Saturday, February 28, 2004


A rare coin find has forced historians to backpedal on the existence of a rogue Roman 'emperor', Domitianus:
[The coin] bears the face of Emperor Domitianus and is only the second coin ever found which bears the image of the self-proclaimed ruler of Britain and France in 271AD.

A similar coin was found in France 100 years ago but until now its uniqueness had meant both Emperor Domitianus and the coin were dismissed as a hoax.

Historians say the British discovery confirms the French find is genuine and Domitianus existed.

They believe he was an upstart from the Roman legion who was ousted for treason for daring to declare himself emperor and have the coins made.

And sometimes historians are wrong.

[Link via LRC]

Friday, February 27, 2004


Scientists have discovered dinosaur fossils in Antarctica:
Two new species of dinosaur, one a quick-moving meat-eater and the other a giant plant-eater, have been discovered in Antarctica, researchers said Thursday.

The 70 million-year-old fossils of the carnivore apparently rested for millennia at the bottom of an Antarctic sea, while remains of the 100-foot-long (30 meter) herbivore were found on the top of a mountain.

Well, one may not necessarily buy into the scientists' dating, still it gives us a vision of a very different world than we now live in.

The ACLU is sniffing lawsuit because of supposed religious discrimination by the Salvation Army:
Current and former Salvation Army employees sued the organization famous for its red Christmas kettles Tuesday, alleging the government-funded group preached religious and sexual intolerance to its staff.

The workers accused the Salvation Army of creating a hostile work environment for about 600 employees who provide social services for more than 2,000 children in New York state.

The charitable organization required employees to pledge to preach the Gospel, to identify their church affiliation and to authorize their religious leaders to reveal private information to the Salvation Army, according to the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union's New York chapter.

I can tell you right now that the church I work with exercised religious discrimination when they looked for an evangelist. They would not have hired a Catholic, a Methodist or a Muslim. But what's the difference (for now, anyway)? Government money. Where government money goes, goes the government, its ridiculous policies and an aggressively anti-religious ACLU.

Just ask the Salvation Army.

Thursday, February 26, 2004


Clear Channel Communications has dropped the Howard Stern Show for indecency:
Clear Channel Communications, the biggest radio broadcaster in the nation, suspended the Howard Stern show from its stations yesterday after announcing a policy to prevent the broadcasting of indecent content.

The moves by Clear Channel came after it fired a talk-show host who broadcast sexually explicit material.

"Clear Channel drew a line in the sand today with regard to protecting our listeners from indecent content, and Howard Stern's show blew right through it," Clear Channel Radio's president, John Hogan, said in a statement. The statement did not specifically describe the content but said it "was vulgar, offensive and insulting, not just to women and African Americans but to anyone with a sense of common decency.''

I think maybe we're starting to get their attention.

DRUDGE reports:
"'I'm not going to spend $9 just for a few laughs' -- CBS's Andy Rooney to Don Imus on why he won't see PASSION OF CHRIST.... "

If that doesn't tell you where Rooney is coming from, then what will?

Marshall High School in Portland, Oregon has ordered the school's Bible Club to remove its display:
The Hispanic Club, the Chess Club and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance are just some of the clubs that have displays in the hallways of Portland schools.

But after the Bible Club at Marshall High School (search) put a Bible and some other Christian books in a display case, some teachers complained to the principal. After a call to the district's lawyer, the display was taken down.

District officials said they felt the display gave the impression that the school was endorsing Christianity.

Bible Club leader Jeff Chatterton fought back by contacting the American Center for Law and Justice, an organization that has taken on a number of similar cases. This week Chatterton filed a federal lawsuit against the school district, saying that his right to free speech was violated.

Chatterton also claimed that the school clearly violated of the Federal Equal Access Act. The Supreme Court has ruled that all student groups be given the same access to outlets such as school newspapers, bulletin boards, even the public address system.

No free speech if you're religious. Yeah, that's what the Founders had in mind.

A group of ancient manuscripts have been uncovered in Egypt:
A cache of manuscripts up to 1,500 years old has been discovered in a Coptic monastery in the Western Desert of Egypt. The find was made at Deir al-Surian, the Monastery of the Syrians, which already has one of the richest ancient libraries in Christendom. Set in the desert sands and virtually cut off from the outside world until recently, Deir al-Surian traces its roots back to the earliest period of Christian monasticism. Established in the 6th century, it was soon occupied by monks from Syria and Mesopotamia and is currently home to 200 Egyptian Copts....

A single completed manuscript and hundreds of fragments were found when reconstruction work was undertaken on the ancient tower, which is probably well over a millennium old. The library had originally been established there, since it was the most protected part of the monastery, but the first floor collapsed around five centuries ago, and a new wooden floor was simply inserted above.

It should be an exciting process to discover what's in such a manuscript rich area as Egypt.

Theosebes posted on the case of scholarship winner denied his scholarship when it was discovered he was studying theology. The Supreme Court has now ruled that it's acceptable to deny such moneys:
The court's 7-2 ruling held that the state of Washington was within its rights to deny a taxpayer-funded scholarship to a college student who was studying to be a minister. That holding applies even when money is available to students studying anything else.

"Training someone to lead a congregation is an essentially religious endeavor," Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist wrote for the court majority. "Indeed, majoring in devotional theology is akin to a religious calling as well as an academic pursuit."

Not everyone on the court agreed with the majority. Two of its more sensible heads dissented:
Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented.

"Let there be no doubt: This case is about discrimination against a religious minority," Scalia wrote for the two.

"In an era when the court is so quick to come to the aid of other disfavored groups, its indifference in this case, which involves a form of discrimination to which the Constitution actually speaks, is exceptional."

Scalia said the court's majority was trying to play down the damage to Davey, who continued his education without the subsidy. He did not choose to enter the ministry after graduation, and is now in law school.

"The indignity of being singled out for special burdens on the basis of one's calling is so profound that the concrete harm produced can never be dismissed as insubstantial," wrote Scalia, the father of a Catholic priest.

Just another move dictated by our state religion: secularism.

Wednesday, February 25, 2004


A seven year old Pittsburg girl has been suspended from school for warning a classmate he would go to hell:
Brandy McKenith, a pupil at Sunnyside Elementary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, reacted after hearing a boy use the phrase "I swear to God".

McKenith's classmate told the teacher that Brandy had told him "You're going to go to hell for swearing to God" and the youngster was sent to the headteacher's office.

Pittsburgh Public Schools spokeswoman Pat Crawford said the student code of conduct prohibits profanity, but does not provide a definition of what profanity is.

Hmmm, it sounds like the wrong kid is accused of being profane. Typically, any behavior is tolerated other than one that indicates consequences.

Tuesday, February 24, 2004


The latest line of attack used by critics of Mel Gibson and his movie 'The Passion of Christ' is to condemn him for making money off of it. The ever subtle Andy Rooney states that Gibson (along with Pat Robertson) is 'wacko', and asks 'How many million dollars does it look as if you're going to make off the crucifixion of Christ?' The NewsMax commentary well responds:
Rooney fails to say how much he and CBS and Viacom have made off Saddam Hussein, 9/11, the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq, the Vietnam War, the death penalty, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan ...

Critics were gleefully predicting the movie would be a financial and box office flop just a few months ago, pleased that Gibson had poured his money down the proverbial crawdad hole.

But Gibson has simply done what Steven Spielberg did with "Schindler's List". Did Spielberg make money off the Holocaust? Was Mr. Rooney upset? I hear no outrage at Zondervan or Broadman & Holman, Bible publishers who actually charge for their products, and I assume make a profit. I've complained some about the price of Bibles before, but I figure the guy printing the Bible needs to feed and clothe his family.

I can tell you, I'd rather give millionaire Mel Gibson money for making what appears to be a Biblical film about Jesus than give millionaire Andy Rooney money for denigrating the Gospel and people who take it seriously.

Can something like 'The Passion' be exploited? Well, I think one can go too far:
Bob Siemon Designs, producer of millions of WWJD (What would Jesus do?) bracelets, is selling Passion lapel pins, key rings, and inch-long nail pendants.

Now that's getting a little close to the edge, in my opinion. But it's really more a matter of taste than anything else. I find things such as that at best bordering on tacky, but I'm not going to launch a bitter assault against Bob Siemons Designs, either.

There's a chasm between what Mel Gibson will receive for this movie and the thirty pieces of silver that Judas felt was worth Jesus' death. And I think even someone like Andy Rooney can understand that.

Monday, February 23, 2004


Roger Friedman at Fox gleefully quotes The Hollywood Reporter's blasting of Mel's movie:
The Hollywood Reporter didn't like it, and they like most everything. Their reviewer wrote:

"People will see what they want to see in a movie shorn of any point of view not in literal accord with the gospels. True believers will bear witness to holy writ. Others — nonbelievers or even less literal-minded Christians — will be troubled by the film's staunch adherence to a story line and characters that have been used by bigots to fuel hatred for centuries."

The Reporter also says that the movie's violence is so intense and more important than character development that audiences may have trouble with that.

Did Martin Scorcese show any view not in accord with denigration and blaspphemy in "The Last Temptation of Christ"? Was he ever criticized
by Hollywood for that? Every message is welcome in Hollywood except one brought by "the believers" who wish to adhere to the Gospel story's literal rendering of "holy writ".

And just when was the last time Hollywood was troubled by violence in any movie? Yeah, that's what I thought--never! Suddenly they're concerned that violence supplants character development?! Excuse me while I laugh at that one.

And finally, I can assure you that those who have adhered to the literal rendering of the Gospel message--"turn the other cheek"; "bless those who hate you"; "love your neighbor as yourself"--have done far more to civilize the world than Hollywood ever has.

Movie critics Roger Ebert and Richard Roeper have given Mel Gibson's "Passion" two thumbs up:
Sounding very much like the Pope in his widely reported reaction to the film (“It is as it was.”), Ebert said, “It's the only religious movie I've seen, with the exception of 'The Gospel According to St. Matthew' by Pasolini, that really seems to deal with what actually happened.”

Roeper echoed Ebert’s words of praise, saying, “This is the most powerful, important and by far the most graphic interpretation of Christ's final hours ever put on film.” He added that “Mel Gibson is a masterful storyteller, and this is the work of his lifetime. You have to admire not just Gibson for his vision and his directing abilities, but Jim Caviezel [who plays Christ] and the rest of the cast.”

And what about the charges of anti-semitism?
Ebert said, “I hope people will see this movie for themselves and then judge. I don't think the movie is anti-Semitic. Christ was born as a Jew, his disciples were Jewish. Yes, some Jewish priests call for his death. They're threatened by his assault on their establishment. Institutions protect their power structures. Most of the Jews in this movie are horrified by what they see.”

And Roeper pointed out that the movie “does not blame all Jews past and present for the death of Jesus and no matter what your faith, it should not be shaken or threatened by a movie, even one as intense and personal as this one.”

I must admit, I truly expected at least Ebert to torpedo the movie. It says much for the quality of the film that he does not.

Saturday, February 21, 2004


David Gibson at the New York Times examines another attempt to discern what Jesus really looked like. Looking at two of their 'Jesus' pictures I think we can pretty much rule out Him looking like an Anglo-Saxon or a sub-Saharan African. Probably the first-century Semitic man option is the best:
...the average man of Jesus' day was about 5 feet 3 inches tall and a bantamlike 110 pounds. Given the harsh conditions, especially for working stiffs like the members of Jesus' family, combined with Jesus' ascetic lifestyle, which included walking everywhere, scholars agree that he was most likely a rather sinewy peasant, as tough as a root and about as appealing.

Anything that pulls the popular image away from the 'wimpy' Jesus is a good thing in my book.

Friday, February 20, 2004


The critics and media continue to go after Mel and his "Passion". The Mercury News healdine reads "Scholars: Crucifixion portrayal innacurate". But that's not quite exactly what the scholars say:
The dearth of information about Jesus' crucifixion makes it impossible to describe the event in accurate detail, as Mel Gibson attempts to do in his new film, "The Passion of Christ," Bible scholars and anthropologists say....

Some scholars say even the most widely recognized features of the crucifixion, such as the shape of the cross and the use of nails, are open to debate.

Yes, open to debate, but that's not the same as saying that Gibson's portrayal is wrong. Yes, he does accept the traditional scene of the cross as portrayed in art through the centuries, but these scholars don't seem to say that what he's showing is certainly wrong.

One of the "scholars", Joe Zias, argues with the portrayal of nails being used in crucifixion:
Zias said the question of whether Jesus was nailed to the cross or simply tied to it remains a mystery. "There is no evidence whatsoever he was nailed," he said. "The Gospels say he was crucified and leave it at that."

Zias criticized "The Passion of Christ" for accepting the standard version of three nails being used. He said experiments on cadavers carried out by the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages have shown that people hanging with nails through their hands will fall to the ground within a relatively short time, pulled by gravity.

Others chime in in support:
John Dominic Crossan, emeritus professor of religious studies at DePaul University in Chicago, agrees with Zias that little is known about Jesus' execution.

"Early Christians believed that Jesus was nailed to the cross," he said. "But there is absolutely no proof of this. The only skeleton of a crucified person ever recovered indicated that the two arms were tied to a crossbar, and two nails were used in either shinbone. There was no standard procedure in any of this. The only common feature in the different types of crucifixion is intense sadism."

There are, of course, a number of problems with the statements made here. First, there is archaelogical evidence of nails being used in crucifixion as recorded by a scholar named Joe Zias:
In 1968 building contractors working in a suburb north of Jerusalem accidentally uncovered a Jewish tomb dated to the first century after the death of Christ.6 Lying in a Jewish ossuary bearing the Hebrew inscription 'Jehohanan the son of HGQWL' were the skeletal remains of a man in his twenties, who had been crucified. The evidence for this was based on the right calcaneum (heel bone) of the individual, pierced by an iron nail 11.5 cms. in length.

So this Joe Zias seems to be well aware of a quite famous bit of crucifixion archaelogical evidence showing a nail (see picture). It's also quite evident from the picture of Jesus on the cross from the Passion movie that accompanies the AP article that Jesus is also tied to the cross, thus negating their 3-nails-and-gravity objection.

And in contradiction to their statement that the Gospels do not speak to the use of nails, John--a witness to the crucifixion--records the doubting apostle Thomas as speaking to it:
"Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my hand into His side, I will not believe it." (John 20:25b)

To which the risen Jesus replies one week later:
"Put your finger here; see my hands."

Furthermore, Gospel writer Luke records the apostle Peter as saying on Pentecost:
This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to the cross."

Paul who no one doubts would have been familiar with the details of Jesus' crucifixion, states of the old law that
He took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:14)

So the issue isn't quite as unsettled as these "scholars" would lead you to believe, nor as they most certainly know.

Thursday, February 19, 2004


Well, we hadn't had a James Ossuary update in awhile what with all this homosexual 'marriage' and Mel Gibson 'Passion' stuff. According to a television report the ossuary owner, Oded Golan ran a fraud ring:
Oded Golan, who is suspected of forging the inscription "James the brother of Jesus," on a first century ossuary, worked with a ring of counterfeiters who sold dozens of forged articles to antiquities dealers and collectors, Channel 2's "Fact" program reports.

"Fact" broadcast a film by Gilad Tokatly, who investigated the subject, showing a letter from Golan to his lawyer, authorizing him to sell an additional "ancient" tablet, with an inscription attributed to the Biblical King Joash.

Golan denies he ever owned the artifact....

To add bite to the charges, "[p]olice are currently preparing an indictment against Golan."

I openly admit that I want to believe in the ossuary's authenticity, and I believe a strong case can be made for it, however if it's not real, let's expose it now.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Well, it's only fair says a British public policy group:
Children should learn about atheism in religious education lessons as part of moves to make the subject more relevant to the modern world, according to a report from a think-tank with close ties to New Labour.

Indeed, the subject's name should be changed from religious education to religious, philosophical and moral education, says the study published this week by the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR).

Guidelines for schools on how to teach the beliefs of atheists, agnostics and humanists are being drawn up by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which is also working on the first national framework for RE with the Department for Education and Skills.

There is an "urgent" need to address the "pro-religious" and "anti-science" (always the same thing, of course) curriculum, you see.

[Link via LRC]

This is generally outside the purview of theosebes, but I wanted to point you to a column by Daniel Pearl's widow. Why? Well this paragraph describing her Pakastani friend "Captain" caught my attention
During this time, Captain got to know Danny. He met me, he met Danny's friends, his bosses, his writing. He saw Danny's mandolin lying there, in the house that had become the headquarters of our search. Captain even saw Danny's unmatched socks. "Danny," Captain concluded, "is the best of America."

It might seem odd to many, but when Daniel Pearl was kidnapped it made the rounds in traditional music circles, particularly fiddle and mandolin circles, that he was one of us. Some folks on my mandolin list had even played with him at open jams.

Sadly, Danny Pearl won't be playing that mandolin any longer. Mrs. Pearl deserves better from the Wall Street Journal.

[Link via Drudge]

The news folks are giddy with excitement for all the homosexual couples liberated from the oppressive heterosexual societal construct in San Francisco as city officials continue to break the law by issuing marriage licenses. It's all civil disobedience, we're told, a brave stand by San Fran's new mayor (not pandering to a San Francisco voting block). Hundreds of couples continue to play married as the usually very active California courts and newly elected Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger remain inactive on the issue.

One suspects that if people were involved in 'civil disobedience' (which usually involves simply exercising the Constitutional rights to free speech and to assemble) that resulted in someone having mental discomfort before they slaughter their unborn child the authorities would be much quicker to act.

Monday, February 16, 2004


Having witnessed lower and lower jeans and higher and higher shirts, the inevitable backlash has hit:
ast week, American designers showing their fall collections offered a hymn to decorum. Under the Fashion Week tents of Midtown and all around Manhattan, they turned their backs on the microminis, visible thongs, low-rider jeans and skin-baring tops that have so long dominated the runways — and the malls — in favor of high-necked dresses, prim swing coats, twin sets and narrow, knee-length skirts.

In such a blasé climate, the latest American fashions — pert skirts and prim coats, Peter Pan collars and proper tweeds, some harking back to Mamie Eisenhower's day — are refreshing and even subversive. They represent fashion's way of thumbing its nose at the status quo and simply moving on. Blouses with bows have never looked so avant-garde.

"In fashion these days, to be uptight is to be edgy," said David Wolfe, the creative director of the Doneger Group, which forecasts fashion trends and whose clients include Wal-Mart and Nordstrom. Mr. Wolfe predicted that the trend would have staying power, that it would sell in stores and that it is in tune with a shift in the cultural climate.

Skin, it seems, is no longer in.

Sunday, February 15, 2004


Is the diamond on that ring just not quite enough karats? Well, astronomers can help you; they've found a 10 billion trillion trillion-carat diamond:
If anyone's ever promised you the sun, the moon and the stars, tell 'em you'll settle for BPM 37093.
The heart of that burned-out star with the no-nonsense name is a sparkling diamond that weighs a staggering 10 billion trillion trillion carats. That's one followed by 34 zeros.

The hunk of celestial bling is an estimated 2,500 miles across, said Travis Metcalfe, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

"You would need a jeweler's loupe the size of the sun to grade this diamond," said Metcalfe, who led the team that discovered the gem.

It's amazing what God can design.

Friday, February 13, 2004


Michael Peirce thinks so:
The US government as it now exists is a government of scofflaws and Christians are required to uphold the actual law of the land – not merely nod their heads in passive acceptance of what to all intents and purposes is anarchy. The US constitution, imperfect document that it is, remains the law governing our Republic just as scripture governs our theology.

When Christians support extra-constitutional actions by government, even for what they rationalize as "good reasons," they themselves become outlaws, taking it upon themselves to write law rather than obey it.

Has not the left used the same tactics and worked around rather than with the constitution to justify their attacks on Christ and decency? When you opened that door, and got away from strict rule of law, did you not think the other side would use the same tactic?

A good column to ponder.

The Church of England has decided that the Biblical wise men who brough gifts to baby Jesus may very well have been wise women:
The three wise men who brought gifts to the baby Jesus could have been women, according to the Church of England's General Synod.

The scriptures describe the people who followed a star to Bethlehem as Magi, which in translation could mean either sex....

In a report, the General Synod revision committee states that "it believes that to translate the term into something more universally understood (as the Authorised Version did) is to miss the point being made.

"Further, while it seems very unlikely that these Persian court officials were female, the possibility that one or more of the magoi were female cannot be excluded completely. The committee has retained 'Magi' on the grounds that the visitors were not necessarily wise and not necessarily men."

I have no problem with the 'magi' transliteration, although it's pretty silly to think that they were women. What we need to do is get them to admit there weren't necessarily three of them.

Not all homosexuals are supportive of 'gay marriage' says the Christian Science Monitor:
"I don't want to be a part of it," [activist Tommi Avicolli] says. "In some senses, it feels like the whole gay marriage thing is like getting a little house with a white picket fence in the suburbs with a dog."...

Many gays and lesbians plan to wed. Many others will not. Some want to marry as a legal protection or as the only nondiscriminatory way to validate their love. But marriage is also seen as a flawed institution, as a conservative step backward, unwinding years of work to redefine notions of family.

"There is a difference between liberation and equality," says Joan Tronto, a professor of political science at Hunter College who was active in the women's liberation movement and has no intention of marrying her partner of 10 years. "Politically it is easier to say, 'Let us in. We're just like you.' But it takes away some of the radical edge."

It's something that often happens: the radicals get mainstreamed out of their own movement. But no assimilation for these swingers.

[Thanks to Jen for the link.]

Thursday, February 12, 2004


People continue to respond to a culture swirling downward in the toilet. A Valentine's Day display caught the ire of a woman who's had enough:
Books-A-Million on Wednesday removed a sexually explicit Valentine's Day display from its Hoover store after a visit from top Hoover police officials warning of an arrest.

The woman, Tena George, told police she saw two children, about 7 or 8 years old, looking through a book called "Wild Sex" last weekend.

The book was among about two dozen books on sexual intercourse on a display table labeled "For Your Romantic Valentine" in the center aisle.

The books had titles such as "The Wild Guide to Sex and Loving" and "Sex Toys." At least a dozen contained pictures of nude people in the act of sex, some on the cover....

The "X-rated material" was in the middle aisle of the store with easy access by children, Roper said. The table next to it had children's books on it.

State law says it is unlawful to openly and knowingly display for sale material harmful to minors at any business open to minors. Businesses are exempt if the material is in sealed wrappers or behind opaque covers so that the lower two-thirds of the cover is concealed from view and the content is unavailable for inspection by minors.

The material also must be displayed at least 5½ feet above the floor.

After first resisting police efforts to enforce the law, the store manager became more compliant when reminded he could be arrested for breaking the obscenity law.

How terrible that his 'free speech' rights were violated.

The good folks at Focus Magazine have published an article of mine. You can read one paragraph of it there. For the whole thing they'll make you buy the magazine. It's worth the expense; they do good work over there.

Straight out of Beowulf, archaeologists have uncovered the tomb of an Anglo-Saxon king:
Excavations at Southend-on-Sea revealed the intact tomb of an early seventh century Saxon monarch - almost certainly either Saeberht or Sigeberht, both kings of Dark Age Essex....

The grave goods - designed to enable the king to live well in the next world - include a 75cm diameter copper cauldron, a 35cm hanging bowl from northern England or Ireland and an exquisite 25cm diameter copper bowl, probably from Italy.

There is also a 30cm high flagon, almost certainly from the Byzantine Empire, two gold foil crosses, an iron-framed folding stool, a sort of mobile throne, a gold reliquary which would probably have contained a bone fragment from a saint, four glass vessels, two drinking horns, the king's sword and the remains of his shield, two gold coins from Merovingian France, the remains of a lyre, and several iron-clad barrels and buckets, presumably for alcoholic drink.

The king's skeleton has not survived due to the acidic nature of the soil.

Fun stuff.

[Link via LRC]

Tuesday, February 10, 2004


Fresh with regret (?) from her kiss with Madonna and 55-hour marriage with some guy, Britney Spears has responded to an altar call:
According to a report in British newspaper the Daily Record, Spears and her mom, Lynne, stopped by the service at the Faithful Central Bible Church in Inglewood, Calif., near Los Angeles, on the way to a photo-shoot.

The 22-year-old singer and her mother hugged one another and cried "as they got caught up in the highly charged ceremony," the paper reported.

My favorite has to be this, though:
According to the report, two bodyguards accompanied Spears into the church...

Although there have been times when I've thought bodyguards at church might not be a bad idea...

No word on whether Britney actually remained clothed at the subsequent photo shoot.

Monday, February 09, 2004


Jerry Falwell thinks so. Carl Schmahl says no:
In a recent article, God is Pro-war, the Reverend Jerry Falwell attempted to provide a Biblical justification for George W. Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq. Tucked away among the Bible proof texts near the end of the article, Falwell added his own rationalizations for the war: "President Bush declared war in Iraq to defend innocent people. This is a worthy pursuit," and: "One of the primary purposes of the church is to stop the spread of evil, even at the cost of human lives. If we do not stop the spread of evil, many innocent lives will be lost and the kingdom of God suffers."

These are chilling statements, especially since they were written by a well-known minister of the Gospel whose views are shared by millions of church-going Evangelical and Fundamentalist Christians. They do, however, bring to light the unholy alliance between the American State and the Christian religion as it is currently practiced in the U.S.

Words to consider.

Saturday, February 07, 2004


Episcopal monies are down as a result of the Gene Robinson incident:
Bishop Henry N. Parsley said Friday the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama expects a $260,000 shortfall in its 2004 budget as churches reduce contributions because of dissatisfaction with the denomination's approving its first openly gay bishop.

Numerous churches have cut funding because they opposed V. Gene Robinson's being approved as bishop of New Hampshire. During debates over his approval last summer, Robinson openly discussed his homosexual partner and spoke out for the blessing of same-sex unions in the church.

"It has put us in an uncomfortable place of tension and disagreement," said Parsley, head of the Alabama diocese.

No tears here.

The good folks at the New York Times have an article sure to get a lot of play on homosexuality in the animal kingdom. Scientists have observed numerous cases classifed as homosexual behavior, although the definition is quite broad. Homosexual activists have jumped on such reports with gusto. If there are homosexual animals, then it all must be 'natural', right? And if it's 'natural' then homosexuals need special rights, etc., etc. Well, some animals eat their young, but we don't advocate that, do we?

The article discusses one case I'm sure would warm every feminist heart:
For Janet Mann, a professor of biology and psychology at Georgetown University, who has studied same-sex behavior in dolphin calves, their homosexuality "is about bond formation," she said, "not about being sexual for life."

She said that studies showed that adult male dolphins formed long-term alliances, sometimes in large groups. As adults, they cooperate to entice a single female and keep other males from her. Sometimes they share the female, or they may cooperate to help one male. "Male-male cooperation is extremely important," Ms. Mann said.

So to transfer this 'natural' behavior to the human world, imagine a group of guys bonding at prep school, enticing a woman in and then sharing her around.

Sounds just great, doesn't it?

A couple of years ago I was at the local park with my daughter. We were at the swings and there were a group of park ducks around. I had been noticing them and their frenetic activity. It became pretty clear what was going on--a group of drakes were essentially gang raping a female (?) duck. Not pleasant, especially when you have to deflect a 3 year old's questions. I assume what they were doing was 'natural' in that they had not been influenced by too much MTV.

The animal kingdom can teach us many things. Morals isn't one of them.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004


Massachusetts' highest court has ruled that nothing short of 'marriage' will do for homosexuals:
The high court of Massachusetts ruled Wednesday that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples, rather than civil unions, were constitutional, erasing any doubts that the nation’s first same-sex marriages could take place in the state beginning in mid-May.

A constitutional amendment defining marriage as only between a man and a woman is in the works, but not before the court's May deadline.

Reacting to pre-screening pressure, reports are that Mel Gibson will delete a scene from his movie about the death of Jesus:
A scene in the film, in which the Jewish high priest Caiaphas calls down a kind of curse on the Jewish people by declaring of the Crucifixion, "His blood be on us and on our children," will not be in the movie's final version, said the Gibson associate, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The passage had been included in some versions of the film that were shown before select groups, mostly of priests and ministers.

"It didn't work in the focus screenings," the associate said. "Maybe it was thought to be too hurtful, or taken not in the way it was intended. It has been used terribly over the years."

Jewish leaders had warned that the passage from Matthew 27:25 was the historic source for many of the charges of deicide and Jews' collective guilt in the death of Jesus.

Well, according to Matthew 27:25 it wasn't Caiaphas who said it, but all the people, i.e., the crowd:
And all the people said, "His blood shall be on us and on our children!"

No one seems to be concerned that the Gospels tell us the words were actually said, of course.

No word on whether God will choose to delete Matthew 27:25 from future editions of Scripture so as not to offend the delicate views of Abe Foxman and the ADL.

Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Americans like to go big with whatever they do, and that trend has hit religion with the megachurch movement:
There are currently 842 megachurches -- non-Catholic churches with at least 2,000 weekly attendants -- that host an excess of three million people on any given Sunday, according to the research group Church Growth Today.

These massive holy houses attract churchgoers by the thousands with celebratory services that tout contemporary music, television screens and sermons that aren't "churchy," according to the pastor of the nation's largest church. But critics say the sin-free pep rallies don't encourage personal transformation and reflection, keystones of religion.

I know a lot of folks who immediately equate 'big church' with 'liberal church'. We tend to forget that the church in Jerusalem was thousands strong. That church defined church.

The problem with the megachurches isn't that they're big, it's that they're not really much church. No, you don't need to have rock hard narrow pews and ninety minute sermons to be real church. But when your focus is on all of your exciting programs instead of worshiping God, and when you start having rehearsals for your services, you've moved well into the questionable realm:
"They are so large you can select the activity that you like," said Ken Woodward, Newsweek's contributing editor who covers religion. "If you want to lose weight Jesus' way, you can join the weight-loss program or join a basketball team ... These churches have so many people they don't just sponsor a team, they sponsor a league.

But while the megachurches tend to get the press, they're still a (very) small slice of religious life in the US:
While the number of megachurches has doubled since 1998, they still only represent 1 percent of all churches in America, said John Vaughan, founder of Church Growth Today and author of "Megachurches & America's Cities."

There's always an element who want to say they go to church when what they really want is Chuck-E-Cheeze. But despite who's biggest, the life of churches interested in actually worshiping God is still strong.

Monday, February 02, 2004


I went on a field trip with some folks from church to the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit in Huntsville, Alabama this past Saturday. The exhibit has fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls, although they are just that: fragments. There's no real substantive content. That's not surprising as Israel keeps pretty close tabs on that sort of thing. The exhibit is basically a 'History of the Bible' type thing, with early manuscripts and early printed Bibles.

If you're in the Huntsville area it's worth going to see, I think. This is the last week before the exhibit travels to Ohio. I must admit quite a bit of skepticism with some of the 'scholarship' offered in the bookshop and promoted by various of the curators/lecturers, but seeing that sort of thing is a rare treat and worth your time.

'Conservative' Episcopalians aren't going to take it anymore--and they're clearly the future for Episcopalians, but that can't be comforting to the existing power structure. They're finding success as independents:
St. John's Episcopal Church is 157 years old, wealthy, loyal to the diocese of Lexington and nearly empty. St. Andrew's Anglican Church is 3 weeks old, practically homeless, free of all ties to the Episcopal Church U.S.A. and growing exponentially.

About 180 people attended St. Andrew's yesterday, gathering at the Falling Springs Arts and Recreation Center in Versailles to sing and pray. Downtown, at historic St. John's, three services drew a total of 60 people.

Most of St. Andrews' parishioners had been members of the older congregation but left after diocesan leaders fired the entire governing board at St. John's.

The conservative board had clashed repeatedly with the diocese's more liberal bishop, Stacy Sauls, because of Sauls' support for the ordination of openly gay bishop V. Gene Robinson. But the leaders were removed by the diocese's executive council on Jan. 7, after they allegedly failed to follow proper procedures for hiring a new minister.

Days after the firings, unhappy St. John's members voted to form a new church and contributed $40,000 to get it started. The group, which met informally in a supporter's living room for three weeks, had its first formal worship service yesterday and welcomed its new pastor, the Rev. David Brannen, to Versailles.

Independent of denominational structures and adhering to Biblical mores is the key to religious success. Just watch the tired, liberal mainline denominations continue to endorse every sin under heaven, pat themselves on the back then discover no one else is around.

Perhaps this will open a door of opportunity for them to examine all of their practices in the light of Scripture.

Since the Super Bowl is on Sunday evening I always miss at least a good chunk of it because of church. Last night I was blessed (?) to attend a business meeting after services so I only watched the fourth quarter of what seemed like a great game. I've heard the half-time show was as bad as the game was good. I'm glad I missed it.

CBS is shocked--shocked!--that an MTV produced halftime show would degrade to an R-rated striptease. MTV claims it was an accident. Yeah, right. CBS has vowed never to have MTV produce the show again. I suspect CBS honestly didn't know what was going to happen. That doesn't excuse them. If you hire Hugh Hefner don't be surprised if a bunny shows up. If you hire MTV don't be surprised when the sewer lid comes off.

I wish I'd seen the game, but I think missing the halftime show was even worth sitting through a business meeting.

UPDATE: According to Drudge CBS did, in fact, approve the 'revealing' moment with Jackson, only later to deny it. I guess I should have known better than to give them any credit.