Liar Liar, Media Pants on Fire

Since I began teaching, (way back in the ’70s in my military career) writing and posting, and the like more recently I have continually made it a point to say never put your full trust in my words always be check out the facts for yourself (Acts 17:11).

Media trust is at an all-time low, a majority of Americans believing that, “Most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than with informing the public.” An Axios commissioned survey found t…

Source: Liar Liar, Media Pants on Fire

Tweeting Something Isn’t Necessarily Doing Something

BreakPoint Daily

Tweeting Something Isn’t Necessarily Doing Something

tw

JOHN STONESTREET WITH MARIA BAER

“You are not a social media handle. Don’t feel pressure to post and repost everything to show that you care. Advocate locally. Be incarnate.”

Last week, a pair of activists launched a social media campaign that quickly went from advocacy to unintentional irony. To show solidarity with African American victims of police brutality, the women encouraged Instagrammers, especially major corporations, to post a black square in lieu of a picture, in order to leave space on the platform for people of color.

As well-intentioned as Blackout Tuesday was, with people across the country continuing to express outrage over the police killing of George Floyd, it started to unravel nearly as fast as it caught on. Upon further reflection, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to ask people to post in order to show how they weren’t going to post.

Nor was it practical. So many individual and company Instagrammers posted black squares, that entire portions of the site went essentially blank. If the intent was, as described, to amplify black voices, a sea of black squares drowned them out instead…

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

Why the Bible is Not a Prop

“In this moment of national crisis, rather than fighting over the optics around the Bible, we’d be far better off reading, hearing, and applying what it has to say.”

BreakPoint Daily

Why the Bible is Not a Prop

bible

JOHN STONESTREET

Presidents and politicians using the Bible or Christian symbolism for political ends is nothing new. Some, as President Trump did Monday afternoon, pose with Bible in hand. Far more common is the selective quoting, misquoting, or downright twisting of Bible verses to advance political talking points.

After nights of rioting and violence across America and even right outside the White House, the President punctuated his speech by walking from the Rose Garden to an historically important church that was nearly burned down the night before. He then posed with a Bible in hand beside the church sign.

The Bible should never be used as a prop…

CONTINUED AT: SOURCE

 

The Viral Pandemic of Distrust and Misinformation

BreakPoint Daily

The Viral Pandemic of Distrust and Misinformation

viral

Worldview Lessons from the Coronavirus, Part 4
JOHN STONESTREET  WITH SHANE MORRIS

The information age is full of both plusses and minuses, especially during a time of national crisis. Among the blessings we should count is the ability of many of us to work from home, and the ability to stay in touch with people we cannot visit. Another, at least in my line of work, is that so many more of the teachers contributing to our virtual Truth, Love, Together event now know how to use Zoom.

The main minus, though certainly not the only one, is the constant flow of news, headlines, and social media posts, some true and some false, some helpful and some very unhelpful and even misleading. Information comes at us in waves, with conjecture in the place of facts and assertions in the place of arguments.

Even before the coronavirus was given the name pandemic, misinformation was passed on by both major media outlets and personal social media accounts. In most of these cases, political ideology masqueraded as certainty about things that were, at the time, unknown, such as how deadly Covid-19 would be, whether or not it was like the flu, and whether scientists and experts were misleading us.

Misleading voices on both the left and the right confidently asserted the virus really wasn’t that bad. More than one conservative talk show host, motivated to keep the President’s wins front and center, compared Covid-19 to the common cold or seasonal flu. And more than a few liberal voices also downplayed the seriousness of Covid-19, apparently hoping to seize an opportunity to portray Trump’s travel restrictions to China as racist or otherwise misguided.

Having now mostly pivoted on the seriousness of the virus across the board, many of the same voices continue with speculations, assertions, and analysis that are proclaimed with all the undeserved confidence as before. After Samaritan’s Purse set up a temporary hospital in Central Park to treat coronavirus patients, The Daily Beast ran a hit-piece warning of “sub-standard care and “discrimination,” chiding the Christian ministry and its president, Franklin Graham, for their allegedly “spotty record.”

Given the actual record of Samaritan’s Purse, the article was pure fear-mongering. Still, it paled in comparison to a horrendous op-ed by Katherine Stewart in the New York Times which blamed evangelicals for “paving the way to coronavirus hell” by “denying science.” She also accused us of looking to faith-healers and miracle cures instead of medical experts. It was vicious, historically ignorant slander, and published in America’s newspaper-of-record.

The Times’ decision to publish such a ridiculous article was not only poor, it’s ironic, given the paper’s commitment to expose fake news and conspiracy theories about the virus. They keep a full list: Covid-19 is caused by 5G cell phone towers. It’s a foreign attack. It’s a plot by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. All ridiculous claims, of course, but no more ridiculous than the Nero-like claim that evangelicals are to blame for this pandemic.

Brad Littlejohn made a key point over at Mere Orthodoxy, “This virus has surely come as a judgment on our divided, post-truth society. Judgment does not merely punish,” he points out, “it reveals…what Covid-19 has revealed in America is a society that has reached a point of crippling mutual incomprehension and distrust…that runs so deep that it leaves few if any shared handholds for common knowledge informing common action.”

At all times, but especially during a pandemic, some degree of common knowledge and common action are essential for a society. How can Christians, people who are to be committed to truth, navigate this (mis)information age? Who is right, who is not, and how do we know? And, how can we be catalysts toward the renewal of a critical national resource: trust?

An essential part of the answer, and an essential part of a Christian worldview, is discernment. According to Paul’s prayer for the church at Philippi, love “abounds” best when accompanied by truth and discernment. And in an information age, discernment is the only true antidote to deception.

Eighteenth century British author Samuel Johnson called discernment “the supreme end of education,” before offering the best definition I know of discernment: “the power to tell the good from the bad, the genuine from the counterfeit, and to prefer the good and the genuine to the bad and the counterfeit.”

In other words, discernment involves both wisdom and will. The wisdom to evaluate truth claims, and the will to understand the reality of our fallen world, which includes evaluating truth claims beyond whether or not it will make our side look good and their side look bad. Bearing false witness is a sin, and truth must take precedent over wanting something to be so or not wanting it to be so.

And finally, a necessary ingredient of Christian discernment is confidence in God’s sovereignty. Fear, on the other hand, often spoils discernment.

Discernment won’t end put an end to misinformation overnight, but it can slow its infection rate. And as with the actual pandemic, that could make a world of difference.


Resources:

Media Exploiting the Pandemic

The following are the worst examples of the media exploiting the pandemic over the last few weeks:

NATIONAL   GEOFFREY DICKENS   MAR 26, 2020   |   6:52PM    WASHINGTON, DC

Source: MSNBC Blames Trump for Coronavirus: More People Are Dead “Because Donald Trump Is President”

The Born Alive Protection Act Voted Down, Again

thumbnail_baby

The Born Alive Protection Act Voted Down, Again

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH DAVID CARLSON

Once again, Senator Lindsey Graham has sponsored the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.” Once again, on Tuesday, the measure failed, this time 53-44, with two Democrats supporting it, and two Republicans voting against it. As Graham put it, “we vote on this every year.”

As the title suggests, the act would ban abortions after 20 weeks, once the fetus can feel pain. Right on cue, abortion supporters labeled the act “outrageously restrictive,” and the idea that children in the womb feel pain as “scientifically disputed.”

That the measure failed is no surprise, but to call it “outrageously restrictive” ignores abortion laws across the rest of the world. Germany and France both restrict abortions at 14 weeks of gestation. Norway restricts at 12 weeks, as does Ireland. Even notoriously liberal Sweden restricts abortions at 18 weeks.

In other words, the “Pain-Capable” Act, especially given the way we protect animals in our country, is quite reasonable. And if it’s reasonable, the other bill introduced Tuesday should be seen as downright obvious and humane.

Continued at SOURCE

 

‘Christian’ Atheists?’

The title would seem to be an oxymoron yet in reading the article I see it is these modern unbelievers calling themselves by such names. – Mike

BreakPoint Daily

‘Christian’ Atheists?’

faith bp

A Faith Too Good to Be False

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH SHANE MORRIS

Last week, actor John Rhys-Davies, best known for playing the dwarf Gimli in “The Lord of the Rings” films, gave a strong defense for Christianity.

Speaking to the Christian Post from the red carpet at the Movieguide awards, Rhys-Davies said, “We seem to forget that Christian civilization has made the world a better place… We owe Christianity the greatest debt of thanks that a generation can ever have…” he went on, crediting it for the ideas of religious liberty, free speech, and individual rights.

Rhys-Davies, who recently starred in an animated adaptation of “Pilgrim’s Progress” and is the lead in an upcoming biopic of Saint Patrick, said he often finds himself sticking up for Jesus in his line of work.

The strange part of this story is that Rhys-Davies is a self-professed “rationalist and a skeptic,” not a Christian. Yet he is still able to see how the faith of Christ’s Church, as author Alvin J. Schmidt puts it, “changed the world” for the better.

Rhys-Davis is just one of many skeptics, atheists, and secularists of late who reject the rhetoric of Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris and recognize the immense good the Gospel has done for the world. Whereas the so-called New Atheists slandered Christianity as being backward and poisonous, a new crop of unbelievers see it as beneficial, beautiful, and maybe even in some limited sense, true.

Take Douglas Murray, British journalist, political commentator, and author of the new book, “The Madness of Crowds.” Though a self-professed non-believer and gay man, Murray admits to admiring Christianity and “the positive role it has played in building Western civilization.” He even labels himself, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, a “Christian atheist.”

In a recent dialogue with Christian writer Esther O’Reilly on the “Unbelievable” podcast, Murray praised Christianity’s “revolutionary moral insights” such as the command to “love and forgive your enemies.”

“The more atheists think on these things,” he confessed, “the more we may have to accept that…the sanctity of human life is a Judeo-Christian notion which might very easily not survive [the demise of] Judeo-Christian civilization.”

But even more than recognizing Christianity’s usefulness, Murray sees the faith as meaningful. Describing a trip he took last year to the Sea of Galilee, Murray admitted he couldn’t stop thinking that, as he put it, “something happened here.”

Murray was one of several “Christ-haunted unbelievers” discussed on a recent BreakPoint Podcast conversation between Shane Morris and Esther O’Reilly.

In addition to her recent interaction with Murray, O’Reilly also contributed to an upcoming book about clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, another who has articulated a strong respect for Christianity from the perspective on non-belief.

According to O’Reilly, skeptics admitting to the Christian faith’s positive influence on history is only the headline of this story (although we’d be remiss to not include the recent book “Dominion” by Tom Holland as yet another example). O’Reilly thinks that under the surface, spiritual truth is being found too, much like the skeptics C. S. Lewis describes in the essay entitled “Myth Became Fact.”

Lewis, himself a convert from atheism, wrote, “A man who disbelieved the Christian story as fact but continually fed on it as myth would, perhaps, be more spiritually alive than the one who assented [to it as fact] and did not think much about it.”

With O’Reilly, we hope the flame of myth and meaning fans into full-blown belief, that they will come to see Christianity as “the place where the heart’s deepest longings and deepest intuitions about what is good…connect(s) with the mind’s deepest understanding [of what is true.]”

After all, no unbelief can survive that moment. Just ask C.S. Lewis.

Catch Shane Morris’ conversation with Esther O’Reilly on the BreakPoint Podcast.


Resources:

What’s with “Christian Atheists”? An Interview with Esther O’Reilly Shane Morris | BreakPoint Podcast | February 17, 2020

Douglas Murray cherishes Christianity. What would it take for him to believe? George Brahm | Premier Christianity | January 14, 2020

Don’t Leave Kids to Their Own Devices . . .

BreakPoint Daily

Don’t Leave Kids to Their Own Devices . . .

thumbnail_devices

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH SHANE MORRIS

The stats are sobering. According to the American Psychological Association, the average age of a child’s first exposure to pornography is 13 years old, with some seeing it as young as five. According to another survey, 42 percent of children have been cyber-bullied, and more than a third have been actively threatened online. One in five twelve-year-olds has been contacted by a predator.

Other pitfalls of unsupervised and unlimited screen time may not be quite as awful, but are still worth knowing. One doctor, writing at Psychology Today in 2015, described how overuse of technology leaves kids “moody, crazy, and lazy.” Phones and tablets overstimulate young nervous systems, resulting in disrupted sleep, fried reward circuits in the brain, multiplied stress, and fractured attention spans. The younger the child, the worse the damage seems to become.

All of this is why so many top executives and engineers in Silicon Valley refuse to give their own kids the mobile devices they make.

In 2018, the New York Times ran a feature describing these parents at Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Mozilla, and other tech giants who raise their own children tech-free. One Facebook veteran ominously told the Times, “I’m convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children.”

Are we taking the alarm being sounded by these executives seriously enough? Christopher Null at WIRED magazine thinks we are not. In a recent piece, he describes the “ethical debate” some parents think they must have over whether they should respect their children’s privacy online.

He quotes an author who makes the argument that supervising our kids’ tech use signals a lack of trust, and only conditions them to accept totalitarian surveillance.

I’d tell you how ridiculous I think this is, but Null has spared me the effort. He insists children should have no expectation of privacy when it comes to their online activity. In fact, and I fully agree with this, the least loving thing you can do as a parent is to leave your kids to their own devices on the Internet.

The rules and boundaries he’s set in his home are based on a simple fact: The devices our children use belong to us, not to them. Accordingly, we are entitled to see everything they see. In an age of predators, pornography, and cyber-bullying, to think otherwise is not only foolish, it’s unloving.

Brett Kunkle and I make these same points in our book “A Practical Guide to Culture. For starters, kids and teens shouldn’t be using devices unsupervised. Computers, tablets, and phones should only be available for use in high-traffic areas of the home. No locked doors.

Second, there should be no way for our kids to keep secrets from us. Know their passwords and remind them often of the ability to check their online activity at any time.

M.I.T. psychologist and tech expert Sherry Turkle also suggests the idea of “tech-free zones.” Specifically, she suggests that the car, the dinner table, bedrooms, and vacations be designated times and places with no phones and tablets. This gives kids a chance to reset, to engage in other activities, and to practice social skills not mediated by text messages. In our home, we’ve found that a weekly Sabbath break from our devices better prepares us for the week ahead.

Most importantly, none of this works without strong, positive relationships with our children. Unless we say “yes” to them as people and not just “no” to their unbridled tech times, they won’t understand why we are making a decision that seems so abnormal in our culture.

“Only in the context of a true relationship,” says Null, can we show our children who they are apart from their devices and, I’ll add, only then can they get a sense of the weight of the responsibility we feel as their parents. Just as they must answer to us for what they do online, we must answer to God, who entrusted them to us.

Come to BreakPoint.org and we’ll link you to Null’s article and tell you how you can get a copy of “A Practical Guide to Culture.”


Resources:

A Dark Consensus About Screens and Kids Begins to Emerge in Silicon Valley Nellie Bowles | The New York Times | October 26, 2018

What Is A Woman?

BreakPoint Daily

What Is A Woman?

thumbnail_what is woman bp

Two Marches, Contradictory Catechisms

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH SHANE MORRIS

One of the things I learned from years of teaching students how to defend their faith is sometimes the best way to test an idea is through questions: “What do you mean by that?” “Why do you believe that?” and “Can you define that?”

My colleague Joseph Backholm is a master of asking these revealing questions. You may know him from a viral video from a few years back when he asked university students whether they would accept him if he identified as a six-foot-five Chinese woman. They reluctantly all said “yes,” even though Joseph is a not-even six-foot white guy.

Over the last year, Joseph has led the Colson Center’s “What Would You Say?” video series. As part of this project, Joseph traveled to Washington, D.C. a few weeks ago to interview participants at two very different demonstrations: First, the Women’s March, and then, the March for Life. His question this time was probing, and the answers were revealing.

“What is a woman?” It seems like answering that question would be a prerequisite for participating in, I don’t know, a women’s march. Yet incredibly, none of the women he talked to—despite their passionate advocacy of women’s rights—could give him a clear answer.

“A woman is anything that she wants to be defined as,” said one. “A woman is someone who chooses to express themselves,” said another. “That’s a trick question,” said still another. Two other women who were selling uterus pins told Joseph that they don’t think having a uterus is what makes a person a woman!

Joseph and I talk about these interviews on the latest episode of the BreakPoint Podcast. He explains how the video wasn’t produced by cherry-picking or selective editing. None of the women he talked with could clearly or objectively define a woman.

“They have been catechized so effectively,” Joseph said, “that they don’t spend any time thinking about whether what they say is true or consistent.”

He also asked marchers two more questions, which we’ll feature in another upcoming video at WhatWouldYouSay.org. First, he asked whether these women supported a new California law that requires that corporate boards have female members. All enthusiastically said yes. Yet when asked whether children need both a mother and a father in the home, these same women said no. Love, they said, not gender, is all that matters in parenting. The contradiction was apparently lost on them.

Thankfully, there was another march in D.C.—a much bigger, more energetic one. The 47th annual March for Life was filled with women calling for an end to legal abortion. And when asked the same question, “What is a woman?” these ladies were able to answer quickly and consistently. They were clear: A man cannot become a woman, regardless of how he identifies. In other words, those who clearly understand when human life begins also clearly understand what a woman is.

Still, I couldn’t help but notice how some of the younger women that Joseph asked to define a woman hesitated before giving what they knew to be a politically incorrect answer. It was as if they expected the LGBT Zeus to smite them for telling the truth. And yet they bravely told it, while also bravely standing up for the unborn. I tell you, I hope their march is the one that represents the future of America.

All of this should remind us of how much what’s “normal” has changed for the younger generation, and how far-reaching the contradictory catechism we saw at the Women’s March really is. Folks, when we say ideas and worldview matter, this is what we mean, and it’s why videos like “What Would You Say?” are so important.

Those of us who didn’t grow up with modern gender politics need to realize that we are immigrants in this brave new world, but our kids are natives. They’ve never known any different. What’s obvious to us isn’t always obvious to them. And answers that come naturally for us often take courage for them. That’s why we must keep exposing lies about the human person and prepare them to speak politically incorrect truths. And maybe the best way to do that is to teach them how to ask good questions.

Resources:

LGBT Character Quotas

film

LGBT Character Quotas

JOHN STONESTREET  WITH SHANE MORRIS

Just about every major movie release these days is scrutinized about whether or not it will feature an obvious LGBT character. Ever since the live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast,” and a bit before, Disney has been sprinkling LGBT characters generously across its film properties.

Even the most recent installment of “Star Wars,” (now owned by Disney) features the franchise’s first, albeit strangely placed and obviously forced, same-sex kiss. And, Marvel Studios (also owned by, you guessed it, Disney) has joined the cause, including a gay character in its upcoming movie, “The Eternals.” The studio also recently announced a new film currently in production that will feature its “first ever transgender superhero,” marking what will likely become an endless parade of token “Ts” following in the wake of the “Ls” and “Gs.”

“Token” is the right word for what we are seeing. What most stands out about all these characters is just how tacked-on they feel. Few are essential to the stories being told. In some cases, they even detract or, at least, distract from them. Disney and other studios aren’t making movies about LGBT identity or lifestyle, they’re capitulating to character quotas—virtue signaling to the loud and influential LGBT lobby in order to keep protests down and ticket sales up.

The whole thing is reminiscent of Dave Barry’s satirical history of the U.S., “Dave Barry Slept Here,” in which he ends several chapters with the obligatory closer that “around this time women and minority groups were accomplishing a great many achievements, too.”

In no way am I suggesting that we shouldn’t expect more overt LGBT stories in the future. We certainly can. But in the meantime, the reality is that even a “woke” entertainment titan like Disney is not so much pushing a cultural agenda as they are bowing to it. Nor am I suggesting that their obvious capitulation to these imposed character quotas is ineffective sexual propaganda. As Brett Kunkle and I said in our book A Practical Guide to Culture, ideas are often most powerful not where they are the loudest, but where they are made to just appear normal.

Since the TV show “Will and Grace,” the most commonly advanced message has been that gay people are just like everyone else and just want to live and love in peace. Cultural acceptance of same-sex relationships grew steadily until Obergefell was enshrined into law. From there the demands only grew, from cultural power to legal power. Though many in the “G” and “L” camp were satisfied with “living and loving in peace,” the movement itself was far more ambitious, first demanding affirmation, then conformity and even participation from charities, public employees, bakers, florists, schools, and t-shirt makers.

Now, transgender characters are being introduced into big-budget films as characters who just want to live in peace. If this sounds familiar, it should. The “T,” which has almost nothing in common with the larger acronym and even contradicts the other letters in several places, has assumed enough soft cultural power to demand representation nearly everywhere. The question is: Will it also make the transition to legal power?

The strange tale of J. K. Rowling leaves some doubts. In early December, the multi-billionaire author of “Harry Potter” tweeted her support for a researcher in the U.K. who was fired from her job for saying that male and female are biological realities.

When a judge at an employment tribunal upheld the firing, calling the researcher’s views “transphobic,” and “unworthy of a democratic society,” Rowling tweeted that while she supports loving whichever consenting adult you choose, firing Maya Forstater for insisting that women are real was a bridge too far for her. Despite the intense backlash and calls for boycotts, Rowling still hasn’t retracted the tweet.

As Rod Dreher points out, this raises an interesting question: If all the soft power in that movement can’t move Rowling, can’t other entertainers say “no,” too? Maybe the claims of the transgender movement are just too radical. Maybe the “T” fails culturally where the “L” and the “G” largely succeeded?

We’ll find out soon enough. Until then, token transgender characters at the movies are an ironic reminder that this is a movement still trying to gain acceptance. Which means there’s still time for dissenting voices—even very influential ones—to say “no.”

Resources:

Why is JK Rowling being denounced? Because she said No to a lie C C Pecknold | Catholic Herald | December 20, 2019

A Practical Guide to Culture John Stonestreet & Brett Kunkle | David C. Cook | 2017