Person of the Year

Time Magazine’s Person of the Year for 2009 is Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke. You may be wondering, “huh?” But at least it isn’t Barack Obama for the umpteenth time. Or an abstract non-person, such as the Computer.

Usually, we play this game before the announcement and we can see if anyone guesses who wins it, but the announcement keeps getting earlier every year, it seems like. But we can easily second guess this choice. Who do YOU think should be Person of the Year?

Climate nihilism

Anne Applebaum finds that the scare tactics of the climate alarmists have reached her children:

There is no nihilism like the nihilism of a 9-year-old. "Why should I bother," one of them recently demanded of me, when he was presented with the usual arguments in favor of doing homework: "By the time I'm grown up, the polar ice caps will have melted and everyone will have drowned."

Watching the news from Copenhagen last weekend, it wasn't hard to understand where he got that idea. Among the tens of thousands demonstrating outside the climate change summit, some were carrying giant clocks set at 10 minutes to midnight, indicating the imminent end of the world. Elsewhere, others staged a "resuscitation" of planet Earth, symbolically represented by a large collapsing balloon. Near the conference center, an installation of skeletons standing knee-deep in water made a similar point, as did numerous melting ice sculptures and a melodramatic "die-in" staged by protesters wearing white, ghost-like jumpsuits. . . .

I'll pause here to point out that I enthusiastically support renewable energy, believe strongly in the imposition of a carbon tax and am furthermore convinced that a worldwide shift away from fossil fuels would have hugely positive geopolitical consequences, even leaving aside the environmental benefits. It's true that I'm not crazy about the Kyoto climate negotiation process, of which the Copenhagen summit is the latest stage. But I'm even more disturbed by the apocalyptic and the anti-human prejudices of the climate change movement, some of which do indeed filter down to children as young as 9.

I’m sure her little girl goes to a progressive school and is fed this propaganda daily. The old leftist propaganda at least was an appeal to revolutionary action. This propaganda, while perhaps trying to wake people up to the alleged problem, in reality just inspires nihilistic apathy.

Oral Roberts, mainline Protestant

The blog GetReligion, which critiques media coverage of religion, points out that most obituaries of Oral Roberts are missing the point. First, as Mollie Hemingway points out, he was NOT the patriarch of the prosperity gospel. Journalists are confusing him with fellow-Tulsan Kenneth Hagin. In fact, Roberts was associated with critics of that movement. Also, Roberts, despite his roots in backwoods Pentecostalism, was a member of the mainline United Methodist Church. His main significance, argues Terry Mattingly, is that he represents the way Pentecostalism found its way into mainline denominations and morphed into the charismatic movement.

I myself prefer him in his old days as a TV faith healer, which, whatever its validity, was spellbinding television. Later, after he founded Oral Roberts University and broadcast from his prayer tower, his show became slick and insufferable, but those black and white broadcasts of the sweaty, shouting preacher was great TV. And if you read Flannery O’Connor–say, “The Violent Bear It Away”–you would appreciate it, even if you didn’t believe it.

Conservation & conservatism

Commenters on yesterday’s post about Environmentalism as the new socialism cited the need to articulate a conservative alternative to the radical environmentalists’ stance towards nature. We should recall that conservatives were among the first to advocate what used to be called “conservation.” Conservatives also are the ones who want to “conserve” our heritage, so surely that should include our natural heritage. So what should conservatives do to reclaim this issue and in a way preferable to what the left is doing with their apocalyptic nature-worship?

Oral Roberts dies

Oral Roberts Dies At Age 91. I grew up in Oklahoma, about an hour from Tulsa, and I remember as a child watching his healing services on TV, things like this:

Even then I was both weirded out and fascinated. Still am, though in a Flannery O’Connor kind of way. What are we to make of this?

Here is what I think: First, the little boy showed no expression of surprise or wonder or joy at being able to walk again, which makes me skeptical of the miracle. But the people watching DID. I think for Christians who have no sacraments, something has to rush in, some kind of alternative intersection of the supernatural into the natural. Miracles, divine interventions, mystical experiences, God speaking directly, etc. They are pale substitutes, though, for the true incursion of supernatural power into the world, namely, the Word and Sacraments.

The role of Satan in the Christian’s life

More from Grace Upon Grace: Spirituality for Today by John W. Kleinig on tentatio:

Strangely, we discover the mysterious power of God’s Word, the hidden work of the Holy Spirit in and through the Word most clearly in temptation. Thus Luther says, ‘Thirdly, there is tentatio [temptation, trial], Anfechtung [attack]. This is the touchstone which teaches you not only to know and understand, but also to experience how right, how true, how sweet, how lovely, how mighty, how comforting God’s Word is, wisdom beyond all wisdom.’” (Page 21))

When Satan attacks us, we experience the righteousness and truth of God’s Word with our whole being, rather than just with the intellect; we experience the sweetness and loveliness of God’s Word with our whole being, rather than just with the emotions; we experience the power and strength of God’s Word with our whole being, rather than just with the body. (Page 21)

“The German word Anfechtung describes Satan’s attack upon our faith in Christ and God’s condemnation of us as sinners. As long as we operate by our own power with our own intellect and our own too-human notions, the devil attacks us by stirring up misunderstanding, contradiction, opposition, and persecution. He mounts that attack through the enemies of the Gospel in the Church and in the world. The purpose of this attack is to destroy our faith and undo the hidden work of God’s Word in us. As soon as God’s Word is planted in our hearts, the devil tries to drive it out so that we will no longer operate by the power of the Holy Spirit.

But paradoxically, these attacks are counter-productive. Luther says, ‘For as soon as God’s Word takes root and grows in you, the devil will harry you, and will make a real doctor [of theology] of you, and by his assaults will teach you to seek and love God’s Word.” Thus the devil’s attack on us serves to strengthen our faith because it drives us back to God’s Word as the only basis for spiritual life. We cannot rely on our own resources in the battle against Satan and the powers of darkness. If we rely on our wisdom and power, we will fail. In that situation, our only hope is in Christ and His Word. Our spiritual weakness makes us trust in the power of the Holy Spirit and the wisdom of God’s Word, which is “wisdom above all wisdom.” Through temptation we learn to seek help from God in meditation and prayer. We walk with Christ on the way of the cross; we discover the spirituality of the cross. We do not experience the splendor of union with our heavenly Lord, but we share in His suffering and pain. We bear the cross together with our Lord as we suffer with Him. Through the attacks of the evil one we are drawn further out of ourselves and deeper into Christ.” (Page 22)