Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Total Truth - Part 1 - What's In a Worldview?

For more information on this series, click here.

In Part 1 of her book Total Truth, author Nancy Pearcey examines what a worldview is and why it's important. Whether we realize it or not, we all adhere to some type of worldview. The question is whether the worldview we hold is consistent with what we profess to believe. For many Christians, their worldview is not consistent with Scripture because they have allowed cultural influences to define their worldview rather than allow their worldview to be fully transformed by the gospel. The question we must wrestle with is this: Is Christianity a collection of truths or is it the Truth?

Ms. Pearcey correctly diagnoses the problem: Christians (and particularly evangelicals) have done a good job of spreading the message of salvation of the gospel but have failed to explain how the Christian faith affects how we inerpret the world. In other words, evangelicals have failed to show how the Christian faith affects how we view things like politics, science, bioethics or economics. As a result, we have allowed religion to become a private matter rather than have it's proper influence on the culture at large.

One of the most obvious areas where this division is the issue of sacred versus secular. When I was in college and in a leadership position in our campus fellowship, I had the false impression that to truly be able to serve God I needed to be in ministry full time. In other words, I had to be in professional Christian ministry in order to be able to fully serve God. However, I had no specific calling to go into the ministry and as a result struggled for some time believing the lie that because I was engaged in secular work (i.e. not full time Christian ministry) I wasn't fully serving God. It wasn't until many years later when I read John Beckett's Loving Monday (which she sites extensively) that I realized that regardless of what I do for a living I am serving God.

There are many other such dichotomies that Ms. Pearcey discusses at length during this portion of the book. The main point is not only have cultural influences forced Christianity out of the public square but that Christians themselves are to blame because of our incomplete presentation of the gospel.

For a long time, gospel presentations have focused in on the Fall. Our presentation of the gospel has focused on the sinful nature of man and the need for salvation. This is certainly true but it does not provide a complete picture of the gospel. At a time where biblical literacy was more common, such a presentation would have been sufficient to persuade someone to accept Christ. If you told a biblically literate individual that they were a sinner they would understand. But now with our culture so biblically illiterate (an excellent discussion of this issue is available in this article from The Weekly Standard) simply telling someone they are a sinner is not enough to persuade them to accept Christ or recognize their need for salvation. Ms. Pearcey argues that the appropriate way to present the gospel is to present the entire picture: from Creation to the Fall to Redemption through Christ. She goes on to show in Chapter 4 - Surviving the Spiritual Wasteland that any major worldview can be viewed in this fashion.

Only by being convinced there is a biblical perspective on everything will we be able to give an answer for the hope that lies within us (1 Peter 3:15). This is the essence of apologetics: the ability to not only defend the Christian faith but also to critique other faiths or worldviews.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Quick Takes

I'll be travelling again over the long weekend so here's a few links worth checking out:

This week's Christian Carnival is up at Technogypsy. Lots of great links there worth checking.

Media Slander is a great new blog for keeping track of all the lies in the mainstream media. Speaking of the media, Hugh Hewitt calls the media on their blind eye they've turned towards the Democrats' filibustering of John Bolton's nomination as UN Ambassador. Wasn't that so-called "compromise" supposed to solve this problem? Obviously not.

Captain Ed says Not One Dime and I couldn't agree with him more.

Newsweek is hiring and LaShawn Barber has the story (hat tip: Polipundit).

Jim Geraghty encourages the media to keep things in perspective.

I've just joined the BlogCritics team which is a site devoted to music, books, videos, news and more. If you've got a blog you can be a BlogCritic.

Speaking of critics, you can still become a Mind and Media reviewer. Free books and traffic for your blog. How cool is that?

Finally, Blackfive has some reflections on Memorial Day. (Hat tip: Michelle Malkin) Remember this weekend the sacrifices that our brave men and women in uniform have made so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we hold so dear.

Have a great Memorial Day weekend, everyone. See you next week.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Blogging "Total Truth"

My latest review project for Mind and Media is Total Truth by Nancy Pearcey. As I was reading the introduction to the book last night, I realized that reviewing this book was going to be unlike any of my previous reviews. For one thing, at nearly 400 pages of text and another 60 pages of footnotes, I knew it would take longer to read through it than any other project had tackled thus far. But more importantly, I knew this was going to be a completely different project because of the importance of the subject: developing a Christian worldview.

The word worldview is one we tend to toss about without fully understanding its meaning. So that it's clear what I am referring to, let me simply quote Ms. Pearcey from the introduction to the book:

Genuine worldview thinkinig is far more than a mental strategy or a new spin on current events. At the core, it is a deepening of our spiritual character and the character of our lives. It begins with the submission of our minds to the Lord of the universe - a willingness to be taught by Him. The driving force in worldview studies should be a commitment to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind" (see Luke 10:27).

That's why the crucial condition for intellectual growth is spiritual growth, asking God for the grace to "take every thought captive to obey Christ" (2 Cor. 10:5). God is not just the Savior of souls, He is also the Lord of creation. One way we acknowledge His Lordship is by interpreting every aspect of creation in the light of His truth. God's Word becomes a set of glasses offering a new perspective on all our thoughts and actions. (Total Truth, page 24)

Once I read those paragraphs I realized that this was not going to be a book that I would want to read quickly. On the contrary, this is a book that I want to be able to really chew on what is being said. Reading the book quickly would not allow me to fully absorb what Ms. Pearcey has written. Because I believe that developing a robust Christian faith is as much a matter of exercising my intellect as it is developing my heart for Christ, I knew I needed to take my time in reviewing this book.

As a result, my approach to reviewing this book is going to be completely different from my three previous reviews. With the other books, I simply read through them and then summarized my thoughts once I was finished. However, I have the feeling as I begin this book that there is going to be much that I am going to find worth writing about as I move through the book. I also believe that in order to get the full impact of the book, it's going to be necessary for me to journal about what I am reading as I go along. So I'm inviting you to join me as I journey through this book.

The book is divided into four parts. My intention is to post a new entry once I've finished each part of the book. However, depending on what I find along the way I might find it necessary to write more than just four posts. That will depend largely on what I find as I read the book.

I also must confess that the idea to approach the review this way did not originate with me. During a recent visit to AllThings2All, I noticed that Catez Stevens also posted her review in four installments. I didn't read any of them. I don't read anyone else's reviews until I'm finished with the book. I want to be able to approach each book with an open mind. But I had a feeling that there was going to be a lot of good stuff in this book and there was going to be too much to cover in a single post. If the introduction is any indication, I won't be disappointed.

One final note: as with all reviews I do for Mind and Media, the only consideration I receive is a review copy of the book. Thank you to Crossway for providing this book.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Book Review: Beyond the Shadowlands

Although I have read a number of books by C. S. Lewis over the years, Beyond the Shadowlands by Wayne Martindale is the first book I have read about C. S. Lewis. It turned out to be a great read.

Dr. Martindale is a Lewis scholar and regularly teaches on Lewis at Wheaton College. In addition, he has contributed to other books on Lewis so he's an excellent authority on Lewis' writings.

The mission of Beyond the Shadowlands is twofold. First, Dr. Martindale uses Lewis' writings to debunk commonly held myths about Heaven and Hell (including some of the tougher theological questions such as why a good God would send people to Hell) and then uses Lewis' fiction to remythologize Heaven and Hell. In other words, Lewis wanted to build a sense of wonder and excitement about Heaven through his writings.

Although I was familiar with Lewis' more obvious discussions of Heaven and Hell (The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters) and could see some illusions to Heaven and Hell in The Chronicles of Narnia, I did not realize until reading this book the extent to which Lewis dealt with these issues throughout all his fiction.

Beyond the Shadowlands is a fascinating read on its own. But it's also a wonderful companion volume to Lewis' fiction, particularly his lesser known novels. If you enjoy C. S. Lewis, you will enjoy this book.

Beyond the Shadowlands was provided to Mind and Media through a generous gift from Crossway Publishers. No consideration was received for this review apart from the book.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

More on the Newsweek Meltdown

More great analysis of the situation over at Newsweek and the implications for the media at large:

James Lileks:

It's another hit for the Big Old Media, but this time it wasn't bloggers who brought them down. Web sites did not spring into action with technical drawings proving the aperture of pipes at Gitmo was too narrow to accommodate bound volumes. No blogger demolished the source's resume, because he's anonymous. No one even suggested that the Quran in question was mocked up in Microsoft Word. No, this was self-inflicted: an example of people trying to win a race by shooting themselves in the foot.

Marvin Olasky:

Is there a sickness at the heart of press liberalism that leads many journalists to want the Guantanamo story to be true? Given the way Islamofascists act, do these journalists have a death wish for themselves and Western civilization?

Michelle Malkin says it's not just Newsweek beating the drumbeat of failure in Iraq.

And James Taranto nails the issue (first item):

The press's power--its ability to influence events--is inherent in the practice of journalism; were it not, dictators would have no need to restrict press freedom. But the press's power, especially in a free society, rests on its credibility--that is, on the reader's trust that the press is telling the truth. When the press falls short of that trust, as Newsweek has done here, it diminishes its own power.


Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Meltdown at Newsweek

Great analysis today from several sources on the troubles over at Newsweek. For those who haven't followed the story closely, Kevin McCullough has a recap of the entire situation. Brent Bozell says that the scandal at Newsweek has eerie parallels to Rathergate. Rich Galen speculates on Congressional hearings. Finally, James Taranto says that Howard Fineman was right (first item).

My personal opinion is that Newsweek, like a lot of other mainstream media organizations, was looking for something bad to write about the Bush Administration and the war on terror in particular. In fact, Jame Taranto's analysis that the media's obsession with creating another great victory for themselves along the lines of Viet Nam and Watergate is probably most accurate.

What mainstream media organizations fail to realize is that by becoming crusaders instead of simply reporting facts they sacrifice what little credibility they have. Newsweek has literally flushed their credibility down the toilet.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Letting your "yes" be "yes"

Over the weekend an e-mail came in from someone I know who wanted to pass along an "inspirational story" along the lines of "Chicken Soup for the Soul". As soon as I read the story I knew it was false. In fact, a little quick research confirmed my suspicion that the story was not true.

These types of stories are often found circulating in e-mail circles. Other such stories are alarmist pieces about the latest drug recall or some other health risk that was previously unknown. Sometimes it's a rumor about some great get-rich scheme or some nefarious scheme a major corporation is involved in.

These messages attempt to convey a nugget of truth but at their heart are usually false. The fact that such messages circulate on the internet is not surprising. What's most surprising is the number of Christians I see perpetuating such falsehoods by sending these e-mails to friends and relatives without first checking the authenticity of the story.

As Christians, we should be careful about what we say and make sure that we are presenting the truth. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:37: "Simply let your 'Yes' be 'Yes,' and your 'No,' 'No'; anything beyond this comes from the evil one."

The next time a story comes in your e-mail inbox that seems too good to be true, take the time to check it out before forwarding it on. Snopes and Truth or Fiction are both great reference sites for tracking urban legends.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Quick Takes

I'll be heading out of town for the weekend shortly so I thought I would post another assortment of worthwhile links for your reading pleasure.

Aaron attempts to answer 10 Questions Your Pastor Can't Answer.

For a quick Narnia fix, check out the official website. The movie section has a lot of great information including the teaser trailer and behind-the-scenes videos.

Neil Cavuto goes on a rant against Congressmen who were complaining about yesterday's emergency evacuation when an airplane strayed into restricted airspace over Washington, D.C. It's priceless. Caution: contains profanity. (Hat tip: The Anchoress)

Patriot Petitions is sponsoring an online petition to end judicial filibusters.

Jim over at Stones Cry Out has the latest on liberals' assault on Christians at the Air Force Academy.

Major League Baseball has started blogging. Two of the more intriguing options are from Tommy Lasorda and Brooks Robinson.

Speaking of baseball, one of the questions floating around the Cubs these days is whether Kerry Wood should be moved to the bullpen since he has had so many shoulder problems. I wouldn't be surprised a bit, especially given the success John Smoltz had for the Atlanta Braves as a closer.

One of the questions I always hear from folks about homeschooling is what to do about socialization of the children. The Headmistress has the answers and some great advice. (Hat tip: Wittingshire)

And please check out my latest essay entitled "The Micah Mandate" over at Two or Three.net.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

More Narnia News

From the May 9 issue of Newsweek:

Georgie Henley turned 9 while playing Lucy in "The Chronicles of Narnia: the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," so nobody needed to teach her about wonderment.

The movie, of course, is the first in a potential franchise based on C. S. Lewis's fantasy classic.

In case you don't remember the books' making you levitate with joy when you were a kid, "Lion" concerns British siblings who pass through an armoire into Narnia, where they battle the White Witch in the name of the noble lion Aslan. "We built the set for Narnia and we took Georgie up there blindfolded," says director Andrew Adamson ("Shrek"). "Then we just let her go.

What we got was not 'acting.' She was literally trembling with excitement."

The movie opens nationwide December 9. Given the fact that it's already getting a lot of press it's going to be really, really big.

Incidentally, Moviefone reports that Disney has already given the green light for movie adaptations of the next two books in the series. That should tell you a lot about what they think about the potential audience for these movies.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Narnia Movie Trailer

I'm looking forward to The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe which is due to open nationwide on December 9th. The first trailer is available at this link. If the trailer is any indication then this should be a terrific movie.

Praising Motherhood

The Washington Times ran this article on Mother's Day which provides new evidence of the virtues of motherhood (Hat tip: Polipundit):

Sixty years ago, Sigmund Freud called the mother-child bond "unique" and "without parallel."

Today, a study of more than 2,000 mothers confirms Freud's wisdom: 93 percent say the care of their children is "so unique" that no one else can replace it. The same percentage believe the love they feel for their children is "unlike" any other love.

The study was released last week by the New York-based Institute for American Values (IAV), a nonpartisan marriage and family advocacy think tank. IAV questioned mothers nationwide who are 18 and older with at least one child younger than 18.

Predictably, there was the usual response from feminist academics who try to play down the importance of mothers in the role of child-rearing as well as disputing the importance of two parent families:

Much of academia and social science doubts that mothers are all that special. A meta-analysis of 171 parenting studies found "few significant differences" between mothers and fathers, City College of New York psychology professor Peter Fraenkel wrote in a 2000 article.

"An open-minded review of the existing literature suggests that parenting roles are interchangeable, that neither mothers nor fathers are unique or essential," he wrote.

What the research suggests is that children do best when they have "a consistent, caring relationship with at least one responsible adult," especially one who can show affection, respond to a child's needs, offer discipline and serve as a positive role model, he wrote.

Here in a nutshell are the lies of feminism laid out in plain view: Motherhood is not that important. There's no difference between mothers and fathers. The fact that one parent is missing has no bearing on the child.

Feminists would like women to believe that they aren't missing out by sacrificing their home life to pursue a career. They would like women to believe that raising children isn't a fufilling life choice. Studies like the one cited in this article just go to prove what many already knew: there is no greater calling in life than being a parent and particularly a mother.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Agent Tim Has a New Home

Agent Tim has moved to his new home and the design looks terrific. Be sure to check out the new site and drop him a note and say hello. I've also updated the link on the blogroll.

Congratulations, Tim. Keep up the great blogging.

Radioblogger's Disneyland Ordeal

I have great sympathy for Radioblogger this morning after the stunt that he was forced by Hugh Hewitt to perform yesterday at their annual visit to Disneyland. Radioblogger is a far greater man than I am. I can hardly make it more than two times around the circuit before I've had enough. Personally, I think Hugh should be flogged for subjecting Radioblogger to such punishment.

Incidentally, when my youngest daughter was 3 and got to go to Disney World the first time she declared that "It's a Small World" was her favorite ride. Thankfully that lasted only about two years. Now she would probably say it's Splash Mountain. Good for her.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The Man Behind the Narnia Movies

Chuck Colson profiles Philip Anschutz in today's Breakpoint commentary. If you've never heard of him you're not alone. I didn't know who he was either until I read the article. He is the founder of The Anschutz Company of Denver, CO whose Walden Media divison is responsible for producing the upcoming film adaptation of C. S. Lewis' "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" which is, of course, the first of the Narnia books.

His current project is the latest in a number of films designed to bring positive messages to a culture bombards our children with sex, violence, and drugs. In a 2004 speech at Hillsdale College he explained his reasons for getting into the movie industry:

Let me mention the ideas that I’ve run across in Hollywood and that define akind of Hollywood mindset. One of these is that the way to be successful is to be hip and edgy. A second is that to be noticed and therefore successful, you need to utilize shock value to gain attention. A third is that sex, language, violence and bad taste always seem to find a market. Another is that you have to grow up in the film business in order to understand it and have the right creative instincts for it.

Another is that to earn respect from your peers within the Hollywood community, you have to make at least potential Academy Award films – which in recent history have predominantly been R-rated.

My wife and I now have a number of grandchildren who are growing up surrounded by the products of this culture. So four or five years ago I decided to stop cursing the darkness – I had been complaining about movies and their content for years – and instead to do something about it by getting into the film business. Fortunately my wife said, “Phil, this is one of the nuttier things you’ve ever done, so at least keep your day job.” Which I did. But I knew that the best way to get to know a business – and maybe to affect it – is first to dive into it, and second to invest in it so that you get a seat at the table.

My reasons for getting into the entertainment business weren’t entirely selfless. Hollywood as an industry can at times be insular and doesn’t at times understand the market very well. I saw an opportunity in that fact. Also, because of digital production and digital distribution, I believe the film industry is going to be partially restructured in the coming years – another opportunity. But also, yes, I saw a chance with this move to attempt some small improvement in the culture.

Let me tell you a few things that I’ve learned about the movie business: First of all, you need a clear vision of the kind of movies you will make – and an equally clear vision of the type of movies you will not make. People in the industry need to know that they needn’t bring you certain kinds of product because you’re not going to be interested. Just as importantly, your own people need to understand the kind of movies they are going to be held accountable for producing. Our company, by the way, makes G and PG and, occasionally, very soft PG-13 movies. They are primarily family films – films that families can see together. We expect them to be entertaining, but also to be life-affirming and to carry moral messages.

I'm looking forward to the release of "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" this December. In the meantime, I'm going to go back and check out Walden Media's other movies such as "Holes", "Because of Winn-Dixie", "Around the World in 80 Days", and "Ray". Because now I know more about the man who is the driving force behind making these movies and I applaud him for his effort to bring positive messages to movies and produce movies that my family can feel good about seeing together.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Blogging the Confirmation Battles

The latest development in the political wing of the blogosphere has been blogs devoted to the ongoing confirmation battles in the Senate. Confirm Them is a great place to check in frequently on the latest developments in the ongoing judicial battles in the Senate.

Another great lineup of bloggers has assembled at Confirm Bolton to follow the confirmation process surrounding U.N. Ambassador nominee John Bolton. Thanks to Lorie Byrd from Polipundit for linking to this site. Lorie also maintains her own excellent blog Byrd Droppings which you should check out in addition to contributing at Polipundit and Confirm Them.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Tougher Penalties for Steroids in Baseball

Over the weekend, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig announced a proposal for tougher penalties for steroid use in baseball. The program essentially slaps longer penalties for each offense and adopts a "three strikes and you're out" stance on steroids. The players union was cautious in its remarks about the program and is taking a "wait and see" attitude on whether the proposal should be adopted.

Here's my guess: both sides will eventually agree on a "three strikes and you're out" policy. The players union cannot afford to appear to be soft on the issue of steroid use. However, there will probably be some negotiating on the length of the suspensions for the first two offenses (proposed at 50 and 100 games respectively).

Commissioner Selig has taken a step in the right direction on the steroid issue. Whether it was due to the recent congressional hearings is anybody's guess. But it's about time something was done about it.