UnChristian Lit?

I originally posted this on Oct 10, but am moving it to the top today for the benefit of La Shawn Barber's readers who may be visiting for the first time. Welcome!
And for those of you who haven't seen it and are interested, check out her column on the Harry Potter series at Townhall.com

La Shawn Barber had a lively discussion going earlier in the day about what makes literature Christian. La Shawn specifically mentioned Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia (which I've read) and Rowlings's Harry Potter books (which I'm reading). The problems some people might have with these, are the use of magic and sorcery in the books. Sorcery is clearly proscribed in the bible.

The biblical references I've found for magic or sorcery mainly make a point of God's anger at people who practice it. I see in sorcery an attempt to accrue power or esteem for oneself, separate from God. This isn't far removed from the original sin, a desire to supplant God's rule with our own. But does that mean that the protagonists use of magic in a fantasy story makes the story incompatible with Christianity, or even unChristian?

I ask it that way because many things may be compatible with Christianity without actually being Christian. For example, Bill Bennett's Moral Compass and Book of Virtues are compatible with Christianity, but not specifically Christian (nor unChristian).

So there's a spectrum of possibilities here. I would suggest that works of literature (or art) can be Christian, compatible with Christianity, neutral, or unChristian. How do we identify where a work falls in the spectrum? The first question I would ask is whether the author professes to be a Christian. The answer to this question by no means determines the nature of the work, but it can certainly inform our decision. I would expect that for a work to be called Christian, its author must profess to be saved. This seems like a necessary condition, but is not sufficient to call the work Christian.

Does the author intend the work to be Christian in nature, or only to appeal to a Christian worldview? I assume here that a work which does not appeal to people's faith can be only neutral at best.

The answers to those questions can be found by reading little more than a review of a book. Beyond this, it becomes very much a judgement call on the part of the reader. Just as there are Christians who disagree over the meaning of specific portions of biblical text, it is up to the individual Christian to prayerfully consider for himself whether the material he reads is informed by and in agreement with God's Word.

For my part, if you want to know, I've made the following categorizations in the context of this post:
  • Star Wars series (movies, but the classification holds): neutral (God as an No God, but a powerful, everpresent "Force" which can be manipulated by individuals who are sensitive...)
  • Dr. Bennett's anthologies (Book of Virtues, The Moral Compass): compatible with Christianity (some of the stories are specifically biblical, others are drawn from other traditions or from true accounts of individuals)
  • Tolkein's Lord of the Rings: compatible with Christianity: compatible with Christianity (Tolkein was specifically opposed to using the fiction as allegory, but there is clear moral value in the tales, with definite right and wrong)
  • Rowling's Harry Potter series: I would also classify as compatible with Christianity, for the same reason I would classify Tolkein's work as such
  • Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia: I would classify as Christian lit
Are there inconsistencies? Maybe. Change my mind.

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Well now that's done.

Harriet Miers has been withdrawn as nominee for the SC. Rightly so.

Looks like Charles Krauthammer was right. Powerline has the scoop, and Captain Ed has commentary.

Previously blogged here: here. Tags: ,


Porkbusting, V

As I wrote a week ago, I've written to all of my representatives in Congress regarding the need for fiscal responsibility in our nation's capital. Last week I got a response from Senator DeWine. Today I received a reply from my congresswoman, Marcy Kaptur (D, OH-9).

Anyone want to guess what form that reply took? Well, it came by snail mail, and it was neatly typed on her Congressional letterhead (which we paid for). If her correspondence had been intended to score style points, she would have won big. Since my interest was in fiscal responsibility, an e-mailed response would have been fine.

Fine, that is, if it had actually responded to the content of my remarks. From her first paragraph:

...The suggestions that I have received from my constituents are very valuable, and I am passing them on to the proper authorities.
As her letterhead so proudly proclaims, she sits on the House Appropriations Committee. If she isn't the proper authority, then who the heck is?

The second paragraph is mainly informative, on the appropriations bills already passed to provide assistance to victims of Katrina, along with a suggestion to check back at her website for more information on how to help those affected.

The third and fourth paragraph, though, are where she truly shines. They take up more than half the letter, and cover two main topics:
  • mishandling of the disaster response by DHS and FEMA
  • "unwarranted" higher energy prices, which she believes merit an investigation by the Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission
Never mind the content of those two items. She's right about the first one, the disaster was managed poorly by FEMA (which is part of DHS). Congress has the oversight responsibility to see that those mistakes are avoided in the future. Replacing the FEMA director was part of that. It came off as a big attempt to blame the administration in response to an e-mail (from me) which wasn't asking for any blame.

On the second item, energy prices, I disagree vehemently with her position but am not a whit surprised at the content of her statement - only the context. I didn't ask about gas prices or FEMA. I asked what she would propose we do to cut unnecessary spending to offset the costs of recovery in the South. From her completely off-topic response, it's clear to me her office didn't even bother to read my e-mail. Perhaps she thought I'd be so happy to get official congressional stationary that I wouldn't notice that her letter was filled with self-righteous finger-pointing instead of an honest interest in her constituent's input.

That's what you get when the same person has been in office for 20+ years and hasn't ever faced a challenger who could come within 30 points of her.

Update 10/31: I support the Fiscal Watch Team Offset Package. link


How much is your blog worth?

My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?

Sound like a lot? Maybe if this is the only blog you read.
The top blogs on the TTLB ecosystem are:

Hat tip to La Shawn Barber, whose site is worth a cool million!


Porkbusting, IV

So it has now been roughly four weeks since I contacted both Sen. DeWine, Sen. Voinovich, and Congresswoman Kaptur regarding the need for fiscal responsibility. I got an automatic response back from DeWine within about two days, saying he appreciated my input and that he'd like some time to look into my questions before responding.

Late this afternoon I received an e-mail back from his office which was cordial but didn't really answer the specific points I addressed. I had mentioned specific pork in my district, and asked:

If you do not agree that these programs are less important than either our obligation to those affected by Hurricane Katrina OR our budget deficit, then perhaps you could suggest another program which could be delayed or cancelled to help accommodate relief and rebuilding efforts.

In our church, we have no obligation to pass a balanced budget for the year (though we try). We also have no legal obligation to spend less than we receive in offering in a given year. However, when we see that there will be a shortfall, in our church as in our homes, we delay spending on items which are not necessary. It is frustrating beyond words that a majority of our elected representatives can not agree to do the same. Please consider what action you would be willing to take to reduce the looming increase in the deficit.

I don't know what is more frustrating: that in thirty days only one of my representatives has bothered to respond at all, or that it took him thirty days to completely avoid answering the question. The text of the response he sent is reprinted below in total (emphasis is mine):
Thank you for contacting me regarding your concerns with the costs of the relief efforts in the Gulf states following Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. I appreciate knowing your views on this issue.

As you know, the combined force of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in one of the largest national disasters in our Nation. I am committed to providing the full amount necessary for a comprehensive recovery effort that meets the short- and long-term needs of the Gulf region and its residents. I agree that as stewards of your taxpayer dollars, Congress must take steps to manage relief funding efforts in a fiscally responsible manner. I also feel that it is important that we have a team of inspectors general to evaluate all funding provided for the relief effort to make sure that the money is spent wisely and efficiently.

In addition, I am extremely proud of the National Guard troops, government workers, Red Cross volunteers, and citizens who have generously provided their assistance in the rescue and recovery efforts. I commend their efforts and keep all of the victims and their families in my thoughts and prayers.

Again, thank you for contacting me. If you have any additional questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me anytime.

The thing is while he believes "Congress must takes steps to manage relief funding efforts in a fiscally responsible manner", he didn't say what sort of steps he would endorse. He said only that there should be a watchdog group "to make sure that the money is spent wisely and efficiently". Only an idiot would disagree with that. The man took 30 days to completely ignore the specifics of my request. Why would I expect anything better?

Update: To give DeWine the benefit of the doubt, he did vote in favor of Sen. Coburn's Amendment No. 2165 to kill the bridge.
  • Jon Henke writes that one problem with our system is that it rewards tax cuts and spending.

  • John Hinderaker covers the defeat (82-15) of Senator Coburn's attempt to kill the Bridge to Nowhere (Ketchikan, Alaska).
My other posts on this topic are here, here, and here.



Unwelcome news

Our phone rang one night last week while we were cleaning up after dinner. My wife answered the phone and took it outside so she could hear over the kids. She was out for a while, and when she came back in the house, I heard her tear-choked voice calling me.

For most of us, the sudden death of a small child is only a fever dream from which we wake in the early hours of the morning. For one family in our town, though, it's now an unwelcome fact of their life. The call was from the director of our 3-year-old daughter's preschool. A classmate of YD's had died suddenly while under anesthesia for a tonsillectomy, as we were told later. The boy was four years old, and one of only eight in the class. The teachers had known him from the previous year's class as well, so you can imagine how close they were to him. Our daughter is young enough that his absence is not much more significant than if he had moved away, but we have talked to her about her classmate being with God now.

The circumstances of this child's death were part of an ordinary occurence, a very unusual result but a known risk nonetheless. Of our four children, both sons have undergone general anesthesia: one for a hernia operation, and one for tubes in his ears. My wife and I have each had occasion to be put under. The medical staff have always dutifully mentioned the risks, but this is a risk we've always been able to ignore. Four times in eight years one of us has been unconscious on an operating table, and not once have we seriously considered the dangers. It's safe to say we won't be so cavalier the next time one of us goes in for a routine procedure.

In the meantime, tell your loved ones that they are loved.


Now with more Feedster

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster


What's in it for the maverick?

Ramesh Ponnuru notes on the Corner, that John McCain has endorsed Ken Blackwell for Ohio governor in 2006. Blackwell's site mentions a list of other politicos who've also endorsed him, including Zell Miller and Steve Forbes.

Blackwell was instrumental in Bush's campaign here in the Buckeye State, and it's a sure bet McCain is looking to secure his support for 2008.



Template change

My wife (my most faithful reader) said the black template looked like early 90's internet. So I've updated a little. Please let me know if this is any easier or harder to read.

Through no effort of my own...

Update, 8pm: easy come, easy go.

I've been promoted to Crawly Amphibian, and have jumped some 6,000 places in the rankings. In fact, this is despite going over a week between posts. N.Z. Bear must be purging the rolls.


Where do they get this stuff?

OS said to YD this evening, for no particular reason,

Are you ready for the pain?
The boy is not yet six. Apparently heard from someone in his kindergarten class.

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Lots of chatter on the usual sites right now about how poor of a choice Harriet Miers is for the O'Connor seat on the Supreme Court. My reading preferences skew to the right, so the complaints I've seen mainly fall into two categories: that the president is letting down his base my nominating someone without solid conservative credentials, or that the president is resorting to cronyism.

The first complaint is only partly true. This president has been solidly supported by a social conservative base through two elections. He's had the support of fiscal conservatives as well, but it's been a long time since he's had any credibility on that score. The MSM has derided him for tax cuts, and the fiscal conservatives among us have grudgingly accepted the big government proposals (like Medicare prescription drug benefits) because they tended to be accompanied by (hollow) promises of Social Security reform.

Though he's been supported by the conservative base, it hasn't been because he's been a small-government conservative. He hasn't been about making government smaller or more responsible. He hasn't needed to be. The only thing he needed to do was be more conservative than Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004. Not a difficult task. And after 9/11, the people who were hawkish on the war on terror tended to be people who are more socially and fiscally conservative. So by projecting a stronger image on Iraq, the president was able to secure the enduring benefit of the doubt from conservatives. Enduring, but not without end: there are a number of things we've learned to dislike about this administration, such as the nonexistent priority level of border security, the aforementioned complete and total abandonment of Social Security reform, and the lack of will to use the veto.

As to the cronyism charge, that has two different sources that I see. From the Left, they're searching for a new way to undercut the nominee. Their last attempt (complain that he didn't have enough of a public record to ensure he was "qualified") failed miserably, in that it resulted in John G. Roberts being sworn in as Chief Justice, and a number of senior senators looking like the partisan hacks they are - and amateurs to boot. So they've decided instead to take a different tack. This time, rather than bemoan the nominee's limited public record (in this case no judicial experience), they have chosen to attack the president by suggesting that the choice is inappropriate since he has a history of working with the nominee.

At the same time, the right-leaning pundit community is also crying cronyism. This President has a well-known preference for appointing people he feels comfortable with. He has the right and the responsibility to do that (and we all have the right to wish he'd picked someone else).

That said, maybe the guys who looked so incompetent during Roberts's hearing were right about one thing, with regard to the wrong nominee: we don't know enough about this person.

As of today, there's a roundup of the latest at Blogometer

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