Squaring the Culture




"...and I will make justice the plumb line, and righteousness the level;
then hail will sweep away the refuge of lies,
and the waters will overflow the secret place."
Isaiah 28:17

11/23/2010 (8:35 pm)

Hallelujah!

A lone, 22-year-old girl standing in the food court of a shopping mall breaks out with the opening bars of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah. Then a couple of other shoppers and a mall janitor join in… and pretty soon, and entire choir is singing the entire piece in excellent form.

No, it was not spontaneous, it was planned carefully. Last Saturday the Chorus Niagara performed the Hallelujah Chorus unannounced at the food court of the Seaway Mall in Welland, Ontario, CA. Listen:

The shoppers loved it. Some stood, all applauded, and I don’t doubt that a few sang along.

It’s not just good music, it’s faith. You can’t kill it. No matter how hard they try, Christianity will not be bred out of the West.

Have a happy holiday season, folks. Happy Thankgiving, merry Christmas, and Hallelujah!

06/09/2010 (9:13 am)

Deep Blue

Hold your breath. No, don’t — you’re not going to make it as long as this fellow, world champion free-diver Guillaume Nery. This is a (literally) breath-taking video of Nery jumping down Dean’s Blue Hole, a submarine sinkhole in the Bahamas.

The video is fiction: while Nery does do this sort of thing, and the site is one of the places where he might do it, Dean’s Blue Hole, at 202 meters deep, is about twice as deep as most blue holes, and the world record free dive into it went down only 86 meters. The sequence where he touches bottom is staged elsewhere, obviously. Edited by Bluenery©. Music: “You Make Me Feel” by Archive.

Blue holes are vertical caves underwater, so-called because the water inside the hole appears to be a deeper blue than the surrounding water when it’s viewed from the surface. They were formed by rainfall leaching limestone formations in areas that were above sea level during an earlier era but submerged at the end of the Ice Age.

Athletes like Nery compete in free-diving, a modern “extreme sport” in which divers attempt to reach ever-greater depths or distances without mechanical breathing apparatus. This particular dive would be called “constant weight apnea without fins,” because the athlete is not dropping weights at the bottom to increase his buoyancy, and because he’s not enhancing his swimming distance with fins.

05/10/2010 (5:54 am)

Babies Know Morals

I’ve always felt that the only people who say “Babies are born good, and we ruin them” are people who have never tried to raise one. I’ve felt the same about people who say “Babies are born as a blank slate.” Anybody who has seen little Jimmy reaching for an object while looking over his shoulder to see if Mom is watching knows better. But there are an awful lot of people who believe the “blank slate” line, even people who should know better.

A researcher at Yale is finding evidence that very young babies already have a rudimentary moral sense at the age of 6 months, and that this finding is consistent. Listen:

Professor Paul Bloom, a psychologist at Yale University in Connecticut, whose department has studied morality in babies for years, said: ‘A growing body of evidence suggests that humans do have a rudimentary moral sense from the very start of life.

‘With the help of well designed experiments, you can see glimmers of moral thought, moral judgment and moral feeling even in the first year of life.

‘Some sense of good and evil seems to be bred in the bones.’

For one study, the Yale researchers got babies aged between six months and a year to watch a puppet show in which a simple, colourful wooden shape with eyes tries to climb a hill.

Sometimes the shape is helped up the hill by a second toy, while other times a third character pushes it down.

After watching the show several times, the babies were shown the helpful and unhelpful toys. They showed a clear preference for the helpful toys – spending far longer looking at the ‘good’ shapes than the ‘bad’ ones.

‘In the end, we found that six- and ten-month-old infants overwhelmingly preferred the helpful individual to the hindering individual,’ Prof Bloom told the New York Times.

‘This wasn’t a subtle statistical trend; just about all the babies reached for the good guy.’

Two more tests found the same moral sense.

The experiments focused on puppets that cooperated with or hindered some activity — rolling a ball up a hill, opening a box, playing a game. The “good guy” was the one that cooperated; the “bad guy” was the one that hindered the activity, sitting on the opening of the box or running off with the game ball. What the babies preferred might be described as cooperation: “I like the one that helps, not the one that ruins.” Is this really moral thinking? The fact that the plays do not involve the babies themselves suggests that it is; they feel frustration for the characters, not directly for themselves.

Since the experiments all involved the children watching morality plays with puppets, it’s clear that they also have a sense of empathy — they feel for the characters — and that they process abstractions — they know the puppets represent them in some sense. These are also apparently hard-wired in humans, which I find equally remarkable.

Christianity teaches both that human beings are made in the image of God and know good, and that sin is innate to our species, so we do wrong things. Consequently, Christians should expect infants to know what’s right, but on occasion to choose to do wrong. This matches my experience of children — I’ve raised four, and it took conscientious effort to make them good people — and now it matches the experimental results of at least one American scientist.

09/22/2009 (11:12 am)

Kids, Don't Try This At Home

A senior citizen in Milwaukee decided this bank robber was endangering his wife, so he took him down single-handed. This is just hilarious, actually, and I say “Bravo!” to the elderly gentleman who had the cojones to tackle a 23-year-old kid. Watch:

Notice the bank customer who decides to help out by kicking Mr. Bank Robber while he’s down, at about the 47 second mark. Can’t say I blame her, though I’m sure it didn’t help much. Incredibly, some imbec… er, commenter at YouTube thought she should be arrested for assault for doing that. I can see that; I sure wouldn’t want anybody kicking me if I were robbing a bank…

Hat tip to This Ain’t Hell (but you can see it from here).

06/26/2009 (12:37 pm)

It's Still Here

I found this on The Anchoress this afternoon, and had to post it myself.

The kids on this video began singing to their mother, who was in a coma from a head-on collision. Eight months later, here they are on America’s Got Talent. Listen:

Ironically, what we’re seeing here is both the best and the worst of America. The virtue at the heart of the story is the children singing to their mother, and to others in the hospital. The vice is the pit into which talented children like this might fall if they take the media-amplified adulation to heart. The recent death of the immensely talented, immensely troubled Michael Jackson highlights this ugly downside to American consumerism; he bought the entire glittery package, and attained the peak of stardom. What did it profit him, in the end? He died young, twisted, in trouble, and alone, an object of pity.

Ultimately, America is about people hitching what little they have to the grace of God, in order to bless the people they love, like these kids did. The fame, wealth and adulation are just icing, and you can die from eating too much icing.

The inmates may be running (and ruining) the asylum for now, but the heart of America is not dead. It gives me hope that what we’re facing is not death, but chastisement. The true America will rise again. God bless America.

12/20/2008 (11:15 am)

Perhaps Write One More Christmas Card

Day By Day, the cartoon on the sidebar of my blog, has taken to making longish posts that require scrolling down as well as over. You can avoid scrolling by clicking on the cartoon, which will take you to Chris Muir’s web site where you can view the content without scrolling. Today, though, I will save you the trouble by reposting what it says. Here we go:

One of the founders of Smart Girl Politics has a request:

I would not normally put this story on the front of the site, but this is a true story. It is a friend of one of my friends. Please help SGP make this little girl’s Christmas wish come true.

Many of you remember my dear friend, Chris Garman, who lost her battle with breast cancer two years ago. When she was first diagnosed with breast cancer, she was pregnant with her third child. Her doctors didn’t think Chris would live through her pregnancy without treatment, so they took a chance and gave her chemo while she was pregnant. Chris survived her pregnancy and had a beautiful, healthy little girl named Hannah Faith.

Chris died when Hannah was three.

Hannah is now five, and this breaks my heart all over again, but in October, Hannah was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, a rare and incurable brain tumor. She was given about 12 weeks to live. She was going to be the flower girl at a wedding in May, but was diagnosed a week after she was asked.

Right now she has lost most of her motor skills. She is confined to bed and cannot really do anything or play with the gifts she is getting from people, but she LOVES getting cards — she has gotten so many from people she does not know and just loves to have grandma read about the people who send them. Her room is just filled with cards.

When asked what she wants for Christmas, she said she wants to see how many Christmas cards she can get. Many people have passed this wish along to their churches, prayer groups, friends, and family. There are school groups where children are making her cards. People are including pictures so she can see who it is that is sending her the card.

If you would like to help with her wish, please send her a card at:

Hannah Garman
704 Orchard Road
Lititz, PA 17543

Perhaps you can find time to write just one more Christmas card. It also occurs to me to suggest that though they’re barely mentioned, the girl’s father and siblings are experiencing an unusual degree of loss, and need our prayers.