Friday, May 18, 2007

Change of Scenery

My posts have recently been hindered in their travel. They are finding it difficult to make the journey from my head to my hands, then onto the keyboard and, finally, onto the website. The hindrance seems to be related to the many changes in my family's life.

For this reason Bible in the Basement is going to take a break. Posts related to faith and culture will resume once they are able to once again make the journey described above. If you would like to be informed when they break camp, you may email me and I'll keep pun intended...posted.

Until then, you can learn about our more personal journeys here:

Thank you for visiting!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Saving the Puppy

I saved an op-ed piece from Thursday's New York Times entitled Save the Darfur Puppy.

In this column, Nicholas Kristoff describes recent psychological studies which confirm that people will contribute more eagerly to a cause with one face than to a faceless cause - or, a cause with thousands of faces. Here's a snippet from what I snipped:

In one experiment, psychologists asked ordinary citizens to contribute $5 to alleviate hunger abroad. In one version, the money would go to a particular girl, Rokia, a 7-year-old in Mali; in another, to 21 million hungry Africans; in a third, to Rokia - but she was presented as a victim of a larger tapestry of global hunger.

Not surprisingly, people were less likely to give to anonymous millions than to Rokia. But they were also less willing to give in [a] third scenario, in which Rokia's suffering was presented as part of a broader pattern.

People can relate to one starving child, but it's hard to comprehend thousands.

It so happened that a day earlier I had skimmed a book called From Baghdad, With Love, which chronicles one soldier's efforts to save an abandoned puppy he found in Iraq. Great pains were taken by this soldier and others to save this puppy, which included smuggling the needy canine across borders and abandoning protocol.

At the end of the book, the author seems to admit that this tremendous degree of effort to save a puppy seemed lopsided, considering the degree of human suffering in the country. But, he concluded, at least I saved something.

There are many lessons here. Fund-raisers need to understand the psychology of giving. But all of us need to understand our own psychology, and ethics, as relates to what we are willing - and able - to care about. We have a finite capacity to comprehend, and to care about, the world's needs - as much as we would like to think otherwise. The Sports section is more popular than the International pages.

I think about Jesus, however, who the Bible says "came to seek and save the lost" and "gave his life as a ransom for many." I think about the famous passage that explains, "For God so loved the world..." Here is one who comprehends the world's plight; here is one who cares, who acts, who demonstrates love in spite of the scale.

I also think about how, as a young person, I could care less about anyone, human or canine, other than myself. And I think about how, after meeting the Savior described above, my capacity to care grew much larger. My capacity to give grew much larger. Yet it's still nothing to boast about, so I instead must boast in him.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


Martin Luther is known for histheology of the cross which is in contrast to what he termed a theology of glory. The former is the understanding that we must approach God through Jesus Christ, relying on his death for our life. Human endeavor must be forsaken; we boast only in the cross, as the apostle Paul directed. Far from being "Luther's" theology, this is basically the teaching of the New Testament.
The theology of glory, in contrast, is... well, just what is it? Since I wasn't sure exactly what is meant by this term, I thought I'd find out by visiting Wikipedia. There was a nice write-up on the theology of the cross here. So I looked up their article on the theology of glory and to my surprise was sent here - basically redirected right back to the cross!

I suppose this is how the disciples felt. Just when they were starting to understand Jesus' glory, back to the cross they were sent...

[Jesus] then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him.

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father's glory with the holy angels."

From Mark 8:31-38

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A Morning in the Life

This morning I woke up early to the sound of birds who are a little too excited about springtime. This gave me a little extra time to catch up on some online reading.

One of my favorite sites is the "online magazine" Slate. Its founders were ahead of the curve in terms of online news and opinion and they have a sophisticated site. Its politics are "left leaning," but I don't know a better place online to find thoughtful, or at least interesting, cultural commentary.

Today I read a fun story about the NBA playoffs - basketball's my favorite sport, so you can't beat that. I was helpfully linked to a YouTube replay of Michael Jordan's top 10 buzzer-beaters. Thanks, Slate!

More significantly, I read a great piece called "Sex, Life, and Videotape: Ultrasound and the Future of the Unborn." Its author, William Saletan, is a long-time Slate contributor described on Wikipedia as a "liberal Republican." Nevertheless, his commentary about abortion ran on the "front page" yesterday (and perhaps over the weekend) and contained words like these:

Pro-lifers are often caricatured as stupid creationists who just want to put women back in their place. Science and free inquiry are supposed to help them get over their "love affair with the fetus." But science hasn't cooperated. Ultrasound has exposed the life in the womb to those of us who didn't want to see what abortion kills. The fetus is squirming, and so are we.

Saletan's point is that the ultrasound is the greatest enemy to abortion. I encourage you to read his piece here.

Laws affect morality. Legalizing abortion did not only make it a "right," it granted public sanction. Now that partial-birth abortion has been declared unconstitutional (in one of the best Supreme Court decisions in recent memory), the unacceptability of abortion is gaining a long overdue - if still faint - hearing.

The idea that public laws and public morality are totally separate issues is simply unrealistic. In a nation such as ours, the trickle-down effect of public policy is actually a torrent of peer pressure and political correctness. Therefore, we desperately need lawmakers who are wise, competent, and noble.

We also need that which is required in every age: backbone to stand against the torrent of public opinion when it is unjust or unrighteous. There aren't many people eager to defend partial-birth abortion now that it's becoming clear how gruesome it actually is. But there are nevertheless babies losing their lives every day to all other forms of abortion.

We need more than an ultrasound, but an ultrasound won't hurt. It certainly won't hurt the baby inside the womb if it serves to teach the mother just what it is that God has given her.