Things Heard: edition 3v1

Round the web:

  • An impact on separation from culture for evangelism.
  • Doomed to repeat?
  • Mr Obama bought ad-time during the Superbowl. One succinct summary of the message, “I will end the politics of division by attractively stipulating the correctness of my views and thus implying that those who don’t agree are ugly and want to perpetuate the politics of division. It’s a version of what I labeled several years ago as the “passive aggressive tyranny trick.” Heh.
  •  Al-Qaeda in Bagdahd used two women with Down’s Syndrom as bomb carriers, apparently unbeknownst to them. A comparison to the Western practice of aborting the same.

Evangelism in the U.S.: Sell the benefit

One of the biggest issues I have with the evangelical church in America is its obsession with capitalism. Or, I should clarify, the philosophy of capitalism.

Maybe it’s my Calvinistic bent, but I cringe every time I read about church growth programs, evangelistic methodologies, and cool, innovative ways to trick reach the lost with hip sermons.

I guess that’s why, when purusing the posts at Lifehacker, I was impressed with one titled, Give a Presentation like Steve Jobs. Kevin Purdy, the Lifehacker author, links to Deliver a Presentation like Steve Jobs, from BusinessWeek, and states:

BusinesssWeek gets a communication coach to analyze Steve Jobs’ latest Macworld keynote speech and pull out 10 tips that us mere mortals can apply to our own presentations. One strategy in particular seems to be what makes Jobs’ product introductions stand out from the typical “gee whiz” events:

Sell the benefit. While most presenters promote product features, Jobs sells benefits. When introducing iTunes movie rentals, Jobs said, “We think there is a better way to deliver movie content to our customers … most of us watch movies once, maybe a few times. And renting is a great way to do it. It’s less expensive, doesn’t take up space on our hard drive…” Your listeners are always asking themselves, “What’s in it for me?” Answer the question. Don’t make them guess. (emphasis in original)

How close is that methodology to the so-called evangelistic pitch we often hear in churches today? Rather than hear the Biblical idea that we are all sinners, we’re presented a notion which purports to sell the benefit of having a personal relationship with Jesus. Rather than hearing that God commands us to repentance, we hear messages which pander to the “What’s in it for me?” question our listeners are always asking themselves.

Think about it, the next time you’re in church.

Take Ann Coulter…Please Hillary, Take Ann Coulter

Even in the midst of an ocean of absurd statements that masquerade as political rhetoric in today’s 24/7, all news all the time media environment, attacks this week on John McCain by some convervative talkers, politicians, and pundits have been over the top.  But the most ridiculous of all were comments by Ann Coulter on Hannity and Colmes, and again on the Sean Hannity radio show, that if McCain is nominated she would vote and work for Clinton because Hillary is more conservative than McCain. Conservatives are flocking to Romney as a stop-McCain effort.  If the conservatives powers-that-be would have supported Romney earlier in the campaign cycle, he’d probably be on the way to the nomination.  I’ve liked Romney for a couple of years, but actually preferred his more moderate persona as governor to the talking-point conservative of his campaign. But I will vote for John McCain here in Georgia on Tuesday, with apologies not to Romney but to Huckabee, who I wish was electable.  Of course I’m suspect, because I also voted for McCain in the Georgia primary eight years ago.

The trashing of McCain nonsense by right wing talkers (who I usually agree with), isn’t based on his lifelong service and voting record.  Jeff Jacoby provides a more sensible take on McCain in his Boston Glove column today. He writes:   

The conservative case against McCain is clear enough; I made it myself in some of these columns when he first ran for president eight years ago. The issues that have earned McCain the label of “maverick” – campaign-finance restrictions, global warming, the Bush tax cuts, immigration, judicial filibusters – are precisely what stick in the craw of the GOP conservative base.

But this year, the conservative case for McCain is vastly more compelling.

On the surpassing national-security issues of the day – confronting the threat from radical Islam and winning the war in Iraq – no one is more stalwart. Even McCain’s fiercest critics, such as conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, will say so. “The world’s bad guys,” Hewitt writes, “would never for a moment think he would blink in any showdown, or hesitate to strike back at any enemy with the audacity to try again to cripple the US through terror.”

McCain was never an agenda-driven movement conservative, but he “entered public life as a foot soldier in the Reagan Revolution,” as he puts it, and on the whole his record has been that of a robust and committed conservative. He is a spending hawk and an enemy of pork and earmarks. He has never voted to increase taxes, and wants the Bush tax cuts made permanent for the best of reasons: “They worked.” He is a staunch free-trader and a champion of school choice. He is unabashedly prolife and pro-Second Amendment. He opposes same-sex marriage. He wants entitlements reined in and personal retirement accounts expanded.

McCain’s conservatism has usually been more a matter of gut instinct than of a rigorous intellectual worldview, and he has certainly deviated from Republican orthodoxy on some serious issues. For all that, his ratings from conservative watchdog groups have always been high. “Even with all the blemishes,” notes National Review, a leading journal on the right (and a backer of Romney), “McCain has a more consistent conservative record than Giuliani or Romney. . . . This is an abiding strength of his candidacy.”

McCain can beat Clinton or Obama, but a very wise choice of a running mate will help.  We’ll look at that another day.   

"What the Public Wants"

That’s what many folks think that Hollywood produces, and it’s the excuse given when others lament what comes out of the movie industry.  The public wants it, and the movie houses’ job is to make money, so the produce what does it best.

If that’s so, it’s time for a change of direction in Hollywood.

Americans flock to movies with patriotic, moral content, according to a study that looked at thousands of movies released by Hollywood in recent years, but they avoid those with socialist and anti-capitalist themes in droves.

"Movies with very strong Judeo-Christian values, capitalist ideals, patriotism and pro-American attitudes do much better at the box office than movies promoting socialism, Marxism, left-wing political correctness and atheism," said Ted Baehr, publisher of MOVIDEGUIDE©: A Family Guide to Movies and Entertainment, and chairman of the Christian Film & Television Commission ministry in Hollywood.

The article goes on to note that the type of movies that Baehr supports make a lot more money, on average, that the others, and this trend goes back at least as far as 2002.  If that’s the case, Hollywood would be making more of them; that’s what the public wants. 

This also goes back to the fact that G and PG rated films make more money than R and NC-17 ones.  Shouldn’t we be seeing more of the ones that bring in the cash?  Well, we’re not likely to see that.

[Baehr] said the results also show that there are two reasons Hollywood releases movies. The first is to entertain and make a profit, while the second is to "show you’re just as Hollywood PC as the next producer."

"If you’re making a movie like ‘Redacted,’ you’re cruising for a box office failure," he said.

He said such projects will only do filmmakers good "in the small inner circle of the elite system that is contrary to the values of faith and tolerance and grace."

The results show the "average movie-goer" has more common sense than the average person who considers himself among those "elite," he said. He also noted that those are only a portion of the Hollywood industry, because "there are a lot of good people, producers, writers and directors" in Hollywood.

I think, too, that the PC ones are as much for indoctrinating and influencing the culture as they are for ideology’s sake.  As such, the excuses for the Hollywood Left don’t hold water.

[tags]Hollywood,movies,Ted Baehr,MOVIEGUIDE[/tags]

Things Heard: edition 2v5

  • Heh, an impression of the Left?
  • Left, Right and assumptions on Islam. I’d have to say my “assumptions” are a little different. I don’t fear “The Right is concerned about a monolithically hostile Islam that the West must defend itself against.” instead, I have this notion that religions always have people with a different level of faith and commitment from the casual to the very fervent. Islam is not “moderate” internally so the violent fervent will always be with us as long as there is an Islam.
  • US decline of influence … going strong since 1945!
  • Ideology and Idol.
  • Blame shifted away from Bush and the Admin, by a non-supporter no less.
  • A person who left the fame/fortune treadmill.

More here.

Tax-cutting Democrats?

Well, maybe they’re not being vocal about it, but Investor’s Business Daily did not something in Nancy Pelosi’s press release on the economic stimulus package making its way through Congress.

We’re so used to Democrats pushing tax hikes as the answer to all of America’s problems that we were taken aback to find the following words buried in Pelosi’s release on the stimulus deal: "Economists estimate that each dollar of broad tax cuts leads to $1.26 in economic growth."

Gee, that sort of sounds familiar. It’s almost, though not quite, like what the much-reviled supply-side economists have been saying for, oh, 30 years or so.

Pelosi, and other Democrats now suddenly touting tax cuts, may be on to something. We might demur on the notion that all tax cuts must be "broad" to be effective. Evidence really lies more strongly with giving tax cuts to those who would start new businesses or expand old ones. But it’s refreshing to hear a Democrat admit the obvious — that tax cuts work.

Now, their base may have other thoughts on this, which is why I’m sure we haven’t heard much about this being trumpeted by Pelosi’s office.  It has been Received Wisdom, from the Democrats’ point of view, that tax cuts — letting people keep their own hard-earned money back to them — is somehow bad, economically and morally.  Here we see that, behind closed doors (and within unread papers), they may, in fact, not think that, at least economically. 

IBD, though, notes that not every tax cut has the same effect.

But not all tax cuts are created equal — something, unfortunately, Democrats don’t seem to get. They think giving tax cuts — or, more accurately, cash — to those with lower incomes results — presto! — in stimulus. That’s not the case. Rebates are like welfare checks.

In fact, investors and entrepreneurs create economic growth, new jobs and higher incomes. They’re the risk takers who build our economy. But today they’re taxed at the most punitive rates.

The biggest bang for the tax-cut buck, therefore, comes from lowering rates for those who will actually take the money and create or expand a business with it — not just spend it at Wal-Mart.

New research shows this to be true. In the broadest such study ever, University of California economists Christina and David Romer looked at every tax change in the U.S. after World War II.

Their unambiguous conclusion: "Tax cuts have very large and persistent positive output effects." Indeed, a tax cut of just 1% boosts GDP by about 3% for several years, they found.

This is a truth that the Democratic base really isn’t ready for, but baby steps are good.

[tags]tax cuts,Democrats,Nancy Pelosi,Investor’s Business Daily,economy[/tags]

The GOP No Longer Represents Conservatives

If the Republican Party continues on its current path it will nominate either John McCain or (given a Super Tuesday miracle) Mitt Romney, who are not bona fide conservatives. In doing so, the GOP will demonstrate that it no longer represents conservatives and has placed a higher value on winning an election than standing by its principles.

The GOP didn’t get to this point overnight. Part of the blame can be laid at the feet of President Bush who, in spite of his excellent nominations to the Supreme Court of Samuel Alito and John Roberts, his consistent pro-life stands, and his persistent prosecution of the war on terror has done little else to further conservative principles. Government programs have expanded dramatcially under this President’s watch and spending has gone through the roof.

There’s little reason to think that John McCain or Mitt Romney would govern much differently from President Bush. I think they both would stand frim on pro-life and terrorism issues and follow the President’s lead. Beyond that, I don’t expect that there would be much more we would see from their administration that would follow conservative principles.

However, I do not intend to sit on the sidelines come November. The stakes are far too high for conservatives to sit out this election. With the retirement of so many Republican congressmen this year it likely that both the House and Senate will not only remain in Democratic hands but their majorities in both houses will be much larger. It’s safe to say that conservatives don’t want to put either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama in the White House with a Democrat controlled Congress.

That’s exactly why conservatives should stop whining about how McCain and Romney don’t represent their values. More conservative candidates like Duncan Hunter, Sam Brownback, Tom Tancredo and even Mike Huckabee are being tossed aside in favor of more “electable” candidates. Conservatives have had their chance to select someone who reflects their values. Instead, they have decided to put winning above principles. Given the dynamics of this year’s election that is understandable. But that’s not necessarily the right thing to do.

If a Democrat wins the White House this year (and there is a good chance that will happen) perhaps Republicans will take a good hard look and see how abandoning their conservative principles led to their defeat. It’s a lesson that they should have learned from the 2006 election.Until they do learn it, they shouldn’t expect to win many more elections.

Things Heard: edition 2v4

  •  The Christian Carnival is at Everyday Liturgy.
  • Scum? noted.
  • Preparing for Lent.  And here. I’d like to also mention on Monday March 10, if you celebrate Lent in your parish or tradition, find a local OCA or Antiochan Orthodox parish and go to the Canon of St. Andrew (that is repentance and Lent have a connection for you). There is no better liturgical reflection on repentance than that to be found anywhere.
  • On that Game this weekend (and church).
  • On Market and the left.

The rest of morning linkage can be found here.

Things Heard: edition 2v3


  • Anticipating matriarchy.
  • Good news. “Myanmar’s detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi on Wednesday was allowed to meet with top members of her party as well as with a government liaison officer, an official told AFP.”
  • Bush and Obama, both good men and some evidence.
  • Run away! Please.
  • Two paths to a secular government and society.

Six Lessons From Florida

Congratulations to Senator John McCain for his victory last night in the Florida Republican Primary. He has now emboldened his position as the front runner for the nomination. While he’s not necessarily the person I would want as the nominee, I’ll support him if he wins the nomination.

Looking over last night’s results, I’ve observed six things that should be kept in mind as the process moves forward.

Read the rest of this entry

What if we win? (v. 10)

Seven al Qaeda killed in Miqdadiyah

The latest Coalition raid in Miqdadiyah occurred on Jan. 3, resulting in seven al Qaeda fighters killed. Coalition special forces, part of Task Force 88, the hunter-killer teams assigned to hunt al Qaeda’s networks, “targeted associates of an al Qaeda in Iraq leader allegedly responsible for coordinating and directing a large terrorist group, and carrying out executions in the Diyala River Valley region.” Coalition forces called in an airstrike on a safe house, killing two al Qaeda operatives. Five additional al Qaeda terrorists were killed in a follow-on raid.

Taliban commander killed in clash in South Waziristan

The Pakistani military has killed a senior Afghan Taliban commander during a clash in the tribal agency of South Waziristan. Saifur Rahman Mansour, the Taliban commander during Operation Anaconda, was killed in the Taliban-controlled tribal agency, Iranian Press TV reported.

34 al Qaeda killed in day’s fighting during Phantom Phoenix

Coalition and Iraqi security forces were active on Thursday and Friday in fighting as part of Operation Phantom Phoenix. Two senior al Qaeda in Iraq operatives were killed along with 32 foot soldiers during fighting in Arab Jabour, Miqdadiyah, and the Samarra region. Another 34 al Qaeda fighters were reported captured.

Cross-posted at New Covenant.

Stealing the Nomination?

Could Senator Hillary Clinton try to steal the Democratic Presidential nomination?

Sure, it may seem like a stretch but I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a sudden call from the Clinton camp to have delegates from Florida and Michigan seated at the convention particularly if she wins big in today’s Sunshine State primary.

But it’s not beyond the realm of possibility at all to consider that Senator Clinton could win the nomination without receiving a majority of the delegates selected through the party’s primaries and caucuses. That’s because of a quirk in the Democratic Party known as the Superdelegate, who is an elected official or party member and is not tied to any particular state primary or caucus.

Though it is not widely reported in the media, Senator Clinton holds the lead for the nomination due to the advantage she has over Senator Barack Obama in the Superdelegate category. As of this writing, Mrs. Clinton leads 201-116 according to the Real Clear Politics delegate scoreboard with 114 left uncommitted. Senator Obama has won more delegates through the primaries and caucuses held to date by a margin of 63-46.

It would be ironic if Senator Clinton managed to secure the nomination without winning a majority of the delegates up for grabs during the primary season. Given how close the race for the Democratic nomination has been so far, it’s also not beyond the realm of possibility. But we will hear anything about voter disenfranchisement like we have the last two election cycles from Democrats? Don’t bet on it.

Things Heard: edition 2v2

Bombs? Not. An Argument From Tradition

In a conversation on Sunday, the question was raised (which is not new but certainly pointed),

“We believe that abortion is murder of innocents. We would not stand quietly and non-violently attempt by political action or consciousness raising to stop the Holocaust. Why should we not be bombing abortion centers? When we are called to account before the dread judgment seat of Christ how will be judged for not letting using violence to stop this?”

I’d like to attempt to answer this question. Before we jump before the fold, I’d like to remark on one thing. Holocaust is a thing which is in the common imaginary, the common symbol for things of this nature. One might ask, why not Holodomor? 4 million died in the Holodomor which number significantly in the 20 million killed by internal purges and famine enacted purposefully just as 12 million were killed by Hitler in the Holocaust (of which just over 6 million were Jewish).

The World went to war to stop Hitler, we in America crossed the Atlantic to voluntarily take part to end his evil. Stalin and Lenin’s evil was occurring en mass prior. If there was a moral imperative to go to war to stop Hitler because of Holocaust, was there not the same need to stop Stalin, Lenin, Mao and so on. Should we put an end to the regime North Korea? Now!? But one thing these things share, which they don’t share with local abortion clinics is that the political process works intra-state, not inter-state.  Read the rest of this entry

Things Heard: edition 2v1

Things seen over the weekend:

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