Archive for March, 2011

Green Cynicism

President Obama gave a speech on energy policy yesterday at Georgetown University. Unless you live in a hole somewhere, you know that he is really keen on green energy. His attitude toward changing how the nation powers itself was clearly stated back in 2008 in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. His words:

Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket … even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad, because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, natural gas … you name it. … Whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, they would have to retro-fit their operations. That will cost money. … They will pass that money on to the consumers.

So, you can see his plan from the start.

In his latest speech, he emphasized the following:

  • Putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2025
  • “Investing” [read: government subsidies] in advanced vehicles, fuel technologies, high speed rail [even if it will be a drag on taxpayers], and public transit
  • Generating 80% of U.S. electricity from clean energy sources by 2035, including wind, solar, hydro power, nuclear power, natural gas, and clean coal [good luck on most of those]

The so-called green approach is highly expensive, which is the first strike against it. The second problem, from my perspective, is that it is being directed by government coercion. Is this simply the new path of the old Marxism?

By the way, stock up on those old incandescent light bulbs—they’re going to be banned next year in favor of the mercury-filled ones that are a bio-hazard waiting to happen.

Is any of this really viable?

I’ll stop just short of being that cynical, but I’m pretty cynical on this issue nonetheless.

Evil and Good, Darkness and Light

Today I want to take a break from a specific current event, from cartoons, from book reviews, from links to other articles. Instead, I want to share a few thoughts from what I read in the Bible the other day. Going through the book of Isaiah, I came across a passage I’ve noted before, but one that deserves greater attention. It’s found in chapter five:

Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, and sin as if with cart ropes; …

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;

Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;

Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight!

It seems as if we are surrounded by those who have turned everything upside down. What used to be considered evil [abortion; homosexuality] is now considered a “good” for society. We walk in spiritual and moral darkness and proclaim that it is “light.” We’re more intelligent than those who came before us, you see. They weren’t as sophisticated as we are. They actually believed there were eternal laws and God-given concepts of right and wrong.

We’ve come so far.

This attitude also reminds me of a passage in the book of Romans, chapter one, where the apostle Paul speaks of those who practice such things as homosexuality, envy, murder, greed, strife, deceit, and malice. He remarks that gossip, slander, insolence, arrogance, and mercilessness abound. Further, he instructs,

And although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.

These two passages fit together nicely, Old and New Testament confirming the continuity of the message. And as it was in ancient Israel and in the Roman Empire of New Testament times, so it is today.

Jesus solidified this principle in His talk with Nicodemus when He told him,

This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.

For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.

Men still hate the Light—otherwise known as Jesus the Messiah—because the light He shines on them exposes their evil.

“Religion is okay, but don’t get too specific about this Jesus fellow, and don’t tell me I have to submit my life to Him. I want to do what I want to do.”

That attitude is the essence of sin—a self-centeredness that rejects the Lordship of the rightful Lord.

The book of James gets to the bottom line:

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel.

You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.

Too much of modern Christianity avoids tough language like this. We don’t speak enough about sin, repentance, and the kind of life God expects us to lead when we say we give our hearts to Him. There’s a gap between what we say and what we do as the “church” of the living God.

That gap needs to go away. We need to be what we say we are.

That was just on my mind today. Yes, I know it came across as a sermon. I would apologize, but I don’t think God wants me to. We need to take Him more seriously.

Into the Twilight Zone

Last night, President Obama gave his apologetic for why we are acting against Libya. I’ve said all along I don’t like Qaddafi. Hardly anyone does. When Condi Rice spoke at Southeastern a couple weeks ago, she related what is was like to spend three hours with the man. Her conclusion? He is a madman.

So there’s really no debate on that point. As many have indicated, the real issue is what will follow after him, if he in fact does go. Reports are surfacing that many of those rebels came from the battlefields of Iraq, where they fought against American troops. Now we’re helping them?

Have we crossed the border into the Twilight Zone after all?

As bad as Qaddafi is, will a new government run by jihadists be an improvement—the same people who want to destroy the Great Satan, a.k.a., the United States?

The same question was raised during the Egyptian revolution earlier. That question is even more valid today. A report in the New York Times [of all places], reveals that the Muslim Brotherhood is coming to the forefront of that revolution, and that the moderate elements who thought they were in control are being pushed to the background. For more on that, go to this site.

Bottom line: things are coming to a head in that region and we are not in control, despite any assurances offered by the administration.

We aren’t the only losers in this scenario. One nation in the area, Israel, is more threatened than ever by these developments. There’s a Biblical admonition that is appropriate for our times: pray for the peace of Israel.

The Transatlantic Divide

This is another installment of my ongoing series on Mark Steyn’s book America Alone. Previous posts have highlighted the problems facing Western society, particularly in Europe, with respect to the possible takeover of that society by radical Islam. Chapter 7 of his book is called “The Four Horsemen of the Eupocalypse: Eutopia vs. Eurabia.”

Steyn already has pointed to the demographic demise of Western Europe and how the loss of Christian faith has led to a spiritual vacuum in those nations—a vacuum being filled by Islamism. He’s also shown how many Europeans kowtow to Islamic pressures by appeasing Islam, even to the point of dressing as a Muslim to avoid trouble.

In this new chapter, he comments on the growing split between Europe and America. Keep in mind he wrote this while Bush was president, but it’s pretty prophetic when he states, “The transatlantic ‘split’ has nothing to do with disagreements over Iraq, and can’t be repaired by a more Europhile president in Washington: you can’t ‘mend bridges’ when the opposite bank is sinking into the river.”

As I said, how prophetic. We now have that “more Europhile president” who promised to mend those bridges he declared had been destroyed by Bush, yet what do we see? He is held in contempt, not only by European “allies,” but by the Muslim world he sought to placate. His influence is next to nothing.

Steyn continues with more distinctions between America and Europe:

Europeans work fewer hours than Americans, they don’t have to pay for their own health care, they don’t go to church and they don’t contribute to other civic groups, they don’t marry and they don’t have kids to take to school and basketball and the 4-H stand at the county fair.

So what do they do with all the time?

Europe, in fact, is a society devoted to leisure, all the while denigrating American capitalism. Slow down, the European mindset counsels, and do what you inner child tells you to do.

“When life becomes an extended picnic, with nothing of importance to do,” writes Charles Murray in In Our Hands, “ideas of greatness become an irritant. Such is the nature of the Europe syndrome.” The Continent has embraced a spiritual death long before the demographic one. In those seventeen European countries that have fallen into “lowest-low fertility,” where are the children? In a way, you’re looking at them: the guy sipping espresso at a sidewalk café listening to his iPod, the eternal adolescent charges of the paternalistic state. The government makes the grown-up decisions and we spend our pocket money on our record collection.

These wealthy societies, Steyn sadly concludes, “expect to have total choice over their satellite TV packages, yet think it perfectly normal to allow the state to make all the choices in respect of their health care.” He calls this “a curious inversion of citizenship” when people demand total control over “peripheral leisure activities” yet contract out to the state the big items like health care. His final quip is direct:

It’s hard to come up with a wake-up call for a society as dedicated as latter-day Europe to the belief that life is about sleeping in.

I’m not done with this chapter. More later.

Isaiah 2:5-11

A message to ancient Israel that applies to our nation as well:

Come, house of Jacob, and let us walk in the light of the Lord. For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, because they are filled with influences from the east, and they are soothsayers like the Philistines, and they strike bargains with the children of foreigners.

Their land has also been filled with silver and gold and there is no end to their treasures. Their land has also been filled with horses and there is no end to their chariots. Their land has also been filled with idols; they worship the work of their hands, that which their fingers have made.

So the common man has been humbled and the man of importance has been abased, but do not forgive them. Enter the rock and hide in the dust from the terror of the Lord and from the splendor of His majesty.

The proud look of man will be abased and the loftiness of man will be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.

Ample Proof

I’ve had kind of a long week. How about some political cartoons to carry us through the weekend? Less commentary from me, more from those who illustrate some of the absurdities of everyday political life.

Libya, of course, tops the list:

We don’t want to forget developments in other countries that have gone largely unnoticed lately, such as in Venezuela:

Chavez is also the guy who recently speculated that the reason there may not be life on Mars is because capitalism killed all life forms there. Kidding or just crazy? You make the call.

When President Obama went to Brazil, he encouraged them to drill for oil. Why is that okay for Brazil and not for the U.S.? I don’t want to believe conspiracy theories, but sometimes he really seems to want to undercut his own country for ideological reasons:

Meanwhile, back home, one thing still hasn’t changed:

I continue to view the problem this way:

It’s funny and sad at the same time. This is ample proof for me that our security, purpose, and joy are found in God, not government.

Pearls of Wisdom

Yesterday at Southeastern University was a good day.

My department brought in as a special speaker Dr. Marvin Olasky, editor-in-chief of World magazine, which serves as an excellent commentary on current events from a Biblical perspective. We kept Dr. Olasky quite busy.

In the morning, he delivered a message in chapel that focused on how to analyze issues through a Biblical lens, showing that there are gradations in how directly the Scriptures apply to various situations. Some are obvious—abortion, homosexuality—while others are more vague, such as whether we should establish a no-fly zone over Libya. Yet even in those areas where there is no direct Biblical command, principles based on the Bible can still guide us.

At a luncheon, he provided a unique interpretation of the parable of the prodigal son, pointing out that both sons in that parable were wrong—the prodigal for wasting his inheritance and the older son for working joylessly at his tasks and being resentful of the reunion with the prodigal. He said, in political terms, Democrats were more like the prodigal, departing more from a Biblical standard, but that Republicans often mirrored the older, joyless son, thereby alienating voters. What is needed, he suggested, is a third son—not prodigal but not stern and joyless either. He believes that this type of person, one who can enjoy life and have a sense of humor yet still operate on solid principles, is not only the best person to have in office, but also more likely to attract votes. As he spoke, I naturally thought of Ronald Reagan. He fit that description perfectly.

At a special faculty colloquium, Dr. Olasky tackled the knotty issue of social justice, basing his remarks on a passage of Scripture from Micah 6:8:

He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

He defined justice, mercy, and humility in the original Hebrew, which then opened into a discussion of the role of the church in providing God’s kind of justice and mercy, and showing how God’s goals are thwarted when government takes over this task.

Finally, in an evening session, he challenged students to discover joy in the life and work God has given them. Although we live in a fallen world where the “thorns and thistles” get in the way of joyful work, we can learn what we do best and carry out God’s purposes in our lives.

I felt like we were treated all day long to some real pearls of wisdom.

Yes, yesterday at Southeastern University was a good day.