Culture & Wordview

Planned Parenthood and the “Negation of Human Dignity”

Aug 29th, 2015 | By

In 1947 C. S. Lewis published The Abolition of Man, in which he charted the “negation of human dignity in the name of progress, or compassion, or humanity, or science.” He lived long enough to see the accuracy of his assessment: “For the power of Man to make himself what he pleases means, as we have seen, the power of some men to make other men what they please.” Planned Parenthood, in its harvesting of fetal body parts and in its view of the human being, manifests “the negation of human dignity” and an effort to “make men what they please.”

Vaccines and the Stewardship of Life

Aug 22nd, 2015 | By

Quite amazingly, a “vaccine doubter” movement is growing in America. Those who adhere to this elixir believe that the risks of vaccination are much greater than the risk of the diseases vaccines are supposed to prevent. This is especially stunning because, in the words of columnist Daniel Henninger, “Life without serious disease for the majority is now taken for granted as the natural order. The young don’t sign up for health insurance because they don’t need it. Forgotten over time is the extraordinary human effort and intelligence that produced the good life today. . .” As a result of the anti-vaccination movement, US measles cases have jumped 300% from 2013 to 2014. Others have made vaccinations an ethical issue out of concern over the source of some vaccination serums. According to a Pew Foundation poll, today about 9% of Americans consider vaccinations unsafe!

The Identity Crisis in American Culture

Aug 8th, 2015 | By

The deep-seated commitment to the pursuit of personal autonomy, the vital center of the Postmodern, Postchristian American culture, has produced several effects. The Millennials, who passionately have bought into this commitment, have no loyalty to institutions. For that reason the local church, even if they are Christians, is not that important to them. Technology has enhanced this pursuit of autonomy, enabling millennials to create and fashion their own digital reality. . . But, embracing the pursuit of autonomy as the chief goal of life has also produced dysfunction, disorientation and confusion. Many millennials are experiencing an identity crisis. In this Perspective, I want to focus on two major illustrations of the growing evidence of this identity crisis in early 21st-century American culture.

Atheism Institutionalized?

Jun 27th, 2015 | By

In his book, Culture Wars [Basic Books, 1991], sociologist James Davison Hunter argues that American culture is experiencing a crisis of moral authority. On one side of the cultural cleavage, “the progressive” claims that the individual, autonomous self is the source of moral authority, while on the other side, “the orthodox” claims that something transcendent is the source of moral authority. This struggle to define America’s cultural center informs the debate over abortion, euthanasia, sexuality issues, education, law and the role of government in our lives. It is a battle for the future.

Caitlyn Jenner, Feminism and Sexual Confusion in American Culture

Jun 20th, 2015 | By
Bruce Jenner

The cover of the July issue of Vanity Fair displays Caitlyn Jenner (the new transgender identity of 1976 Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner). Caitlyn is the new “poster girl” of the transgender movement in western civilization … There is obvious tension between the transgender movement and modern feminism.

“Speak the Truth in Love”— to a Postmodern, Postchristian Culture

Jun 6th, 2015 | By

The assumption of personal faith, which used to be a staple of American culture, is no longer valid. Postmodern pluralism and relativism define our culture and personal autonomy drives individual ambition and meaning. For those of us who love Christ and see our identity as being in Christ, it is easy to become defensive and imagine ourselves as “an aggrieved and repressed remnant.” But the New Testament offers another approach: Believers in Christ are to speak the truth in love. Jim Daly, President of Focus on the Family, argues that Christians should be a “joyful minority. [But] we are no longer effective at persuasion because we lack humility. Some in the faith community are losing legitimacy among younger people because many Christians only speak truth and fail to do truth.”

Christianity in America: Evangelical Stability amid Widespread Decline

May 23rd, 2015 | By

The Pew Research Center recently released its US Religious Landscape Study, which summarizes the conclusions from a monumental study of how American religion has changed between 2007 and 2014. Conducted among 35,000 adults in English and Spanish, the study fills in the gaps left by the data released by the US Census Bureau. This is necessary because the Bureau does not ask Americans about their religion. What follows is a salient summary of this important survey. It enables us to understand what is happening across the American religious landscape.

The Ethics of Gene Editing

May 16th, 2015 | By

A group of scientists in China has crossed an ethical line in their use of a relatively new genetic technology called gene editing. Seeking to cure a disease called beta thalassemia, an inherited blood disease, they sought to abolish the broken gene that causes it. The technique seeks to modify genetically the stem cells that
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The New Intolerance and Religious Liberty

Apr 18th, 2015 | By

In 1993, the US Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Since the Supreme Court ruled in 1997 that the RFRA applied only to the federal government, some 20 states since then have passed their own RFRAs. Another dozen states have adopted RFRA-style protections in other ways. Probably the most important invocation of an RFRA, in a federal case, was Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which reached the Supreme Court last year. Recently Indiana passed its own RFRA, which has created a firestorm. The law establishes that the state “may not substantially burden” a person’s free exercise of religion unless “it is essential to further a compelling governmental interest” and “the least restrictive means” of doing so.

Why the Definition of Marriage Matters

Apr 4th, 2015 | By

On 17 March 2015, the Presbyterian Church (USA) [PCUSA] voted to change the definition of marriage within the PCUSA constitution to include same-sex marriage. The language of the constitution was changed from “a man and a woman” to “two people, traditionally a man and a woman.” The PCUSA thus joins other denominations/religious associations that permit their clergy to perform same-sex marriages: the Episcopal Church, the United Church of Christ, the Quakers, and the Unitarian Universalist Association of Churches, and both Reform and Conservative Judaism.