Church growth Amish style

The number of Amish has grown 84% since 1992, to a total of some 231,000. To deal with that growth–and also to escape the suburbanization that has encroached on some of their traditional rural settlements in the Midwest–Amish are migrating, buying land, and establishing settlements in seven new states: Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Washington and West Virginia. See Surging Amish Spreading Out.

Why the church growth? With their rejection of automobiles, electricity, computers, and other conveniences of modern life, they aren’t winning many converts. But they have, on the average, five children per family. And though the children have a choice of whether or not to stay with the church when they grow up–getting to spend their late teen or early adult years sampling the outside world–a larger number of them, 85%, are staying with the church.

Strangely, contemporary churches don’t seem to credit bringing your children to faith as evangelism. And, sadly, many evangelicals I see who were raised in strong Christian homes and knew Christ for their whole lives sometimes doubt their salvation, not having had the dramatic conversion experience many of their friends claim. But God blesses the evangelism that takes place in vocation, and He is powerfully at work in the vocation of parents when they bring their children to Christ–via Baptism, going to church, the day to day teaching and example that goes on in ordinary families. Actually, I am pretty sure that this is the way MOST Christians have come to faith, so it is not to be despised.

What we need to work on is KEEPING young people in church. One of my students told me recently that of all the kids in his youth group–which focused on emotionalism and superficial games–he is the only one who is still in the faith. He credited his interest in apologetics and his realization that Christianity is TRUE. We need to admit that what I have called the stupid youth group tricks have failed and that we need to give our teenagers and young adults a Christianity that stands up to their lives. A good model is Higher Things.

UPDATE: By the way, I am NOT minimizing the importance of evangelizing non-believers. We need to do that. And I would say the same thing to the Amish. (I think that lame attempts to make Christianity fun are just as ineffective with non-believers as they are for youth in our church, and that presenting Christianity in its truth, in its depths, would be more effective for both.)

If George Bailey had never lived. . .

. . .we wouldn’t be having this financial meltdown! Washington Post columnist Ross Douthat puts the blames our current financial meltdown on George Bailey, of Frank Capra’s masterpiece It’s a Wonderful Life:

Jimmy Stewart’s George Bailey was actually a pretty savvy businessman. And it’s even easier to forget the precise nature of his business: putting the downscale families of Bedford Falls into homes they couldn’t quite afford to buy.

This is the substance of the great war between Bailey and Lionel Barrymore’s Mr. Potter, the richest, meanest man in Bedford Falls. Potter is against easy credit and the suburban dream, against the rabble moving out of his tenements and buying homes, while the Bailey Building and Loan exists to make suburbia possible.

The Bailey vision is economic and moral all at once. In a mid-movie peroration, the hero lectures Potter and a gaggle of local entrepreneurs on the virtues of democratizing homeownership: “You’re all businessmen here,” he presses them, sounding for all the world like a politician defending Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac against their critics in 2004 or so. “Doesn’t it make them better citizens? Doesn’t it make them better customers? . . . What’d you say a minute ago? They had to wait and save their money before they even ought to think of a decent home. Wait? . . . Do you know how long it takes a working man to save five thousand dollars?”

In the movie, George Bailey has God on his side, but a real-life Bailey would have had Uncle Sam. “It’s a Wonderful Life” debuted in 1946, more than a decade after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s National Housing Act kicked off a half-century of federal policymaking aimed at making it dramatically easier for working-class Americans to buy and keep their homes.

It’s true that the same lenders people are condemning as “predatory” were praised not long ago for devising ways to allow lower-income people to buy their own homes. Douthat does say that George Bailey’s goal was an admirable one and worth making possible, but still, such well-intentioned schemes helped bring down the economy.

Mark Steyn found innocent

In a case we have blogged about in the past, a Canadian human rights tribunal has acquitted columnist Mark Steyn of the charge of “hate speech” for criticizing Islam. See Mark Steyn acquitted in Canadian sharia case.

Mother Theresa on America

Nathaniel Peters at the First Things blog quotes a friend of the court brief filed by Mother Theresa in a 1994 abortion case. An excerpt:

Your opinion stated that you did not need to “resolve the difficult question of when life begins.” That question is inescapable. If the right to life in an inherent and inalienable right, it must surely exist wherever life exists. No one can deny that the unborn child is a distinct being, that it is human, and that it is alive. It is unjust, therefore, to deprive the unborn child of its fundamental right to life on the basis of its age, size, or condition of dependency. It was a sad infidelity to America’s highest ideals when this Court said that it did not matter, or could not be determined, when the inalienable right to life began for a child in its mother’s womb.

America needs no words from me to see how your decision in Roe v. Wade has deformed a great nation. The so-called right to abortion has pitted mothers against their children and women against men. It has sown violence and discord at the heart of the most intimate human relationships. It has aggravated the derogation of the father’s role in an increasingly fatherless society. It has portrayed the greatest of gifts—a child—as a competitor, an intrusion, and an inconvenience. It has nominally accorded mothers unfettered domination over the independent lives of their physically dependent sons and daughters. And, in granting this unconscionable power, it has exposed many women to unjust and selfish demands from their husbands or other sexual partners.

Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being’s entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend, and must not be declared to be contingent, on the pleasure of anyone else, not even a parent or a sovereign. . . .

I have no new teaching for America. I seek only to recall you to faithfulness to what you once taught the world. Your nation was founded on the proposition—very old as a moral precept, but startling and innovative as a political insight—that human life is a gift of immeasurable worth, and that it deserves, always and everywhere, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect.

Evidence of Obama’s radicalism

Now I know something of what I was looking for: documentary evidence that Barack Obama at least WAS a hard-left radical. Not just in his college days but when he ran for the state Senate in Illinois. Thomas Lifson summarizes the case in Archives prove Obama was a New Party member:

Another piece in the puzzle of Barack Obama has been revealed, greatly strengthening the picture of a man groomed by an older generation of radical leftists for insertion into the American political process, trading on good looks, brains, educational pedigree, and the desire of the vast majority of the voting public to right the historical racial wrongs of the land.

The New Party was a radical left organization, established in 1992, to amalgamate far left groups and push the United States into socialism by forcing the Democratic Party to the left. It was an attempt to regroup the forces on the left in a new strategy to take power, burrowing from within. The party only lasted until 1998, when its strategy of “fusion” failed to withstand a Supreme Court ruling. But dissolving the party didn’t stop the membership, including Barack Obama, from continuing to move the Democrats leftward with spectacular success. 

Erick Erickson, editor of RedState, explained fusion in a Human Events article:

Fusion is a pretty simple concept. A candidate could run as both a Democrat and a New Party member to signal the candidate was, in fact, a left-leaning candidate, or at least not a center-left DLC type candidate. If the candidate — let’s call him Barack Obama — received only 500 votes in the Democratic Party against another candidate who received 1000 votes, Obama would clearly not be the nominee. But, if Obama also received 600 votes from the New Party, Obama’s New Party votes and Democratic votes would be fused. He would be the Democratic nominee with 1100 votes.

The fusion idea set off a number of third parties, but the New Party was probably the most successful. A March 22, 1998 In These Times article by John Nichols showed just how successful.  “After six years, the party has built what is arguably the most sophisticated left-leaning political operation the country has seen since the decline of the Farmer-Labor, Progressive and Non-Partisan League groupings of the early part of the century …. In 1996, it helped Chicago’s Danny Davis, a New Party member, win a Democratic congressional primary, thereby assuring his election in the majority-black district …. The threat of losing New Party support, or of the New Party running its own candidates against conservative Democrats, would begin a process of forcing the political process to the left, [Joel] Rogers argued.”

Fusion, fortunately for the country, died in 1997. William Rehnquist, writing for a 6-3 Supreme Court, found the concept was not a protected constitutional right. It was two years too late to stop Obama.

J. Brown of Politically Drunk on Power has dug up multiple documentary sources (with hyperlinks) proving that Barack Obama was a member of the New Party, despite alleged attempts to cover up his tracks by scrubbing evidence. He or she deserves tremendous praise for doing this detective work.

So the New Party was precisely an attempt to run hard-left candidates under the auspices of the Democratic Party? OK, we know that Obama WAS a far-left radical. Is he still?

I can’t believe that some of you don’t care about this, that you think we should concentrate on “issues” and that a candidate’s political ideology doesn’t matter!

Obama and Bernadine Dohrn

More notorious than Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers is his wife, Bernadine Dohrn. Shouldn’t the media investigate the law firm headed by Ayers’ father that employed both Dohrn and, for a summer, Obama? From Ayers-Dohrn-Obama Tie Shouldn’t Be Dismissed:

For those of you unfamiliar with Dohrn and her special love of violence in the name of radicalism, one need look no further than her December 1969 rant celebrating the brutal Tate-LaBianca murders with the exhortation, “Dig it! First they killed those pigs and then they put a fork in their bellies. Wild!” According to Discover the Networks, Dohrn had even less sympathy for those who were on the receiving end of the Weathermen’s violence:

A Chicago district attorney named Richard Elrod was seriously injured in the Weatherman riot that erupted during the Chicago “Days of Rage” in October 1969, and he was paralyzed for life as a result. Dohrn later led a celebration of Elrod’s paralysis by leading her comrades in a parody of a Bob Dylan song — “Lay, Elrod, Lay.”

Dohrn was a principal signatory of a Declaration of War against “AmeriKKKa” — now a standard spelling among far-left radicals — and co-authored Prairie Fire: The Politics of Anti-Imperialism. Dohrn participated in multiple bombings and was accused of planting a bomb at a San Francisco police station that killed an officer and maimed others, according to an FBI informant.

Once her days as an active terrorist were over, Bernardine Dohrn was employed by prestigious law firm Sidley & Austin from 1984 to 1988. Dohrn had been hired by Howard Trienens, the head of the firm and an associate of Thomas G. Ayers, Bill Ayers’ father. It is unclear whether Obama knew the former fugitive Dohrn through Sidley & Austin but there is no doubt that, by the time Obama joined Sidley & Austin as a summer associate, Obama had known Bill Ayers for two years through their involvement in Alliance for Better Chicago Schools.

Ayers and Dohrn infamously played host and hostess to Barack Obama’s political “coming out” with a meeting at their home, where outgoing State Senator Alice Palmer tapped Barack Obama to be her handpicked successor.