Earlier this year I attended the International Christian Retail Show in Atlanta, an annual gathering of authors, speakers, and publishers from around the world. When I heard that my pastor, Dr. Charles Stanley, was doing a book signing in the conference exhibit hall, I sheepishly showed up. "I promise I'm not stalking you," I told him with a giggle. "I just came by to cheer you on."
If ever I start to get overly skeptical about humanity, I just need to show up to a Dr. Stanley book signing and watch as long lines of people tell him their stories of how his messages have impacted their lives and helped transform their relationships with the Lord. As I stood back and observed loyal listeners and readers light up when it was their turn to shake his hand, I teared up and thanked God that I had been given the immense privilege of sitting under his preaching and teaching for my entire life. "Thanks for letting me be part of the fan club," I whispered to Phillip Bowen, the CEO of In Touch Ministries, Stanley's broadcast organization. "You're part of the family," Bowen responded.
In that moment I was reminded of how First Baptist Atlanta has been more than just my church for the past 30 years. It is indeed my family. And Dr. Stanley has been more than just the pastor. He has been my pastor. Today, as he turns 82 years old, Dr. Stanley remains like a grandfather in the faith to me and countless others who have been personally shaped by his ministry over the years. more >>
In an interview with a Nick Hahn, conservative columnist George Will admitted frankly that he is an atheist.
"An agnostic is someone who is not sure; I'm pretty sure," Will said. "I see no evidence of God." He recalled that his father was also an atheist, having rejected the beliefs of his own Lutheran minister father. Will himself studied religion in college but granted, "I'm an amiable, low-voltage atheist," although his wife and their children are "fierce Presbyterians."
I've enjoyed and admired Will since I was age 11, when I saw him comment on the Gerald Ford/Jimmy Carter 1976 presidential race, and thereafter read his columns religiously. Across 40 years he's remained one of the most insightful minds among U.S. commentators. He's also amiably grumpy, which often signals unbelief in a personal transcendent authority. more >>
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary General, fellow delegates, ladies and gentlemen: We come together at a crossroads between war and peace; between disorder and integration; between fear and hope.
Around the globe, there are signposts of progress. The shadow of World War that existed at the founding of this institution has been lifted, and the prospect of war between major powers reduced. The ranks of member states has more than tripled, and more people live under governments they elected. Hundreds of millions of human beings have been freed from the prison of poverty, with the proportion of those living in extreme poverty cut in half. And the world economy continues to strengthen after the worst financial crisis of our lives.
Today, whether you live in downtown Manhattan or in my grandmother's village more than 200 miles from Nairobi, you can hold in your hand more information than the world's greatest libraries. Together, we've learned how to cure disease and harness the power of the wind and the sun. The very existence of this institution is a unique achievement -- the people of the world committing to resolve their differences peacefully, and to solve their problems together. I often tell young people in the United States that despite the headlines, this is the best time in human history to be born, for you are more likely than ever before to be literate, to be healthy, to be free to pursue your dreams. more >>
The Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, appeared at an hour-long on-the-record event at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York yesterday afternoon. The complete — if not entirely coherent — transcript of the English-language simultaneous translation can be found here. I attended the meeting along with many other members (so many attended that an overflow room was needed) and I offer some responses and reflections about him:
The Council hosts its fair share of heads of state and government, all of whom arrive surrounded by bodyguards and aides, but Erdogan had a far more massive entourage than any I'd ever seen; by my estimate, they numbered 35, nearly all of them young men in dark suits. Odder yet, they took up the first three rows, where they sat spellbound to their leader's every word, as though they had never heard any of it before. Even before he spoke, then, the profusion of fluttering staffers conveyed an aura of grandiosity — as was no doubt their intended purpose.
The Council rarely permits teleprompters but Erdogan relied on one, although it's unclear why it was necessary, given that he spoke in Turkish and gave his standard attack-dog speech berating many of Turkey's neighbors and going after such current favorite targets as Fethullah Gülen, the Moody's and Fitch credit-rating agencies, and The New York Times. more >>
I'm amused when liberals like Slate's John Dickerson respond to the revelation of Hillary's fawning correspondence with Saul Alinsky by claiming that it's impossible to be both an out-of-touch super-rich person and a leftist ideologue. Hasn't anyone ever heard of George Soros, Tom Steyer, or Hollywood? Hillary's many defenders ask how a 43-year-old letter can be politically relevant. By itself, it can't.
As I noted the other day, however, Hillary's Alinsky correspondence does serve as a useful reminder of what we ought to know but have forgotten: Hillary has long stood to the left of Bill. More than 20 years after she corresponded with Alinsky, Hillary emerged as the leader of the Democratic Left, pressuring Bill on both policy and tactics from within the White House. This is the story Hillary's defenders don't want to address. There is a continuous line from Hillary's Alinskyite past to her co-presidential leftism. And that little eight-year episode followed Hillary's clueless cattle-futures days, and coincided with a scandal over renting out the Lincoln Bedroom to wealthy, corporate donors.
Neither before nor after her co-presidency has Hillary's hobnobbing with corporate fat cats derailed her leftist aims. And now everything from the state of her party to the way Obama has governed conspires to draw that longstanding leftism out. Should she return to the White House, Hillary will complete Obama's program and like it. She'll be back at the top, but "Clintonism" won't. Even Bill will adapt himself to his party's more leftward tilt, while any remaining differences with Hillary resurrect the co-presidential chaos of the Nineties. more >>
U.S. President Barack Obama called on global leaders at the United Nations General Assembly in New York Wednesday to help him defeat ISIS and stop religious extremism after highlighting some of the atrocities committed by Islamic terrorist group ISIS and declaring "no God condones this terror."
"It is no exaggeration to say that humanity's future depends on us uniting against those who would divide us along fault lines of tribe or sect; race or religion," said Obama in his address that was televised to the nation. "This is not simply a matter of words. Collectively, we must take concrete steps to address the danger posed by religiously motivated fanatics, and the trends that fuel their recruitment," he continued.
"The terrorist group known as ISIL must be degraded, and ultimately destroyed. This group has terrorized all who they come across in Iraq and Syria," he noted. more >>