Monday, March 23, 2009

New Creation

The Tree of Life, pictured on the right, is a sculpture made entirely of decommissioned weapons. It is on display in the British Museum.

I first heard about the tree when I was listening to N. T. Wright's speech from InterVarsity's Following Christ Conference. Wright was talking, as he so often does, about Christians acting in ways that exhibit God's creative power in the world.

I finally got around to looking up the picture, and I was truly amazed. Both the title and the sculpture are ingenious. Rather than deny that evil exists or avoid thinking about it, the artists have redeemed wicked and ugly things by making them into something beautiful.

I can't think of a more beautiful image of what human striving is all about. When we long passionately for justice, isn't our longing most fulfilled when that which is evil is stripped of its evil nature, and made into something new?

Without that hope, that one day all things will be renewed in this way, I honestly don't know what else would drive me. Words fail to describe how powerful this image is for me.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Washington and Lee on the Map

So I was excited to see that Justice Clarence Thomas spoke at my alma mater tonight. There's a nice little blurb about it at FoxNews. Ignore the faulty references to "William and Lee."

My girlfriend tells me Thomas has lots of connections with Washington & Lee. His son went to VMI (right next door) and married a girl from W&L. I don't have any citations on this, but this is a blog, not a journal article, so I don't feel bad putting that out there.

Anyway, I gotta say, that's a pretty top-notch speaker. Apparently Thomas doesn't normally accept invitations, but the girl (from W&L) who invited him had met him as a child!

You meet some important people at my alma mater.

Friday, March 13, 2009


Be Heard Project -Protect Pro-Life Doctors from beheard on Vimeo.

The fact that Barack Obama wants to rescind the so-called "conscience clause" implemented by George W. Bush demonstrates a truly astonishing thing about the abortion debate: the pro-choice side must not believe that pro-lifers are sincere.

Think about it. We have a "conscience clause" for pacifists. We have laws that allow them to abstain from combat. Pro-lifers don't believe in killing unborn humans. Why shouldn't we have laws allowing pro-life doctors and nurses not to participate in abortion?

Sadly, I think this is happening because pro-choicers feed themselves this lie that pro-life beliefs are just based on a patriarchal mindset coming from religious dogma, and that pro-lifers just want to "punish women." I say this because I have heard these very words spoken by some of my pro-choice friends. I have even heard a professor (at my alma mater, no less) compare pro-lifers to holocaust deniers and state, "We don't have to tolerate the intolerant."

Please, America, do not buy into this nonsense. Even if our country insists on keeping abortion legal, at least be charitable enough to assume that pro-lifers really can't in good conscience participate in abortions, because we believe it's killing innocent children. These beliefs are based on a critical evaluation of scientific evidence, as well as philosophical considerations.

Many people believe abortion is good for women. Many people also believe it's right to fight for your country. Yet we don't force people to fight, because we know that when there is moral ambiguity, it is right for a person to defer to his or her conscience. So should it be with abortion.

So even if you love Barack Obama, please oppose his overturning of the conscience clause for doctors and physicians. Sign the petition now.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Raise Your Hand

There has been much debate in the pro-life movement about how and when to use graphic images to make a point. This is a step forward, I think, in that it shows very simply what we are talking about, without being especially gruesome. Good work, Priests for Life.

It is sad to see comments on YouTube, like this one from "suspect809c":
"hahah the hand isnt really from an aborted child"
Abortion will always continue needlessly as long as people pretend it's not real.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Not an Opiate, but...

Today I found so much interesting material to blog about that I just had to make a second post! A recent study shows that those who are religious may have "a more optimal level of anxiety." In particular, they are not as likely to beat themselves up over mistakes.

Personally, I tend to be very hard on myself for making mistakes, and it's almost surprising for me to read this study. Maybe my personality is such that without religion, I'd be going completely off the deep end!

It also may surprise others, who believe that religion actually creates guilt. In reality, however, everyone already knows they aren't perfect, even by their own standards. To look at all the world religions throughout history, it would appear that a nearly universal human desire is atonement, the ability to blot out guilt.

Christianity, perhaps more than other modern religions, puts a heavy emphasis on atonement, and teaches that the source of atonement is absolutely reliable. I wonder what would happen if this study were repeated with distinctions made between religions. Do Christians tend to forgive themselves more easily, when the Christian teaching on atonement is internalized?

The authors of the study made it clear that "Whether God is real or not is irrelevant to this study." But if you turn it around, the results of this study do seem relevant to whether God is real or not. Might this not constitute empirical evidence of spiritual transformation? Maybe it's kind of a lame bit of evidence, but it's something.

I really do think things like this constitute evidence for God's existence. It's not as simple as saying that if believing in X makes your life better, then X must exist. But God is supposed to be the foundation of all reality, not simply another object that exists in this universe. Just as in mathematics we start with foundational axioms chosen kind of on the basis of their logical results, so it also seems logical to check the existence of God against its logical conclusions.

If God exists, then yes, you do matter, and you are loved, more than you can realize in the short run--even when things go wrong. That's a pretty good way to approach life.

The Complicated Bible

So this guy named David Plotz from Slate has been blogging about the Bible (actually just the Old Testament) and has compiled his thoughts into a book. Here's a video explaining how he got started:

I think this is a really wonderful idea in a lot of ways. Instead of dismissing the Bible for the stories that are so difficult, Plotz appreciates it (although this hasn't led him to believe in God).

Christianity Today did an interview with Plotz, which you can read here. He makes a couple of great points. For one, it really does no justice to the Bible to treat it as a bunch of moral maxims. An even better point, in my opinion, was this one:
"The joy and the richness of the Book come from fighting with it, and we should look at people like Abraham, Gideon, Job, and Jonah. Their questioning, difficulty, contentiousness, and argumentation are the moments that should inspire."
Personally, I have found the Bible far more rewarding as I struggle with it, rather than treat it with a false reverence that comes more from cultural conditioning than from taking the Bible seriously.

I'm seriously considering buying Plotz's book, just to see what kind of "irreverent" comments he has to make.