Fearfully And Wonderfully Made

Well folks, something big and exciting is coming out tomorrow…something I’ve been really looking forward to tell you about. But for now, I want you to take a trip back in time. It’s a short trip, but it’s a trip that means a lot to many of us. It’s the time of a fight for a woman’s life. And I want to bring it back up again by letting you take a look at a short interview I did with a wonderful lady who had some great insight on the situation. Enjoy.

Agent Tim: What is your story? Could you briefly share with me? (Testimony, why you are disabled, etc?)

Karen: I was born with a genetic disorder called Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2 which is a motor neuron disorder. Most of my voluntary muscles are affected and I have never been able to walk thus I have used a wheelchair for mobility all of my life. I use a power wheelchair because I have no strength in my arms. I can use my hands a little bit to write or use a computer but I’m not able to lift things and cannot lift my arms above my head. I have become progressively weaker over the years and since the last two years I have not been able to feed myself without assistance. I totally rely on others for all of my personal care needs.

I’m now 40 years old. In my 20s and early 30s I drove a specially modified van. I attended public school and went to college where I earned a bachelor’s degree in public administration and a master’s degree in business management. Unfortunately I have not been gainfully employed. However, I lead as active a life as I’m able. And try to find work that I can do at home.

I accepted Christ when I was a young child. God has blessed me in many ways and especially with a loving family who have cared for me. I have been married for six years. My husband and I are active members of our church body. Surely God is my strength.

AT: What do you foresee for the future of those who are disabled? Do you see those who are “unwanted” and “not contributing to society” being killed like Terri?

KS: People who are unable to speak for themselves are at the greatest risk because they are often the ones who are “unwanted.” I’m thinking of unwanted children and people who cause inconvenience to those around them like the disabled and elderly. I’m not sure that those who are considered as “not contributing to society” are at risk of being killed because quite frankly most of our culture creates people who contribute little if nothing to our society. Mediocrity is praised and exceptionalism or excellence is put down. In that kind of society who really contributes?

AT: Why do you believe that Terri should live?

KS: Terri has the same rights as anyone. She should live because she is. Her life is no less important than anyone else. From what I understand of the court case the judge ruled that she would not want to live this way according to her “husband.” Since she made no clear directive such as a living will, I cannot understand how the judge can accept the testimony of her “husband” who has done nothing to help her. I agree with President Bush when he said that we need to err on the side of life. Without a clear directive I think is wrong for someone else to have the right to choose death for her.

AT: From a disabled persons point of view, do you understand Terri’s situation better? Could you share why and how you would be if you were in her situation or in her parents situation? What would you want to happen to you if you were Terri?

KS: I don’t know if I understand her situation any better because I am disabled. I do know that life should be protected and I want my life protected.
Terri’s condition is not a terminal condition. The only reason why she is dying now is because she is being starved and dehydrated. I can understand if someone has a terminal condition and they do not want to undergo treatment that will have no effect except to make their life more miserable but not prolong it in a meaningful way. Unfortunately, Terri’s situation is being portrayed as a terminal one. This is wrong.

AT: What do you believe the Bible says about Terri’s situation?

KS: I think the Bible is very clear on this situation. Over and over again God told the Israelites to protect those who were most vulnerable in their society. Jesus said to do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Also, God told the Israelites to choose life.

You Said It

This is why I admire and appreciate Dr. Albert Mohler so much. He’s one of the men I most admire in the evangelical sphere and one of the greatest men I’ve ever met. I’d ecourage you to tune into his radio show every day–you’ll be much better because of it.

Friday Funnies

Well, I do realize it’s very late here on the east coast, but I might as well post. My Friday funnies today was going to be on a very wacky story that wasn’t quite so funny, all about some crazy kid “jamming” in his bedroom, on his bed, falling out his second story window and, unfortunately, not making it. Guys, keep control when you’re rocking with that electric.

But that didn’t reach the ultimate funny–what really reached the ultimate funny is when I received an email from Spunky Jr. telling me that I received a great shout out from one of my favorite bloggers, La Shawn Barber. So, I travel on over, telling my mom that La Shawn gave me a shout out, and we begin to read the list of bloggers she linked to. And, lo and behold, here’s what I read beside my name:

Adorable homeschooled kid – I had no idea he was a teenager until he told me. Hadn’t seen the pic.

And no, I didn’t insert the emphasis. Of course, my mom starts laughing at me, I grin and say thanks to La Shawn, and start blogging.

Thanks La Shawn! If you don’t mind, I’m going to add that quote to my sidebar.

Don’t Waste Your Cancer

One of the finest books I’ve ever read was John Piper’s Don’t Waste Your Life. It truly changed my life, and gave me a great appreciation for Piper’s other works. When I learned that John Piper had cancer, I was suprised, and almost excited. I know that sounds odd, but I was. See, some of the greatest people I know have had cancer, or know someone who has had cancer. It seems that wherever you turn, a relative has cancer. And they either rise to the top and conquer it, or they don’t make it. John Piper’s article, written on the eve of surgery, entitled “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” is something we all need to read as we live in America today. We will meet someone who will go through an experience like this.

And that’s the reason I was excited–I knew Piper would have some awesome and inspiring words about this trial given to him by God. Here’s a clip:

The design of God in your cancer is not to train you in the rationalistic, human calculation of odds. The world gets comfort from their odds. Not Christians. Some count their chariots (percentages of survival) and some count their horses (side effects of treatment), but we trust in the name of the Lord our God (Psalm 20:7). God’s design is clear from 2 Corinthians 1:9, “We felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” The aim of God in your cancer (among a thousand other good things) is to knock props out from under our hearts so that we rely utterly on him.

Knock the props out from under our hearts…relying utterly on him…I think all of those who have gone through such an experience agree. God uses these times for His glory to make us rely on Him alone. I hope you will read this article, and pray for John Piper. And if you know a loved one or friend who has cancer, send them the link. I believe it will be a great encouragement to them.

Dr. Mohler’s Radio Show
Update On John Piper

Courageism Interview: From The Beginning, Scott Somerville

Agent Tim: For those who haven’t heard the story, or are still at a loss, what’s the story behind this word courageism? Where did it come from?

Scott Somerville: The word is the obvious opposite of “terrorism.” It sprang into my head along with a million other thoughts on September 11, 2001, as I stood outside in my suburban Maryland street and watched fighter jets scream overhead. I live 30 minutes away from the Washington Monument, well within the affected area of any successful nuclear attack. “What do I do now?” I asked myself. “Should I sell my house and move my family back to the depths of West Virginia, where I’m from? How can I be safe?”
Then I realized that “safe” couldn’t be the answer any more. The world had changed. If our goal is “safety,” then we will always be playing defense in a game the terrorists choose. That’s when I decided to become a “courageist.”

Agent Tim: How would you define courageism

Scott S.: Courageism is the opposite of terrorism and the only counter to it. “Terrorism” means different things to different people, and so, to a degree, does “courageism.” The difference is that everybody wants to be a “courageist” and nobody wants to be a “terrorist.”

Aristotle’s definition of “courage” in the Nicomachean Ethics, Book III, Chapter 7 is the soundest starting place. “The man, then, who faces and who fears the right things and from the right motive, in the right way and from the right time, and who feels confidence under the corresponding conditions, is brave.” Mere “bravery” is not enough for true “courage,” though. Aristotle continues, “But courage is noble. Therefore the end also is noble; for each thing is defined by its end. Therefore it is for a noble end that the brave man endures and acts as courage directs.”

Courage means facing the right fear the right way for noble reasons. A man who jumps out of airplanes faces his fear, but skydivers jump out of planes for a passing thrill or a boost to their ego. “Extreme sports” push the limits of what a human can face, but not for “noble” ends. Real “courage” demands more.

“Courageism” is not just “courage, however, any more than “terrorism” is just “terror.” True “courageism” involves some real risk of death or maiming, just as “terrorism” requires more than damage to property or reputation.

Agent Tim: What’s an example of courageism?

Scott S.: The jihadists call a person who straps a bomb to his chest a “martyr.” We call him a “terrorist.” A “courageist” would be a person who willingly faces the man with the bomb to try to stop him before he can hurt others.

A good fictional example would be Atticus Finch, the father in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” He spent all night guarding his client, a black man accused of rape, from the mob that came to the jailhouse door to lynch him. He faced down the mob the right way, for the right reasons, and for a noble cause.

Agent Tim: Why do we need a new word? Why not stick with the good old “courage”?

Scott S.: Courage is a virtue; “courageism” is a movement. We need a movement now. A new generation is growing up into terrorism in some parts of the Middle East. Young people in the West can grow up demanding a safety that is no longer certain, or nobly face their fears.

We need a new word because conservatives and Christians too easily overlook the heroism of many ordinary Muslims who are already champions of “courageism.” In America, if you stand up for what is right, you may suffer negative consequences but you aren’t usually in any physical danger. A student may get a lower grade for challenging his professor’s pet position: his professor is unfair, but not a “terrorist. By contrast, every purple finger in the Middle East is a genuine act of “courageism,” and we need to draw attention to that fact.

We need a new word because nobody will call himself an “appeaser,” even though his every act is one of submission to extortion. “Courageism” separates the sheep from the goats. “Courageists” believe there are things worth dying for and those who don’t. Those who reject the concept of “courageism” act as if death were the ultimate evil. It is not!

Agent Tim: Who do you believe is an example of courageism?

Scott S.: There are too many examples to list! But some obvious categories and examples are:
* Prophets: Elijah, Jeremiah, John the Baptist, Stephen the Martyr,
* Apostles: Eleven of the twelve apostles died rather than recant. Only John died of old age.
* Martyrs: Stephen, the first Christian martyr, and countless others who died under the rule of Nero, Domitian… Stalin, Hitler, Mao… etc., etc.
* Patriots: Every signer of the Declaration of Independence, pledging their fortunes, lives, and sacred honor for freedom.
* Nonviolent Protesters: Mahatma Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr.
* Missionaries: Jim Elliot, Nate Saint, and the others who died taking the Gospel to the Aucas; and even more remarkably, Elisabeth Elliot and Rachel Saint who went to the tribe that had murdered them.
* Dissidents: Dietrich Bonhoeffer in Germany, Aleksandr Sozzhenitsyn in Russia; the lone Chinese student in Tiananmen Square; etc.
* Police officers: Day after day, the men and women on the “thin blue line” risk their lives to hold back human evil.
* Firefighters: These men and women plunge into earthly hells to save humans and their homes from Nature’s wrath.
* Soldiers: The “Greatest Generation” that stopped the Nazi death machine; today’s all-volunteer army in Iraq.
* Heroes: Todd Beamer and the others who resisted Al Qaeda on board Flight 93 in 2001; Ashley Smith, the single mother in Atlanta who shard the Gospel with the fugitive who shot a judge and several other people and then took her hostage in 2005; etc., etc.

Agent Tim: How would you encourage young men and women to show “courageism”?

Scott S.: Routinely ask yourself, “What do I fear?” You don’t get a chance to face down death on a regular basis, but you deal with fear every day. What are you afraid of losing? What are you afraid you’ll never find? What do you cling to? The approval of others? Pleasure? Independence? Pride?

If there is anything you crave that leads you to do what you know is wrong, you are not ready to face death yet. If you can’t overcome your own fear of rejection at the hands of your peer group, you probably aren’t ready to face down a terrorist. That is not to say that risking ridicule is “courageism.” It isn’t. But if you can’t risk ridicule, you aren’t ready for death.

Agent Tim: Before we end this interview, could you clear something up for me…do you believe the cartoonists in Denmark were showing courageism, or do they fall outside of our definition of courageism?

Scott S.: It depends. A “hater” and a “lover” could draw identical cartoons for opposite reasons. Someone who loves liberty could risk death for the best of reasons, while a person who hates Muslims might be willing to sacrifice his own safety in order to make them suffer. One would be a “courageist” and the other wouldn’t.

I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt if at all possible. Since I don’t know the motives of the cartoonists, I will start by assuming they risked their lives out of a love for freedom. Freedom is a noble end, so we can presume the Danish cartoonists are “courageists” until we learn something new to make us change that opinion.

Agent Tim: Okay, here we end. What else would you like to say about courageism?

Scott S.: “Courageism” should be second nature for Christians, simple for other believers, and challenging–but not impossible—for secular materialists. Christians are supposed to love their enemies as they long for Christ’s appearing. Christians should fear only God and sin, and every day gives us new opportunities to face those fears with the right attitude in the right way.

“Courageism” may be harder for people who practice a religion that depends on human effort for salvation. A wicked man who believes in Hell should be afraid to die; his conscience may hinder him from doing what needs to be done at the moment of the crisis. A self-righteous man might be ashamed to shrink from death, but “self” is not a noble end worth dying for.

“Courageism” is hardest for the person who thinks this life is all there is. The materialist may cry, “Give me liberty or give me death,” but it is hard to hold life lightly when death is so final. The passengers on Flight 93 had nothing to lose when they rose up against the hijackers, but the average American has so much to cling to. That is why the terrorists are so effective: they threaten our secular safety.

Previous And Extras:
Courageism Word Essay
Interview With Daryl Cobranchi
Scott’s Blog
Rhetorical Response’s Response

Open Thread

Yes, that means you have a chance to run the blog today. So, start asking questions, get your friends to discuss whatever, or ask me questions. Fire away…

New Word Files: Courageism

Well, I’ve received quite a few emails asking me about “courageism.” I know, you’re probably shaking your head and trying to sound it out. I really can’t help you with that since there isn’t a dictionary entry on it—yet. In fact, we may be looking at the “word of the year” for 2006 or 2007.

HSLDA attorney Scott Somerville has asked me to join in on the discussion of this interesting word which he defines as “the only real alternative to ‘terrorism’.” I’ll be interviewing him this week, so you’ll have a chance to learn more about what he thinks about the topic.

Anway, I’ve wanted to chime in on the whole “cartoon war” blog burst, and here is my excuse.

The discussion began with the infamous Muhammad cartoon riots that have spread across the globe. For me, this has shown that we aren’t looking at a “religion of peace” as is preached by many, but rather an Islam fascism that is worse than Hitler’s Germany. It is a radicalism that is sweeping our globe faster than communism. It is the evil of our time, my time, and possibly my children’s time. It is something that I and my fellow American’s must be left to fight with. It will never be totally wiped out. It can be held back, but never completely annihilated. And as a nation we must not falter in our stand against it.

I respect the newspapers who have taken a stand now for freedom of the press—freedom to make fun of anything, even me, my God, and my homeland. Certainly I can get mad, angry, or whatever else, but they have the absolute right to make fun of me in a cartoon. But for me to respond to a cartoon by calling for the heads of the cartoonists is absurd. To call for a change in the laws so that there is no long freedom of the press is absurd. These newspapers have shown courageism. Courage to stand against terrorism. This courage is defined as “knowingly and intentionally putting one’s life at risk.” Putting one’s life at risk, I might add, for freedom.

As I said, we’re facing the great evil of our time—larger than Germany, larger than Russia, and larger than Japan. And the difference between us and them is one thing: courageism. We believe in freedom, which takes true courage. The man who blows himself up does not show courage. What he shows is that he has been fooled—conned—into believing, yes, a lie. Islam is about spreading the religion at all costs. Now, of course, this does not mean that every Muslim is going to want to blow himself up, but the Koran clearly teaches that those who do not convert to Islam must be killed. In my book, that’s just like saying if you’re not German, you should be killed. If you’re not Japanese, you should be killed. If you’re not white, you should be killed.

But back to courageism. What exactly is it? How can we define it?

Well, after some thought, here’s my definition:

Courageism: Cur uge is um. Courageism is the opposite of terrorism. It is the exertion of courage in the face of great obstacles, particularly death. It has been shown by many great leaders who chose not to use violence in overcoming obstacles placed in their paths. Example: Martin Luther King Jr. showed courageism in his speech “I have a dream.”

Now, for me, courageism was at first an unneeded word. It was something that was just a replacement for courage. But now I think I see a need to make a word that is the obvious word for anti-terrorism. Of course, we now need to debate and discuss who shows courageism, whether it be Martin Luther King, Jr. or the newspapers in Europe and some here in the states. I think we need to turn this discussion to “who shows courageism” and “how is it defined.” So, let’s work this out and start defining our terms…are you ready?

Interview With Daryl Cobranchi

Courageism? Interview With Daryl Cobranchi

This interview is about “courageism.” Except this article is from the other side of the spectrum, the side that believes there is no such word a courageism and idea is false. I personally don’t hold to that view at this time, but wanted to show both sides of the story, starting with the opposing side. So I’ve interviewed Daryl Cobranchi, a “chemist by training, a blogger by accident, and a curmudgeon by nature.” He answered a few questions about his views on the cartoon issue and courageism, and I’m certain you’ll find his answers interesting. Have fun!

Agent Tim: Let’s start at the beginning of this whole story with the newspapers in Denmark. They publish 12 cartoons, some depicting Muhammad in a derogatory way. Now, I understand that this is offensive to Islam, but I’m looking at the response by the Islamic people. Take for example this

“Masked gunmen today took over an office used by the European Union to protest the publication of cartoons deemed insulting to Islam. About five gunmen stormed the building, closing the office down, while 10 other armed men stood watch outside. One of the militants said they were protesting the drawings, one of which depicted Islam’s Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb.”

Would you say the newspapers were asking for this type of response or did they make a brave statement by standing up to terrorists? And was the Muslim communities response by using violence correct?

Daryl: I wouldn’t say they were asking for it, but it was probably pretty predictable. The paper (singular) commissioned cartoonists to draw Mohammed, knowing full-well that the Danish Muslim minority would protest. That was the whole point. So, no, I don’t think it was brave or courageous to insult a minority. Would it be courageous to draw cartoons portraying Hitler as righteous and the Jews as deserving their fate?

That being said, I deplore the violence exhibited by the Muslim protesters.
The Danes did it right. When the cartoons were first published in September, 5,000 Danish Muslims marched peacefully in protest.

Agent Tim
: Then how would define “courage.”?

Daryl: I’d define courage as doing “right” when one firmly believes that the consequences to one’s self will be unpleasant. Note that the “doing right” is judged externally. So the wacko who attempts a political assassination isn’t being courageous. There was no courage involved in the Danish paper’s decision to commission and publish these cartoons. They weren’t “doing right.” The other papers that followed up may have been standing up for what they perceived as freedom of the press, or they may have been merely piling on. Based on what I’ve read, I’d say it was some of each.

Agent Tim: Do you think the Muslim countries are showing hypocrisy by attacking freedom of the press in other countries, yet degrading other religions in their own countries.

Daryl: Freedom of the press is mostly a foreign concept in the Middle East.

The press IS the government, so anything published in Denmark is assumed to be with their blessing. Muslims don’t typically “degrade”
other religions (specifically Judaism). They protest Israeli policies.
In the West, we often confuse those two, but Judaism and Israel are two very different beasts.

Agent Tim: Is it wrong to promote freedom of the press because it’s “foreign” in the Middle East? Is it better for these countries to maintain tyranny or suppression of freedom?

Daryl: No, it’s not necessarily wrong to promote human freedoms. It is wrong to do it by force.

Agent Tim: Okay, now let’s move back to “courageism,” the opposite of “terrorism.” I would assume you believe that these newspapers are not showing courage, but rather stupidity in publishing the material. Is that correct? And why can’t they publish this material?

Daryl: Yes, that’s correct. They, of course, have the right to publish.
I just happen to think it was a stupid and cruel thing to do. What was the purpose in publishing these, other than to gin up a controversy and some cheap publicity?

Agent Tim: What do you think about the freedom of the press and standing up to terrorism?

Daryl: Freedom of the press is a long-cherished Western ideal. I don’t think the current controversy had anything to do with supporting the press in opposition to terrorism. How many Danes were coming out in favor of terrorism? My only post on this topic was titled “Whose Ox?”
because I think a lot of these proponents of the Danish paper are far from First Amendment purists. I’ve asked Scott Somerville how many Letters to the Editor he wrote in support of the Brooklyn Museum exhibiting “Piss Christ” and against the folks calling for Giuliani to shut it down. I haven’t received an answer back yet, but I’d be willing to grant long odds that it’s zero.

Agent Tim: Thanks Daryl. Hopefully we’ll be able to secure an interview with Scott Somerville for next week, making this discussion even. Make sure you check out Mr. Cobranchi’s blog here.