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Tidbits – March 2024

The world’s only pro-life comedian?

Nicholas De Santo is an Iranian-Italian who performs what he calls the “only pro-life stand-up act” which, he notes, also means it is “the world’s funniest pro-life stand-up act.” Here’s a good bit from a set he did at London’s Backyard Comedy Club to a very receptive audience.

“So, in the US the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and that was a serious blow to casual dating and casual sex, but it was a major victory for babies who want to live so, that’s half full. And it was a major victory for Catholic biology. Do you guys know Catholic biology? I was born in Italy; I went to Catholic school. According to Progressive biology, they say “my body, my choice” because according to Progressive biology a woman, at some points in her life, she has a second beating heart, an extra pair of kidneys, and four extra limbs. But according to Catholic biology, a woman throughout her life has only one brain, one heart, and so forth so. In other words, if you are a woman and you ever find a second beating heart in your body, it’s not your body! And if you’re a man and you ever find a second beating heart in your body, it’s not your body…and also you are not a man.”

On the point of being open-minded

“My friend said that he opened his intellect as the sun opens the fans of a palm tree, opening for opening’s sake, opening infinitely for ever. But I said that I opened my intellect as I opened my mouth, in order to shut in again on something solid.”
– G.K. Chesterton

English: that weird and wonderful language

I’ve wondered if dad jokes might be a particularly or at least especially English thing. As a mishmash of so many other languages, there’s so much potential for wordplay. Here are just a few puns and ponderables:

  • Before was was was, was was is.
  • The word queue is just a Q followed by four silent letters
  • Jail and prison mean the same thing, yet jailer and prisoner are opposites
  • You have fingertips, not toetips, and yet you can tiptoe, not tipfinger
  • How can wise man and wise guy be antonyms?
  • We have players in a recital, and reciters in a play.
  • Cough, rough, dough, bough, and through should rhyme but don’t.
  • While you can drink a drink you can’t eat an eat or food a food.
  • Your nose can run and your feet can smell!

Why English is so hard

They say Albert Einstein didn’t speak in full sentences until he was five. Maybe he just didn’t have anything to say, or perhaps learning English is hard enough to challenge even a genius. Just consider one small part of the process that, at first glance, might seem easy: creating plurals. Dog becomes dogs; cat becomes cats – it’s as easy as adding an S, right? Not so fast! Below is a part of a poem, credited only to Anonymous, that tackles the problem of plurals. This is just one verse, but there are many more plural problems where this came from!

If the plural of man is always called men,
Why shouldn’t the plural of pan be called pen?
If I speak of my foot and show you my feet,
And I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?
If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth,
Why shouldn’t the plural of booth be called beeth?

Why English is hard – part II

A native English speaker knows never to speak of a “red massive bull.” Instead, he’d describe it as a “massive red bull” …but he wouldn’t know why. That’s because there is a rather precise ordering of adjectives that we all mostly know, even though we don’t know that we know. While it isn’t absolutely fixed, the order of adjectives most English folk agree to goes roughly like this: quantity, opinion, size, age, shape, color, origin, material.

So, for example, we might ask for three Grade A eggs (quantity, opinion) but not Grade A three eggs. Or we’d talk about one hundred, enormous, old, round Englishmen (quantity, size, age, shape, origin) but not English, round, old, enormous, one hundred men.

This knowledge is a gift to you as a native speaker, but it’s quite the challenge for any latecomer to our country. So, the next time you hear your Dutch grandmother, or maybe some newer immigrant, talk a little peculiarly, you’ll know why (and you’ll be sure to cut them some slack).

How English is going to become easy

While our native tongue does sometimes tie us up, the next generation can look forward to a much-simplified version. I had my own ideas for streamlining things that involved doing away with the letter C completely, substituting K where it was a hard sound and substituting S everywhere else. Kan’t we all agree that’d be niser? I took the idea to Merriam Webster (the dictionary lady) and she asked what I was going to do with the C in CH and I kouldn’t kome up with mukh of an answer for her.

Anyways, Merriam did share with me her own simplification plans, giving me a peek at an upcoming edition of her dictionary. She’s managed to do what I could not – they’ve streamlined everything! She wasn’t sure exactly when this edition was coming out, but she knew it would be very soon. Here are a few entries from the first page:

a [ā] noun Anything that identifies as the letter A
Aaron [ae rihn] noun Anything that identifies as Aaron
ABBA [a ba] noun Anything that identifies as ABBA
asinine [as i nīn] adjective Anything that identifies as being asinine

Why today’s temperature?

Those that hold to a millions-of-years-old earth also hold that the earth has been both vastly warmer and enormously cooler during that time. So why then do the global warming proponents among them think that the temperature we have now is the one we must maintain?

This is an urgent question, as it is on the basis of today’s temperature being the right one that carbon taxes are being implemented, fossil fuels are being made more expensive, and consequently energy, and all that requires energy to produce (i.e., homes, food, heating, clothing, and, well, everything) more expensive as well. That’s even making things tough in Canada, but it’s that much worse for those around the world who have much less.

Equal pay laws hurt those they are supposed to help

There’s both a theological and practical objection to “equal pay for equal work” laws, no matter how well-intentioned they might be. The practical objection is laid out by Milton Friedman in the quote below:

“…the actual effect of requiring equal pay for equal work will be to harm women. If women’s skills are higher than men’s in a particular job and are recognized to be higher, the law does no good, because then they will be able to compete away and can get the same income. If their skills are less, for whatever reason…and you say the only way you are able to hire them is by paying the same wage, then you’re denying them the only weapon they have to fight with. If the unwillingness of the men to hire them is because the men are sexist pigs… nonetheless you want to make it costly to them to exercise their prejudice. If you say to them you have to pay the same wage no matter whether you hire women or men then here’s Mr. Sexist Pig: it doesn’t cost him anything to hire men instead of women. However, if the women are free to compete and to say ‘Well now, look, I’ll offer my work for less,’ then he can only hire men if he bears a cost. If the women are really good as a man, then he’s paying a price for discrimination. And what you are doing, not intentionally but by misunderstanding, when you try to get equal pay for equal work laws is reducing to zero the cost imposed on people who are discriminating for irrelevant reasons. And I would like to see a cost imposed!”

The theological objection is covered in the “Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard” (Matt. 20:1-16). While the parable is about grace, not economics, what it illustrates is true: “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?” If an employer wanted to pay the last worker more than the rest, but pays others what he agreed to, what business is the last worker’s wages to us? Or the first?

Mo Willems’ sage advice

Mo Willems, the author of the delightful Elephant and Piggie children’s book series, has some good advice for adults too. Here’s a trio:

  • You only have one chance to make a twenty-third impression.
  • Better to say, “I love you more than ever” than “I used to love you less.”
  • Better to say, “You are one in a million” than “There are 7,960 others just like you out there.”

Some truths are simply written on our hearts

In a 1998 debate with atheist Peter Atkins in which Atkins touted science as the ultimate arbitrator of truth, William Lane Craig highlighted how there are fundamental truths that science can’t prove. Craig is a theistic evolutionist, but does well here.

“I think that there are a good number of things that cannot be scientifically proven, but that we’re all rational to accept. Let me list five.

“Logical and mathematical truths cannot be proven by science. Science presupposes logic and math so that to try to prove them by science would be arguing in a circle.

“Metaphysical truths like, there are other minds than my own, or that the external world is real, or that the past was not created five minutes ago with the appearance of age are rational beliefs that cannot be scientifically proven.

“Ethical beliefs about statements of value are not accessible by the scientific method. You can’t show by science that the Nazi scientists in the camps did anything evil as opposed to the scientists in Western democracies.

“Aesthetic judgments cannot be accessed by the scientific method because the beautiful, like the good, cannot be scientifically proven.

“And, most remarkably, would be science itself. Science cannot be justified by the scientific method, since it is permeated with unprovable assumptions.”

Just one issue?

“If you’re pro-life, you realize abortion is murder. How can you say ‘it’s one of many issues’ and vote for a pro-choice candidate? What policy of theirs could be so good that it’s worth allowing millions of babies to be killed?”
– Seamus Coughlin

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In a Nutshell

Tidbits – February 2024

Financial potty training While the illustration mentions a VCR tape, the point is as sharp as ever. The late Gary North (1941-2022) got this from a subscriber to his “Tip of the Week” email newsletter. “Once, when our daughter came home from college, she rented a couple of movies and failed to return them before heading back to school. I called her and told her that I returned the movies but there was a late fee which I paid. To teach her a money lesson, I told her I did not want her to repay me, but I did want her to take the fee (a couple of dollars) and flush it down the toilet! “She was shocked, of course, and begged and pleaded with me to let her mail me the money, but I insisted. I did not want her money. I wanted her to learn a lesson. It would have been all too easy for her to give Dad a couple of bucks to shut him up. Instead I wanted her to take a couple of dollars, walk to the toilet, lift the lid, throw them in and then flush the toilet, and then stand there and wave to her money as it went down the toilet. “After several minutes of discussion about how crazy that was and more begging and pleading, she finally agreed and promised me that she would do it. I am proud to say that she is much more responsible about her money. I think it was the most creative parenting I ever did. Well worth a couple of bucks! As North explained, “The reason why this worked is because of the graphic nature of the ritual - and it surely was a ritual. It required an action. This action (1) drove home the economic point; and (2) sealed the point into the memory.” SOURCE: www.garynorth.com/public/4465.cfm I got permission to reprint it at the time. Inviting invitations I once heard a minister (might have been Rev. Paul Murphy) claim he could tell how ready a church was for evangelism based on just one thing – how their bulletin announcements are written. He noted you can tell quite a lot from the blurbs contained therein. For example many churches announce their study groups this way: We will meet tonight at the Smith’s. Come one, come all! This invitation might seem inviting, but it isn’t helpful for anyone visiting for the first time, or someone who hasn't been coming long enough to get a church directory. They won’t know where the Smiths live, and they won’t know what time the meeting normally starts. And since there's no phone number or email listed, they can’t text to find out. It’s small things like this, the minister said, that show a church isn't thinking about the strangers in their midst. On complaining Can Christians complain or not? We are told, on the one hand, not to grumble (Philippians 2:14, 1 Cor. 10:10) and on the other, we can read accounts of David, Jeremiah, and others (Ps. 12:1-2, Micah 7:1-2) laying out complaints before the Lord. So, what's the difference? Intent. One sort – let's call him "the grumbler" – just wants to vent. They overlook all that is good and wonderful, and just focus in on what faults they can find. They are ungrateful. The other sort – let's call this one not a "complainer" because that is not his identity, but rather, the one who has a complaint – has had something serious happen to them. He is facing real difficulties. But rather than just vent, he does whatever he can, and even when it is something beyond any of his own abilities to address, the Christian can still bring his complaint to God, who he can trust will make everything right in the end. "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness." – Unknown "Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain - and most fools do." – Dale Carnegie “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.” – Maya Angelou Homosexuality as evidence against evolution Homosexuality is a sin but how do you communicate that to someone who isn’t religious? Well, whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of arguing that it isn’t natural. Sexual perversion extends even to nature where homosexual behavior has been observed in over 450 species. Christians shouldn’t be surprised; sin didn’t limit its effects to just man. On a more positive note, evolutionists should be surprised, since evolution has no good explanation for homosexuality – they can't pass on their genes unless they engage in heterosexual behaviour, so under the survival of the fittest theory, it really should have disappeared long ago. Good ol’ Shoey As a child I learned that it was never a good idea to complain to grown-ups about being bored. “Bored?” would be the response, “How can you be bored with all those toys? Why when I was a child the only toy I had was an old leather shoe, and that was good enough for me. Ol’ Shoey and me had loads of fun.” But now it turns out that the older generation, with their scarcity of toys, may have been better off. Research has found that too many toys can actually overwhelm children and stifle creativity. The large number of toys seems to distract children and keep them from playing with any one toy long enough to learn from it. And while a child with fewer toys may complain about being bored, that too may be a good thing. Child psychiatrist, Bruce Perry, insists that a little boredom forces kids to draw on their own imagination and invent games and read to pass the time. He suggests children need at least a couple of hours of this downtime per day. SOURCES: Edmonton Journal, Dec 2/2000 & Feb 25/2001 “How much do you have to hate a person…” “I don’t respect people who don’t proselytize; I don’t respect that at all. If you believe there is a heaven and hell, and people could be going to hell, or not getting eternal life, or whatever, and if you think it’s not really worth telling them this because it could make things socially awkward, and atheists who believe people shouldn’t proselytize – ‘just leave me alone, keep your religion to yourself’ – how much do you hate somebody to not proselytize? How much do you have to hate somebody to believe that everlasting life is possible, and not tell them that? ...I mean, if I believed beyond a shadow of a doubt that a truck was going to hit you and you didn’t believe it, and that truck was bearing down on you, there’s a certain point that I tackle you… and this is more important than that.” – Entertainer and avowed atheist Penn Jillette on evangelism. Why trust flukey engineering? "Supposing there was no intelligence behind the universe, no creative mind. In that case, nobody designed my brain for the purpose of thinking. It is merely that when the atoms inside my skull happen for certain physical or chemical reasons to arrange themselves in a certain way, that gives me, as a by-product, the sensation I call thought. But if it is so, how can I trust my own thinking to be true? It's like upsetting a milk jug and hoping that the way the splash arranges will give you a map of London. But if I can't trust my own thinking, of course I can't trust the arguments leading to atheism, and therefore have no reason to be an atheist, or anything else. Unless I believe in God, I can't believe in thought; so I can never use thought to disbelieve in God." – C.S. Lewis On marriage and headship “The woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam; not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him, but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved.” – Matthew Henry All equally unworthy before God Though Europe can hardly be called a Christian continent, it does have a Christian heritage and tradition that, on some occasions, still shouts out the Truth. One such occasion was the funeral of Empress Zita, the former ruler of Austria who died in 1989. She received a royal funeral that lasted 2 hours, and was attended by more than 6,000. Afterwards, her body was loaded into a hearse and pulled by a team of horses, and accompanied by 600 soldiers to the church of the Capuchins, where many other royals are buried. When the procession arrived at the church, the doors were closed. The chamberlain stepped up and knocked three times. A voice from inside cried out, “Who requests entry?’ The chamberlain’s reply was impressive: “Her Majesty Zita, Empress of Austria, crowned Queen of Hungary, Princess of Bohemia, Grand Duchess of Lodomerai, Dalmatia, Croatia, Slavonia, Galizia, Illyria, Queen of Jerusalem, Archduchess of Austria, Grand Duchess of Tuscany and Cracow, Duchess of Lorraine, Salzburg, Carinthia, Krain and Buconia, Grand Duchess of Transylvania, Marchioness of Moravia, Duchess of Upper and Lower Silesia, of Modena, Parma, Piacenza, of Dubrovnik and Zara.” "I do not know her,” came the reply. “Who requires entry?" The chamberlain offered a simpler response: “Her Majesty Zita, Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary.” The response was the same: “I do not know her. Who requires entry?” This time the chamberlain replied: "Our sister Zita, a poor sinning mortal." And the gates were thrown open to receive her. SOURCE: A half dozen newspaper and website accounts which all differed slightly on the details (perhaps due to translation problems), such as all the titles the chamberlain listed, but which corroborated each other on the core of the story. Among the newspapers and magazine were: People, April 17, 1989; The Guardian, July 10, 2006; The New York Times, April 2, 1989. Joke of the month Q: How many bass-baritones in a church choir does it take to screw in a light bulb? A: Three: One to climb the ladder and do the job, and the other two to sit there and say, “Isn’t that a little too high for you?”...