Archives for February 2013

10 Years Later: Would the US Government Do It Differently Now? (On the Anniversary of the Branch Davidian Disaster)

20 Years Later: Would the US Government Do It Differently Now? (On the Anniversary of the Branch Davidian Disaster)I remember very well watching live network television when US government tanks inserted C-2 gas into the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, Texas in 1993. I remember thinking “They’re crazy! What are they thinking? There are children in there!” Watching as the compound burned to the ground, knowing that many innocent (especially) women and children were dying inside was one of th … [Read more...]

Remembering C. Everett Koop (and Lewis Smedes)

Remembering C. Everett Koop (and Lewis Smedes)Yesterday, Monday, February 25, former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop died at his home in New Hampshire. He was 96. Anyone who paid attention to public controversies knew of him in the 1980s as a rock ribbed conservative evangelical appointed by President Ronald Reagan—perhaps as a bone thrown to his evangelical supporters. At least that’s how some regarded his appointment. He turned out to be a strong advocate for AIDS research in spite of … [Read more...]

Is This (Torture as Entertainment) What We Have Come To?

A New York Times article by Samuel G. Freedman (republished in my local newspaper Feb. 23, 2013 under the headline "Through a theological lens") discusses the film "Zero Dark Thirty" and its implications for the subject of torture.The movie is about the investigation leading up to the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound and depicts scenes of people being tortured for information leading to that.The article quotes Princeton theologian George Hunsinger asking "What does it say about … [Read more...]

R. C. Sproul, Arminianism, and Semi-Pelagianism

R. C. Sproul, Arminianism, and Semi-PelagianismMany years ago, as I was emerging out of my fundamentalist-Pentecostal cocoon into the larger world of evangelicalism (during seminary studies at an evangelical Baptist seminary) I was helped by the writings and teaching of several leading Reformed evangelical theologians. James Montgomery Boice, pastor of Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia and publisher of Eternity magazine, was one of them. Not only did I read his books and articles in … [Read more...]

A Few Suggestions and Guidelines for Commenting Here

1) I do not post links within comments (I either don't post the comment that contains them or I edit the comment to delete them) unless I happen to have time to look at the web sites first. So if you include a hyperlink within your comment it may or may not appear here. Too many hyperlinks within a comment almost guarantee the comment will not appear here.2) I don't post comments that contain names of individuals or organizations that could be interpreted (by them) as slanderous or libelous … [Read more...]

Is a “Consumption Tax” Fair?

Is a “Consumption Tax” Fair?I have argued here and elsewhere (e.g., in newspaper letters to the editor and guest columns) that income tax is the only fair tax because it’s the only tax based solely on ability to pay. (I might include “luxury tax” also.)In recent years a vocal minority have been calling for a universal “consumption tax” to replace income taxes. I tended to dismiss them as unthinking (to use a nicer word than what I really think) people. Now, however, I read a column in the … [Read more...]

Godless Capitalism?

Godless Capitalism?When I was a kid growing up in the 1950s and 1960s American heartland and in an ultra-conservative church “godlesscommunism” was one word, not two. One of the worst things people in my religious context could say about someone was “communist” and that label covered a lot of territory.I remember when Lyndon Johnson won his election over Barry Goldwater. I went to school the next day and very publicly proclaimed Johnson “a communist.” The teacher gave me a bemused look th … [Read more...]