For Tonight’s Debate, Use #youngcons on Twitter

If you’re so inclined, use the hashtag code #youngcons on Twitter while Tweeting in Twitteresque ways about the second presidential debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

A bunch of, well, young conservatives used this hashtag for the VP debate and saw a major response.  It may just crack the Twitter top ten tonight, and that might inspire visions of global domination.  You never know (not that one wants to aim too high or anything).

Here are a couple of Christianity Today pieces I wrote recently on Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, by the way.  And here’s a very good one from my buddy Denny Burk on the importance of bringing pro-life convictions to bear on voting.  Evangelical conservatives are of course “whole life” advocates–we wish for holistic human flourishing at all stages of life.  But to get to all the stages of life, of course, one has to exist, and not be killed in the womb.

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Things You Should Agree With: Rondo Is the NBA’s Best Point Guard

My favorite NBA point guard, Rajon Rondo, just got a glossy spread in Boston Common magazine.  I am fond of Boston Common for many reasons, not least because it is the location of Park Street Church in Boston, the church my dissertation subject, Harold John Ockenga, led for 33 years.

But Ockenga is gone now, and Boston has a new stylish leader: Rondo.  He’s the NBA’s best point guard.  He can dominate the game without scoring.  I think he’s poised to have a big year.  Here’s a bit about Rondo:

Rondo’s résumé includes plenty of impressive statistics, but a point guard in the NBA is never defined purely by numbers. At Rondo’s position you can have a great game and not necessarily score a lot of points, and he’ll be the first to say it. “It’s always the whole package,” he says. “Some fans look at a point guard and say he had 26 points, seven assists, and eight rebounds, and they’ll say he had a great game. But there is a lot of talent in the NBA, and eventually that talent catches up with you. The mental game is where it’s at. I would say the game is 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical, for me at least. What separates great players from good ones is performing consistently. I can dominate the game in any number of ways, not just with the numbers.”

People can judge point guards by assessing passing, scoring, defense, and a slew of other things, but Rondo takes it a little further. “My definition of what a good point guard is might be different from what some others might think,” he says. “I’ll give you an example: If [head coach] Doc Rivers gets thrown out, I can run the team for the rest of the game. I know what plays to call, what sets to call, or when to call time outs. It’s more than keeping track of the score. There is so much more going on that you take for granted on any given night, and there are only so many guys who can run a team when you don’t have a coach. In that category I think I am the best at what I do.” Rondo has the rare ability to see the big picture while still focusing on the details of his own game.

Read the whole thing.  This is valuable information, people.  The Celtics matter, and I say that without any of the bias that would accrue to a New England native who grew up in the halcyon days that were the Bird era.

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Why Joe Biden and Kobe Bryant (!) Showed Poor Leadership

Last night, in the Vice Presidential debate, Vice President Joe Biden had this to say about the recent debacle in Libya which culminated in the horrifying killing of a U. S. Ambassador with barely a whisper from executive office (full transcript here):

RADDATZ: What were you first told about the attack? Why — why were people talking about protests? When people in the consulate first saw armed men attacking with guns, there were no protesters. Why did that go on (inaudible)?

BIDEN: Because that was exactly what we were told by the intelligence community. The intelligence community told us that. As they learned more facts about exactly what happened, they changed their assessment. That’s why there’s also an investigation headed by Tom Pickering, a leading diplomat from the Reagan years, who is doing an investigation as to whether or not there are any lapses, what the lapses were, so that they will never happen again.

RADDATZ: And they wanted more security there.

BIDEN: Well, we weren’t told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again. And by the way, at the time we were told exactly — we said exactly what the intelligence community told us that they knew. That was the assessment. And as the intelligence community changed their view, we made it clear they changed their view.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around these words.  A sitting Vice President of America blames the intelligence community on what happened in Libya?  Perhaps intelligence was lacking–that’s way above my pay grade.  But this blame-shifting seems problematic.

In my view, a good leader takes the blame and spreads the credit.  A bad leader spreads the blame and takes the credit.  Surely there is complexity in major matters of state, just like there is in business, spiritual life, and elsewhere.  But at the end of the day, a virtuous leader will fall on the grenade.  He won’t pass it to others.

The emblem of this kind of others-centered leadership is Jesus Christ.  In the most profound metaphysical way, he took our blame and gave us his merit (see Romans 4-5).  This is the image of leadership that animates us as Christians.  It changes the way we move and act and inspire and repent.  We are those who are free to acknowledge our sin, our failing, because God has been lavish with his grace, and nothing can separate us from it.

For those of you who like basketball, here’s an interesting parallel.  Now that Steve Nash, 2005-06 NBA MVP, is on the Lakers (swallowing bile now), Kobe Bryant–alpha male of alpha males–took the opportunity to tell Nash that he won his trophy because Bryant was playing with subpar teammates: “I tell Steve, you won MVP but I was playing with Smush Parker,” he said.  This is a perfect illustration of what we’re discussing here.  Never mind that Kobe is the NBA’s worst proponent of “hero ball” (and not terribly good at it, statistically) and that he is nursing wounds from six years ago despite the fact that he has won five rings, been MVP, and Nash has won no championships.  He has the temerity to dog an ex-teammate (one who, granted, didn’t play very hard) nearly a decade later.

So kids: don’t be like Kobe.  Actually, all of us can learn from these two examples of poor leadership.  Fathers can lead with humility, confessing their sin; business leaders don’t have to project invincibility; even professors (uh oh!) can show their students that they don’t know everything, and that that’s okay.  Humility, after all, is not weakness.  It is strength, much as the world–and major debates–say otherwise.

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Theology Is for Life: A Video on RC Sproul’s Granddaughter

Last week I linked to a blog remembering Shannon Macfarlane Sproul, granddaughter of theologian R. C. Sproul.  Included in the Ligonier Ministries memoriam by Chris Larson was a link to a video from Joni Eareckson Tada’s award-winning tv show, “Joni and Friends.”  The show explored the rich theology behind the care R. C. Sproul, Jr. (Shannon’s father) and his family gave to Shannon.

You may have seen this last week or previously, but if you haven’t, I cannot commend it strongly enough.  I don’t know the Sprouls personally, but I became theologically mature in substantial part thanks to a dear friend who in God’s mysterious grace got hold of R. C. Sproul’s rich biblical teaching.  I am therefore grateful for Dr. Sproul and his family, and though I do not know them, like many young evangelicals today I feel kinship with them because of how God used R. C. Sproul to shepherd thousands and thousands of the “young, restless and reformed” like myself through Ligonier Ministry.  If you are not familiar with this ministry and their huge treasure-trove of free online resources, by all means avail yourself.

This video is remarkable on two counts: firstly because it shows how the gospel shapes a family, including one in a situation many people avoid today through abortion and other means.  They see, in other words, children as a curse, and not an inestimable blessing from God as Scripture says.  Children in the biblical mind are a “reward,” not a penalty! If we do not feel this from texts like Psalm 127, whether as an unbeliever or as a believer, then let us joyfully receive this good word from the Lord.

Secondly, this video is remarkable because it relates how important biblical theology truly is.  So often–so very, very often–you hear evangelicals speak as if theology is somewhere way up there in the clouds.  You only go up there if you like soaring in the the theostratosphere, as if you’re some sort of wacky doctrinal test pilot.  But while we can bury our heads in books, I think that perspective is, well, wrong.  (This video, by the way, of Ligon Duncan’s 2008 Together for the Gospel message is earth-moving.  On the essential nature of “sound doctrine,” it is perhaps the most personally influential conference message I have heard.  And no, I am not going Presbyterian!)

This “Joni and Friends” video shows that the sovereignty of God, one of the most ineffable realities there is, has empowered this family to live a doxological and sacrificial life together.  This continues today, as both Shannon and her mother, Denise, have gone on to glory.

Watch this video.  You will come away profoundly moved.  You will see what God intends for the Bible and theology and truth to do: to transform us, and to make us agents of his grace to the needy for his glory.  Even in the worst suffering, God deserves the fullest trust of our hearts.  He is, after all, carrying out a plan that will soon come to completion.  Through the descent of a conqueror, it will resolve every hurt, every tragedy, every pain.

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Trailer from the New Lincoln Movie

This looks quite interesting.  Early reviews are strong.  Daniel Day-Lewis’s “Lincoln voice” took me aback (though I love his skill).  I can’t make up my mind if he is so “in the skin” of Lincoln that I’m stunned by the full transformation or if he’s acting so much like an actor trying to be an auteur-actor that I can’t help but notice his very acting-oriented acting.

A thoroughly underappreciated Day-Lewis movie, by the way, is The Boxer.  Sparse, poetic, raw, pained, hopeful.  I don’t love boxing as a sport, but perhaps because of the raw manhood on display in such movies, directors and actors seem to allow themselves to explore the complexity of life in boxing films.  But I digress.

Hey, while we’re off and rolling, two months to The Hobbit, everybody.  I watch this trailer multiple times each week just for the mournful song sung by Sorin Oakenshield.

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