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Some things percolating in The MonT-SteR’s head:

  • Thank God that Gustav is weaker than expected and not drowning New Orleans.
  • Barack Obama won the Democratic nomination for President. Politics aside, when you consider that Jim Crow laws were in effect less than a decade before Your One and Only Favorite MonT-SteR™ was born (and I’m a thirty-something Gen-Xer), you have to admit that we’ve come a long way. Obama may not be the best choice for President (in my estimation, he’s most certainly not), but it’s a good day in America when an African-American has the opportunity to be the best choice in the first place. Congrats to him, and to our entire nation. It really is an important landmark.
  • Since McCain’s “Meet Sarah Palin” rally on Friday, Gov. Palin has come under intense fire from liberal bloggers who alleged that her 4-month-old son, Trig, is not her baby. They went so far as to say that Palin faked her own pregnancy in order to cover up her oldest daughter’s out-of-wedlock pregnancy. Photos showing a trim looking Gov. Palin (despite being 7 mos. pregnant) and her daughter, Bristol Palin, with a “baby bump” during the same time frame have been cited as “proof” of this conspiratorial thinking.

    My first instinct was to dismiss this stuff as the typical bilge that is gleefully spewed by venomous left-wing blogs. It turns out, however, that at least one element of the story is true: Bristol Palin is pregnant out of wedlock. According to a statement released by the Palins today to quell the rumors, Bristol has opted to keep the baby and marry the father.

    Some leftists online are breathlessly touting this as the archetypal failure of conservative parenting and abstinence-only education — an unwarranted logical leap that is borne of ideological allegiance rather than evidence. This can happen to the best of parents, and it’s ridiculous to suggest that only conservative parents would be distressed by such a development.

    Others are drooling over the prospect that this essentially kills McCain’s chances in November. Admittedly, it is an interesting question. How is this going to play with values voters who were energized by Palin’s addition to the McCain ticket? Michelle Maulkin over at Hot Air has echoed a thought I had. The Palin family’s handling of this situation is a stark contrast to Obama’s rhetoric, which views babies born to teenage mothers as unnecessary “punishment” that abortion conveniently remedies. That should be encouraging to pro-lifers — it demonstrates that the Palin family shares and holds to pro-life values, even under gut-wrenching circumstances.

    How does The MonT-SteR feel about all this? Not entirely sure. I can sympathize with the Palins, and recognize that children have the freedom to make choices that fly in the face of loving, consistent parenting. Part of me wishes they had been up front about it, but what family out there wouldn’t want to keep something like this as quiet and private as possible? Even so, it appears that the pregnancy was no secret back in Alaska. According to a Time article, residents of Sarah Palin’s hometown, Wasilla, were aware of the whole thing and yet unruffled by it:

    If you haven’t guessed yet, the people here [in Wasilla] are genuinely friendly. Even those in Palin’s inner sanctum who have been told since Friday not to talk to reporters by McCain’s media team, are almost apologetic that they can’t be neighborly and chat, since you came all this way to little Wasilla. And those who can talk, do. All weekend they had the decency not to pretend that they didn’t know the governor’s eldest daughter was pregnant. But they also expected decency in return, that I wouldn’t be the kind of person to make sport out of a young girl’s slip.

    This indicates that there was no attempt at some dastardly cover-up by the Palins. It also means that the so-called Kossacks over at Daily Kos who started this flap should be ashamed of themselves for 1) jumping to unfounded conclusions based on their own judgmental hearts and wishful thinking, and 2) rudely delving into intensely sensitive and private family matters in order to score ill-gotten political points.

    As for me, I’m inclined to like Sarah Palin. I don’t think this episode disqualifies her from being the veep candidate at all. But, I continue to hold a “wait and see” posture before I jump entirely on the bandwagon. I like what I’ve seen so far, but I want to get a better idea of what she’ll bring to the ticket. Hopefully, it isn’t additional baggage. In any case, my prayers are with her and her family as they weather a difficult time under heavy scrutiny by an unfriendly and biased mainstream media.

    We’ll just have to wait and see how this unfolds, and what the average American voter thinks of all this. It’ll be interesting to see the fallout in the daily tracking polls.

  • The Lakeland Revival appears to have suffered something of an implosion, leaving in its wake troubling questions about Todd Bentley and the leaders who gave oversight to the movement. I mention this as someone who watched some of the Lakeland meetings via God TV, and was undeniably touched by the presence of God. In addition, a number of respected friends and acquaintances traveled to Lakeland to attend the meetings in person and brought back wonderful testimonies of genuine encounters with the Living God. While I acknowledge the hand of God in Lakeland, there were some things I observed about the meetings and the church’s reaction to them that made me uneasy. For the sake of brevity, I shan’t enumerate them here — it’ll have to wait for another post.

    I had reserved comment on this for awhile, because I wanted to explore my questions and misgivings more thoroughly with God before making any statements; I don’t level criticisms at what appears to be a move of God lightly. In contrast, Christians of certain stripes didn’t have any hesitation about denouncing both Todd Bentley and the apparent outpouring at Lakeland, asserting that it was all unbiblical at best, downright demonic at worst. Others, such as Dr. Gary Greig (whom I also respect), found almost unqualified scriptural warrant and sanction of the entire affair. I actually planned to interact with Greig’s statement on my blog, and will probably do so in the near future. Those who waved off his defense of Lakeland as “pseudo-scholarship” were too dismissive. Dr. Greig is most certainly not a pseudo-scholar. Nevertheless, I felt that some of his thinking was problematic, and I think it needs to be highlighted from the perspective of a reasoned, fellow charismatic (as opposed to smug hyper-cessationists looking for a theological axe to grind with Pharisaical gusto).

    For my own part, I’m in a bit of a deconstructionist phase with respect to some peripheral aspects of the Charismatic movement, which is part of the reason why I reserved comment. I encounter “novelties” in doctrine and practice so frequently these days that I can scarcely keep up with it, and the pressure to just “swallow and follow” (as J. Lee Grady puts it) is palpable. All the while, a voice in the back of my head nags, “Are we sure there’s biblical precedent for this? Besides, it seems to me that we don’t sufficiently know or practice the basics of the faith. Can we step away from the latest, fantastical stuff that comes down the pike to focus on core (and oft-neglected) aspects of Christian faith and practice?”

    I feel this way in part because George Barna has chronicled dangerous trends within American Christendom in recent years, demonstrating that the church at large is failing at basic Christian discipleship. My own anecdotal experience in ministry has confirmed many of his findings. Given that the Charismatic/Pentecostal movement accounts for a growing number of Christians in America, it’s foolish to assume that it is immune to the problems enumerated by studies such as Barna’s.

    Perhaps the apparent denouement of the Lakeland revival (or, at least, Todd Bentley’s involvement in it) is indicative of this. In any case, I confess that I failed to do the investigative work necessary (both factually and scripturally) to make discerning pronouncements vis-a-vis Lakeland with any kind of certitude. Next time something like this comes up, I need to be more prepared to have a reasoned, biblically informed, spiritually sensitive voice.

    In the meantime, grace, mercy, and prayerfulness are prescribed as the Body of Christ walks through Lakeland’s fallout. All I know is that I’d feel terrible if I were in Todd Bentley’s shoes; the last thing I’d ever want to do is drag the name of Christ through the mud. It’s in moments like that, when our fallenness and disobedience to God catch up to us, that the enemy moves in to condemn us and crush our spirits. There are those in the church who are dancing on Bentley’s ministerial grave, and that’s a shame. I suspect that the enemy did the very same thing in the wake of Peter’s threefold denial of the Lord. Let’s not side with the enemy, brothers and sisters; if Peter could be restored by Jesus’ loving hand, so can Todd Bentley.


aka The MonT-SteR