Thursday, February 24, 2011

Will Christianity make you Happy?

In an answer to the question, "Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness?" C.S. Lewis answers

Which of the religions of the world gives to its followers the greatest happiness? While it lasts, the religion of worshipping oneself is the best. I have an elderly acquaintance of about eighty, who has lived a life of unbroken selfishness and self-admiration from the earliest years, and is, more or less, I re­gret to say, one of the happiest men I know. From the moral point of view it is very difficult! I am not approaching the question from that angle. As you perhaps know, I haven't always been a Christian. I didn't go to religion to make me happy. I always knew a bottle of Port would do that. If you want a religion to make you feel really comfortable, I certainly don't recommend Christianity. I am certain there must be a patent American article on the market which will suit you far better, but I can't give any advice on it. (emphasis added)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why Ministers must be Men

is the title of a book by Douglas Wilson, reviewed in the current issue of Touchstone (that, you guessed it, arrived in my mailbox today). From the review by Alison Sailer, this delicious paragraph:
[Wilson] argues that not only must ministers of Word and Sacrament be male, they must also be masculine, or as he puts it, vertebrates--men with backbones, easy to approach but difficult to intimidate. While masculinity does not exclude qualities often associated with women, Wilson argues that the task of the minister is to sift, to study, and to say what needs to be said with the distinctively masculine authority of the distinctly masculine male. Christians will be on the road to recovery from their mistakes in these matters when they recognize that God "not only excludes women from becoming women ministers but also excludes men from becoming women ministers."

Or as the quotation I've heard attributed to Dr. Kenneth Korby, "God ordains men into the pastoral office. Be one."

No Such Thing as Bad Press?

In an article in the most recent Touchstone that very fairly handles the complaints about the sale of KFUO-FM to Joy FM, SLU professor James Hitchcock notes, "For years, neither AM nor FM KFUO did justice to the unequalled richness of the Lutheran musical tradition, which the AM station largely confines to Sundays."

Sometimes it takes an outsider to remind us of the treasure we have.

Kermit Gosnell: A Man for Our Times

The story about Kermit Gosnell, the late-term abortion provider, arrested and charged with 8 counts of murder, is troubling, to say the least. Seven of those 8 counts of murder are children whom Gosnell delivered before snipping their spinal cords to kill them. The other is a woman who chose to end her unborn child's life, but who herself died under Gosnell's "care."

Gosnell is a man who embodies our Zeitgeist. When choice is the idol, who are we to restrict that choice to the first 6 months of pregnancy, or to the time that a child is living inside the womb? In what scarce media coverage Gosnell's case has received, the focus is usually on the deplorable conditions of his clinic and the fact that he aborted these children ex utero, not on whether (not when) it's okay to end a child's life.

At First Things, Elizabeth Scalia asks
So, allow me to ask the impolitic question I have hinted at elsewhere: in choosing to look away, in choosing to under-report, in choosing to spin, minimize, excuse, and move-along when it comes to Kermit Gosnell—and to this whole subject of under-regulated abortion clinics, the debasement of women and the slaughter of living children—how are the press and those they protect by their silence any better than the Catholic bishops who, in decades past, looked away, under-reported, spun, minimized, excused, moved-along, and protected the repulsive predator-priests who have stolen innocence and roiled the community of faith?
"Choice" is just a name given to the idol "me." It's a refusal to have any authority except one's self. It's little different from the child who protests, "You're not the boss of me." It's my body/life/time/whatever; I can do what I want with it.

That's why a man like Gosnell exists. He's a means to an end, a way to worship your self, a way to buck any authority that might tell you what to do with your body (or the body of the child growing within you). What's the solution?

In his book Republocrat, Carl Trueman reflects on the failure of politicians to solve the problem:

A number of thoughts come to mind when reflecting on the abortion debate. First, given the pro-life rhetoric, what is the actual Republican record on abortion like? Not very impressive. The Roe v. Wade ruling came down in 1973. Since that time, Republicans have enjoyed the lion's share of the presidency, and have also had periods of significant control of Congress. Yet, Roe still stands and rates of abortion are catastrophically high, to the extent that the pro-life movement is currently divided over the real pro-life credentials of a conservative president such as George W. Bust, now that he has left office (the rhetoric being somewhat less equivocal in 2000 and 2004). It seems clear that the democratic legislative path to erducing or even outlawing abortions is proving remarkably unfruitful, a fact that may connect to the complexity of getting legislation passed in the American system of checks and balances. Or, more cynically, this may be due to the fact that a majority of Americans are, sadly, in favor of abortion and politicians need their votes to get elected.

Maybe the solution is in the Church? Yes, but not is more and more opposition to abortion. Like having Republican leaders, having a strongly anti-abortion voice seems to have little effect. Why? Perhaps because most American Christians give license to Gosnell and the radical pro-choice movement by insisting that they must have some freedom to choose. In the mindset of contraception is the insistence that "You're not the boss of me," a stubborn refusal to submit to God's design for creation.

The solution is in repentance. Before she can proclaim "you're not the boss of you," the Church needs to acknowledge that for herself: "I'm not the boss of me. I have a Head; to Him I submit." Before Christians can resoundingly denounce Kermit Gosnell, they must altogether give up the freedom to choose. Anyone can call Gosnell a monster and a murderer, but only the Church can embrace the alternative; only she can extol God's gift of children and rejoice that He--not she--is free to choose when to give children.