Friday, October 31, 2003

Thursday, October 30, 2003


The good folks at Hallmark are aiming for a new market:
Hallmark has created its first greeting cards for the Muslim holiday Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the monthlong fast of Ramadan.

Fasting during Ramadan is one of the pillars, or obligations, of Islam and is one of the most important times of the year for Muslims.

One of the cards includes the traditional Arabic salutation, "Eid Mubarak," which means "Happy Holiday," and also contains the message, "May Allah bless the world with His peace and love."

Another card reads, "Eid brings us all closer together ... brothers and sisters, friends and family, united in faith, joy and thanks on this happy and blessed day. Eid Mubarak to you and yours."

No word on condolence/celebration cards for the family of a suicide bomber: "Congratulations on the addition of 72 virgins to the family!"

On the heels of the General Boykin controversy has President George W. Bush acted improperly? Dana Milbank reports that Bush spoke to a Dallas Christian youth group:
Bush received a boisterous and enthusiastic welcome from hundreds of students, most of whom were black. Introduced by his friend Tony Evans, the senior pastor, Bush spoke with banners of the cross over each shoulder, one saying "King of Kings" and the other "Lord of Lords."

Won't Muslims and atheists find this offensive? Isn't he everyone's President? Did he wear his Presidential cufflinks while clearly endorsing the "King of Kings".

All very, very troubling.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003


The New York Times reports on a shocking trend: women don't have to be men to be a success:
Time was when a woman's definition of success was said to be her apple-pie recipe. Or her husband's promotion. Or her well-turned-out children. Next, being successful required becoming a man. Remember those awful padded-shoulder suits and floppy ties? Success was about the male definition of money and power.

There is nothing wrong with money or power. But they come at a high price. And lately when women talk about success they use words like satisfaction, balance and sanity.

That's why a recent survey by the research firm Catalyst found that 26percent of women at the cusp of the most senior levels of management don't want the promotion. And it's why Fortune magazine found that of the 108 women who have appeared on its list of the top 50 most powerful women over the years, at least 20 have chosen to leave their high-powered jobs, most voluntarily, for lives that are less intense and more fulfilling.

Huh. How about that?

Well, that's what your President said at his White House Ramadan dinner:
Bush invited Muslim leaders to an Iftar, the evening feast that breaks the dawn-to-dusk fast Muslims observe during the month of Ramadan. He organized the first White House Iftar after bin Laden and al-Qaeda launched the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

"America is a land of many faiths and we honor, and welcome and value the Muslim faith," Bush said in opening remarks before the meal.

At a mid-day press conference earlier Tuesday, Bush said that the controversial Boykin "doesn't reflect my point of view or the view of this administration."

"Our war is not against the Muslim faith."

"Americans think terrorists are evil people who have hijacked a great religion," Bush said, responding to a reporter's question.

What makes Islam a "great religion" exactly? One supposes that since Bush claims to be a follower of Christ he doesn't actually believe the claims of Islam? If he does, why isn't he a Muslim? If he doesn't believe the claims of Islam then how can something be "great" that is based on a lie? Or is it simply a cynical ploy to make nice during a time when the US has troops in Iraq and a top general made impolitic remarks about Islam? I think I know which one I think it is.

[Link via Drudge]

Tuesday, October 28, 2003


Caving in to Russian Orthodox Church demands, officials have banned Halloween in Moscow schools:
Halloween has been banned from schools in Moscow after Russian education chiefs ruled it was too pagan.

Officials caved in to Church demands and issued a blanket ban on all Halloween celebrations from carving pumpkin heads to dressing up.

The Moscow Education Department has ordered all schools in the capital to ban any Halloween celebrations, Izvestia newspaper reported.

Well, I'll come out of the closet on this one--I like Halloween. Guess I'll have to cancel that late October trip to Russia.

Monday, October 27, 2003


Ted Olson reports it may be in the works (quotes from the London Times):
"The Archbishop of Canterbury will be granted sweeping new powers under secret proposals to force rebel Anglican churches into line," the paper reports. "The planned changes in church law would give Dr Rowan Williams the power to intervene in the affairs of churches outside England for the first time since the Church was established by Henry VIII. The proposals, which would have to be agreed by the Church's separate provinces, have already aroused suspicions that they will turn the Archbishop into an Anglican version of the Pope."

The Times says this was a written proposal discussed during the primates' meeting, not something created since then in response to their call for a commission to study the Archbishop of Canterbury's role in maintaining communion.

The fact is, if you're going to have a highly centralized communion such as the Anglican church, you've got to have some mechanism to enforce conformity to a standard. Otherwise you effectively lose the communion itself. Now the question is, are highly centralized communions the right approach?

Afraid not, but he was in negotiations for the role:
Looks like Val Kilmer won’t become the poster boy for the Mormon Church. The temperamental actor, who recently played porn king John Holmes in “Wonderland,” was deep in negotiations to play Joseph Smith, the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in a pro-Mormon movie.

Now that might have been interesting. I guess they'll have to opt for Donnie Osmond instead.

By the way, since Hollywood is interested in religious movies these days, why not one on Smith and the Mormons not done by Salt Lake City? You'd have it all: corruption, sex and violence.

Drudge reports that's what Hollywood thinks:
During Iran-Contra Scandal --


Reagan and Nancy sit in front of their breakfast. They can't eat. Can't drink. They're numb.

REAGAN: It's Armageddon... that's what it is. Armageddon. The Leader from the West will be revealed as the anti-Christ, and then God will strike him down. That's me. I am the anti-Christ.

NANCY: No, Ronnie...

As it so happened I preached about antichrist just yesterday morning. If only I'd known the above I could have saved a lot of sermon prep time. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to stick with I John 2:18-22.

Saturday, October 25, 2003


Certainly, argues Steven Yates:
The "wall of separation between church and state" was thus never intended as a complete separation between government and Christianity, much less the complete removal of Christianity from public life. Its intent was to forbid government from creating a state-sponsored church along the lines of the Church of England. The idea of separating church and civil government, Justice Moore points out, was not invented by Thomas Jefferson in his famous letter. It is implicit in Scripture itself, in passages such as Jesus Christ’s admonition to "render … unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s" (Matt. 22:21, KJ)

And yes, Dr. Yates also sniffs the odor of tyranny wafting from the judiciary.

Longtime abortion advocates the ACLU continues to show its true colors as they seek to help Michael Schiavo condemn Terri Schiavo to die:
The American Civil Liberties Union said Thursday that it will aid Michael Schiavo in his fight against Gov. Jeb Bush and the Florida Legislature, which earlier this week took the remarkable step of passing a law to prevent the Pinellas County man from disconnecting his brain-injured wife from a feeding tube.

For months, the ACLU resisted meddling in the dispute that has pitted a husband against his in-laws, believing that the courts were following the long-held legal right of an individual to refuse extraordinary medical measures, even if it hastens their death.

Shockingly, it's further evidence of the ACLU picking and choosing which civil liberties it likes, just ask Terri Schiavo's parents:
Pamela Hennessy, a spokeswoman for the parents of the impaired woman, Terri Schiavo, said she was "outraged" at the intervention of the ACLU, the nation's largest defender of individual rights. Schiavo's parents, Mary and Bob Schindler, are trying to keep their daughter alive.

"I've been contacting the ACLU since the beginning of my involvement in this case to have them speak out against what's going on with Terri," Hennessy said. "It's going on against her will. She's had her religious freedoms stripped from her. She's had her civil liberties stripped from her. And they're defending the husband?"

But the real reason for the ACLU hopping into this runs much deeper. The entire process by which Mrs. Schiavo was spared stands as a threat to the way the ACLU has managed to push its agenda for decades:
The entry of the ACLU and possibly other influential players into the life-and-death drama playing out in Tallahassee and the Tampa area underscores the growing dimensions of the coming court battle over whether the state's top leaders acted unconstitutionally in sidestepping the courts in the high-profile right-to-die case.

By substituting his judgment for the judgment of the courts, the governor "set aside the role of the whole judicial system," Simon said, warning that a precedent has been set for Bush and legislators to write laws gutting any court decision they don't like.

Yes, anytime the people express its will through its elected representatives (isn't that how its supposed to work?) in a way counter to a court decision, it must be meddling and certainly "unconstitutional". We all know the Constitution established judicial tyranny when the country was founded, don't we? It sounds like the ACLU is seeking to unconstitutionally disenfranchise the people of Florida by taking away the power of their elected reprsentatives.


We've not heard the end of the homosexual "marriage" issue as plans are underway to turn it into a major political issue:
Republican lawmakers and conservative activists are making plans to turn gay marriage into a major issue in next year's elections, with some Christian groups saying that banning same-sex unions is a higher immediate priority for them than restricting abortion....

"It's becoming a bigger issue by the day," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative group with many friends in the White House. "It's going to have a big impact on this election cycle. And we're going to help it become a front-burner issue at the state and national level, if it doesn't become one on its own."

The Bushites are uneasy about the whole thing as they seek to "the issue could hamper efforts to portray the president as a compassionate or tolerant conservative, a crucial part of his appeal to suburban women and swing voters.":
Administration officials, in private conversations, sounded skittish about the issue and said there is no chance Bush will take any further position on the issue before the Massachusetts ruling. After that, the president will have to make a high-stakes legal and political decision about how aggressive a response he will support.

You always like to see solid, principled political stands at the top. Let's pray Bush's hand can be forced on this one.

Friday, October 24, 2003


The Reuters news service has banned a United Methodist ad from appearing on their building in Times Square:
A $30,000 deal to bring a glitzy United Methodist ad campaign to the heart of Times Square has been rejected because of its religious content....

Church officials blasted the global media company for displaying ads for beer but rejecting messages about how people "can bring order and peace to their lives."

"Reuters is an international communications company that has decided it will be the arbiter of what the public sees and hears," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of the church's Nashville-based communications agency.

What kind of content did Reuters think a Methodist ad would have when they signed the deal? And have any of you been to Times Square and seen the billboards? I have, and any sort of religious content certainly would seem out of place.

Well, at least on the set of Mel Gibson's The Passion of Christ. Jim Caviezel, the actor playing Jesus, was struck by lightning on the movie set:
The crew was on a remote location a few hours from Rome when the storm occurred.

"I'm about a hundred feet away from them," producer Steve McEveety said, "when I glance over and see lightning coming out of Caviezel's ears."

Both Caviezel and his assistant director Michelini were struck. The main bolt hit Caviezel and one of its forks hit Michelini's umbrella.

Neither of the men sustained injuries in the incident.

Michelini has been nicknamed Lightning Boy after being struck twice by lightning during the filming in Italy. He had already suffered light burns on the tips of his fingers in an earlier incident during filming on a hilltop in the town of Matera.

Are two lightning strikes the same as two thumbs up (or down)?

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Scientists have discovered the secrets of mummy-making:
CHEMISTS FROM the University of Tübingen and the Munich-based Doerner-Institut replicated an ancient treatment of cedar wood and found it contained a preservative chemical called guaiacol.

“Modern science has finally found the secret of why some mummies can last for thousands of years,” Ulrich Weser of the University of Tübingen told Reuters Wednesday.

The team then tested the chemicals found in the cedar derivative on fresh pig ribs. They found it had an extremely high antibacterial effect without damaging body tissue.

Of course, the best way to combine cedar and pig ribs is in a pit barbecue, but you've got to give the Egyptians credit here. And it exposes scientific presumptions (always fun to do), which led them away from the truth:
The findings, published in Thursday’s issue of the journal Nature, will surprise Egyptologists who had thought the embalming oil was extracted from juniper rather than cedar.

The team also tested juniper extracts but found they did not contain the guaiacol preservatives.

Weser said that, despite ancient mentions of “cedar-juice,” scholars believed juniper to be the source because of similar Greek names and some mummies being found clutching juniper berries.

Hmmm, scientists being led away from the truth because of predetermined biases...

Wednesday, October 22, 2003


Severe storms hit southern England and blasted an ancient church so old it's recorded in the Domesday Book:
A 12th century church has been severely damaged by a lightning strike as thunderstorms lashed the south of England.

Lightning left a gaping hole after hitting the spire of St Andrew's Church in the West Sussex village of Tangmere, near Chichester, at around midday, blowing out all but one of its stained-glass windows.

To everyone's great relief no one was injured as the English don't bother using churches any more.


Archaeologists have found a Roman batthouse from the time of Christ in Nazareth:
Professor Richard Freund, an academic behind important Holy Land digs at the ancient city of Bethsaida, near Tiberias, and Qumran in the Jordan Valley, says the significance of the find cannot be overstated. Over the summer he put aside other excavation projects to concentrate on the Nazareth site. "I am sure that what we have here is a bathhouse from the time of Jesus," he says, "and the consequences of that for archaeology, and for our knowledge of the life of Jesus, are enormous."...

Freund is sure that plenty remains to be found under and around Shama's shop. "We are talking about relics lying untouched, buried under the ground, for 2,000 years at the place where Jesus lived, and from the time when he was living here. It doesn't get much more exciting than that."

But will they get to dig there at all?
Further excavation of the site, however, is not yet assured: Shama's discovery is mired in financial difficulties and the sectarian acrimony that has blighted the Middle East for centuries. Given the find's significance, it is surprising to learn that Shama, a Christian Arab, is receiving no outside support, even from the state. Since he and his wife sank the last of their life savings in excavating and developing the site, the shop is close to collapse - and with it perhaps the bathhouse project.

Part of the problem seems to be worry on the part of the Vatican that the batthouse might threaten their tourism:
The most powerful player in the Christian world, the Vatican, has so far refused to throw its weight behind the dig, possibly fearing that Shama's find threatens its own dominance where tourism in the city is concerned. Its Basilica of the Annunciation, the Middle East's largest church, is on the other side of town from Mary's Well. There has been a long-running dispute between the Catholic and Greek Orthodox churches about whose church is on the true site of the Annunciation.

You like to see such selfless concern.

Mel Gibson has signed a deal with Newmarket to distribute The Passion of Christ:
Gibson's Icon Productions will retain all rights to "The Passion" while Newmarket will distribute the film for a cut of the gross, according to the entertainment magazine Variety.

Gibson sources told WorldNetDaily Icon is planning a release timed with Ash Wednesday, which next year falls on Feb. 25. Earlier reports had Gibson considering a release tied to Easter, which falls on April 11.

Coming soon to a theater near you.

Tuesday, October 21, 2003


Ted Baehr finds no antisemitism with Mel Gibson's Passion movie. The real problem is that the critics are a pack of anti-Christs:
Several people have called me lately to discuss the controversy over "The Passion.” Generally, they have brought up the question of whether the movie is anti-Semitic. The real issue of "The Passion" is not anti-Semitism; after all, Jesus was Jewish, as were the disciples. The real issue is anti-Christ, a bigoted position embraced by a group of negative, self-appointed secular elites, whose intent is to attack Jesus Christ by attacking the authenticity of the Bible and of Christianity itself.

Baehr endorses the extreme early dating of the New Testament books posited by J.A.T. Robinson. Robinson argued the entire NT was written before AD 70 and the destruction of the Temple. Certainly the entire NT was written in the first century, although I would argue that Revelation was written ~AD 96. At any rate, Baehr has the right read on this one.

Somehow I missed this last month, but scientists have verified Siloam Tunnel’s biblical origins:
A tunnel that snakes under the ancient walls of Jerusalem likely was built around 700 B.C. during the reign of King Hezekiah, as described in the Bible, a new study suggests.

Chalk another one up for the Bible.

Monday, October 20, 2003


Well, of course they would. Washington Post's Howard Kurtz details how the Times gave NBC the story first to give it more 'pop', quoting from Hugh Hewitt's site:
"The Los Angeles Times thus gave away a scoop on a story that ended up on its front page. Why would it do that? It may have a precedent in the world of journalism, but to me it stinks. Didn't the Times engage in manipulation of the news to increase its impact on the audience? Or did the paper need cover for the story and gave it to NBC in order to generate that cover:

"Arkin: It was all coordinated, and I think that NBC's contribution was really its ability to showcase the video and audio of General Boykin which I think is much more powerful than anything I could put into words on paper.

"Hewitt: So the Los Angeles Times agreed to let NBC go first?

"Arkin: Yes."

This shouldn't surprise us, of course. It's a classic case of media shenanigans oft recorded on cut on the bias. We see, though, how this tempest in a teapot 'scandal' was entirely manufactured by the LA Times. I understand the Times desires buzz about any story it runs, but was their motivation in this case (they don't do this all the time, do they?) in part because of the general's (perceived by them) unsavory religious views?

Teenagers in pajamas can't be a good thing argues Linda Schrock Taylor:
You may have noticed students headed towards school – carrying sleeping bags, toothbrushes, clean underwear – and wondered why they weren't going home, instead. Well, those students are headed for school-sponsored activities called "Lock-Ins" and must arrive before all doors are locked. Children locked in; parents and values locked out.

Ms. Taylor offers an earth-shattering suggestion:
I think parents must get back to telling kids, "NO!" I think our schools must get back to making responsible decisions and providing activities that encourage decent, age-appropriate behavior. I think the entire culture should take the weight of making heavy life decisions off the backs of our children. We need to say "NO" to all the bad and distracting things; we need to protect our children from damage. We must do everything possible to help our children focus their attention on their educations; on healthier activities; on strong relationships with family and close friends.

But doesn't that sound so, so...negative. Yes, and amen!

Friday, October 17, 2003


Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin has stirred up a hornet's nest when it was revealed he *gasp* actually talked of his belief in God:
Outraged by Boykin’s remarks, the Interfaith Alliance appealed to Bush to reprimand the general. An Islamic rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, demanded that Boykin be reassigned.

“Putting a man with such extremist views in a critical policymaking position sends entirely the wrong message to a Muslim world that is already skeptical about America’s motives and intentions,” said Nihad Awad, the council’s executive director.

Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee (R-R.I.) called the reported remarks “deplorable,” and Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) said the Armed Services Committee, which he chairs — and which recommended Boykin be confirmed for the Pentagon post — would examine the matter.

No, Boykin's remarks wouldn't be appropriate for a Pentagon press conference. But these were remarks before private prayer groups. Here we find a man who is expressing the faith that allows him to deal with his job and his life, and last I checked he had the Constitutional right to hold and express such views. Oh, that's right, freedom of (and from) religion only applies to people who don't identify with Christ.

Thursday, October 16, 2003


According to a Pew Trust poll most would be unwilling to vote for an atheist, and suprisingly:
Interestingly, many even [sic] atheists didn't like the idea of voting for an atheist.

I don't blame 'em.

In an article pondering whether or not ‘Joan of Arcadia’ will start a trend is this enlightening dialogue between Joan and "God":
“I’m NOT religious, you know,” she informs God (who is now a cute guy at her school).

“It’s not about religion, Joan,” God tells her. “It’s about fulfilling your nature.”

“Uhhh,” she stammers, “I definitely haven’t done that.”

Ah. You see it's all about me. God's just along for the ride.

Wednesday, October 15, 2003


The world's second largest Anglican fellowship isprotesting the confirmation of homosexual bishops:
Members of Nigeria's 17 million-strong Anglican Church - the world's second-largest Anglican congregation - spent a day fasting and praying to protest the confirmation of homosexual priests and bishops in Britain and the United States.

"We are not happy that the Archbishop of Canterbury is being soft on this issue of homosexuals in the church," the Rev Obi Ulonna, referring to the titular head of the 77 million-member global Anglican community.

"We are praying that God will guide and protect our Bishop and all who are against the gay movement," added Rev Ulonna, a cleric at the St Stephens parish in Lagos.

Perhaps someday Africa can send missionaries to America and Britain to help teach that the Bible actually means what is says on such issues.

According to a new FoxNews poll, a full 92% of Americans believe in God:
Fully 92 percent of Americans say they believe in God, 85 percent in heaven and 82 percent in miracles, according to the latest FOX News poll. Though belief in God has remained at about the same level, belief in the devil has increased slightly over the last few years — from 63 percent in 1997 to 71 percent today.

And surprisingly, younger people are more likely to believe in both the devil and hell:
Young people are much more likely than older Americans to believe in both hell and the devil. An 86 percent majority of adults between the ages of 18 to 34 believe in hell, but that drops to 68 percent for those over age 70. Similarly, 79 percent of young people believe in the devil compared to 67 percent of the over-70 age group.

We always have to ask what such "belief" translates into, but American sentiment for religion still remains strong.

Monday, October 13, 2003


A Dutch priest has left the Catholic Church because of his allergy to communion wafers:
Father Stefan van Dierendonck, 30, from Nijmegen, felt sick every time he took communion, reports De Morgen.

Tests revealed he was allergic to gluten - but the Catholic Church does not allow gluten-free wafers to be used for communion....

In 1998, he got special permission to use low gluten wafers but it didn't help.

He decided to leave the church after the Vatican advised him to see a psychiatrist: "That did it, I didn't want to choose between faith and health," he said.

It looks like the Vatican lost a high quality priest in that one.


Auburn University football coach Tommy Tubberville's Arkansas native mother found a reason after Auburn defeated seventh ranked Arkansas 10-3 on Saturday:
Tuberville's mother proudly returned to church in their hometown of Camden, Ark.

"She normally comes back with us, but she had made arrangements if we won, so she could go back home with a friend back to Camden and could go to church (Sunday)," said Tuberville, whose record at Arkansas is now 1-4.

I'm sure her motives were holy.

Friday, October 10, 2003


The Russian Orthodox priest who performed the marriage ceremony for a homosexual couple has had a rude awakening:
A priest has been sacked, his church bulldozed and the wreckage burnt after he allowed the building to be used for a gay marriage last month.

Church officials in Nizhni Novgorod, west Russia, said that the chapel in which the men were married had been destroyed because the marriage ceremony had "desecrated" it.

Father Andriy, spokesman for the Nizhni Novgorod eparchy told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper: "Father Vladimir Enert, who married the gay couple, committed a sin in doing so. He desecrated the place. We therefore needed to destroy the chapel."

He added that Vladmir Enert had been defrocked by Russian Orthodox Church officials.

I guess there's no question where the Russian Orthodox Church stands on homosexual "marriage".

Thursday, October 09, 2003


To the dismay of the World Health Organization, the Vatican is claiming that condoms don't stop Aids:
The Catholic Church is telling people in countries stricken by Aids not to use condoms because they have tiny holes in them through which the HIV virus can pass - potentially exposing thousands of people to risk.
The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the HIV virus.

A senior Vatican spokesman backs the claims about permeable condoms, despite assurances by the World Health Organisation that they are untrue.

True or untrue--would you have even 'protected' intercourse with someone you knew to have HIV? Then why would anyone be willing to risk infection when you don't know one way or the other?

Homosexual activists are now seeking to de-legalize traditional marriage:
A group of legal scholars and gay advocacy groups are calling for marriage to be de-legalized in order to make the distribution of benefits more fair for people who aren’t married, including gay couples.

University of Houston Law School professor Victor Flatt cites social security, immigration, tax benefits and travel benefits as some of the perks married couples receive.

"Their idea is why should you be treated differently by the law just because you're married," said David Blankenhorn at the Institute for American Values (search). "Why should society hold up one particular family form and say we protect and support this family form but not others. That would be their main argument."

Whether de-legalizing God ordained marriage or legalizing homosexual "marriage" the ultimate goal is the same: remove any distinctions in society between the family unit that has formed the very foundation of Western society and behavior that has traditionally been looked upon as destructive. Regrettably the forces of decadence are waxing stronger.

In its infinite wisdom the United Nations has ruled that Canada should ban spanking:
As a signatory of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, Canada is obligated to make periodic appearances before the U.N.'s Committee on Rights of the Child, which said the country should "adopt legislation to remove the existing authorization of the use of 'reasonable force' in disciplining children," the National Post reported.

The U.N. body says Canada should "explicitly prohibit all forms of violence against children, however light, within the family, in schools and in other institutions where children might be placed."

As nutty as that is, this is a trend Americans must watch. Thankfully the U.S. is not (yet) a signatory of the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of the Child. Nontheless, how many feel comfortable spanking their child in any sort of public place? No matter what the little terrors might be doing that needs reining in you're watching over your shoulder for the state social services to swoop in.

"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of discipline will remove it far from him." --Proverbs 22:15

Wednesday, October 08, 2003


Recent Gallup polling has found that a majority of Americans favor the display of religious symbols, including the Ten Commandments in the Alabama Judicial Building:
Three separate Gallup Polls conducted over the last month confirm that 7 in 10 Americans approve of the display of a Ten Commandments monument in a public area. These results come on the heels of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's suspension for defying a federal judge's order to remove a granite Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building in Montgomery. Additional polling shows that Americans' attitudes are complex when it comes to the issue of the relationship between church and state. On the one hand, Americans clearly feel that religious symbols should be allowed in public places. However, the public finds the display of Christian symbols acceptable as long as symbols of all religions are displayed, and does not feel the presence of a Ten Commandments monument sends a message that the justice system shows special consideration to Jews and Christians.

It appears that it's mainly the judiciary and the ACLU that wants to drive religion from the public square.

We'll continue our all Mel all the time coverage. Aaron D. Wolf discovers the real scandal always turns out to be the Gospel message itself. And, of course, that's been true for going on 2000 years now.

Terry Lane finds that Mel's Jesus movie teaches us one thing: that we must avoid The Gospel of John at all costs!
From beginning to end, the fourth gospel is an anti-Jewish tract. Perhaps it is intended as an argument that Christianity is not simply a Jewish sect, but a brand new, superior religion. Anyone looking for a libretto for an oratorio or a screenplay for a film should avoid John's gospel. While John, whoever he might have been, was probably not an anti-semite in the racist sense of the term, he was certainly anti-Jewish, rather like a Protestant might be anti-Catholic. And the catastrophic fact of the matter is that this gospel, presumed to be "the Word of God" by Christians, has caused more misery and suffering than any other book ever written.

Both Jews and Palestinians have reason to rue the day John took up his stylus to write.

Christians have a tendency to mine the gospels for quotable quotes, rather than reading the books as biographical narratives. They avoid confronting the bits that make them squirm.

But the Gibson epic might make people read John as a life story of Jesus and his enemies and ask what is to be done with it in the 21st century. It will take some exegetic wizardry to make it palatable.

"For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

Yes, venomous words from the Gospel of Love that ought to make anyone squirm.

Fred Reed explains why good questions are better than bad answers:
I often meet a—to me—curious sort of fellow who simply cannot comprehend what religion might be about. He is puzzled as distinct from contemptuous or haughty. He genuinely sees no difference between religious faith and believing that the earth is flat. He is like a congenitally deaf man watching a symphony orchestra: with all the good will in the world he doesn’t see the profit in all that sawing with bows and blowing into things.

But it is science, Reed discovers, that in fact fails to tell us anything.

Newsweek reports that major studios are taking a pass on serving as distributors of Mel Gibson's Jesus movie, The Passion:
"It's not worth the aggravation," says a studio head. "Even if it makes money, it's not going to be 'Titanic.'" Studios are worried about protests, hate mail and boycotts.

"Even if it doesn't deserve it," says another film executive, "it's going to be used as a political football."

That's all well and good, but the reason given is that the last time they dealt with a Jesus movie they ran into all sorts of trouble:

Some studio executives point to the last controversial movie about Christ as a case in point.

In 1988, Universal released Martin Scorsese's "The Last Temptation of Christ," which proposed that Christ was plagued with the same doubts and appetites as normal men. The movie was met with outrage.

"There were millions of letters written and 25,000 people marched on Universal," says Tom Pollock, then a top exec at the studio. "There were death threats against my chairman, myself and Marty Scorsese. There was security in our lives for years."

It's nice to get a window into the head of Hollywood: Jesus movie=The Last Temptation of Christ. Hey if the world didn't like that one, we'd better steer clear of any Jesus movie. Good thinkin'.

With Mel Gibson's movie The Passion in production and an adaptation of the Gospel of Matthew hitting theaters, Jews are far from united in their reactions to the films:
Much of the media coverage has focused on the conflict between Gibson, who belongs to a traditionalist Catholic sect opposed to Vatican reforms in general, and some Jewish figures who warn the film will stir anti-Semitism by splicing together the most anti-Jewish portions of the New Testament gospels with extra-biblical writings of mystics who blamed all Jews for the crucifixion.

Now that debate is turning inward, as Jews point fingers at one another over the way they have dealt with Gibson and argue over just how Jews should deal with Christian portrayals of the Jesus story in popular culture.

The internal conflict over the Gibson movie, meanwhile, comes amid Jewish disagreement over the release of yet another movie about Jesus, “The Gospel of John,” which some Jews are calling a more sensitive portrayal of events.

Observant Jewish film critic Michael Medved sees a reason for the Matthew movie getting a pass:
Medved said the ADL’s praise of the lesser-known Jesus film showed the “tremendous hypocrisy” of Jewish organizations.

While the credits in “The Gospel of John” were laden with Jewish names, Medved said, Gibson “made the mistake of not inviting that kind of Jewish participation.”

Foxman, however, dismissed Medved’s criticism. He said the ADL’s assessment of “The Gospel of John” had nothing to do with its Jewish credits.

“We don’t look at the names,” he said, noting that he didn’t even know there were Jews associated with the film.

Wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Say no more.

Tuesday, October 07, 2003


A teacher in Casablanca has literally thrown two schoolboys out of her classroom after warnings:
Two Moroccan schoolboys have sustained injuries after a female teacher threw them out of a first floor classroom window for being too noisy.

One of the boys, a nine-year-old, has been taken to hospital with a fractured shoulder and serious facial and head injuries while the other, aged ten, suffered slight wounds.

A government official in Casablanca has stated the female teacher had warned the two she would throw them out if they were not quiet.

"They did not listen. They should have listened," the official said, adding that the teacher "suffers depression."

Finally, a government official who will stand behind disciplinary action!

Monday, October 06, 2003


Mark your calendars for next Sunday when you can witness a clown deliver a high-wire church sermon in a cathedral in Herts, England:
Canon Stephen Lake, Acting Dean of St Albans, said: "We're looking forward to welcoming the clowns and seeing how they use fun and laughter to communicate the Christian message. Sometimes we can take ourselves too seriously, so when they approached us to help celebrate their anniversary, we were happy to accept."

Neil Wilkin, 'chair fool' of Holy Fools, who lives in St Albans, said: "We are inviting people to fall in love with the fun and foolishness of the clown, and to be caught up in the magic and mystery of Christ's message to the world."

The clowns will take part in a Parish Eucharist at the Cathedral at 9.30am.

What Would Bozo Do?

Saturday, October 04, 2003


Rabbi Daniel Lapin tells fellow Jews Stop bothering Mel Gibson, and discovers a double standard:
Surely Jewish organizations would carry just a little more moral authority if they routinely protested all attacks on faith, not only those troubling to Judaism.

Amen to that.


R. Scott Colglazier, senior minister of University Christian Church in Fort Worth, Texas, thinks Mel deserves all the criticism, and finds that Gibson's theology is terribly outdated and naive to boot:
Gibson seems oblivious to the fact that biblical "accounts" of the Crucifixion are not really accounts at all, at least not in the journalistic sense of the word. What we have in the four Gospels are theological portraits of Jesus. The Gospel writers often contradict one another when recounting details about the death of Jesus. And it seems the writers were more concerned with what was occurring at the end of the first century in their own churches than about what happened on the day Jesus was crucified. The villainization of Jews found in these narratives reflects, as much as anything, a strained relationship between church and synagogue at the end of the first century.

Why is it that I find myself siding with a Jewish rabbi instead of the good "senior minister"? I suppose it's because I'm "oblivious", too. I guess I need to attend Colglazier's Christian church so I can be taught how the Bible isn't true after all.

[Thanks to David M. for the link.]

Biblical scholar Ben Witherington gives us his Top Ten New Testament Archaeological Finds of the Past 150 Years. And yes, he includes the James ossuary.

Friday, October 03, 2003


My plane arrived at the Birmingham airport last night carrying a tired me. I was glad to get home and see all my girls. The trip to Oregon was fascinating and fun. The Willamette Valley is a geographical wonder, as is the Oregon coast. Perhaps I can get some pics up for folks to see.

The Market Street church seemed to be a fine group of folks. They treated (and fed!) me royally. I must now devote myself to prayer and fasting in order to recover from the feasting. The folks there had very kind words about my lessons on Ephesians and were a great encouragement to me. I hope I can make it back out there sometime.

Episcopal theologian Paul Zahl of Birmingham, Alabama has exposed a systematic plan to suppress dissent of those who opposed the appointment of openly homosexual bishop Eugene Robinson:
Zahl said he was accidentally given an agenda and strategy memo by the staff of the Anglican Consultative Council of London that lays out a plan for dealing with conservatives who opposed approval of the U.S. Episcopal Church's first openly gay bishop.

"They are circumventing and pre-empting a genuine exchange of fair opinion," Zahl said.

Zahl said the two secret documents were a tightly scripted agenda for the meeting and a memo to Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, advising him how to avoid allowing conservatives to effectively voice their opinion about Robinson.

The memo to the archbishop of Canterbury argued that it was imperative to frustrate the will of archbishops from Third World countries who are generally conservative and strongly opposed to the U.S. church's stance on homosexuality, Zahl said.

Which shows the stance of the left continues to be all views need to be heard as long as they agree with their views. Oh, and whatever happened to the great concern for those in the Third World--or is that as long as they do as they're told?