Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Weekly Tour: 5/15/07

Ah, the problems of a blogger. I haven't been making enough money; so I have had to take a second job. Also, my DSL got turned off (that money thing again) - so I am surfing on dial-up. However, there are many things I want to write about - and I need to get started. So, I will do a tour.

The Christian Carnival

The latest Christian Carnival is up (and the next one is forming) - go to Light Along the Journey and check it out. Three posts that struck me from this Carnival were:
  • As the parent of a thirteen-year old daughter, how to get her to view sex responsibly is important to me - and to Jan. Read The View from Her "about not having sex".

  • At Street Prophets I got into a short conversation about prayer inspired by a press release by an atheist organization
    an act that has been scientifically proven to be ineffective . . . "We know that prayer does not work--but medical science does." . . . we want to let America know that there are millions of us who know that praying is nothing more than talking to yourself. So on that day, we atheists will be engaging in action that we can prove scientifically has real-life impact on our fellow citizens . . . we hope will point out that there are alternatives to silently beseeching a deity to perform miracles.
    My comment was that it would help if the folks writing the press release knew what prayer was actually for. I was asked what I thought it was for, and you can read my answer here. However, for what I think is a really good answer read Henry's "Praying, Being Heard, and Not Getting It" where he cites a really famous example of prayer not answered:
    But the text [Hebrews 5:7-10 ] explicitly says that Jesus was heard. And there is what’s hard for us to get hold of. Praying is not about getting stuff. Praying is about our communion with God. That’s why all these scientific tests about prayer and healing largely miss the mark. They’re interesting, but they can’t test prayer because prayer is not a means of getting things.

    What if the prayer of Jesus was counted in a scientific test? It would certainly go into the “failed” column. He didn’t get what he asked for. And yet he was heard, and what actually happened was better–in the end–than what he had requested. It happens that way because there’s a lot more knowledge on God’s end of the prayer than on mine.
  • Going along with that prayer post, is Bryan on "Prosperity Theology"
    To pastors who tell their flock that God desires that all of them be rich enough to have their own jets what do they say to verses where Christ tells a rich man to sell all his positions in order to follow Him? Instead of promising us wealth and fame, Christ says that we will be hated and that we will suffer; but we are storing up treasures in Heaven. Our Father will provide for us, but that does not necessarily mean that we will be rich in things; rather when we truly depend on God we will be rich spiritually.
    He calls it "old and pernicious" heresy, and I think that is right.

Parental Notification

Parental notification is a big issue. I think, as a parent, that I should be notified if my child is going to have an operation - in this case an abortion. As someone who believes in parental notification, I realize that it may have a chilling effect on a scared young girl's actions when she discovers she is pregnant. I am sorry for that; and on principle I have to accept whatever bad outcomes come from what I believe.

Planned Parenthood has the opposite problem. They believe, on principle, that a pregnant girl is by definition now a responsible party for their own health issues; and wish to keep that girl's decisions private to that girl: a woman's (or girl's) right to choose and to have that choice be a private decision is at the core of their philosophy and ethics. Further, as a medical provider, they have a reason - a good one - to want to protect the privacy of their clients (whatever their age): young girls will not come to them for help if they feel they will get "ratted out" to the powers that be. However,
In all 50 states, sexual activity with underage children is illegal. Also, every state mandates that if a healthcare worker has reason to suspect that an underage girl is being sexually abused, they are required by law to report that information to a designated law enforcement or child protective services agency. That agency is then responsible to investigate the possibility that the child may be the victim of sexual abuse or statutory rape.

Because the pregnancy of an underage girl is evidence that she is the victim of sexual abuse, any healthcare worker who has contact with a pregnant underage girl has an obligation to initiate a report to the state.
That is how it should be. Of course, Planned Parenthood, like me, also has to realize the bad outcomes that will come from protecting the privacy of children who should not really be pregnant: they seem to be systematically (I didn’t say intentionally - I think it just comes with their philosophy) covering up statutory rape and incest:
  • They are being sued by a young women who endured another one and a half years of incest by her father after telling her Planned Parenthood worker in Ohio that she was being raped by her father, who had brought her to Planned Parenthood for an abortion. The worker did not report the incest to authorities.

  • They are threatening to sue an 18 year old who caught one of their workers on video conspiring to cover-up statutory rape in California

  • Planned Parenthood's defense that they are being picked on by anti-abortion activists for isolated mistakes by bad employees is kind of smashed by 800 different tape recordings secured by Life Dynamics in 2002 as they investigated child sexual predation:
    To test this conclusion we conducted a covert survey in which we called over 800 Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation facilities across the country. Our caller portrayed a 13-year-old girl who was pregnant by her 22-year-old boyfriend. Her story was that she wanted an abortion because she and her boyfriend did not want her parents to find out about the sexual relationship. In every call the ages of the girl and her boyfriend were made perfectly clear. It was also made clear that the motivation for the abortion was to conceal this illicit sexual activity from the girl's parents and the authorities. Additionally, our caller never said a single thing that might suggest that her parents would become abusive if they discovered her sexual activity.

    The results of this survey were appalling. Even though many of these clinic workers openly acknowledged to our caller that this situation was illegal and that they were required to report it to the state, the overwhelming majority readily agreed to conceal this illegal sexual activity.

    Some employees of these organizations even coached our caller on how to avoid detection, how to circumvent parental involvement laws and what to say or not say when she came to the clinic. In a significant number of instances she was encouraged to lie about - or conceal - her age or her boyfriend's age or to give false names.
So, just like me, Planned Parenthood is going to have to come to grips with the logical outcome of their position on parental notification: the ability of children to get pregnant at the hands of adults and their own family members; and have no one know that the child was ever pregnant except the rapist/abuser and the girl. The same child, scared to death her parents might find out, isn't going to be any happier at child welfare authorities or the police finding out. I, as you might guess, prefer my bad outcomes to theirs.

Other Stuff

  • Joe Carter re-posts (with revisions) his "Fads and Fixtures: Ten Deadly Trappings of Evangelism". Considering that I came to a real decision for Christ at an altar call I am not sure that I entirely agree with his list; but his point is correct: we are supposed to be about gaining disciples for Christ - it is God's job to bring them to us for that purpose. We have to be available when folks are ready; but it is God that softens their heart.

  • Iraq the Model looks at two sets of political forces in Iraq that point to "It's a rough time but I wouldn't panic"

  • "The Ring Thing: We Must Have Marriage" reports on "Why Marriage Matters: Twenty-Six Conclusions of the Social Sciences"

  • As an Evangelical with a Catholic MIL living in the house, the agreements and/or disagreements we have on religious matters is evident to me often. So, when Francis Beckwith resigned from the Evangelical Theological Society (as its President) because he decided to join the Roman Catholic Church - it is of some interest. It was also of interest to Scot McKnight at Jesus Creed and to Bonnie at Intellectuelle. For some background (at least for me) I think it is important to understand (as someone talked about in the Jesus Creed comment thread) the difference between the Evangelical movement and being an evangelical Christian. Perhaps reading the "Lausanne Covenant" and the "Manila Manifesto" will help - even though these are not completely accepted by all "big E" Evangelicals. Perhaps even my own church's "Statement of Faith" is of interest. So, do these generally represent the types of Statements of Faith "big E" Evangelicals agree on? If so, do they keep me from being a creedal Roman Catholic?

  • That is it for this week

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    How to debate charitably (rules are links to more description of rule):
    1. The Golden Rule
    2. You cannot read minds
    3. People are not evil
    4. Debates are not for winning
    5. You make mistakes
    6. Not everyone cares as much as you
    7. Engaging is hard work
    8. Differences can be subtle
    9. Give up quietly