Here’s the Top 100:
I write for a few of these. I think we are seeing a change.
Here’s the Top 100:
Ranking by Wikio.
President Obama reminds us today that when U.S., British, and Canadian forces trudged into bullets and mortar shells on the beaches of Normandy 65 years ago, their success was not assured. We've seen the movie, and know the ending: John Wayne and Tom Hanks won the war, along with our plucky allies, David Niven and Michael Caine.
But the young soldiers of 1944, now gone or grown old, faced forbidding shores, bristling with steel. They had no exit strategy. They could only win, or die trying.
In recent years, several books have questioned whether that that war was wise. They range from the right, with Pat Buchanan's "Churchill, Hitler, and the 'Unnecessary War'," to the left, and Nicholson Baker's "Human Smoke."
Several years ago, we asked John Keegan, the British military historian, what he thought might have happened if the D-Day invasion had failed.
"The Allies would have tried it again," he said. But the next time, they would lack any advantage of surprise. Germany's V-2 missiles, which could not be stopped by planes or anti-aircraft fire, became operational that summer, and could have decimated Allied soldiers and sailors even before they left port.
Mr. Keegan said that Churchill's government in Britain would have fallen, and a new one would have sued for peace. Franklin Roosevelt would not have run for re-election, and someone who had favored accommodation with Germany — a Charles Lindbergh, as Phillip Roth once imagined, or Joseph P. Kennedy — might have been elected in America. Without U.S. and British assistance, the Soviet Union would have collapsed.
"America would be marooned," said John Keegan, sweeping a hand over a globe. "Alone on a vast planet flooded by fascism."
Hitler might have let America alone for a while, he said. But every Jew in Europe, every Roma, every gay, Jehovah's Witness, disabled or retarded person, and millions more Poles and Russians would have been executed or worked to death.
How many millions would we allow to be killed, he asked, so that Americans could live in an isolation some would call peace? And what kind of Hell would be left to our children in a world dominated by the creators of the Nuremberg Laws and death camps?
New histories can usefully examine the terrible moral bargains America and Britain made to prevail, from the firebombings of cities, to making an ally of Joseph Stalin, who shared Hitler's immoral makeup.
But on some anniversaries, it seems right to remind ourselves that most of us alive in America today have grown up free to try on whatever ideas we like, like hats in a store window, because of the suffering, blood, and sacrifice of men and women now passing into history
Former atheist A. N. Wilson has slowly emerged from the closet as a believer again. The renowned journalist and biographer, who was raised in the church of England and who had once considered himself a believer, had a "conversion" to atheism 20 years ago at age 38 (midlife crisis, anyone?). And it really looked like a conversion. In an article in the April 6 New Statesman (partial text available here), he compares the tremendous sense of relief he felt when he stopped believing to the experience of Christian converts at a Billy Graham Crusade he was covering for the Independent on Sunday:
As a hesitant, doubting, religious man I'd never known how they felt. But, as a born-again atheist, I now knew exactly what satisfactions were on offer. For the first time in my 38 years I was at one with my own generation. I had become like one of the Billy Grahamites, only in reverse. If I bumped into Richard Dawkins (an old colleague from Oxford days) or had dinner in Washington with Christopher Hitchens (as I did either on that trip to interview Billy Graham or another), I did not have to feel out on a limb.
After that conversion, his biographical writing turned to demythologizing gospel stories about Jesus and viewing C. S. Lewis through a Freudian lens. (That effort provoked an outcry among Lewis lovers.)
But Wilson never fully disbelieved, just as before his conversion he never fully believed.
"My doubting temperament ... made me a very unconvincing atheist," he writes in the New Statesman article.
That is why, he says, he should have distrusted the radical sense of relief he felt when he underwent his reverse Damascus Road experience. Now, he chronicles a more gradual conversion back to Christian belief. In last Saturday's Daily Mail, he wrote:
But, as time passed, I found myself going back to church, although at first only as a fellow traveller with the believers, not as one who shared the faith that Jesus had truly risen from the grave. Some time over the past five or six years - I could not tell you exactly when - I found that I had changed.
This gradual transition echoes C. S. Lewis's account of his transition from unbelief to faith. He knew vaguely when it happened, but it was not a blinding, fall-off-the-horse experience. And because of its more gradual nature, Wilson now seems to trust this new experience more.
One more thing worth noting: There is a strong aesthetic dimension to Wilson's return to belief. Unlike many atheists and former believers, Wilson's testimony does not hinge on what empirical science does or does not tell us. He tells us frankly that the arguments provided by atheist friends of a scientific bent were as creedal and stretching as many assertions by Christians.
A materialist Darwinian was having dinner with me a few years ago and we laughingly alluded to how, as years go by, one forgets names. Eager, as committed Darwinians often are, to testify on any occasion, my friend asserted: "lt is because when we were simply anthropoid apes, there was no need to distinguish between one another by giving names."
This credal confession struck me as just as superstitious as believing in the historicity of Noah's Ark. More so, really. Do materialists really think that language just "evolved", like finches' beaks. or have they simply never thought about the matter rationally? Where's the evidence?
The aesthetic dimension dominates the empirical for Wilson because there was something about the great Christian artists and writers of past centuries that somehow seemed true to reality. (Wilson opposes J. S. Bach to David Hume and Samuel Taylor Coleridge to Gilbert Ryle.)
Because of the gradual nature of Wilson's re-conversion, we trust he will continue to grow in grace and understanding and trust in God as should we all, whether our conversion happened in a flash or stretched over many years.
The Victorian era saw many Christians become atheists--and then return to faith, much as A. N. Wilson has done in 2009. Read Timothy Larsen's account of their double conversions in "Victorian Skeptics on the Road to Damascus" from the Christian History website.
Tiller was protected not only by a praetorian guard of elected Democrats, but also by the protective coloration of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America -- coincidentally, the same church belonged to by Tiller's fellow Wichita executioner, the BTK killer.
The official Web page of the ELCA instructs: "A developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born." As long as we're deciding who does and doesn't have an "absolute right to be born," who's to say late-term abortionists have an "absolute right" to live?
I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?
Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one.
Aside from the obvious issue of mixing of Christianity and nationalism, I have to ask “What about Tiller’s family?” He left behind a wife, four children and ten grandchildren. What about Tiller, himself? Make no mistake, he was a despicable man. He claimed to be Christian and an active member at a Lutheran church, and yet he killed 60,000+ children, oft-times baptizing their corpses before cremating them. Even so, should we not pray that he received the grace none of us deserve, rather than pray that he receives justice?
The religious movement from which Jesus came, in the Galilee region of first-century Israel, had two main thrusts - Phariseeism and Zealotry - both with identical theology apart from a single key point - The Pharisees believed that God would bring about his kingdom through the obedience of His people, and not through violence, and the Zealots believed that they were called to bring about God’s kingdom as instruments of violence. In this matter, it is clear that Jesus sided with the Pharisees - even as he condemned their hypocrisy in other matters.
As I search my own soul, I have to say in my heart of hearts I cannot say that I am sorry the Tiller is out of business. His business was chaos, hypocrisy, death and destruction - as it is with each of us, even if on a smaller scale. But I must wish - even if I must force myself to wish it - that it would have been God turning his heart, and not man doing it in the name of God.
1) Lack Of Personal Responsibility: As a society, we encourage a “victimhood mentality” and an overweening government that never met an issue it didn’t want to dive into with both feet; so we shouldn’t be surprised that so many Americans expect to be rewarded for failure.
If GM fails, we’ve got to step in and keep it afloat. If people snuck into this country illegally, we can’t be so hardhearted as to obey the law and deport them! If you bought a house you couldn’t afford, you shouldn’t be penalized for that when the market takes a bad turn. If you bought a blender, tried to start it in your bathtub, and were nearly electrocuted—that’s not your fault! The manufacturers should have put a warning sticker on it.
We’re descended from pioneer stock. Our ancestors explored, conquered, and tamed a continent. They couldn’t rely on the police to show up if an Indian raiding party showed up at their isolated cabin at 3 AM. There was no school lunch program on the Oregon Trail. If your buggy whip company was going out of business because of those new fangled auto-mo-biles, you didn’t get 20 billion dollars in taxpayer money so you could open up a new branch in China, you went out of business. If our ancestors were alive, they would sneer in disdain at what a nation full of whining babies their descendants have become.
2) Short Attention Spans: Perhaps because of the internet, the stunning variety of news sources, or the complexity of modern society, we’ve become much less able as a people to follow logical arguments and deal with complex messages.
This has bled over into Congress where they write legislation dealing with issues they don’t truly understand. That legislation is voted on by legislators who admit that they haven’t read it and it affects the lives of millions of people who were unaware that such legislation was even being contemplated.
The problem with this is that there are many issues in life that are too knotty to be broken down into a soundbite or a 30 second commercial. Those affairs require more extensive knowledge and deeper thought and consideration than can be placed on a bumper sticker or weaved into a music video. When we lose sight of that fact, utter disasters that have been in plain sight all along for anyone with an attention span longer than five minutes can blindside much of the population.
3) Excessive Self-Esteem:
They’re just so darn sure that what they believe is right just by virtue of the fact they believe it. Traditions? Codes of conduct? Religious beliefs? Customs? There’s no need to even understand why previous generations believed what they did or to question what purpose it served. Just remember that they were racist back then and so they couldn’t have had any good ideas.
Of course, we don’t look back and say, “Gee? How did they make it without welfare, social security, or an income tax? Why is it that they had a divorce rate that was a fraction of the one we had today? How is it that the crime rate was so much lower? What made the people so much more polite than they are today? If we were in the same situation as the Founding Fathers, could our political leaders step up to the plate and do as well?”
4) Short Term Thinking/Instant Gratification: Thomas Sowell once said that killing the goose that laid the golden egg can be a viable election strategy as long as it doesn’t die until you’re out of office and no one finds your prints on the murder weapon.
That is primarily how government has gotten so out of control. A problem occurs. In an effort to get re-elected, politicians rush to create a program to “fix” it. Ten years later, the original problem may or may not have been solved, but the program put in place to “fix” it has caused new issues and costs five times more than it did when it was originally put into place. However, if anyone suggests we get rid of it, there are howls of outrage. Hence, government never shrinks and bad programs almost never die.
Meanwhile, large festering problems like Social Security and Medicare are studiously ignored for as long as possible because we don’t react until there’s a crisis. Only after the horrific events of 9/11 did we start taking terrorism seriously. It took a bridge falling down to get Congress interested in poorly maintained structures nationwide. The whole economy had to crash to get Congress to become alarmed about quasi-governmental agencies handing out loans to people who couldn’t pay them back.
Incidentally, we’ve already started going backwards on all of these same problems. The new President shows minimal concern about terrorism, nobody is talking about bridges anymore, and Congress has already started encouraging more bad housing loans.
5) Immorality: The default mode of Hollywood is hedonism and we’ve been told again and again, at least since the Clinton years, that character doesn’t matter for our elected officials.
The problem with this is that character does matter—quite a bit, actually.
Our leaders are corrupt to the core—and that’s not just the ones who are in violation of our laws, which have been crafted in order to allow staggering amounts of corruption to be done legally. The families of politicians are given plum jobs and paid ridiculous sums of money in order to gain influence with legislators. Government earmarks that aid campaign contributors or family members of Congress are common. Chrysler has even been handed over to Barack Obama’s union allies in broad daylight. Ethics have become the very last consideration for our government and perhaps it’s no surprise given the state of our society.
Civility is dead and buried. We have people protesting funerals and the private residences of citizens. There are perverted gay parades in the streets of San Francisco. The most grotesque, blasphemous, and offensive material imaginable is regularly displayed on the internet and TV and we are drenched in sex from the time we get up until the time we go to bed.
As a replacement for actual human decency and morality, we’ve turned to political correctness and bloodless legalisms, neither of which is an adequate replacement for doing the right thing because it’s principled or virtuous.
The corrosive effects of this decline are seen not just in our government, but all throughout our society in the size of our prison population, the number of unmarried women having children, drug use, school shootings, and even our staggering abortion rate.
Without bold pushiness David would have stayed with his sheep, but we need to realize that his “go” stemmed from his profound assurance in God. His “go” and his faith were potent. We are not told how David acquired his assured faith in God but it was motivating power feeding his own natural disposition. Without faith what he did would have been blind presumption. That explains so much of David’s story. David said, “By my God I can scale a wall” (2 Samuel 22:30). That is the man of God every time, all through history, all around the globe … “by my God, I can”. Some have “go” but no faith. Whatever our energies, without faith it is impossible to please God. Gumption and trust are the two feet of those that walk with God.