Signs and Wonders
Associated Press/Photo by Charles Krupa (file)

Signs and Wonders: Words and meanings, Bible viewing, atheist ads, pro-abort reset


Naming the animals. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, He told him to “name the animals.” What we call things is important. We passed important cultural milestones when a “sodomite” became a “homosexual,” and when a “homosexual” became “gay.” That’s why James Emery White said the latest version of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary tells us a lot about where we are, culturally speaking: “I’ve long felt that changes in language are one of the more telling signs of culture. For example, how you describe something can shape an entire cultural debate. ‘Gun control’ is not popular, but ‘gun violence prevention’ is—as is ‘gun rights.’ ‘Oil drilling’ isn’t as appealing as ‘energy exploration.’ ‘Progressive’ is more appealing than ‘liberal.’” White noted that the new dictionary “now includes such new words as ‘sexting’ and ‘F-bomb.’” Even more important than the inclusion of these new words is the re-definition of such old words and expressions as “tolerance” and “freedom of religion.” He concluded, rightly, I think, “The more I reflect on the impact of these new meanings to old words, the more adding new ones like “F-bomb” seems trivial.”

Bible ratings. One of the big stories at this week’s National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville is the ratings success of the History Channel’s new TV miniseries The Bible. It drew huge numbers with its debut Sunday night. The first two-hour installment attracted at least 14.8 million viewers—more than any other program that evening. Four more episodes of The Bible will be broadcast each Sunday night this month. The series was a labor of love for actress Roma Downey of Touched by an Angel fame and Mark Burnett, producer of reality TV shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race. The couple said in a statement: “We’ve been working on this project for the past four years now, and are deeply honored to be given this once-in-a-generation opportunity to breathe new visual life into the Bible’s profound stories.”

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Hate speech? A Dallas pastor is the target of a new billboard campaign by the American Atheists. According to the CBS affiliate in Dallas, “The national atheist group put up more than a half dozen billboards in Texas on Monday as part of its ‘Go Godless Instead’ campaign to promote its upcoming national convention in Austin.” The billboards feature quotes taken out of context from Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Rick Santorum, and First Baptist Dallas Pastor Robert Jeffress. For example, the billboard featuring the Dallas pastor uses a statement he made during a sermon about homosexuality. It reads, “What they (homosexuals) do is filthy.” The Rev. Jeffress said that the quote was accurate, but not complete: “The fact is, the Bible does teach that homosexual acts are unnatural. They go against nature, but the Bible also says all of us do things that are filthy in God’s eyes.”

More than a makeover. My father is fond of saying, “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, but with enough money you can sure dress up a pig.” That’s what’s happening over at the nation’s oldest pro-abortion groups. It’s undergoing a makeover in an attempt to appeal to a younger audience. The group has a new, younger president, Ilyse Hogue, 43. She hopes to rejuvenate the amount of money the organization spends on lobbying and in campaigns. Roll Call reports, “Some worry the movement has lost the gusto of its early days—and its clout on Capitol Hill. NARAL Pro-Choice America, a politically active nonprofit, spent $1.7 million in the 2012 cycle, up from slightly more than $500,000 in 2010, but NARAL’s political action committee contributed just less than $750,000 to Democratic candidates in 2012, continuing a steady decline from 2004 when it spent $3 million. Hogue, well-known in liberal Washington circles for her social-media savvy and fundraising acumen, could help boost the group’s electoral presence.”

Warren Cole Smith
Warren Cole Smith

Warren is vice president of mission advancement for The Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the host of WORLD Radio’s Listening In. Follow Warren on Twitter @WarrenColeSmith.


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