Monday, May 31, 2004


Parents on a quest for "perfect" children (good luck with that!) are aborting their infants at an increasing rate for correctable conditions:
Those with conditions that can usually be corrected medically - such as deformed feet and cleft lips and palates - are instead being terminated.

And the number of abortions of Down's syndrome babies now outstrips live births, despite the fact that those with the condition can live a long and fulfilling life. As screening techniques improve, the trend is likely to grow - horrifying pro-life campaigners.

'These figures are symptomatic of a eugenic trend of the consumerist society hell-bent on obliterating deformity - and at what cost to its own humanity? ' said ethicist Jacqueline Laing, of London Metropolitan University. 'We are obliterating the willingness of people to accept disability. Babies are required to fit a description of normality before they are allowed to be born.'

The figures for 2002 - the latest available - from the Office for National Statistics show more women than ever are choosing to terminate babies with potential handicaps, with such abortions rising 8 per cent in a year.

That's something to keep in mind this Memorial Day. There are millions to remember who have no grave and no name. But God knows who they are.

Saturday, May 29, 2004


There's no question that as time moves on the tax exempt status church's enjoy will be used as a weapon against them. If churches don't fall into whatever government line is popular--hiring women or homosexual clergy, for example--they might lose their tax exempt status, which would likely force some churches out of the church business. An activist secular group has decided to test this Weapon of Mass Destruction (a line that works all the better since we're talking about Catholics) against Rome's church:
A secular group asked the IRS to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Roman Catholic diocese in Colorado Springs yesterday, saying the bishop violated federal tax law when he threatened to withhold Communion from those who disagree with the church.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State in Washington, said Bishop Michael Sheridan went too far when he sent out a church letter saying Catholics should not receive Communion if they vote for politicians who disagree with the church by backing abortion rights and other topics.

“I think Bishop Sheridan has gone over the line, telling voters whom to vote for,” Lynn said.

Lynn said the U.S. Catholic Conference has warned church officials about using words that have political impact. Several U.S. Catholic bishops have instructed Catholic politicians and voters to pay heed to church teachings.

Secularists always get touchy when churches actually expect members to live the principles to which they claim to adhere. If you're going to be a Catholic, then be a Catholic. If you don't agree with Catholic teaching (like I don't), then be something else.*

Catholics represent a substantial voting block. There are benefits politically with identifying with the Catholic Church. But some politicians--John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, anyone?--who want to have their cake and eat it, too. I'm sure they're glad to have folks like Barry Lynn and his group of raving secularists giving them cover.

*To clarify, feel free to join the church of your choice. Just remember, it's God's choice that matters.

Friday, May 28, 2004


Why did the "lost gospels" lose out? Ben Witherington is unconvinced by The DaVinci Code's account:
[B]y the New Testament period, there was already a core of documents and ideas by which Christians could evaluate other documents. The New Testament documents already manifest a concept of "orthodoxy," or at least criteria by which truth and error could be distinguished. Among the second-century lists of authoritative Scriptures, never are gnostic texts listed—not even by the unorthodox Marcion in about 140. There was never a time when a wide selection of books, including gnostic ones, were widely deemed acceptable.

A good example of this is Serapion of Antioch (a bishop from 190 to 211), who let some of his flock read the Gospel of Peter in church—until he read the book himself. He concluded that it had a heretical Christology, teachings about Jesus that did not conform to other ancient apostolic documents. Or compare the Apocalypse of Peter with the canonical gospel portraits of Jesus' Passion. The gnostic text depicts Jesus as glad and laughing on the cross, a radiant being of gnostic light (81:10-11).

And where did Brown's nonsense come from? What's the purpose of it?
The novel expresses in popular form what some scholars have been arguing or implying for years. Twenty years ago, Elaine Pagels wrote The Gnostic Gospels, a book that introduced the larger public to the other "Christian" writings that arose in the early centuries of the church. Regarding the books of the New Testament, Pagels asked, "Who made that selection, and for what reasons? Why were these other writings excluded and banned as 'heresy'?"

For Pagels this wasn't a rhetorical question, but one designed to get readers to question the very authority of the New Testament.

It's well worth your time to read Witherington's exploration of this nonsense.

The church where I grew up at one time would have as many as a hundred people on Sunday mornings. That was thirty and more years ago. Now that congregation is on the decline. Will they still be meeting in a decade? It's a valid question as I don't see the decline changing. Last week I was at a wedding and at the reception spoke with the officiant for a few minutes. He's an older man who visited my boyhood church twenty-five years ago to preach. I was telling him of the decline of the old congregation. He told me of the decline of so many others. Of course, our anecdotal evidence is simply our witnessing a widespread shift:
``Part of the problem with rural churches is that old buildings don't appeal to young couples,'' said Robert Seater, pastor for New Horizon United Church of Christ in Wisconsin, recently created from three congregations in rural Sheboygan and Washington counties. New Horizon hopes to build a new church and sell the three older buildings.

``They're living in homes that are $150,000, $300,000 homes, and they don't want a building that just has a bare basement for their kids' Sunday school,'' Seater said. ``If the church is going to meet the needs of the 21st century, we're going to have to do something with these buildings.''

There is much truth to those statements, of course. At the same time I think much of it simply is shifting demographics. Our society has become more suburban than rural. As bleak as the picture seems when looked at from the old, rural church perspective, it's downright encouraging from the suburban perspective.

And while I'm a conservative by temperament--I simply hate to see these old congregations on the wane--within the scope of New Testament strictures, one must always assess the true utility of something when it comes to a church. As Garth Brown, in the NYT article, observes:
``I have some sentimental feelings, but I often think our forefathers were the kind of people who came and built a church because the community needed it,'' Brown said. ``They're the kind of people who would have said, 'We're not doing any good where we're at. Let's go build along (Route) 45 and see what we can do.'''

Back when I first went to Mecosta, Michigan to work for Russell Kirk we were riding down Main Street and I commented on a former church building transformed into an antique store. Dr. Kirk assured me it wasn't a very good antique store. I said something to the effect of, "that's too bad." Dr. Kirk said, "Well, it wasn't a very good church, either."

Thursday, May 27, 2004


One of the current 'hot' Biblical scholars (is there such a thing?) takes on one of the current 'hot' novels. Ben Witherington III has a new book on the way: The Gospel Code: Novel Claims About Jesus, Mary Magdalene and Da Vinci, which as you can tell takes on Dan Brown's bestseller, The Da Vinci Code. Needless to say, Dr. Witherington is not impressed. The folks over at have obliged us with an excerpt. If nothing else, you have to appreciate the excerpt's headline: 'An Exercise in Pure Narcissism'.

Los Angeles County has a cross in its official seal. It finally caught the attention of the lovable folks over at the ACLU, and they've given L.A. notice:
County officials say the cross represents the Spanish missions (search), which are part of California's history.

They add that it would be expensive to redesign the county seal, which was designed in 1957 and appears on most official county property: walls, documents, water bottles, uniforms, cars and trucks.

On Friday, the ACLU gave the county two weeks to eliminate the seal.

Now no one elected the ACLU. They're simply a private organization of cranks. But they've given a municipality two weeks to comply with their wishes? Will it work? Ask Redlands, California:
Last month, the threat of litigation by the ACLU forced the city of Redlands, about 50 miles east of Los Angeles, to redesign its 40-year-old logo, which also included a cross.

If you give in to terrorists, you only encourage them. I prefer the attitude of L.A. County supervisor Mike Antonovich:
"Here you have this radical left-wing organization whose own symbol should be the hammer and sickle."

Just so.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004


As a desireable demographic, homosexuals' stock is rising in the estimation of corporations. Many are now aiming niche advertising their way:
Recognizing same-sex couples and families as an emerging market, large corporations have begun targeting the demographic in their ads.

Companies including International Business Machines (IBM), Volvo and JP Morgan (JPM) have featured gay couples or parents, mostly in print or online ads. And Subaru has been marketing to the gay population as a whole for years.

And the article points out the growing acceptance of this "lifestyle choice" much of which has been entertainment driven:
There has been a growing trend of gay tolerance, with more companies offering benefits to same-sex couples and families and more mainstream TV shows featuring gay personalities, like NBC’s popular “Will and Grace (search)” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show (search)” and Bravo’s successful “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (search).”

“We’ve seen this acceptance in corporate America and in pop culture,” said Mark Elderkin, founder and president of PlanetOut Partners, which runs the heavily trafficked and Web sites. “That’s creating the foundation for corporate advertising to go out and market to this group.”

Get used to it folks.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004


Of course there was, says Manfred Korfmann director of excavations at Troy. And he asks an excellent question:
On the basis of my years of experience and knowledge of Troy, I feel the question ought to be: "Why should the scholars who won't rule out a possible degree of historicity in the basic events in the Iliad have to defend their position?" In light of the remarkable amount of discovery that has taken place over the last ten to fifteen years, the onus to defend positions should now be on those who believe there is absolutely no historical association between what happened at Late Bronze Age Troy and the events in the Iliad.

It's always a trick of the skeptics to stay on the offensive, make their claims and demand you prove your position in the face of their statements. They rarely are interested in accepting the burden of proof for their own arguments.

This, in case you hadn't noticed, is exactly the tack taken by Biblical skeptics. In the face of the overwhelming evidence to back the Biblical accounts, of which the Bible itself is not inconsequential, why don't you prove the Bible wrong?

Monday, May 24, 2004


Eleven year old Ella Gunderson pointed out the obvious to department store Nordstrom: there are few modest clothing options for young girls. The amazing thing? Nordstrom vowed to fix it:
"Dear Nordstrom," she wrote. "I am an eleven-year-old girl who has tried shopping at your store for clothes (in particular jeans), but all of them ride way under my hips, and the next size up is too big and falls down.

"I see all of these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly button and underwear," she wrote. "Your clearks sugjest that there is only one look. If that is true, then girls are suppost to walk around half naked. I think that you should change that." (sic)

Ella's letter was relayed all the way up to Pete Nordstrom, an executive vice president and president of Nordstrom's full-line stores.

Two Nordstrom executives wrote back, promising the Redmond girl the company would try to educate both its purchasing managers and salespeople on the range of fashion choices that should be available to young people.

"Wow," wrote back Kris Allan, manager of Nordstrom's Bellevue Square store, where Ella shopped.

"Your letter really got my attention ... I think you are absolutely right. There should not be just one look for everyone. This look is not particularly a modest one and there should be choices for everyone."

In addition, according to the folks at Seventeen modesty is 'in':
"If modesty is what she is looking for, it's going to come full force in the fall," said Gigi Solis Schanen, the New York-based fashion editor for Seventeen magazine.

"The '50s sexy-librarian look is in."

Schanen said that 'tween and teen girls can expect to see fuller skirts, higher waist lines and more "layering" of tops.

The exposed belly look made popular by such singers such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera is on the way out.

Good job, Ella!

A months long restoration of Michelangelo's David is now complete:
Bathed in natural light streaming through the dome of Florence's Accademia Gallery (search), the marble statue of the young Biblical hero who took on Goliath appeared more radiant Monday than it did before the cleaning.

The restoration resumed in September after an aborted start when the original restorer quit in a dispute over how the statue should be cleaned....

"'David' is still itself, only what has changed is his luminosity," said restorer Cinzia Parnigoni, who, working atop scaffolding for months, applied "mud packs" of cellulose pulp and clay to soak away the dirt as tourists gawked.

After months of restoration, the sculpture is "less cold," she said in an interview with The Associated Press before a news conference to present conclusions about the cleaning.

Of course some opposed the restoration, for reasons I will never understand. With great works of art I don't know why we shouldn't see them as the artist intended. Should centuries of smoke buildup hide the true colors of the Sistine Chapel?

On a Biblical note, one doubts that the real David spent much time posing publicly in such a stage of undress.

If you don't want to see 'fractions' instead of 'factions', or desire to avoid 'sour ancestors' better hire these folks:
Thank the proofreaders at Peachtree Editorial and Proofreading that the Bible refers to "our ancestors" instead of "sour ancestors," and calls for an end to "factions," not "fractions."

The proofreading service caught those typos and others before the latest edition of the Bible went to press.

At Peachtree, attention to detail is more than a job description. It's a calling.

"Bible readers are less forgiving of errors because they expect perfection in the Bible text," said June Gunden, who founded the business with her husband, Doug....

A list hangs in the Gundens' office as a reminder of how much rides on their work. The list, a collection of notorious typos found in the Bible, features one prominent error from a 1631 King James edition: "Thou shalt commit adultery."

Of course, that may simply have been wishful thinking on the part of a 17th C typesetter.

Saturday, May 22, 2004


Theosebes has taken occasional looks at the internal struggles of some of the 'mainstream' denominations over issues such as homosexuality, struggles sometimes leading to the brink of outright split. Promoting the more conservative position within the denominations, it turns out, is the Institute on Religion and Democracy:
In each denomination, the flashpoint is homosexuality, but there is another common denominator as well. In each case, the Institute on Religion and Democracy, a small organization based in Washington, has helped incubate traditionalist insurrections against the liberal politics of the denomination's leaders...

The institute has brought together previously disconnected conservative groups within each denomination to share resources and tactics, including forcing heresy trials of gay clergy members, winning seats on judicial committees and urging congregations to withhold money from their denomination's headquarters.

The group has been quite successful considering its outsider status and small budget. And what are the prizes of the struggle?
"It will give them access to three important pieces," said Mr. Ross, a lawyer and former official with the Planned Parenthood Federation. "One is the Sunday pulpit. Two is millions of dollars of capacity internally, with control of church newsletters and pension funds. And three is foreign missions," the agencies that dispense missionaries, and with them their brand of Christianity, around the world.

Of course, the 'courageous' (read: raving mad liberal) clergy is now fearful of the groups power:
Rev. Robert Edgar, a former Democratic congressman who is general secretary of the National Council of Churches, an ecumenical alliance that is dominated by the mainline churches and a principal target of the institute's criticism, argued that it spoke for only about a third of mainline churchgoers. "They have caused so many internal issues that some progressive leaders are afraid to take the courageous positions they would have taken a few decades ago because a third of their parishioners would cut their legs off."

I'm no supporter of denominational structures with their added rules and organizations, but within that existing structure I certainly encourage those with the more Biblical view on morality to take their stand. Of course, with the mainline denominations it may simply be rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

Friday, May 21, 2004


As the ironer of all my own clothes (my wife doesn't do it well enough to suit me, probably intentionally) I think it might be time to go X-treme:
[N]ow there's a way to add excitement, a dash of danger, the adrenaline rush of risk: Take along an ironing board, a sturdy steam iron and a load of wrinkled shirts.

It's not for the faint of heart, to be sure. But extreme ironing - the marriage of activities like cliff jumping and kayaking treacherous rapids with what participants call "the satisfaction of a well-pressed shirt" - has been catching on.

You can't beat "a spot of ironing whilst rock climbing."

Thursday, May 20, 2004


Oh no! Not more mummies, you say. Well so does my wife when mummy documentaries come on tv (Discovery Channel, et al). Although my preference is for the Egyptian sort, sometimes you have to make do. These latest were found in Peru:
A well-preserved graveyard possibly 1,000 years old has been discovered at an archaeological complex of Inca and pre-Inca temples on the outskirts of the Peruvian capital, experts said Wednesday.

Archaeologists this week unearthed the remains of 30 people, including 19 still intact as mummies, dating from between 1000 and 1500, making them some of the oldest mummies ever found in Peru.

They said that the discovery was “exceptional” because the site had not been plundered by grave robbers and that some of the dead were religious sacrifices.

No, they might not be Egyptian, but some of them were offered as sacrifices, which makes up for it!

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


The New Hampshire Union Leader has a great editorial taking 'Da Vinci Code' author Dan Brown to task:
Regarding the believability of the novel, Brown has tried to have it both ways. On his Web site he states, “The Da Vinci Code is a novel and therefore a work of fiction.” Fine. But he goes on to state, as he did in an interview on New Hampshire Public Radio, that while his characters are fictional, everything presented as fact in the novel is true and has been painstakingly researched.

Readers knowledgeable about The Bible and Christian history will have little problem debunking some of what is portrayed as “fact” in “The Da Vinci Code.”

But Brown soldiers on, and continues to hawk his questionable wares. Now he's essentially praising his own restraint in not letting out even more "controversial 'facts'":
The author of the best-selling “The DaVinci Code” said last night that he ran across “intriguing and persuading” information that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion, but it was too controversial to put in his novel.

“To me, that was three or four steps too far."

At least Brown admits to his rather colossal ego:
He initially resisted having the book made into a movie, but succumbed when producer Harvey Weinstein told him many people don’t read books, but deserve to know the DaVinci Code story, Brown said.

“He absolutely appealed to my ego,” Brown said. “How many chances do you get to fly to Paris to see your book turned into a movie by Ron Howard?”

Brown said he’s heard that President Bush likes his books. “Deception Point” involves a politically foundering President who decides to launch a Mars mission.

“I’m not going to say I influenced him,” Brown said, “but it was a good idea.”

Isn't it wonderful that Brown can not only clear up 2000 years of religious history, but also direct American space policy? Wow, what a guy!

Monday, May 17, 2004


Unlike earlier rogue 'marriages' performed by officials openly breaking the law, Massachusetts has now become the first state to issue legal licenses to homosexual couples:
Massachusetts was thrust into the center of a nationwide debate on gay marriage when the state's Supreme Judicial Court issued its narrow 4-3 ruling in November that gays and lesbians had a right under the state constitution to wed.

In the days leading up to Monday's deadline for same-sex weddings to begin, opponents looked to the federal courts for help in overturning the Supreme Judicial Court's ruling. On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene.

It's somewhat inevitable, I suppose. With the constant bombardment to normalize homosexual behavior we now find that it leads to a legal redefinition of marriage. And it will not stop with the People's Republic of Massachussets:
Out-of-state gay couples are likely to challenge Massachusetts' 1913 marriage statute, which bars out-of-state couples from marrying in Massachusetts if the union would be illegal in their home state. Gov. Mitt Romney (search), a gay-marriage opponent, has said the law will be enforced and clerks who give licenses to nonresidents may face legal implications.

Still, local officials in Provincetown, Worcester and Somerville, have said they will not enforce Romney's order and will give licenses to any couples who ask, as long as they sign the customary affidavit attesting that they know of no impediment to their marriage.

Sure enough, Chris McCary, 43, and his partner of six years, John Sullivan, 37, of Anniston, Ala., were first in line outside town hall in Provincetown Monday morning.

"This is the most important day of my life," said McCary, who planned to return to Alabama with Sullivan, even though their union won't be recognized there. "This window could be closed in the future but it's still worth it."

I'm sure the folks in Anniston are thrilled. But now we will have homosexual 'married' couples, documents in hand, going to court in state after state in order to have their Massachusetts licenses recognized. A few states will bite. Others won't, the Supreme Court will get involved and suddenly you will awaken one day to find that homosexual 'marriages' are the law across the land. No state will actually have voted for it, but it will be legal nonetheless.

Only through great effort and determination could those who seek to defend traditional marriage prevail at this point. I believe it could happen. I just don't believe it will.

Marriage as an institution has been under attack for two generations. No fault divorce and the rise and normalization of the unwed mother has removed society's regard for that unique relationship between a man and a woman. We should not be shocked at what happens next.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


Catholic Church officials have refused to do a full investigation into a 'weeping' Jesus portrait in Texas:
A Roman Catholic bishop said a cardboard portrait of Jesus does not show enough evidence of weeping for a formal church investigation.

Bishop Edmond Carmody had asked the Rev. Gerry Sheehan to view the portrait after 34-year-old Gloria Fino said tears were coming out of the eyes in the portrait. Sheehan told him that while the cheeks were streaked, Jesus no longer appeared to be crying.

"It's a very strange phenomenon ... there were signs that something had come from the eyes and the back of the paper print was dry, but there were no tears coming down. We see no reason to move it or to investigate now because it has stopped," Carmody said in today's Corpus Christi Caller-Times.

Now, back to that shroud in Turin...

Friday, May 14, 2004


Buddhist priests in Japan are attempting to stop the sale of candy called 'Buddha Snot':
Japanese priests have scored only a partial victory in their attempts to stop a sweet being sold as 'Snot from the nose of the Great Buddha'.

They have managed to stop the name being registered as a trademark, says the Daily Telegraph.

But they have not managed to stop vendors selling the sweet to tourists who flock to the temple in the ancient capital of Nara, in western Japan....

[T]he packaging still carries a picture of Buddha picking his nose.

Yum, yum.

A 15 year old English girl was given a 'secret abortion' offer during a 10-minute counseling session:
Describing her initial visit to the abortion clinic with her boyfriend, Michelle said: "We went to the clinic and we went to the counsellor for 10 minutes.

"They just basically sat us down and said, if you want to keep it, it's best to tell our parents or someone that we trust, and if not, then they can arrange an abortion without our parents ever having to find out."

The teenager said she was initially too afraid to tell her parents, but changed her mind when she found out that her pregnancy was more advanced than she had originally been told.

"I read up on the internet about how it would be done and it was a very scary operation, considering it was 20 weeks when I'd been told it was only 14," she added.

Of course, the girl's mother was none too pleased:
Michelle's mother, Tracey Down, said she was shocked at how easily the abortion could have been carried out in secret. "I was more shocked that Michelle could go to the doctor's three times, have a test and go to the family planning clinic, and then sat down with a counsellor for 10 minutes," she said.

"That counsellor did not know Michelle's background or Michelle's history, and did not ask her whether she was allergic to anything. Then (Michelle could) go up to the clinic and have it done within the day and come back out again.

"Given she was so far gone, it was a major operation and I did not know anything about it... anything could have happened to her having the operation."

The same society that promotes secret abortions also will expel your child if she shows up with a Tylenol or a Midol. But abortion, of course, must not only be protected but actively promoted. These are sick people.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


U.S. Rep. Peter King reacted strongly against the Vatican's criticism of U.S. prisoner abuse photos, some of which showed sexual abuse:
“If there’s anyone in the world who has no right to speak on sexual abuse, it’s the Vatican,” said Rep. King, an anti-abortion Republican. “This is the height of hypocrisy.”

In an interview published Wednesday in the Rome daily La Repubblica, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo described the abuses as “a tragic episode in the relationship with Islam” and said the scandal would fuel hatred for the West and for Christianity....

King said the Catholic Church should be the last group to claim moral high ground on issues of sexual abuse, given the past several years of revelations about priests abusing children for years while church officials failed to stop such behavior.

“Whatever the United States has done to prisoners in Iraq is nothing compared to what priests and nuns did to Catholic kids for decades while the Catholic hierarchy covered it up,” King said.

“Think of the thousands of kids in the U.S. and Ireland who were abused by priests and nuns — you wonder where the Vatican’s moral compass is.”

Well said, Rep. King. It's impressive to see him as a Catholic speak out.

How would you like to find out that your 14-year old daughter had just had an abortion? You weren't consulted; you weren't even notified. It happened to Maureen Smith in the UK, and as you might imagine, she's none too happy:
Michelle Smith, from Mansfield, Notts, fell pregnant last month and after consultation with a community health worker at school she decided to get rid of the child.

Within days her mother, Maureen Smith, found out what was happening and the teenager changed her mind but it was too late.

She had taken the first of two pills as part of the chemical abortion process and the damage was irreparable.

Her mother is now furious that despite not having been consulted over the abortion she is now left to pick up the pieces.

As the mother well notes, nothing else in her daughter's life would be treated with such secrecy:
"If my daughter had been truanting from school or causing trouble in the classroom I would have been informed.

"Yet she can go ahead and have an abortion which will affect her for the rest of her life and I have no say and no rights as a parent."

Welcome to our Brave New World Ms. Smith.

Monday, May 10, 2004


Kevin Holtsberry has an interesting interview with Wesley McDonald on his new book, Russell Kirk and the Age of Ideology.

Archaeologists have uncovered the site of Egypt's Alexandria University:
A Polish-Egyptian team has unearthed the site of the fabled University of Alexandria, home of Archimedes, Euclid and a host of other scholars from the era when Alexandria dominated the Mediterranean.

The team has found 13 individual lecture halls that could have accommodated as many as 5000 students, according to Zahi Hawass, an archeologist and president of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

The lecture halls are on the eastern edge of a public square in the Late Antique section of modern Alexandria and are adjacent to a previously discovered theatre that is now believed to be part of the university complex.

All 13 of the auditoriums had similar dimensions and internal arrangements, Dr Hawass said. They feature rows of stepped benches running along the walls on three sides of the rooms, often forming a joined U-shape.

The most conspicuous feature of the auditoriums is an elevated seat placed in the middle of the U-shape, most probably designed for the lecturer.

That's an amazing find. Maybe they'll come across a stash of documents not destroyed by the library fire.

[Link via LRC]

Not since the WWJD craze has Jesus been such a fashion statement:
A slew of designers and boutiques have been jumping on the Jesus bandwagon, offering everything from T-shirts to belts paying homage to the Lord. And celebrities from Madonna (search) to Pamela Anderson (search) have been spotted sporting the Jesus chic wear.

“It’s a fun, little Hollywood trend that was sparked by the success of the movie,” said E! Networks lifestyle director Elycia Rubin. “Obviously, fashion influences movies and movies influence fashion.”

A Los Angeles company called Teenage Millionaire makes shirts that say “Jesus Is My Homeboy” and “Mary Is My Homegirl.” Madonna was seen wearing a Mary shirt; Pamela Anderson and Lara Flynn Boyle (search) have been running around in the Jesus Ts, and Ashton Kutcher (search) was photographed with a “Jesus Is My Homeboy” baseball cap on.

You like to see people with true reverence. The evangelicals started this with the catchy takes on popular ad campaigns that substitute a religious message. You've seen the "got jesus?" t-shirts, I'm sure. And while some of these are clever, well-intentioned ways of making a religious point, some more than border on the flippant. Ashton Kutcher and Pamela Anderson wearing "Jesus Is My Homeboy" goes far beyond that. Jesus doesn't need to be "a fun little Hollywood trend."

Saturday, May 08, 2004


I hate to post this about someone connected with my alma mater, but a University of Kentucky and Georgetown College (a Baptist school, by the way) was denied service for wearing a pleated mini-skirt and corset into restaurants:
About 2 p.m., Jeremy Kerr, 32, attempted to eat at Tolly-Ho wearing a pleated miniskirt and a white lace-up corset.

An employee told him he would have to change or he would not be served.

"I told him girls come in dressed in these clothes all the time and don't get kicked out," Kerr said.

Owner Roy Milling, who did not witness the incident, said his employees told him Kerr's corset revealed too much. Milling said his restaurant does not discriminate against transvestites or cross-dressers.

"You've just got to cover yourself up," he said. "He was barely covered. We would have asked a female to do the same."

As a past occasional eater at Tolly-Ho I'm glad to hear there are some standards there. I need to stop and get a burger next time in Lexington. And here's something the good Mr. Kerr's students are thrilled about, I'm sure:
Kerr, who is working on his sociology Ph.D. at UK, said he has worn similar clothing in his classes. He said he typically dresses in that manner about two to three times each week.

I think that's a class I'd be dropping pretty fast.

[The Herald-Leader page with this article has a "Sponsored Links" box apparently triggered by article key words. This box had links to: "Plus Size Corsets"; "Corset Superstore"; and "Pleated Skirts". I doubt that's what Mr. Kerr had in mind when he went out that day.]

Friday, May 07, 2004


Doug Mendenhall asks the question, what effect would the discovery of Noah's ark have?
Maybe the world will see a mass conversion as billions of people realize that the Bible is the only accurate account of God's dealings with humanity.

Maybe the discovery will turn out to be the greatest religious event of the century. A watershed, so to speak.

Maybe atheism will become an anachronism.

Maybe the world will unite.

Maybe the wars will end.

And maybe pigs would fly. Mendenhall knows that, too:
Instead, I expect that after the triumphant return of the Ararat team, we'll all ride a bubble of enthusiasm for a week or two, then settle right back into the lives we led before we'd seen the proof. If we had doubts before, we'll have doubts still. If we rejected God before, we'll reject him still.

Just as the rich man ('Dives') asked righteous Lazaurs to return from Abraham's bosom to warn the rich man's brothers of hellfire so some today seek extraordinary and special proof. But as the rich man was told, if they don't believe the word God has already left it doesn't matter what else they see. And so it is today.

Southern Baptists have before them a resolution making a call to flee 'anti-Christian' public schools:
The resolution, co-authored by T.C. Pinckney, publisher of a Baptist newsletter in Alexandria, Va., urges parents to homeschool their children or send them to Christian schools.

"God gives the responsibility for education of children to the parents, not to the government," Pinckney said in an interview Thursday. "Parents should be taking responsibility, primarily through homeschooling."

Well, sometimes I even agree with a Baptist!

Weary of constant debates over homosexuality, conservative Methodists are considering a split from liberals over the issue:
"We're tired of this being constantly, constantly, constantly before us," said Dunnam, a conference delegate and leading evangelical. If more liberal churches in the western United States decided they wanted to leave, "the rest of the church would probably agree to that," Dunnam added....

The endless conflict between conservatives and liberals "is more than we can bear," former Houston First Metho-dist Church pastor Bill Hinson told a group of about 150 evangelicals who gathered in Pittsburgh yesterday. "I believe the time has come when we must begin to explore an amicable and just separation that will free us both from our cycle of pain and conflict."

But the pro-homosexual movement doesn't want a split:
Gay-rights activists denounced talk of schism and vowed to stay.

"We are not planning to leave the church. We don't want to leave the church and we don't want to see the church split," said Rev. Monica Corsaro, spokeswoman for the Reconciling Ministries Network, a coalition of pro-gay Methodist churches.

Church leaders had hoped to avoid an ugly standoff in Pittsburgh.

But tensions erupted after a Methodist Church court in Washington state refused to enforce the ban on clergy who are "self-avowed practicing homosexuals."

Yes, the split is coming. And homosexuality is the new faultline to rip through the "mainstream" denominations.

Thursday, May 06, 2004


Trying to cash in on The Passion crowd, Hollywood is trying desperately to figure out how to appeal to all the newly discovered Christians in the marketplace. With the new movie 'Saved!', Hollywood proves The New York Times > Movies > it doesn't understand:
In "Saved!," Mandy Moore and Macaulay Culkin (in a wheelchair) are siblings attending the school, a Midwestern institution where "Jesus loves you" is a mantra — and an order. A giant cutout of Jesus looms over the campus. Pastor Skip, played by Martin Donovan, is the spiritual leader of the school, handsome, hip and given to complimenting his students on being "phat."

Jena Malone plays a teenager who becomes pregnant while trying to cure her boyfriend of his homosexuality and save him from damnation. Her mother, a divorcée played by Mary-Louise Parker, is trying to be right with God but has an affair with Pastor Skip.

How is this different than if they were trying to make fun of Christians? Well, not a whit, of course. Here was a telling indicator for them:
So far the studio has screened "Saved!" for a gay audience, which loved it, MGM marketing executives say, and for religious leaders, who had mixed opinions.

And yet they're trying to appeal to religious audiences? Hollywood hasn't a clue how to do that because down deep the only thing they can think to do with Christian beliefs is to ridicule them.

I have a sneaking suspicion this won't be the movie to resurrect (pardon the pun) Macauley Culkin's career.

A sea chart from 1539 shows sea eddies that exactly match satellite imagery, this at some surprise to modern scientists:
The ornate Carta Marina, published in 1539, appears crude by today's standards, depicting sea monsters off the coast of Scotland, sinking galleons, sea snakes, and wolves urinating against trees.

But when oceanographers examined a large group of swirls and whorls drawn off the south-east of Iceland, complete with ships, a giant fish and red sea serpent, they found it corresponded with the Iceland-Faroes Front - where the Gulf Stream meets cold Arctic waters, causing huge swirling eddy currents that could sweep a ship off course.

All too often the ancients are dismissed as ignorant torch carriers in the face of enlightened science. But as my old grad school professor used to point out, mankind forgets at least as much as it learns.

[Link via LRC]

Wednesday, May 05, 2004


The Romans weren't the only game two millenia ago; the Maya were also busy:
More than 2,000 years ago, while Rome was laying waste to Carthage and the Hopewell people were building mounds in Ohio, a grand civilization flourished at a now little-known site in Guatemala called Cival....

After several seasons of digging, the researchers believe Cival was one of the largest Maya cities of the time.

It has pyramids and a large complex surrounding a central plaza. In front of a long building on the complex’s eastern edge, the archaeologists discovered a stela, or inscribed stone slab, dating to 300 B.C., perhaps the earliest such carving ever found in the Maya lowlands.

Don't you just love this archaeological stuff?

Monday, May 03, 2004


The Chronicle of Higher Education (*cough* *cough*) has a review of Wesley McDonald's new book on my old boss, Russell Kirk:
"One of the main purposes of my book is to rescue Russell Kirk from the ghetto of movement conservatism," says Mr. McDonald. "My argument is that he's an intellectual worthy of consideration apart from current politics. Conservative thought is really suffering because it lacks substance and direction. Kirk has much greater significance than what these people are giving to him."

I don't have Wes's book yet, but it's good to see the Chronicle give a real thinker like Russell Kirk the time of day.