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Much has happened this week involving the cultural climate of our country. I’ll give my take on some of the bigger stories, as well as offer some interesting articles that I recently read.

Here we go!

1. ‘Culture of Death’ proceeds to influence U.S. Senate, society

In 1995, Pope John Paul II used the term “Culture of Death” in an address, presenting concerns of abortion as an individual right.

He declared, “Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable.”

“Gradually,” the former pope said 14 years ago. Fast forward to this week and see where the accepted view of abortion progressed to basically include a true form of infanticide.

I’m specifically talking about this week’s U.S. Senate ruling against the Born Alive Abortion Survivor’s Protection Act. The bill was described as requiring the healthcare practitioner “To exercise the same degree of professional skill, care and diligence to preserve the life and health of the child, as he or she would to any other child born alive at the same gestational age.”

This all has to do with mindset. Want to know why it’s so difficult to eliminate entirely the practice of abortion? Because there are those in society, especially among elected officials, who believe the reason for opposing abortion is to “control women.” These misguided people will aggressively defend this flawed view to the point of defending the practice of putting to death a baby who overcame a failed abortion.

National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis summarized the Senate’s ruling correctly: “To oppose the bill would reveal the ghastly, consistent principle of the abortion-rights movement — that a child’s rights depend not on her size or location, but on whether she is wanted by her mother.”

It’s that simple, yet it’s not that easy to overcome. Albert Mohler’s opening point on the Feb. 26 edition of The Briefing is an excellent dialogue.

“The pro-abortion movement is actually becoming an extended satire on Alice in Wonderland,” Mohler said. “Words don’t matter. Arguments are thrown at the air. It is simply a matter of making every desperate argument against a pro-life bill imaginable. Even in this case when we’re not talking about pre-natal life, we’re not talking about human life in the womb, we’re talking about a baby that has unquestionably been born alive, even in the context of a botched abortion.”

2. Russ offers parental advice to Denver dad

This topic is a little deflated considering the Oklahoma City Thunder are not doing well at this point. But I will still give credence to Russell Westbrook who took a moment during the Thunder’s game at Denver this week to help a dad sitting courtside with his son. The young boy intentionally made contact with Westbrook in the middle of the contest, so the Thunder point guard stopped to tell the dad he needed to take better care of his son and not let him interfere with the game.

A few critics bashed Westbrook (the same ones who criticize him about everything), but many commended him. I don’t know exactly what he said to the dad, but you could see he offered a friendly handshake to the boy. I also noticed that ushers came up after Russ’ little talk to confront the courtside fans, so it appears he wasn’t the only one who was concerned about the incident.

Westbrook has his issues, and they are well documented. There are things he does I wish he would not do, but I do know he intends to come across as a family man, and he cherishes his children.

Videos are shown of Russ bringing his little man, Noah, with him to pre-game workouts. I saw him with Noah in the stands during an Oklahoma City Blue (Thunder’s G-League team) game. He also teared up during an interview when he was asked about his newborn twin girls.

His critics have legitimate arguments to make about Russ’ flaws. But to find fault in him offering constructive criticism to a father—especially while he is in the middle of a game and when he is in ultra-competitive mode (meaning, I think he showed some restraint)—I think that reveals the flaws of his critics.

3. More parental instruction

WordSlingers blogger Ryan Smith has a great post this week on how to have family worship time with young children. Check out “Family Worship Is Hard—And Worth it.”

One of my favorite lines in Ryan’s blog is about a parent singing worship songs with kids. “You may not be able to carry a tune but don’t worry,” he said. “Your kids don’t need you to be a great singer; they need you to be a faithful parent.”

4. Historic Methodist moment involving homosexuality

I learned a lot about the history of the Methodist Church this week. This is due to what is considered “Church History Made Before Our Eyes,” as Mohler wrote in response to a monumental decision made during a special General Conference of the United Methodist Church. A rather close vote among UMC leaders determined that the denomination will uphold the biblical teaching of the church regarding marriage and sexuality. The final vote, as Mohler reported, was 438-384 or 53 percent to 47 percent.

Obviously, this is contradictory to how society is trending. Also, this undoubtedly will lead to a major split among the denomination. One fascinating observation was how church representatives outside the United States, specifically from Africa and the Philippines, greatly factored in the voting result.

Regarding the social trend, I blogged about this five years ago, how we as a society have gone from tolerance to approval to acceptance as far as the expected way to view homosexuality. If you are not in the “acceptance” camp, you are considered a hateful person.

Not only is the UMC’s vote to uphold the teaching of biblical marriage and sexuality historic, it is also counter-cultural by today’s standards.

5. A New Day with Greenway at Southwestern Seminary

Adam Greenway was approved this week to be the new president of Southwestern Seminary. Board members elected the former dean at Southern Seminary on Feb. 27, and Greenway, according to Baptist Press, does not intend to make a replica of his former workplace.

“I have no intention of trying to come and trying to create a miniaturized version of Southern or a caricature of Southern here,” Greenway said. “I do not believe that Southwestern needs to import another institution’s legacy. We simply need to reinvigorate and retell the great legacy and history of this seminary for a new generation.”

He pointed out that Southwestern has a heritage of bringing people together who may have differences of opinion on secondary theological matter but are committed to fulfilling the Great Commission and supporting the local church, missions, evangelism, preaching and pastoral ministry.

It sounds like Greenway knows how to lead well in his new post.

6. International packing

For three consecutive years I made travel excursions outside of the United States. This was quite a big deal for me considering I’ve never left North America (except for one trip to Mexico in high school) until I was 44.

In 2016, I went on a mission trip to Paris, France (no, not Texas). In 2017, my wife and I celebrated our 10th anniversary by visiting Ireland, which was one of my favorite trips of my life, and I hope to return there some day and spend a week in Killarney.

Last year, I made a rather impromptu visit (meaning it was decided in less than three months) to South Africa to work the NBA Africa Game. This whirlwind experience lasted less than three days, but I can now say I’ve been to Africa.

Since I’m such the world traveler, I found a great read about how to pack with safety in mind for international travels. Many of these tips I’ve heard before, but they are great suggestions to consider. If you are planning to travel abroad for your first time, consider this blog a good resource.