Show cover of Breakpoint

Breakpoint

Join John Stonestreet for a daily dose of sanity—applying a Christian worldview to culture, politics, movies, and more. And be a part of God's work restoring all things.

Tracks

Why Are Men in Crisis?
Young men aren’t forming social bonds with real, live people, even the kinds of bonds that have historically captured their attention. Christians have an answer for a world that obliterates the helpful aspects of sexual difference, pacifies men with distractions and addictions, and promises limitless sexual freedom while dismantling the family.
05:06 10/05/2022
Remembering Brother Andrew
Last month the world lost a fearless evangelist. Known simply as “Brother Andrew,” he was responsible for smuggling thousands of Bibles into the Soviet Union. 
01:03 10/04/2022
Parents Need to Know What's Happening at School
Not only is transparency a necessary  accountability, but parents have a “deeply rooted” constitutional right  “to direct the upbringing of their children, and to make decisions regarding their children’s education and healthcare in a manner consistent with family values.”   On Tuesday, October 11, in person or via online live streaming, please join me for an important conversation about “Kids and Culture: The Clash for the Next Generation’s Hearts and Minds.”  Joining me for this conversation will be my Breakpoint This Week co-host Maria Baer, Aaron Baer of the Center for Christian Virtue, and Todd Marrah from Tree of Life Christian Schools. Reserve your free ticket at ccv.org. 
05:54 10/04/2022
A Lack of Productivity Could Point to a Lack of Meaning
Christians have the unique perspective that our work is a way of participating with God in His creation, working toward the flourishing of everything and everyone else.
01:06 10/03/2022
Faraday Recognized an Authority Greater Than Science
Michael Faraday is an example of how Christians can balance the constructive purposes of science with an accurate understanding of scientific authority. Some of humanity’s greatest discoveries began by bucking conventional wisdom and allowing the evidence to lead elsewhere. “Science,” after all, never “says” anything. Only scientists do, offering hypotheses as a way of stewarding the data science provides. 
04:52 10/03/2022
Worldview and Natural Calamity, the Term “Christian Nationalism,” and Uprising in Iran
As the hurricane finished its course through Florida, John and Maria talk about how worldview analysis applies to such natural calamities. They then consider the popularity of the term “Christian nationalism”–should Christian nationalism be a concern for U.S. Christians right now? In closing, they discuss why, in the case of the Iran uprising, an authoritarian state cannot perpetuate a society well.
66:12 09/30/2022
Who’s the Enemy When It Comes to Unborn Children?
Fetal development is no conspiracy of men to control women. Politically convenient talking points cannot deny the reality and truth of humanity in the womb.
01:00 09/30/2022
Government Overreach Doesn’t Help Pregnant Women
Now more than ever, Christians must rally around the pro-life pregnancy centers that are placed in just about every town in America, doing work no one else is doing. Right now, they need support, volunteers, advocacy, and prayer. Increasingly, it is going to become important, especially in pro-abortion states, for community leaders both in business and the church to publicly express their support. It will come at a cost, but it will be absolutely necessary, especially as attacks increase. 
05:49 09/30/2022
Stories of Being Redemptive Agents in the World
Enjoy this podcast in which Colson Center writer and speaker, Kasey Leander discusses with a group of Colson Fellow alumni how God is making them redemptive agents in their spheres of influence.
38:01 09/29/2022
Neopronouns Fail to Point to Reality
Pennsylvania’s education department suggests the use of “gender neutral pronouns” in schools for “a more inclusive learning environment.” Among their suggestions are “ne,” “ve,” and “xe.”
01:07 09/29/2022
Redemptive Agents: The Colson Fellows
We need biblical and cultural literacy so that our beliefs are orthodox, but we also need to be about orthopraxy, applying the answers of Scripture to the rigors of actual life.   One of the distinct things about the Colson Fellows program is how many different strands of worldview and life are brought together and how desperately needed that is today in such a fragmented society.   If the ministry of the Colson Center has helped you gain clarity, confidence, and courage in your life, would you prayerfully consider a gift today to continue the work, supporting products and programs like the Colson Fellows?  You can give at breakpoint.org/september. We look forward to hearing how God is using you in this cultural time and place.  
06:04 09/29/2022
Social Media Illnesses
Jesus said to get rid of your eye or hand if it offends you, but getting rid of the internet or social media can be even harder to fathom for many of us. Maybe it shouldn’t be. 
01:02 09/28/2022
James Cameron’s Avatar Is Back in Theaters
Avatar stands as one of the clearest examples of how worldviews can be embedded in stories, and of New Age ideas embedded in a film. Chuck Colson reminds us that every movie contains worldview messages, which gives Christians the opportunity to discern, to engage, and to communicate truth with others. 
04:17 09/28/2022
Gender Dysphoria vs. Muscle Dysmorphia: Why the Difference?
All of the reports correctly treat muscle dysmorphia as a disorder that required helping these men see the goodness of their bodies as they are. Yet these same news outlets treat gender dysphoria as a problem of the body, with treatment that involves body modification, such as hormones and surgery. 
01:05 09/27/2022
Planned Parenthood’s New Revenue Stream Is Not a New Direction
America’s largest provider and promoter of abortion has added another revenue stream. This one also promises to destroy lives, albeit in a new and subtler way. This one also promises to help women but is, in actuality, built on ideas that deny the existence of women.
05:57 09/27/2022
What “The State of Theology” Tells Us
Every two years, Ligonier Ministries works with LifeWay Research to evaluate the theological temperature of the American church. This year’s State of Theology study’s results show that not just Americans but evangelicals in particular are increasingly muddy on core truths such as the nature and character of God, the reality of human sin, the role of the Church in the world, and the exclusivity and divinity of Jesus Christ. For context, the survey defines “evangelical” as a Christian believer who meets four criteria: that the Bible is the highest authority for what someone believes, that it is important for non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their savior, that Jesus’ death on the cross is the only sacrifice that removes the penalty of humanity’s sin, and that only those who trust in Him alone receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation. Though that definition is a promising theological start, the results go quickly downhill from there. For example, nearly half of evangelicals agreed that God “learns and adapts” to different circumstances, in stark contrast to the biblical doctrine of unchanging nature, or immutability; 65% of evangelicals agreed that everyone is “born innocent in the eyes of God,” denying the doctrine of original sin, and with it, the very reason that people need salvation in the first place. Some 56% of evangelicals agreed with the idea that “God accepts the worship of all religions, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam,” in contrast to Jesus’ words in Matthew that without Him, “no one knows the Father.” The most stunning result had to do with the topic of Jesus Christ’s divinity. When asked whether they agreed that “Jesus was a great teacher, but he was not God,” 43% of American evangelicals answered yes. That number is up 13% from just two years ago. Even if we generously allow for some confusion in the phrasing of the questions and what they implied, The State of Theology paints a bleak picture. People who claim the title of “evangelical,” a title that long was defined, at least in part, by adherence to historic Christian belief, stand a good chance of believing humanity is basically good at birth, that God is not concerned with worship or doctrine being particularly “Christian,” and that Jesus was a good teacher, but not God incarnate. It’s worth noting that these failures are not because evangelicals have a low view of Scripture. Some 95%, after all, still agree with the statement that “the Bible is 100% accurate in all that it teaches.” The implication, then, is that they simply don’t know what it teaches, either because they haven’t been taught or they haven’t cared enough to learn. In fact, in many corners of evangelicalism, it is assumed that doctrine doesn’t matter. This can take at least two forms: hyper-emotionalism, the idea that God will settle for our sincerity and our affection, even over and above whether or not our beliefs are true; or a hyper-politicization, one that assumes it really matters whom you vote for and what group you belong to, not what you believe about the essential truth of the Gospel or the claims of Christ. In reply to all this, Jesus was really clear. Here’s what He said, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the spirit and in truth.” It was for this reason that the divine Logos came into the world “to testify to the truth,” and it’s only the truth that sets us free. And it’s interesting to me that in the Old Testament, idolatry is portrayed not only as worshipping a false God but worshipping a false idea of who God is, such as was the case with the Golden Calf incident. A bright spot to this survey is what it revealed about hot topics, moral issues: 92% of evangelicals agreed that abortion is a sin, and 94% agreed that sex outside of traditional marriage is a sin, although that conclusion is muddied by another 28% who agreed that Scripture’s condemnation of homosexual behavior “doesn’t apply today.” We will never have a clear sense of who God is, His omnipotence and immutability, His character and work in the world, how He sees us and what He requires of us, without a biblical understanding of who Jesus is and the absolute authority He wields over all creation. If our thinking is rooted instead in only our political allegiances or some vague notion of God’s “niceness,” we will have simply obtained a “form of godliness, while denying its power.” Once in a meeting I attended, a Christian leader quipped, “If we could just get all the Christians saved, we’d be in good shape.” The results of this study show it’s time for many so-called Christians to repent, for many churches to renew their commitments to catechism, and for all of us who claim Christ to commit our hearts and minds to know who He is, who He has revealed Himself to be.
05:04 09/26/2022
Transgender “Medicine” Exposed at Vanderbilt University, Demise of the New Atheism, and Tensions Since Dobbs
John and Maria discuss the dark, lucrative nature of transgender “medicine” revealed by videos disclosed from Vanderbilt University. They conclude that Christians must step into these muddy cultural waters. Later, they share about a Breakpoint on the demise of the New Atheism and finish with a conversation about the political tensions since the Dobbs decision.
70:40 09/25/2022
Pro-Life Resources for this Post-Dobbs Moment
After the Dobbs decision that overturned Roe v. Wade, the work to protect preborn lives continues at the ground level, in every community, every city, every church. Here are some resources to fulfill that calling.   Continuum of Care is a project of the Human Coalition that networks mothers to financial services, job training, maternity housing, and other resources in six major cities. To equip churches to minister to pregnant and parenting moms, another pregnancy and life-assistance network, Her Plan, offers a guide you can find online.    The Abortion Pill Reversal Network educates on the reversal of chemical abortions and connects women who have started a chemical abortion with a provider within 72 hours, the window in which a baby can be saved. And, the Support After Abortion website provides classes, virtual groups, and a help number for those suffering after an abortion.  These are just some of the organizations and resources available. Let’s make abortion unthinkable. 
01:03 09/23/2022
Losing Our Religion: Blue Laws Decline While Deaths of Despair Do Not
A mortal affliction affects much of America’s heartland. Known as “deaths of despair,” both the Rust Belt and Appalachia have seen incredible spikes in rates of addiction, overdoses, violence, and suicide. In addition to the thousands who die each year by various forms of self-harm, thousands more live Gollum-like, trapped by their chemical chains and in loneliness.  It is a complex situation. While we must not diminish anyone’s moral agency, the downward paths we are on are paved, lined, and greased by a number of contributing factors. For example, Beth Macy, the author of the book Dope Sick, has documented the lethal partnership of doctors and drug companies, not to mention the co-option of government oversight agencies, which inflicted a plague of highly addictive opioids on some of America’s poorest areas of the country.   A new recent study, however, points to an additional complexity, an oft-ignored element of this cultural disease: the decline of religion. According to the study’s authors, there is some correlation between the end of so-called “Blue Laws” and the opioid epidemic. In certain parts of the country, Blue Laws have long limited the range of activities allowed on Sundays. Certain businesses were not allowed to be open, and certain things (especially alcohol) could not be sold. Though these laws continue in certain areas, particularly in Europe, they began to disappear in parts of the United States as the 20th century wore on, to the point that now they are few and far between.  Of course, a significant, culture-wide phenomenon like the opioid crisis cannot be reduced to something as simplistic as whether or not people can shop on Sunday. To do that would be to mistake correlation for causation, kind of like saying murders go up with ice cream sales. And this is something the study’s authors readily admit.   Rather than claiming that the end of Blue Laws created the opioid crisis, they use the end of Blue Laws as a marker to track the decline in American religiosity. The diminishing connections to faith in communities across the country, especially in those areas where they were once so strong, are among the factors that contributed to our nation’s chemical plague. In other words, Blue Laws are a kind of canary in the coal mine, marking when we’ve crossed a dangerous line.  In light of these diminishing religious commitments, reinstating Blue Laws likely will not lead to a reversal in rates of addictions or other deaths of despair. Even if they were an important part of our cultural life of faith at one time, too much has changed for such an easy fix. However, what these laws represented and what has been lost as they disappear points to the underlying causes, not only of the opioid crisis but of many of our parallel pains as well.  What we need to ask is, in a mix of Friedrich Nietzsche and REM, what is the cost of losing our religion?  As much as we prize our individualism, particularly here in America, human beings aren’t just dust motes of consciousness, floating on the air currents of life. We’re connected, not just to one another, but to a host of other elements through relationships that give us meaning, identity, direction, and hope. To be healthy, as individuals and as communities, these relationships (upward, inward, outward, and downward) must be strong.  Human beings need a connection to something beyond ourselves, something higher and transcendent in order to find ourselves, to know who and what we are, to be sure of our identity. We need connections with one another, especially the links of family and friendship, in order to be accountable, supported, and complete. And, we need proper connection to the physical world around us, so to be tethered to reality through things like meaningful labor, a place to call home, and some part of the world to call “mine.”  Marx got it wrong. Religion isn’t the opiate of the masses, but instead a part of life most needed, irreplaceable by technological convenience or scientific mastery. The loss of religion has been a bad idea wherever it has been tried, and those suffering across Appalachia and the Rust Belt are some of its most obvious victims. By abandoning religion, specifically the Christianity which once provided meaning to these now missing relationships, the essential connection between individuals and communities and a higher purpose has been lost.   As Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said all the way back in 1983, “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Blue Laws didn’t hold off the effects of substance abuse, but the religious impulse that such laws represented were part of a way of seeing life and the world, one in which we weren’t just reduced to being cogs or animals or sexual expressions. The Christianity that the world has rejected offers the hope that the world so desperately needs. 
05:12 09/23/2022
Belarus Cracks Down on Religious Groups
According to Christianity Today, Belarus is cracking down on religious dissent. The new policies come from an earlier case when a Pentecostal group wasn’t allowed to meet together without registering with the government but also wasn’t allowed to register since there were only 13 people. When the group appealed the decision, they received unexpected support from the United Nations. Eager to avoid further embarrassment, Belarus is now taking steps to prevent minority faiths from getting outside aid.  Of course, dictatorships are never keen on those who refuse to march to the state’s drum, especially religious dissenters. As Francis Schaeffer once argued, no state that claims total authority can tolerate those who recognize a power higher than itself. Thus, conflict between religion and dictatorship is inevitable.   Which is why religious liberty should never be reduced to a special pleading by quirky groups to practice their hobbies. It makes possible the essential freedom to dissent from those who hold the strings of power. 
01:06 09/22/2022
Is the New Atheism Dead?
Though it’s not always clear when a movement is over, there are many indicators that suggest this is the case of the “New Atheism,” a cultural wave that rose in the 2000s and aggressively attacked religion in the guise of scientific rationalism. Despite the name, the New Atheism wasn’t really new, at least not in the sense of presenting new arguments. Instead, leveraging the global shock of 9/11, New Atheists pushed an anti-religious mood along with a vision of a society free from the cobwebs of religion, defined by scientific inquiry, free speech, and a morality not built on God or religious traditions.  In 1996, prominent New Atheist Richard Dawkins articulated this mood in his acceptance speech for the “Humanist of the Year” Award: “I think a case can be made that faith is one of the world’s great evils,” he said, “comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate.” There was a commercial aspect to the New Atheism, with bumper stickers and T-shirts carrying well-worn slogans, such as one coined by Victor Stenger: “Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings.”   Though, at the time, it grew into somewhat of a cultural force and platformed a group of minor celebrities, the New Atheism now seems to have run out of steam. Divided by progressive politics and haunted by the obnoxious tone of many of its own founders, the movement is being devoured by other ideologies. Concepts like freedom of expression, scientific realism, and morality without God have all met their antitheses, often in clashes featuring the New Atheists themselves.   One watershed moment was a conflict over the role of science. Just last year, the American Humanist Association revoked Richard Dawkins’ “Humanist of the Year” award for his long history of offensive tweets. For example, Dawkins told women who experience sexual harassment to “stop whining” and parents of babies with Down syndrome to “abort it and try again.” These tweets were among the cringeworthy, but the one that completed Dawkins’ long transformation from champion of free thought to persona non grata, at least for the American Humanist Association, questioned gender ideology: “In 2015, Rachel Dolezal, a white chapter president of NAACP, was vilified for identifying as Black. Some men choose to identify as women, and some women choose to identify as men. You will be vilified if you deny that they literally are what they identify as. Discuss.”   The New Atheist commitment to seeking truth via the objectivity of science has collided with a new ideology that deifies the subjective sense of self. Ironically, this is the kind of religious dogmatism Dawkins and other New Atheists always accused organized religions of promoting, only less scientific.  New Atheism has been further undermined by a cultural shift in censorship and tolerance for freedom of expression. Organized religion, New Atheists claimed, suppressed dissent. Only by enthroning secularism could we remove the fear of speaking or hearing the truth, even when truth is shocking and offensive. As it turned out, religion’s retreat only left a secular progressivism to censor and suppress at will.   In 2017, for example, The End of Faith author Sam Harris ignited a firestorm when he interviewed political scientist Charles Murray. Just a month earlier, a violent mob had shouted Murray down at Middlebury College, injuring moderator Dr. Allison Stanger as the two tried to reach the exit. Harris defended Murray, arguing his research was unfairly maligned as racist and he should be allowed to speak. In retaliation, Ezra Klein published a piece in Vox that landed Harris on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s “Hatewatch Headlines,” while in Salon Émile P. Torres accused Harris and the New Atheists of “merging with the far right.”   That same year, Richard Dawkins was barred from speaking at UC Berkeley for his comments about radical Islam, not by Christians or Muslims but by progressives. Turns out that freedom of expression wasn’t faring as predicted in a post-religious world.  In addition to their own jarring polemics and personal misfires, the New Atheists failed to realize that religion, especially Christianity, was the proverbial branch upon which they were sitting. For example, the freedom of expression depends on a number of assumptions, that there is objective truth, that it can be discovered, that it is accessible to people regardless of race or class, that belief should be free instead of coerced, that people have innate value, and that because of this value they should not be silenced. Every one of these ideas assumes the kind of world described in the Bible and mediated across centuries of Christian thought. Not one of these assumptions can be grounded in a purposeless world that is the product of only natural causes and processes.   Maybe that’s what led Dawkins, just a few years ago, to warn against celebrating the decline of Christianity across the world. Turns out that all of the efforts that he and the other New Atheists extended to root out organized religion have left him with “a fear of finding something worse.”   Today’s Breakpoint was coauthored by Kasey Leander. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to colsoncenter.org. 
05:42 09/22/2022
The Cost of Raising Children
Last month the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal responded to the claim that the average American family spends an estimated $300,000 to raise a child.   Of course kids are expensive, they conceded, but “that isn’t the way to look at it.” Seeing children only in terms of cost is a mistake. “Whatever children cost to raise,” the editors concluded, “they are a priceless vote of confidence in the future.”   They’re right. It’s not that kids don’t take massive investments of time and energy. They do. But kids are investments. And the returns are incredible, though rarely easy.   Parents should be thoughtful about how and when to embark on the journey, but children are a gift, not a burden. They are image bearers, not luxury goods. To think about kids only in terms of how they impact our happiness or our wallets is to completely miss the point. The most important relationships don’t always make life easier, but they do make it better.  
00:58 09/21/2022
No, Kids Don’t Cost That Much: Cultural Priorities and Parenting Sticker Shock
Grocery store remarks can reveal a lot about a culture. Just ask any mother or father of more than 1.7 children about the comments that strangers somehow feel free to make about their unfashionably large broods. “You know what causes that, right?” “Are you done?” “What are you—Catholic?” Comedian Jim Gaffigan, who has five children, jokes that people who see him in public with his family sometimes remark, “Well, that’s one way to live your life!”  These comments reveal what more and more data are also showing. A lower percentage of Westerners, including Americans, are embarking on parenthood than ever before. However, these comments also betray how we think about children: as burdens, impositions on freedom, or so very, very expensive that only the wealthy can afford them.     It doesn’t help how often media outlets stoke fears that children will eat you out of house and home. For example, a recent Wall Street Journal article grimly reported: “It Now Costs $300,000 to Raise a Child.” I wonder how many parents read the headline and panicked or at least scratched their head at this summary of a Brookings Institution study.  The cost of raising kids varies widely, depending on variables such as where you live, what you drive, how you educate your children, and how much you spend on household extras and vacations. Still, given that the median U.S. household income is about $68,000, any middle-class family of five not living under a bridge should be proof enough that something is askew with the numbers reported in the Wall Street Journal.   For starters, the numbers are not itemized, and the article initially gestures toward inflation, rising food costs, the pandemic, and supply chain hiccups, as if those are the main things driving up the cost of parenting. To put it mildly, this was misleading. Another breakdown by Josh Zumbrun, also in the Wall Street Journal, revealed that “housing and child care” are the actual main expenses.  For the average family (an elusive statistical entity with 1.7 kids), housing and childcare are supposed to account for over half the annual cost of children under age six. But, anyone who grew up sleeping in bunkbeds and wearing hand-me-downs knows that housing expenses are highly negotiable. Jim Gaffigan’s family of seven famously lived in a two-bedroom apartment in New York City!   The other cost, childcare, is something not all families employ. As Zumbrun writes, many families simply do not incur this expense, “because a parent, extended family or some combination provides the care.” Historically, this arrangement was the norm.   Of course, many married couples simply cannot afford to live on a single income. It can be necessary for both parents to work, but it is worth considering how often it is taken for granted that childcare is an expense. Back in 2018, The New York Times asked millennials why they’re having so few children: 61% of those who’ve had fewer kids than they would like cited the cost of childcare.   There are other factors as well. For example, “gender equality” also emerged as a major theme in the 2018 study, meaning that, all things being equal, women are often choosing careers ahead of children. As the authors wrote: “Women have more agency over their lives and many feel that motherhood has become more of a choice.” While we can rejoice that women have more options in life, it should give us pause when parents see the decision to have kids as a lifestyle choice.  Among respondents who said they didn’t want kids, the number one reason was a desire for “more leisure time.” One young woman may have spoken for many when she said she planned to forego children in order to travel, focus on her job, get a master’s degree, and play with her cats.  None of this directly makes children more expensive for those who choose to have them, but it does raise the perceived opportunity cost, which makes inflated numbers like those in the Wall Street Journal seem more believable. When fewer people on average are starting families and more people than ever are choosing self-expression as a life goal, it creates a kind of cultural feedback loop that makes having children seem not only less affordable, but less normal.     That context helps explain where the grocery store remarks come from. Making family a central goal in life, one worthy of personal sacrifice, is certainly counter cultural, but it’s just not as expensive as it’s made out to be. And even if were, it’s an investment with incredible returns.  Today’s Breakpoint was coauthored by Shane Morris. To learn more about the Colson Center, go to colsoncenter.org.  
04:47 09/21/2022
Warsaw’s Defiant Jewish Doctors
Earlier this year, two professors at Tufts University rediscovered a book buried deep in their library. It was called Maladie de Famine or The Disease of Starvation. The story behind this scientific research is stunning.   During the Nazi occupation of Poland, hundreds of thousands of Jews were detained in the Warsaw Ghetto, deprived of food and subject to mass executions. Jewish doctors disobeyed their Nazi captors and recorded the effects of starvation on their own bodies as a testimony against the atrocities. Their work eventually shaped the Geneva Conventions of 1949, when the starving of civilians became a war crime.   Why did these doctors do this? One answer is that they believed there was meaning to life and death, and therefore to their work. Former Harvard chaplain D. Elton Trueblood said, “A man has made at least a start on discovering the meaning of human life when he plants shade trees under which he knows full well he will never sit.”  
01:00 09/20/2022
Answering Pro-Abortion Misinformation
As mid-term elections loom, both pro-abortion candidates and the Democratic party — not always for the same reason — have been working to advance abortion “rights” and access as a central issue in November. Increasingly, three common myths are touted by abortion advocates and pro-abortion media sources: (1) that abortion is healthcare, (2) that ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages will be treated as abortion in a post-Roe society, and (3) that the abortion pill is safe.   To counter these myths (as well as a few others), the American Association for Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) has launched a campaign to put fact sheets into the hands of medical professionals. This information is vital not only to prevent patients from being misled but also as a public statement of solidarity for pro-life doctors and nurses.   A few days before the campaign’s launch, the pro-abortion American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology threatened to revoke the certification of pro-life OB-GYNs, for disseminating what they called misinformation about “reproductive health care, contraception, abortion, and OB-GYN practices.” In essence, the board is saying that any OB-GYN that disagrees with their stance on elective abortion could lose their license to practice. As Alexandra DeSanctis, co-author of Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Everything and Solves Nothing, wrote recently in National Review, the vagueness of the board’s claims regarding its version of “misinformation” is nothing other than “veiled intimidation.” This is why the work of AAPLOG and all pro-lifers in correcting the oft-repeating myths of healthcare is so vital.   In stark contrast to AAPLOG’s fact sheet, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has its own, and it directly states, “Abortion is essential health care.” Sometimes all it takes to misrepresent truth is an adjective or, as in this case, a missing adjective. While in rare and tragic situations, a sick preborn child can put the mother’s life at risk, that kind of essential healthcare does not justify the vast majority of abortions that are “elective.” OB-GYNs are trained to recognize when life-giving medical intervention is necessary for a pregnant mother. In these heartbreaking cases, medical professionals work to save the mother. In elective abortions, medical professionals work to kill the child.   Adding the word “elective” to “abortion” tells the truth about the completely different situation in which a decision is made to end the life of a preborn child who is not endangering the mother’s physical health. That is not healthcare. And, according to AAPLOG, 93% of OB/GYNs do not provide elective abortions. Most enter the field to help women care for preborn babies — not take their lives — and they are able to tell the difference.  A second myth addressed by the AAPLOG fact sheet is that “women with ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages will not receive the care they need.” Each of these situations is categorically different from elective abortion. An ectopic pregnancy occurs when a fertilized egg implants outside of the uterus. In these cases, the baby will not survive no matter what the doctors do. In fact, up until July, Planned Parenthood’s website explicitly stated that treatment for ectopic pregnancy was not equivalent to an abortion. That statement was removed when it became a convenient talking point. As DeSanctis has written, none of the legislation in any of the 50 states eliminates care for ectopic pregnancies or miscarriages. Doctors who would refuse care for an ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage are misinterpreting their state’s laws, and to claim otherwise is patently false.   A third myth that the AAPLOG fact sheet repudiates is that “chemical abortions are a safe and convenient option for women.” Last December, the Food and Drug Administration extended their pandemic policy that mail-order chemical abortions be made available without requiring a patient to meet with a medical professional in person. And recently, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that it plans to find ways to protect access to chemical abortions.   Even if there were not the ethical problem of taking a human life, abortion medication is meant to be used before 10 weeks of pregnancy. If a woman is not required to see a medical professional, there is no way to confirm how far long the pregnancy is.   Everyone who cares about building a culture of life should be clear on the facts about abortion and women’s health. AAPLOG’s website includes counters to six other abortion myths. And, Alexandra DeSanctis will be speaking at the next Lighthouse Voices series on her book, “Tearing Us Apart: How Abortion Harms Our Culture and Disadvantages Women.” Join us at 7 p.m. (Central time) on October 4th either live (if you live near Holland, Michigan) or on livestream. You can register for free by visiting focusonthefamily.org/lighthouse-voices. 
05:32 09/20/2022
Killing to Save Money
Anytime that doctor-assisted death is legalized, what begins as a so-called “right” to die soon devolves into a duty to die. For example, defenders of Canada’s expansive policy of Medical Aid in Dying frequently claim that its supposed safeguards will prevent a simple cost-benefit analysis when it comes to deciding who should live and who should die.   However, the truth has slipped out a few times now. Back in 2017, the publicly funded Canadian Broadcasting Corporation cited a report that Medical Aid in Dying could result in “substantial savings across Canada’s health-care system” to the tune of $136.8 million a year. Those “savings” happen when high-cost patients are put to death.   Aaron Trachtenberg, author of the report, said it frankly: “In a resource-limited health care system, anytime we roll out a large intervention ….  cost has to be a part of that discussion. It’s just the reality of working in a system of finite resources.”  And that’s why decisions about life and death should never be put into “systems of finite resources.” Putting a price tag on what is priceless cheapens it. And human lives are priceless.  
01:11 09/19/2022
Oberlin College and the Critical Theory Mood
In November 2016, a student at Oberlin College in Ohio attempted to steal two bottles of wine from Gibson Bakery. The owner confronted and then chased the student down the street. He was arrested and later pleaded guilty to shoplifting. Recently, nearly six years after the incident, a judge ordered Oberlin College to pay more than $35 million in damages to the bakery.   How did just two bottles of wine become so expensive?   The student who shoplifted is black. The shop owners are white. That was enough to start an uproar on the Oberlin College campus. The story is an example of a culture that is in a critical theory mood.   The day after the incident, Oberlin students started to protest the treatment of the accused outside of Gibson’s Bakery. Soon after that, the Oberlin student senate passed a resolution that called for Oberlin College to “officially condemn Gibson’s Bakery” as a racist institution. Professors  got involved, passing out fliers and encouraging students to join the protest. The college then severed longstanding catering contracts with the bakery.   Neither the protestors nor the school ever claimed the student had not shoplifted but, in their public statements, the fact that he did was conveniently ignored. This allowed them to turn the shoplifter, the store owner, and even the bakery into symbols that served a narrative they were telling. In a recorded audio, one student protester yells, “Shoplifting, the stuff on the surface, does not matter. This runs so much deeper.”  It is not uncommon for any discussion of critical theory, in any of its forms, to be dismissed. After all, critical theory, we are told, is an academic theory that few people have studied. That, of course, is true. Few people have studied the original source materials for this formalized theory.  This dismissal not only ignores that many of those who dismiss concerns about critical theory are those mostly actively advocating its core ideas, it misunderstands the way that ideas work within a culture.  If you happen to be listening to this commentary on radio, you have two people to thank: German physicist Heinrich Rudolf Hertz, who discovered radio waves in the 1880s and Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian engineer who invented wireless radio communication in the 1890s. However, whether you knew these names before now and regardless of how well you understand how radio waves work, it is still quite possible to conceptualize radio and to hear my voice.   Worldviews often work like this. A person does not have to fully understand an idea before being shaped by it. When Oberlin College faculty and administration determined, in the face of the evidence, that the white bakery owners were guilty and the student was not, they were applying a critical theory lens to the situation and interpreting the facts accordingly. When the Oberlin College student said that the shoplifting did not matter because of deeper issues at play, the student was parroting a critical theory way of thinking about the world, in which every interaction must be understood and explained by the demographic groupings of the people involved. Moral status is awarded based on these groupings, not on actions. Certain groups are oppressed, and others are oppressors. End of story.  Far from being “too complicated” of a theory to infect culture, critical theory offers a simplistic substitute for the actual complexities of life and people. We cannot determine a person’s character by tallying their list of demographic features or applying assumptions of privilege. Individuals are not stereotypes, but critical theory reduces them to such. No one need be able to pronounce multisyllabic academic jargon used by critical theorists to be infected by this mood. We simply are infected by it.  A few months ago, a friend told me of something that points to the level of cultural infection. She had asked a friend of hers, a junior high teacher, how many students in that class identified as LGBTQ. The answer, offered immediately in a sort of “don’t you know this” tone, was, “Oh, all of them do.”   “All of them?” my friend replied. “Are they sexually active?”  “Not at all,” the teacher replied. “But none of them want to be straight or cis.”  Ideas that have infected college students, academics, and junior highers should not be so easily dismissed. The first way to counter infectious cultural moods is not to share that mood. Intentionally, and especially with our own kids, we must talk about and treat every human being as essentially valuable as image bearers of God, and as equally fallible because of their common descent from Adam and Eve. These are essential truths about the world and people and are far better ideas than the ones assumed by the critical theory mood.    Ideas are especially dangerous when assumed, as C.S. Lewis once put it, so we must also not allow the bad ideas to go unchallenged, lest they become normalized.   Finally, within a critical theory framework, in both its academic theory and cultural mood forms, there is no possibility of forgiveness or redemption. In a Christian vision of God and people, there is. In Christ, there is solid ground for forgiveness (He first forgave us) and for finding redemption (He has taken the punishment for our guilt). So, in Christ, we not only counter bad ideas, we point to a better way.  
06:09 09/19/2022
Parents Engaging Locally, Lila Rose Debating Dr. Phil, and Oberlin College in a "Critical Theory Mood"
John and Maria discuss that parents who are engaged in community organizations or events can promote Christian morality, and even have a redemptive influence, without being deemed Christian nationalists. Afterwards, they point out how Lila Rose, founder and president of the pro-life organization Live Action, powerfully debated with Dr. Phil and other audience members on the Dr. Phil show. They conclude with how the story of the lawsuit against Oberlin College shows the “critical theory mood” of our culture.
65:57 09/16/2022
The Trend of “Quiet Quitting”
A new workplace trend, called “Quiet Quitting,” isn’t about quitting your job but about how hard you work while there. It’s about rejecting “the idea of going above and beyond,” said one influencer. “You’re still performing your duties but you’re no longer subscribing to the hustle culture mentality that work has to be your life.”  There’s been so much upheaval in the economy and the workforce lately, and Christians can point to a better way: God designed humans to work, but not for work’s sake or even consumption’s sake. Work is a way we image God, making the world all it can be.   And God also gave the gift of rest, baking the Sabbath into the creation and even modeling it for us. It’s almost as if God knew that after the fall, humans would be tempted to make work an idol. (Hint: He did know.)  What “quiet quitting” misses is that it’s not about whether or not to “go above and beyond.” It’s about whether our work has purpose, not as an end in and of itself, but as an act of worship, excellence, and love of neighbor. 
01:03 09/16/2022
Remembering Rodney Stark
It’s tempting to think that secularized academics are too intellectual to ever come to the kind of “childlike faith” that Jesus described, or that, if they ever were to trust Christ, they’d have to abandon their academic pursuits. However, like once-liberal theologian Thomas Oden or once-radical feminist English professor Rosaria Champagne Butterfield, the case of Rodney Stark suggests otherwise. Dr. Stark’s research and reading, specifically about the impact of Christianity in history, was part of what moved him to become a committed believer.  Stark was born in North Dakota in 1934. Oddly enough, he played high school football with Alvin Plantinga, the great Christian philosopher. After a stint in the army, he studied journalism in college, graduating in 1959. Once, during his early career as a reporter, he covered a meeting of the Oakland Spacecraft Club where the speaker claimed to have visited Mars, Venus, and the moon in a flying saucer. After Stark reported the story straight, with no sarcasm or snide comments, he was assigned all of the odd stories that came along.  Stark’s ability to treat people’s beliefs seriously and recognize that, at least for them, these beliefs are plausible, was a key element in his decision to shift from journalism to sociology. In 1972, after completing his graduate work at the University of California-Berkley, he was hired as a professor of sociology and comparative religion at the University of Washington.  Stark focused his research on why people were religious. How did they understand their faith? What did they get out of it? How did they live it out? From this focus, Stark developed a theory of conversion that emphasized social relationships, felt needs, and personal choice. In essence, Stark concluded that conversion was a rational choice, based on the expectation that one would receive more from the religion than it would cost to join it.   He was among the first sociologists to recognize that competition between religious groups increased the overall religiosity of a community. In other words, a religious group with a monopoly tends to get lazy and neglect meeting needs and conducting outreach. Stark was also critical of the standard academic view that secularization was an inevitable result of modernization. Instead, he argued this idea was wildly wrong because sociologists misunderstood religion and failed to account for religious revivals and innovation.  His book The Rise of Christianity was published in 1996. In it, Stark argued that the incredible growth and spread of Christianity were because it offered more to people than any of its competitors. In particular, Stark argued that the rapid growth of the Church was, in large part, due to how Christians treated women. This, especially compared to the pagan treatment of women, led to more conversions, which led to the faith being spread through social networks. Also, prohibitions of abortion and infanticide led to an organic growth of the Church, and how Christians responded to persecution and plague led to a growth in credibility. The Rise of Christianity was so groundbreaking that it was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.  After this, Stark focused his work on the history of Christianity. After writing two books on the historical impact of monotheism — first One True God in 2001 and then For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch Hunts, and the End of Slavery in 2003, Stark wrote what may be his greatest book, The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success, in 2005.   In 2004, the year before The Victory of Reason was published, Stark commented, “I have trouble with faith. I’m not proud of this. I don’t think it makes me an intellectual. I would believe if I could, and I may be able to before it’s over.” The Victory of Reason first brought Dr. Stark to the attention of Chuck Colson, who was astounded that a self-professed agnostic sociologist was clear-eyed and honest enough to recognize and highlight the effects of Christianity on the world. Chuck featured The Victory of Reason on Breakpoint and included it in the Centurions Program (now known as the Colson Fellows).  After the commentary aired, Rodney Stark contacted Chuck Colson, and thanked him for the kind words. He also told Colson that he had come to faith in Christ, which he publicly announced in 2007.  In 2004, Stark became the distinguished professor of the social sciences at Baylor University, as well as the co-director of the Institute for Studies of Religion and founding editor of the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion. Although Baylor is a Baptist school, Stark preferred to call himself an “independent Christian” and continued to produce important and sometimes controversial books on Christianity, history, and culture.  Throughout his career, Stark was an irascible critic of political and religious biases in the academic world, especially in his own field of sociology. His intellectual brilliance is attested by his groundbreaking work, and his intellectual honesty and integrity by his faith, a faith he studied for many years. 
05:40 09/16/2022