Thursday, April 17, 2008

Funny Man

Bill Maher continues his quest to become the world's most odious man with his recent attack on Pope Benedict. Having already expressed his wish for the death of Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh, Maher now calls the Pope a Nazi, the leader of a cult of pedophiles, and his supine audience exults in the hilarity of it all.

Maher's "humor" is as craven as it is sick since he knows he'll get nothing but kudos from all the beautiful people, and he'll anger only those yokels in the Catholic Church. He's been hammering Catholicism in particular, and American religion in general, for years but has not yet found the time to do likewise to Islam. I'm sure, though, that ridicule of Islam is in the pipeline. His writers are no doubt working even now on a few wisecracks about Mohammed and his nine year-old wife.

We'll let you know when Maher delivers the lines. His audience will certainly be rolling in the aisles, or at least part of them will.


Rumors of War

NewsMax reports that signs continue to point to an imminent war with Iran:

Contrary to some claims that the Bush administration will allow diplomacy to handle Iran's nuclear weapons program, a leading member of America's Jewish community tells Newsmax that a military strike is not only on the table - but likely.

"Israel is preparing for heavy casualties," the source said, suggesting that although Israel will not take part in the strike, it is expecting to be the target of Iranian retribution.

"Look at Dick Cheney's recent trip through the Middle East as preparation for the U.S. attack," the source said.

Cheney's hastily arranged 9-day visit to the region, which began on March 16, included stops in Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Oman, Turkey, and the Palestinian territories.

Read the rest of the article. It may be that war is not on the near horizon, but much of the Middle East appears to be acting as if it were.


Negligible Negatives

My friend Byron is a bookseller and probably knows as much or more about the Christian book market as anyone in the country. He was therefore especially interested in the post (Easy Way Out) on the study by David Kinnaman titled Unchristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks About Christianity.

He shares his thoughts on our Feedback page. Along the way he gently chides me for not being more sympathetic to the opinions expressed by the respondents in Kinnaman's study. He makes several worthy points, but in my defense I have to say that I'm just a wee bit weary of hearing the complaints that Kinnaman's research turned up. There is so much good taking place in most American churches and most of the people in those churches are such good and decent people that I suspect that anyone who offers up the complaints that Kinnaman's respondents did simply hasn't taken the trouble to look into the matter very deeply or is looking to rationalize their rejection of the church.

Sure, there are problems and embarrassments (I'm doubtless one of them), but compared to the good that is being done in our communities by our churches it seems almost churlish for outsiders to dwell on them. Here's a short list off the top of my head of good organizations and good things being done in the city and county where I live that probably wouldn't exist or get done were it not for Christians: Food Banks, soup kitchens, homeless and abuse victim shelters, food and clothing drives, disaster relief such as missions to rebuild Katrina-ravaged areas, crisis pregnancy counselling, homes for the elderly, medical facilities, private schools staffed by volunteers, immigrant resettlement programs, Salvation Army, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, prison ministry, child care programs, and on it goes. I'm sure you can think of even more.

Thus, when I hear people disparage Christianity because Christians are "too judgmental" or "too political" or "too hypocritical," I just have to think that these people simply don't know what they're talking about. They remind me of the man who was asked after visiting Yosemite National Park for his impressions, and his only comment was that the road going in had potholes in it.

Byron tells me I sound grumpy, but the fact is that the people who sound grumpy are the people who overlook the enormous good the church is doing to focus on the relatively negligible negatives.