10 years ago, and 10 years on

by the Night Writer

Ten years ago I wasn’t blogging, but I was writing. On Sunday, September 16 I published the first essay below –  “When the Towers Fall” – in the monthly handout I prepared for our men’s ministry at church. It was based on my observations of the past few days and the role of faith and biblical understanding in those circumstances. A month later I followed up with a second essay, taking off from the words of a certain televangelist to examine the nature and purpose of judgment. I share these two essays below for a picture of that time. Later this week I’ll come back and share how I think things have – or haven’ t – changed for me and my nation in the intervening years.

When the Towers Fall

Ultimately, America’s secular façade crumbled even before its material symbols collapsed. I first turned on my radio – and heard the first words regarding Tuesday’s disaster – moments before the second tower was struck. The voices of the national news team were already urging Americans to pray for the safety of those involved. It sounded almost glib at first, but as the unreal became real and the horror increased by the minute, the references became more heartfelt, even desperate.

As our true helplessness and vulnerability became apparent, the call to pray was in every report and every story. And pray we did: alone, with our families, and in special services and vigils that themselves became news. All of this flying in the face of a culture and media that has said for years that faith and divine intervention are, at best, inappropriate if not impossible. It must have been like discovering that the kooky old aunt you’ve been keeping in the attic is the only one who knows where the family silver is buried.

But which is the true picture of America? Are we a secular society that merely pays lip service to faith when a crisis looms, or are we a nation of quiet faithful who allow ourselves to be cowed by society until circumstances give us a chance to break out? I know how our attackers would describe us.

Continue reading

Take the Highway to Hell and make a left at the Road to Serfdom

by the Night Writer

The inane political bickering over spending cuts that do about as much good as an ice-scraper on the side of the iceberg that hit the Titanic, a debt-to-GDP-ratios of around 140% and yesterday’s S&P downgrade of the country’s bond rating made me think of an analogy that I shared on Mr. D’s blog the other day:

A car is barreling down the highway as the driver fiddles with the seat heater while balancing a Big Mac, fries and large Coke in his lap and staring at the GPS screen instead of at the road ahead. Meanwhile everyone else in the car is arguing loudly over what music to play through the high-tech, 12-speaker sound system and whether it’s too hot or too cold in the compartment, and who gets to drive next.

Suddenly they realize there’s a brick wall ahead. What to do? Hitting the brakes hard will toss people about, make them spill their drinks, bump their heads and hurt their feelings. Or you can just hit the wall. Either way, the car is going to come to a stop.

One option gives you chance to perhaps survive and eventually drive around the obstruction. The other results in a litte white marker beside the road, commemorating what once had been.

The choice is between the unacceptable and the unthinkable. And some just say, “Go faster.”

Don’t put all the blame on the current driver, though. The car turned down this road a long, long time ago and no one paid attention to the Dead End sign. There have been several drivers since then, and some have had more of a lead foot than others but no one’s ever seriously tried to change direction, though we have veered from the ditch occasionally.

It really is an old story, so old that few alive today can even remember it being any other way. How old? Check out the cartoon below I just saw today and that comes from a 1934 issue of the Chicago Tribune and it’s depiction of “young pinkos from Columbia and Harvard”, what looks like two versions of Stalin (the Road to Serfdom was thought to lead to Communism, not Socialism then) and the “Plan of Action for the U.S.: Spend! Spend! Spend under the guise of recovery – bust the government – blame the capitalists for the failure – junk the Constitution and declare a dictatorship.”

1934 cartoon blog


With the deep, unconscious sigh which not even the nearness of the telescreen could prevent him from uttering when his day’s work started, Winston pulled the speakwrite towards him, blew the dust from its mouthpiece, and put on his spectacles. Then he unrolled and clipped together four small cylinders of paper which had already flopped out of the pneumatic tube on the right-hand side of his desk.

In the walls of the cubicle there were three orifices. To the right of the speakwrite, a small pneumatic tube for written messages, to the left, a larger one for newspapers; and in the side wall, within easy reach of Winston’s arm, a large oblong slit protected by a wire grating. This last was for the disposal of waste paper. Similar slits existed in thousands or tens of thousands throughout the building, not only in every room but at short intervals in every corridor. For some reason they were nicknamed memory holes. When one knew that any document was due for destruction, or even when one saw a scrap of waste paper lying about, it was an automatic action to lift the flap of the nearest memory hole and drop it in, whereupon it would be whirled away on a current of warm air to the enormous furnaces which were hidden somewhere in the recesses of the building.

Winston examined the four slips of paper which he had unrolled. Each contained a message of only one or two lines, in the abbreviated jargon — not actually Newspeak, but consisting largely of Newspeak words — which was used in the Ministry for internal purposes. They ran:

page 25 – So I signed it and left. Miss Watson’s nigger, Jim …  rectify

page 68 – You know that one-laigged nigger dat b’longs to old Misto Bradish …  rectify

page 84 – But by night they had changed around and judged it was done by a runaway nigger named Jim … rectify

times 3.12.83 reporting bb dayorder doubleplusungood refs unpersons rewrite fullwise upsub antefiling

HTs: 1984. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. New edition of “Huckleberry Finn to lose the ‘n’ word.

Declaration of Dependence

by the Night Writer

We hold these truths to be self-defeating, that all men are created ignorant, that they are endowed by their Government with certain unknowable rights, but among these are lies, subservience and the pursuit of higher taxes. That to obscure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their assumed powers from the apathy of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes effective enough in achieving these ends, it is the plight of the people to alter or to demolish their will, and to allow even more government, laying its foundation on such principles as the healthcare they must buy and the type of light bulbs they may not buy, ceding their powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect the safety and happiness of those in charge.

Of golden chains and gilded gags

by the Night Writer

As part of the furor of the political season, I have seen several news stories in recent days about activist pastors provocatively announcing their intention to endorse candidates from their pulpits. Predictably, this has led to activist groups such as Americans United for Separation (ignore the oxymoron) of Church and State to file complaints with the IRS about the churches violating their tax-exempt status. This was, of course, what the pastors were hoping for in order to force what they hope will be a defining battle over free speech.

All of which I’m sure would cause our hallowed founding fathers — be they Christian, Deist or Other — to shake their heads at the ignorance abounding on all sides.

At issue is that the churches, like most U.S. churches over the past 50 years, have incorporated themselves as 501c3 organizations, ostensibly gaining limited-liability and tax-exempt status, but with the caveat that they can’t engage in politics. The pending confrontation has both sides enthusiastic about the battle, while the IRS is likely much less so. From the article in Tuesday’s Star Tribune:

Although pastors across the country have staged similar protests for years (more than 100 of them this year alone), the IRS has dropped them after investigating the cases, and agency officials have declined to say why they did so.

That’s likely happened because the IRS already knows that a church doesn’t need 501c3 status in order to be tax-exempt.

Despite the rampant ignorance (remember, “ignorance” is not the same as “stupidity”), the issue isn’t that complex. Here’s a useful and easy to understand website that explains this. One section in particular contains the following:

The IRS has acknowledged for decades that it is completely unnecessary for any church to apply for a tax-exempt status. According to IRS Publication 557, as well as IRS Code § 508, churches and church ministries are “exempt automatically.” Application for an exempt status is not only superfluous, but to do so subordinates that church to the IRS. Churches in America have always been nontaxable anyway. It simply makes no sense for a church to go to the IRS and seek permission to be exempted from a tax the government can’t impose in the first place.

The church in America is protected from the government by the First Amendment:

“Congress shall make NO law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” It would be absurd to suppose that you could have free exercise of religion if you had to pay for it (taxes). If Congress can make NO law respecting the church, it can make NO law to tax the church.

The IRS lacks the jurisdiction necessary to tax the churches in America. The IRS has no more jurisdiction over the churches in America than it does over the churches in Canada. It would be as absurd (and tyrannical) for the IRS to tax the churches in America, as it would be for the IRS to tax churches in Canada. They don’t have jurisdiction.

Neither is your church required to be a 501c3 in order for your contributions to be tax-deductible. Nor is this a radical new concept of Church and State. America’s churches have always been “free” churches as opposed to the state churches prevalent in Europe at the time of our founding. They have neither been under the jurisdiction of, or supported by, the government. In the 1950s the 501c3 was offered as a “benefit” to the churches, perhaps to codify the tax-exemption…while at the same time making all churches who accepted the bargain fundamentally subservient to the State, especially in matters of free speech.

Now you could call it conspiracy, or merely one of those unintended consequences government is so good at, but there conceivably could be a reason why the State (regardless of the administration du jour) might seek to bind the Church’s hands with gold and close its mouth with silver: the Church had historically always been the first to speak up against tyranny, both within and without. Indeed, going back to pre-Revolutionary days, it was the pastors of many denominations who spoke out from their pulpits against the Crown’s violations and depradations, earning the clergy the deep enmity (along with sizable bounties on their heads) of King George and the Tories who referred to them as “The Black Regiment” (because of their black robes). More accurately, the preaching and activism of the clergy was likely worth several regiments in the field. (Here’s a sample sermon, circa 1776, from Rev. Samuel West, perhaps a distant relation of mine.)

The call to conscience, based on the word of God, will often stand in opposition to the rule of law as wielded by tyrants. Henry II is not the only ruler to, in one form or another, say, “Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest?” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer would be a more contemporary version of Thomas Beckett). Bloody decrees somehow only served to fan the flames then; now subtle favors and lulling complacency may be more devastating to liberty. To speak out is not merely the right of the clergy, but their responsibility as well. As John Adams said,

“It is the duty of the clergy to accommodate their discourses to the times, to preach against such sins as are most prevalent, and recommend such virtues as are most wanted.

For example, if exorbitant ambition and venality are predominant, ought they not to warn their hearers against those vices?

If public spirit is much wanted, should they not inculcate this great virtue?

If the rights and duties of Christian magistrates and subjects are disputed, should they not explain them, show their nature, ends, limitations, and restrictions, how muchsoever it may move the gall of Massachusetts?”

As with any right, it comes with responsibility, especially where a nation’s destiny is concerned. As Charles Finney said,

“If there is a decay of conscience, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If the public press lacks moral discernment, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If the church is degenerate and worldly, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If the world loses its interest in Christianity, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If Satan rules in our halls of legislation, the pulpit is responsible for it.

If our politics become so corrupt that the very foundations of our government are ready to fall away, the pulpit is responsible for it.”

Martin Luther’s own words were an unheeded warning in the 1930s as the German state church was subsumed and subverted by the Nazis into a facile caricature of Christianity unable to resist genocide and heritage-shattering megalomania:

“If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ however boldly I may be professing Christ.

Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battlefields besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.”

I’ll credit the vision of the Minnesota pastors speaking out today and applaud their stance, but they never would have had to defend their free speech rights and responsibilities if their churches hadn’t incorporated and accepted their chains and gilded gags in the first place. (One might also wonder when the Revs. Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton, and Fr. Pfleger might be called into account by Americans United).

The American Church has accepted a foolish bargain and allowed liberty to be burned before its altars. The cause is no more dire today than it has ever been. Similarly, the cost is the same and must be paid with vigilance and boldness.

For people like us, in places like this

by the Night Writer

I read in the news today that Michael Been, lead singer and songwriter for the 80s band The Call, died last Thursday of a heart attack while at a concert in Belgium. The Call was a “Christian Contemporary” band and I was a fan back in the late 80s and early 90s when I was starting out on my current path. Up until that time I thought “Christian” music was hymns or country songs full of sin and remorse – or perhaps a hard-rock hair band like Stryper. I can’t say I ever listened to any Stryper, but the vibe to me seemed to be, “Yo, you can love Jesus and still have long hair, wear leather and rock out because He is the Rock! Wooo!”

That might not be a fair description of Stryper or other bands like that (like I said, I never listened to their music), but I’ve always been put off by acts that merely seemed to be Christian copies of what was being offered in the more commercial world (I feel the same way about authors, movies and television shows). I don’t want to feel as if I have to like something just because it’s “Christian” — forgiving sloppy execution and musicianship simply because the boys “mean well.” Intellectually, I had not come easily to my faith and while I didn’t quite trust “traditional” Christian arts or artists, I also wanted more than platitudes or suggestions that one’s life hadn’t been — or needed to be — changed all that much. I certainly didn’t want facile posturing or sappy smiles. Bands like The Call and artists such as Bruce Cockburn were an exciting revelation to me; here were men willing to write and sing about their struggles, their doubts and their attempts to simultaneously wage war and live peace in an insane world, and to do it with creativity, passion (especially Michael Been) and craft. As dark as that might sound, I could identify with their words and feel myself rise with them as grace and revelation flowed, literally, through their God-given talents.

Been could be especially brooding and challenging, often questioning “traditional” values ascribed to Christians in order to wrestle with the meaning and application of scripture — and did it in such a way that the casual listener wouldn’t necessarily realize that a message was being planted. I didn’t always agree with what he had to say, but I was always inspired. The Call first started to get some radio play with their song The Walls Came Down. As with many of their songs it featured Been’s driving bass and a strong guitar hook. There was also a dash of biblical allegory and pointed political statement at the end that didn’t endear them to the Right but no doubt appealed to a certain audience. The first I became aware of them was with their song I Still Believe, which received regular airplay on my local radio station, The Cities 97. Like Peter Gabriel (an artist The Call would later collaborate with) and his song Solsbury Hill, I liked Believe from the first time I heard it even though I didn’t grasp it’s meaning for some time.

The band’s breakthrough — or should I say “cross-over”? — was 1989’s uplifting pop prayer, Let the Day Begin, but it was usually the tracks deeper on their albums that most reached me, such as the song With or Without Reason which especially resonated:

How you gonna tell your story
Are you gonna tell it true
Either with or without reason
Love has paid the price for you
How you gonna cure this feeling
How you gonna right this wrong
Either with or without reason
The weaker do protect the strong…

The wisest of the fools can tell you
Anything you want to hear
Either with or without reason
These are truths you hold so dear
Oh, there’s somebody waiting
Oh, there’s somebody near
Oh, there’s somebody waiting
Oh, there’s somebody here

Aside from that, Been’s beard, hair-style and physique were very similar to mine at the time; watching one of his videos was nearly an out-of-body experience.

As with many bands and most visions, The Call eventually broke up and Been had a few solo efforts, while also moving behind the scenes as a sound engineer. He also tried his hand at acting, appearing as the Apostle John in the controversial Last Temptation of Christ which may have alienated a part of his audience. (I wasn’t impressed with his decision, but I partially understood where he was coming from). Most recently he was sound engineer for his son’s band, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. He and The Call, however, will always hold a special place in my heart and mind for showing that you could live and lead with your faith without short-changing your intellect. As I read the news today, I couldn’t help but think of Been’s words from the song Surrender:

Well I know it’s going to end in laughter
Son, it’s going to end in joy
the surrender in the garden
don’t you run dead poet no more

Here are some videos from The Call, starting with their biggest hit, Let the Day Begin:

I Still Believe:

The Walls Came Down:

Finally, Surrender (pardon the 5-second commercial at the beginning):

It’s in the game

by the Night Writer

There is news this week from Canada about a youth recreational soccer league in Ottawa where a team that gets ahead by six goals automatically forfeits the game. It’s the latest devolution of the “Mercy” rules in place in most youth sports these days, though this policy is enough to make one argue for a “Sanity” rule. The message it inevitably sends is that “if you suck bad enough there will always be someone else we can make pay for it.” Sure, they’re just kids now, but they grow up with that mentality and the next thing you know you’ve got multi-billion dollar bailouts for businesses too insecure to fail.

That’s about all I’m going to say about the cultural implications of this mis-begotten policy, there are plenty of people to do that. It does, however, remind me of the time when I coached a girls (9&10 year-olds) fast-pitch softball team. They were all pretty much new to the game so my focus was on teaching fundamentals and sportsmanship and trying to make it fun. The league had a mercy rule that limited a team to scoring no more than five runs per inning. If you got to five runs, regardless of how many outs were on the board, you were done at the plate for that inning. You could, however, get more than five runs if extra runs were scored as part of the same play. For example, if you had scored four runs already and bases were loaded a home run would still add four more runs. You can read more about this league here, but we were undefeated going into our last game. In the last inning the other team scored four runs to cut our lead to two, and loaded the bases with two outs. We were playing on a field scheduled for a men’s league game immediately after ours, and while we weren’t in danger of going overtime, the men wanted to get on the field for their warm-ups. Clearly, intentionally walking the batter would score the magical fifth run, ending the game and preserving the win. The girls knew this, and my pitcher asked me if she should walk the batter. I said no, play it out. This made her pretty nervous. Meanwhile, the guys were clamoring for me to walk the batter so they could get on the field. I turned to them and asked, “Is that how you learned to play the game?”

That shut them down a bit, and I called a timeout and deliberately sauntered out to the mound, and called my infield together. I told the pitcher, “you can do this, and your teammates are here to make the play.” Everyone went back to their positions and a couple of pitches later the batter hit a soft pop-up that was caught by our second-baseman, who also happened to be the tiniest kid on the entire field. The whole team was elated, jumping around and hugging. I don’t think they would have been quite as excited if we’d simply walked in the “losing” run and walked off the field, and I can’t imagine that the other team would have felt they’d been treated fairly in that scenario.

Frankly, I don’t know if anyone on that team remembers that moment now, some 34 years later (though a certain former second-baseman might), but I hope they do. I hope that as they grew up they remembered that they had been able to test themselves, to develop their own skills and had learned how to trust each other as well. I hope they learned that you have to take risks sometimes to get what you want, while always playing within the rules. Along the way I hoped they learned that winning is fun, but losing is part of life, too, and that experiencing both makes you better able to celebrate with others when they win, and commiserate with them when they lose. While any glittery trophy they received that day likely now corrodes in some rural Missouri landfill, perhaps something purer still gleams inside them. Could one moment in one season made a difference? Perhaps not, but I hope that in later seasons with other coaches the same lessons and principles were reinforced and carried over into other areas of their lives.

After all, it’s in the game.

This sign was not at a Tea Party

by the Minfidel


No, this sign was on a college campus, the University of California-San Diego, at a rally that was part of the Muslim Students Association’s sponsored Israel Apartheid Week.

Now, it could be this was just one hateful, fringe sign out of hundreds of more benevolent and edifying signs, but I think Bob Collins should look into this. In the meantime, I expect St. Paul mayor Chris Coleman to issue an edict banning all city employees from, I don’t know, eating at Middle Eastern delis.

Songs of innocence and experience

by the Night Writer

Riding into work this morning my iTouch randomly played Richard Thompson’s version of “Oops…I Did it Again”; the kind of off-beat juxtaposition I tend to like in my music selections. It also brought back the clear memory from nine or ten years ago of driving my oldest daughter, her cousin, two of their friends and my youngest daughter to Valley Fair amusement park one fine summer morning. The four older girls were just barely into their teens and greatly enamoured with Britney’s original version of that song. Squeezed into my wife’s Mercury, they were singing the song and doing the accompanying hand motions, forming little halos over their heads as they sang, “Sent from above…I’m not that innocent.” Even then the words made my heart ache a little bit.

Ironically, or perhaps cosmically, the next song that came up on my Touch was Mindy Smith’s Hard to Know,

I really didn’t care
‘Cause I was trying to hurt myself
A sticky situation
I’m still trying to work it out

And I didn’t want to know
That I was the one to blame
Pointing my finger
Tryin’ to push all the blame away

Sometimes it’s hard to know
That you need to be saved
‘Til you hit the bottom
And rattle that cage
Sometimes you just gotta keep
Digging away
Until you break through
To the light of day

Since that long ago day on the road to Valley Fair I’ve nearly lost track of one of the four older girls, while two of them have gotten married (one now pregnant) and the other girl lived with her underemployed boyfriend, got pregnant, and has moved back with her baby to live with her parents. A couple of years ago she landed an opportunity to get a job paying $16 an hour, but she needed to go to a week-long training program first. The training site wasn’t far from where I work and her father asked me if I could drive her in the mornings. Sure I could. I’d go to the designated spot to pick her up and I’d see the boyfriend drop her off and drive away in his vehicle with one of those small, temporary tires on one wheel. Each day. A couple of days into the training her father called me to say that she was feeling ill and wouldn’t be able to make it that day. I bit my lip, then my tongue, and picked her up the next morning as scheduled. I gently told her how important it was to make a good impression in a new position and how little things such as just showing up when you’re expected can make you stand out from most others of her age and with her experience. She seemed to understand, but later in the week she missed another day … and was terminated, much to her distress.

When I hear “Oops, I Did it Again” (and couldn’t that be the theme song for all of us?) I always end up thinking about “innocence” and what it means. An Innocent is someone who is unaware or uninformed about some aspect of life, who doesn’t see the sometimes dark aspects of things that are largely bright and wonderful. Such ones can often find themselves caught in the snares of others or find their attempts to cast snares of their own sundered. Ah well, there are easy ways to learn a lesson and there are hard ways, but the important thing is that one learns. As a father, though, I am all too aware that I have to ultimately send my daughters out into the world of wolves while desiring that they be as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves. It’s a difficult assignment, finding the way to expose them to just the right amount of fire that will temper them without searing or burning them.

On that same trip to Valley Fair the young Tiger Lilly, who was about six then, stayed with me while the older girls were allowed to run off in their pack. The two of us rode the more age appropriate thrill rides as we made our way through the park. At one point as we were leaving one place I turned to latch a tricky gate behind me while Tiger Lilly ran ahead, not realizing I had stopped. When I turned back around she was already out of sight in the summer crowd. On full alert I jumped up on a nearby 3-foot retaining wall to get a better vantage point, my eyes peeled for a flash of orange hair. I didn’t have far to look because she had only gone about 60 feet before realizing that I wasn’t behind her. Her immediate distress at this revelation caught the attention of a passing woman who stopped to help. They both looked my way as I came down off the wall and steamed through the crowd in their direction like a dreadnought parting the waves. “I bet that’s your father right there,” the woman said. Indeed.

I don’t know if that memory has stayed with her, but I think that Tiger Lilly and her sister have always had a sense that I’d be nearby, flying cover (in word if not in person) while they ventured, ready to swoop if needed. How valuable is that to their confidence, decision-making and sense of security? I suppose it’s impossible to quantify though many may seek to diminish it. I only know — now that one is an adult and the other acts more adult than some grown-ups I know — that I wouldn’t have wanted to try it any other way.

Women’s Media Center unclear on the concept of free speech

by the Night Writer

While you might argue how “free” the speech is if it costs $2.5 million, we have another example today of the so-called progressive left’s unique views on the freedom of expression: if they hate what you have to say then it must be “hate” speech and banned. The latest case in point is the call by the Women’s Media Center and the National Organization for (Some) Women for CBS to ban a pro-life ad featuring Tim Tebow and his mother from this year’s Super Bowl.

CBS Corp. said Tuesday it had received numerous e-mails — both critical and supportive — since a coalition of women’s groups began a protest campaign Monday against the ad, which the critics say will use Tebow and his mother to convey an anti-abortion message.

Funded by the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, the 30-second ad is expected to recount the story of Pam Tebow’s pregnancy in 1987. After getting sick during a mission trip to the Philippines, she ignored a recommendation by doctors to abort her fifth child. She later gave birth to Tim, who won the 2007 Heisman Trophy and helped his Florida team win two BCS championships.

Well, I mean, the nerve of the Tebows to use their personal true story. And I thought the left was supposed to be the “reality-based” community. Or not.

On Monday, a coalition led by the New York-based Women’s Media Center, with backing from the National Organization for Women, the Feminist Majority Foundation and other groups, urged CBS to scrap the Tebow ad.

“An ad that uses sports to divide rather than to unite has no place in the biggest national sports event of the year — an event designed to bring Americans together,” said Jehmu Greene, president of the media center.

This is an event designed to bring Americans together? Well, at least they didn’t say “it’s for the children.” I wonder, however, how an inspirational message of hope and potential is considered “divisive” while a strident attempt to shut someone up isn’t? Perhaps it’s just another example where they’re unclear on the concept. It’s worth noting here that last year NBC did ban a similar themed commercial about how a baby was born into a broken home, abandoned by his father, raised by his mother … and went on to become the first African-American president. You might have remembered this commercial…if you’d been allowed to see it:

Anyway, kudos to another network, CBS, for reconsidering its position on not allowing advocacy advertising. Perhaps they recognize their responsibility, or perhaps they merely listened to their shareholders who were advocating that they not turn down a couple of million dollars. (The network did note that if some group wanted to respond to the ad there were still some advertising slots available.)

As today’s news story indicates, there have been more than a few people who are hailing, not damning, the network’s decision. It’s possible that the women’s groups will recognize they may have over-stepped with the public. If so, I expect they’ll rephrase their protest in terms of how much good Focus on the Family’s $2.5 million could have done for the poor — especially poor children — if it hadn’t been wasted on some frivolous game. If that complaint sounds familiar it may be because you have heard it before (John 12:5) . At which point it will be my turn to say, “It’s for the children.”