Wednesday, November 22

Over the past few years, the attitudes between our culture and Christians has changed. There are so many areas now where the mood has become confrontational. And it works both ways. There are areas where Christians have been the confrontational ones - calling for boycotts, protesting, and putting together political movements to do battle in a war against secularism. Christianity Today recently ran an article about some Christian "political operatives" in Ohio and DC. The language of these Christians (many of whom are ministers) was couched in terms of a holy war and enemies and conquest. You can read the article here. But in areas such as abortion and gay marriage, many Christians have been pretty confrontational (and sometimes insanely so) for quite some time. I'm not really comfortable with that approach. I don't know that it does much to demonstrate that the Kingdom of God operates on a different set of values and attitudes than the world.

But the other "side" is stepping up its attack and some of the loudest voices are those in the scientific community. Time Magazine's cover story a couple of weeks ago was entitled, "God vs. Science." The NY Times ran a disturbing article this week that detailed a recent conference called "Beyond Belief: Science, Religion, Reason, and Survival." The article quoted many of our nation's "elite" scientists calling for an end to religion. One man equated religious education for children with brain-washing and child abuse. It seemed that the desire of most taking part in the conference was to quit being patient with religion and religious people and to go on the offensive to squelch religious thought and faith. (You may have to register with the NY Times to read the article, but registration is free and, I think, worth it.)

As one who has worked on a university campus for almost 25 years, that would be a troubling direction. For the most part, even non-religious professors have not been antagonistic towards Christians on most university campuses. But if this attitude changes and professors become more confrontational, it would make life even more difficult for Christian students.

I have always believed that Christian faith and science go hand-in-hand. My conviction has been that all Truth ultimately finds it source in God and that we as people of faith don't have to fear honest scientific inquiry. I believe that when we study any of the natural sciences we are studying the creative and ordered mind of God as our world reflects his work, nature, and character. But it seems to becoming increasingly clear that the non-Christian scientific community may not be open to that perspective.

I had caught a "clue" to this over the past couple of months. We have been doing a series of talks on Tuesday nights that are geared to help Christian students to think "Christianly" about their society and the issues facing it. We have talked about affluence and justice, about Truth and what it means to really be Pro-life. And, since evolution and creationism and Intelligent Design have been such hot topics, I wanted to talk about "origins." But I didn't want to talk about it. Even I'm a little skeptical of someone without a background in the natural sciences talking "authoritatively" about these issues.

So I attempted to find a Christian professor at the UofA to address these issues. I know that we have Christian professors in the natural sciences. But I couldn't find anyone willing to do it. I contacted the Christian Faculty Fellowship. No one was willing to step up. That was discouraging! I don't know the reason for the lack of willingness, but it could be fear of taking too vocal a stand as a member of the UofA faculty. I don't know that is the reason, but it is possible.

Fortunately, I was able to find a biology professor at John Brown University who is going to come and talk with our students next Tuesday. My hope is not so much that he can answer all the questions regarding evolution, creation, and Intelligent Design but that he can help us think "Christianly" about the issues. And that he can demonstrate to my students that it is possible to pursue the natural sciences and be committed to Christ and his Word.


In other news:

Missouri State University in Springfield, MO recently settled a lawsuit. It seems that a professor gave his students the assignment of writing letters to the state legislature in favor of homosexual adoption. One student, Emily Brooker, declined to do so on religious grounds. So the professor punished her for it - filing a grievance, moving to withhold her degree, and placing her before a board of inquiry. Emily filed suit and MSU backed down. The grievance has been removed from her "permanent record" and the professor has been relieved of administrative duties and suspended from teaching for a while. You can read the story here.

In another example of how dumb our world can be, schools are beginning to ban tag. You know - tag. The highly dangerous game we used to play on the playground. I mean, they have already all but removed dodge ball from the school grounds (although the classic movie, Dodge Ball, did create a resurgence for the game). What's next? Tetherball? Kickball? Dean Johnson of the Christian Science Monitor has a good column about this development.


Lastly, if my last post's suggestion of a Banana Cover as a Christmas gift didn't meet all of your holiday shopping needs, you might try this: the Air-Guitar T-shirt. Maybe just the thing for the aspiring musician or karaoke star on your list!

Monday, November 13

Moses was back on campus last week. "Moses" is the what folks at the UofA call Gary Bowman - a preacher who comes to campus. (I know that he also preaches at Oklahoma State, but I think they call him something different there.)

Moses is like most of the itinerant preachers that come to college campuses, except that he is from the area and is here on a regular basis. The modus operandi is to create a stir, create some controversy, draw a crowd. The message is one of generalization, stereo-type, and condemnation. If you're in a sorority, you're a whore. If you're a cheerleader, you're a whore. If you're a girl and wear shorts, you're a whore. If you're male, you're a whoremonger. If you're Democrat, you're going to hell. If you're one of the Christian groups on campus, you're a fraud. If you are him, you've ceased to sin.

Last week he was more volatile than normal, judging and attacking. College students love to try and argue with him - though he doesn't give them much of a chance and just eggs them on all the more. Last week, one student who even arrested for disorderly conduct for bringing out his own bullhorn.

I have met Gary a few times and I definitely am not in a position to know his motives. But I have often wondered about his methods. I'm not sure that his methods or his message really serve to point people to Christ. They seem to draw a lot of controversy. A lot of argument. A lot of anger. A lot of shouting.

"Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. Those who oppose him he must gently instruct, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will." II Timothy 2:23-26

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." I Peter 3:15


Some interesting things I've recently read online:

This article from Relevant Magazine addresses something I've talked about before - Christians who are cheap and poor customers in restaurants. I've always felt that Christians should be the best tippers!

Here is Stylus magazine's list of the 50 greatest "live" albums of all time.

In Cambodia, an entire midget fighting team of 42 (a team of midgets who fight, not a team who fights midgets) took on a lion. (I'm not making this up). The lion won. You can read about it here.

And, since the Christmas season is quickly approaching, here are a couple of things you might find interesting. First, reviews of some new Christmas albums. And then, something you might consider as a gift - a banana guard.

Thursday, November 9

Last week was a good week. It's just too bad that I've just now had time to blog about it!

* Our daughter, Erin, passed her Nursing Board Exam and is now a licensed RN! Next step, finding a job.

* We have hired Jim Miller to be our campus minister at the University of Arkansas, Ft. Smith. Jim has been a friend of ours for almost 30 years: one of my college roommates, a groomsman in our wedding, and I was best man in his. Many of you will remember that Jim's wife, Cheryl, passed away in September. He is ready to get back in ministry and excited about campus ministry. He has spent the last three weekends with us and has had a chance to see a lot of different facets of it - from the inner-city trip (see below) to the 2:00AM Grill to our worship services to mentoring students and more. We are excited to have him in Ft. Smith (he'll start at the first of January). I believe that he will do great in campus ministry - he has the personality and giftings for it - and it will take a load off of me. I've been down there one or two days a week for most of this semester.

* We sent a group of about 36 down to Dallas for a weekend of ministry in the inner-city. They had a great (and safe) trip. These kinds of trips begin to open the eyes of our students to the needs in our world and the reality that they can help do something about them. Case in point: Erin (see above) wants to work as an RN in an inner-city hospital or clinic.

* Through a strange set of circumstances, I have been in contact with a couple of high school classmates - guys that I probably haven't seen or heard from in 20 years! It seems that one of them sits in the desk right behind one of our alumni in Dallas.

* ESPN Game Day will be here in Fayetteville on Saturday for the Arkansas-Tennessee game. They are saying that this may be the hardest ticket to get in the history of Razorback football. And I have one! Thanks, Brian!

Wednesday, November 1

Last weekend we celebrated Gina's 50th birthday. It was a great weekend. First, her teacher friends decorated her room on Friday with ducks and gave her a plethora (I don't get to use that word very often) of duck cards and gifts. (I would post a picture of her in her duck hat, glasses, necklace, and watch but I would be in so much trouble.) Then, on Saturday night, we had a surprise dinner party for her with about 35 folks - family, church friends, school friends, college students, family friends. It was a wonderful evening. I think her 50th birthday celebration was special - even with her older sisters' harassing her all week.

And she deserves all the attention and appreciation. She is a such a great mother to our daughters, wife to me, teacher to her students, and friend to so many. She gives and gives.

And she's still a hot little mama!


We've been doing a series on Tuesdays at ConC to try and help students to think "Christianly" about our culture and the issues of our day. We've talked about such things as justice, affluence, sexuality, etc. This week the topic was "What does it mean to be pro-life?"

For most of us, we think of "pro-life" in terms of one issue - abortion. But a consistent "ethic of life" should influence our thinking about life at all points. Every life is valuable because each of us have been created in the image of God. Each person is intrinsically valuable because of that and not because of what they can produce or contribute. When you begin to apply that value of life consistently across the board, it applies to so many issues: poverty, capital punishment, war, euthanasia, stem cell research, living wages, health care, and more. Unfortunately, many politicians who are "pro-life" never get beyond abortion and fail to address the broader implications of a consistent pro-life ethic. And many of us who are Christians are the same. It seems that, historically, those of us who are conservative in our faith have been the slowest to address life-ethic issues.

Trying to think through these issues with our students has been a stretching experience. It makes me look at the current political issues and races differently.


Speaking of pro-life, here are a couple of interesting articles.

The first if from ABC News regarding a court case in Virginia. The second is from The Times (of London) regarding some technological advances and some of the reactions to them.


"People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated."
D.A. Carson