Atheistic De-Baptism

A recent late-night news program called “Nightline” reported that a group of atheists held a “de-baptizing” ceremony for fellow non-believers who were baptized as infants. According to a Fox News article, a guy named Edwin Kagin (co-founder with his late wife of this bizzare secular kids camp called “Camp Quest“) stood at the front of the room, dressed in monk regalia and chanting fake Latin, and “de-baptized” his followers with a blow dryer.

According to the show, Kagin was yelling, “Come forward now and receive the spirit of hot air that taketh away the stigma and taketh away the remnants of the stain of baptismal water.”

How lame. And further: How sad.

First, Kagin is taking a sacred Christian ritual and defacing it on television. It’s graffiti of the worst kind. I wish he had some idea of what he was doing, because if there is such a thing as a modern-day “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” described in Matthew 12 (and I’m skeptical about typical interpretations of that text, FWIW), I would imagine this would come pretty close.

But of course I would never say this to him. And that’s not even the worst part.

The deeper problem is also the sadder one. These atheists are taking Regeneration — the very thing they need the most — and spitting in the face of the one who offers it by mocking it’s symbol. I don’t mean to get into a baptism debate here, but one thing on which all Christians can agree is that baptism is a powerful, serious thing; the physical representation of a significant spiritual reality. By erasing it with a blow dryer, they do more than mock it — they harden their hearts against it. With every mock ritual and grim profaning of what is sacred, they distance themselves further from the grace and mercy offered to them by a loving God.

Imagine the scene in heaven, the weeping and sadness when they realize what they’ve done. And with the regret comes the anger — at God, his Christ, and the Holy Spirit who they mocked with blow dryers. Imagine that, and with tears, pray. Pray that their hard hearts would be broken, and they would receive the New Birth of the Spirit, undoing the “spirit of hot air” at work in them, washing over it all with the divine waters of regeneration.

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I Write Like Dan Brown

If you’re a blog junkie like me, you have probably already heard of this I Write Like website. It’s designed to take a block of your writing, analyze it, and tell you what famous writer you write like. Sounds cool, right?

So I tried it. I took a paper I wrote for a Bible class, pasted it into the box and clicked “Analyze.”

And I was super-thrilled when the program said: “I write like Dan Brown.”

You know, the Da Vinci Code guy. And this was a paper about the Gospels.

I next put in a short essay I wrote about coffee, and it said I wrote like James Joyce, so that’s cool.

Orwell on Writing

I read Orwell’s 1946 “Politics and the English Language” again today, and one of his more popular examples (it’s cited in Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, for example) again struck me.

Below:

Now that I have made this catalogue of swindles and perversions, let me give another example of the kind of writing that they lead to. This time it must of its nature be an imaginary one. I am going to translate a passage of good English into modern English of the worst sort. Here is a well-known verse from Ecclesiastes:

“I returned and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”

Here it is in modern English:

“Objective considerations of contemporary phenomena compel the conclusion that success or failure in competitive activities exhibits no tendency to be commensurate with innate capacity, but that a considerable element of the unpredictable must invariably be taken into account.”