Monday, November 30, 2009

Gospel Illusions #4 - Invisible Sponge Ball

Do you have to see to believe? Here I use an invisible sponge ball to show that you don't have to see something to believe it's there!

If you enjoyed this illusion, please share it with some friends!

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile. Wehadababyitsaboy!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

It is no secret that the Atlantic Monthly is no friend to Christians. In the December issue, Hanna Rosin opines in "Did Christianity Cause the Crash?" that prosperity-"gospel" Christians were one of the causes of our current economic crisis. She gives a number of anecdotal stories as evidence, and even points to the coincidence that the prosperity-"gospel" is popular among African-Americans and Latinos, and those groups were hit especially hard by the mortgage crisis.

Never mind the fact that Democrat supported legislation forced banks to give loans to low-income families who otherwise would be a horrible credit risk. Never mind that predatory lenders were allowed to create exotic loan programs (like interest-only for n years) that allowed ignorant and greedy consumers to purchase more house than they could really afford. Never mind that greedy investors tried to take advantage of those loans to try to buy and flip houses they couldn't really afford, and then got caught with their pants down when the over-inflated market started to collapse.

But then again, I suppose some of those people were probably prosperity-gospel types, so Christ really is to blame for our greed, corruption and over-regulation...

On the other hand, I have to agree with Ms. Rosin's assessment that there is something horribly wrong with the prosperity-"gospel." From the outside looking in, she sees wealthy con-man televangelists encouraging people to engage in a self-help style risk taking based on "faith" which is in reality little more than gambling. She correctly points out that quacks like Joel Osteen sound just like New Age thought:
The advice is exactly like the message of The Secret, or any number of American self-help blockbusters that edge toward magical thinking, except that the religious context adds another dimension.
The prosperity-"gospel" is American Christianity's syncretism. Just like Mexican Catholicism has been merged with Aztec and Mayan pagan religious thought, branches of Evangelical Christianity have been mixed (to varying degrees) with the dark side of Capitalism, namely greed and materialism. It incorporates New Age thinking, that we have God's creative power and can create new realities with our words. To put it bluntly, it is heresy. While salvation comes from Christ, for the prosperity preacher, salvation is more about filling your wallet and living in a nice house than about forgiveness of sins, a new life in Christ, and storing up treasures in heaven. Our treasures on earth are subject to moth and rust, shifting markets and government interference. It's all going to burn one day, and only what's stored in heaven will last!

At the end of her article, Ms. Rosin points people to "the kind of hope that President Obama talks about, and that Clinton did before him—steady, uplifting, assured." She has merely replaced one false gospel for another. Obama's hope is for a godless socialism where the wealthy are taxed to death and the money given to the poor so they will continue to vote for the Democrats.

Real hope is found in Jesus Christ, the real Jesus found in the Bible, not the Rolex-wearing Jesus of the prosperity preachers and not the Marxist Jesus of the social-"gospel" types. Following Christ means trusting Him when the world around us is going crazy, loving the poor by giving them a hand-up, standing for truth and righteousness, and waiting for the day when we take the treasures we have stored up in heaven and laying them at His feet in worship, acknowledging that He is the source of all we have and all we will be.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Calling the Ft. Hood Massacre Terrorism

This was a terrorist act. Ralph Peters gets it right in "Fort Hood's 9/11" in the Washington Post. (I highly recommend reading the entire article.) This was the act of a fanatical Muslim who tried to contact Al Quaeda, who questioned his patients because of their commitment to the War on Terror, who made radical statements to his co-workers, who listed himself as a Palestinian on a Muslim dating site, and who was evidently under investigation by the FBI for months.

Everyone is so scared of being sued for not being politically correct that no one did anything. No one just snaps. There are an abundance of warning signs, and for whatever reason, Army and FBI officials failed to act. Just like Cho at Virginia Tech, or the snot nose punks at Columbine, or any other mass shooting. There are warning signs for anyone with the guts to recognize and report them.

Call this for what it is - Domestic Islamic Terrorism.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Army Victim Disarmament Zone

I was shocked and saddened to hear about the brave men and women who lost their lives at the hand of the domestic Islamic terrorist Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan. The AP reported that if it had not been for many brave and selfless heroes, the bloodshed would have been much worse. One paragraph about one of the heroes caught my eye:
The 21-year-old Fort Worth native (Pfc. Marquest Smith) quickly grabbed the civilian worker who'd been helping with his paperwork and forced her under the desk. He lay low for several minutes, waiting for the shooter to run out of ammunition and wishing he, too, had a gun.
Why didn't this brave young man have a gun? He was unarmed because the DoD does not allow anyone without a specific reason to carry a weapon to be armed. All weapons (except personal weapons registered and kept in base housing) must be secured in the post armory. Usually, this means that only Military Police or civilian security forces (like the heroic Kimberly Munley, who shot and stopped the domestic Islamic terrorist) are armed on a base. I served 5 1/2 years in the Air Force, and the only time I was allowed to carry a gun was on the few occasions I was taking weapons training. You could bring a personal weapon on base to shoot at the firing range, but it had to be registered with the SPs, unloaded, locked and stored separately from ammunition, and you had to have a qualified range master on hand if you were using it.

So why did we have so many victims in a building full of highly trained, proficient, experienced warriors, with only a lone gunman with two handguns? They were not allowed to carry the tools to defend themselves. The shooting went on for four minutes after the 911 call was made. What difference would it have made if Pfc. Smith and his courageous compatriots had been carrying sidearms? How many seconds would the terrorist have lasted if they had weapons at the ready? Would the coward Hasan have even tried?

Update, 7 Nov 09:
Several commentators have picked up on this theme, including Gun Rights Examiners Daniel White, Howard Nemerov and Kurt Hoffman. They write with far deeper analysis than mine and arrive at the same conclusions.

Another quote, this time from
"I was confused and just shocked," said Spc. Jerry Richard, 27, who works at the center but was not on duty during the shooting. "Overseas you are ready for it. But here you can't even defend yourself."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Gospel Illusions #3: Following Christ

When we follow Christ, we often have to act differently than the world around us. Here is the double-card turnover used to demonstrate Matthew 16:24 and Ephesians 5:1-2 and how we need to follow Christ even when everyone else is going the other way. My daughter was very patient over the course of several takes. Cards can be slippery and hard to handle. She had some trouble with them too... Practice an illusion until you have it cold before trying it - especially with kids! Be ready for anything!

Gospel Illusions #2: Transformation

God radically changes someone when they become a Christian. Here are two classic illusions, Scotch and Soda and Penny to Dime, both used to demonstrate the transformation described in 1 Cor 5:17. This is a nice followup to the Color Changing Discs. Kids want to be involved with the illusions, so close-up illusions work well. Listen to my son at the end of the video: they always want to try it themselves! I teach kids the pinch drop coin vanish when they want to learn a trick.