Monthly Archives: September 2010

Come visit our new family blog!

Each entry represents, in text and video, another day of our quest to avoid electronic amusement/distraction.  Here’s a sample:

DAY THREE:  FAMILY MEDIA DETOX

Jim’s update:

Sam’s fourth birthday!  My baby turns four.

You know, he has another special day coming up: September 6th.  That’s the anniversary of his arrival in our home.  Sam and Mercy (PeeWee) both came to us as foster children; social workers brought Mercy to us on October 4th, 2005, when she was six weeks old, and Sam arrived almost a year later, just three days after his birth.

Both had been born drug-exposed; they were so frail and sickly. Missy and I watched and prayed over them, waiting and working for indications that they would grow stronger and thrive.  God has worked mightily to bring them past a variety of developmental delays and, as the video shows, our sweet Lord has strengthened and blessed them so phenomenally that one would never guess they had ever been afflicted in any way.

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In today’s video, Missy and I discuss an unavoidable encounter with a couple of televisions during Sam’s birthday lunch.  Good heavens, those screens wield remarkable power to draw a person’s attention.  We got through it, though.

A pleasant time was had by some.

Thanks to all of you who have visited the blog and shared the link on your Facebook pages.  Our stats indicate that visits on Day Two nearly doubled from the Day One total.

Our prayer is that our little experiment here would encourage other families to undertake a similar challenge.  After just three days, I can honestly say that I’m seeing a positive change in myself and in our family.  We’re enjoying each other more, the children are bickering less, and Missy and I have been more engaged as parents.  I’ve also been more productive as a pastor and writer, and I pray that continues.  If you’re considering it, I hope you’ll give it a try and share your experiences with us!

“Kid, I want you to go and sit down on that bench that says ‘Group W.'”

My “Burning Bridges Over Beck” column was posted to Lucianne.com today.

The comment thread has had me smiling all afternoon.  As the first paragraph of my column indicates, I knew I was touching the third rail of contemporary conservatism by writing anything but a slobbering hagiography about Glenn Beck.

Since I’ve gotten addicted to the absurd lefty ad hominem attacks and the DSM-IV – defying rants from Liberals, it’s been a refreshing change of pace to be on the business end of some nastiness from the Right.  I wonder if anyone has posted it to FreeRepublic.com yet…now their reaction would be a hoot!

But as the predictable responses on Lucianne and in other comment forums have shown, there is something in the column to provoke a psychotic episode from folks on virtually every point of the political spectrum.

But if I had to pick a favorite, it would have to be this one:

I assume he’s referring to this headshot of my ruggedly handsome visage that accompanies the column:

“…just murdered his parents”?

Me?

That’s absurd.

It’s been years since I murdered my parents.

“Burning Bridges Over Beck”

I’ve entitled this column “Burning Bridges over Beck” only because the original title, “How to Lose Conservative Friends and Alienate Readers While Drawing a Line in the Sand on the Banks of the Rubicon” was, as the Mrs. put it, “a bit verbose.”

Let’s get down to it.

Glenn Beck is an influential figure; no one can deny that he has made considerable advances for the conservative movement.

I have never watched his television program, so most of what I know about him I have learned by watching the response to him.  That response is very impressive.

The rally in Washington this past weekend proved that he certainly has a unique gift for inspiring and mobilizing people.  It is a gift I envy.

And I must also admit that the hilarious fits of sputtering, frothy-mouthed panic that he invariably elicits from the Left have brought me many a chuckle.  I appreciate him for that too.

I clearly can’t deny that he is one of the most efficacious figures among Conservatives.  Something has happened of late, though, and it’s something that concerns me deeply.  Glenn Beck is increasingly holding himself out as a religious figure.  Now, I happen to be someone who treasures my own freedom to express my spiritual beliefs in the public realm, so I celebrate his own right to do the same.  This is America, so by all means have at it, sir.

But my concern is for my evangelical brethren who not only accept him as a political spokesperson but ALSO embrace him as a legitimate Christian leader.  Glenn Beck must not be given such legitimacy among such a people.  As a Mormon, he is an adherent to teachings that fly wildly in the face of Biblical Christian orthodoxy.

This, however, is but a symptom.  The diagnosis is a particularly virulent strain of Spiritual Discernment Deficiency.  Though it affects only one demographic – Christians who should know better – it has three causes.

The first cause is biblical illiteracy.  Modern American believers have little knowledge of the scriptures, ergo they have no understanding of the vast doctrinal chasm that separates what the Bible teaches from what Mormons believe.  Of course, the LDS juggernaut is more than happy to help that along through a remarkable public relations effort aimed at presenting themselves as just one of several “Christian” denominations.  Even the most cursory comparison of Mormonism to the Bible, however, shows that this could not possibly be the case.  The LDS Church preaches a different Christ, a different scripture, and a different church.

The second cause is patriotic idolatry.  Informed patriotism and ardor for conservative political activism are both fine ideals in my book, ideals to which I myself aspire.  Yet when our passion for these begins to rival our zeal for the purity of the Gospel, then we have lost our way.  If Evangelicals accept Glenn Beck as a spiritual leader because of the perceived “good he is doing for this country,” then the line which divides things spiritual and eternal from things earthly and temporal has been dangerously compromised.

Believer, ask yourself:  Are you first a citizen of Heaven or are you first a citizen of this republic?

The third cause of this Spiritual Discernment Deficiency is religio-political pragmatism.  Many conservative Christ-followers so want to excoriate President Obama as a Christian poseur that they’re willing to exalt Glenn Beck as a Christian paragon by default.  I don’t presume to judge the heart of either man, but the followers of Jesus Christ should be every bit as skeptical of the heretical pronouncements of Beck’s Mormon “prophets” as they are of the Marxist liberation theology taught to President Obama by his chosen mentors, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Father Michael Phleger.

I pray for President Obama.  I also pray for Glenn Beck.

That’s the diagnosis.  But what’s the prescription?  First, read your Bible every day and seek the Holy Spirit’s counsel in this and all things.  Know what you believe and why you believe it.  Accept the Bible as authoritative.  Second, you may also want to pick up a copy of When Salt Lake City Calls, an eye-opening book by Rocky Hulse, and visit Steve Dealy, the missionary who directs the Christian Visitors Center in Nauvoo.

Some will undoubtedly conclude that I’m only giving liberals what they want most:  Right-wing infighting.  Perhaps I am, but Beck abandoned Social Conservatives like me with his recent announcement that he has “bigger fish to fry” than speaking out on “culture war” issues like so-called same-sex marriage.  In a stunning display of short-sightedness, he quoted Thomas Jefferson:  “If it neither breaks my leg nor picks my pocket, what difference is it to me?”

Great googly-moogly.

Love Letter from a Liberal

Just when I had begun to worry that I hadn’t been irritating the right people, a letter like this one arrives in my mailbox and all is well again…

Dear Mr. Bennett,

I must first tell you that I am one of those Liberals that is accused of everything negative there is on earth and heaven by Conservatives.  They say I have no family values but I have been married for fifty years and have four children.  Every night while my family was growing up we had meals together and talked together about all issues.  Now two of my children have children of their own and have continued the traditions of our family.  Yet, I am said to have no family values.  I believe that if my 12 year old granddaughter is raped, the child should be aborted—I don’t believe in abortion as birth control but only in dire circumstances—it is a Choice [sic].  I am a Christian who believes that ministers should not espouse politics from the pulpit and I believe that there are other religions in the world that should get respect.  I believe that guns should not be carried openly and that hand guns were designed to kill people and not hunt for food so yes, I believe in gun control.  Our forefathers were talking about muskets and yes, I believe that all people should be allowed to carry muskets.  My gay, not by choice but by nature, son and his partner have been together for 15 years.  The child that they have adopted is happy and healthy and none of them is causing the world to collapse because of amoral behavior.  So you see, we probably don’t have much in common.


I am writing because I have read your recent columns and I have been a bit disturbed by your column and the responses online to them.  When returning to the area six months ago your church was recommended to me and I have not yet visited it but after reading your columns I see that you are a minister of only Republicans and are quite close-minded.  You say that you are not but you were basically preaching hate when discussing the Mosque in NYC.  Have you read the Koran?  If you have you have seen that it doesn’t preach hatred but peace.  Christians have had our share of terrorists but some of you writing openly forget to mention that.  You mention Charleton [sic] Heston like he was a savior and I can truthfully say, because I lived not far from him before his death, that he was a narrow-minded thinker.  You fail to mention that there are strip clubs close to ground zero but I guess you put nudity above Islam.  Muslims were killed inside the towers, please remember that.  A cultural center is what is being proposed.  Writing as you do you bring out the (name redacted)’s of the world who have negativity for everything.  He can’t believe Roseville would close a school so why not start his own. [sic]  I was educated in the Monmouth system and the teachers I had taught me respect, kindness, values, and book-learning.  Because I might be angry I would never start my own school or home school my children because of evil teachers in the system.

Your reference to Phil Hare—I watched You Tube and my reaction was that he was saying we don’t have to worry about the Constitution because health care is not a Constitutional issue it is a basic human issue.  Health care for everyone so that we can all live not just those who are wealthy.  Since returning to Illinois I have read everything I can about Hare and Schilling and I don’t agree completely with either but I would like to have Schilling show me how he will keep services and reduce taxes.  How will he fund schools or should we all home school our children?  It is one thing to say NO takes but how will we function without them.  Look to some of the things that Hare has done and then wave your conservative flag.

I’m also greatly amazed at the “Take back our country” mantra.  Who took it?  Because Democrats are trying to make some changes and are confronted by the party of NO is that what is meant?  Where were you when the Republicans were running up the debt and sending our children to war?  The greatest attack on our soil came when Republicans were in control of the White House—do any of you conservatives remember that?  Do we need to take back the country because a black man is president?  Have you seen John McCann’s [sic] birth certificate from the hospital in Panama?  I don’t have my original since it was lost in a fire but I do have copies.  I suppose that you adore Sara [sic], not a full term governor who sought to earn more on speaking tours.  How much do you really know about her?  Are we becoming a country of nay-sayers and people who don’t value intellect—go Sara [sic]!

Since you are only a minister of one party I will not be attending your church and you are probably glad that you keep people with differing opinions out.  Please try to get to know some of the people of other faiths so that you can truly be a spiritual leader and not a Conservative hack.  God be with you.

Harriet Stoweser

Don’t ya just  love it?

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