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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Something About Christmas Time

An old pop-music song about Christmas goes, “There’s something about Christmas time, something about Christmas time that makes you wish it was Christmas everyday…” Now, most folks know why Christmas is celebrated, but as the author of the previous lyrics implies, the real reason is being lost, forgotten, ignored, or simply denied.

Many in the world today have put their own spin on what is special about Christmas. This should come as no surprise. Christmas is associated with time off from work or school, the giving/receiving of gifts, large gatherings with friends and family (accompanied by great feasts), as much as it is with the birth of Jesus, so what’s not to love? So what if you don’t believe in what/why Christmas is celebrated; you can still have a great time.

Governments, in the name of “separation of church and state,” and many private institutions, in the name of “tolerance,” have removed many direct references to Christmas. “Merry Christmas” has become “Happy Holidays;” Christmas trees are now “Community trees;” Christmas carols are now “winter carols,” and so on.

Nowadays phrases like “spirit of Christmas,” “spirit of giving,” “magic of Christmas,” are very prevalent in our culture. What do these mean?

One author I read recently describes the “hidden meaning” of Christmas as: “(a) festival of the human heart. It is a time of year when all the universe conspires to raise the vibratory level of consciousness on earth to one of peace and love toward ourselves and one another. This season resonates to the sweet, childlike innocence that resides in all of us. A time when the heavenly forces inspire us to shift our focus away from fear and toward one of joy, and healing.” Huh?!

Movies, music, poetry, and other forms of expression have attempted to inform us of what the “true meaning of Christmas" is. A cartoon we watched recently described “friendship” as what Christmas is all about. Other secular productions portray Christmas as a celebration of love, generosity, kindness, joy, peace, family, and so on. These, of course, are wonderful things, but none of them alone reveals the true meaning of Christmas.

“And it came to pass in those days...”, So begins the real story of Christmas: The story of God’s incarnation in the birth of His Son Jesus Christ. But Christians celebrating Christmas are celebrating more than just a birthday. Christians believe, as C.S. Lewis put it, that Christmas is the story of how “the rightful king has landed.”

Just prior to His death, as Jesus stood before Pilate, the Roman governor, Pilate asked Him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” After some discussion Pilate concludes to Jesus, “You are a king, then!” Jesus answered him saying, “You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world…”

But He was not just any king; He was a king with a holy mission. “Amazing love, how can it be, that you my King would die for me?” Jesus was the Christ, the “Messiah,” the “Anointed One.” As the angel reported to the shepherds, “today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you…” Jesus was a king who was born to die; not only to die, but to rise again and rule forever.

His death was to “redeem” us, and to serve as “atonement” for us. Jesus came into the world so that the world, through Him, “might be saved.” And on the third day after his death, our King, born in a stable, conquered even death so that we could live forever with Him.

When Christians truly celebrate Christmas, we celebrate not just a birthday, but the beginning of a sequence of events that would change the world forever. He was born, He lived, He died, He arose, and now He is preparing a place for all of those who believe in Him. Just as sure as all of the other events took place, we who celebrate Christmas look forward to His return and we will celebrate for all eternity.

Just before handing Him over for crucifixion, Pilate asked the crowd, “What shall I do, then, with Jesus…?” That is the ultimate question that each of us must answer, and Christmas provides us with the beginning of the answer.

Have a truly merry Christmas.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Friday, December 11, 2009

Tiger Woods: "Man-Caused Disaster"

Tiger Woods: “Man-Caused Disaster.” (Or, if you prefer, a “Weapon of Vast Indiscretion.”) In a sad way, the greatest golfer in the world has done the Obama administration a service. He has clarified what is meant by this ambiguous (and ridiculous) phrase. With 12 mistresses now revealed, if there ever was a “man-caused disaster” it’s Tiger. 

Of course, none of this is funny. It is a tragedy played out far too often today, especially by celebrities who have the fame and fortune to attempt to pull off something like juggling 12 women along with a wife and children. Male athletes especially seem to have the penchant for this kind of activity. At least Woods’ many trysts did not produce children (that we know of). Consider former NFL running back and Tennessee Volunteer, Travis Henry. In August of 2007, the AJC reported that he was in financial ruin, having fathered 9 children by 9 different women across four states. Talk about a disaster! 

Tiger is just the latest (though perhaps the “greatest”) in a seemingly infinite line of public figures to have his indiscretions laid bare before a gawking public. Adulterous behaviors have brought down some of the most powerful men in the world. 

Glenn Richardson, Speaker of the Georgia House, recently resigned his position due to his adultery. South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, who had been mentioned as a strong GOP candidate for President, has seen his political career and personal life in upheaval because of his adultery. Democratic Presidential candidate John Edwards saw his political career go up in smoke due to adultery. Bill Clinton, one of only two U.S. Presidents ever impeached, was put on trial as a result of his adultery. 

Truly, as Proverbs says, “For the lips of an adulteress drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.” 

Undoubtedly, the consequences of adultery are far reaching, especially when it leads to divorce. As C.S. Lewis points out, divorce “is more like having your legs cut off than it is like dissolving a business partnership or even deserting a regiment.” Thus Woods’ children could end up as the most tragic victims here. 

The list of handicaps is long for children of divorce: They are more likely to experience mental and physical health problems, run away, commit suicide, engage in promiscuous sex, drop out of school, go to prison, etc. Woods’ marriage is certainly on shaky ground, as would be any marriage with such infidelities. If his marriage is broken beyond repair, the consequences will sadly play out most significantly in the lives of his children. 

Practically every one of us knows a marriage broken by adultery. This is just one of the consequences of living in a culture that is obsessed with sex. As John MacArthur concludes, “Within the moral realm in our society the conflict is almost exclusively about sex.” Abortion, fornication, homosexuality, divorce, etc., he adds, are all sexual issues. 

Writing on sexual morality, C.S. Lewis said, “Chastity is the most unpopular of the Christian virtues. There is no getting away from it: the old Christian rule is, ‘Either marriage, with complete faithfulness to your partner, or else total abstinence.’” However, Lewis adds that, “perfect chastity—like perfect charity—will not be obtained by any merely human efforts. You must ask for God’s help.” 

To truly straighten out his life, this is where Tiger (and anyone else in such a situation) must turn. No amount of therapy, etc. will produce the results that the Creator of the universe can. Just as with any other human being’s transgressions, there is redemptive hope for Tiger—even to the point of saving his marriage. Remember, nothing is too hard for God. 

One last point. As we gaze upon this disaster, we must remember that without God, any of us is capable of terrible sin. None of us can truly trust ourselves, even in our best moments, to continuously live the life that we should. Everyone’s struggles and temptations are different. What is constant is the path to true joy and peace. Here’s hoping that Tiger finds himself on that straight-and-narrow way very soon. 

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Blinded, not by Science, but by Ideology

I almost don’t know where to begin. I mean Al Gore (and the IPCC) won a Nobel Prize “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge” about it. Al Gore also won an Oscar for his film on it. The U.S. House passed a 1,200 page bill which was predicated upon it. We’ve been hearing about how it has been settled for decades and anyone who thinks otherwise is a “denier” on the same level as a “flat-earther.”

“It,” of course, is anthropogenic (man-made) global warming (AGW) and with the “Climategate” revelations, AGW enthusiasts have been excited to talk about anything but “it.” In case you’ve been on a two-week vacation searching for polar bears among the melting arctic ice, “Climategate” is a reference to the discovery that the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in Britain has been manipulating the data regarding the temperature of the earth along with shamefully and devotedly seeking to suppress any information they didn’t like.

There are now investigations and calls for investigations into the highly questionable science, and the unscrupulous scientists, behind Climategate. There are even calls (by two Academy Award members) for Al Gore’s Oscar to be rescinded. Phil Jones, head of the University of East Anglia's CRU, has resigned his position. Michael Mann, designer of the famous "hockey stick" graph, is under investigation by Pennsylvania State University.

However, with liberals in control of the U.S. Congress, the White House, and the mainstream media (MSM), one would hardly know there is a scandal about. Barbara Boxer, who chairs the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, is more concerned with the (perhaps) illegal access of the CRU data than with the data itself. (We don’t yet know if this was an outside hacker or an inside whistle-blower.)

Yet Boxer enthusiastically held hearings in 2008 so that an EPA “whistle-blower,” who accused the Bush administration of failing to address greenhouse gas emissions appropriately, could be heard. In 1985, then Congresswoman Boxer introduced the Military Whistleblower Protection Act which became law in 1988. The law has since been amended multiple times (see here) to extend protections to military whistleblowers. You get the idea: Boxer is usually a whistleblower’s champion.

Comedy Central has reported on Climategate, but the MSM hasn’t. As of December 3 (Thursday), according to the Business and Media Institute, “An examination of morning and evening news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC since Nov. 20 yielded zero mentions of the scandal, even in the Nov. 25 reports about Obama going to Copenhagen to discuss the need for emissions reductions.” (NBC finally reported on Climategate on Friday evening, December 4.)

Having claimed to have collected the most complete data on the Earth's temperature for the last 50 years, the CRU has been a leading organization in the study of global climate science. Its conclusions, which are almost exclusively in support of AGW, have been used by the U.N.’s IPCC, as well as countless media outlets, in reporting on the impending doom looming as a result of AGW.  In other words, the CRU is “too big to ignore” when it comes to a scandal of this size and scope.

Soon after Climategate broke, the CRU also revealed that most all of its raw temperature data, upon which its AGW predictions are based, had been deleted. This means that no one is able to check the CRU’s calculations when it comes to global temperature measurements and predictions.

This is a gross violation of the scientific method. As even Wikipedia notes, “Another basic expectation [of the scientific method] is to document, archive and share all data and methodology so they are available for careful scrutiny by other scientists, thereby allowing other researchers the opportunity to verify results by attempting to reproduce them. This practice, called full disclosure, also allows statistical measures of the reliability of these data to be established.”

On March 9 of this year, Obama lifted the ban on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. He also stated that he was furthermore issuing “a Presidential Memorandum directing the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy to develop a strategy for restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making to ensure that in this new administration, we base our public policies on the soundest science; that we appoint scientific advisors based on their credentials and experience, not their politics or ideology.”

This latter statement was, of course, a criticism of the Bush administration. However, with a climate bill having already passed the U.S. House that, according to the Wall Street Journal, “will reach into almost every corner of the U.S. economy,” and which will also severely threaten our civil liberties, America literally cannot afford to have the Obama administration turn a blind eye to the real science of climate change.

Copyright 2009, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World
tthomas@trevorgrantthomas.com