things. Of course, there are associations like the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches in America, which has the 1689 as its doctrinal standard, but there is nothing wrong with being a 1689 SBC Baptist (in fact, some churches are both!). If you are a Southern Baptist, and you hold to the 1689, and if you have not heard of Founders Ministries, you are missing out. Founders churches are not exclusively 1689 (though they are generally all Calvinistic), but there are many churches connected to them that are both SBC and hold to the 1689. Check it out here.

What about Fathers?: A Look at Matthew 23:9 and the Prohibition of Titles

Popes, monks, penance, Mass, adoration of saints, crucifixes, holy orders, the exaltation of the Blessed Virgin, and many other such practices distinguish Roman Catholics from their Protestant counterparts. In each of these, we can recognize through historical critique how a good thing was corrupted (maybe I should do that someday?), such as the term of the worship service, Mass, being connected to the Latin word “missa,” which refers to the fact that worshippers are sent back out to the world to live as Christians. One thing you will notice distinguishes (most) Protestants from Roman Catholics is that the latter refer to their leaders as “father” and the former (mostly) do not.

This practice is both strange in its presence and in its absence. Why is it that some men are called “father” by other men who are sometimes much older than themselves. The Protestant explanation is very interesting because when it is done simplistically, it is simply wrong (similar to simplistic explanations of justification by faith alone, apart from works). So, why don’t most Protestants call their leaders “father”?

Matthew 23:9 says, “And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.” Seems pretty open and shut. We don’t call pastors or other mature believers our father because Jesus said not to. So, how did Christians ever get in the habit of doing so? Well, it’s not quite as easy as citing a biblical text and acting like that’s the end of the story. Much of our theology and explanation of biblical propositions must be interpreted in their relationship to others.

Paul says, “I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I urge you, then, be imitators of me. That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:14–17).

Either 1) Paul is directly disobeying the command of Jesus, or 2) we must be more careful in how we interpret the passage than we often are. Here, I want to enlist some help from two Protestants, one from the Reformation and the other from the heart of nonconformity (i.e. those who would not even conform to the officially-Protestant Church of England).

John Calvin, one of the original Reformers and a touchstone in the Reformed branch of Protestant Christianity, says,

He claims for God alone the honor of Father, in nearly the same sense as he lately asserted that he himself is the only Master; for this name was not assumed by men for themselves, but was given to them by God. And therefore it is not only lawful to call men on earth fathers, but it would be wicked to deprive them of that honor. Nor is there any importance in the distinction which some have brought forward, that men, by whom children have been begotten, are fathers according to the flesh, but that God alone is the Father of spirits. I readily acknowledge that in this manner God is sometimes distinguished from men, as in Hebrews 12:5, but as Paul more than once calls himself a spiritual father, (1 Corinthians 4:15,) we must see how this agrees with the words of Christ. The true meaning therefore is, that the honor of a father is falsely ascribed to men, when it obscures the glory of God. Now this is done, whenever a mortal man, viewed apart from God, is accounted a father, since all the degrees of relationship depend on God alone through Christ, and are held together in such a manner that, strictly speaking, God alone is the Father of all.

John Gill, perhaps the most influential Baptist prior to Charles Spurgeon, his successor in the London congregation, says in his commentary,

Not but that children may, and should call their natural parents, fathers; and such who have been instrumental in the conversion of souls, may be rightly called by them their spiritual fathers; as servants and scholars also, may call those that are over them, and instruct them, their masters: our Lord does not mean, by any of these expressions, to set aside all names and titles, of natural and civil distinction among men, but only to reject all such names and titles, as are used to signify an authoritative power over men’s consciences, in matters of faith and obedience; in which, God and Christ are only to be attended to.

The Geneva Bible, likewise, says, “Christ forbideth not to give juste honour to Magistrates and Masters, but condemneth ambicion and superioritie over our brothers faith, which office apperteineth to Christ alone.” Its successor, the Reformation Study Bible, says essentially the same thing: “Jesus does not prohibit organization or the use of all titles in the church…His warning is against the temptation to claim for oneself authority and honor that belong uniquely to God and His Christ.” And the MacArthur Study Bible:

Here Jesus condemns pride and pretense, not titles per se. Paul repeatedly speaks of “leaders” in the church, and even refers to himself as the Corinthians’ “father” (1Co 4:15). Obviously, this does not forbid the showing of respect, either (cf. 1Th. 5:11, 12; 1Ti 5:1). Christ is merely forbidding the use of such names as spiritual titles, or in an ostentatious sense that accords undue spiritual authority to a human being, as if he were the source of truth rather than God.

Let’s summarize some of what is going on in the relationship between these passages. The Lord has forbidden the use of titles which seem to be impossible to honestly abandon. We all have teachers and fathers, and it would be dishonorable to refrain from showing proper respect for those individuals God has raised up in that place. The abiding authority of the fifth commandment requires that you continue to show honor to your earthly father, though you have a Father who is in heaven. “Double-honor” is due to elders, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching (1 Timothy 5:17, which is a reference to compensation). So the Lord is not condemning honor for certain people per se.

I think a very helpful illustration will give us even greater clarity. In preparing for ordination a couple years ago, I read through some works and passages from pastors throughout the church’s history about the task I was being called to. A common passage they dealt with, naturally, was 1 Timothy 3. Paul says, “The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task.” This seems to be a simple statement, yet it is very hard to swallow. Do I desire nobility? I hope not. The Lord says we should be like him, who became the servant of all. But notice what it says, “desires a noble task.” To want to be an overseer/pastor/elder/bishop is to desire to have greater opportunity to perform a particular task. And what is that task? It is studying the Word of God in order to deliver it faithfully to the people of God by the Spirit of God for the glory of God. Is this task noble? Of course it is. But my desire, and every minister’s desire, must be the opportunity to perform the task, a servant’s task to be sure. Does this come with “double-honor”? It does, but our hearts must be toward the task and not the honor, toward washing feet and laying down our lives, not acquiring for ourselves honors and titles.

As we move back to the passage at hand, we can think carefully about Christ’s demand. The idea is that we would refrain from assuming the authority of teacher, master, and father, but instead depend on the Father, Master, and Teacher. As he ministers to us through those men and women he places in our lives, we show them the honor that is due to them, not because of them, but because of the Lord.

J. C. Ryle (though he was an Anglican), said it best:

The rule here laid down must be interpreted with proper scriptural qualification. We are not forbidden to esteem ministers very highly in love for their work’s sake (1 Thessalonians 5:13). Even St. Paul, one of the humblest saints, called Titus his “true son in our common faith” (Titus 1:4), and says to the Corinthians, “I became your father through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15). But still we must be very careful that we do not give to ministers, unawares, a place and an honor which do not belong to them. We must never allow them to come between ourselves and Christ. The very best are not infallible. They are not priests who can atone for us; they are not mediators who can undertake to manage our soul’s affairs with God: they are human just like us, needing the same cleansing blood and the same renewing Spirit; they are set apart to a high and holy calling, but still after all only human. Let us never forget these things. Such cautions are always useful: human nature would always rather lean on a visible minister than an invisible Christ.

A special place where we can see some of this in place is 1 John. John calls his readers, “My little children” (2:1), “Children” (2:18), and “Little children” (2:28, 3:7, 3:18, 4:4, 5:21). These are terms of endearment from an elder, mature Christian who has had the blessed opportunity to minister to the lives of the saints in a particular place. But notice, too, “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are…Beloved, we are God’s children now” (3:1a, 2), “By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother” (3:10), “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments” (5:1–2), “everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him” (5:18). What’s going on in these passages? The first show that there is a fatherly love from the elder saint toward his children, and the children (those who have been nurtured by him), presumably, have a proper love for their Christian father/teacher. But, ultimately, the writer is their brother, not their father, since they were both born of God. We are all God’s children if we have been born again, though the providential differences in timing and providential differences in growth and responsibilities mean that some will function in father-like roles toward others.

So, why don’t Protestants use the term “father” in referring to their ministers? It would be unbiblical to say that it is because there is no sense in which ministers are fathers of other Christians. Rather, the reason we do not refer to our ministers as fathers is because  1) it can, and has, lead to an unbiblical understanding of the relationships between believers who are ultimately brothers and sisters in Christ, and 2) it is not an official title provided by the Bible itself (consider the fact that “bishop”/”overseer” and “elder” are terms used of official offices throughout the NT and “father” is more relational than titular). As we look at the mature Christians in our lives, those who exercise a special place in discipling us, let us do so with a loving respect we would show toward our fathers. As we look at those spiritually-younger Christians in our lives, whom we hope to help grow in faith in our Father, let us have a similar concern for their souls that we would for our natural children.

Seeing a WWII Veteran & History

My family and I were at Taco Bell this evening and we saw a WWII veteran, to whom I sent my children to thank for his service. We can’t help but think of that generation of soldiers as saving life as we know it. They were faced with a great challenge, and the country took up the call to give it all they had.

But this got me thinking. If the man was 20 years old when the war ended, he is 93 years old now; 73 years have passed. Only seventy-five years passed between the end of the Civil War and the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Thus, we can reasonably presume that there were Civil War veterans that man’s age when our first troops were heading over to Europe and Southeast Asia. Further, that man would have certainly come across Civil War veterans in the years while he was growing up.

What’s my point in all this math, these calculations of years? Well, when the kids were done telling the man “Thank you for your service,” I explained briefly that the world as we know it would have been much worse if it were not for men like him. He, and those who served alongside him, was a hero. But what was happening as that man was growing up? Certainly there were Civil War veterans that served as conversation starters for young families; what did those families say, what heritage did they pass on?

Teaching history (and not just in the classroom, but in informal settings like that related above) is one of those things that carries with it praise and scorn, and it teaches praise and scorn as well. My children will learn to praise those who stand up to evil and scorn fascists and tyrants. If they do not, it will be in rebellion to what they were taught rather than from a neutral standpoint.

As I think about the racial tensions going on right now, I cannot help but believe that they are much more complex than most will admit. First, there were certainly those who told their young families to praise the Confederate veterans for “standing up for our rights,” though they lost having given it all they had. Conversely, there were those who told their families to scorn the Confederate veterans for having sought to maintain the right to subjugate those of other skin colors. There were those who taught their children to scorn Union veterans for imposing their values on others, while others taught them to praise Union veterans for standing up for unity, freedom, and justice. These taught sentiments don’t go away easily.

Conversely, I think the alarm that has been raised (embodied recently here) regarding racial tensions in theological discussions is also correct. Often the real, deep concerns to fight against racism have seeped into language that 1) minimizes equality in the gospel and 2) minimizes the gospel. One of the key items in the statement just linked to is the claim, “subsequent generations share the collective guilt of their ancestors only if they approve and embrace (or attempt to justify) those sins.” What seems to be missing from those rebuking churches for racism is the recognition that most churches do not “approve and embrace (or attempt to justify those sins)” which their ancestors committed. When we become Christians, we gain a new story, a new heritage. We are those bought with a price because we were all once slaves. We are those who teach our children of those who suffered and even died for confessing Jesus as Lord, the Bible as true, justification as by faith alone, baptism as being for believers alone, and the gospel as being for people in all places.

So, while there is a real effect from storytelling upon people in particular cultures, there is also gospel freedom for those who have not embraced the sins of their fathers, or for those who have turned away having once embraced them. We see racial tensions because the story of the Civil War was told as personal memory not very long ago. American’s must realize this. American Christians must also realize this. But American Christians must further realize that the ebb and flow of history is changed radically by the gospel doing what the gospel does, which is reconcile us to God through the blood of Jesus Christ. In that truth, it will reconcile us to each other, but when we turn it around we will be reconciled to neither God nor one another. Instead, we will continue to tell ourselves our own stories and scorn one another.

Vitriol and Verity: We must uphold the truth in love

It is commonplace in much of life in this world to face the reality of contention, strife, division. Every hill seems to be one on which to die. Lives are always at stake. The entire world is always at stake.

This certainly describes American political and social life (and other nations’, to be sure), but there should be a notably different tone in the church. Now don’t get me wrong, there are times when some should be confronted sternly to their face in front of all (Gal. 2:14). But most of the time we must be careful to encourage people toward faithfulness to the truth and display a spirit of dialogue. To be vitriolic is often a sign of pride rather than maturity.

Unfortunately, the spirit of vitriol, the spirit of pride, characterizes those of us who would consider ourselves Reformed, who would confess with Paul that we are the chief of sinners who have been saved wholly by grace. We have been given a precious treasure of clarity on all sorts of doctrinal matters, and the result is often arrogance. What this means is people often fail to hear us over our screaming or listen to us over our sneering.

May those of us who are Reformed Baptists be careful to engage our brothers in brotherly ways, to put away vitriol that our neighbors may hear verity.

Death Penalty: Pope Says its Wrong

It seems there is no shortage of examples where Roman Catholics are called upon to follow Scripture rather than their church. It was true in the Reformation, but it has been true at various other times as well. Today, the New York Times reports that “Pope Francis has declared the death penalty wrong in all cases,” which will make its way into the Catechism and be incorporated into the teaching of the Church’s doctrine. This is a further step from the previous “last resort” posture. Many countries in the world have already abolished the death penalty, but there are Roman Catholics in government positions in the US that will have to wrestle with their own state laws and the new teaching from the Church. Additionally, the “majority of American Catholics favor capital punishment, 53 percent, while 42 percent oppose it,” numbers that are fairly close to the American population at large.

What’s the Bible say? It’s quite clear. According to Genesis, the words of God are, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed” (Gen. 9:6). This verse is set between two sections that are crucial for understanding its applicability today. First, it comes after the incident with Cain and Abel, and after the flood, which means that the mercy God was showing to Cain by not allowing him to be attacked by his fellow man for his crime (Gen. 4:15) is not the last word on how to deal with murderers. Second, this passage comes before the call of Abraham, which means that most readers of the passage, Christians as well as many Jews, have seen it as a covenant with all mankind in Noah. This wasn’t only a precursor to the Mosaic commands (e.g. Ex. 21:12), but a binding command for everyone. (Notice, both commands were given from God and yet violate the papal absolute that the death penalty is “wrong in all cases.”)

This conversation is often grounded in the issue of human dignity. Since people have inherent dignity, particularly as image bearers, it is wrong for the state to kill them. However, this is directly addressed in the verse under consideration. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.” It is the image of God in man that gives dignity to every individual. But the Scripture takes the victim’s side and says that God “requires” (v. 5) equal retribution when an image bearer’s life has been taken. You destroy the image of God by killing your neighbor, you too will be destroyed. We could talk all day about the validity of using life sentences as an alternative to capital punishment, but we must admit that these verses (Gen. 9:5–6) demand that the one who murders be executed.

One of those interviewed by the NYT who support the Pope’s decree is quoted saying, “If you don’t accept this, you are disobedient, as you would be if you didn’t accept other teachings. . . There is no margin for disagreement.” What’s sad is that the Roman Church is, once again, calling its people to choose between obedience to God or man, and man in this case is the Roman Catholic Church.

242 Words of American Concern

Yesterday I shared some thanks for being American, while today I would like to express concerns.

Murder

Forty-five years ago, America legalized the murder of children. This, mixed with the current push for euthanasia in other spheres is a deplorable stain upon the American landscape.

Marriage

Divorce is normal, adultery is acceptable, pornography is promoted, and homosexual unions are legitimized. If the basic societal unit is the family (and it is), we have done everything we can on this and the previous point to destroy our society.

Money

While I think that capitalism is the appropriate economic position, we often promote it in terminology that advocates greed and devalues charity. Work to eat and to give freely.

Men and Women

Men have been villainized to such a point that it is almost morally reprehensible for a man to actually lead in any capacity. Women have been so objectified that the best way to sell clothes and food and any other product is to display a woman naked or nearly so. Rape, verbal/emotional and physical abuse, and sex slavery are rampant.

Meditation

We have almost completely devalued the contemplative life. We are materialists and pragmatics. When’s the last time you sat and thought? If we are a people built on ideas (and we are!), then what are we to make of the fact that our culture is run by the unthinking? Even our view of “meditation” is not about thought.

God help us.

242 Words of American Thanks

Today is the 242nd birthday of the United States of America, and I thought it might be good to share 242 words on why I am thankful to be an American.

Ideas

The USA was founded on the concept of concepts, the idea of ideas. We have voluntarily bound ourselves together around a set of values and thoughts rather than ethnic identity. Though much of our history has been “Euro-centric,” advancing under the leadership of those of European descent, we are neither bound to Europe nor void of voices from the rest of the world. We are idea-driven and value-focused. Our debates are over what it means to be American and how best to implement and strive for ideals. Such topics demonstrate our focus on ideas as the centerpiece of our republic.

Freedom

Closely tied to the centrality of ideas is the emphasis on freedom. Our nation was established upon the notion that the closer one gets to the hight of political power, the less freedom is afforded. An individual is free to make their own decisions based on held beliefs and desired goals, a state is more constrained in the decisions they can implement, and the federal government is more constrained still. This means the freest individuals in our society are the citizenry.

Christianity

America was greatly influenced by Protestant, Evangelical Christianity well into the twentieth century. The result has been a shared set of ideals that are only now being challenged.


Tomorrow I would like to share some of the concerns I have for America and her future.