Friday, April 30, 2004


The Florida Senate President Jim King hastily apologized for a prayer 'in Jesus' name' on Wednesday:
Dr. Clayton Cloer, senior pastor of the First Baptist Church of Central Florida, gave a lengthy invocation, giving thanks for God, the Legislature, the nation's military and the "freedom for people to believe in Jesus Christ."

Cloer, a guest of Sen. Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden, concluded by invoking the "name of Jesus."

Moments later, a frustrated King took the Senate podium and said that ministers who lead the Senate in daily prayer are supposed to deliver a nondenominational blessing. He then reached out to the Senate's six Jewish members.

King, by the way, is an Episcopalian.

Thursday, April 29, 2004


According to a recent poll, most men aren't:
More than half of American Christian men questioned in a survey were only marginally satisfied with their church experience, and most ranked family, money and health as more important than spirituality, according to a study released Wednesday by Promise Keepers. The survey also found that most of the respondents did not feel spiritually challenged.

The study, conducted by California-based Barna Research Group, surveyed 415 randomly selected men in six major cities who considered themselves ``committed born again Christians'' or ``active church members.''

I suspect that people who rank money ahead of spirituality on their priorities list would think they aren't 'spiritually challenged'. I would suggest that, in modern PC speak, is exactly what they are.

I understand that it speaks to a real need, but I also find that those who want to be more 'spiritually challenged' are usually people who duck out the back of the church building as the last 'amen' is uttered.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004


The now former (well, until Friday still current, but he's nowhere around) Fayette County (KY) School Superintendent Ken James left this gem of a memo conclusion behind:
"There is a comprehensive discrepancy regarding the goal for reduction ... Directors stated that they not only met the deficit but also exceeded it. ... Again, communication did not occur in some cases with the appropriate employees that oversee a particular area and process."

Dr. James' new job? Arkansas State Education Director

Michelle Malkin takes Ashley to task for her appearance at this past weekend's pro-abortion rally:
Pro-abortion leaders must be ecstatic. In a sea of angry (Hillary Rodham Clinton), haggard (Cybill Shepherd) and ghoulish (Whoopi Goldberg) women shaking their fists and waving coat hangers, Ashley's pretty smile helped put a softer, gentler and more glamorous spin on the morbid march for "reproductive rights."

Ashley's message to millions of young American women and girls: Opposing the partial-birth abortion ban is fun! Morning-after pills are cool! Sex without consequences rules!

But Ashley learned better, because mother Naomi certainly knows the truth:
Naomi has spoken eloquently for years about how she firmly rejected abortion as an unwed teen and repeatedly witnessed the miracle of life as a labor and delivery nurse. "I've seen ultrasounds ... you know that those babies are real," she told TV talk-show host Sally Jesse Raphael in 1998.

Ashley has long been a favorite of mine because of her undying devotion to my Kentucky Wildcats. In fact, she was actually at UK at the same I was. I guess we didn't hang out in the same circles since I don't recall ever seeing her.

It's too bad Ashley doesn't show as much sense when it comes to human life as it does when she cheers for the Wildcats.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004


A group is planning a trip to Turkey in hopes of finding Noah's Ark:
A joint U.S.-Turkish team of 10 explorers plans to make the arduous trek up Turkey’s tallest mountain, at 17,820 feet (5,430 meters), from July 15 to Aug. 15, subject to the approval of the Turkish government, said Daniel P. McGivern, president of Shamrock—The Trinity Corp. of Honolulu, Hawaii.

The goal: to enter what they believe to be a mammoth structure some 45 feet high, 75 feet wide and up to 450 feet long (14 by 23 by 138 meters) that was exposed in part by last summer’s heat wave in Europe.

Of course, people have been going to Ararat for decades hoping to find the ark. I remember when I was just a little kid going to theaters and watching a docu-movie about an expedition to Ararat. No one has come back with anything that could be substantiated yet.

I hope they find it. I do believe that Noah's ark came to rest on "the mountains of Ararat." That doesn't necessarily mean this Mount Ararat, of course. I'm not going to hold my breath.

Also at MSNBC:
Mummies everywhere

Smithsonian Roman villa exhibit.

Monday, April 26, 2004


Maxine Waters at yesterday's pro-abortion march: 'I have to march because my mother could not have an abortion.'

From The Corner on National Review Online

The Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling The New York Times > News > banning VMI Supper Prayers:
The court rejected an appeal by a current and former superintendent at the nation's oldest military college defending as constitutional the tradition of offering a brief, nondenominational prayer before the evening meal.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote a dissent that Chief Justice William Rehnquist joined. Scalia, a conservative who supports government accommodation of religion, said the appeal raised ``weighty questions'' that ``deserve this court's attention.''

What do the prayers say?
The prayers at VMI, founded in 1839 as a state-funded military college in Lexington, Virginia, were written by the school's chaplain. He composed a separate supper prayer for each day.

The prayers, read by a cadet, begin with ``Almighty God,'' ``O God,'' ``Father God,'' ``Heavenly Father,'' or ``Sovereign God.'' Each day's prayer was dedicated to giving thanks or asking God's blessing.

The prayer, which lasted less than 30 seconds, was part of a supper roll call ceremony held every night except Saturday. The cadets were not required to recite the prayer.

Let's see, 'Congress shall make no law'. Hmmm. When did VMI become Congress. When did they make a law?

Saturday, April 24, 2004


Mel Gibson's movie The Passion will get a one-time showing in Israel, the very land where Jesus lived, taught and died (but didn't stay that way). Of course, some aren't too happy about it:
The Tel Aviv Cinematheque is in final negotiations with Gibson’s production company for a one-time showing of the film in Israel, probably in a few months, cinema manager Alon Garbuz said....

Garbuz said the cinematheque has been criticized for its decision to show the movie.

“I think that those who think that the film is anti-Semitic shouldn’t come see it,” he said. “No one has the moral duty to decide for the public what they can see.”

Jewish and Christian clergy will oversee a discussion with the audience after the viewing.

Israel’s censorship board could prevent the screening if it deems the movie is anti-Semitic, but Garbuz said he has received word the board won’t stop the showing.
I continue to find it amazing how this movie highlights fundamental differences in worldview and belief.

Friday, April 23, 2004


A bill now in the Louisiana legislature could have the effect of virtually banning native Britney Spears from her home state:
People who wear low-slung pants that expose skin or "intimate clothing" would face a fine of up to $500 and possible jail time under a bill filed by a Jefferson Parish lawmaker.

State Rep. Derrick Shepherd said he filed the bill because he was tired of catching glimpses of boxer shorts and G-strings over the lowered belt lines of young adults.

The bill would punish anyone caught wearing low-riding pants with a fine of as much as $500 or as many as six months in jail, or both.

"I'm sick of seeing it," said Shepherd, a first-term legislator. "The community's outraged. And if parents can't do their job, if parents can't regulate what their children wear, then there should be a law."

The bill would be tacked onto the state's obscenity law, which restricts sexual activity in public places and the sale of sexually explicit items.

Isn't there just a part of you that hopes it passes?

[Link via Drudge]

Thursday, April 22, 2004


We've all seen the pre-teen/early teen girls in their Christina-Britney costumes, heavy makeup, tight clothes midrifs everywhere. (Back in my day girls were doing essentially the same thing dressing as Madonna.) But other pre-teens have coined a term for them, and the backlash has begun against the...Prostitots:
"They're called 'prostitots,'" said Anna Miressi, a Kingston, N.Y., high school freshman who claims the term is commonly used among her peers. "It's those girls at the mall with the tight jeans and belly shirts. They're in between the age group of 10 to 13 or 14." ...

The 15-year-old prefers a less revealing wardrobe, which includes "jeans that fit me but that are not so tight that I can bounce a ping-pong ball off my butt."

Miressi has no body piercings or tattoos, and her makeup includes eyeliner — "just on the top lid" — mascara, shimmery eye shadow and Chapstick.

"I try to look as natural as I can because I really don't like the whole heavy black eyeliner thing," she said.

Miressa is part of a trend amongst the young reacting against it all.
Having teens reach out to teens is one of the best ways to combat the emotionless sexual imagery they see in the media, said [Rutgers' Susan] Wilson, whose organization's Web site SEX, ETC. encourages teens to talk through the adult experiences and expectations they have.

About 32,000 teens a day log on to the site, which includes stories written by teens on sexual health issues such as: "Hooking Up: Harmless Fun or Health Risk?" "Older Guys: Dreamy or Dangerous?" and "Sexy Teens on TV: Is That All There Is?"

"We hear from kids from all over the country that the stories have convinced them to choose abstinence," Wilson said. "There's no moralizing or preaching — it's teens talking to teens."

As a father of two girls, all of this causes my worry antenna to go into red alert.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004


You've got to give Hollywood credit for being consistent. The problem is that would be consistently wrong. Mel Gibson is shopping his movie The Passion of the Christ, which is nearing the $400 million mark in domestic box office revenues alone, to television. The problem is no one seems interested:
Mel Gibson’s Icon Productions has been shopping the movie to TV. Only ABC has confirmed turning it down, but executives speaking on condition of anonymity said it was doubtful for CBS, NBC and Fox, too....

The movie has also reportedly been shopped to pay cable networks, where content would not be much of an issue. HBO would not comment, but executives there have privately said the network has a full plate of movie premieres already scheduled for the next year.

Showtime has passed on the movie, a network spokesman said.

We certainly know about the delicate sensibilities of the modern television executive. They always want to steer clear of anything controversial or violent. *cough* *cough*

I suppose Mel will be forced to scrape by on DVD sales and, perhaps, periodic theatrical re-releases of the movie. I'm sure he'll weep all the way to the bank.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004


The Supreme Court has thrown out the appeal of an Indiana state trooper who objected to doing casino work
The state trooper had said that the gambling enforcement assignment would force him to violate his religious beliefs.

Benjamin Endres sued the state and lost. He wanted the Supreme Court to use his case to require law enforcement agencies to accommodate the religious views of employees. Justices refused to take on another religious case.

Endres, who is Baptist, said he was not opposed to general casino crime-fighting, but could not go along when the state designated him a full-time gaming officer and ordered him to report to a casino in Michigan City, Ind.

A federal law protects people from discrimination based on religion. The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago said the law does not require police and fire departments to assign workers to duties compatible with their principles.

I think there's little doubt that Endres could have been accomodated very easily by his employers. But it's also the case that law enforcement tends to place you in an environment populated by unsavory sorts. There are few undercover assignments at church potlucks.

But does anyone think that if Endres was a homosexual, a minority, a woman or, say, a Muslim or a Buddhist bringing a discrimination complaint and not a white male Baptist his arguments would have been taken a little more seriously?

Financial scandals are nothing new in the world of churches. The Episcopal Church in Lexington, Kentucky is dealing with one right now:
[Chris] Platt allegedly wrote himself 19 checks worth $13,020. He wrote an additional 53 "for cash," checks totalling $13,930, Hall said. Another church check, for $250, was mailed to American Express, apparently to pay for Platt's private account, Hall said. In addition, Platt apparently used church money to make payments on a personal loan from BankOne, she said.

It's unclear what many of the checks were used for since Platt kept poor records and little documentation, Hall said. Some of the expenses that are documented are unusual for an Episcopal priest. Platt paid his National Rifle Association dues and purchased a book called Erotique with church money.

While I appreciate any Episcopalian who is a member of the NRA, the problem starts with the fact that Platt had the checkbook. Bad idea. Any time there's money there's temptation (root of all kinds of evil, remember?), and they should have known better. I don't have a church checkbook. I don't want one.

I understand financial difficulties, although I recognize they are often more the result of poor management than too little money (I'm speaking from experience here). Platt had little excuse in the income department:
Divorced, bankrupt, unable to pay his bills, the Episcopal priest was struggling to get by on an annual compensation package of $79,000.

Ah, if only I could struggle with $79,000! Trust me, in Lexington that's not too shabby.

The purpose of this isn't to rail on Platt. I actually do sympathize with him, probably more than I should. But churches really ought to know better. A few years ago a church in Lexington discovered one day that they didn't have a treasury any more. The treasurer--relieved of his duties--sought forgiveness, but the money was gone. There have to be checks on this sort of thing. I know of a church out there somewhere where the minister's mother served as treasurer. Not a good idea, either.

"Um, yes Mom. That's a legitimate expense."

"Well, if you think Erotique will help your studies..."

You get the idea. Think people--think!

Monday, April 19, 2004


A survey has found that more than a quarter of parents will lie so their children can attend church schools:
More than a quarter of parents are willing to lie to get their children into good schools, including pretending to have Christian beliefs a survey has found.

Pretending to have religious convictions, using false addresses or even trying to bribe headteachers are some of the tactics parents are prepared to employ, according to a YouGov poll.

The survey findings will be particularly applicable for church schools, many of whom have policies of giving priority to children of families who say they have a religious belief or attend churches connected to the schools.

You like to see everyone with the right priorities.

Rabe Ramblings has done some heavy lifting by tracking down a wide array of movie critics who were shocked--shocked!!--by the violence of "The Passion." Oddly, they don't have the same misgivings about the new "Kill Bill, Vol. 2."

LittleA joins Rabe in the expose.

[Thanks to Susanna for the link.]

Friday, April 16, 2004


Scientists claim to have discovered a new face on the back of the Turin shroud:
Italian scientists have found a matching image of a man’s face and possibly his hands on the back of the Turin shroud, believed by many to be the burial cloth of Jesus Christ, one of the researchers said on Thursday.

The discovery that the ghostly image on the back of the linen cloth matches the face that adorns the front is likely to reignite debate over whether the shroud is genuine or a skilful medieval fraud.

“The fact that the image is two-sided makes any forgery difficult,” Professor Giulio Fanti of the University of Padua told Reuters.

The findings of Fanti and Roberto Maggiolo, both from the university’s department of mechanical engineering, were published this week by a journal of the Institute of Physics in London.

Fanti said the discovery would support those who maintain the cloth is genuine.

Interesting, but I'm still a shroud skeptic. We shall see.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


With Gibson's 'The Passion of the Christ' making religion 'hot' in Hollywood Columbia is hoping to cash in with a dopey idea:
A new spec screenplay has created a lot of heat in Hollywood thanks to Mel Gibson's THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST. Bobby Florsheim and Josh Stolberg's THE PASSION OF THE ARK was sold to Columbia Pictures for $1.5 million dollars, with another million waiting for the two writers if the project gets greenlighted. It's a huge sale for the industry, especially for two previously unproduced screenwriters, but that's the kind of heat that high concept religious movie ideas have in the wake of Gibson's CHRIST film.

THE PASSION OF THE ARK is set in the modern day and follows a regular man who is told by God that a second great flood will be coming. God instructs the man to build an Ark like the one Noah made thousands of years ago.

All of the major studios were going after Florsheim and Stolberg's screenplay but it was Columbia that ponied up the most to own it.

And there you have it. Hollywood clearly has tuned into the American heartland...

[Thanks to Mitch for the link.]
Hard Saying of the Day

And Jesus said to them, "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's." And they were amazed at Him. (Mark 12:17)

Wednesday, April 14, 2004


Mark Kellner has an update on the previously posted on lawsuit by the New Yorck Civil Liberties Union against the Salvation Army for expecting employees to support its religious goals:
Regarding the Army's social service programs, the ACLU affiliate claims, "The Salvation Army has improperly infused religion into the workplace."

The Army, an evangelical church that came to New York City 124 years ago, says it may have to revise some of the forms. But it won't back down.

According to Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, the suit could spell trouble for other faith-based groups. "If the NYCLU prevails in this case," McCaleb said, "some of the most effective groups—faith-based groups—[will] either have to surrender their faith-based distinctive, … or they will have to decline government funds."

The Army says it began reemphasizing its Christian character in September 2003 after new leaders came to the New York City unit.

The emphasis in the above is my own. Theosebes has warned against the siren song of government money. Where goes government money goes government regulations and goes the ACLU.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


Jewish groups are trying to stake their ground and stop Mormons from posthumously baptizing Holocaust victims:
Researchers say Mormons have continued to baptize Jewish Holocaust victims into their faith posthumously, despite having promised to discontinue the practice.

"We are very hopeful that we will be able to convince the church to stop," Ernest Michel, chairman of the New York-based World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, said Friday. If not, Mr. Michel said, his group will consider other options, "possibly legal steps."...

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has long collected names from government documents and other records worldwide for posthumous baptisms. Church members stand in to be baptized in the names of the deceased non-Mormons, a ritual the church says is required for them to reach heaven.

The practice is primarily intended for the ancestors of Mormons, but many others are included, since the church believes that a person's ability to choose a religion continues after death. Non-Mormon faiths have objected to the baptisms.

Yes, the Mormons get odder and odder, and the Jewish groups get touchier and touchier.

But the Jewish groups have pulled out the big gun: Hillary Clinton. Everything will be settled now.

Monday, April 12, 2004


An exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center gives interesting insight into the religious life of non-Palestinian Jews:
“Jewish Life in Ancient Egypt: A Family Archive From the Nile Valley,” revolves around 2,500-year-old papyrus scrolls from a cache of hundreds unearthed on Elephantine Island — the oldest extra-biblical evidence of Jews in Mitzrayim....

“Jewish Life” comes alive through the remarkable, Aramaic-language scrolls, which describe a Jewish community on lush Elephantine 800 years after the biblical exodus. Apparently there were no hard feelings, because these people were descendants of Jews who had voluntarily returned to Egypt after the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. While elite Jews were forced into exile in Babylonia, many soldiers and common folk relocated to Egypt, which proved to be a multicultural mecca, not an anti-Semitic hellhole, according to the exhibit....

Like his fellow Egyptians, Jewish Ananiah probably continued the traditional form of Israelite worship that had been practiced in pre-exilic Judah. He likely burned incense to Yahweh, performed animal sacrifice and worshipped deities such as the queen of the heavens, who in the Elephantine area had a temple across the river from Yahou’s. This kind of “monotheism-lite” apparently enraged the prophet Jeremiah, who rebuked Egyptian Jews for “making sacrificial smoke to other gods” in the Hebrew Bible.

According to the Elephantine papyri, local Jews swore oaths to regional deities. Sharing religious and cultural traditions was de rigueur, as evidenced by the exhibit’s papyri and accompanying artifacts.

Sounds like Jeremiah was onto something.
Someone makes a pass on LittleA. Thankfully, he caught some Biblical insight in the process.

People attending an Easter service in Glassport, Pennsylvania were surprised to see to see the Easter Bunny whipped:
People who attended Saturday's show at Glassport's memorial stadium quoted performers as saying, ``There is no Easter bunny,'' and described the show as being a demonstration of how Jesus was crucified.

Melissa Salzmann, who brought her 4-year-old son J.T., said the program was inappropriate for young children. ``He was crying and asking me why the bunny was being whipped,'' Salzmann said....

Performers broke eggs meant for an Easter egg hunt and also portrayed a drunken man and a self-mutilating woman, said Jennifer Norelli-Burke, another parent who saw the show in Glassport, a community about 10 miles southeast of Pittsburgh.

Sounds like a great time. Sorry I missed it...

[Link via Drudge]

Saturday, April 10, 2004


That's the question put to some international scientist types. Their responses are worth a perusal and a some a chuckle:
[T]he Mayans predicted Dec. 23, 2012, as the end of the age, we will be fully into Aquarius by around 2010, I read that the Vedas claim 2011 as the change of ages, and of course most Christians tell me that it won't be long. Coincidence? But maybe our ever accelerating rate of overconsumption of earth's biomass, our omnipresent pollution, all the wars, etc., will all be solved in the next 8 years, and we'll be OK.

Uh, ok.

For the past year we've followed the archaeological looting in Iraq. Well, it seems things haven't gotten any better:
Across southern Iraq, often in the dead of night, tomb raiders and temple thieves are systematically looting ancient treasures that have lain undiscovered for thousands of years.

Using spades and working by the light of makeshift oil lamps, armed gangs are digging into the shifting sands at the edges of the Euphrates River plain to spirit away priceless artifacts buried with the Sumerian dynasties 5,000 years ago.

Before archaeologists can properly identify and excavate the sites, scattered across the river valley south of Babylon, the looters have already torn apart ancient temples, palaces and tombs that hold clues to the foundations of civilization.

And since archaeologists don’t know precisely what was there, no one will likely ever know what’s missing, meaning robbers are stealing history even before it’s been discovered.

Much of that is headed to the black market, off to private collections never to see the light of day again. There's really nothing for it as long as their society is in such chaos, but it truly is a crime to see it going on.

Christopher Manion has insightful thoughts on the Jewish response to Mel Gibson's 'The Passion'. Calling on Catholic theology, he thinks a lot of it has to do with the modern Jewish ideology of The Holocaust, which results in projecting their own attitudes on Christians:
I first tripped over the problem as a member of the Religion Department of Boston University about a dozen years ago. I was the faculty advisor to the student pro-life group. On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the student newspaper published my letter regarding the "holocaust of 30 million unborn children" since 1973. A colleague of Elie Wiesel, who had the office next to mine (but whom I had never met) in the theology building, then wrote a response. The gentleman reprimanded me for using the term "Holocaust" to refer to anything other than the six million Jews who died in Nazi death camps.

The student newspaper then kindly printed my response to the gentleman, in which I pointed out what was obvious to me – that commemorating the murder of thirty million helpless unborn innocents in no way diminishes the suffering or the dignity of six million innocent Jews murdered in Nazi prison camps. All those helpless, innocent murder victims are dear to Our Lord in His infinite love. But it was clear that my neighbor didn’t see it that way.

Neither does Abe Foxman, the head of the ADL – the Anti-Defamation League. After the death of New York Cardinal John O’Connor, Archbishop of New York, Mr. Foxman talked to the New York Observer about his relationship with Cardinal O’Connor over the years: "That was a relationship that took a while," said Mr. Foxman. "When Cardinal O’Connor first came, he compared abortion to the Holocaust. But, you know, he learned."

I often saw Cardinal O’Connor in action, and I’m not sure he "learned" all that much from Mr. Foxman after all. But, in Mr. Foxman’s view, the Holocaust is apparently both a cherished, proprietary symbol and a theory of history. Both must be tenaciously protected – by Mr. Foxman.

I think Manion actually may be onto something here. His fresh approach is worth a look.

Friday, April 09, 2004


Add this to your spring Roman itinerary, a church dating to the 8th Century has been freed from the rubble:
An earthquake buried the church and its numerous Byzantine and early Christian frescoes in 847 and it remained untouched until excavation and reconstruction began in 1900.

Much of the structure had survived and restorers have been hard at work on the interior since 1980 with the site to reopen to the public on April 10 until the end of May....

While many other churches in Rome have been knocked down, destroyed or rebuilt over the centuries, Santa Maria Antiqua's 12 centuries out of action meant it provided a perfect snapshot of early medieval artwork.

If anyone has an extra ticket to Rome, let me know.

Thursday, April 08, 2004


A picture of what looks to be Mickey Mouse dated to the 14th Century has been found in an Austrian church:
The painting, which has been dated back to the early 14th Century, is in the Community Church in Malta, Carinthia. Next to a large sketch of St. Christopher is a clear drawing of the mouse.

Art historian Eduard Mahlknecht believes the similarity to Mickey is pure coincidence.

He told Austrian daily 'Krone: "St Christopher was often depicted surrounded by various animals and sea-life, and in this case something that resembles Mickey Mouse.

"It is most likely to be a drawing of a beaver or a weasel."

However, Carinthia's tourism office is already thinking of ways to cash in on the sketch.

Siggi Neuschitzer, manager of the Malta Tourism Association, said: "The similarity of the painting to Mickey Mouse is so astounding that the Disney concern could even lose its world-wide copyright licence.

"Our Mickey Mouse is 700 years older than Disney's and we will get it legally examined."

I'm on Malta's side. We could call it Malta Mouse. Or maybe The Maltese Mouse, and make a movie...

Pretty much everyone I've talked to who has seen 'The Passion of the Christ' has asked, 'What did that ugly baby Satan is holding mean?' People at church have asked me. Students at the college in the New Testament class I teach have asked me. My answer? 'I don't know, really.'

Well, the folks over at Christianity Today received all sorts of emails about the same thing. So they actually emailed Mel Gibson's publicist and got the answer from Mel himself:
When asked why he portrayed Satan—an androgynous, almost beautiful being played by Rosalinda Celentano—the way he did, Gibson replied: "I believe the Devil is real, but I don't believe he shows up too often with horns and smoke and a forked tail. The devil is smarter than that. Evil is alluring, attractive. It looks almost normal, almost good—but not quite.

"That's what I tried to do with the Devil in the film. The actor's face is symmetric, beautiful in a certain sense, but not completely. For example, we shaved her eyebrows. Then we shot her almost in slow motion so you don't see her blink—that's not normal. We dubbed in a man's voice in Gethsemane even though the actor is a woman … That's what evil is about, taking something that's good and twisting it a little bit."

But what about the ugly baby?

"Again," said Gibson, "it's evil distorting what's good. What is more tender and beautiful than a mother and a child? So the Devil takes that and distorts it just a little bit. Instead of a normal mother and child you have an androgynous figure holding a 40-year-old 'baby' with hair on his back. It is weird, it is shocking, it's almost too much—just like turning Jesus over to continue scourging him on his chest is shocking and almost too much, which is the exact moment when this appearance of the Devil and the baby takes place."

It's a good point to make. Satan doesn't show up with the forked tail, nor as a serpent or even the 'roaring lion' we know he is. I think Gibson's portrayal of Satan worked well in the movie. I'm still not sure about the baby, though.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004


An open mind? Not Georgia evolutionists who sued over a textbook sticker:
A federal judge refused to dismiss a lawsuit against a school district's practice of posting disclaimers inside science textbooks saying evolution is "a theory, not a fact."...

The lawsuit argues that the disclaimer restricts the teaching of evolution, promotes and requires the teaching of creationism and discriminates against particular religions.

The sticker reads: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully and critically considered."

Yes, you can see the Scripture all over that notice. We certainly don't want to encourage students to have an open mind, study carefully or consider anything critically in a science class!
But you see, the sticker might make someone actually *gasp!* think about alternatives to evolution:
[Judge Cooper] noted that while the disclaimer has no biblical reference, it encourages students to consider alternatives other than evolution. The judge found that the disclaimer could have the effect of advancing or inhibiting religion.

That's about like saying that paving roads encourages religion because people drive to church on them.

I suppose open minds, careful study and critical thinking are so frightening to evolutionists because it's been so long since they tried them.

Maybe so, says a Swedish textile company:
Swedish textiles expert Dr Mechthild Flury-Lemberg, who discovered the seam at the back of the cloth during a restoration project, says: "There have been attempts to date the shroud from looking at the age of the material, but the style of sewing is the biggest clue.

"It belongs firmly to a style seen in the first century AD or before."

Her findings are being hailed as the most significant since 1988, when scientists controversially carbon-dated the 14ft-long cloth to medieval times, more than 1,000 years after Jesus died.

Yet experts now say the team unwittingly used cloth that had been added during a 16th-century restoration and it could have been contaminated from handling.

That the actual fabric may date from the first century, of course, does not mean that the relic is genuine. It's the sort of thing that people want to believe is true, especially as it would give us some idea of what Jesus looks like. (Did you notice the face of Jesus in "The Passion" is straight off the Shroud?)

The first problem the Shroud runs into, however, is Scripture itself:
And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. (John 20:6-7)

Apparently, then, the face of Jesus was covered by a separate cloth than the rest of the body, which is different than the body cloth of the Shroud.

Could the Shroud be genuine. I suppose it's impossible to prove the negative at this point. But I think the burden of proof still rests squarely on its defenders. Number me with the skeptics.

[Link via LRC]

Monday, April 05, 2004


A string of Easter-'The Passion' related Jesus documentaries are set to hit the air-waves, all 'dispassionate' and without agenda (of course):
ABC, Fox News and the History Channel, among others, have planned documentaries about Jesus that seek to capitalize on the extraordinary popularity of Mr. Gibson's polemical film, while setting the record straight.

However different in tone and perspective, all these specials make the same point, over and over: Jesus was born a Jew, lived as a Jew and died a Jew, and Pontius Pilate, not his fellow Jews, is to blame for his execution.

Like the debate over the theory of evolution, this renewed insistence on a point that most historians and mainstream Christian churches conceded long ago is quite striking. "The Passion" has become a kind of 21st-century Scopes Trial: despite the broad consensus, public officials, church leaders and even network anchors feel obliged to prove, again and again, that Jewish collective guilt, like creationism, is an atavistic myth.

Not only do they preach to their liberal theology choir on the resurrection, but Paul continues to be a favorite whipping-boy:
The ABC documentary painstakingly shows how much Christian dogma — including much-disputed rules about homosexuality and procreation — were based on St. Paul's Letters. Ms. Pagels calls those Epistles "theology written on the run." The documentary also looks at St. Paul's Letter to the Galatians — used by the Nazis to justify persecution of the Jews — and absolves St. Paul of deliberately inciting anti-Semitism. "It is true that Paul could be very nasty," Mr. Jennings says, citing his harsher Epistles. "But if you look closely, you see that Paul is really arguing with his fellow Jews."

Ooooo, that nasty Paul! But at least Peter Jennings gives him a pass on the Nazis--that's certainly been a worry of mine.

These documentaries sound just great--no agenda, just the facts and very 'dispassionate'. Yeah, right.

Friday, April 02, 2004


on that email forward, consider Brad Edmondswords of warning:
Usually, you’re better off simply deleting chain letters, but it’s good to have responses in mind for any pushy correspondents who ask whether or why you did or didn’t forward their email. If you feel absolutely guilted into doing something when you get one of these, try something completely different: Write an email from scratch, yourself, personally to someone you know who really needs a lift. The best sort I know goes something like this: I’m thinking about you; hope you’re doing well; praying for you; available if you just want to talk or need your yard mowed.

I haven’t seen a single forwarded Christian chain letter that offered doing an actual favor.

Keep it up, Brad!

From the "your tax dollars at work" file is the Understanding Evolution website, which tells teachers how to promote evolution. But they have called on an unlikely ally to their agenda, religion:
The federal government has spent nearly a half-million dollars on a website that encourages science teachers to use religion to promote evolution, sparking objections that the website violates the separation of church and state.

One part of the website explicitly uses religion to promote evolution. In that section, teachers are told that nearly all religious people, theologians, and scientists who hold religious beliefs endorse modern evolutionary theory, and that indeed such a view "actually enriches their faith." Teachers are also directed to a page on the NCSE's own website containing statements by religious groups endorsing evolution. For example, teachers can read a statement from the United Church of Christ that "modern evolutionary theory . . . is in no way at odds with our belief in a Creator God, or in the revelation and presence of that God in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit."

Dr. John West, Associate Director of the Center for Science and Culture at Discovery Institute points out,
"Darwinists have a lot of chutzpah. They go around the country attacking anyone who wants to present scientific criticisms of Darwin's theory as unconstitutionally promoting religion, but here they explicitly use religion to promote evolution in the schools, and that's supposed to be OK?"

Well, of course it is, John.

[See also John West at National Review]