Thursday, September 25, 2003


Apologies for the derth of posts lately. I've been preparing for a trip tomorrow to the left coast. You can see the weather I'll be enjoying, and virtually look at what I'll be looking at, though. Saturday, rather than being in Alabama, I will be at the Pacific coast and going to an apple pressing.

It's a business trip--really!

Tuesday, September 23, 2003


Have you thought tv has gotten even worse? Well, you're right. Profanity on television has increased a shocking amount:
During the so-called 'family hour,' from 8-9 p.m., foul language increased by 94.8 percent between 1998 and 2002, the study found. It rose by 109 percent during the 9 p.m. hour in the same period.

That's just pathetic.

Monday, September 22, 2003


Joyfulchristian points to evidence.

Television networks are banking that God in primetime will be a ratings winner this fall:
This week networks will present a staggering array of new shows, each one painstakingly chosen to tap into viewers' latest moods. A surprising number of executives have put their money on piety, and this season's spirituality is far more peculiar than past feel-good shows like "Touched by an Angel."

CBS has "Joan of Arcadia," a gritty crime drama about a high school student whose visits from God converge with the police work of her father. Fox has two: "Tru Calling," another moody crime drama where God, not forensics, guides the heroine, and "Wonderfalls," a sitcom in which a benevolent higher being uses a sarcastic young slacker to work his wonders. Advertisers who complain that there is no novelty or break-out surprise to the 2003-4 season are not looking closely enough. An eschatological shift in programming can be found all across television, from HBO's "Carnivàle," a 12-part battle between Good and Evil set in the Depression, to Showtime's "Dead Like Me," in which the dead return to earth to help others make the transition to the afterlife, albeit in a hip, sardonic way. But the spiritual power awarded pretty, nubile heroines is by far the most striking element, a backlash against Buffy, Zena and "Girls Gone Wild."

The good news is, religion will be on tv. The bad news is, religion will be on tv. While one is encouraged to see the culture at large recognize religion and spirituality, what invariably happens is God and religion on tv rarely has little to do with the God and religion of the Bible. It's spirituality as Hollywood imagines it ought to be. God in the image of Hollywood is a far cry from the real thing.

The German Evangelical Church is "translating", or as the headline says, Church rewrites bible in feminist language. I think the "rewrites" is accurate:
The German Evangelical Church is translating the bible using feminist language.

More than 50 translators are working on a new edition of the holy book.

They are rewriting passages which are seen to discriminate against women, and are also using "unbiased and just" language.

The term disciple is to be changed to "disciples and disciplesses" and forms of address such as Lord or Our Father are to be omitted.

The translation project will run to 10,000 copies printed by the Gueterslohe publishing house in 2004.

I had a friend in college whose job at the Catholic Newman Center was to change the scripture readings to make the language "inclusive". One would think that people would be satisfied with the fact that salvation is inclusive instead of worrying themselves over the fact that God is politically correct enough. If God chose to reveal Himself as "Our Father", I should not only be content with that, but joyous over it.


I was watching the local Birmingham news last night, which was covering a speech by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore. I've generally supported Moore and his Ten Commandments monument, and I hope he's soon reinstated to his position on the court.

Now here's the silly part. Apparently this community has erected a granite monument that looks more or less like a tombstone memorializing the removed Ten Commandments monument! It's a monument memorializing a monument! I suppose I appreciate the sentiment, but, well, that's silly.

I can't find a news article referencing it, but if I do I'll update it here.

The New York Times has an interesting (and very lengthy) piece on the Jewish Lubavitch group who are looking for their own Messiah. They knowho he is, but he died nine years ago, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. It also explores the interesting dichotomy between messianic and non-messianic Jews, and how Christianity has caused many Jews to leave behind an integral part of Judaism, the looking for the Messiah.

Sunday, September 21, 2003


ADL's Abe Foxman charges that Mel Gibson’s views are anti-Semitic:
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Jewish civil rights organization, insisted he was not calling Gibson an anti-Semite. But Foxman said the actor “entertains views that can only be described as anti-Semitic.”

Foxman, however, entertains views that can only be described as tiresome, but I'm sure it's good for fundraising.

Saturday, September 20, 2003


No, really, they are.

What do you call 1000 lawyers at the bottom of the sea?

A good start.

The 'Lady of Warka' face has beenrecovered from its hiding place and restored to the Iraqi National Museum. The relic is considered one of the two most valuable pieces in the museum:
“The Lady of Warka was one of the most important antiquities stolen when looters broke into the Iraqi Museum. Many people in Iraq and in the world will be delighted with its return,” said Jabir Ibrahim, head of the department.

Ibrahim said his department received information in mid-August about a group of people trying to sell the Lady of Warka. The negotiations collapsed for unknown reasons, and the relic was subsequently hidden in the orchard, Ibrahim said.

The artifact, from the ancient city of Warka in southern Iraq, was recovered Tuesday in a joint operation conducted by U.S. military police and Iraqi police.

At 5,200 years old, the relic predates Abraham (from Iraq as well) by over 1000 years.

Friday, September 19, 2003


ZENIT, a Catholic news site, has a two part interview with Christopher Dawson expert, Gerald Russello that is worth your time (Part 1 & Part 2). Russello provides interesting insight on Christianity and culture from a Catholic perspective.

Also take time to read Mr. Russello's article, "The Relevance of Christopher Dawson".

And you can buy the book of Dawson's writings he edited, Christianity and European Culture.

Michigan and ten other states say no. Teresa Becker claims that is discrimination, and is suing the state of Michigan to reinstate the scholarship they revoked when she declared her major in theology.

Well, I've started this associate/affiliate thing with and, which enables me to funnel you to product links so I can build vast wealth. With the kind of numbers we get here at theosebes, it should only take several hundred years. I've decided I ought to use the feature for good, not evil, so in that spirit I've decided to periodically have a featured book. It's a book that either I'm reading or have read and want you to read, too.

I've recently started G.K. Chesterton's book Orthodoxy. There is an annotated paperback edition available at Amazon. Christianbook has a hardcover edition available bound together with his book Heretics at a clearance price. That's the edition I have, since I like clearance prices. Or feel free to use the old paperback copy you have, or stop by your local bookstore and buy a copy.

I'll be posting quotes and thoughts as I read through it.

Liza Bear gives us a nice overview of this fall's Martin Luther movie.

or at least Apple's iTunes thought so.

A fellow named Donald Harman Akenson who is a recipient of the Molson laureateship for contribution to Canadian culture (whatever that is) tells us there's no real defense for making a film faithful to the Gospels. Akenson writes, "Of the Four Gospels, the Gospel of John is the closest to being hate literature." You like to see the Gospel of Love being called "hate literature." You see this whole Jewish-Christian thing is just a funny little squabble that got out of hand:
The Fourth Gospel is part of a nasty exchange of polemics between two sects of Judaism (something the prologue of Mr. Drabinsky's production recognizes fleetingly). This obscure argument would have mere curiosity value except for two huge magnifiers.

First, these two sects were the only viable survivors from among the two or three dozen Jewish sects that had flourished in Jerusalem in the late Second Temple era. Then, in 70 AD, Rome destroyed the Temple and nearly levelled Jerusalem. Of all the forms of Judaism, only the descendants of the Pharisees adapted sufficiently to survive: The main group became the founders of modern Judaism, and a second bunch, a slightly off-brand set, the followers of Yeshua of Nazareth, became the forebears of Christianity.

Even so, the rivalry of these two groups would have been merely a cat fight in a Middle Eastern sandbox had not the Roman Empire turned Christian in the fourth century, a win for the Yeshua crowd. Suddenly, arcane polemics of the first century AD were broadcast empire-wide and eventually worked their influence on governmental policies in dozens of Western countries for several centuries.

Sadly, for the good Mr. Akenson--stalwart of "Canadian culture--Christianity actually had influence on Western countries "for several centuries." I think one could safely say that.

Akenson concludes:
Why would anyone want to be faithful to such a text? It can be redeemed by informed, discriminating and gentle scholarship. But, to film a literal version of the Gospel of John is like filming a faithful version of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Garth, Mel, you're missing the point. To claim faithfulness to the text of the fourth Gospel is not a defence of your films.

The reason for the decline of Western civilization can be seen clearly when one honored for contributing to Canadian culture can, in effect, place himself in the position of having a more positive influence on culture than Jesus Christ did.

Suggested reading for Mr. Akenson:
Christianity and Culture, by T.S. Eliot
Christianity and European Culture, by Christopher Dawson (edited by Gerald J. Russello)
The Roots of American Order, by Russell Kirk

Thursday, September 18, 2003


Andre Lemaire, who first identified the inscription on the reputed James Ossuary, stands by his original claim despite the Israeli Antiquities Authority declaring the inscription a fake:
"You have a problem with the patina of the beginning of the inscription (James, son of Joseph)," Lemaire said. "There are two interpretations: either it was a fake, or it was the result of a cleaning."

The inscription cut through the ancient limestone box's patina, proving the writing was not ancient, the Antiquities Authority ruled. "The inscription appears new, written in modernity by someone attempting to reproduce ancient written characters," according to a summary panel released of its findings.

Lemaire believes that the first part of the inscription was cleaned by an antiquities dealer who was trying to improve the readability of the inscription. The second part of the inscription, "Brother of Jesus," would be more likely to be added later, but has a patina with no evidence of being cleaned, he said.

"They found traces of patina even in the first part," Lemaire said.

"The members of the committee, I know some of them," Lemaire said. "They are not specialized in inscriptions; when you read their report carefully, they disagree between themselves. Their conclusion is not clear; it's not justified. It could have been cleaned. They just mention that possibility, then they forget it."

And what might be their motivation?
Lemaire accuses the Antiquities Authority of not wanting to deal with the possibility that the inscription on the box is authentic.

"The problem is of identification; who is this man?" Lemaire said. "Very probably, this was the James that was the brother of Jesus. For them, the best way to get rid of this problem of identification is to tell that it is a fake."

Sounds plausible to me.


Scientists are debating various models of how the cosmos began, from black holes to "white holes." Behind their cosmic fantasies is the elephant in the room:
[Blake] Temple [, a mathematician at the University of California at Davis] can’t say where the matter we see today originally came from. What existed before the Big Bang? This, in fact, is a thorn in the side of all cosmologists, and it may never be answered because we can’t see time and space as it existed prior to time as we know it.

I would be willing to suggest a viable answer.

NRO has an interview with Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos on The Passion. He addresses its powerful imagery and dismisses charges of anti-Semitism. Of particular interest are his comments on its faithfulness to the Gospel accounts:
Gaspari: Is Gibson's version of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ faithful to the Gospel accounts?

Cardinal Castrillón Hoyos: Mr. Gibson has had to make many artistic choices in the way he portrays the characters and the events involved in the Passion, and he has complemented the Gospel narrative with the insights and reflections made by saints and mystics through the centuries. Mel Gibson not only closely follows the narrative of the Gospels, giving the viewer a new appreciation for those Biblical passages, but his artistic choices also make the film faithful to the meaning of the Gospels, as understood by the Church.

We'll have to wait and see what these extrabiblical "insights" consist of. I understand a certain artistic license in the making of movies in order to fill out a narrative. The goal with such narrative fill is that it stays true to the Gospel narrative, and in no way contradicts it. Let's hope that's the case with a movie of such promise.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003


A new plan for the World Trade Center will not infringe on the destroyed WTC's "footprint". I think that's a sensible (and sensitive) concession and memorial to those who died in the tragedy.

What bothers me is this use of the word "sacred" to describe the WTC site. The linked New York Post article uses the phrase "sacred ground" in its headline today. Of course, "sacred" conveys a religious significance. The Angel of the Lord told Moses from the burning bush to remove his sandals as Moses was treading on sacred ground, made that way by the Lord's presence. But in our secularized culture there is no clear idea what "sacred" really means. The 9-11 attacks have entered the American consciousness as not merely a national (and personal) tragedy worth remembering and memorializing, but also as a sort of civil-religious "holy day" of remembrance, the ground of the attacks being "sacred."

When we use words such as "sacred" loosely, we lose the true significance of their import. I mourn with those who lost loved ones during the 9-11 attacks; I support appropriate memorials and recognition. I do not support this secularized notion of "sacred," a concept that diminishes the true sacredness of God and the things of God.
UPDATE: Christianity Today has Ten Things You Should Know About the New Girls' Biblezine.

Why you did, of course, as Joseph Farah explains:
Followers of Jesus believe we are all responsible – all human beings, alive, dead or yet to be born – for crucifying Jesus.

That may sound weird to non-believers, but it is an absolutely essential tenet of our faith.

Even weirder is this: We celebrate Christ's agony on the cross. It's a good thing. He did it for us – all of us. He bore our sins and they were nailed to that tree the day He died. We don't blame anyone but ourselves. To do so would miss out on the grace He offered with His shed blood.

Yes, and I did it, too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


Playboy is asking Women of Wal-Mart to pose nude. Um, have they been to Walmart?

The New Yorker's Peter Boyer has written a largely sympathetic article on Mel Gibson and his work on his movie, The Passion. There's much on Gibson's strain of Catholicism, as well as how he has changed the movie in reaction to his detractors:
The antagonist in Gibson's vision is plainly the Jewish high priest Caiaphas, played by an Italian actor who can seem a bit of a ham as he cajoles the ambivalent Pilate into executing Jesus. Finally, an exasperated Pilate relents and condemns the prisoner, but, according to the Gospel of Matthew, he first makes a show of his own guiltlessness by publicly washing his hands. In Matthew, that gesture is followed by a shout from the crowd: “His blood be on us, and on our children.” This passage, which is depicted only in Matthew, is one of the sources of the notion of collective Jewish guilt for the death of Jesus. Gibson shot the scene, but with Caiaphas alone calling the curse down. Wright, Gibson’s editor, strongly objected to including even that version. “I just think you're asking for trouble if you leave it in,” he said. “For people who are undecided about the film, that would be the thing that turned them against it.”

Gibson yielded, but he has had some regrets. “I wanted it in,” he says. “My brother said I was wimping out if I didn't include it. It happened; it was said. But, man, if I included that in there, they'd be coming after me at my house, they'd come kill me.”

He was referring to his critics, activists at such organizations as the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center, as well as some academics, who worry that Gibson will draw too much upon a literal reading of the Gospels, and not enough upon contemporary scholarship that seeks to distance Jews from culpability in the Crucifixion.

Boyer was able to interview the Jewish Anti-Defamation League's Abraham Foxman, who provided revealing statements:
I asked Foxman if he believed that Gibson was an anti-Semite. “Per se, I don't think that Mel Gibson is anti-Semitic,” Foxman said. “I think that he is insensitive.”

But what of “The Passion” itself, I asked. Is the film anti-Semitic? “The film, per se, is not anti-Semitic,” Foxman said. The problem, he added, was that, as with any literal reading of the New Testament, its message of love could be twisted into something hateful. “The film can fuel, trigger, stimulate, induce, rationalize, legitimize anti-Semitism,” Foxman said.

“You know, the Gospels, if taken literally, can be very damaging, in the same way if you take the Old Testament literally,” Foxman went on. “It says, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' Now, has the Jewish state, or have Jews, practiced the Old Testament by taking an eye for an eye? No. So a literal reading of almost anything can lead to all kinds of things.”

Nah, we don't want to take all that silly ol' stuff seriously.

Boyer concludes:
Speaking with Foxman made me realize just what it was that Gibson had done in making “The Passion.” Gibson had said from the start that he was going to make a movie taken straight from the Gospels. Foxman was saying that, for better or worse, Gibson had done just that. In focussing on Gibson's Traditionalist Catholicism, some of his critics have created the expectation that “The Passion” is a medieval Passion play depicting Jews in horns drinking Christian blood. It is not that. Nor is it the attenuated dramatization that the Catholic scholars might have wished for. Gibson's “Passion” is a literalist rendering of the Gospels' account of Jesus' Passion, which makes it the ultimate Traditionalist expression.

At the end of the day, Gibson's problem is that he's willing to risk taking the Gospel accounts seriously. For that he must be applauded.

Monday, September 15, 2003


Amy Welborn explores the wisdom of a Bible designed to look like a teen fashion magazine. And the Bible mag editor, Laurie Whaley, speaks out about her project:
[NY Times:] Christ himself was not exactly a fashion plate.

[Whaley:] I would say that Christ resisted fashion. He was not treated like a king, and he did not have the apparel of a king. He walked a lot, and it wasn't as if he was wearing Cole Haan.

No, I don't think he did.

[Thanks to Susanna who did the heavy lifting on the links.]

Malaysian men have found a new way divorce their wives, and the government isn't happy:
Islamic authorities will prosecute Malaysian men who try to divorce their wives by sending mobile phone text messages or email without going to court.

The warning marks the latest move by the government to discourage the use of electronic messages to initiate divorce proceedings in the predominantly Muslim south-east Asian country.

Islamic law generally accepts that a husband has divorced his wife if he announces his intention to do so to her and the decision is ratified by a cleric. The process for a wife to divorce her husband is more difficult.

The government has ordered religious affairs officials to take legal action against men who declare their divorces by phone text messages, faxes or emails and try to obtain divorce certificates without having undergone Islamic court proceedings.

Do you hear me now?


The mother of a seven year old girl is desperately seeking to protect her daughter from exposure to singer Madonna:
"I protect her from sex full stop," she said.

"She's not aware of sex, nor should she be. You know, we've had little conversations about where babies come from, but sex is not, and shouldn't be, part of her repertoire right now."

The interview comes just days after Madonna French-kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera live on stage at an awards ceremony.

And just who is the prude, this woman who doesn't live in the real world?

Her name is...Madonna.

And in other Madonna news, we learn that Madonna's favorite children's books include Winnie-the-Pooh and C.S. Lewis's Narnia Chronicles. Hmmm, methinks she somehow missed Lewis's point.

Saturday, September 13, 2003


The case continues to build from the already undeniable that those in the womb are more than masses of tissue that somehow become real people one day. New technology is showing us how babies in the womb smile and cry:
The pictures offer a new insight into foetal behaviour.

The ultra-sound scanning techniques capture images which show the foetuses yawn, blink, suck their fingers and seem to cry and smile.

Up to now, doctors did not think infants made such expressions until after birth and believed they learned to smile by copying their mother.

What a wonderful thing.

Friday, September 12, 2003


A woman in Midland, Texas (where my wife's aunt lives) has sued Abercrombie & Fitch because of pictures taken of her in the store's dressing room:
[Attorney Brian] Carney said that sometime between May and July, he believes Will Rhoads and Kuang Tang set up an elaborate scheme to take pictures of women in various stages of undress.

Carney said he believes Rhoades and Tang cut a hole in the ceiling of one of the dressing rooms of the Midland Park Mall store.

“It took some coordinated effort to do it,” Carney said. “He had to send the girls to one particular dressing room and instruct the other guy to get up there when they were there.”

Carney said Riggan found that there might be pictures of her from a friend.

Why was A&F the type of environment where this might occur?
Carney blamed the idea on Abercrombie and Fitch’s advertising campaign.

“Look at the way they advertise,” he said. “A lot of their ads are of semi-nude and half-nude people. It’s as though these guys tried to make their own ads.”

I think we have a winner.


Johnny Cash Dies at 71.

Thursday, September 11, 2003


The Elma (Washington) High School has banned short cheerleader skirts from its halls. Some parents are not happy:
"Elma has dropped back to the dark ages," Kathy Shaw, whose daughter is on the drill team, told The Daily World. "They are making our kids feel like they're not nice girls when they are."

For years on game days, the brief blue-and-white skirts have been exempt from the dress code at this small town west of Olympia. Now they'll be allowed only at games and other performances -- not in the hallways.

Such creeping consistency at a public school must be stopped!

[Courtesy of the Scrappleface comments.]


Should unmolested parishioners sue the Boston Archdiocese? Scrappleface says they already have.

In an editorial, Christianity Today makes a wonderful case for taking back marriage. Go read it.

Far too many churches have accepted the world's attitude toward marriage, shrugging its shoulders at divorce, some now struggling with same-sex "marriage". But marriage is an institution founded by God. It is not whatever society might wish it to be. It must be what God intended. Here a stand must be made.

Madonna, high guru of the bastard child of Judaism, Kabbalah is busily converting her belly baring compatriot, Britney Spears to the currently hip religion:
“Madonna seems to be the high priestess of proselytizing for the Bergs and the Kaballah Centre,” Rick Ross, an expert on cults and alternative religions who has been an outspoken critic of the Kabbalah Centre, tells The Scoop. “No doubt she’s pitched it to anyone with a brain in their head, and that might include Ms. Spears.”

A Spears spokeswoman confirms the story. “Britney was introduced to Kabbalah through her friendship with Madonna,” the rep tells the Scoop. “She is now learning more about it.”

My advice to Britney: Don't sign anything.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003


Joyfulchristian thinks 'yes'. And he's right, of course.

Alabama Governor Bob Riley has placed a Ten Commandments plaque on display in Montgomery:
The state Historical Commission installed the panel display in the old Supreme Court library room in the Capitol. Riley said it is similar to displays in the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Capitol and it has the blessing of Attorney General Bill Pryor....

The display includes not only the Ten Commandments but also the Magna Carta, the Mayflower Compact and the Declaration of Independence, all part of the foundations of American law.

Chief Justice Roy Moore isn't pleased, however: "He said putting other documents with the commandments denied the greatness of God."

Scott Richert reports that the Winnebago County board is backing down on their plans to target the historic St. Mary's Oratory in order to build a new county jail. For future updates, keep an eye here.

The British Churches Advertising Network has revealed its upcoming Christmas campaign, a poster with baby Jesus dressed as Santa.
The London Telegraph said the poster is an attempt to promote Christmas as more than just an opportunity to spend money. The slogan beneath the traditional tableau reads: "Go on, ask Him for something this Christmas."

The poster, to be displayed at more than 1,000 sites across England in December, is part of a nearly $400,000 campaign by the Britain-based Churches Advertising Network.



Ostensibly conservative Governor Bob Riley's massive tax reform hike went down in flames by a 2-1 margin. The interest to theosebes (other than theosebes headquarters has just moved to Alabama) was the attempt to sell the measure as "the Christian thing to do." I think the good folks of Alabama--religious to the core--indicated that they weren't falling for it. Yes, Christians have an obligation to the poor. No, I can't tell God "oh, I had government take care of that for me." I would think Bob Riley would know better. At least now he knows that Alabamans do.

UPDATE: The final numbers are in: "With 100 percent of precincts reporting, the vote was 866,623, or 68 percent, against the plan to 416,310, or 32 percent, for it."

Tuesday, September 09, 2003


The lowest B-flat you've never heard.

UPDATE: theosebes has discovered a cosmic connection: Scottish bagpipes are tuned to B-flat. A coincidence? Hard to believe.

The Center for Disease Control has come under fire for its promotion of sexual activity in teens in the guise of sex education:
Taxpayer funds are being used for school sexuality education programs that subvert the idea of abstinence for teens and target children as young as 9 years old with lessons on masturbation, condom use and homosexuality, say opponents of the courses.

The CDC programs--which are ostensibly on their way out--include:
— Becoming a Responsible Teen: Originally designed for teens from 14 to 18, it suggests in a list of recommended activities a trip to the grocery store to examine the different kinds of lubricants for condom use.

— Be Proud! Be Responsible!: Designed for adolescents from 13 to 18, it includes “brainstorming” about different ways to make condoms sexy. It also includes role-playing situations involving “negotiating safe sex” in bisexual and homosexual relationships.

— Focus on Kids: Designed for youths 9 to 15 years of age, provides “condom hunts” at local markets and a condom race to see who can apply the condom fastest.

Ah, condom races. Just a mention brings back all those fond memories of childhood.

How screwed up is government when this is sanctioned but the Ten Commandments is driven from the public square?

Monday, September 08, 2003


On the heels of the James ossuary discovery/controversy, an archaeologist believes he may have found James' tomb. Traditionally held to be the tomb of Absalom, the traitorous son of David, it has been pelted by stones by those who wish to show disapproval of Absalom's actions. The stone throwing has worn away the valuable inscriptions, which may point to its true origin:
In large letters that were once painted black so they could be seen from across the valley, the inscription reads, "This is the funerary monument of Zacharias, the martyr, the very pious priest, father of John."

[Father Emile] Puech believes it was carved by monks around a decade after Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire.

During that period Holy Land Christians began to set up shrines connected to Jesus, among them Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the traditional site of the crucifixion.

There are high hopes the tomb can also be linked to James:
[Joe] Zias now hopes to find an inscription linking James the Just - whom some Christians believe to be Jesus' brother - to the tomb as according to Christian tradition, Zacharias, Simeon and James were buried together. Roman Catholics - who believe Jesus' mother Mary was a virgin all her life - say James was his cousin.

"There is room for three people (in the tomb). There are three burial niches so it certainly fits," Zias explained.

Could prove to be interesting, but it sounds pretty if-y at this point.

A new poll finds that most Alabamans support Roy Moore's stand on the Ten Commandments:
A poll last week of 600 registered voters showed 68 percent supporting Moore's position that the Ten Commandments should be displayed on public property. Forty-nine percent said he should not have defied an order to remove a 5,280-pound monument from the rotunda of the judicial building in Montgomery.

In other news from the state that Dares Defend Its Rights, Governor Bob Riley's "Christian" tax plan (the biggest tax increase in Alabama history) isn't faring too well.

Saturday, September 06, 2003


Yes, yet more on The Passion. Tom Piatak exposes the forces attacking Gibson's movie, and demonstrates what the real agenda is. And to those who accuse Gibson of trying to blame the Jews, I was struck by this information, which I had not seen before:
Indeed Deal Hudson has written that “one of the two glimpses of Gibson in the movie is when you see his hand placing the stake on Christ’s palm—thus underlining Gibson’s own guilt, which in Christian theology he shares with all mankind, for the death of Christ.”

It may be that Mel Gibson is actually trying simply to make a movie about the crucifixion of Jesus.

A crisis pregnancy center called Her Choice has found a constructive way to combat abortions--they offer free 3-D ultrasounds to women who might consider aborting a child. The result?
Eva, 24, has a 2-year-old son and is pregnant again. She's never been married.

Earlier in her pregnancy, she had thought about having an abortion. But watching ultrasounds of her developing fetus has erased that idea from her mind.

"She was so innocent," Eva said. "I thought, `I can't do this.'"

What a wonderful idea. May their work prosper.

Friday, September 05, 2003


Before Mel's controversial Passion film hits the big screen next year, a new movie based on the gospel of John debuts next week. The movie will follow John's Gospel "word for word." It should prove interesting, but has this annoying feature:
One of the Jewish scholars, Alan Segal of Barnard College, told a Toronto media preview that "it's a stunning and illuminating film."

The scholars provide words of explanation that scroll down the screen before the action begins, noting that crucifixion was a Roman punishment not sanctioned by Jewish law and that Jesus and all his early followers were Jewish.

Since "Jewish scholars" have signed off on it, it must be great.

You can see the trailer and "Pastoral Recommendations" at the official site.

The creators of VeggieTales have filed for bankruptcy and sold the company. The good news is that it appears VeggieTales will continue production with the same creative team simply under different ownership. I found this quote interesting, however:
"We got ourselves upside down financially when everything was working wonderfully," [Big Idea founder and CEO Phil] Vischer told Christian Retailing. "When things were doing so well, I thought that was God wanting us to expand, so we grew like crazy. Now I think it was more me having all these great ideas in my head and being so excited that I wanted to do them all at once."

It's easy to get excited about an ongoing project, but as Vischer admits, it's also easy to confuse what you want to do with what you imagine God wants you to do.

There's a nice positive piece on homeschooling at MSNBC:
In raw numbers, home schooling is no threat to traditional education. More than 50 million students attend more than 94,000 public elementary and secondary schools in the United States.

But as school budgets shrink and enrollments rise, home schooling has proved to be an effective alternative for many families.

And it has more than held its own in standardized measures of learning:

In 2002, home-schooled students averaged 1,092 on the SAT, compared with the national average of 1,020, according to data from the Home School Legal Defense Association.

A 2001 study by the U.S. Department of Education found that minority children educated at home fared better on reading and math scores than their counterparts in public schools.

A 1998 study by the Education Policy Analysis Archives found that achievement levels of homeschoolers “are exceptional.” The peer-reviewed scholarly electronic journal reported that by the time “home school students are in eighth grade, they are four years ahead of their public/private school counterparts.”

There's the obligatory hand-wringing over socialization, but provides a balanced counter. It seems progress is being made in the main-stream media despite nonsense like this.

UPDATE: Curmudgeonry has a nice takedown of the nonsense linked above.

Thursday, September 04, 2003


Kristen Campbell of the Mobile (AL) Register has written a news story on religious weblogs. Oddly enough, she begins the article talking about Steve Beard's Thunderstruck site, which is based out of Wilmore, Kentucky--just about five minutes from where I lived in Nicholasville.

The folks at the Chandra X-ray telescope have selected their top 10 X-ray visions from space. They're quite impressive.

"Praise Him sun and moon, praise Him all you shining stars!"--Psalm 148:3

Wednesday, September 03, 2003


The L. Ron Hubbard invention of Scientology has attracted a number of Hollywood's elite, actors like Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Jenna Elfman. The 'church' now seeks to bind its members to a new contract:
The contract — called the "Agreement and General Release Regarding Spiritual Assistance" — makes it clear that the signee does not believe in psychiatry and does not want to be treated for any kind of psychiatric ailment should one befall him.

Instead, once the paper is signed, the agreement calls for the Church of Scientology to step in if there's ever a problem. The result would be total isolation and constant surveillance.

This is fallout from an ongoing lawsuit involving their treatment of an ailing member:
The wording of the agreement is shocking, to say the least. If a member of the church becomes what we might call "mentally incompetent," he automatically agrees to be placed in the care of Scientology counselors, potentially barring family, friends or anyone else from interceding, including doctors and psychiatrists.

The new agreement seems to stem from a long-simmering wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the estate of Lisa McPherson against the Church of Scientology.

It alleges that McPherson died in 1995 after being held against her will by the church for 17 days. When she died, it is claimed, her body was covered with cockroach bites and McPherson was dehydrated.

By having members sign the contact agreeing to be isolated from family and medical professionals, the church apparently believes it would be immune to such lawsuits. The lawsuit, which has suffered several postponements, may come to trial in 2004.

As nutty as they are, I don't have sympathy for these stars who through their celebrity status lure others into the hands of the Scientologists.


Later today abortion doctor killer Paul Hill will be executed by lethal injection. Hill--a former Presbyterian minister--has no remorse for killing the doctor and his bodyguard:
"The sooner I am executed ... the sooner I am going to heaven," Hill said in a jailhouse interview. "I expect a great reward in heaven. I am looking forward to glory. I don't feel remorse."

"More people should act as I have acted," Hill added.

As an opponent of abortion, I will point out that Hill's abortion doctor target took far more life than Hill has. The doctor's victims were innocents, slain for convenience. But does that in any way justify Hill's actions?

No it does not.

"Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord." The first point to stress is that Hill has no standing, if you will, to exact the vengeance he took. There is no divine authorization for a lone gunman to start singling out sinners for personal retribution. Jesus told Pilate that His followers would not fight because "My kingdom is not of this world." God has authorized government as His arm of official retribution in this world (Romans 13:1-7). Now we recognize that governments are not always what they ought to be, nonetheless it is not my place to step into that role. I have confidence God will take care of any final retribution that needs to occur.

Finally, Hill's sin is one of arrogance. Every time I have seen him he demonstrates a smugness that is in no way reflective of the humility of Christ. He, indeed, shall gain his reward. The reward of an impenitent murderer.

Scott P. Richert at Chronicles blows the whistle on the Winnebago County Board, which wants to take and destroy historic St. Mary's Oratory in Rockford, Illinois in order to build a jail:
Now, over Labor Day weekend, members of the Winnebago County Board [contact info here] have hatched a plan, which they hope to ram through this week, to try to tear down St. Mary's to make room for a massive new county jail. While they're currently back-pedaling, claiming that they only want St. Mary's School (which closed its doors in 1974), the resolution that the board will vote on this week refers to the entire church property. Moreover, St. Mary's heating plant is inside the school, so tearing down the school will mean the end of the church as well.

St. Mary's is one of the most vibrant parishes I've ever belonged to, brimming with young families with lots of children. (At five children, our family is one of the smallest.) The church has spawned two independent Catholic schools, been the center of much homeschooling activity, and helped to save the western portion of Rockford's downtown from sliding further into the abyss. Located near state and local government buildings, it is the only Catholic church that serves the needs of downtown residents and workers.

Through the efforts of Rockford's Bishop Thomas Doran and the Institute of Christ the King, St. Mary's has been lovingly restored. Parishioners donated over a quarter of a million dollars to restore the stained-glass windows (which Frank Houtkamp, a stained-glass expert, has declared to be some of the finest in the Midwest) alone. Sunday Mass attendance averages 425. Now, this jewel of traditional Catholicism is threatened by a county board with a history of confiscating other people's property.

Now, I'm no supporter of Catholic doctrine, but this ought to be a wake-up call to everyone with religious faith. If they can do this to St. Mary's they can target your church as well. The outrage is compounded by their disregard for the historic nature of the renovated building. The anti-religious element is marching strong.

Tuesday, September 02, 2003


Some Episcopalians aren't going to take it, well actually theyaren't going to give it:
The church is the state's largest Episcopal church, with 1,500 members. Its governing body voted Aug. 11 to allow individual members to specify that no portion of their offerings go to the Diocese of Kentucky and the national church. More than 100 members -- out of a pledge base of 550 -- have sent notice that they plan to withhold money from the diocese and national church, Jennings said. St. Francis contributes 11 percent of the diocese's total annual revenue.

While I certainly sympathize with their move, that's what you get with denominational superstructures in the first place.

Wendy McElroy says 'yes', and that it's about time:
What is Christian feminism? It is a school within the broader feminist tradition that seeks to define woman's liberation and her equality with man through reference to the Christian religion. This sounds odd to modern ears. But it is no odder than trying to define liberation and equality with reference to post-Marxist theory, the well from which PC feminism draws. Or by referring to the classical liberal tradition as does the school I favor -- individualist feminism or ifeminism.

She does make the interesting point that leading early feminists were against many modern feminists tenets such as abortion. We'll have to keep our eye on this, however. Is any sort of 'feminism' compatible with Christianity?