Ironic Advertizing

Have you heard the series of commercials Nexium is running? The ads have doctors ineptly trying to operate jackhammers and throw baseballs. Then the ads cut to their message:

You wouldn’t want your doctor doing your job, so why ardoctor-jack-hammere you doing his? Only your doctor can determine if your persistent heartburn is something more serious, like acid reflex disease. Over time, stomach acid can damage the lining of your esophagus. For many, prescription Nexium not only provides 24-hour heartburn relief but also can help heal acid-related erosions in the lining of your esophagus. Talk to your doctor…. Let your doctor do his job and you do yours. Ask if Nexium is right for you.

Doesn’t it seem ironic that Nexium is running ads telling you to “let your doctor do his job” in order to get you to pressure him into letting you choose your own medication?

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The World Saw You Celebrate

Back in 2008, a Chinese church did a series of man-on-the-street interviews asking “What is Christmas?” and “Who is Jesus?” The resulting five-minute video is worth taking a look.

If you went to any mall in the US three weeks ago and asked “What does Christmas mean for you?”, I think the answers given would convince you that the Chinese pretty much understand Christmas as it is celebrated in the West. The world sees what we do, not what we say we believe.

The world was watching this holiday season, and I’m not so sure they have stopped looking yet.

Should Christians Profit from Sin

Here are three ethical scenarios. Each assumes that the person making the decision is a Christian and understands pornography to be sinful.

Scenario 1

You buy a foreclosed storage unit at auction, the rules of which prevented you from opening any boxes prior to purchasing the unit. While cleaning out the locker you bought, you discover a box full of pornography. You set the box aside along with several other items you plan to haul to the dump. Before you have the opportunity to throw anything away, a middle-aged man walks up to you and offers you $100 for the box of pornography. Do you sell it to him?

Scenario 2

You invest heavily in the stock market. The pornographic industry is having a very good year, and you could profit greatly by buying stock in Playboy Magazine. Ethical considerations aside, Playboy would unquestionably be your best investment option. Do you buy the stock?

Scenario 3

Your retirement savings are invested in mutual funds. This means a very tiny percentage of your holdings include stock in companies like Phillip Morris, Budweiser, and Playboy Magazine. You could opt for a specialty mutual fund that avoids morally objectionable companies, but your rate of return would be considerably less. Do you leave your investment where it is?

My Answers

The Christian in the first scenario should throw away the porn. Selling it would promote sin, and would make you a party to that sin. While it would be nice to have $100, it would be much worse to dishonor God.

The Christian in the second scenario should not buy the stock in Playboy Magazine. As with the first scenario, buying part of such a company would promote sin and make the buyer a party to that sin. While the stock would otherwise be a good investment, pleasing God should be a higher priority.

The Christian in the third scenario should leave his or her investment where it is even though that mutual fund invests a small percentage of its holdings in objectionable companies. The key difference in this case is that there is no direct promotion or involvement in sin. Christians will never be completely able to avoid interaction with the sinful elements of their societies. However, they should avoid directly and deliberately profiting from sin.

Let’s go back to the first example. Say you bought the storage unit and found the porn. However, when the man walked up to you—rather than offering to buy the porn—the man offered to buy the entire unit from you for considerably more than you paid for it. Could you profit from the entire unit even though you knew one of the boxes contained porn? I would assume the man was not buying the unit for the porn and would sell it without overburdening my conscience (1 Cor 10:27)

Of course, the situations would be totally different if most of the boxes were filled with porn or the mutual fund in question specialized in objectionable stocks. However, while Christians must not be of the world, they are to live in the world. Sometimes this means they will indirectly profit from the sinfulness of their societies, but if Christians are to be not of the world, they should neither directly nor deliberately profit from sin.

Princess Bride Bucket List

The Princess Bride has got to be one of the funniest movies of all time. If you’ve never be juvenile enough to watch it, the plot is your basic save-the-princess romp with every cliche imaginable refined to perfection. It is definitely worth seeing if you have somehow missed it.

In honor of the film’s 25th anniversary, I have put together a little Princess Bride inspired bucket list.

15. Roll down a massive hill.

14. Hide a secret lab inside a fake tree.

13. Jump out of a window onto the back of a horse.

12. Put a giant in a sleeper hold.

11. Kill a rodent of unusual size with my bare hands.

10. Find a good use for a holocaust cloak.

9. Free climb a sheer cliff.

8. Start a “Dread Pirate Roberts” franchise.

7. Have fun storming a castle.

6. Tell someone at a funeral, “Don’t think of your friend as being dead. He’s only mostly dead.” Then start selling chocolate-covered walnuts.

5. Develop an immunity to some obscure poison

4. Pause in the middle of a sword fight and dramatically declare, “I am not left-handed!”

3. Open a wedding with “Marwage. Marwage is what bwrings us here togetwer toodawy.”

2. Walk up to a total stranger and say, “Hello, My name is Inigo Montonya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!”

1. Get my beloved to humbly submit to my every whim replying simply, “as you wish.”

“Offensive” Is Not “Damaging”

The Muslim world continues to erupt in protest over a low-budget American film that nobody would ever watch without the media attention resulting from the protests themselves. Obviously the protests are either extraordinary counter-productive or serving some ulterior motive. Regardless of the protesters’ motives, the media flurry around the incidents have begun to employ a dangerous new rhetoric.

The film is being condemned by some as “damaging the beliefs of others.” While the film may be offensive and even insulting to Muslims, it should not be called damaging. How can one “damage” someone’s beliefs? Are we going to curb freedom of speech so that you can say anything you want as long as you don’t say someone else is wrong? What harm can befall someone who hears a voice of disagreement? There is no “damage” so we should not use that word.

Lest someone say, “well, you are not a Muslim….” Let’s look at two images offensive to Christians.

To the left is Andres Serrano’s 1987 Piss Christ in which the photographer submerged a crucifix in a glass of his own urine. To the right is Edwina Sandys’ 1975 Christa in which the Christ on the crucifix is presented as a naked woman. Both images are offensive. Both are insulting. Neither damages my beliefs.

Go to any bookstore and you can find scores of books and DVDs put out by the new atheists who mock and deride both Christ and Christianity. Have they “damaged” the Christian faith? Can they “damage” the Christian faith?

The only real way to “damage” a belief is to restrict its expression and thus hinder its spread. Labeling a contrary belief as “damaging” serves not to protect but to destroy. Something that is “damaging” can be repressed. When we begin to label free speech as “damaging,” we have begun a course that actually could damage the beliefs of others.

iPray

Tim Challies recently reviewed three iPhone prayer apps. All three function similarly with users entering prayer requests and the program compiling randomized daily prayer lists. While none of the apps have a feature that enables the user to automatically forward their requests to God via email, the apps do select the users’ prayer requests for the day. Christians should seriously weigh the consequences of automating their prayer life.

Before you accuse me of being some sort of Luddite, I readily admit that there is very little difference between an iPhone prayer app and the printed prayer calendars that many churches distribute. Furthermore, I generally go to prayer after having done my daily Bible reading using Bibleworks on my laptop, and I often have an electronic prayer list open on my computer as I go to prayer. However, I don’t think I’m going to download a prayer app anytime soon.

I constantly have to fight the tendency to coast on autopilot through my prayers, just trying to cover all the things I need to present to God. Remember that Jesus said:

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:7-8).

In order to avoid heaping up empty phrases, I have to take time to think about my requests and yield myself to God’s will before I start praying. The more automated prayer aids (printed or electronic) I have around me, the temptation to rush prayer increases.

I’m not arguing that it is wrong to use your iPhone in prayer. However, as with all lawful things, it must be used lawfully. If you pray with your iPhone, remember it can’t prepare you to pray. At best, it can provide moderate assistance to you during prayer and perhaps make you look cool in the process. At worst, it can rush you to prayer unprepared and turn your prayer time into a fashion statement to be seen by others.

 

God’s Fantastically Complex Creation

This short video shows some astounding views of marine animals including a color-shifting cuttlefish, a perfectly camouflaged octopus, and neon light displays from fish who live in the blackest depths of the ocean.

Bill Nye the science guy recently went on record in a YouTube video saying, “Your world just becomes fantastically complicated when you don’t believe in evolution…. If you try to ignore that, your world view just becomes crazy, just untenable, itself inconsistent.”

Nye has joined a growing chorus of atheists arguing that parents who teach creationism to their children are practicing a form of child abuse. Answers in Genesis has put together a detailed response to Bill Nye’s assertions.

Bill Nye forgets how “fantastically complicated” the world gets when you do believe in evolution. Take another look at footage above. Could that really have come about by chance? If so, it must have been a fantastically complicated series of events. One has to admit that Occam’s razor favors believing the world to be the fantastically complex creation of an infinite God.