When Sin Pays: How We’re Making a Mistress a Star

March 16, 2008

Eliot Spitzer is getting eclipsed by his mistress. I find the media’s treatment the entire sex scandal to be contradictory and strange.

On the one hand there is apparent, and I say only apparent, outrage over Spitzer’s escapades with a high-priced prostitute. And on the other hand there is a bit of hand-rubbing glee that he’s been caught breaking the very laws that famously propelled him to legal superstar as New York’s top enforcer. Many are glad he’s been caught with his hand in the cookie jar that he rigidly patrolled.

There is a degree of gloating over him being caught in his crimes. Maybe it’s fueled by the dislike he seemed to spawn in the hearts of his opponents. He has a reputation for being quite arrogant, and there’s something delicious about seeing an arrogant man having to eat the dirt he dished out to others. It appears as if this is the sentiment that is pulsating in the public response to Spitzer, even more than apparent outrage over his sexual infidelity.

Yet for Ashley Dupre, no such outrage seems to exist. Instead of being appalled at this girl for engaging in not only illegal, but immoral acts with a married man, there is actually a level of curious interest in her life that has propelled her into a celebrity. Have we forgotten that she is no fair maiden, but a prostitute?

The larger percentage of the news about this scandal keeps showing photos of her in candid and posed settings, reporting about the number of music downloads and the accompanying money she’s made since the firestorm ensued, interviewing friends and co-workers to get more of an inside scoop on who she is and what she’s like. Why is all of this so interesting?

Well, media coverage as a whole seems strangely ambivalent about her. We are reminded that she’s was involved in the “sex scandal” with the governor, but what used to be shameful for being a prostitute is now soon overpassed for eager interest into the real life of an aspiring singer, who, mind you, if not for her sexual involvement with a public figure, would be of no interest whatsoever otherwise. No one would know about her if she hadn’t slept with the governor.

But that’s just it. She has become the main focus of interest in this story. People can’t get enough of her videos, songs, news stories showing her pictures and giving the latest tidbit of discovery about her. It’s as if there is an eager hope that we’ll catch a glimpse of something forbidden. We know we shouldn’t be so interested in the behind-the-scenes life of a prostitute, but we are.

It’s like the ambivilence people have toward a fatal car accident. Passers by don’t want to look for fear of the sight of blood or dead bodies, but who can resist looking after all? We want to look, but know we really shouldn’t.

Spitzer deserves worse than he’s gotten so far, but so does Dupre. Our society should not let getting paid to sleep with someone be a fast track to becoming a star. We shouldn’t be so interested. We should feel shame for her. I keep wondering if she does.

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A Great Man Is Gone

February 28, 2008

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William F. Buckley, Jr. was a man of immense interest to me. I find myself more sorrowful for his recent passing than I expected I would, and it has been certainly more than I have felt for anyone else’s death, among those I never knew personally.

His political genius is renown, his influence is immeasurable, and his contribution to American culture and politics is enormous – reasons enough to pay attention to him. While each of those qualities of Mr. Buckley have evoked a great deal of admiration, respect, and sheer gratitude for him from me, there is yet another characteristic of Mr. Buckley that has drawn me to him more than nearly any other: his speech. That’s right, the way he talks.

Both his inimitable pattern of speech and the very things he said can hold me mezmerized for hours. It is for this very reason I have at times spent hours combing the web for audio and video clips of Mr. Buckley being interviewed or giving a speech. I just enjoy hearing him speak. So much so that when I was ready to buy his book, Miles Gone By, which was a bit of an autobiography, I opted for the audiobook when I found out he had read it, unabridged, himself. Sheer aural pleasure!

His mind was absolutely brilliant, a fertile landscape of ideas and acumen in which there seemed to be no horizon. And his vocabulary and wit famously matched the immensity of his mind. But it was his frequent use of long or obscure English words that make reading and listening to him almost irresistible.

The New York Times wrote:

Mr. Buckley’s vocabulary, sparkling with phrases from distant eras and described in newspaper and magazine profiles as sesquipedalian (characterized by the use of long words), became the stuff of legend.

Yes, and the stuff of learning for a curious mind like mine. He has played a part in fertilizing my own love for learning in general, and of words in particular. He has done more to give my dictionary an eager workout than any other.

It is a thorough delight to watch, listen to, or for that matter, read him, which I often do while trying to imagine hearing the way he would say what I’m reading, which I must admit, is half the reason I read his columns.

He was eloquent, funny, mischievous, gracious, and entirely affable. He was an interesting man with few rivals – certainly no social boor or intellectual bore. Ocean sailor, piano and harpsichord player, television debater, Alpine skier, U.N. delegate, mayoral candidate, and author of over 50 books (including novels) and enough articles to fill another 50, all make him a fascinating figure. I wish I had had the pleasure of meeting him.

William F. Buckley, Jr. will be missed. I, for one, already do.


Nebraska Democrat Sues God

September 17, 2007

This is just too good to pass up. Nebraska Democratic Senator Ernie Chambers has filed a suit against God.

Why?

His lawsuit states that he wants God (the defendant) to stop natural disasters from occurring on earth.

In it he says that the “defendant directly and proximately has caused, inter alia [that is, among other things], fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornados, pestilential plagues…”

But wait a minute, methinks I smell a contradiction here. For years Rabbi Kushner’s (author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People) notions about the relationship between God’s love and power have prevailed among many liberals. Namely, that since God is a loving God he would never allow these kinds of evils, if only He were able to prevent them. But alas, He is simply not that omnipotent or sovereign. He has to make the best of bad things just like we do.

So which is it Senator? Does He cause them or is He unable prevent them?

And furthermore, if you really do think God is capable of causing them, then do you not have enough sense (reverence) to refrain from accusing such a God – even if only to make a political point? And if you don’t think God is powerful enough to sovereignly control such things, then this silly lawsuit that dares to accuse Almighty God is “exhibit A” that good sense escapes you indeed!


“Expelled” – Exposing Scientific Intolerance

August 23, 2007

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It’s about time! Finally someone is making a movie that exposes the radical fundamentalism of the scientific left. None other than the brilliant financial funnyman (“Bueller”) Ben Stein is making a movie called “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed” to be released in February 2008.

What’s it about? It exposes how the scientific community blackballs scientists who question the dubious theories of Darwinism, global warming, etc., and especially those who dare to even think that “intelligent design” might have credence. We’ve heard about this kind of thing happening for years, but no one has come along to tell the story in large form like this.

It never surprises me to see Hollywood produce the kind of leftist propaganda that Michael Moore is known for, but it IS surprising to see something like this come out of there. Prepare for an onslaught of detractors – especially those who while yelling the loudest for academic freedom and ideological tolerance, are militant in squelching any voices that dare dissent with liberal ideology or current scientific dogma.

Click the image to view the trailer.

(HT: Tom Ascol)


Russian Youth: A Sign of Things to Come? – Part 2

July 30, 2007

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Is fascism just around the corner in Russia? That’s what seems to be the hope of many young people there. According to an article in the UK’s Daily Mail, there is a massive youth movement, one of which is called “Nashi” (run by Putin’s Kremlin), which is aiming at destroying any vestiges of democracy the country has remaining, and drive out those who support it – along with foreigners. And this movement is taking a central place in Russia’s political life.

What’s most bizarre about Nashi is one of it’s central tactics: promoting sex among youth! (Do adults seriously think that there is too little of this happening?) Believe it or not, Russia’s government is seeking to increase the population of Russia by staging rallies where young people are organized and moved into special tents arranged in the shape of a heart, called the Love Oasis, where they have sex in order to procreate for the motherland. In addition, mass weddings among these youth take place at the rallies.

I am not making this up. I wish I were.

The Russian government is seeking to reverse the diminishing birth rate, but that’s not all they’re aiming for. They’re aiming at destroying democracy.

Edward Lucas writes, “But the real aim of the youth camp – and the 100,000-strong movement behind it – is not to improve Russia’s demographic profile, but to attack democracy. Under Mr Putin, Russia is sliding into fascism, with state control of the economy, media, politics and society becoming increasingly heavy-handed.”

“Nashi is both a symptom of the way Russia is going – and a means of entrenching the drift to fascism .”

This is Orwellian on so many levels. Just read the article for more.

In a previous post on this blog, I noted how many of Russia’s youth had a favorable view of Stalin. This is because the Russians are rewriting their history, just like the Nazi’s did in the 1930’s. Putin and co. are singing the praises of Stalin’s accomplishments, and dismissing his horrific deeds with shameless ease, calling them “mistakes,” while at the same time decrying the democratic policies of Boris Yeltsin as “weak.”

The article continues, “if Mr Putin has his way, Russian pupils will learn nothing bad about the Soviet empire, which was far bloodier, more brutal – and more recent.”

Mr. Lucas concludes: “If tens of thousands of uniformed German youngsters were marching across Germany in support of an authoritarian Fuhrer, baiting foreigners and praising Hitler, alarm bells would be jangling all across Europe. So why aren’t they ringing about Nashi?”

Isn’t it amazing how sin unaccounted for just moves us into more, and often worse, sins? This serves as an eye-opening lesson on the power of unrepented-of sin. We blow it off at great expense – often to others as well as ourselves.

Those in authority will give the greater account to their Sovereign. Pray for Mr. Putin.


Russian Youth: A Sign of Things to Come?

July 26, 2007

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Ok, this ties in with the last post. After talking with my wife about Solzhenitsyn’s call for public repentance for past crimes of communist leaders, she told me about an article that appeared yesterday about the attitudes of Russian youth. What is notable, and even appalling, is that 46% of Russian youth ages 16 to 19 disagreed that Josef Stalin was a cruel tyrant, and 54% thought he did more good than bad. This is evidence that Russia needs to heed Solzhenitsyn’s call for public ownership of the crimes of communism and follow it with repentance.

Stalin is a man who “built a system of terror and repression in which tens millions of people died or were killed.” He imprisoned, tortured, and killed millions of innocent people. Without dispute, Stalin is on the top 10 list of the world’s worst mass-murderers. He survived in power through bloody terror!

“What we find troubling is that there is a substantial proportion of young people in Russia today who hold positive or ambivalent views on Stalin and his legacy,” Theodore Gerber, a sociologist from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said. “We think it would probably be more appropriate if there was more condemnation of the Stalin era.”

Ya think?

Again, I mention that Germany is a good example for them in this. They have owned up to Germany’s culpability for the Nazis. They recognize the evils against humanity, and particularly the Jews, that the Nazis committed and they roundly condemn those crimes and those who perpetrated them. Nazi groups are banned there. It’s against the law to deny it happened. In fact, America has more modern Nazi sympathizers than anywhere else in the world.

Again, Solzhenitsyn speaks to this:

“Every people must answer morally for all of its past — including that past which is shameful. Answer by what means? By attempting to comprehend: How could such a thing have been allowed? Where in all this is our error? And could it happen again?…we Russians must answer — for the pogroms, for those merciless arsonist peasants, for those crazed revolutionary soldiers, for those savage sailors.”

The personal lesson in this is as clear as the national one. When we ignore the sins of our past, we may very well end up defending them and justifying them and set ourselves up to repeat them.


Solzhenitsyn and Public Repentance

July 26, 2007

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German newspaper Spiegel has posted a recent interview with Alexander Solzhenitsyn. It is interesting for a number of points, but what most intrigued me is his call for the authorities of his own Russia to offer public repentance for their crimes against millions of victims of the gulag and communist terror. Yet, he says, “I have grown used to the fact that, throughout the world, public repentance is the most unacceptable option for the modern politician.”

Putin himself has said, in the words of the interviewer, “high time to stop this masochistic brooding over the past, especially since there are attempts “from outside,” as he puts it, to provoke an unjustified remorse among Russians.”

Masochistic brooding over the past? Unjustified remorse among Russians? What audacity! How shameless! Ultimate chutzpah. Want a counter-example? Germany. They’ve owned up to the Nazi’s crimes and they deplore them. In fact, they work hard to ensure no one ever forgets the evils Nazism inflicted on the peoples of Europe.

I find all of this is very insightful spiritually. It illustrates a number of important truths of Scripture, most particularly, the depravity of man that goes on the defensive when confronted with his sin. No one likes to be held accountable for crimes they’ve committed against God or others, especially publicly. How often, instead of instant humility and grief, we react with the same offended criticism toward the one calling our sins (or the sins of our forefathers) to our attention – just like Putin has done.

Instead of owning up to the blame, we deny our guilt. Just like Adam and Eve in the garden, we blame the other person: Adam blamed Eve blamed the Serpent. And the pattern continues. We are sons and daughters of Adam indeed.

Solzhenitsyn continues this observation well when he then says, “The elder political generation in communist countries was not ready for repentance, while the new generation is only too happy to voice grievances and level accusations, with present-day Moscow a convenient target. They behave as if they heroically liberated themselves and lead a new life now, while Moscow has remained communist. Nevertheless, I dare hope that this unhealthy phase will soon be over, that all the peoples who have lived through communism will understand that communism is to blame for the bitter pages of their history.”

He’s afraid no one will own up to the root problem – the root cause of so much evil and pain.

But just as Scripture asserts, Solzhenitsyn recognizes that, “We should clearly understand that only the voluntary and conscientious acceptance by a people of its guilt can ensure the healing of a nation.”

Amen. And an individual as well.

Repentance is required for forgiveness. It’s part of the Gospel, being the inseparable partner of the faith we place in Christ. It is a turning away from our sins and idols to Christ and His righteousness alone. This is the root of the Gospel. The Gospel is about dealing with sin, with calling people to repentance and forgiveness.

Would to God pastors today were as bold in calling their hearers to repentance as Solzhenitsyn is in calling his nation to it. That would require pastors to really believe that sinners need to repent before they could enjoy the spiritual healing and joyful promises of the Gospel. Too often pastors tend to emphasize the latter at the expense of the former.

The article recounts how Solzhenitsyn was willing to decline the praise of men’s awards. That’s a good example for pastors to quit worrying about their listeners liking them more than worrying about making sure they’re hearing the whole, un-watered-down truth of the Gospel – including the hard parts about sin, repentance and denying yourself to follow Christ.

This article made me stop and examine my own readiness to own up to my sins and repent of them quickly. And it made me think of my own faithfulness in my ministry as a minister of the Gospel. Please pray for me.