Jack Kevorkian has been out of the news for quite some time, but an upcoming film from HBO promises to make him a topic of conversation once again.
In 2005 Wesley Smith wrote an article upon rumors that the movie was in the works:
He is ubiquitously portrayed in the media as the doctor who helped terminally ill people end their own lives. No doubt, that is how he will be portrayed in the movie — as the iconoclastic visionary whose compassion induced him to test the boundaries of the law to help the actively dying achieve a gentle end.
But this view of Dr. Death — who received the moniker when, as a medical student, he haunted hospital wards to watch people die — is a blatant, media-driven myth. In reality, Kevorkian’s notorious assisted-suicide campaign, which dominated the headlines throughout most of the 1990s, was driven by a ghoulish desire to conduct human vivisection [here’s the wikipedia explanation of vivisection], or “obitiatry,” as he liked to call it. Yes, you read right. Kevorkian’s primary motive in all that he did was to create the social conditions that would permit him to experiment on the people he was putting to death. . . .
. . . Kevorkian’s first targets in his quest to slice and dice people were not the ill, but the condemned. He spent years visiting prisons and corresponding with death-row inmates, seeking permission to conduct “obitiatric research” on those being executed.
Only after Kevorkian was thrown out of every prison he visited did he hit upon another angle. If condemned people were not going to be made available for “unfettered experimentation on human death,” perhaps he could gain access to experiment on sick and disabled people. His front would be assisted suicide. But his goal would remain human vivisection.
Kevorkian appears to have pursued a three-step plan toward achieving his dream: First, popularize assisted suicide and make it seem acceptable; second, give society a utilitarian stake in assisted suicide by using the victims for organ procurement; and finally, gain permission to conduct his death experiments on the sick and disabled people he would be allowed to kill.
The rest of the article is well worth the read and is eye opening to say the least.
When I was six or seven my sister and I put our money together and bought our first video game console, a Sega Master System! We loved games like Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Astro Warrior, and Hang-On. My parents never had to worry about what kind of games we were playing, whether there would be profanity, nudity, or drug references or if we were playing Zillion with pedophiles online.
A lot has changed since 1986. Video games are far more prolific than ever before, they have become a significant part of American pop-culture and are far more interactive. To be clear, I do not believe that video games are evil or even harmful in and of themselves. The argument that video games are the end of civilization and real Christians shouldn’t play them, just doesn’t hold any water (just like the old argument that Christians should not go to movies didn’t hold water then either). Video games are a new medium for consuming media, just as books and television are a medium for consuming media. That doesn’t mean that everything in books, television, video games, the internet is especially helpful for one’s spiritual life, it is just to say that none of them are wrong in and of themselves. You see, the real issue when it comes to media is the content, but this is a place that parents can have a lot of difficulty when it comes to video games. Because most parents don’t necessarily know the difference between Mario and his sidekick Luigi and Marcus Fenix and his side kick Dom (believe me there is a HUGE DIFFERENCE).
As a Youth Pastor, this has been an issue that I’ve run into on a number of occasions so I thought it might be helpful to point out a couple of good resources for parents when it comes to discerning the content of what video games to allow their kids to play.
www.whattheyplay.com – This is a good family based website with reviews of current games and advice about video games in general. It isn’t necessarily a Christian website, but is still very helpful.
www.getgamesmart.com – This is a website maintained by Microsoft, which gives good general advice about video games, the rating system, and talking to your kids. Also, not a Christian website but still helpful.
Pluggedin – This is a Christian website maintained by Focus on the Family with good content and advice. Unfortunately, they are typically pretty far behind when it comes to current reviews due to the staggering pace at which video games are released.
When it’s all said and done there really is no substitute for good parenting when it comes to the media what we let our kids consume. I believe Proverbs 4:23 is a foundational passage in this regard, “Guard your heart with all vigilance, from from it flow the springs of life.” One of the best principles that I’ve ever heard for consuming media came from Rick Holland who said, “Do not allow yourself to be entertained by the things that Jesus died to save us from.”
The other day I was browsing through the pages of Seventeen Magazine (fear not, this was entirely work related) and came across an intriguing article tucked between articles on “How to have the Perfect Summer Hair” and recommendations for “Steamy Beach Books” (I hate this part of my job ). The title of the article was “The Secret Life of Pregnant Teenagers”. The article was pretty typical. It had a few stories from girls who decided to keep their babies, and a few from girls who gave their babies up for adoption. What shocked me was a section at the bottom of the page titled “know your options”. Here’s what it said:
There’s no right or wrong decision about what to do if you have an unplanned pregnancy. But it’s important to know all your choices:
abortion: Abortion is a safe, common, legal, medical procedure that can be performed at a clinic (like Planned Parenthood) or at your doctor’s office. You can take a pill that will terminate the pregnancy, or have a surgical procedure.
The section went on to list adoption and parenthood as other options, but the emphasis was clearly on abortion as the best solution. There was no opposing point of view about the terrible risks of abortion (both emotional and physical), nor of the fact that abortion is the taking of a human life. The article simply listed it as a safe alternative (I wonder if they ever considered how “safe” it is for the baby).
It’s obvious that in the minds of Seventeen Magazine’s editors abortion is nothing more than a surgical procedure. What’s sad is that by treating abortion as a non-issue they are luring unsuspecting girls into murdering their babies as they work on their perfect summer hair and read steamy beach books.
If you’ve bought groceries recently, you’ve probably noticed all of the tabloids going on about the Reality TV family Jon & Kate Plus 8.
I don’t recommend Christianity Today very often, but they recently published an excellent article on how Christians should think about and respond to all of the recent drama with Jon & Kate and their 8 kids. The article is thought provoking and well worth the read. Here’s an excerpt.
It was not until the recent allegations of sexual impropriety arose that a significant number of Christians began to question whether Jon and Kate were indeed the examples of faithful living that we had imagined. Somehow most of us missed the long trajectory that was, day by day, moving them farther from a life of Christian virtue. Sexual immorality—whether actual or merely suspected—caught our attention, but the materialism, narcissism, and exploitation of children that preceded it was largely overlooked.
I began reading Al Mohler’s new book Culture Shift last week and just finished it this afternoon. Culture Shift is Mohler’s first book and it is an outstanding one at that. Mohler turns his brilliant mind to a number of cultural topics ranging from educational debates to the morality of the United States bombing of Hiroshima. While the topics may appear to be totally random at times, the unifying theme throughout the book is the “culture shift” that America is undergoing right now and how are Christians to understand and respond to the times we now find ourselves living in.
One of the best chapters in the book is titled “The Culture of Offendedness” where Mohler discusses the danger of living in a culture where the accusation of offendedness essentially stops all conversation. Mohler writes, “A right to free speech means a right to offend; otherwise the right would need no protection.” Obviously Christians should not seek to offend anyone, but the reality of the gospel is that it is offensive, or in Paul’s words it is “foolishness to those who are perishing.” Mohler writes, “The truth claims of Christianity, by their very particularity and exclusivisity, are inherently offensive to those who would demand some other gospel.“
Culture Shift is basically a collection of short essays (the book is only 160 pages) written on various issues in american life today. Several of the essays build upon one another, while many simply stand alone. Each essay is insightful, easy to read and thoughtful. This was one of those books that you can’t put down because Mohler’s style is so engaging and his writing is so clear. I highly recommend it.
Continuimg on in my never ending stream of random posts I recently found this video about Bill Cosby and his critique of Black America. I don’t know a whole lot about Cosby, other than that he’s really funny (see this link), and I definitely don’t know anything about race relations or Black America, but I did find this video very interesting and insightful.
One of my favorite thing to do in the evening is to watch the show 24. Amy and I will curl up on the couch, pop in the next disk in whatever season we’re watching and be transported into CTU where Jack Bauer, Tony Almeida, and Chloe O’Brian save the day time and time again. Amy and I just finished re-watching (that’s right “re-watching,” as in the second time) season 5. As you watch 24 a lot of different themes come up. There’s definitely a theme of patriotism as Jack opines on the greatness of the USA to terrorist scum. There’s definitely the theme of a “tragic hero” as everything that Jack does for the good of the country seems to wind up hurting himself and those whom he loves. One of the major themes that runs 24 is a form of pragmatic morality. Here’s how it typically works, Jack is faced with an impossible moral dilemma, such as the choice between killing a high ranking government officer and terrorists releasing a biological weapon or between allowing a nuclear strike to occur on American soil and assaulting a Chinese consulate (one of my favorites). As you watch the show, it becomes painfully obvious that Jack has to make one of these decisions and it’s usually the one that will get him in all kinds of trouble with his superiors. In fact, many times Jack will be arrested or pulled from an assignment or even shot down in an airplane full of people (or at least attempted). These attempts on his life and his career continue until the results of his decision come through. If what Jack did wrong turns out to have a positive result, than he is released from punishment and continues on with his career of saving the United States from certain destruction.
The formal name for this system of morality is “pragmatism.” It’s the idea that the ends justify the means. If what Jack does works than he is exonerated, if it does not work than he is condemned. While this makes for great television, it makes for a dreadfully poor way of living and an even worse way of doing ministry. One of the hot spots of pragmatism in the church today is youth ministry. Youth workers are typically so passionate about ministering to teens during these critical years that, like Jack Bauer they will do whatever it takes to try and save them, even if it means watering down the gospel and changing the message to one of “behavior modification” rather than justification followed naturally by sanctification. We are so driven by the goal of keeping teens from drinking or having sex before they get out of High School that we are tempted to ignore the process of spiritual growth that God has outlined in Scripture, because “that’s boring” or it’s “offensive” to their delicate egos. The ends of keeping teens safe from serious vice during Jr. High and High School can too often justify the means of ignoring the gospel. Unlike Jack Bauer and his countless successes in fighting terrorism, the results of this kind of ministry are shallow, self-centered young people who believe that the job of the church is to minister to their felt needs rather than to shepherd them. Pragmatism makes for great television, but for very poor ministry. Ministry that has a lasting impact upon the hearts of young people is biblically driven, unflinching in its condemnation of sin, and unparallelled in its extension of grace. This is Colossians 1:28-29 kind of ministry, which is focused on the long term goal of presenting believers complete in Christ.