Saturday, May 27, 2006

With Jalapeños...

One of the most sublime bits of humor yet to come along is Burger King’s newest commercial for its Texas Double Beef Burger.

Not only is the whole pitch a piece of Madison Avenue genius, it is also a slap in the jaw at feminist ideology. If you don’t recognize it, the tune is the anthem of women’s liberation, “I Am Woman Hear Me Roar” recorded by Helen Reddy in 1972.

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again


Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
'cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul


I am woman watch me grow
See me standing toe to toe
As I spread my lovin' arms across the land
But I'm still an embryo
With a long long way to go
Until I make my brother understand

Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to I can face anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman
Oh, I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong

I am woman
I am invincible
I am strong
I am woman

Here are real men finally dropping their “chic-food” patience while at the same time they are not putting it over on the women. Women, graze on greeneries and teensy portions if you want to, but give the guys something solid and enough to eat now and again! Men and women have different appetites and different appetite needs. In 1:01 min Mad Ave admits what the Dogmatic Feminists refuse to: Men and women are different. To top it of, this is all done to the same tune that women marched to against men. This is priceless.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Geisha, Gigi, and a Queen

My husband and I finally watched “Memoirs of a Geisha” one evening. It was a beautiful film. The costumes were rich, the acting was graceful. I couldn’t help but think it was a re-make of “Gigi,”. The only connection was that both movies concerned the training of young girls to be courtesans. In “Geisha” the young girl moved up from apprentice to full-fledged geisha when her virginity was sold to the highest bidder. The goal for both a Parisian courtesan and the geisha was to secure a benefactor, a patron who would provide for her. Marriage was not the intended outcome for these women. Geisha sure sounds prettier than shack-up-honey or kept woman, doesn’t it? But that’s what she is.

Chiyo/Sayuri was sold by her fisherman father to become a geisha. Her life was miserable, filled with little kindness. Treated as a slave, she was beaten for wrongs she had not committed. She had no future of her own, no hope for any better life. “Geisha” ends on a very pretty note. Sayuri not only attains her dream of becoming a celebrated geisha with a sponsor, he is also the one with whom she has been in love since she was a very young girl. This is a love story. Still, there will be no marriage.

As for Gigi, she hardly knew any better than to become a courtesan. Her mother and grandmother were both Parisian courtesans. It was the family business. Both her mother and grandmother were famous courtesans. Eventually the free-spirited Gigi also succeeds in becoming a real head-turning lady’s man. She is the envy of gay Paris club society when long-time friend Gaston debuts her at his side.

Yet Gigi breaks with family tradition when she refuses Gaston’s first offer, that of being simply her sponsor without the privileges of marriage. She will have none of it. Is that love, she asks him, to have her made a laughingstock by his eventual infidelity and to be then tossed out into the streets? To have their private life made public knowledge? To be treated as less than a wife?

Gigi’s grandmother and mother are devastated by Gigi’s refusal of Gaston’s proposition, only to be elated when he returns and proposes marriage. Gaston’s love for Gigi has flowered into repentance. There can be no illicit relationship with this one- or another now that he is to be a husband. The household shattered by grief and despair is resurrected in jubilation by the return of bridegroom for his bride.

Things are not the same for “Geisha.” She becomes the “half-wife” to the Chairman, his “wife of the night.” Sayuri offers us a disclaimer of sorts. She says that hers was not the tale of an empress or a queen, but of a geisha. So we should not be disappointed, she says.

OK, so what are we to make of “Geisha”? If it her story was not offered as a tale to elicit disappointment for her sake from us, what was the tale supposed to do? First, “Geisha” was based upon actual events. Second, empathy ought to at least allow us to consider the fact that Chiyo/Sayuri had no real choice in her fate; nine-year-olds who are sold off by their fathers to be geishas generally do not have a say in the matter. Likewise, Gigi had little to say in the course of her training as a Parisian courtesan.

So what is the big deal with this film, “Geisha”? Is it even fair to compare it to “Gigi,” which is fictional and culturally disassociated to it, as well?

Here’s the Big Deal: Did you put a price on your virginity?

I ask that seriously, but I honestly don’t want any real answers.

Virginity goes cheap these days. Usually goes for as low as a movie, burger, coke and fries. Maybe a shake. Or a pizza. Certainly not as high as the bid for Sayuri’s virginity. No sireee! The Baron paid enough for that piece to pay off all her debts, plus sock away a tidy sum. Let’s get real: A prostitute by any price is still a hooker even if she’s not a streetwalker. And what does that make the guy involved? So what does that make any gal who trades off for a burger and coke? Oh, I forgot. Youngsters in love? Not always. It is simply called “hooking up” on today’s campuses. That’s the terminology for quick, non-involved sex. Huh?

The irony of the term is priceless. It originates in Nena and George O’Neill’s book, Open Marriage, popular in 1972. (Sometimes it pays to be so ancient! I was there when this was all the craze!) Open Marriage was a feminist, liberal (redundant, I know) proposal for rescuing tired, boring marriages by- guess what- promiscuity. The idea was for each partner to seek out other partners, discover as many different “hook up” points about the others, and, well… relate. “Hooking up” has now devolved simply to mean one particular point of reference at which even dogs in heat casually passing each other on the street and never expecting to or even caring about seeing each other again will join themselves for a few brief moments. In other words, he’s got an “outie,” she’s got an “innie.” So they can hook up. That’s as far as the relationship goes. “Hooking,” and “hooker” also refer to that which some women are paid for with about the same emotional depth as the dogs in heat have encountered. How deliciously ironic!

Sayuri’s caveat that her tale was not that of wife or an empress tagged onto “Geisha” may have been correct insofar as the facts of the situation. However, in an arena that promotes the promiscuity of women and men, her words are hollow and her tale resounds as a promotion of more of the same. The most important line in the film was “Every step I have taken in my life has been to bring myself closer to you.” Yup. Love makes it all OK. So in the end of it all, “Geisha” is about choice. We are not all wives. We are not all empresses. But we all may choose. Choose your own path, women, and achieve your dream. Along the way, sell whatever commodity you have to the highest bidder.

What is the price of chastity? Gigi’s “No” still rings clearly nearly half a century later as witness against drivel like “Geisha.” It turned a courtesan into a wife, a gigolo into a husband, grief into jubilation. Quoting Roger Scruton, F. Carolyn Graglia (Domestic Tranquility; Spence Publishing, 1998. p. 344.) uses a marvelous term, “individualizing intentionality.” One who regards another in this light recognizes that one is an irreplaceable individual, not merely an instrument of sexual release. That one is to be known from the inside out, as a “creature who is part of oneself.” This is the Hebraic sense of knowing, as when a husband knew ([dy) his wife. “Individualizing intensity” aptly describes how God both set apart and pursued His wife, Israel (Ho 2:2; Ze 8:8). This is not the choice of the Bride, but of the Groom Himself. He chased and sought his intended until He made her His own.

Paul’s description of the Bridegroom, Christ, and His Bride flows from the gift of Baptism.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. Eph 5:25-27

Virginity might last until marriage vows are spoken, but chastity goes before and remains after. The price for chastity is marked by Christ’s own. He remained the unspotted Lamb for our sakes in order to take our sin upon Himself at the cross and then gives His righteousness to us in Baptism (Ro 6:3-4). Not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death He redeemed us poor condemned persons by His flesh hung and blood poured out upon the cross. Christ takes a woman who has been soiled with sin- in Hosea God likens the church to a prostitute- washes her clean, and makes her His own chaste Bride. Not just as if she were sinless, but actually proclaims her to be sinless. What Jesus says is so is so. What He declares to be righteous is righteous. The Bride of Christ- men and women alike- are His baptized. She is His Queen, made so by His Father’s will.

“Geisha’s” value lies in its catechetical opportunity. In Women Who Make the World Worse, Kate O’Beirne exposes Rebecca Walker, the daughter of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker. She was recognized by Time magazine as one of the nation’s top 50 future leaders. Walker is routinely sought for speaking engagements on campuses as a guest lecturer. She and her lesbian partner are raising a son. She has edited an anthology, What Makes a Man: 22 Writers Imagine the Future. In her autobiography, Black, White & Jewish, she recounts her own first sexual encounter at eleven, and her abortion at fourteen. She frequently lectures at events like San Jose’s 2004 Girls for a Change Summit. Against this tide of moral influence, who is teaching our children? What is teaching our children? How are they being catechized? “Little Blue” – CPH now features it in red leather – hardly gets equal opportunity, especially if parents remain silent.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Women Who Make the World Worse

There are two important words to remember concerning Kate O’Beirne’s book, Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports: Get it. It is that good, that important. Read it for yourself. Read it to your daughters. Prescribe it to your sons.

It is not enough that the world of feminism is discovering their ideology is based upon tissues of improbabilities. Feminism is an ideology with itself as both the object and the goal. Therefore, dogmatic feminists would rather promote any lie in order to advance their own agenda rather than allow truth to be revealed.

What truth?
  • A public that has never known a society without abortion is increasingly pro-life.

  • Physiological studies between males and females repeatedly report similar results: girls and boys are genetically different.

  • The military has been weakened by the inclusion of women because through various means to accommodate those differences for the sake of the feminist goal of equality.

  • The family has been undermined and devalued in the cause of feminist sexual liberation. Philandering politicians were supported as long as they promoted the prize of feminism, abortion rights.

  • Men’s sports activities and education have suffered and in some cases been eradicated due to the cause of feminist propagandizing. In the meantime, public education itself has become an experiment in social engineering rather than the source of teaching.

  • That feminism is the largest bureaucratic job-maker in history.

This is a brilliant piece of work. Often downright funny, its genuinely wise insights into what makes feminism tick and what drives the movement makes this books a must have for parents of growing children and teenagers. Why? In a sense it is a mini-course in apologetics against what is being fed through the schools, the media and higher education. OBeirne has a solid grip on feminists, and pulls their “logic” apart masterfully. We should all learn to be so adept at doing the same.

Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports
Type: HardcoverISBN: 159230092

Also posted at Luther Library.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Contra Mundum

Albert Mohler speaks well not only regarding the DaVinci Code, but also to the whole issue of standing against the world and for the truth. You can read his comments in his May 19 blog entry, “A Response to “The DaVinci Code”: What's the Problem?

Here is another question:

At the end of last year, Oprah Winfrey chose James Frey’s book, A Million Little Pieces, for her Book Club. It soon sold 3.5M copies. Last January the book was exposed to contain numerous fabrications. It wasn’t the non-fiction Frey said it was. The Press immediately said Oprah had been “conned.”

On Jan. 12 Frey appeared with Larry King to defend himself. Oprah called into the show and spoke up in support of Frey. She said, in part:

And I feel about “A Million Little Pieces” that although some of the facts have been questioned -- and people have a right to question, because we live in a country that lets you do that, that the underlying message of redemption in James Frey’s memoir still resonates with me. And I know that it resonates with millions of other people who have read this book and will continue to read this book.

According to Oprah at that time, the message of redemption in the book was more important than the fact of the fabrications by the author. Apparently Oprah subsequently changed her mind. When Frey appeared on her show she forthrightly stated, “I feel duped…”

On that same show Oprah also questioned Nan Talese, Frey’s publisher. Didn’t she check out the facts? Didn’t she research to know if he was lying? Talese continued to defend Frey and her choice to publish his work as non-fiction saying

A novel is something different than a memoir. And a memoir is different from an autobiography. A memoir is an author’s remembrance of a certain period in his life. Now, the responsibility, as far as I am concerned, is does it strike me as valid? Does it strike me as authentic? I mean, I’m sent things all the time and I think they’re not real. I don't think they're authentic. I don’t think they're good. I don’t believe them. In this instance, I absolutely believed what I read.

In other words, the facticity of the events didn’t matter to Talese. All that was important was whether or the book read as if it were authentic. That leads back to Oprah’s original statement, that a book can be redemptive even though it is not factual. Can a written piece be received as authentic and redemptive even though it is not regarded to be either entirely factual or historical? Now consider what Mohler writes

Beginning in chapter 55 [The DaVinci Code], Brown gets to the very heart of the story when the central character begins to reveal to another character the truth about the conspiracy. Consider what the character Leigh Teabing says: “The Bible is a product of man, my dear, not of God. The Bible did not fall magically from the clouds, man created it as a historical record of tumultuous times and it has evolved through countless translations, editions and revisions. History has never had a definitive version of the book.”

Now if that is true, then we are reading a kind of committee report when we open the Scripture. But it is not true. This is one of those insidious statements that makes sense to sinners, because in effect, that one paragraph has just declared that we do not have to take the Bible as the Word of God. It is just a human document, says the book.
So that would make Scripture one of those books that are authentic if the reader receives it as such, and redemptive in spite of the fact that it is essentially based on falsehoods. I say this because in so many churches today Scripture is regarded as not entirely, but merely mostly, or sometimes not quite true. Still, it is considered to be authoritative and redemptive. (Are we having fun yet?)

Now it must be asked, why did Oprah unleash all that ire against Frey because he was less than totally honest with the facts in his memoirs? Had all the redemptive qualities of his book suddenly been excised because it was revealed that he was a liar? For those who are so quick to dismiss much of Scripture as fiction and yet still claim it to be authentic and redemptive, why is more integrity demanded of someone like Frey than of the Holy Spirit?

Mohler gives Augustine as an example, and he is a fine one for us to remember. "Athanasius said, 'Well, if the entire world is against Athanasius, then Athanasius will be against the entire world.' In Latin, Athanasius' phrase has been summarized as 'contra mundum,' 'against the world.'" Here is another example:
And that you may marvel still more, the whole Christian church in its early days, and at its best, erred… only Peter, Paul, and Barnabas standing firm and holding that neither law nor good works are profitable and necessary for salvation. St. Luke clearly states it in Acts 15. There were great saints there, the apostles and their disciples who insisted and would have continued to insist that the law and good works were necessary for salvation, had not St. Paul and Peter declared against it. And even they themselves would not have known this had not God by miraculous signs from heaven confirmed them in their opinion that only faith is profitable and necessary for salvation, as we read in Acts 10:43. (Luther’s Church Postil, Epiphany)

Contra mundum might also be contra ecclesiam when it is for the sake of her repentance and reformation.

When confronted with explaining the difficult events of His own crucifixion, our risen Lord turned to Moses and the Prophets (Lk 24:27). Before ascending to the Father’s right hand, Christ exhorted His apostles to make disciples by baptizing and teaching them to guard all that He taught (Mt 28:19-20). It is He who said, “apart from Me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5); abide in My word and you are My disciples (Jn 8:31). It is He who said that if His hearers were Abraham’s children they would not reject Him (Jn 8:39-40).

In the mind of this world truth itself is weighed judged for its value: What does it mean to me? Yet Scripture is God’s chosen means to reveal to us His Son as His Savior according to His plan of salvation. Jesus Christ is neither authenticated by nor redemptive because of what we make of Him. A savior authenticated and made redemptive by the recipient’s act is a god of one’s own making, an idol.

Instead, it is humanity that finds its authenticity in the flesh of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God who was born a human infant and was crucified on a Roman cross. Humanity finds redemption in Jesus Christ because in the life, death and bloody sacrifice of this Jesus all the sins of the world died. It is in His resurrection there is any hope for mankind- delivered freely in Baptism. Were Christ not raised from the dead, none have hope for resurrection of the dead (1Cor 15). Therein again is authentication of humanity in Christ alone.

What is authentic? What is redemptive? Look first to the Scriptures. All eyes on Jesus and what He redeems and declares authentic, then judge from there.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Issues On Oprah

There is no question that Oprah is a magnetic personality. Her persona draws people to her. Tickets to her one-woman events sell out days in advance. It is difficult to speak harshly about someone who is so self-sacrificing and philanthropic. She gives away millions yearly in goods and cash to those less fortunate.

Rumblings of Oprah as “America’s Pastor” began several years ago. Now this article seems to make it official. Todd Wilken invited me to speak about this on Issues, etc., today. Dcs. Pam Nielsen was with him in the studio. He asked- among several- two particularly insightful questions.

  1. Oprah isn’t ordained, doesn’t profess herself to be a pastor. Does she have a responsibility to bring Christ into the discussion in her TV show and her magazine if she is a Christian?

  2. Isn’t her spirituality actually similar to that of what we find in many churches?

These two questions are actually dynamically linked. The premise is this: Even though Oprah’s magazine, O, is not a theological publication, even though The Oprah Winfrey Show is not a religious broadcast, Oprah recognizes the moral obligation for both to be a reflection of who she truly is. So her values will be made evident through both just as how a Christian lives out his various vocations will give evidence of his on-going life in Christ.

Now, it would be difficult-if not impossible- for any Christian to admit that in every conversation he has he speaks of Christ. However, if God’s name is kept holy when it is taught in its truth and purity and we as Christians are to lead holy lives according to it, then the Christian’s life is lived by a certain framework. That framework is shaped by the cross. Just as it is our sins which caused Christ to willingly die in our place, a Christian's willing participation in what God calls evil re-crucifies Christ (He 6:6). To call good what God calls evil is a willful participation in sin. Does Oprah do this? Or does she speak clearly to issues of morality as God speaks from His word? Climbing up from poverty into designer suits and fancy shoes won’t change what is most needful.

Let us, therefore, look with admiration at this holy father Abraham, who does not go about in gold and silk but is adorned, surrounded, crowned, and clothed with the divine light, the Word of God. Therefore his story must be preferred to all the accounts of the world. At their best these merely spread some clouds of works, which are pleasant in appearance but without any true fruit, and are generally even sad and full of fear. For they are devoid of the Word of God, which alone is the true light that gladdens and teaches the heart; and God’s judgment and wrath are more noticeable in them than are His mercy and grace. (LW, Vol 2)

So while it may not be that Christ is mentioned in O or on her show, what is noticeable is what Oprah advocates and omits.

This leads directly to the second question. Albert Mohler wrote in another entry on his blog:

Oprah’s newly-packaged positive-thinking spirituality is tailor-made for the empty souls of our postmodern age. She promises meaning without truth, acceptance without judgment, and fulfillment without self-denial.

Oprah's spirituality is a blend of old-fashioned holiness living (you can keep God’s law perfectly), rugged American individualism (as Dcs. Nielsen said, “pull yourself up by the bootstraps”), and New Age oneness (we are all interconnected by one spirit, one nameless, faceless god rules us all). Her methodology is simple: Examine yourself; admit your weakness; determine a course of action; pamper yourself with luxuries and indulgences; achieve your dreams yourself by transforming your life. You deserve it. You are a wonderful person. Be grateful, and bless others so you may be blessed. There is just enough Christian religiosity melded into her message and life to keep her familiar and comfortable.

Oprah’s do-it-yourselfism appeals to and blends well with the Sunday morning schpiel of every preacher of salvation by works, including Mormonism. According to Oprah:

Understand that the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility. O magazine.

One of my favorites [Bible verses] was “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind.” I believe that when you stop renewing, and are no longer open to change and the possibilities that continually unfold, you stop being alive and are just getting through the years. …Transformation doesn't happen unless you’re willing: It’s your choice. … This year I’m choosing to live beyond my wildest dreams. I wonder where they’ll take me. Jan 2005

In an especially revealing entry Oprah writes:

I used to fear being alone. I understood why after John Bradshaw, who pioneered the concept of the inner child, appeared on my show 14 years ago. John took my audience and me through a profound exercise. He asked us to close our eyes and go back to the home we grew up in, to visualize the house…. Come closer, look inside the window and find yourself inside. What do you see? And more important, what do you feel? For me it was an overwhelmingly sad yet powerful exercise. What I felt at almost every stage of my development was alone. Not lonely—because there were always people around—but I knew that my soul's survival depended on me. I felt I would have to fend for myself. I now think that the sense of being apart from others is what led me to trust so firmly in something bigger than I could articulate, and feel a connection to God. … So on any given Sunday, you will find me alone. Filling myself up. Cherishing life and loving every solitary moment. July 2005

If Oprah is alone, with whom is she filling herself up? The spirituality Oprah expresses she found for herself is the same many churches promote: God in the raw, an experience of God without means. God becomes an experience. Testimonials are an important part of these worship services, just as they are on the Winfrey Show. Absolution takes a back seat (if ever present), for that requires “a middle man,” the pastor. That would also remove personal choice, individual determinism, and moral transformation as the agents of forgiveness. The confluence between certain Sunday worship morning offerings and the Winfrey Show are as if the one were grafted into the other. Can there be any doubt as to why her message- even though she never mentions Christ- is to easily absorbed by so many as genuinely Christian despite the overwhelming evidence that speaks against it because of what she openly advocates?

Wilken’s questions held a double-whammy! What of those empty souls Mohler wrote about? Oprah is certainly not filling them, for she does not bring Christ to them, rather actively leads souls to further emptiness. Her religion is one that avoids Christ. Oprah professes to act in love for all peoples and to be seeking a world where all people may live in love without judgment. Yet fidelity to Christ is exclusive if it is to be truly loving. It is exclusive because He Himself says that He is the only way to the Father, that is, God the Father Almighty (Jn 14:6).

Fidelity to Christ is exclusive because it is a mistake to think that any of us can approach God without means; that is, we do not have direct access to God now that the Temple curtain has been torn. (Yes, a thousand and one post-Reformation presuppositions are shattering, I suppose.) No one has access to God except in Christ. No one has faith in God the Father except through Christ (Jn 14:1). The prayers of a righteous man avail much. But who is righteous when all his good works are as filthy rags (Is 64:6)? Only those who have first been buried with Christ in Baptism and then raised up in His resurrection are righteous (Ro 6:3-4)- righteous because He declares them to be. Prayer in His name is heard and is powerful because Jesus is our advocate and intercessor before the Father (Jn 14:12).

So here’s the million dollar question: What’s all the Oprah-self-improvement for, what’s all the Oprah-love for, what’s all the Orpah-preaching for, what are all these Oprah-prayers for if Christ is not only not revealed, but instead denied by obesceince to society's demands for diversified, pluralistic pantheism?