Your Smartphone or Your Life

Everyone: please be safe on the road. Whatever you need to read or look at on a phone can wait. It’s not worth dying for.
 
A few things I’ve seen in the last 24 hours:
 
A young man riding a bike and reading a piece of paper, with no hands on the handlebars. He was so focused on the paper that he wasn’t looking at the road at all, ran a stop sign, and turned directly into oncoming traffic, where he nearly got hit by a car. He never looked up, even when the car swerved around him, but just kept riding down the wrong side of the road.
 
A guy driving a car, using both hands to hold a book instead of the wheel, and looking down at the book in his lap, all while driving at full speed down one of the busiest streets in Houston during rush hour.
 
Multiple people running stop signs in my neighborhood at full speed, while all around children were walking to and from school.
 
A lady driving down one of those same neighborhood streets, holding her phone directly in front of her face… with small children in the back seat.
 
A story about a young lady who tried to “go live” on a streaming video service while driving. It cost her life and the lives of everyone else in her car.
 
Please drive when you’re driving. Read, text, tweet, “go live,” or play games later. Whatever else is going on in your life, it’s not so important that you need to jeopardize your life or the lives of your children and neighbors.

Musings on History

Never assume that a logical connection exists between some instance of what is and some ideal of what could be. Some things cannot be redeemed, but are best destroyed or simply left alone. Indeed, many of history’s saddest chapters began with efforts to turn a present but dying evil into a lively engine for good.

Frist Supports Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), M.D., today announced that he supports a bill currently before the Senate, which would allow federal funds to be used in the destruction of embryos in order to extract stem cells.

I’m not going to dive into the merits of embryonic stem cell research, itself; as I’ve said before, embryonic stem cells are not even necessarily the most promising stem cells, in terms of potential therapeutic value. Numerous treatments have been developed – some with remarkable results – using non-embryonic stem cells, and there is little evidence that embryonic stem cells would be easier to use in therapies, without raising new problems (rejection, etc.).

Continue reading “Frist Supports Embryonic Stem Cell Research”

School Board Offers Theological Defense of Homosexuality, Gets Taken to Task

In case you haven’t heard, the Montgomery County (Maryland) Public Schools tried to implement a sex education curriculum that endorses homosexuality as a normal and amoral (not “immoral,” “amoral”) lifestyle choice. Whether or not one agrees with that proposal, the fact is that the school system gets its facts wrong and makes theological arguments – including making statements about the proper interpretation of the Bible and other religious texts and endorsing specific religious groups over others – in the proposed course materials. Eugene Volokh does a good job explaining the problems.

You can view the court ruling against the school system here.

UPDATE: I should note that the question of whether or not the school system can implement this curriculum is still open; the ruling above is only on granting a restraining order.

Terri Schiavo: What Her Story Means to the Rest of Us

I’ve posted before on the Terri Schiavo story; while I did not want to jump on the news of her death in the early hours, there are some things that need to be said.

First of all, I think everyone who is even aware of who Terri Schiavo was would agree that what happened to her and her family is terribly sad. I think everybody also agrees that no individual would want his or her fate to play out the way Terri’s did – in the courts, litigated by dueling members of one’s own family.

What was never entirely clear in this case was what Terri herself would have wanted. The primary (essentially, the only) evidence that she would not have wanted to live in her post-collapse condition (what that was we will deal with momentarily) was the testimony of Michael Schiavo. Unfortunately, even Judge George Greer (the primary judge in all the Schiavo hearings) recognized that it was highly unlikely Michael’s interests were not at odds with Terri’s. Don’t forget, when thinking about this case, that Terri Schiavo’s condition was not terminal. That is, the patient in question was not somebody suffering horribly from a terminal illness, or even somebody who required life support (artificial circulation or respiration, provided by machines). She simply required feeding through a tube, as she was not able to swallow. The decision to remove her feeding tube was not a decision to “let her die,” but a conscious choice to kill her, just as surely as a parent who denies food to a baby would be guilty of murder.

What I think should be abundantly clear in this case is that nobody would choose to die of starvation. All of the nonsense spoken by Michael Schiavo and his attorney, George Felos, aside, death by starvation is horrific, both for the one who experiences it and for any who observe it. The medical symptoms have all been listed in various places ad nauseum, so I will not repeat them; suffice it to say that the death Terri died was one of the most horrible, painful, and gruesome deaths possible. I’m not sure why death by starvation and dehydration is even a legal option for ending someone’s life, anyway, regardless of the diagnosed condition. (I do realize that the body rejects nourishment in the end stages of some terminal illnesses; this was not one of those cases.)

One of the points that has been in contention is whether or not Terri could feel pain at the end. The two competing diagnoses for Terri’s condition were “persistent vegetative state” and “minimally conscious” – in the former, she would not be able to feel pain, while in the latter, she would. At the end, though, there were doctors standing by to administer morphine and other painkillers, in case Terri felt pain. In other words, the medical authorities were prepared to continue depriving Terri Schiavo of food, thereby killing her, even if and when evidence arose that cast serious doubt on the diagnosis of her condition.

Think about that.

Whatever one thinks about the actions and inactions by the Florida legislature, the U.S. Congress, Jeb Bush, George W. Bush, and others, what happened in the last few weeks should give us all pause. Our courts ordered a woman who could have maintained a pain-free life for many years to be systematically starved, rather than letting her live out her life, which may or may not have included some enjoyment and certainly included less suffering that her death. Meanwhile, our executive officials stood by, wringing their hands. Remember, the judiciary has no power to actually enforce its rulings; that is the responsibility of the executive branch (all police forces and law enforcement officers report to the executive branch, not to a judge), yet the chief executives of a state and of the nation let the judiciary claim absolute power in this case.

I worry about our nation. The moral and legal distances are surprisingly small between starving a severely brain-damaged woman and doing the same to a baby with Down’s Syndrome, from there to eliminating the terminally ill, from there to eliminating all those who don’t fit a given societal ideal, and from there to a Final Solution for all these problems. How many Poles foresaw Auschwitz in 1933? Not enough, to be sure. I hope our generation pays attention to the signs of our times, lest we fall victims to our own “progress.”

Nationalized murder

Our nation is in the process of becoming a nation of accomplices. After a series of sham trials, in which only one side of the evidence has been permitted by the courts, a woman who is clearly not brain dead, legally or by simple observation, is about to die a torturous death by judicial fiat. The money awarded to Michael Schiavo was more than enough to sustain her life and provide for the treatments she has never received, before he and his lawyers squandered it. So, why the rush to pull the plug? Money, the evil will of a cheating husband, and the disdain held by the left for the sanctity of human life. The fact that there is even a possibility that Terri Schiavo, a living, breathing, and ailing human being, will be deliberately, slowly, and cruelly starved to death makes me ashamed to be a member of the human race. May God have mercy on all our souls.

Our great arrogance, Gene Robinson, DTS plans, and more

I believe a large – maybe even the greatest – part of our problems, as humans, stems from pride. We, because of the great things – in our little scale – that we can accomplish, convince ourselves that we can do anything. For example, we convinced ourselves (in the 1800’s) that we have the power to remake Earth in our own designs. Never mind that no one has ever rerouted a hurricane or either halted or deliberately created a tornado (or tsunami, or volcanic eruption, or major earthquake…). Eventually, we’ll get there, right? It’s just a question of the technology.

Sure. Meanwhile, millions of rocks the size of our own planet hurtle through space, most of them unbound by such trifles as orbits. Dozens of objects each year, ranging from the size of television sets to studio apartments, enter our atmosphere, but we have no plans capable of dealing with rocks bigger than my house. “It’s just a matter of time,” we say.

This requires some convenient fictions. One such fiction is that we are even capable of controlling our own current powers, much less hypothetical future powers. All of our jerry-rigged, lowest-bidder-built, Cold War systems are still functional enough to set us back by thousands of years, not in an all-out global war, but in a computer glitch. All those codes the President has in the “football” briefcase? Those are for humans, not computers. The right power surge, at the right time, or any two klutzes with keys during a drill, could accidentally start World War III. Remember, most of our missile technology was put together in the forties through sixties.

Enter the Episcopal Church, the American branch of the Worldwide Anglican Communion, or Church of England. If you’ve been living in a cave, the church, today, approved its first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson. The final vote had to be delayed for twenty-four hours, due to (unfounded) reports of Robinson’s involvement with a pornographic gay website and “inappropriate behavior” towards other men. Now, the way I saw this, “inappropriate behavior,” as laid out in Romans 1, was the whole problem here, to start with. Taking into consideration that (a) homosexuality destroys lives physically and emotionally – I’ve seen this happen – (b) homosexuality seems wrong to most folks, intuitively, because it is not, has never been, and will never be natural (even evolutionists can’t explain an advantage to this), (c) an overwhelming majority (well into the nineties, in percentage terms) of gay men were either abused by men as children or raised themselves by a gay parent, etc, we are left with two choices. Choice #1: this is wrong, and we need to straighten up, or choice #2: God doesn’t care, because it feels good, and God wants good for His children, because He is love, etc, ad absurdum.

This god – not the God, but a man-made god – not only sets no standards of behavior, making himself unworthy of worship, and sets no consequences for disobedience, making him unjust, but he even lies to us! If we believe that Robinson’s daughter’s testimony that he is “a good father and a good man” makes a bit of difference in whether or not he actually meets the moral qualifications for the job of bishop, then we believe that this “god” has lied to us in the Bible. See, it’s nice to know that somebody loves his or her family (despite the fact that Robinson also divorced his wife to live as a gay man), but that’s not a moral qualification, but a social one. Morals don’t change; morals don’t depend on surroundings; morals don’t depend on what “else” you’ve done. Morality depends on a constant source, which is the true God.

It is our pride that lets us think otherwise. “This feels/seems so nice, I can’t believe it’s wrong!” “This is what will make me happy, so I can’t accept that God wants me to do otherwise.”

God loves you, very deeply, which is why He wants the best for you. Lots of things are fun, but many of them are deeply harmful to our well-being, physically and spiritually. Just as our parents on earth set boundaries for us for our safety and training, so God sets boundaries. We are not, as we like to think, capable of understanding 100% of His reasoning, so we should not, as adults, presume to change His rules and think we know better than He – who has been here longer than any of us and even knows the outcomes of our every choice!

I hope somebody reading this will realize it’s not a rant; it’s a plea. If you don’t know how a God who loves us can set boundaries for and not on us, read this.

Meanwhile, I’m sad to say I will not be starting classes, this fall, at Dallas Theological Seminary. I just can’t afford it, yet. So, I’ll have to wait for God to provide those funds, and keep working on my business (which, by the way, is doing wonderfully, this week!).

The Federal Marriage Amendment

Unless you’re living in a cave, you probably have heard about the recent Supreme Court overthrow of anti-sodomy laws in 13 states. You’ve probably also heard that this is “Gay Pride” weekend (or simply “Pride” weekend, since “gay” is apparently insensitive to the “transgendered” and all sorts of other folks).

We have a problem here.

Various groups are trying to undermine the most basic of all social institutions: marriage. The God-ordained institution of marriage is under attack in courts across the nation, and your help is needed to save it before the one man-one woman definition of marriage is completely and radically redefined. Homosexual marriage will soon be a reality if you fail to get involved! Go to www.nogaymarriage.com and sign the petition supporting a federal marriage amendment.