Monthly Archives: October 2009

ABC 7 News and Cancer: Be Aware of Breast

pink ribbonDuring Breast Cancer Awareness month, I have rejoiced in watching the country’s increased saturation of media and material markets with pink reminders of the needs for more breast cancer research. The pink NFL goalposts, cleats and gloves, opportunities you and I have had to gladly support the Susan G. Komen fund by purchasing goods in pink food and drink packaging, and the pink I saw worn by the Delta Airlines’ workers this month all served to honor victims and survivors of breast cancer. The message to women also was loud and clear: Get checked for Breast Cancer.

            With an entire month dedicated to giving attention to a very widespread disease, I did not find it shocking at all that our local ABC news station prepared to air, “Touch of Life: The Guide to Self-breast Examination.” It is not uncommon for news cameras to bring us vivid scenes from operating and emergency rooms, a dental chair, or a pediatric medical appointment. I was shocked last evening, however, when ABC 7 (Washington, DC) chose to air a breast cancer screening with the patient’s bare necessities being beamed right into our living rooms.

            Breast Cancer patient Lauren Albright made the brave decision to expose herself voluntarily in order to help others to understand the steps and significance of a breast exam. The 28-year-old recently discovered a lump in her breast while doing a routine self-examination. In her case, unfortunately, the lump was cancerous, and she recently has undergone surgery and chemotherapy as a result of finding the cancer. The good news is that the exam may have saved her life. Seeing the importance of the self-examination has given Albright a new commitment to the issue of awareness—a commitment that brought news viewers into a portion of her examination previously viewed only by patient and doctor.

            I commend Albright for her courage. I wish the best for her, and her husband who returned home from deployment in Iraq to be with her during this very important time in her life. I think it is a praiseworthy thing to go to great lengths to encourage women to give serious attention to their bodies with respect to making monthly checks for breast cancer. I hope that thousands of women who viewed the news segment on Albright’s experience immediately will set a schedule for private and office cancer screening. However, it seems that in sensitizing the public to the importance of screenings, ABC News 7 crossed the line on what is appropriate for the small screen.

            As I write this, I know that I am on dangerous ice. Breast Cancer awareness, screening, and research for a cure are vitally important to reducing and eventually eradicating death from this cancer. Moreover the account of a brave survivor who freely elects to sacrifice the shame of nakedness on camera  – and that survivor being one who is married to a man sacrificing himself for our freedoms in the fight against terrorism – is a heartwarming story that rightly draws great sympathy from us. We should applaud the Albrights greatly for their heroism. Therefore, for one to make criticism of the news episode about them almost seems unloving, insensitive, and un-American. By accusing ABC 7 of having an ulterior motive behind this story I could be open to charges of sounding like Jerry Falwell criticizing the Teletubbies.

In contrast to the Albrights, however, the local ABC affiliate has seized the Albright’s heroism as an opportunity for what their news website labeled a “groundbreaking” news report. They have broken ground, just as TV shows like Moonlighting and NYPD Blue broke ground by pushing the bounds of verbal and bodily decency years ago. In a different sense, ABC News 7 is pouring the concrete in the hole dug by the progressive lack of discretion displayed nightly by our major networks. Now there is precedent for any network television company to produce shows that bare a full breast here or there. Soon, nothing will be left to the imagination and the privacy of one’s own home. With this door now opened, Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake could be invited to be entertainers’ at next year’s Superbowl without any concern of causing controversy by another clothing accident.

I commend ABC News 7 and the Albrights for their intent to keep us from becoming desensitized to the magnitude of the problem of Breast Cancer and the number of lives it touches. I only wish they had maintained the practice of airing this examination with the patient’s back to the camera. The approach they took to awareness only made us more aware of Mrs. Albright, and of the need for wisdom in one news station’s editorial offices. For if this story was approved for airing in the name of saving the lives of women, what could be approved to save the lives of men from Prostrate Cancer? Don’t worry, by the time such a story airs, indecency on network TV will be so bad that the only thing left safe to watch will be the Teletubbies.

                                     

 Click here to Donate to the Susan G. Komen fund at their website.

Education and Fathers (from Cranach blog)

father reading Gene Veith’s blog alerted me to a story in yesterday’s Washington Post about the importance of fathers in educational achievement:

“Why don’t you guys study like the kids from Africa?”

In a moment of exasperation last spring, I asked that question to a virtually all-black class of 12th-graders who had done horribly on a test I had just given. A kid who seldom came to class — and was constantly distracting other students when he did — shot back: “It’s because they have fathers who kick their butts and make them study.”

Another student angrily challenged me: “You ask the class, just ask how many of us have our fathers living with us.” When I did, not one hand went up.

I was stunned. These were good kids; I had grown attached to them over the school year. It hit me that these students, at T.C. Williams High School in Alexandria, understood what I knew too well: The lack of a father in their lives had undermined their education. The young man who spoke up knew that with a father in his house he probably wouldn’t be ending 12 years of school in the bottom 10 percent of his class with a D average. His classmate, normally a sweet young woman with a great sense of humor, must have long harbored resentment at her father’s absence to speak out as she did. Both had hit upon an essential difference between the kids who make it in school and those who don’t: parents.

My students knew intuitively that the reason they were lagging academically had nothing to do with race, which is the too-handy explanation for the achievement gap in Alexandria. And it wasn’t because the school system had failed them. They knew that excuses about a lack of resources and access just didn’t wash at the new, state-of-the-art, $100 million T.C. Williams, where every student is given a laptop and where there is open enrollment in Advanced Placement and honors courses. Rather, it was because their parents just weren’t there for them — at least not in the same way that parents of kids who were doing well tended to be.

Saved from a Corrupt Generation: Comments from David Peterson

Acts CommentaryWhile studying through the book of Acts in preparing for sermons, I have run across comments by scholars that give Christ-centered, sanctifying thoughts. I am grateful for insights that lend themselves toward cleansing, sanctifying, purifying, setting apart, and making me and my congregation more holy through a deeper understanding of God’s word. I am reminded that the Lord sanctifies us by adherence to the teachings, rebukes, corrections, and instructions of his word as the word of God is read (publically and privately) and preached, and then remembered, meditated upon in dependency, and utilized in wisdom and moral decision-making (cf. Ps. 1:1-3; 19:7-14; Jn. 15:1-3; Acts 20:26-27; 32; Phil. 2:15-16; I Thes. 2:13; Heb 5:13-14; Ja 1:18-27; I Pet 1:24-2:3; 2 Pet 3:11-13). My hope week to week as I preach is that I and the people I am privileged to serve will be conformed more to the likeness of Christ, will gain knowledge to teardown the philosophies, arguments, worldviews that attempt to exalt themselves over the knowledge of Christ, that we will be equipped to give a defense of our hope in Christ, and that we might see more and more of the light of the Gospel of God in the face of Christ (Rom 8:29;  2 Cor 4:4-6; 10:4-5; 2 Pet. 3:15). Christ-centered thinking in scholarly commentaries aid me as I prepare to serve the flock of God.

This week I ran across some good, Gospel-focused thinking by David G. Peterson in The Acts of the Apostles in the Pillar New Testament Commentary Series. The commentary is first-rate, and I would highly recommend it for the study of Acts. Therein you will find comments like the following on Acts 2:40:

Peter’s appeal (‘Save yourselves’) picks up the language of v. 21, where salvation from the coming judgment of God is meant (v. 20)… But salvation ‘from this corrupt generation’ points to the need for rescue from something more immediate. In order to escape from the judgment of God, Peter’s audience needed to be rescued from the corrupting and damning influence of society. This recalls the charge of Jesus that this generation was unbelieving, perverse (Lk. 7:31-35; 9:41), and wicked (11:29-32). They followed the trend of previous generations, who rejected God’s messengers (11:50-52; 17:25) and effectively killed the one sent to them by God… But the need for salvation from this corrupt generation… should not simply be linked with the recent events in Jerusalem. The wider use of this terminology suggests that people in general need to be saved because they are part of one of the many generations that have failed or is presently failing before God and thus constitute corrupt humanity. Those who want to be saved from the judgment of God need to distance themselves from their generation and identify with Jesus and his cause… Even though Peter’s message was to Israel, it was effectively a call to come out from among them and be separate (cf. Isa. 52:11). The implication is that the disciples were the believing remnant of Israel or, more importantly, the nucleus of a renewed Israel. Later generations have not had the same opportunity to see and hear Christ directly. But it remains true that people in every age need to take a stand against their generation in its rejection of Jesus and his message. They need to know about the consequence of persisting in unbelief and rebellion against God. Authentic gospel proclamation will communicate the challenge to take this step and ‘be saved’ from the approaching judgment of God by calling upon the name of Jesus for deliverance (cf. I Thes. 1:9-10; 2 Thes. 1:5-10). The following verse explains how that salvation was appropriated by a very large number of Jews in Jerusalem and how the Spirit united them in a new fellowship of commitment and care. (David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (PNTC). Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2009: 157-158.)

Peterson’s commentary is important. We are saved from inherent sin, sinful acts, and also from a sinful society. The Gospel works in us a repentance that makes us counter-cultural and other-worldly. Believers have a salvation experience that saves them from a crooked generation (cf. Dt. 32:5; Mt. 17:17). As such, believers are then able to be formed into a church that is devoted to actions produced by the combined working of the outpoured Spirit and the preaching of the lordship of Christ (cf. Acts 2:14-36,42-47): The church that has all things in common among believers is a church that sees a distinction between those baptized in the name of Christ and those in the world; the church that turns the world upside down must first see that the world is upside down and Christ is the one who sets as many who are called right-side up. This is the hope of all who desire to see the Lord bring about the sort of Spirit-wrought work that would add 3000 souls to a congregation. That is, we would want 3000 people added whose lives are distinctly different that the lives of those outside of Christ. We would not want a bag of 50% repentant and 50% culturally-crooked. Acts 2:40 is a call to guard the front door of the church and to preach Christ as Lord.

“This Ain’t It.” A Repost on Michael Jackson and Syncretism @ urbanfaith.com

This is ItThis morning I was notified of the article, “This Ain’t It,”  at urbanfaith.com.  It is a reposting of my thoughts on African American syncretism that posted the day after the announcement of the pop star’s death:  “The Gray Matter of African American Syncretism: Giving Honor to the King of Pop.”  It was edited by urbanfaith.com from its original in order to seem up to date with current discussions about Jackson and the movie about him.  A thank you goes to urbanfaith.com for their kindness. How wise of them to time a repost to correspond with the release of the movie.

NOTE:  An outstanding resource to address the issue of African American Christian syncretism is Thabiti Anyabwile’s, The Decline of African American Theology: From Biblical Faith to Cultural Captivity, InterVarsity, 2007.  (Or the subtitle could easily have been, “From Biblical Faith to Syncretism.” )  It truly is a great read.

Establishing Hope

Mojave CrossIf five of the most intelligent people in the country end up outvoting four of their most intelligent colleagues in the country in favor of removing the Cross from over the memorial to the war dead in the Mojave Desert, I have a place for the VFW and the state of California to stick it. It should be sent to the City of Chicago in order to be erected to honor their dead youth lost in violence in the schools and on the streets.  For stopping war or soils foreign or national are in need of the same symbol of hope, and remembering the dead in a desert memorial or city graveyard are in need of the same symbol of honor. So Eric Holder and Arne Duncan should grab a group of ACLU lawyers, stick them in their bulletproof SUVs, drive them past the churches holding the funerals of those dying in their youth from being beaten by 2 x 4′s, and let them talk with war veterans in those churches and the principals in the schools in the surrounding neighborhoods–veterans and principals of which some would be atheists, Jews, and Muslims.  I suspect they nicely would tell the ALCU where to stick their reading of the Establishment Clause.