Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Broken Heroes and Beautiful Feet

This has been an interesting morning. We are just home from our trip, and I've arisen this morning and read several disconnected pieces of published news. (If you'll grant me a wide berth of tolerance for my "news" sources, I'll share...)

The first was found unpacking our dog's bag of stuff upon her return... let's see... container of food... leash... brush... squeaky toy... People magazines... My mother is a People magazine fan, and while many people donate their old magazines to local doctor's offices or mail them to troops overseas, my mother passes hers on to us. (Magazine subscriptions, unless they're part of our curriculum for homeschooling, were crafted out of our family budget a long time ago.) In the Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens issues I have learned great decorating tips and found great recipes. But the People magazines keep me "up to speed" with contemporary pop culture, and it grows more disturbing every day.

This morning I read about a "man who gave birth." (Yes, of course she is not, nor has she ever been, a man, but is a disturbed and confused woman who has surgically removed her breasts, takes male hormones, and wears her hair and clothing in a distinctly male fashion. And now she has given birth. The article refers to her only as "he.")

I saw pictures of jubilant brides and grooms who had scrambled to be the first same-sex legal marriages in California. There were photos of young same-sex couples attending their senior proms together. And there was the usual fare about which celebrity is now dating which other celebrity's "ex," and which currently-married celebrities are having babies with which current spouses. It is particularly confusing to read about Tom Cruise's and Nicole Kidman's and Jennifer Anniston's and Brad Pitt's births and parenting plans all in the same couple of issues. Who was married to whom, and who is now married to whom, and which children were born when, and to whom?

Our heroes are broken. All around us (and certainly also among and within us), broken marriages, broken homes, broken relationships, and broken lives are on display... and all "prettied up" to look like something we should emulate. In an age when more marriages fail than succeed, it is difficult to find someone who is currently with his or her first spouse. Second, third, fourth, fifth marriages are not uncommon. Where is the child who doesn't have step-siblings and half-siblings and multiple sets of grandparents and cousins? It is now a common thing for kids to have two completely different homes, with different closets full of different wardrobes. Some alternate weeks; some, months; some, seasons. But there is no home... only homes. Different beds. Different rules (if there are any). Different practices and policies and ways of doing things. Do we really think this sort of chaos isn't damaging to kids? Do we really think we don't reap what we sow?

And all of this craziness is to be embraced and tolerated and celebrated. We who think that having "two mommies" may not be the best thing for children or society are considered intolerant and narrow-minded and hateful.

And while we're busily embracing and tolerating and celebrating these "alternate lifestyles," we are also busily legislating against one particular lifestyle for which there is to be no tolerance...

Enter my second "published news experience" this morning...

The rabid desire for a completely secularized society is hitting closer and closer to home.

Academia to high schools: No God allowed
State rejects Christian education as valid for university admissions

Posted: July 19, 2008
12:00 am Eastern

© 2008 WorldNetDaily

Arguments were heard today in a federal district court case to determine whether a state university system can dictate that private Christian schools in the state teach their college prep courses from exclusively secular, Bible- and God-free textbooks.

As WND reported earlier, the University of California system adopted a policy last year that basic science, history, and literature textbooks by major Christian book publishers wouldn't qualify for core admissions requirements because of the inclusion of Christian perspectives.

Robert Tyler, who is representing Calvary Chapel Christian School and five students in the case against the University of California, told WND that the university's discriminatory policy creates an ultimatum for Christian schools. "If you want courses to be approved in private education, so your students are qualified to attend (UC) institutions, you must teach from a secular point of view," he said.

"Christian schools will have to decide: teach from a Christian worldview and eliminate your student's ability to attend a UC school, or teach from a secular worldview, so that the kids can enter the UC school system," he explained.

"Essentially what's happening is the UC has to pre-approve courses taught in high school," Tyler said. "It's pretty shocking, because in depositions UC reps made it clear: whether it be English, history or science, the addition of a religious viewpoint makes it unacceptable."

Tyler also told WND that though a decision from Federal District Court Judge Otero is expected in the next two to three weeks, he fully expects the case to be appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and perhaps even the U.S. Supreme Court, since both sides are firmly entrenched and likely to appeal if Otero decides against them.

"We believe that UC's discrimination is clearly unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment, because UC is attempting to secularize Christian schools," Tyler said.

"The UC is intent upon defending some 'right' to discriminate unlawfully," he said. "They seem steadfast that students will not be adequately prepared for college because a Christian worldview was added to their curriculum.

"We won't accept that, and we're resolved to take this to higher court if necessary."

Under the admissions guidelines to University of California colleges, in-state students must either score in the top two to three percent on standardized tests or complete a core curriculum of approved preparatory classes (called "a-g" classes) to be deemed eligible for entrance into the state university system.

According to the lawsuit, more than 90 percent of UC students achieved eligibility by completing an approved a-g curriculum.

Under the disputed policy, however, a-g classes based on books that mention God or the Bible don't count, effectively making a secular education a prerequisite for admission.

After reviewing textbooks from major Christian publishers Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book, UC officials deemed them insufficient, specifically because the books supplemented the basic material with a Christian perspective.

Burt Carney, an executive with the Association of Christian Schools International, said he's met with officials for the university system, and was told that there was no problem with the actual facts in a BJU physics textbook that was disallowed.

In fact, an ACSI report said, UC officials confirmed "that if the Scripture verses that begin each chapter were removed the textbook would likely be approved …"

"Here's the very university that talks about academic freedom," Carney said. "It's very discriminating. They don't rule against Muslim or Hindu or Jewish (themes) or so forth, only those with a definite Christian theme."

According to the lawsuit, a variety of textbooks with supplemental perspectives were accepted – just not those with a Christian perspective.

For example, "Western Civilization: The Jewish Experience" and "Issues in African History" were accepted, but "Christianity's Influence on American History" was rejected. "Feminine Roles in Literature," "Gender, Sexuality, and Identity in Literature" and "Literature of Dissent" were accepted, but "Christianity and Morality in American Literature" was not.

Most strikingly, "Intro to Buddhism," "Introduction to Jewish Thought," "Women's Studies & Feminism" and "Raza Studies" were deemed acceptable electives, but "Special Providence: American Government" was unacceptable, both as a civics and elective course.

"In other words, (UC schools) routinely approve courses which add viewpoints such as non-Christian religion, feminism, an ethnic preference, a political viewpoint, or multiculturalism, or that focus on religions such as Buddhism or Judaism, (and plaintiffs believe they should evenhandedly approve such courses), but disapprove courses which add viewpoints based on conservative Christianity," the court filings said.

The official court documents also charge, "Methodically and ominously, (UC schools) have assumed increasingly more authority over secondary schools in California by expanding the reach and impact of requirements for students in nonpublic secondary schools to be eligible for admission to the University of California (and effectively also to the California State University system). Even without authority for and guidance in doing so, (UC schools) press onward from deciding admission guidelines to determining what viewpoints may and may not be taught in secondary school classrooms, which books may and may not be used, and what students with the same tests scores are and are not eligible for admission to the University of California."

The ACSI, with the help of Advocates for Faith and Freedom, a non-profit law firm dedicated to protecting religious liberty in the courts, contends the university system's discrimination is unconstitutional on several grounds, including an unlawful intrusion and entanglement of the government in the church.

The court documents state, "Entanglement with religion results from (UC schools) and the state parsing through the viewpoints and content of Christian school instruction and texts to ferret out disapproved religious views, and intruding into the content of religious schools and texts, and doing that when there is no deficiency at all reflected in their scores or grades."

"Every teacher teaches from a point of view," Tyler told WND. "We all have a worldview, and if you teach from secular perspective, it's a viewpoint.

"Our argument is that the government has to be neutral when it comes to viewpoint."

It seems to me there is very little room for doubt regarding which viewpoints are endorsed as acceptable in our current society and which are not. I guess where I'm at a loss is in figuring out what we're to do about it. Some would argue that Christians have an obligation to be involved in the civic arena... others would just as strongly argue that we should remain outside of active political involvement. Some would argue that the conservative agenda is the only truly godly one... others would suggest that only liberals push a point of view that cares about the same things God does... still others abandon either with the overly-simplistic idea that, "only the gospel matters; therefore, politics is irrelevant."

And in the meantime, very few of us "regular people" talk about any of it. "Never talk about religion or politics," we are taught at a very young age. And so - while religion and politics remain off-limits discussion points for Christians - our secular society has set its own agenda.

And, unfortunately, it doesn't seem to include us.

What is the appropriate, godly response to the myriad of issues we face? Godless conservatism is as scary as godless liberalism, but finding a place of discussion which includes God in politics - apart from vitriolic soap boxes - is difficult... especially in a society seeking to craft God out of every public arena. How will we ever get to a place of resultant action if we never even have the discussions? And what solutions exist if they are pursued apart from the Lord? And how will a post-modern, post-Christian society come to know Him if we're too afraid to speak up? In an election year, politics is context. It is what folks are thinking about and talking about... it is the setting into which the good news must be brought. However strong the likelihood of misinterpretation. However likely the guarantee of misunderstanding.

"For, 'Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.' How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!'" - Romans 10:13-15

The gospel is still good news. Even in an election year. Maybe even especially in an election year. May we get beyond the rhetoric and the hype and speak of Him...

For some, it will be to statesmen or celebrities or foreign diplomats... As for me, it will be to whomever He has me near right now, and tomorrow, and the next day... wherever He gives me a voice...

I'm just longing to be beautiful feet...

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