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John and Maria look at some alternatives to Pride month. Christian schools in Minnesota are taking the state to court. — Recommendations — Saving Private Ryan Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero Segment 1 - Minnesota Dual Enrollment Law Segment 2 - Pride Month "Second Dodgers pitcher speaks out against Pride Night festivities: ‘God cannot be mocked'" The Washington Examiner Fidelity Month webinar Segment 3 - Marijuana and Mental Health
Today is Donut Day. Believe it or not, the day wasn't founded by Krispy Kreme or Dunkin but by The Salvation Army in Chicago in 1938 to commemorate their “Donut Lassies” who served during World War I. Methodist minister William Booth founded The Salvation Army in the 1860s to care for the poor in London. It was originally called the East London Revival Society. During World War I, the organization provided ambulances, clothing for soldiers, and refreshment huts. Booth's daughter, Evangeline, told volunteers, “You are going overseas to serve Christ. … You must forget yourselves, be examples of His love, be willing to endure hardship, to lay down your lives, if need be, for His sake.” The Donut Lassies stationed at the refreshment huts in France served donuts to the weary men on the front lines to bring them a taste of home. When the troops returned, they brought their love of “donuts” with them. And that's why we have Donut Day.
Therapy is about as much of the American experience these days as baseball, pickup trucks, and apple pie. Professional counseling is now seen as more than just a last resort for psychological distress, but as a healthy, essential path for resolving personal issues. In 2019, nearly 20% of Americans received some form of mental health treatment ranging from medication to therapy. Over 40% of Americans have seen a counselor at some point in their lives. Recently in the New York Times, journalist Susan Dominus asked an important question, especially given that the U.S. is in the grip of an ever-worsening mental health crisis: “Does therapy really work?” On one hand, dozens of studies confirm the value of talk-based therapy. A landmark 1977 study, for example, found that those with significant psychological distress “fared better than 75 percent of those with similar diagnoses who went untreated.” University of Wisconsin-Madison researcher Bruce Wampold put it, “the fact that you can just go talk to another human being … and get effect sizes that are measurable” is kind of miraculous. Other research, Dominus explains, is less clear. A 2021 study found that more than half of depression patients saw little or no benefit from talk therapy, and only one third found their depression receding long term. Another study found that only 50% of patients responded to cognitive behavioral therapy regarding anxiety disorders. The uncertainty has led some to push for alternative treatments, including more prescriptions of drugs like psilocybin, the active ingredient in so-called magic mushrooms. One prominent researcher mused, “Maybe we have reached the limit of what you can do by talking to somebody.” Of course, the results of therapy depend on a number of factors. While counseling is a powerful tool, it can only aim at the question, “What's going on inside of me?” Often missed, which is especially consequential for a culture in a crisis of mental health, are the fixed reference points outside of ourselves by which we can be known and orient who we are. Psychology is one of the many areas of modern life that has taken what sociologists call “an inward turn,” characterized by radical individualism and reliance on self-definition. Rather than pursue healing or the restoration of relationships, counseling can devolve into endless rounds of affirmation, a sort of perpetual re-baptism in the church of self-expression. This is just one way that therapy has replaced religion for many seekers. Self-discovery is the new salvation, and therapists the new priests. The key feature of psychology as religion, however, is the self as the new deity. This has only enabled, as Lisa Selin Davis observed recently at The Free Press, so many of the West's top schools and institutions to embrace and employ Critical Race Theory rhetoric and LBGTQ politics. The American Counseling Association now divides counselors and clients into either “privileged” and “marginalized” groups with a dedicated script for each and little mercy for those who dissent. More states have passed so-called “anti-conversion-therapy” laws, which threaten professionals who do anything other than only affirm a client's proposed gender identity. As a result, deeper mental health issues are never addressed, and anyone who speaks up can find themselves out of a job. One therapist in training put it, “My concern is that we're not helping people heal and transcend. We're just helping people live in their victim mentality.” In a tragic irony, the inward turn has made it harder, not easier, for the struggle to know themselves. There are some, many of them Christians, striving to rethink psychology and counsel others by looking outward as well as inward, to know themselves by first knowing what is true and good. We can only know ourselves by first knowing reality, ultimately God and the world He made. Any mental health journey without that fixed reference point is destined to harm more than it helps. This Breakpoint was co-authored by Kasey Leander. To help us share Breakpoint with others, leave a review on your favorite podcast app. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
Recently, The Washington Post published an oddly titled piece celebrating the miraculous survival of Denver Coleman. Thirty weeks into pregnancy, Kenyatta Coleman learned her unborn child had a pre-birth condition which gave the baby only a 1% chance of survival. With Coleman's permission, doctors performed a first-of-a-kind surgery. Days later, Coleman gave birth to Denver, a miraculously healthy little girl. Despite the piece's clear joy over the miracle of Denver's life, even calling her an “unborn child” throughout the piece, The Washington Post's editors ran with this title: “A Fetus had a 1% Chance at Life. A Historic Surgery in Womb Saved It.” “Fetus” and “It,” not “Child” or “Her”? Talk about underwhelming. ... I doubt that her parents, her family, or even the doctors trained in medicalese used that language to describe Denver after working so hard to save her life. All life is miraculous. All are, whatever their health or ability, created by God in His image. Welcome to God's world, little Denver!
In his recent and remarkable book, Biblical Critical Theory, theologian Christopher Watkin points out how often our thinking falls into false dichotomies. Humans are either animals or gods; the planet is either progressing toward utopia or doomed to catastrophe; sex is either no big deal or our whole identity. Back and forth the cultural pendulum swings, never considering that there may be another option: a story that transcends these dichotomies and makes better sense of the way the world is. Sex in particular has been subject to ideological extremes. For most of my lifetime, pop culture has followed the maxim that “sex sells.” So, scantily clad women have been used to market everything from cars and football to movies and music. Beer companies often took the lead, featuring provocative models in swimsuits unabashedly pandering to the lust of their predominantly male customers. The pendulum seems to have swung the other direction, though the undisguised profit motive remains. For example, Miller Lite's messaging has done a 180. In a new ad, the beer company chose to appeal to faddish feminist sensibilities. In it, actress Ilana Glazer indignantly tears down beer ads featuring women in bikinis while announcing that Miller Lite is now a champion of women's dignity and women brewers. The company is doing the right thing and, to quote David Spade from Tommy Boy, “in just a shade under a decade, too ... Alright!” If it weren't laced with profanity, I could get behind this new direction. I fully support any move away from cynically exploiting women for marketing, whatever the motive. Unlike Bud Light's recent, disastrous choice to feature transgender actor Dylan Mulvaney (a man) on its cans, Miller is at least gesturing toward an ideal that companies should sell products, not objectify people. However, here's where another cultural false dichotomy complicates things. Glazer and the executives at Miller would no doubt say they support abortion, so-called same-sex marriage, transgender identity, sexual liberation, and a whole host of other ideas that have now replaced the “sex sells” mentality of years past. But these still objectify, dehumanize, and exploit women. The pendulum has swung from one misguided extreme to another. There is a better vision for sexuality that transcends the exploitation of women's bodies on one hand or the denial of their existence on the other. That alternative was recently on display in a surprising place. Christian pro-life activist Lila Rose appeared on the dating talk podcast Whatever, which boasts over 4 million subscribers on YouTube. She was joined by a colorful assortment of guests, including a self-proclaimed pickup artist and several women who have made careers selling pictures of their bodies online. Typically, the format of the podcast involves the men shaming the women for their promiscuous behavior which, of course, the men also engage in. Lila threw both sides for a loop by describing a Christian view of the sexes in which men and women have “equal dignity” and in which sexual relationships are not only about pleasure but also about “procreation and the ability to bring life into the world.” All of this, she added, is designed to occur “within marriage,” “a lifelong, public commitment” to one's spouse, a commitment which, as she rightly pointed out, social science demonstrates to be the most fulfilling and stable type of sexual relationship. The other guests on the podcast seemed mystified. One of the men dismissed Lila as “annoying” and “a goody-two-shoes” after she challenged him to exercise self-control and commit himself faithfully to one woman. She may not have converted any of the other guests, but if the reaction online is any indication, she made a lasting impression on a lot of people. Lila did what every Christian should do in a culture captivated by false dichotomies. She painted a better vision of anything currently on offer. She pointed to an alternative in which men and women are not at war with one another but in harmony, an alternative characterized by self-giving and life-affirming love, not lust or an attempt to eliminate sexual difference. Even if the world has forgotten this option in its reckless swings from one false extreme to another, God still calls us to reject these distortions and make the case for something better, and not to sell beer or win subscribers but to point people to the One who made the world that way. After all, a life lived in light of this truth can be a far more effective advertisement than anything a beer company produces. This Breakpoint was co-authored by Shane Morris. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
After a bit of back and forth, the Los Angeles Dodgers have decided to feature the drag group Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence during their pride month celebrations and even award them a Community Hero Award. The “sisters” are a mockery of a Catholic religious order and perform blasphemous parodies of Christianity and the sacraments. Their tagline is “Go forth and sin some more,” a perversion of the words of Jesus. Other examples of their acts are too evil to mention. As Robert George of Princeton observed, If men wearing hijabs were to prance around mocking Muslim women, insulting Islam and faithful Muslims, and ridiculing the sayings of the Prophet Mohammad, their bigotry would be widely and rightly condemned. What would the Los Angeles Dodgers do? Praise them? Give them an award? We need to pray for all those who are trapped in these perversions while also calling out the Dodgers for their bigotry against Christianity.
If the final few weeks of May were any indication, this June's pride month noise will be louder and edgier than previous years. Already, the controversy surrounding Target's new line of clothing, produced in partnership with a clothing company that also produces clothing to celebrate Satanism, has dominated the nation's headlines. Incredulously, most mainstream media outlets (and a few “Christian” ones) have painted as the bad guys those concerned about children being groomed instead of the corporate and activist entities doing the actual grooming. However, there are plenty of people not fooled by this narrative, given the financial hit Target has already taken. And then there is the strange saga of the L.A. Dodgers. After a rather public back and forth, the Major League Baseball team decided to platform an LGBTQ organization that is known for its hyper-sexualized performances that openly blaspheme Jesus and mock Christian symbolism. Such mockery would never be tolerated if directed at other religious groups. But in a culture lost in what might be called a “critical theory mood,” even the most extreme acts are seen through the lens of predetermined cultural groupings that have been given moral status. Not only did the Dodgers organization backpedal their initial reversal, the so-called “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” will now be given some kind of Community Hero Award. In response, Christians must do two things. First, we can and should protest both with our voices and our pocketbooks. Dodgers players and Target shoppers will need to think through where the line of complicity is. Second, we should proclaim a better way. One of Chuck Colson's closest colleagues and collaborators has an idea worth considering: “By the authority vested in me by absolutely no one,” Professor Robert George of Princeton University wrote in an email last week, “I have declared June to be ‘Fidelity Month'—a month dedicated to the importance of fidelity to God, spouses and families, our country, and our communities.” Perhaps the leading Christian legal thinker of our lifetime, Professor George worked closely with Chuck Colson and Timothy George on the Manhattan Declaration. The 2009 statement of conscience outlined Christian conviction on the areas of life, marriage, and religious liberty. It only makes sense that Professor George would suggest Fidelity Month as a time of intentional remembering of those allegiances so often scorned in a culture like ours. “Pride” for example asks us to prioritize desire and autonomy over allegiance to God, children, each other, and ultimately, to reality itself. That makes June a particularly good month for Christians to be clear about where we stand, making the important decision to, as Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn put it, “live not by lies.” It's never easier, in fact, to go along with something that isn't true than during so-called pride month. Like when Israel would set aside days and seasons to remember and repent and recalibrate, why not choose to be intentional about making June something else: a time to remember and teach the next generation about our most important responsibilities as those made in the image of God. In this email from Professor George, the task of remembering seemed to be of particular concern: You may have read about the rather disturbing recent WSJ poll indicating a precipitous decline in our fellow Americans' belief in the importance of such values as patriotism, religion, family, and community—the values that used to unite Americans despite our many differences. “There are a million things we can and should do to restore the faith of our people,” George continued, “but I would like you to join in one small one.” Fidelity Month will launch with a webinar that is open to the public, tomorrow, June 1, at 2 p.m. EST. Professor George will be joined by Lila Rose of Live Action, Andrew Walker of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Bill McClay of Hillsdale College, and others. Learn more and register for the webinar at www.fidelitymonth.com. Also on the website, you can find the Fidelity Month symbol, a specially designed wreath that is, representative of God and His eternal nature, while the openness at the top of the wreath is suggestive of a divine embrace. The branches and leaves that compose the wreath signify a family that is dependent upon and in union with God. The star and stripe at the center bottom of the wreath symbolize our common union as Americans– “one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” The color gold symbolizes generosity and compassion – virtues that are closely connected to fidelity (supporting it and being supported by it). Fidelity, generosity, and compassion are anti-narcissistic virtues, reflecting the knowledge – the wisdom – that everything is not “about me.” It is a recognition of the duties we have to others, and that our true fulfillment is to be found in serving others: God, our spouses and families, our communities and country. The color blue, our background color, symbolizes truth, loyalty, responsibility, and peace. The Fidelity Month symbol can be shared and posted on social media, and the Fidelity Month website includes other ideas for individuals, families, churches, and leaders to reframe the next month in a way that honors God, each other, our children, and our nation. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
It pays to pay attention. Earlier this month, Michigan seventh grader Dillon Reeves saved the lives of 60 students when he drove his school bus to safety. When the driver of the bus lost consciousness, most of the other students didn't notice because they were on their phones. Dillon doesn't have a phone, so he noticed when the bus started drifting and jumped into action. The pressure to get smartphones for kids and let them access social media apps is incredible today. Almost 3 in 4 American youth own smartphones by age 12, and 84% of teens 13 to 18 use social media. Today's teens average about 9 hours a day on screens. The dangers of digital distraction are well documented: body image issues, sleep deprivation, pornography addiction, even suicidality. In the case of the Michigan school bus, kids would've lost their lives if Dillon had been distracted. To quote Dillon's dad, let's hope that his son's heroics will serve as “a change-the-world kind of lesson.”
Recently in The Guardian, Emma Beddington covered a new twist on an old practice. According to the 2022 U.K. census, writes Beddington, “74,000 people declared they were pagan, an increase of 17,000 since 2011.” Meanwhile in the U.S., “a 2014 survey by the Pew Research Center estimated at least 0.3% of people... identified as pagan or Wiccan, which translates to about one million people.” And, though it's not clear how anyone could know this, “That number is expected to triple by 2050.” Those numbers, while a small minority of the population, are significant when set against the overall decline of Christianity in the West. According to British historian Dr. Ronald Hutton, today's version of paganism is “a religion in which deities don't make rules for humans or monitor their behaviour—humans are encouraged to develop their full potential.” This comes with a heavy emphasis on being Earth-conscious, with rituals and festivals focused on connecting with nature. In this way, suggests Hutton, paganism is filling “a need for a spiritualised natural world in a time of ecological crisis.” Beddington describes the new paganism as a “tolerant, open, life-affirming, female-friendly faith.” It does seem to check all the right contemporary Western boxes: a feeling of transcendence without many hard commitments, a rejection of traditional morality while keeping a vague inclusivity, and enough concern for the natural world to qualify as a social justice cause. Or, as a group based out of the University of Massachusetts Amherst summarized: “Pagans view the world as a place of joy and life, not of sin and suffering. We believe that the divine is here with us in the natural world, not in some faraway place in the sky.” At the same time, the new paganism is a world away from ancient paganism. Though often a catch-all term for a wide variety of pre-Christian beliefs, paganism suffers from a shortage of written records. However, what we do know would not be best described as a universe born out of “joy and life, not of sin and suffering.” In Hesiod's Theogony, the Greek version of the origin of the cosmos and the gods, the birth of each divine generation is preceded by violence. Uranus, the sky, produces children with Gaia, the Earth, but hates them. Of their children is the titan Cronus who castrates his father. His blood falls onto the Earth and sea and creates still more gods. Cronus is, in turn, dethroned and imprisoned by Zeus. Celtic paganism does little better. Drawing on contemporary sources, most scholars believe the Druids enacted human sacrifices on a broad scale to appease the forces of nature, which they saw as temperamental and hostile. One example is the Lindow man, whose mangled remains suggest a ritual death as part of cultic sacrifice. Employing St. Augustine's approach to the depravity of pagan gods, writer Paul Krause offered this critique: The pagan gods were born from patricide and rebellion. They were born from primordial acts of sexual violence. Their patronage was in the civitas terrena which cared only to advance its depraved lust to control. Modern pagans reject ancient paganism. They find solidarity with the idea of human equality and dignity, see the natural world as a place of order rather than of chaos, and call for sexual restraint, the protection of children and disadvantaged groups, the end of slavery, mindless conquest, and human sacrifice. To this extent, they are embracing the innovations of Christianity. After all, it was Christianity and not paganism, as historian Tom Holland has explained, that taught that men, women, and children, slave or free, share the imago dei. It was St. Patrick, not the Druids, who believed and taught Ireland that “the Earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof” and not subject to hostile spirits who are appeased by bloodletting. It was Christianity that turned Nordic peoples away from a belief system that committed them to conquest, plunder, and death in battle. In short, all the things that make modern paganism appealing to modern people aren't pagan. Though many Westerners are bored by the hollowness of materialism and desperate to fill the spiritual vacuum it has left, they will not find answers in dead religions. Only Jesus offers the truth: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” This Breakpoint was co-authored by Kasey Leander. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
Analyzing medical data from 6 million people, researchers in Denmark have found that up to 30% of schizophrenia cases among young men could be linked to marijuana use. Increased potency of marijuana in the global market is a factor, and lawmakers have “decreas[ed] the public's perception of its harm,” according to the study's lead author. The law is a teacher. Legalizing marijuana use essentially teaches constituents that marijuana is safe. Except it isn't. Legalizing pot was, especially early on, sold as a way of helping sick people. But cannabis is the only substance I can think of approved for medical use and then legalized for recreation. As far as the cannabis industry is concerned, which is estimated this year to be worth 32 billion dollars, it has never really been about health. As more and more evidence emerges that pot is not as safe as the public was sold, we'll learn whether it's possible to put this genie back in its bottle.
Today, Memorial Day, I want to share a commentary on Memorial Day from Chuck Colson. Here's Chuck: This Memorial Day, reflect with me on how we should respond to the enormous sacrifices of our men and women in uniform. Memorial Day is when we honor the men and women of our armed services who have made “the supreme sacrifice,” who gave their lives for their country. Especially these days, when Memorial Day seems nothing more than a time for cookouts and swim parties, we cannot be reminded often enough about how great a debt we owe our war dead. They gave up their hopes and dreams, families, and friends. They submitted themselves to rigorous discipline—something I understand as a former Marine—24-hour-a-day duty—and placed their lives in great peril. “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” Their sacrifice should inspire in us a profound sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the freedoms we enjoy, bought with a price. And that gratitude should compel us to lives of service as well. Serving Christ, our neighbor, and yes, our nation. I can't help but recall the brilliant film Saving Private Ryan. James Ryan, now in his seventies, has returned with his family to the military cemetery in Normandy. He visits the grave of Capt. John Miller, the man who, a half a century before, led the mission to retrieve—to save—Pvt. Ryan. At the end of the mission, Miller was fatally wounded. As he lay dying, his final words to Pvt. Ryan were “James. Earn this … earn it.” We then see Ryan kneeling at Capt. Miller's grave, marked by a cross. Ryan, his voice trembling with emotion, says, “Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I've earned what all of you have done for me. “ Red-eyed, Ryan turns to his wife and says, “Tell me I've led a good life … tell me I am a good man.” With great dignity, she says, “You are.” With that, James Ryan salutes the grave of Capt. Miller. I tell this story in greater detail in my book The Good Life, which you can purchase at colsoncenter.org. You see, Pvt. Ryan, out of gratitude for Capt. Miller's sacrifice, did all in his power to live a good life. And Memorial Day is a great time for each of us to look into the mirror … to examine our own lives. Are we living good lives in gratitude for all those who have sacrificed for us—including our men and women in the military, our families, our friends, and most of all Christ? Are we, like Ryan, kneeling before the cross? Spielberg, a master cinematographer, had to realize the power of this imagery. Are we, out of gratitude, doing our duty for Christ, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, ministering to those in prison, in whatever harvest field to which the Lord has called us? Examine your life. And this Memorial Day, at the very least, thank those who have sacrificed for you and those you know who have served in our nation's armed forces. Maybe you'll do what I do when you see a guy or gal in uniform … at the airport, at the store, wherever … walk up to them and thank them for their service. And then go and remember Whom it is you serve. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org. This commentary was last aired on May 30, 2022.
A look at the passing of Tim Keller, who was called a giant by both top theologians and The New York Times. Christians are re-considering doing business with companies like Target and a handful of others that mock Christianity. Recommendations Lighthouse Voices with J.P. De Gance A Small Light What Should a Christian's Response be to the Transgender Movement?
Is the Metaverse headed for the graveyard? A year and a half after its release, the Metaverse remains vastly unpopular, despite millions of dollars of corporate investments and costly marketing campaigns. The most well-funded Metaverse app only has 38 active daily users, and Microsoft and Disney have laid off their specially designated Metaverse teams. In the initial hype, Meta overestimated the desire and demand for virtual reality. Meta could be our generation's MySpace, soon to be replaced by something superior, or it could be the failure to account for our embodied natures as image bearers. Though we're prone to dissatisfaction with our bodies and our relationships, we still crave “in-person” interaction and experiences, because our bodies are real and so is the physical world. Even the most beautiful picture cannot replace seeing the Grand Canyon up close. Digital knockoffs do not change or alter who we really are, body and spirit, a “living soul” made in the image and likeness of God.
According to tradition, St. Thaddeus and St. Bartholomew evangelized the region of Armenia in the first century. In the year 301, it became the first nation to declare itself Christian. Through centuries of warfare and oppression, its Christian identity has endured as part of Armenian culture, despite repeated attempts by neighbors to stamp it out. In 1915, the Turkish Ottoman Empire killed an estimated 1.2 million people during what has become known as the Armenian Genocide. Under the pretext that they were insufficiently loyal to the empire, Ottoman authorities shot entire villages, forcibly converted families to Islam, and marched hundreds of thousands of women and children into the Syrian desert to die. The brutal campaign of extermination led to a significant diaspora of Armenians to other countries. Even after Armenia emerged from Soviet dominance and declared itself an independent republic at the end of the 20th century, peace has remained elusive. Armenia has faced decades of conflict over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, where some 100,000 Armenian Christians now live but which Muslim-majority Azerbaijan sees as its territory. In 2020, as the world was preoccupied with the global pandemic, Azerbaijan waged war against Armenia. Seven thousand lives were taken, and the region has remained in the shadow of a fragile ceasefire since. Today, most Armenians exist in a state of uncertainty. Given their control over the region, it may be that Azerbaijan is poised to commit a second Armenian genocide. According to University Network for Human Rights researcher Thomas Becker, Over the past decade, Azerbaijani officials have invoked language used in the Rwandan genocide and the Holocaust, referring to Armenians as a “cancer tumor” and a “disease” to be “treated.” More recently, the country's authoritarian leader Ilham Aliyev has threatened to “drive [Armenians] away like dogs.” The situation seems dire with Russia, Armenia's ostensible security guarantor, bogged down in its own war against Ukraine, and with Iran, Armenia's southern neighbor eager to fill the security vacuum. However, an unexpected recent development is that a significant number of Armenia's diaspora population has been returning to their homeland. After a hundred years of exile and living in places like Russia, France, and the United States, an estimated 50,000 Armenians repatriated prior to 2020, with thousands more joining them every year since. For some, the motivation to return is economic. For others, it's about standing with fellow Armenians in the face of war. However, for many, the calling is about their faith. As the dean of Armenian Apostolic seminary put it, “We as a nation are called to witness to Jesus Christ in a very difficult region. … Our very existence is a testimony of Christianity.” Lara Setrakian, an Armenian American journalist, moved back with her family at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. In a recent podcast, she put it this way, I am doing what I'm called to do … and it is to be a helper like Mr. Rogers would say. It is a catastrophe. There are crises. But I want to be among the helpers. … We're not interested in not being Christian ... For Christians … this country is one big test of faith. And people I see are rising to the occasion. And they are finding strength, and they … have not ever given up. … They haven't given up the cross; they haven't given up their language, their love, their dance. They embody the resilience that we're all looking for. Another repatriated Armenian mused, “In America, I had a good life: a big house, a good car. But when I say, ‘good life,' I mean something else.” As so many in the West reel from a crisis of meaning, Armenian Christians have found joy in the face of severe hardship. In that way, we have much to learn from our Armenian brothers and sisters, even as we ask God to bless them, to strengthen their faith, and to bring peace to the nation they are rebuilding. This Breakpoint was co-authored by Kasey Leander. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
Middle school girls in a club in Colorado are being told that they are transgender simply if they are uncomfortable with their bodies. Leaders of the middle school Gay-Straight Alliance brought in a speaker who told sixth graders that “if they are not completely comfortable in their bodies, that means that they are transgender.” Two families are suing the school district for promoting the harmful ideas. Far from remedying a teenager's discomfort with their bodies, these ideas worsen the discomfort, cause irreversible harms, and significantly increase chances of suicide, especially for girls. With unrealistic beauty standards and objectification, it's no wonder girls feel unsettled in their bodies. But this doesn't mean they were born in the wrong body. Rather than push controversial and dangerous ideologies that harm kids, parents, doctors, and educators should work to address the more immediate causes of body image issues, especially social media and pop culture.
Last Friday, May 19, pastor, theologian, and author Tim Keller passed away. The longtime pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan and author of books such as The Reason for God was known for his thoughtful sermons, calm demeanor, and a ministry that extended beyond his own denomination and even his fellow Christians to the wider world of elite society. It's rare, especially today, for someone to be called “a giant” by both a top theologian and a New York Times columnist. Rarer still will such a prominent figure be regularly described as unassuming, living out the exhortation of Rudyard Kipling to be someone who can “walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch.” It's notable that even his critics, which he certainly had, have refrained from doubting his self-effacing grace and kindness for others. Keller was in his forties before he showed up on the public's radar. Oddly enough, he went to Manhattan after pastoring a small-town Virginia church for nine years. Success in the Big Apple was by no means a sure thing. A theologically conservative pastor setting up shop in the “Babylon” of downtown New York City had all the makings of a fish-out-of-water story where the well-meaning parson was doomed to failure even before he set out. Keller took pains to know his audience, leveraging his own intellectual rigor into sermons for his highly educated hearers. He refused to talk down, much less shout down. Nor did he attempt to make the distinctives of the Christian faith more palatable. He took strong stands on the deity of Christ, the reliability of Scripture, the resurrection, the hopelessness of secularism, and the enduring relevance of Christian sexual ethics. From an initial church plant of 15 people in 1989, Redeemer Presbyterian Church grew to a network of multiple congregations with thousands of people attending each week. In time, his influence extended to other pastors, who were inspired by his example and teaching, and set out to emulate in their own communities what Keller had done in New York. Keller was also instrumental in cross-denominational efforts, linking like-minded Christians to share their ideas and cooperate in endeavors to enhance the presence of the Church around the world. He was a co-founder of The Gospel Coalition, a broadly Reformed network that is among the most influential voices of contemporary evangelicalism, and a central figure in a Reformed resurgence among those who became known as the “Young, Restless, and Reformed.” He was also an original signer of the Manhattan Declaration, a Christian statement on life, marriage, and religious liberty because, as he put it at the time, “these are biblical.” Keller communicated a confidence that believers could maintain the classical faith of Christianity without being ashamed when dealing with cynical neighbors. Christians could, he believed, meet the claims of the world face-to-face because the Bible offers an accurate and holistic explanation for reality and the human condition and grounds the hope for which people are truly searching. His sermons offered a robust biblical analysis, a keen awareness and understanding of culture, and allusions to art, history, Lewis, and Tolkien. Ironically, his critics include progressive Princeton students and faculty, who couldn't stomach the idea that he would be honored by their school, and conservative Christians, some of whom believed his winsomeness to be weakness, and others who, as I often did in recent years, disagreed with his posture about politics and political allegiance. Even so, Keller was a remarkable gift to Christ's Church at an incredibly important cultural moment. Even in disagreeing, he made us better by, as St. Paul put it, “set(ting) the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity,” and reminding us that, in the end, the resurrection secures our hope for today and for eternity. As he said on a podcast near the end of his life, in his trademark thoughtful and calm demeanor, “If Jesus Christ was actually raised from the dead, if He really got up... then everything is going to be all right.” This Breakpoint was co-authored by Dr. Timothy D. Padgett. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
The 2020 pandemic disrupted the education of millions of kids. In response, many parents opted for alternative forms of education. “In that single summer,” wrote Dixie Lane with the Institute for Family Studies, “the number of registered homeschoolers in America more than doubled, rising from about 5.4% to about 11.1 %. Homeschooling among African Americans alone jumped to 16.1%, a nearly five-fold increase.” Still, Lane argues, the pandemic was not the only reason for the boom. In general, Americans are committed to two principles in education: localism and parental authority. The state overreach in K-12 education has brought parents back to those fundamental values. Some are fighting to make public schools better; others are investing in homeschooling or private Christian education. Either way, kids are rightly being seen as the primary responsibility of parents, not the state. More options mean a beautiful opportunity for Christians to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and minds … and to teach their kids to do likewise.
Much has been documented about the growing mental health crisis among American teenagers. Young people, however, are not the only ones struggling. Middle-aged women, particularly white women over the age of 45, account for nearly 60% of all Americans who have been taking antidepressants for more than five years. To be sure, with this kind of statistic, it is not clear the role that medical and pharmaceutical industries, which are incentivized to medicalize mental health struggles, play. There are also cultural factors at work. Affluent people, white people, and women are on average more likely to seek help for mental health issues than African American or Hispanic women, men, or people in poverty. It is good that more attention is now given to the mentally and emotionally hurting and that these struggles are no longer as stigmatized. But we also have reached a point where it's almost fashionable to be diagnosed with a mental health condition. This is especially true for women, and progressive women in particular. It is not unusual for people to include a mental health diagnosis in their social media profiles. Regardless of how well-founded these diagnoses are, the fact that so many (especially women and young people) embrace them as part of their identity is a troubling sign of dysfunction. Clearly, people are suffering. In a culture shaped by a “critical theory mood,” claims of suffering can be thought of as a desirable way of elevating a person's moral status. It is also not a coincidence that this suffering has accompanied a culturewide loss of a sense of meaning. A 2021 Lifeway Research study found that nearly 60% of American adults wonder about how they can find more meaning and purpose in their lives on at least a monthly basis. Rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and suicide are up across all demographics. Even as the wider world is struggling, there is a notable exception. In 2019, the Pew Research Center found that 36% of Americans who attend church or are “actively religious” regularly report being “very happy.” In other words, faith in God, marriage, family, and a sense of duty to something larger than ourselves are often what provide people with the richest sense of meaning. Ironically, these are the very things that, we are constantly being told, will constrain us. Women are told that being a wife or a mother “gets in the way” of true happiness. Men and women are told that sacrificing for others leads to unhappiness. The numbers, however, don't lie. Living unattached lives committed to individual autonomy is making us miserable. Of course, mental health struggles often inflict the righteous, too. Elijah, Martin Luther, and many others also battled inner demons. Still, whether the increased rates of mental health struggles are primarily physiological or due to self-inflicted circumstances, how we think about them matters. As author O. Alan Noble puts it, in moments of profound mental suffering, “getting out of bed is an act of worship”: But when you choose to rise out of bed each day, you also set a table for your neighbor. You declare with your being and actions that life itself is good. Whether you like it or not, your life is a witness that testifies to the goodness of God. Worship, in fact, takes many forms: singing, teaching, reflecting, relating. This is because worship is a way of recognizing the meaning that God placed in His world and for His image bearers. In fact, worship is the meaning for which human beings were made. There is nothing more than to know and to glorify God. In His grace, He makes Himself known throughout His world. It is one of God's great mercies that, by fulfilling His purpose for us, we are able to know happiness, satisfaction, and meaning. This Breakpoint was co-authored by Maria Baer. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
If the language of yesterday is continually updated, how can we maintain an accurate grip on history?
Only 3% of the world's population currently lives in a country whose birth rate isn't declining.
To put all the weight of our humanness on consciousness is an erroneous idea that will have disastrous consequences
The emperor's real role in Christian history and what he didn't do at the Council of Nicaea.
ADF has created a corporate index ranking companies on anti-Christian bias and John and Maria discuss John MacArthur's claim that “We Lose Down Here.”
Keeping adult explicit material out of children's libraries is common sense, not cancel culture.
Are we to get on board with the label or not let it drag us down?
A few weeks ago, one of the world's largest peddlers of pornography scored what they thought was a stunning victory for their cause.
Despite a government ruling suggesting the opposite, true religion takes place outside of church walls and should not be penalized.
The last few years, Christian colleges have faced a crisis of how to respond to increasingly vocal calls to “accommodate” LGBT students.
The rate of Gen Z women identifying as men has skyrocketed to about twice that of Gen Z men identifying as women.
As Western Christians take necessary stands against evil in our own cultures, we must also remember the struggles of our brothers and sisters around the world.
Scoring system will help faith-based and Conservative institutions fight discrimination in loaning and business practices.
How human rights are defined depends, first and foremost, on who we believe humans are and what we believe humans are for.
Doves are confirming the Bible's historical reliability.
Great Britain crowned a new king last weekend, John and Maria will talk about the symbolism of the ceremony. This is the season for commencement speeches, we have one that will warm your heart. And in Canada the public appears to support euthanasia for just about any reason.
Christians should protect play because it is part of our Lord's joyful heart.
“Medical Assistance in Dying” is normalizing euthanasia for Canadians.
Did a pro football player just tell grads marriage and kids are more worthy than a career?
The aging generation may not be in an economic crisis as much as in a crisis of meaning untethered from absolutes.
Preference for pets over humans is spilling into actual policy.
Good books tell children the truth about the world and who they are, respecting their age, imagination, and innocence.
Proponents argue that chemical abortions are safe, but nothing could be further from the truth.
A Nobel Prize winner from a Communist country had prophetic words for America.
There is beauty everywhere, even amidst the filth and rancor online.
Christians show Christ by helping those in need through the suffering, not by eliminating it altogether.
A new government report finds religious persecution around the world is growing, states that decriminalized drugs are rethinking that plan and John and Maria discuss a leading voice in Artificial Intelligence saying he regrets his life work.
Sex was designed by God for the perpetuation and sustaining of creation.
A look at the slave history in the country of this year's Wilberforce Award recipient.
The Holy Spirit is not the forgotten God but is at the heart of the Christian life.
In the history of the world, the wholesale rejection of the supernatural is a quirk of Western secularism.
However many numbers trendy marriage laws allow in, God's simple union plan of one man and one woman to create life really works.
Multiple studies confirm the “try before you buy” plan fails marriages.