Monday, March 29, 2004


The Lutheran Church has discovered a sizeable percentage of their employees don't believe in many core teachings, including hell:
Nearly a fifth of the Evangelical Lutheran Church's employees have serious doubts about some of the religion's teachings. Most of the sceptics are the Church's own ministers.

In particular, they called into question the existence of Hell and the validity of the Apocalypse as described in the book of Revelations. They also had their doubts when it came to the virgin birth of Jesus and the existence of miracles.

The doubters did place their faith in the teachings most central to Christianity, such as the resurrection of Christ.

It always puzzled me why someone who believes in the resurrection would ever have a problem with the virgin birth or miracles. If God can bring someone back from the dead then surely He could provide for a virgin birth or the healing of the sick. And the same source I go to to learn about the resurrection tells me about the virgin birth and the other miracles.

Of course, when it comes to the doctrine of hell, it's always nicely convenient not to believe in it. And as for "Revelations" (or, as the Bible calls it, Revelation) it depends on whose reading of the so-called Apocalypse you're talking about. I don't endorse the silliness of "Left Behind" myself.

Saturday, March 27, 2004


The pope, criticizing the 'culture of "the here and now"', has spoken against secular Sundays:
Pope John Paul on Friday said Sunday should be a day for God, not for secular diversions like entertainment and sports.

"When Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes subordinate to a secular concept of 'weekend' dominated by such things as entertainment and sport, people stay locked within a horizon so narrow that they can no longer see the heavens," the pontiff said in a speech to Australian bishops.

There is much to agree with in what the pope says. The day that should be "the Lord's day", the first day of the week on which 1st Century Christians came together to break bread, has become just another day, cluttered by the flotsam and jetsom of the weekend.

A problem arises, however, when we begin to assign Sunday the status of a "Christian Sabbath", essentially becoming Judaizing teachers on the topic. This is a position generally honored in the breach, but nevertheless it sounds good Biblical support aside.

No, we don't need to clutter time that should be devoted to God and joining with my fellow Christians with every distraction the world has to offer. But I've mowed my yard on Sunday without even a tinge of guilty conscience.

The pope also expressed concern over missing Sunday mass:
The 83-year-old pope also encouraged Christians, especially young people, to remain faithful to Sunday Mass, saying the secular culture was undermining family life.

I might take his stand more seriously if he didn't lead a church that allows Saturday mass to stand for Sunday mass, not to mention that if you go to a wedding or funeral on Friday you get a pass, too. I wonder if that's caused some to lose the "fundamental meaning" of Sunday?

Friday, March 26, 2004


A topic we haven't discussed at theosebes in some months are the archaeological treasures in the cradle of civilization. As Iraq opens up archaeologists may rewrite the book on civilization:
As security improves to allow excavation, evidence may emerge that advanced societies existed in the area much earlier than previously thought, said Dr. John Russell, professor of archaeology at the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston.

"A decade of research in Iraq could rewrite the books of archaeology, no question," Russell, who is currently serving as a senior adviser to Iraq's ministry of culture, told Reuters on Thursday at the opening of new conservation and restoration laboratory at Iraq's National Museum in Baghdad.

But it's too early to make great progress yet:
But the big hurdle is security. Almost a year after Saddam Hussein was overthrown, many areas remain unsafe and armed looters are a common enemy, particularly at remote sites.

Ah, just to imagine all the treasures that Iraq must hold.

Thursday, March 25, 2004


Eugenie Scott sits by her phone waiting. Someone, somewhere doesn't believe Darwinism is gospel, and she's ready to return them to the primordial ooze from which they deny they came:
On a wall in Eugenie Scott's California office is a list of what she calls "flare-ups."

Those are places where creationism, the "Adam and Eve" theory based on the Bible, is making a run at evolution, the "natural selection" idea first put forward nearly a century and a half ago by Charles Darwin.

When a flare-up happens, Scott's phone rings.

The former University of Kentucky anthropologist is now a full-time creationist buster.

I suppose everyone needs a hobby. And there's nothing that makes you feel better than refuting yahoos who might question the all-mighty Darwin.

Like most superheroes, this Creationism-Buster has a touching origin:
Her first "flare-up" began 24 years ago in Lexington.

A group called Citizens for a Balanced Teaching of Origins pressed Fayette County school officials to teach what they called "scientific creationism" in classrooms.

Scott, who had been saving creationist literature throughout graduate school, was one of several university people who pointed out that "scientific creationism really isn't scientific at all."

They were joined by a number of what she calls "mainstream clergy" and eventually persuaded the school board to reject creationism. She has followed that model in other controversies since she took the science center job in 1987.

Sadly, Ms. Scott left my alma mater the year before I matriculated. My poor fortune is the reason why I never had the opportunity to be enlightened as I should have been.

[I apologize for the above flare-up.]

Have you been looking for that extra deduction as tax day approaches? Here's a tip for you, become a Scientologist:
A trial is to begin [in Los Angeles] on Wednesday morning to determine whether a Jewish couple can deduct the cost of religious education for their five children, a tax benefit they say the federal government has granted to members of just one religion, the Church of Scientology.

The potential ramifications are huge, for a ruling in favor of the couple could affect the millions of Americans who send their children to religious schools of all types. At stake is whether people of all religions can deduct the cost of religious education as a charitable gift, as Scientologists are allowed to do under an officially secret 1993 agreement with the Internal Revenue Service.

Now isn't that handy? The 'Church' of Scientology and the lovely folks at the IRS have successfully quashed any attempts to see their decade old secret agreement. The details of this one should be interesting. I can't think of a better suited pair, really.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004


In my old stomping grounds of Columbia, SC there is a grits revival brewing:
MANY of this country's most celebrated chefs have spent hours on the phone with a man in a derelict metal warehouse behind a carwash here. He teaches them how to cook grits.

Grits, particles of ground corn that cook into shiny, barely articulated little beads, holding forth in a stout pudding, have had legendary appeal in the South. But it is only in the last decade that they have been discovered by top chefs elsewhere. Grits cookery is not difficult, but these are not ordinary grits, and the chefs know it.

The man in the warehouse is Glenn Roberts, and his company, Anson Mills, has been the driving force in bringing old and nearly extinct species of heirloom corn back to health.

The effort is part of Mr. Roberts's grander mission: to restore the pedigree of antebellum low country cuisine.

Sounds like a noble cause, indeed.

Tuesday, March 23, 2004


Mel Gibson is eyeing another Biblically relates story for the big screen, the account of the Jewish Maccabean revolt:
“The story that’s always fired my imagination ... is the Book of Maccabees,” the actor and director told ABC Radio Networks talk show host Sean Hannity on Tuesday.

“The Maccabees family stood up, and they made war. They stuck by their guns and they came out winning,” he said. “It’s like a Western.”

The Maccabees led a three-year war, some 200 years before the birth of Jesus, against Antiochus IV, a king who forced the Jews to worship Greek gods. The war led to the liberation of Jerusalem and rededication of the Temple that is celebrated in the Hanukkah holiday.

Now had you been in my class at church on Sunday night you would have heard me cover this time between the Testaments. It's a fascinating time in Jewish history, and greatly affects our understanding of the New Testament. The books he looks to is part of the Catholic bible usually referred to by non-Catholics as the Apocrypha. The books are not recognized by Jews or by Protestants as canonical or inspired. They do, however, contain valuable historical information.

Mark D. Roberts provides us with some background on the books that I think many of you will find helpful. He also gives us a nice rundown on everyone who would be mad at Mel because of the movie!

Undoing the destructive work of grave robbers likely thousands of years ago, Egypt has unveiled a Pharaoh's sarcophagus:
The sarcophagus was pieced together from 250 fragments likely broken and scattered in the pharaoh's tomb by ancient tomb robbers, reconstruction experts said.

The tomb of Ramses VI is one of the largest in the Valley of the Kings, the ancient royal burial ground for Egypt's pharaohs. Ramses VI ruled about 3,100 years ago.

The reconstruction has a problem, however: they have no face. But they know exactly where it is:
Only the face is a replica. The original face is on display at the British Museum. Zahi Hawass, head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said he hoped it would be returned to complete the sarcophagus.

It seem, perhaps, that Egypt and the British Museum should make a trade, reuniting the face with it's 'body'. I wouldn't hold my breath.

Sunday, March 21, 2004


A jury composed of Methodist pastors has ruled actively lesbian pastor Karen Damman can continue in her job:
Meredith Savage, Dammann's partner of nine years, said she called their 5-year-old son after the verdict and shouted, "Mama won!"

Even the pastor who served as the prosecutor in her case and the bishop who filed the initial complaint against her said they were pleased with the verdict.

Church law prohibits the ordination of self-avowed, practicing homosexuals and the church's Book of Discipline (search) declares homosexuality to be "incompatible to Christian teachings." But the church's social principles support gay rights and liberties.

The jury issued a statement saying the church "did not present sufficient clear and convincing evidence to sustain the charge."

Not enough evidence? Perhaps they needed to ask her lesbian lover in attendance.

Ultimately, the Methodists expect their congregants to get over it:
Bishop Elias Galvan of Seattle acknowledged the verdict will upset some people.

"The church is not of one mind," Galvan said. "I expect this issue to continue to be raised until society comes to terms with it."

It's really immaterial whether society comest to terms with homosexuality. The question is whether the Methodists will come to terms with Biblical strictures. I think we have a pretty good indication where they're at now.

Friday, March 19, 2004


I fear this weblog has been interrupted by the ailment commonly known as March Madness. Your humble correspondent will attempt to fight through the annual malady and supply occasional newsy tidbits and witticisms.

In the meantime you can help by cheering on the Kentucky Wildcats.

For those with some historical interest, Steven Gertz gives historical background on the language Jesus spoke, and why it wasn't Hebrew:
As The Passion's website notes (see "About the Production"), Aramaic was the dominant Semitic language of Jesus' time. Emerging around 1000 B.C. in several Aramean kingdoms (biblical Damascus, for example), Aramaic spread through the conquests of the Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian empires to encompass the entire Middle East, stretching from Egypt to Pakistan. In the Holy Land, Aramaic supplanted Hebrew as the language of the people sometime between 721 BC, the year Israel's capital Samaria fell to Assyrian invaders, and 500 BC, following the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon.

The return of Jews to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of the Temple did not undermine Aramaic's newfound status in Hebrew culture. Aramaic appears at times in the Old Testament, and recent evidence gathered from the Dead Sea scrolls suggests that the apocryphal book of Tobit was written entirely in Aramaic. The Gospel of Mark quotes Jesus in Aramaic several times; the best known of these may be his words on the cross—"Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" or "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Judging from its renderings in Matthew and Luke, some scholars think Jesus composed the Lord's Prayer in Aramaic.

Will this mark a cinematic revival of the language?

No, I don't think so, either.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004


An archaelogist has found the 'Unluckiest church in the world' :
The church was wrecked by two earthquakes, a flood, and a landslide - all of which happened while it was still being built.

It later became an opium den and after it was abandoned most of the remains were washed into the sea.

St Phocas' Church was founded on what is now a clifftop at the Turkish city of Sinop, on the shores of the Black Sea, because this is where its patron saint was martyred.

I hope they fired the guy who selected the site.

Monday, March 15, 2004


Sharon Waxman ponders Hollywood & the Bible in light of the wild success of The Passion:
As the overwhelming success of "The Passion of the Christ" reverberates through Hollywood, producers and studio executives are asking whether the movie industry has been neglecting large segments of the American audience eager for more openly religious fare....

"You can't ignore those numbers," said Mark Johnson, a veteran film producer. "You can't say it's just a fluke. There's something to be read here."

But the problem is, Hollywood as an institution really can't come to grips with the Bible itself, and what making a movie consistent with what the Bible actually says and represents. It took Gibson stepping outside the Hollywood mainstream to do it. Hollywood (shock!) just isn't comfortable with the Bible
Mr. Guber said that reaction to that movie's success was butting up against the feelings of many in Hollywood who dislike its widely criticized portrayal of Jewish responsibility in the death of Jesus.

"There's both discomfort, amazement and anger — sometimes all at once," he said. "Greed and envy and anger and jealousy are all interesting bedfellows. They make for interesting conjugal visits in this town."...

"You can't deny when a movie makes that kind of money that the audience has spoken to the filmmaking community, but it's a frightening comment," said Michael Nozik, a producer of the forthcoming "Motorcycle Diaries," about Che Guevara, the Cuban revolutionary leader. Mr. Nozik is alarmed by the violence in "The Passion," he said, and dismayed by the "pot of anger" that has been stirred by accusations of anti-Semitism.

"I would not think of making a religious movie that speaks to this aspect of the audience," Mr. Nozik said. "I don't know how you speak to that audience as a filmmaker. But as a businessman you have to go, `God, there's something there.' "

As divisions of major media conglomerates concerned with their public image, Hollywood studios have historically shied away from all but the most benign values, like friendship, family and love. Movies with strong points of view — political and particularly religious — have had difficulty receiving green lights.

"It's not clear that Hollywood has the appetite or the attitude" to make religious movies, Mr. Guber said. Mr. Gibson's movie, he said, "in my judgment, has a politically religious point of view."

There lies the problem. To make a movie that is not "politically religious" in the view of Hollywood is to make a movie that ultimately isn't Biblical and won't draw the audiences The Passion has drawn. Hollywood is much more comfortable making a movie about Che Guevera (which I'm sure is in no way political [wink, wink, nudge, nudge]) than a movie about Paul. Read Paul and read Jesus and they're preaching at Hollywood, not preaching for them. And that makes them squirm in their seats.

If you want movies like The Passion, you're going to have to have someone like a Mel Gibson to make them. That is someone who takes the material seriously and is also a highly talented filmmaker. Sadly there aren't many such people out there.

[Link via Drudge]

Saturday, March 13, 2004


Jeffrey Overstreet has a nice rundown of the mainstream media's reaction to The Passion:
Many—perhaps even most—are showing themselves far more guilty of discrimination and prejudice than the filmmaker they seek to condemn. If they are so willing to assume that Gibson is anti-Semitic, in spite of his claims to the contrary, in spite of the way in which Gibson's film incriminates those who despise Jews, then why have they remained silent, or even praised other films that exhibit obvious, undeniable prejudice against Catholics and Christians? Their two-faced behavior is almost laughable.

Just so.

Friday, March 12, 2004


A fifth-grade boy at Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Satsuma, Alabama was Suit: banned from distributing Bible passage at a school party, and the boy's parents have sued:
According to the suit, Robert and his mother, Suzette Dowd, made "joy jars" for him to give classmates at a Christmas party at Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Satsuma on Dec. 18. The gifts were small jars stuffed with slips of paper containing Bible verses and positive messages about Jesus.

But while students were away at recess, teacher Myra Lucas opened the jars and removed the slips after discussing them with Principal Deborah Altman, according to the suit.

Lucas later told Robert that "because there are Muslims and all sorts of religions, Downtown won't let you bring those things," the lawsuit claims, apparently referring to system administrators and rules against promoting religion in public schools. Altman later told Suzette Dowd essentially the same thing, the suit states.

I can tell you one thing, had the man for whom the elementary school is named been successful in his life's endeavors, we wouldn't have to worry about this sort of thing!

A fifth-grade boy at Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Satsuma, Alabama was Suit: banned from distributing Bible passage at a school party, and the boy's parents have sued:
According to the suit, Robert and his mother, Suzette Dowd, made "joy jars" for him to give classmates at a Christmas party at Robert E. Lee Elementary School in Satsuma on Dec. 18. The gifts were small jars stuffed with slips of paper containing Bible verses and positive messages about Jesus.

But while students were away at recess, teacher Myra Lucas opened the jars and removed the slips after discussing them with Principal Deborah Altman, according to the suit.

Lucas later told Robert that "because there are Muslims and all sorts of religions, Downtown won't let you bring those things," the lawsuit claims, apparently referring to system administrators and rules against promoting religion in public schools. Altman later told Suzette Dowd essentially the same thing, the suit states.

I can tell you one thing, had the man for whom the elementary school is named been successful in his life's endeavors, we wouldn't have to worry about this sort of thing!

Thursday, March 11, 2004


The Alabama Senate Education Committee has approved a bill that would disallow discrimination--including firing--for teachers who offer alternatives to evolution in the classroom:
A legislative committee on Wednesday approved a plan that would prohibit firing or discriminating against teachers for presenting "alternative theories" to evolution.

The Senate Education Committee voted 7-0 for the "Academic Freedom Act," which says no teacher or professor in public schools or universities could be fired, denied tenure or otherwise discriminated against for presenting such theories, which could include creationism. The proposal could be debated by the 35-member Senate as soon as next week.

The bill also would prohibit any student from being penalized because he or she held "a particular position on biological or physical origins," as long as the student demonstrated "acceptable understanding of course materials," which could include evolution.

Sounds like a good idea to me. Just another reason to like Alabama.

Wednesday, March 10, 2004


Martin Grove breaks down the numbers on Mel's movie. There's no question he's right about this:
This was not what anyone anticipated, especially not the distributors who turned Gibson down when he was trying to put a domestic deal together for the film. While no one is saying precisely who those distributors were, they clearly know who they are and they're likely to be kicking themselves for a long time to come.

And it couldn't have happened to a better bunch of folks.

[Link via Drudge]

Tuesday, March 09, 2004


A woman who had a change of heart in the early stages of an abortion was restrained and given one anyway. The courts say that's fine:
According to RPI, William P. Egherman, who has performed more than 10,000 abortions and been addicted to alcohol and opiates, began the procedure by attempting to dilate the woman's cervix.

But the woman had a change of heart.

"My God, you're hurting me" the woman began to scream. "You're killing me, I'll never be able to have babies. ... Stop!"

But Egherman ignored the pleas and screams and called for assistance from clinic workers who held the woman down as he continued to dilate her cervix.

Then he entered the victim with a pair of forceps -- "the bear" Ehgerman called them -- and began probing and pulling. He mistakenly pulled out part of the woman's intestines.

The story doesn't get any better. You like you to see such concern for women's rights at these chop shops.


Steve Greenhut asks the question about The Passion:
What role would I have played in The Passion? Not the movie, but the real-life drama. That’s what I thought about as I watched Mel Gibson’s spectacular, moving account of the last 12 hours of Jesus Christ’s life on Earth.

Would I have cheered as Christ was sentenced to death? Would I have laughed as he was tormented toward the cross? It’s scary to contemplate.

We all like to imagine ourselves cheering 'Hosanna!' at the triumphal entry, but those same crowds later cheered 'Crucify! Crucify!'

A question well asked.

Yesterday Mark D. Roberts had the good taste to comment favorably on my review of The Passion. I took the time to follow the link to his site, and was very glad I did. Today he has a nice review of ABC's movie on Judas (which I sadly did not see). Dr. Roberts has a number of thoughtful pieces with scholarly underpinning written in a popular style. I find it pitched just right. So if you're wondering about such things as what language(s) Jesus might have spoken or for commentary on religion in the news from a conservative perspective, it's well worth a stop.

(Caveat: Since Dr. Roberts and I have some theological differences, I just wanted to state that I do not necessarily endorse every doctrinal position he might take. (I doubt he would endorse all of mine, either!) I'm sure he would agree that anytime you're reading someone's writings have your Bible handy and base your decisions on what it says.)

Friday, March 05, 2004


As promised, here is my review of Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ:

For weeks media coverage of Mel Gibson’s movie The Passion of the Christ has been at a fever pitch. (“Passion” is a word meaning “suffering”.) Charges of anti-Semitism have been levied by Jewish groups, starting well before any of them had ever seen it. At the same time many church groups and leaders were given advance screenings and were proclaiming the movie a moving and accurate rendering of the Biblical texts. Others objected over the brutality of the scourging and crucifixion of Jesus. Some were put off by the film’s use of English subtitles supplementing an Aramaic and Latin dialogue. With so many different views of the movie, what is the Biblically concerned Christian supposed to think?

On the Saturday following The Passion’s release, my wife and I attended a sold out viewing of the movie along with several other members of the church where I attend. I think most of us were somewhat leery at what we might see.

The movie begins in the Garden of Gethsemane, with Jesus in agonized prayer to His Father, looking to the agony that He must endure. We find His disciples sleeping in that dark misty Garden, unable to keep their Master’s request to wait and watch for Him. The film then introduces us to a continuing character in the movie: the presence of Satan. The androgynous devil never is addressed directly by Jesus, but his nay saying character is an almost constant presence. In these opening scenes as Jesus is fervently praying to His Father, Satan is doing all he can to create doubt in the mind of Jesus that He can, or even should, go through the horrors of the cross.

Of course this is just the sort of cinematic device that one has to assess from a Biblical standpoint. The Scriptures nowhere record that Satan was in that Garden saying anything to Jesus. Is this a valid addition to the story, or a non-Biblical intrusion? Those are the kinds of questions we need to ask when evaluating the presentation of a Biblical account. In this instance I think the answer will be based on personal decision. I found the presence of Satan in the Garden consistent with the overall tenor of Scripture.

We certainly know that Satan did tempt Jesus in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13), and that after he was unsuccessful in leading the Son of Man into sin “he left Him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13) The Scripture never tells us when that opportune time was, but what time other than when He said “remove this cup from Me” as His sweat “like drops of blood” fell upon the ground? Satan is the accuser (Revelation 12:10). And we know that Jesus was aware of Satan’s schemes. He tells Peter, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat.” (Luke 22:31) Satan is always present, and Gibson shows it well as he prompts Judas in his betrayal, Peter in his denial, the crowd in their bloodthirsty call for Jesus’ crucifixion. There is no question that Satan was there. But Gibson does a masterful job in his use of the Satan imagery as Jesus responds to Satan not with words, but rather when the devil sends a serpent crawling toward Him as He prays, Jesus stands up and stomps soundly on the head of the snake. “He shall crush you on the head.” (Genesis 3:15; cf. Romans 16:20)

The wonderful thing about movies is that they allow us to see the reality of words we have read for so long. We see the dark chaos of the arrest in the Garden, as Peter wields his sword and the disciples flee. The nighttime trial comes to life in all its thrown together confusion, a reluctant Pilate takes the stage, his wife urging him to “have nothing to do with that righteous Man.” (Matthew 27:19) King Herod and his debaucherous court laugh and mock Jesus. The Roman soldiers sadistically scourge the Savior, not knowing what they do. Simon carries the cross. John stands with Mary at the foot of the cross. A thief mocks Him while another is promised Paradise.

Certainly the movie is not perfect. I found some of the Satan imagery to be a little off-putting. Clearly Mel Gibson was influenced by Catholic tradition and imagery in His vision of the last twelve hours. I can see how some would feel that the gory presentation of His beatings and crucifixion could be too much. I certainly understand why many would not want to see the movie for that reason. As to Gibson’s additions to the Biblical story, I generally accept the necessity of using narrative filler in a situation like that. As long as one it being true to the overall tenor to the message, I don’t generally have a problem with it. Using narrative filler is different from putting Lot on a pirate ship to attack Noah’s ark as the infamous TV movie from a couple of years ago did.

The best answer, of course, is to be familiar with the Biblical account of Jesus’ suffering on the cross. That’s where we find the words that lead to eternal life, not in a film. But I think The Passion of the Christ likely is the best portrayal we will ever see on film of Jesus’ last twelve hours. Gibson clearly is a talented filmmaker, and I’m glad I went to see the movie. To anyone interested in going, I would say be aware that at times it does add scenes not found in the Bible. And I would urge you to be aware of how violent and bloody it is. Talk to others who have seen it, and read reviews.

I think we have to be pleased that the death of Jesus is receiving more widespread attention than I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. That can only be a positive thing. Regardless of whether you see the movie or not, take advantage of this window of opportunity to speak to people whose hearts may be opened during this time.

Thursday, March 04, 2004


(Not for the faint of heart)
You may recall an earlier post discussing Britney Spears and her mother tearfully responding to an altar call. I thought an update might be in order. Here's a concert review from the New York Times:
Britney Spears's white terry-cloth robe dropped to the floor, revealing a sequin-covered body stocking. She stepped into a bathtub that, like her bodysuit, was see-through. In shadow to her left, like silhouettes seen through hotel room windows, men and women in beds mimed passionate sex with one another.

Beneath them a man wearing only tight white briefs splayed his legs and gyrated on a bed. After her mock bath Ms. Spears, wearing a pink bra and panties, rolled around in bed with him as two male dancers to their left took off each other's pants and danced suggestively together.

I guess the religion thing didn't take.

When asked his opinion on The Passion controversy, famed director Steven Spielberg wouldn't answer:
"I certainly am not going to comment based on circumstantial evidence from what I've been hearing and feeling in the last seven or eight days," Spielberg said at a news conference to promote the DVD release of his Oscar-winning Holocaust epic "Schindler's List."

"I think it's much too important, and I'm really too smart to answer a question like that.

"When I do see the film, the first person who will hear from me will be Mel Gibson and no one else," he added.

Wow. Not criticizing the movie before you've seen it? What a novel concept.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004


Disney (*shudder*) has announced plans to make a live-action version of the C.S. Lewis classic 'The Chronicles of Narnia':
As Mel Gibson's blockbuster "The Passion of the Christ" plays to millions of churchgoers nationwide, the Walt Disney Co. is planning to co-finance and distribute the C.S. Lewis children's classic "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe."

Disney has struck a deal with Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz' Walden Media on the more than $100 million production, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Andrew Adamson, who directed "Shrek," will begin filming this summer.

Walt Disney Pictures expects a Christmas 2005 release and will retain the option to release future films in the series.

One hopes that they will use the standards set by The Lord of the Rings in making the movies. Never underestimate Disney's ability to blow it, however.

Slowly it begins to dawn on Hollywood that if you make good movies with a serious spiritual message (Lord of the Rings, The Passion, The Chronicles of Narnia) people will support it. Of a more secular nature I also point to the recent Master & Commander--a wonderful film! Look at the quality products that Pixar has put out.

Let's just hope Disney doesn't blow it.

And while we're talking about movies, Christianity Today has a new movie review site that might be worth keeping an eye on.

Fred Reed detects the evolutionary jihad:
If the faithful of evolution spent as much time examining their theory as they do defending it, they might prove to be right, or partly right, or discover all manner of interesting things heretofore unsuspected.

Among the articles of faith: Life evolved from the primeval soup (sheer conjecture; the existence of the soup is inferred from the theory); evolution occurred, as distinct from change; accounting for all characteristics of life (mere assertion); natural selection being the driving force (unestablished). Many of these points are logically separable. Since evolution serves the purposes of a religion, namely to explain human origin and destiny, they are invariably bundled.

He also raises a question that has long puzzled me:
Homosexuality in males works strongly against reproduction. Why have the genetic traits predisposing to homosexuality not been eliminated long ago?

Either there's no inherited genetic trait leading to it, homosexuality is an abnormal mutation or it's really just a behavioral choice.

Anyway, it's worth looking at.

McDonald's has announced the elimination of its "Supersized" fries and drinks. I'm puzzled somewhat by the reason the article gives:
The move comes as the world's largest restaurant company, and fast-food chains in general, are under growing public pressure to give consumers healthier food options in a nation that has suddenly become aware of its bulging waistline and the health dangers that come with it.

Now why is it that eliminating choices, somehow increases my options? When I go to McDonald's (rarely) I'm asked if I want to supersize. I simply say 'no'. No one forces excessive numbers of fries down my throat.

Your bad eating isn't McDonald's fault.

Tuesday, March 02, 2004


The writing of the Bible might long be over, but a plague associated with it threatens the Mideast:
With the Passover celebration just weeks away, a locust plague of biblical proportions could threaten parts of the Middle East and Africa, according to a United Nations agency.

An outbreak that potentially could darken the sky and consume everything in its path is "in progress on the Red Sea coast in Saudi Arabia where swarms are forming," the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said.

Despite intensive control operations, swarms are expected to move into the country's interior where a further generation of breeding could occur in the spring. Some could reach areas in Jordan, southern Iraq and Western Iran later in the spring, the agency said, according to the JTA news service.

Time to pull out Exodus and Joel and give them a read.

The line keeps being pushed back as the California Supreme Court has ruled that a Roman Catholic charity must provide birth control although it goes against their religious beliefs:
The high court said that Catholic Charities (search) is no different from other businesses in California, where "religious employers" such as churches are exempt from the requirement. Catholic Charities argued that it, too, should be exempt.

But the Supreme Court ruled that the charity is not a religious employer because it offers such secular services as counseling, low-income housing and immigration services to people of all faiths, without directly preaching Catholic values.

In fact, Justice Kathryn Werdegar wrote that a "significant majority" of the people served by the charity are not Catholic. The court also noted that the charity employs workers of differing religions.

It won't be long before the religious exemption itself will be tossed out, thus removing any protection religious groups have against the encroaching regulations of the government.

That said, groups like the Catholic charity has itself blurred the line between a religious group and just another well-meaning counseling/charity service. The point is made that the group itself does not "directly [preach] Catholic values". If they're not willing to preach them, then how can they argue they really are core principles?

It's a dangerous precedent, to be sure. But they, like the Salvation Army and its government money, have invited the problem, and thus made it all of us easier targets.