Defending the Surveillance programs

Most of the discussion on this blog about the government’s program to monitor phone calls and the internet has been against it.  But some pundits, politicians, and security experts are defending the surveillance.

After the jump, I have excerpts from two journalists who defend the programs.  The conservative Charles Lane argues that, despite Rand Paul’s plans to file a lawsuit against the surveillance programs, they are, in fact, constitutional and legal.  The liberal Richard Cohen argues that the surveillance isn’t all that bad.  Safeguards are built in, and, besides, we have already given up our privacy every time we log onto Google and other online sites.

Do these arguments change your mind?  If not, how would you answer them?

[Read more…]

A Patriot or a Traitor?

Edward Snowden, a 29-year-old former CIA employee who has been working with an intelligence contractor, revealed himself to be the source of reports about the government’s mass monitoring of telephones and the internet. After the jump, read about the cloak-and-dagger details from the perspective of the reporter to whom he leaked the classified information.

Do you consider him to be a traitor for giving aid and comfort to the enemy by disrupting a major anti-terrorism program?  Or do you consider him to be a patriot for exposing major threats to constitutional principles and American liberties? [Read more…]

Beauty and Difficulty

Thanks to Prof. Scott Ashmon of Concordia University Irvine for alerting me to this quotation from Philip Melanchthon:

“What is beautiful may be difficult.”

(“On Correcting the Studies of Youth” in A Melanchthon Reader, ed. Ralph Keen [New York: Peter Lang, 1988], 54, 56.)

Where is this evident?  How might this principle be applied?

A Lutheran Among Calvinist Baptists

In another contribution to the “Why can’t there be Lutheran Baptists” discussion, Christopher Jackson, a Lutheran attending grad school at the Southern Baptists Theological Seminary, a haven for for Calvinist baptists, weighs in.   He says there are indeed Lutheran influences at SBTS, as well as some students converting to Lutheranism.  He then blames his fellow Lutherans. [Read more…]

Catholic evangelism

Roman Catholics have been launching a major world-wide evangelism effort.  It includes “witnessing,” knocking on doors, and sharing what Jesus has done in my life. They are adopting techniques associated with evangelicals.  Do you think Catholics might have some advantages in the competition for the “unchurched”?  Their mystical tradition could appeal to the “spiritual but not religious” crowd.  They aren’t saddled so much as evangelicals with conservative politics, which is turning off so many non-Christians.  Catholic worship will come across to lots of people as more interesting than what most Protestants do.  To those attracted by megachurches, Catholicism is the most mega church of them all.  Despite their theological differences, should Protestants welcome Catholic evangelism efforts? [Read more…]

Church of England does the best it can on gay marriage

The Church of England has been opposing gay marriage, but votes in Parliament demonstrate that they can’t stop it.  So the state church is dropping its attempts to kill the gay marriage bill and is concentrating instead on improving it; that is, making gay marriage more like regular marriage.  For example, under the current bill, adultery is not a grounds for divorce for homosexual couples!  And lesbian spouses do not have parental responsibilities if one partner is a mother!

So adultery doesn’t violate marriage vows for gay married couples?  And parental obligations are different in same-sex marriages?  I’m curious if such differences in what marriage entails are part of the gay marriage movement overall.  If there are different rules for the two kinds of marriage, the slogan “marriage equality” is bogus.  Gay marriage would, in fact, change the institution as a whole. [Read more…]