Obama and Dobson

June 25, 2008

The following is an article from Baptist Press concerning comments made between Barack Obama and James Dobson. Obama’s comments solidify the prevailing humanistic, postmodern and pluralistic belief that one’s faith should be kept privatized and should have nothing to do with government laws. The flaw behind this type of blatant discrimination of faith is that this idea of keeping one’s faith to himself is in fact a faith belief in its own right. This is very much the type of hypocrisy that we are forced to live with as government seeks to tighten its control of more and more of our liberties.

Focus on the Family founder James Dobson used his broadcast June 24 to criticize Barack Obama’s usage of Scripture, saying the presumptive Democratic nominee misrepresents biblical passages.

“I think he is deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview — his own confused theology,” Dobson said on the radio program.

Dobson’s words come as Obama reaches out to evangelicals, who in recent presidential elections traditionally have voted Republican.

At issue during the broadcast was a keynote speech Obama gave in June 2006 to the conference of the Call to Renewal, a liberal Christian organization. Several clips from the address — in which Obama criticizes the way social conservatives have used Scripture in pushing public policy — were played on the program.

“[E]ven if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christians from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?” Obama asked. “Would it be James Dobson’s or Al Sharpton’s? Which passages of Scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? How about Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount — a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application. But before we get carried away, let’s read our Bibles. Folks haven’t been reading their Bibles.”

Tom Minnery, president of government and public policy for Focus on the Family, said Obama’s interpretation is off the mark.

“Laws that applied to [the Israelites] then — the Levitical code, the dietary laws — no longer apply,” Minnery said. ” … [I]t seems that he is vastly confused about the details of biblical exposition. I think he is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter. I just don’t know whether he’s doing it willfully or accidentally.”

Said Dobson, “He says we ought to read the Bible. I think he ought to read the Bible.”

Minnery noted that Obama recently “cited the Sermon on the Mount as justifying same-sex marriage.” Minnery was referencing a March campaign speech by Obama in which the senator from Illinois defended his support of civil unions and said, “If people find that controversial, then I would just refer them to the Sermon on the Mount, which I think is, in my mind, for my faith, more central than an obscure passage in Romans. That’s my view. But we can have a respectful disagreement on that.”

In another segment from the June 2006 speech played on the broadcast, Obama said, “Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal, rather than religion-specific, values. What do I mean by this? It requires that their proposals be subject to argument, and amenable to reason. I may be opposed to abortion for religious reasons … but if I seek to pass a law banning the practice, I can’t simply point to the teachings of my church or evoke God’s will. I have to explain why abortion violates some principle that is accessible to people of all faiths, including those with no faith at all.”

Dobson said Obama’s views on democracy, too, are wrong.

“What the senator is saying there, in essence, is that I can’t seek to pass legislation … that bans partial-birth abortion because there are people in the culture who don’t see that as a moral issue,” Dobson said. “And if I can’t get everyone to agree with me, it is undemocratic to try to pass legislation that I find offensive to the Scripture. Now, that is a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution. This is why we have elections — to support what we believe to be wise and moral. We don’t have to go to the lowest common denominator of morality, which is what he is suggesting.”

Dobson noted that when Obama was a state legislator in Illinois, he opposed a bill that would have required medical attention be given babies who survive abortions.

“That, to him, was a moral position. To me, it’s anathema,” Dobson said. “Am I required in a democracy to conform my efforts in the political arena to his bloody notion of what is right with regard to the lives of tiny babies? What he’s trying to say here is, ‘Unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe.’ I thank God that that’s not what the Constitution says.”

Obama’s 2006 speech also drew a response from R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, on his blog. Writing in June 2006, Mohler called Obama’s position “secularism with a smile.”

“Sen. Obama seems to believe in the myth of a universal reason and rationality that will be compelling to all persons of all faiths, including those of no faith at all,” Mohler wrote. “Such principles do not exist in any specific form usable for the making of public policy on, for example, matters of life and death like abortion and human embryo research. This is secularism with a smile — offered in the form of an invitation for believers to show up, but then only to be allowed to make arguments that are not based in their deepest beliefs.””


How to Read a Book

June 13, 2008

As I was surfing around the blogosphere today, I came across a link that pointed me here: A blog post on how to read a book.

Have you ever thought about that before? Just how should you read a book? The author of this post, citing the author of How to Read a Book, states that marking through a book is the best way to interact with it. Reading should not merely be passive. It should be a conversation with the author. Here are seven ways to interact with what you are reading:

1. Underlining – of major points; of important or forceful statements.

2. Vertical Lines at the Margin – to emphasize a statement already underlined or to point to a passage too long to be underlined.

3. Star, Asterisk, or Other Symbol at the Margin – to be used sparingly, to emphasize the ten or dozen at most important statements or passages in the book.

4. Numbers in the Margin – to indicate a sequence points made by the author in developing an argument.

5. Numbers of Other Pages in the Margin – to indicate where else in the book the author makes the same points, or points relevant to or in contradiction of those here marked; to tie up ideas in a book, which though separated by many pages, belong together (e.g., use “cf.” for “compare” or “refer to.”)

6. Circling of Key Words or Phrases – similar to underlining.

7. Writing in the Margin, or at the Top or Bottom of the Page
– to record questions (and perhaps answers), which a passage raises in your mind; to reduce a complicated argument to a simple statement; to record the sequence of major points right through the book. One can also use the end pages at the back of the book for this as well.

After reading this list I must admit that I have frequently used all of these techniques, although underlining is easily the most used.

Part of our growth in Christ as redeemed and new creations is to grow our minds, thoughts, and decision-making abilities. In our society, where thinking with a purpose is often aborted or seriously delayed, interacting with books is an extremely important spiritual discipline that we should be active in performing as well as teaching our children to do the same. Remember, our children learn most from us by imitating – a fact that should both encourage and warn us of how we live our lives.

Charleston Fire

June 9, 2008

As someone with a background in sports journalism, I love a well-told story. ESPN’s Outside the Lines news program recently produced an excellent feature on the Summerville, SC basektball team. One the assistant coaches on that team died in the tragic furniture store fire of June 2007 in Charleston. If you have 15 or so minutes, it would be worth your while to watch this heartwarming story.

First Part

Second part

Dr. Al Mohler, president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has written an insightful piece on how we are living in the age of distraction.

“The rise of mass media and the culture of entertainment shaped the minds of generations now at mid-life and older. Today’s generation of college and university students faces a far greater array of attention demands — most of them now cellular and digital. Many teenagers and college students seem to experience genuine anxiety when they miss a few minutes of digital activity. (In fairness, their Treo and Blackberry toting parents are often almost as distracted and inattentive.)

Ask any educator and you will hear the horror stories. College professors look out at the tops of heads as students are bent over keyboards. On some campuses, faculty members are in revolt over students surfing the Web and maintaining their Facebook pages during lectures. The learning experience is transformed even if the students are taking notes on their laptops. Eye contact between the teacher and the students is often almost totally lost.”

It is no secret that information and technology is exploding at an exponential level. What I mean is instead of communication progressing in linear form such as 2…4…6…8, it is instead multiplying exponentially: 2…4…8…16…32. For example, when I entered college in the fall of 1997 I toted my huge desktop computer into my dorm room. It was my estimation that about half of those hallmates of mine in Snowden dorm (which is now no more…) actually had a computer in their room. Twelve years later, those freshmen entering college will not only all have their own computer, but they will also most likely have laptops.

Furthermore, during my freshman year at Carolina I was a part of the first class to have a T1 landline internet connection in their dorm rooms. Fast forward 12 years and students can tote their laptops into a classroom and connect to a wi-fi signal and completely waste their time in class (man, what I would have given for that! – especially in my ENGL 285 class, “The Literature of American Feminism”)

Additionally, my freshman year in school introduced me to AIM – better known as instant messenger. The fact that I could talk to someone via the computer just by typing and pressing ‘enter’ amazed me. Now, AIM is on the way out as Facebook is taking over both instant messaging as well as email. Speaking of email, don’t make me tell you about my freshman sc.edu email account which featured a black screen with green letter interface….talk about ancient.

The point in all this rambling is as our communication continues to explode exponentially, more and more of our society becomes addicted and reliant on communication and technology. Can you imagine what it would be like to go one week:

a) checking your personal email once a day(not business, since that is part of your job and is thus a necessity)

b) watching less than two hours of television a day (this includes the TV being left on as background noise)

c) Using the internet under one hour a day

d) Not checking your Facebook account for one week

e) Not sending a text message on your cell smartphone for one week

f) Not getting on the web via your cell or smartphone for one week

Here is my challenge for myself and for you: See if you can go one week doing the preceding activities and the time that you have instead spend it talking to a real live person, whether it be at work or at home. Can you imagine how doing just those things could effect your personal and spiritual life with your loved ones? Better yet, try it for one day. I’d love to hear how it changed your day.


May 23, 2008

As you may be able to tell, Shanan’ has undergone a face lift. The purpose of this blog has been to inform parents about issues that relate to Christian life and parenting. This purpose will still be in the forefront of the blog. However, I am also going to venture into writing commentaries on other issues related to culture and Christianity that you may not automatically associate with parenting and family life. However, everything that we come into contact with through our culture somehow negatively or positively effects our family life and relationship with God in someway.

Also, WordPress has the ability to publish posts when I tell it to. Therefore, I am going to try to write posts in blocks (when I have time to write the most) and have them published every day. Look out for more consistent content through this blog starting on Monday!

Steven Curtis Chapman

May 22, 2008

Pray for the family of Steven Curtis Chapman….

Classical Education

May 21, 2008

My friend Tim Brookins has an insightful post about the rewards of classical education.