July 19, 2006
July 21, 2006

July 20, 2006


President Bush's veto yesterday of a bill that would have expanded funding for early, or embryonic, stem cell research naturally has produced lots of reaction. For instance, Arthur Caplan, a widely known ethicist, blasted Bush in this commentary. As might be expected, the U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops, in a statement issued in anticipation of the veto, had a rather different take. Nor is it surprising to find "Human Events Online: The National Conservative Weekly," praising Bush for his veto. Similarly unsurprising was this blog entry from "Think Progress," a project of the liberal American Progress Action Fund, criticizing Bush and saying his facts are questionable. And just FYI, here's the way Baptist Press covered the veto story. It looks to me as if Bush is defending a position taken by a minority of Americans. Whether the majority can find the political will and muscle to put together a veto-proof bill, however, remains doubtful for now. (We'll see after this fall's congressional elections.) So we seem to be stuck here. If you were the monarch, what would you do?

* * *


I finally had a chance the other day to see the Al Gore (pictured here) environmental movie, "An Inconvenient Truth," and I agree that it's well worth seeing.

GoreEven if it seems a little alarmist at times (and it may well not be alarmist), it's done in a plainspeaking way that helps everyone understand what's at stake.

But partway through the movie I heard one word that sounded to me like fingernails on a blackboard, a word that almost certainly will move Christians who think of themselves as conservative to question whether Gore knows what he's talking about.

Just before a description of an African lake that has pretty much dried up in recent years, Gore described something in relation to the last book of the Bible, which he called the book of "Revelations."

I wanted to shout, "No, no. It's singular, for heaven's sake. It's Revelation."

That seems like such a nitpicky point, but it's exactly the same mistake that the U.S. Treasury and Justice Department made in their reports about the Branch Davidian crisis outside Waco, Texas, in 1993. The reports consistently added an "s" to the name of the book of Revelation. And as I wrote in a 1994 series of Kansas City Star articles about the Waco disaster, "that may seem like a small matter, but it's like trying to explain Hitler by saying you've read Mine Camp."

Al Gore grew up as a Southern Baptist. But like lots of national Democrats, he seems unable to articulate some faith matters very clearly. (Many analysts say that same failure contributed to John Kerry's loss in 2004.) Several years ago I criticized Gore in a column for joining a long list of American politicians -- from Ronald Reagan to Lyndon Johnson -- who declared, in effect, that God had selected America as a chosen nation.

Sitting in the theater, I could imagine conservative Christians hearing Gore refer to "Revelations" and saying to themselves, "Well, this guy doesn't know what he's talking about," thus dismissing much of the otherwise-excellent material in the movie.

Where were the movie's editors? Didn't they know not to add an "s" to Revelation either?

OK. End of rant.

To read my latest Kansas City Star work, click here.

P.S.: At the risk of repeating myself, thanks again to you readers who have engaged in civil discourse here in your comments in recent days. This really is a model for how to disagree without being disagreeable. And I appreciate it. Bill.


Dave Miller

"Where were the movie's editors? Didn't they know not to add an "s" to Revelation either?"

Let's see...is it "sibboleth?" Or "shibboleth?"

Sometimes a tiny sign like this can effectively discriminate between two groups. And sometimes not.

Not long ago I attended a funeral for a local clergyperson. One of the readings was from the book of "Revelations." Whatever that is. And the reader, also a clergyperson, repeated the error. No one seemed to notice.

I think the error is too common to permit it to discriminate between groups. But you certainly have my permission to let it bug you, Bill! :-)

Kansas Bob

I can't believe it Bill ... you and I have the same nitpick disorder ... especially about "Revelations" ... not sure why this bothers me but it does ... for the record the book is:

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place"


Every time a Republican ejaculates and does not fertilize and egg they are commiting murder of a future human being. You should be ashamed of yourself.

Steve S

Dismissing Al Gore's arguments on global warming because he says "Revelations" instead of "REvelation" is like ridiculing President Bush for saying nuculer instead of nuclear. It may fun and make you feel superior, but it realy is just a ploy to avoiding directly responding to their arguments.


Speaking of Revelation, I have an idea for a new movie, "An Inconvenient Judgment."

It's a movie about how God had written His law in men's hearts, and how they came to know that there was pending judgment against them for what they were doing, but they would not repent. The worry, the anxiety, the fear and the dread began to overwhelm them as the bowls were poured out, one after another, and the trumpets were sounded.

Rev 8:7
7 The first angel sounded his trumpet, and there came hail and fire mixed with blood, and it was hurled down upon the earth. A third of the earth was burned up, a third of the trees were burned up, and all the green grass was burned up.

They would yearn for death, but death would not come. It became violent as in the days of Noah, and yet people would not see that the earth would pass away in "An Inconvenient Judgment."

Coming soon to planets near you.


It's good to point out problems, no matter how small, when done kindly. Every little jot and tittle are important. The devil can be in the details or we can see God there.


About Gor: How can we take seriusly a man who cares about life on erth and our suvivel. He should think about eternal life in hevan. One of the ways to insure arrival in hevan is to kill all the other people who are not americon.


It was hotly debated whether or not to use the results of research done on the Jews by the Nazis in the concentration camps.

When we clone for body parts, can we just grow one part individually, or will it require amputation?

If we stop defending the sanctity and value of life, then our society will become hopelessly and dangerously broken.

SC in KC


The link above is to the Snowflake adoption program. They let parents "adopt" the unwanted left-over frozen embryos from fertility clinics. When those embryos are implanted and gestated they become...SURPRISE...human children. I guess the big question is, "at what point are they children?"

Herein lies the fundamental question of life and worth. Is it God that makes us human, or is it a biological process that requires some input on our part? Is the fertilized egg a human life, or just tissue until we invest three trimesters of gestation and several thousand dollars in delivery fees? Scripture answers this question emphatically in Psalm 139...

"For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
Psalm 139:13-14,16 (NIV)

It seems a shame to me to take someone "fearfully and wonderfully made" by God and relegate them to research tissue. It seems a shame to see fertility clinics profit by intentionally engineering the process to result in hundreds of thousands of "spare" embryos, which they then sell for research. It seems a shame to expect those of us who realize what an ethical travesty this constitutes to subsidize that industry with our tax dollars.


I'm not sure about this usage of "Revelations," but it could be considered colloquially correct. My impression is that southerners tend to add an "s" to certain words. For example, people in the north of the country might say "toward" while people in the south might say "towards."

Greg Swartz

I have seen personally persons suffering from diseases like Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other horrible maladies. Therefore, I am really astounded that stem cell opponents find it preferable to save cells whose futures are speculative at best, while denying these suffering individuals the possibility of a cure!

Is the life of a cell more valuable than that of your mother who is writhing uncontrollablely from Parkinson's?

Why is it okay to create these extra cells while trying to make a baby and then destroy them? Yet, if we use them to try to improve life it is improper! Where is the logic?

I see none!

SC in KC

"Is the life of a cell more valuable than that of your mother who is writhing uncontrollablely from Parkinson's?"

No, it is no more valuable. It is no less valuable, either. Furthermore, they're not "cells", any more than Mom is. They are human children that are in an extrememly vulnerable stage of development.

"Why is it okay to create these extra cells while trying to make a baby and then destroy them?"

It's not. That's the point.

Lest we forget, early stem cell research is perfectly legal in this country, though NO therapies have been developed to date based on early stem cell research. Many therapies have been developed from adult stem cell research, but early stem cell research has produced NOTHING.

What's at stake here isn't the research, but rather the money. I don't want to subsidize an ineffectual and unethical line of research with my tax dollar. If you think it's a worthy cause, then by all means feel free to donate your own money to the effort.

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