Thursday, July 29, 2004

AND WHY THE DEMS CAN'T CONNECT

As was noted below, the Democrats can't understand why the GOP has 'hijacked' voters of faith. Actor Alec Baldwin gives us a good clue why:
Actor Alec Baldwin slammed the influence of religious conservatives on Wednesday, telling Democrats that the Republican Party "has been hijacked by these fundamentalist wackos."

The audience, which included Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, greeted Baldwin's comment with sustained applause.

"To me, the Republican Party is the real great tragedy of the last 25 years because there are lot of good and decent people and a lot of good political points [that have] come from the Republican Party in the post-war period, but it has been hijacked by these fundamentalist wackos," Baldwin said.

Would that include his brother Stephen?
IN CASE BRITNEY REGISTERS AT TARGET...

You can always get her this for her Kabbalah wedding.

[Link via Dr. Frank]
DEMS GET RELIGION

Attempting to stake their claim to people of faith, Democrats struggle to show their religious, too:
The ballroom at the Sheraton Boston Hotel on Wednesday was filled with representatives from the Jewish, Muslim and Christian faiths, including Evangelicals and Baptists, who said it was okay to mix politics and religion in an effort to fulfill long-standing goals of eradicating poverty and taking care of the most needy Americans.

Still, even attendees at the event admitted that the caucus was a novelty.

Still, one of the main predictors of whether someone will vote Republican is how often he attends church:
A 2003 poll released by the Pew Center for People and Religion found that those surveyed who went to a religious service more than twice weekly were 63 percent more likely to vote Republican, while 37 percent vote Democrat. On the flip side, 62 percent of people who attended a service only once a year or not at all were more likely to vote Democratic, while 38 percent go Republican.

That's a startling gap, of course. And while I'm not the guy to ask for a GOP endorsement these days, the Dems have a long way to go before they can appeal to the sincerely religious with a straight face.


Wednesday, July 28, 2004

PRE-ROMAN POMPEII ?

Pompeii, the Roman city famous for its destruction by Vesuvius, is revealing its pre-Roman past:
The site looks like an example of below-street plumbing in mid-repair, yet it provides a tiny glimpse of a fact obscured by Pompeii's better-known association with the imperial era: A non-Roman civilization thrived here for three centuries, with its own temples, houses, taverns, baths and saucy sexual practices.

Last month, a team of archaeologists from Italy's Basilicata University uncovered the remains of a structure built by the Samnites, a mountain warrior people who conquered, inhabited, built up and ruled Pompeii before Roman chariots wheeled into town.

Great fun! (And I mean that.)
ALL HAIL OKRA

Mmmmm, okra!
WHEW!

Well, I'm back (as you may have noticed from Monday's flurry of posts). During our two week trip to Kentucky I heard 17 sermons by six different preachers, not to mention the ten sermons I preached myself. I was blessed to hear the incomparable Paul Earnhart four times. I tell people I try to preach like Paul Earnhart but everytime I sound like me instead. A discouraging thought, not the least for my audience! I heard Don Truex (of Temple Terrace, FL) for the first time, and was mightily impressed. The great Robert Jackson did his usual impressive job and made me wish I could have heard him 40 years ago in his prime. Randy Harshbarger was his insightful self, and is a model of sermon organization and presentation. The hero of the week was Bill Robinson who filled in for Robert Jackson on Thursday after bro. Jackson's brother-in-law passed away Wednesday. Bill was up until 4:30 am preparing for the assigned topic then spoke at 9:30 am. My response: "Where's your PowerPoint?" The slacker! (He left last Wednesday for over three weeks in India.) Anyone interested can download the sermons and listen.

Who was the poor fellow who had to speak on the Sunday morning before these all-stars started on Monday? Yes, yours truly. I was the guy they brought in to insure the lecture speakers looked good.

The next Sunday I began a gospel meeting (aka, a revival) where my parents attend in Eastern Kentucky. That lasted through Friday night, and I brought selections from my series on the Sermon on the Mount. Needless to say, I sounded just like me all week. Sometimes dreadfully like me, but the lessons seemed to be well received (my grandmother loved it!).

We drove back with four-year old and almost two-year old in tow (yes they went to church during all the above and were troopers; my wife has been nominated for a medal of honor) on Saturday, I preached and taught class here Sunday, went to a singing Sunday night at a member's house and hosted the college kids at our house Monday for a study.

And, that, dear reader, is why theosebes has been mostly dormant for the past two weeks! Thanks for coming back.

Monday, July 26, 2004

GET YOURS NOW!

From "the most revolting thing I've ever seen" deparment, your own
"I Had An Abortion" T-shirts.

It's about time to start looking for the brimstone to start falling.

[Link via Drudge]
ME, A SNOB?

HASH(0x886cfbc)
You speak eloquently and have seemingly read every book ever published. You are a fountain of endless (sometimes useless) knowledge, and never fail to impress at a party.What people love: You can answer almost any question people ask, and have thus been nicknamed Jeeves.What people hate: You constantly correct their grammar and insult their paperbacks.

What Kind of Elitist Are You? brought to you by Quizilla

That seems to be about right. I would never correct someone's grammar (other than a family member) or insult paperbacks (other than my mother's or sisters'). I would simply quietly feel smug.

Link courtesy of Jordana over at the new/old Curmudgeonry.
KING ARTHUR: THUMBS UP

My old schoolmate and fellow teaching assistant Scott Trask says the new King Arthur movie is well worth seeing:
Ignore the critics who have panned this film. From the reviews I have read, most of those who have done so, know nothing of the history of the period, and have misinterpreted their own confusion and bewilderment as products of a weak script, rather than their own ignorance. [2] In addition, many of them are, frankly, politically correct commissars who regard Kill Bill (2004) as a great work of art but The Passion (2004) as excessively violent and anti-Semitic. Any film that seeks not to vilify the western past but to honor it, in all its complexity and magnificence, is sure to incur their ire. The film is gorgeous, moving, and conveys a realistic sense of fifth century Roman Britain.

Sounds worth seeing.
CHRISTIANS OUT IN IRAQ?

An unintended consequence of the Iraqi war has Iraqi Christians in the hot seat:
Numbering some 750,000, Christians are a minority here, and even as secular Iraqis worry about the growing tide of Islamic fundamentalism, so long repressed under Saddam Hussein, their Christian compatriots are feeling the effects closer to home. They're anxious about their place in the new world around them, one that often sees them as collaborators with their American occupiers.

The new Iraq seems destined to be dominated by a mix of Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites, leaving many Christians wondering if it is time to leave.

Ironically, those seeking to practice Christianity under Saddam usually found protection under his regime:
It's a delicate issue for Christians here who want to be seen to be supporting their reborn nation's attempts at clawing back toward a better way of life, especially when for many, the worsening circumstances was undeniable.

They were able to practice their faith in relative security, free from persecution under Saddam Hussein, and threats from Islamic radicals about liquor stores and beauty salons were always firmly dealt with....

Christians who fled Iraq before the war are in neighboring Jordan and Syria, waiting and watching before deciding whether to return, said Bishop Andreas at the Assumption of the Virgin Mary Church.

"They're very afraid,'' he admitted.

Of the 750,000 Christians in Iraq, the majority are Chaldean Roman Catholic, the rest Syrian Catholic, Syrian Orthodox and Assyrian. Most live in Baghdad and its outskirts and some dwell further to the north.

One would hope for an opening to Biblical teaching with the removal of Saddam. It seems instead that just the opposite is true.
BRITNEY: KABBALAH BRIDE?

In an effort to demonstrate her spiritual side, sometimes Baptist Britney Spears may go Kabbalah with her wedding:
The pop star is planning a lavish white wedding for this fall, and a source says Kabbalah bigwigs are urging Spears to make it the first celeb Kabbalah marriage.

“There’s some resistance from her family, who are devout Baptists,” says the insider. “But maybe there’s a way to incorporate elements from both faiths, and make everyone happy.”

Ah, the old "we'll make everyone happy" routine. Of course, religion is only about making everyone happy. There is strong evidence, however, that Spears has made the deepest of commitments to the Kabbalah faith:
The source points out that Spears has been tattooed in deference to her newfound faith, which is a controversial, mystical branch of Judaism.

It's hard to argue with that.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

THEOSEBES UPDATE

Greetings from the Bluegrass State as your humble correspondent and family are attending the University Heights Summer Lectures in Lexington, Kentucky. I've been run to death for the past week, and had limited Internet access, thus the dearth of posts. Next week may see a return to more regular theosebes opinions and links.

I've heard some great preaching from Paul Earnhart, Don Truex, Randy Harshbarger and Robert Jackson. All have done a fantastic job. If I could figure out a way to mix an Earnhart-Truex potion and drink it I'd be in good shape!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

PENN STATE BACKS DOWN

Penn St. University, which had denied a Christian club official status, has backed down:
After complaining the school had "too many" Christian clubs, Penn State University agreed to approve DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship as a registered student organization in the face of a civil-rights lawsuit.

Glad to see enlightenment has come to the Penn St. administration.
KERRY'S CONSISTENCY

John Kerry's recent statement that life begins at conception caused quite a furor, but Ted Olsen finds Kerry is sincere and consistent:
But the real story here is that Kerry doesn't believe his comment is a biological observation. For him, it's only religious. He calls it "my article of faith" and says that he's barred from making political decisions based on that believe because of the "separation of church and state in America."

Olsen wonders what might be Kerry's guide if not faith:
Kerry's comments on separation of church and state deserve much more attention—from actual scholars and analysts, not from partisan pundits trying to score points. The political theory he's promoting here is truly remarkable. If Kerry is not voting according to his conscience, what's he using as his matrix? Not public opinion, or he would have voted for the partial-birth abortion ban. What makes an issue religious? Kerry has, in the past, (wrongly) equated Catholic teaching on abortion with teaching on other issues, such as capital punishment and the war in Iraq. But on those issues, he's on the same side as his church. Why does "separation of church and state" not come into play on these points?

But here might be a true test of his Bizarro World theory:
Wouldn't [interim president of NARAL Pro Choice America Betsy] Cavendish be surprised, though, if Kerry decided that it was wrong to protect abortion clinics from violence because the separation of church and state prohibits such a defense of human life?

Let's ask him.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

CAN I UNDERSTAND THE CONSTITUTION?

Not according to several United States Senators who don't like the Biblical views of a Federal judge nominee:
Women senators are expressing outrage at a controversial judicial nominee who co-authored a 1997 article with his wife in which he suggested biblical passages about wives being subservient to their husbands should be taken literally.

J. Leon Holmes (search) — nominated by President Bush to serve on the federal district court in Arkansas — and his wife wrote the article for the Arkansas Catholic Review (search) that reads "the wife is to subordinate herself to the husband ... the woman is to place herself under the authority of the man."

Holmes said the words have been taken out of context, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein (search), D-Calif., calls Holmes unacceptable.

"How can I or any other American believe that one who truly believes a woman is subordinate to her spouse [can] interpret the Constitution (search) fairly?" she asked during a debate Tuesday on the candidate.

Even Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas claim Holmes does not have a "fundamental commitment to the equality of women in our society."

The good news is that Holmes was confirmed by the Senate. And I suspect the good Judge Holmes has views on marriage that are far closer to the actual writers and ratifiers of the Constitution than the lady (I use the term accommodatively) Senators do.

YOU'VE COME A LONG WAY, BABY

The good folks over at Newsweek have as their new cover story on 'The Secret Lives of Wives'. Now women are empowered to be just as big a sleazeball as their cheating husbands are--roar!
"It was just so ruinous for a woman to be caught in adultery in past times, you had to be really driven or motivated to do it," says Peter D. Kramer, clinical professor of psychiatry at Brown University and author of "Should You Leave?" "Now you can get away with it, there's a social role that fits you."

It's nice to see our society is so accommodating.

What sort of women are these? Let's look at 'Veronica':
Veronica, on the other hand, fell in love with a man who was not her husband while she was safely at home in the Dallas suburbs looking after her two children. Hers is the more familiar story: isolated and lonely, married to an airline pilot, Veronica, now 35, took up with a wealthy businessman she met at a Dallas nightclub. Her lover gave her everything her husband didn't: compliments, Tiffany jewelry, flowers and love notes. It was, in fact, the flowers that did her in. Veronica's lover sent a bouquet to her home one afternoon, her husband answered the door and, in one made-for-Hollywood moment, the marriage was over. Now remarried (to a new man), Veronica says she and her friends half-jokingly talk about starting a Web site for married women who want to date.

Now isn't that sweet? My question is, who is the brain challenged male who married this woman after her affair? It certainly wasn't the businessman she had the affair with--he knew what kind of woman she is.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

A BIBLE, THE OLD FASHIONED WAY

Before there was Gutenberg there were innumerable anonymous scribes who beautifully wrote the Bible letter by letter with pen (quill, stylus) and ink. For centuries that process largely has been abandoned. In Minnesota Donald Jackson is reviving the process on a grand scale with the St. John's Bible:
As Donald Jackson and his scribes worked on a handwritten and "illuminated" Bible, they used an image unavailable to the monks of the Middle Ages: a view of Earth taken from space.

It's one of the many modern touches in The St. John's Bible, from using computers to lay out pages to using "virtual voice prints" of chanting monks, Buddhists and Native Americans in several artworks....

But this Bible -- thought to be the first of its kind commissioned by a Benedictine monastery in 500 years -- is still done the old-fashioned way, with every letter and illustration painstakingly drawn by hand.

Jackson and his team of artists in Monmouth, Wales, use quills cut from goose or swan feathers. Ancient inks are prepared using the yolks of eggs from free-range chickens near Jackson's scriptorium as a binder. The words are written on large sheets of prepared vellum, or calfskin, which are then illuminated or brought to light with gold, silver or platinum to form dazzling artwork.

It's an eight-year project costing $4 million. The final product will be housed at St. John's University north of Minneapolis. Time to plan that trip to the midwest, I guess.

For pictures, visit the official site.

Monday, July 05, 2004

'I MOSH FOR JESUS'

At your local 'Christian' festival or event get your 'I Mosh for Jesus' t-shirt or 'I Love Christian Boys' hat and show the world just how spiritually minded you are:
By the third day of Creation East, the granddaddy of Christian rock festivals, Dave Lula could pick a winner among the merchandise he was selling. It was a $12 T-shirt of his own design that said "I Mosh for Jesus." The crowd was young, Mr. Lula figured, and this appealed to their sense of humor and independence....

"I travel to all the festivals, dozens of them, all summer long, then I do smaller events in California during winter," Mr. Lula said, standing over T-shirts that read, "Hardcore Christian," "Hetero-Boy" and "Religion Is Dead. Jesus Is Not." He said he was not simply selling concert souvenirs. "I feel I'm getting the word of God out," he said.

All the while the old standby 'I Work For a Jewish Carpenter' bumper stickers are just gathering dust.

Saturday, July 03, 2004

GOD OR OLD GLORY?

Doug Mendenhall asks a good question for this Independence Day weekend:
You're in a small group at your office or a park or a restaurant. Everybody knows everybody else; you're all friends. As the conversation rolls around the circle, one person is prompted to remark, "You know, I'm really not sure that being _______ is all it's cracked up to be. I'm thinking about looking for something different."

Would there be more consternation in the circle if that blank is filled in with "Christian" or with "American"? Which would create the bigger awkward silence? Which would most incline you to question your friend's character?

Where does God rank in our lives?
Still, while many Americans are worried about the separation of church and state, and whether government policies should narrow or widen it, I am more worried our tendency to make a religion out of being an American.

Now, the catechism of this religion may well include a belief in Jehovah. But that's not the way Jehovah sees the pecking order. His jealousy burns like a raging fire. He doesn't share his people with anyone or anything.

In fact, as a way of showing the intensity and supremacy of devotion he expects, Jesus once said to those who wanted to follow him, "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple."

I believe the Bible commands us to respect our country, but I sure better respect God more.

Friday, July 02, 2004

IS LIGHT FASTER?

Some scientists are arguing that the speed of light (the c in E=mc2)isn't a constant at all, but instead is getting faster:
Scientists say the speed of light, regarded as a universal constant, may be getting faster.

They say it may have been lower as recently as two billion years ago - right here on Earth.

The controversial finding is based on re-analysis of old data that has long been used to argue exactly the opposite, reports New Scientist.

A varying speed of light contradicts Einstein's theory of relativity, and would undermine much of traditional physics.

But some physicists believe it would elegantly explain puzzling cosmological phenomena such as the nearly uniform temperature of the universe.

The only constant in science is that it's constantly changing.
VIRTUAL WORSHIP

The declining and embattled Anglican fellowship is trying to stem the tide with i-church:
The Church of England is operating its first virtual parish, which is designed to serve a community of online worshippers from all over the world. The Anglican Internet church, or i-church, went online three months ago, and has already attracted far more members than its organizers ever expected, even though the official launch is still a month away.
I-church recently selected Reverend Alyson Leslie from more than 40 applicants, as the part-time web-pastor.

"I am from the belief that you build a church member by member," she says.

Word is that all i-church members eventually will be uploaded to i-heaven where they can virtually experience i-fellowship with the Heavenly Father.

Thursday, July 01, 2004

PRISONER RIGHTS

Most will probably recognize that theosebes is not a repository of support for murderers' rights, however when it comes to this some leeway needs to be given:
A California man who killed another man in a gunfight is looking to repent of his evil deed and be baptized.

There's only one problem – the local jail housing him is denying his request....

[Ramzee] Johnson has been studying the Bible recently with David Garner, a minister at the Oildale Church of Christ who thinks the Lerdo Jail's refusal to allow the baptism is denying Johnson the ability to be saved.

"If a person isn't baptized they won't get their sins forgiven," Garner told the paper. "A bathtub would work fine, just so long as they're covered in water."

Garner even has offered to bring a blow-up pool to the jail and pay security and transportation costs to have officers bring Johnson to his church for the baptism, both of which were rejected by officials.

Is Johnson sincere? I have no idea, but that's something for God to judge. Often there is a lot of religious politics that goes into prison ministries. Sometimes the designated chaplain will exercise control, forbidding prisoners from joining groups (or denominations) that are not their choice. Sometimes the jailer or warden simply sees it as too much trouble, digging his heels in just to be uncooperative. The former seems to be the issue here:
Dale Scadron, the supervising sheriff's chaplain and a Pentecostal pastor, told the paper he doesn't agree baptism is absolutely necessary for a person's salvation.

"My problem is that people here in jail with little hope are being told they now have no hope," Scadron said. "Now their concern is that if I'm in jail and can't be baptized and die tomorrow, I will go to hell eternally."

So since the teachings of Garner and the beliefs of Johnson run against the personal views of the chaplain, Johnson cannot be baptized in accordance with his wishes. What we see is Scadron making a power play. He sees the baptism as a threat to "his place and nation" because it goes against his religious control in his fiefdom.

One wonders if Johnson desired to exercise Muslim or Hindu beliefs if he would be denied.

Link:
Kern County Sheriff's Department
RUINS REVEALED

In an update to an earlier post, Waldo Wilcox unveiled the ancient Indian ruins he guarded for decades:
What mostly distinguishes Range Creek is that through quirk of fate and human will, it escaped both the ravages of looters and, until recently, the spades of archaeologists. Cliffside grain-storage vaults have been found here with their lids still intact, the corn and rye still inside. And while many sites in the West can still produce an old stone arrowhead or two, researchers found whole arrows here just a few weeks ago, apparently lying in the dust just where they were dropped 10 centuries ago at the time of William the Conqueror....

Dr. Jones said that, so far, 225 sites at Range Creek had been documented, some as small as a single wall of pictographs, others as large as a village cluster of a half-dozen dugout pit houses. Twenty of the sites were catalogued in the 1930's — at the time of the only other in-depth scientific work here that anyone knows about — by a team from Harvard University.

"The other 200 sites have never been seen by anybody," Dr. [Kevin] Jones said, adding that there are unquestionably thousands of sites, and that every time a team goes out, still more are found.

I keep being as amazed at Mr. Wilcox's stewardship of the site as I do the site itself. Both are impressive.