TODAY: Hurricane Sandy slams into the Northeastern Atlantic coastline, Halloween turns grisly for children, some churches push “Souls to the Polls,” and Thomas Friedman tries to redefine “pro-life.” I discuss all these in today’s edition of The Briefing: A Daily Analysis of News and Events from a Christian Worldview.
“Think big.” Those were the words of Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, as Hurricane Sandy hit the New Jersey coast. But mid-day Monday, effects of the storm were hitting much of the Northeast and the Mid-Atlantic states. By the time Sandy hit the coastline, arriving very near to Atlantic City, the storm was pushing 90 mph sustained winds.
In New York City, public transit came to a halt. Early this morning, The New York Times posted startling photographs showing water pouring through subway doors and into the construction site at Ground Zero. Elsewhere in Manhattan, a 90-story construction crane threatened to crash into the streets below. Over a million school children are out of school in New York City alone, and over 12,000 flights have already been canceled.
At 2:24 this morning, officials reported that at least twelve persons had already died as a result of the storm. As morning dawned, 5.7 million people had no electrical power.
Even with all the warnings, many resisted calls to evacuate. The New York Times reported that gamblers stayed in the Atlantic City casinos until the very last minute, evidently as reckless with their lives as with their money.
Most Christians can do little more than pray at the moment, but opportunities for relief and assistance will surely come in the aftermath of the storm.
Forecasters predict considerable damage and dangerous weather as the storm continues to pummel the region. As of Monday, meteorologists were estimating that the storm would be the most dangerous of the last 100 years and insurance officials warned that the total damage could exceed that of Hurricane Katrina.
The issue of Halloween also remained in view, as new reports of the sexualization of young girls followed yesterday’s review of the issue. The “adultification” of Halloween is bad enough for adults, but even far worse for children and teenagers.
Writing at the Huffington Post, Jessica Samakow described one mother’s shock after seeing costumes intended for young girls:
“What she wasn’t expecting was an over-abundance of “sexy” costumes for girls as young as 2. During her shopping trip, she took pictures of those that most offended her sensibilities, including a “little black dress” for preschoolers, pleather “fire chief” costume with knee-high boots made to fit a 4-year-old, and a tween “delinquent devil.”
Samakow then wrote this, describing the efforts of some parents to resist the trend:
“HuffPost blogger, David Valdes Greenwood is trying too, telling his 4-year-old daughter she couldn’t dress up as Madonna one Halloween. ‘Until she is old enough to have a more mature understanding of the messages that can sent by what she wears and how she looks, it our job to help her understand what is (or isn’t) appropriate and why,’ he wrote.”
The obvious question here is how a 4-year-old becomes so acquainted with Madonna that she would want to dress up like her. That should serve as a sufficient warning to parents about the dangerous intrusion of popular culture into the lives of children. Parents who allow 4-year-old girls to admire Madonna should not be surprised that they want to dress up like her.
On the same theme, Melissa Rayworth of the Associated Press reports that the slasher movie culture has now invaded the world of childhood costumes. She wrote:
“Prepare yourself this Halloween for a procession of pint-sized trick-or-treaters like none you’ve encountered before. If the companies that gamble on offering the right mix of costumes are correct, visitors to your doorstep will include a grisly array of waist-high killer clowns brandishing blood-soaked machetes, deranged convicts and zombie ninjas armed with knives.”
The article notes the turn to the “grisly” for children’s costumes — some sized for preschoolers. Cynthia Edwards of Meredith College in North Carolina warned: “Part of the thrill of Halloween for little kids is that you put on a costume and you become the thing. If you dress up as a fairy princess or a pilot, you are a fairy princess or a pilot for a couple of hours. But that’s when you get to the question, If you dress up as a really horrible thing, what is the kids’ perception of that?”
I then talk about churches and political involvement in light of the “Souls to the Polls” event last Sunday in many African-American churches in Florida cities. As I explain, your worldview will inform your political involvement, no matter what that worldview may be.
Finally, I turn to consider Thomas L. Friedman’s announcement that he is “pro-life.” As it turns out, The influential columnist for The New York Times is attempting to redefine the term “pro-life,” arguing that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is actually the most pro-life political figure in America. Bloomberg is pro-abortion, but he is an advocate for public health — right down to mandating the serving sizes of soft drinks in his city.
The real problem with Friedman’s column, however, comes as he accuses the Republican Party of extremism on the issue of abortion.
Consider these words:
“These were not slips of the tongue. These are the authentic voices of an ever-more-assertive far-right Republican base that is intent on using uncompromising positions on abortion to not only unseat more centrist Republicans — Mourdock defeated the moderate Republican Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana in the primary — but to overturn the mainstream consensus in America on this issue. That consensus says that those who choose to oppose abortion in their own lives for reasons of faith or philosophy should be respected, but those women who want to make a different personal choice over what happens with their own bodies should be respected, and have the legal protection to do so, as well.”
Note carefully that Friedman claims that the “mainstream consensus” on abortion in America is that women who choose an abortion are to be respected and offered legal protection. This generalized statement is not sustained even by recent polling, such as that undertaken by the Gallup organization. The Gallup survey indicated widespread support for restrictions on abortion, though not for its criminalization or total elimination.
We all live with the danger that we define our own positions and views as mainstream, but you can be virtually certain that the opinion pages of The New York Times do not represent the mainstream when it comes to abortion or any number of issues.