an ipod for a Bible: yea or nay?

Tim Challies (with whom I often agree) wrote this article, “Don’t Take Your iPod to Church.”  

I’m having a hard time agreeing with his reasoning.  

He asserts that,

“the method we use to convey information is inseparable from the content of that information. And even more so, every medium carries with it both content but also a worldview. When we read the Bible electronically, we read the very same words, but in a way that influences us toward a different worldview, a different way of understanding the reality of those words.”

So, to recap, he is saying that reading the Bible electronically influences our worldview and even influences the way we interpret or understand the Bible.  

He sums it all up with this: 

“So where does this leave us?  It leaves us wondering what ideological bias, what predisposition, is carried in the book and in the electronic book.  It causes us to wonder what skill or attitude is amplified in the book and what skill or attitude is amplified in the iPod.”

As much as I love real books, (meaning printed-with-ink, pages-bound-together books) I just can’t agree with him.  At least not yet.  He promises to follow-up this article with another one next week offering (I hope) more logical and foundational reasons as to why the printed Bible is better than the e-Bible.**

The point of the Bible is the message it provides.  Not the medium by which the message is given.  Is the Bible less powerful in oral form?  Does it’s worldview change when read from a scroll?  

The power of the message of the Bible, cannot be in anyway subdued or watered down by the medium it is presented in.  It is the very power of God.  Printed ink on pages holds the precious message, as do spoken words, as do pixels on a screen, as do tablets of stone.  

Confusing preference and worldview is a bit dangerous.  The assertion that medium guides and influences worldview I could swallow if it were in regard to anything other than the Bible.  But the Bible contains God Himself, the glorious Gospel.  

It is a message that cannot be bound by medium.  No, it cannot even be influenced by medium.  If it is the unadulterated message and Word of God, medium is of no consequence.  That is the beauty and power of the Word.  

The worldview of the hearer is already in place when he is using an iPod to read God’s Word.  As is the worldview of the person reading it in ink.  

The medium doesn’t shape the worldview, it is an indicator of it.  

And the power of the Word of God reaches through that medium to radically transform both the worldview of the one reading pixels and the one reading ink.  Whether I read it on a screen or a page these words contain the same persuasive swaying power, “God demonstrated His love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

So, as much as I love Challies’ blog, I’ll go ahead and say it: bring your ipod to church and let the Word of God in pixels transform your iPod-loving worldview.  And bring your printed bible to church and let the Word of God in ink transform your ink-loving worldview.  

The Word of God has the power to shape and change our worldview and will not be influenced by or secondary to pixels or paper or preferences.

**I am looking forward to hearing his next article on the topic.  I went ahead and responded to this first one because I had some foundational disagreements.  But I’m willing to listen and be open to his forthcoming arguments for the negatives of an ipod Bible in church.  I could agree that the ipod Bible might be distracting and would entertain not using it for that reason, but that isn’t the premise he’s working with.

What say you?  Do you read the Bible on your ipod or blackberry?  Do you think doing this has influenced your worldview in “understanding of the reality of those words”?

the designer baby boondoggle

A fertility clinic in LA has finally gone all the way.  

They are now offering “designer babies,” meaning their clients can request certain traits for their babies like dark skin or blue eyes.  The clinic has not yet delivered on this promise, but is offering it nonetheless. 

I get the feeling that when people hear the term “designer babies” they think that the scientists are somehow doing the designing.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  There is one Designer and He has no rival.  

Scientists can no more cause a baby to have green eyes than the man on the moon.  They are not creating or giving babies certain genes, they’re not even modifying genes, they’re simply killing off the embryos that have the unwanted genes.

They used to limit this killing to “extra” babies; for instance the couple who makes 10 embryos, but doesn’t want 10 babies, so they only implant 2.  The rest would be killed.  This has  also involved killing off the embryos that had “defects.”  Like the ones with downs syndrome or a likely hood of disease.  

Now scientists search through embryos for the couples (or singles, to be sure) until they get the combination of eyes, nose and health that is desirable for them.  The scientists aren’t designing the baby with the desired traits, they simply screen the embryos until the desired result is found, then kill off the rest.

The BBC reports:

The science is based on a lab technique called preimplantation genetic diagnosis, or PGD.  This involves testing a cell taken from a very early embryo before it is put into the mother’s womb.

Doctors then select an embryo free from rogue genes – or in this case an embryo with the desired physical traits such as blonde hair and blue eyes – to continue the pregnancy, and discard any others.

The Wall Street Journal seems to misunderstand what is actually being done in PGD.  They say:

While PGD has long been used for the medical purpose of averting life-threatening diseases in children, the science behind it has quietly progressed to the point that it could potentially be used to create designer babies.

Let’s be clear.  PGD is not used to “avert life-threatening diseases in children.”  It is the life-threatening disease.  PGD kills the embryos that show any proclivity to imperfection.  So it is not protecting children.  It is protecting parents from the “hardship” of having a child with imperfection.  

Not only that, PGD doesn’t “create” anything.  It eliminates (scientists like to use the word “selects” cause it sounds better).  I can’t believe the way this is being reported.  As though the slippery slope is just beginning with designer babies.  

Wake up!  We already slid down the slope when we started eliminating the embryos with potential “problems.”  I’m riled up.  Can you tell?

is safety a virtue or vice?

Sometimes I will admit to people, “I’m not a real safety-oriented mom.”  

I hope you aren’t gasping in horror.  But it’s true (although mostly unintentional).  I just don’t think of safety a whole lot.  And it’s not because I’ve never been in proximity to people who have had bad things happen to them, like car accidents or other types of accidents.  I think it’s more of a combination of the way I was raised and what I hope is common sense.  Though I may be wrong on that.

Does knowledge require action?  If I know that kids are safer when wearing a helmet, am I then required (morally) to have them wear one?  And how often is often enough?  When riding bikes?  Scooters?  Running fast?  Always when on pavement?  When riding in a car?  In the home?

For me, I think of helmets as essential when on a high traffic street or when riding a motorcycle.  But it doesn’t seem like a big deal to me to let kids ride their bicycles without one in a neighborhood with minimal, slow-driving traffic.

But is this a legitimate moral line I’ve drawn?  Or just preference?  When does safety become a must?

Should I have child locks on my cupboards?  Should we have a barrier to our pond (although the tall grasses provide a pretty good one.)?  A fence around our yard?  The standard for safety seems to be getting higher and higher.  So much so that I believe our children will be in car seats until they are teens.  I wish I were joking about that.

Should I be viewing high safety standards as a bit of common grace from God that allows us to better protect our children?  Or is it a type of idol that we are enslaved to, giving us a false sense of control in regard to our children’s well-being?  Or maybe it could be either.  

Our parents certainly didn’t have the safety standards we do, but they also lacked the information and equipment.  So how much safety is enough to assuage our consciences that we’ve done enough?  

What are your must-do safety standards?  Do you think a high regard for safety brings glory to God?  What about those who are unconcerned with safety?  Can this view bring glory to God?

abortion, race and the deceit of intentions

I ran across this article from 2006 that sheds a lot of light on our human “intentions” to do good.  We delude ourselves with claims for good intentions, even when evil results from them.  

In this story, the Dutch PM got his nose out of joint after a high European official likened the Dutch policy of killing ill or disabled babies to Nazi practices.  It was a true observation.  Of course, the Dutch PM wasn’t embarrassed by the killing of the babies, only of being compared to a Nazi.  Sad.

Here’s what the author,Wesley J. Smith says,

But they [Dutch officials] claim that the Netherlands’ infant euthanasia program is substantially different: Dutch doctors are motivated by compassion whereas the Germans’ were motivated by the bigotry of racial hygiene. Of course it is the act of killing disabled and dying babies that is wrong, not the motivation.

I can’t help but think of the racism of abortion when I read this.  A highly disproportionate number of African American babies are killed by abortion each year.  If we were told that African American babies were being killed because of racial genocide we would be outraged.

But when we hear that African Americans represent only 12% of the population of the United States, yet they account for 35% of the abortions performed in this country (according to the Center for Disease Control), no one seems to care.

Abortion is wrong no matter what the race of the baby.  But, if you’re pro-choice (or just apathetic), doesn’t it make your skin crawl just a little to think that by not opposing abortion you are giving tacit endorsement to the disproportionate killing of a race of people?  If the killing of babies doesn’t make you shudder, how about the lopsided killing of a race?  

Having something in common with Hitler should make us uneasy.  But abortion itself should be the real shame-producer.

Even when we believe our intentions to be good (ie I don’t want a young African American woman to have to have a baby, with no father and no money if she doesn’t want to), it doesn’t make the results any less horrific (ie the unequal killing of a particular race).  

It’s like China’s abortion policy: it results in the killing of baby girls in much greater numbers than boys.  I’ve heard pro-abortionists bemoan this fact.  They like the “one-child policy,” but think that there should be no discrimination in aborting.  What kind of perverse thinking is this?  The answer isn’t to become an equal opportunity killer.  The answer is to stop killing.  

If it’s wrong to abort more girls than boys, then it’s wrong to abort at all.  If it’s wrong to abort more African American babies than white babies, then it’s wrong to abort babies.  

Pro-abortionists’ intentions may appear to be good.  We hear things like, “Let’s make abortion rare.”  The intent behind a statement like this seems good, but the ugly practical reality goes like this: “Let’s keep abortion legal.  Let’s fund abortion with tax-payer dollars. Let’s give young kids condoms and hope they don’t get pregnant.  Let’s get rid of any and all restrictions to abortion.”  

In other words, pro-choicers who intend to make abortion rare, end up making it common.

Proverbs 8:36 “..all who hate me love death.”  Proverbs 12:10 “..the mercy of the wicked is cruel.”

the bread of blogging

Recently at my church’s MOMS group someone was reading from Proverbs 31.  

A common occurrence.  One that can frequently cause cringing.  Which I believe happens because we all think we’re supposed to be a replica of that woman.  I could write an entire piece here on why I think that is not (entirely) true.  And why I think it’s ok if we aren’t seeking wool and flax and planting a vineyard.  

I’ll save that for another day, suffice it to say that the woman in Proverbs 31 was one example of godliness.  Not every example.  

So, back to the point.  We were (rightly) exhorted through Proverbs 31:27  not to “eat the bread of idleness.”  And I’ve heard women express their desire to be productive and busy at home coupled with their conviction that online time is not part of “looking well to the ways of their household.”  I don’t want to discourage them from this conviction.  If the Lord is showing this to them, it is probably a problem.

On the other hand, I have also sensed some shame or embarrassment among women who read blogs or are on facebook.  Usually this is how the conversation goes:

Me:  “Are you on facebook?”

other Mom : “Oh, yes, (initial excitement) it is so much fun to connect with people.  I found my old friend from HS and have been able to chat with her!  But I know it can be addicting (embarrassment sets in).  I’m actually not on it very often.  I try to limit my time.”

Or like this,

other Mom: “(whispering) I read your blog the other day.”

Me: “Oh, really?  Thanks.  I hope you enjoyed it.”

other Mom: “Yes, I really like the piece about ‘x’.  (more expounding on finer points of agreement and disagreement, fruitful and thoughtful conversation ensues).  

other Mom: “Have you ever read ‘blank person’s’ blog?  It’s really good, also I like “x” blog.  

Me: “No, I haven’t.  Those sound great!”  

other Mom: (embarrassed) Well, I try not to spend too much time doing that.  I only check like… once a week or so… at the most.”

I share these conversations to make a point.  Online time is not bad or good in and of itself.  It can be bad or good.  You might do your devotions and Bible-reading online.  Or you might waste hours playing a video game.  

I’m praying that this blog falls more in line with the former example.  I want this to be a place to come and be refreshed by another Christian.  The act of blogging is spiritually refreshing and beneficial for me.  So I hope the act of reading it will be something similar for you.  

I don’t want my readers to feel guilty for the 5-10 minutes they might spend here everyday or every couple days.  I want it to be a place of receiving gracious words “like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body,” or where we “discover good” together by giving “thought to a matter.” (Proverbs 16:24 & 20)

But, lest I get too lofty, I also hope it is simply a breath of fresh air, perhaps a laugh, or a moment to pause.

Welcome to your guilt-free blog zone.

wit, humor and sarcasm: a resolution for my generation (and me)

The saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” is not my generation’s motto.  I think ours is more along the lines of, “If it’s not witty, funny or bitingly sarcastic, keep it to yourself.”

I’m not sure why we’re like this.  Perhaps it is because millennials (I think that’s my generation… I’m 27, so if anyone knows for sure, please inform me) have basically had coddled life-experiences.  I’m speaking generally here, not wanting to minimize anyone’s significant painful experiences.  But, on the whole, we are unfamiliar with the serious traumas that other generations have faced.

Whatever the reason, here is what I find to be true about my generation (and myself).  We want to be clever.  And if we can’t be clever, we’ll settle for some sarcasm and a laugh.  We avoid saying simple truths outright, because they don’t sound clever or original enough.

This is trouble where the Gospel is concerned.  For one, the Gospel is a simple truth: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.  We don’t sound smart when we say this; we sound converted.  Two, we may be more concerned about getting a laugh from someone (the ultimate sign of respect for us, albeit perverted), than we are with sharing the Gospel with them.  And if they are a fellow Christian, this is all the more true.  Why bother talking about Christ?  We are all Christians anyway, let’s just have a laugh.

But here’s some good news for the humor-hungry generation. Life is full of unmanufactured humor. We cannot avoid it. Kids overflow with it. No matter what our station in life, humor will be there. We need not promote its cause to an idolotrous place.  There is a time for everything under the sun: a time to laugh and a time to cry.  We don’t need to be funny all the time. Humor comes even when we aren’t creating it.

So let’s let the simple admonition of the Bible be our resolution concerning our speech.  It’s not clever… but it is original.

Ephesians 4:29 Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.

Ephesians 5:4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

James 3:9 With it [the tongue] we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God.  From the same mouth comes blessing and cursing.  My brothers, this should not be so.

Col 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

1 Tim 4:12 Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

The list could go on and on.  I need much work in this area.  I’m praying for a year of gracious speech in 2009.  Speech that isn’t afraid to be serious-minded and Gospel-centered.  And I’m sure I’ll have a few laughs along the way.

10 things I hope to emulate about my mom, on her birthday

Today is my mom’s birthday.  There are lots of things that I love about my mom.  Here are a few things about her that I hope to someday emulate:

1) She is generous and holds onto material things loosely.  More often than not, if you admire something she has, she will give it to you.  Even special, big things.

2) She adopts people, and not just for a season.  My mom included some of my friends like family when I was growing up.  Not that they were just allowed to tag along.  She loved(s) them (probably more than I did at times), and, even now, she holds them very closely in her heart, prays for them and misses them.  She does this with lots of people, more than just my friends.

3) She is feminine, yet very very capable when it comes to all things electronic, fixing things, yard work, handling a chainsaw, and just hard work in general.  

4) She handles large life-changes with determination and grace.  Being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes after 50 is a pretty big shock to the system, but she has persevered, throwing herself into the new lifestyle, and barely missed a beat.   

5) When she has guests over, she makes them feel like they are doing her a huge favor by being there.  As though, changing the sheets and making the food for them is a big honor for her.  

6) She is the best Nana I know, possibly the best the in the whole world.  She cares about and nurtures her grandkids’ spiritual development.  She babysits tirelessly.  She has a special and distinct relationship with each of her 12 grandkids.  They all feel very loved.  

7) She is in relationships for the long-haul and isn’t afraid of a messy one.  If you’re a hopelessly flawed person, my mom won’t be scared off, she’s in it for the duration.  She gives grace as she’s received it.  

8) She has the right perspective on things.  Things are meant to be used for a purpose.  If they break in the process, no sweat.  It means they were getting used.  She doesn’t protect her things, she protects people.

9) She has never apologized for being first and foremost the manager of her home.  She stayed home when we kids were growing up and she stays home now.  She understands the value in it.  

10) It is her glory to overlook an offense.  This probably happens much more than I know. 

Well, as I read through the list, I know it falls short.  But it is a glimpse of the things I see and hope to be.  And, if you know my mom, you know that, for her, talk is cheap.  So, while she will appreciate this list, she is a woman of action.  So, if I write the list with admiration, but don’t treat her well, it means little.  And she’s right.  That’s another thing I could add to my list. 

Happy Birthday, Mom.

biology and behavior

I found this quote by C.S. Lewis when I was reading an article about the biological basis for behavior on Adrian Warnock’s blog.  I find it to be a very compassionate and ultimately loving take on our biology and bodies and choices.  It’s one more reason to be humble.

“Some of us who seem quite nice people may, in fact, have made so little use of a good heredity and a good upbringing that we are really worse than those whom we regard as fiends.

 Can we be quite so certain how we should have behaved if we had been saddled with the psychological outfit, and then with a bad upbringing, and then with the power, say, of Himmler ? That is why Christians are told not to judge. We see only the results which a man’s choices make out of his raw material. But God does not judge him on the raw material at all, but on what he has done with it.

 Most of a man’s psychological make-up is probably due to his body: when his body dies all that will fall off him, and the real central man, the thing that chose, that made the best or the worst out of this material, will stand naked. All sorts of nice things which we thought our own, but which were really due to a good digestion, will fall off some of us: all sorts of nasty things which were due to complexes or bad health will fall off others. We shall then, for the first time, see every one as he really was. There will be some suprises.”

I believe that having this attitude towards others in the church could transform our relationships.  Instead of being comparison-oriented, one-upping, superior-in-our-own-minds, judging people, we could be, simply, loving.  Slow to judge, slow to think of myself more highly than I ought (I’m preaching to myself here).

What a liberating thing to know that some of our problems and our neighbors’ problems are not solely due to our individual choices.  What a sweet incentive to rely on God all the more.  Works will never get me there, because I am not in final control even of who I am. 

Everything good in me is grace.

Whether grace in upbringing, grace in biology, grace in easy pregnancy, grace in a considerate husband, grace in sweet kids.  Everything good is grace.  I can’t make anything good by my self-wrought trying and works.