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Cultural Commentary

Is the U.S. proposal with Iran a 'sucker's deal'?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (L) meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem November 6, 2013 (Credit: Jason Reed/Reuters)I returned last Saturday from a two-week study tour of the Holy Land to find that Israeli issues are as much in the news here as there.  As you may know, an agreement is in the works by which Iran would temporarily freeze elements of its nuclear programs in exchange for a partial easing of Western economic sanctions.

Is this hopeful progress or dangerous naïveté?

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Is America worth fighting for?

Marines kneel down beside the battlefield cross to pay their final respects to Sgt. Bradley Atwell, an aircraft electrical, instrument and flight control systems technician with Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16 who was killed in action during an attack on Camp Bastion in Afghanistan on Sep 14, during a memorial ceremony, Sep 20, 2012 (Credit: US Marines/Cpl. Mark Garcia)On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, hostilities between Allied forces and Germany ceased, bringing an end to World War I.  In 1938, November 11 was made an annual holiday; in 1954, the observance became known as "Veterans Day."

There are currently more than 1.4 million Americans on active military duty around the world, and another 850,000 on reserve duty.  They are part of the 22,658,000 who have served in our nation's military.  Each of them might have asked this question, recently posted online: "I am 16 years old and I live in the US.  I am driven towards my goal of the armed forces and joining the US Army Rangers like my father.  My question is this: is it still worth the sacrifice that I would have to make?  Are the majority of the people in the US worth fighting for?"

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The orphan epidemic--how we got here

A poor, sad litle child sitting against a concrete wall (Credit: olesiabilkei via Fotolia)Today, 5,760 children will become orphans around the world.  Another 38,493 orphans will "age out" of institutional care with no family and no place to call home.  Sixty percent of these girls will become prostitutes; 70 percent of these boys will become hardened criminals.  Since 1990, November has been declared "National Adoption Month" in America.  With more than 100,000 orphans ready for adoption in this country, and as many as 210 million orphans worldwide, this is a worthy emphasis.

Why is the number of orphans in our society so high?  What does this issue say about our culture and its future?

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Billy Graham: 'I want to leave you with truth'

In the middle of one of the busiest places on earth, a giant billboard features a quote from Billy Graham, urging people to tune in Nov. 7 to hear the Gospel message. Just weeks before his 95th birthday, Mr. Graham is telling the nation, 'With all my heart, I want to leave you with truth' (Credit: BGEA/Kristy Etheridge) Billy Graham turns 95 today.  Bill Clinton, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump have been invited to the celebration.  Who else could invite those three to the same birthday party?

Dr. Graham has preached to 2.2 billion people through events, radio and television broadcasts.  More than three million have trusted Christ as their Lord in response to his stadium events and invitations.  At the recent Dove Awards, a video tribute celebrated the evangelist's continuing ministry and effectiveness.

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Why are there so many denominations?

View of the steeples of the four churches at the intersection of Church Street, Canandaigua Street, East Main Street and West Main Street in Palmyra, New York (Credit: Jon Ridinger via were 217 American denominations listed in a recent survey.  In addition, "nondenominational churches," if grouped together, would be the second-largest Protestant group in the country with more than 12 million members.  This reader's question is a common one: "Why are there so many denominations?"

Let's begin with the 16th-century Reformation.  Martin Luther, John Calvin and the Church of England rejected anything they found within Catholic tradition which they did not consider to be biblical, such as the authority of the pope and councils.  But they kept and reinterpreted Catholic teaching which was not expressly unbiblical.  These movements are usually called "magisterial" since they were supported by the magistrates, the government leaders of the day.  Their successors in America are the "mainline" Protestant denominations such as Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopalian, and Methodist.

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