Thursday, September 30, 2004


The Daily Universe (get your own planet, now!), student paper at Brigham Young University, has pulled the plug for a 'racy' t-shirt:
Ads for Chad Ramos' T-shirts have worn out their welcome at Brigham Young University.
The Daily Universe, the newspaper at the LDS Church-owned campus, yanked the quarter-page ads this week after scads of complaints from faculty, students and administrators.
NewsNet general manager Jim Kelly, who oversees the paper, said readers were especially offended by a woman in the ad wearing a shirt with the slogan: "I Can't . . . I'm Mormon."
"At BYU, our standards are unapologetically higher than in many areas and in many publications," Kelly said Friday. "At the end of the day, we need to ensure we maintain our standards - and that's what we've done in this case."
Ramos, a practicing Mormon who served an LDS mission in Brazil, countered that the "I Can't" slogan reflects church members' desires to live those standards. Many Latter-day Saints living outside Utah, he noted, utter the phrase every day when asked to partake of activities - such as drink coffee or watch racy movies - that violate church standards.
BYU senior Danielle Harmon acknowledged using the "I Can't" phrase herself several times at her home in Klamath Falls, Ore. Even so, she dislikes the shirts.
"I choose not to [violate LDS standards]," she said. "The T-shirts make it look like the religion forces us to do things instead of it being personal choice."

When one sees the young lady sporting the tee, one does doubt that coffee springs to mind, although this cartoon seems to capture the problem pretty well.

Wednesday, September 29, 2004


Bush has the reputation as a born-again evangelical, but Alex Johnson finds it's something Bush has implied rather than openly stated:
Any discussion of President Bush’s presumed evangelicalism is complicated. Evangelicalism is a style of worship, not a set of beliefs, and to a large extent evangelical Protestants are defined by their personal stories of faith and by whom they choose as their pastor. But core to many evangelicals’ identity is the “born-again” experience described in John 3:3, when a sinner undergoes an intense conversion during a personal interaction with the Holy Spirit, often Jesus Himself.

George Bush has not said directly that he was ever born again. He has often said he was pointed on the path to God after a discussion with evangelist Billy Graham in 1985.

But as the article points out, there is another conversion account floating around as well. Of course, as someone who does not self-identify as an "evangelical" (and who would quibble with the article's definition) I don't really have a dog in that hunt. Bush is someone with an Episcopalian background and currently identifies as a Methodist, one suspects on the more Episcopalian end of Methodism rather than the Pentecostal.

I do believe Bush is a man with a strong faith in God. I have no doubt that his belief and practices differ a great deal from my own. I also have no doubt that there is a great deal of political calculation by Bush and his staff on how to use his religion to his political advantage.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004


A bride and wedding party were stunned when the officiating priest refused to perform the ceremony:
One Saturday morning last year, a crowd gathered at St. Agnes Catholic Church, Maryland, Lagos, for a wedding ceremony. Delighted by the day's event, the bride strutted to the altar in a daring wedding gown with a plunging neckline, offering an ample view of her cleavage.

But her joy soon evaporated. The officiating priest, Reverend Father Raphael Uzokwu, ordered her to go back home and change into a less daring dress or risk the cancellation of the ceremony. The minister's threat turned her freshly made-up face into a teary mess.

The bridal train and the guests were also thrown into confusion. They pleaded with the priest to rescind his decision, but he ignored them. He later did when a bride's maid offered a shawl to keep the heaving cleavage out of sight.

As necklines get lower and dresses skimpier, the Catholic Church is fighting back:
Last week, Reverend Father Gabriel Osu, Director of Social Communications of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, confirmed this to TheNEWS. "I have had cause to personally question people and to tell one or two brides to go back or please cover up. This is not proper," Osu said. He expressed concern that the 'offending' dresses are worn with the consent of the grooms. On a few occasions, Osu said, he saw grooms say: " We can't marry twice. It is only once. Please grant her request. I'm okay, anything goes." Osu explained that intending couples are taught to know what a proper wedding gown is as part of the Catholic Church's six-month marriage programme. "Your wedding gown which ordinarily should not even be an issue, always comes up," Osu said.

Prospects don't look good for the marriage when they can't even get the wedding dress right.


Clerics and monks got into a round of fisticuffs at the traditional site of the tomb of Jesus:
Fistfights broke out yesterday between Christians gathered on the site of the crucifixion and burial of Jesus Christ.
"There was lots of hitting going on. Police were hit, monks were hit ... there were people with bloodied faces," said a witness in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, reputed to be Golgotha where Christ was crucified, and the site of the tomb where he was buried.

The punch-up erupted during a procession to mark the discovery in 327 by Helena, mother of Constantine, of the True Cross.

A Greek Orthodox cleric said Franciscans had left open their chapel door in what was taken as disrespect. Priests and worshippers hit one another at the doorway dividing Orthodox and Franciscans, said a police spokesman.

Arrests were made but nobody was seriously hurt.

And this wasn't the first time:
Two years ago, Ethiopian and Copt monks threw stones at each other over rights to the church roof.

I'm glad the spirit of the site is sinking in.

Saturday, September 25, 2004


Police are getting tough with criminals in Romania--they're sending the bad guys to church:
Police in a rural area of Romania are sending criminals to church in an attempt to drive down crime figures.

Officers in the Satu Mare region also use the bible to "put the fear of God" into suspects.

This, they say, makes people own up in questioning, and also deters others from committing crimes, said the daily National.

People in the region are deeply religious but also very poor, and while some locals resort to theft to solve their problems or use drinking to forget about them, lying while under oath on the bible is unthinkable.

Feher Vasile, head of police in Livada, said: "We thought this was a good idea. And it works, I can tell you.

"Sometimes, when we deal with something we send people involved to go to see the local priest. And we ask them to swear in front of God to mend their ways. If they are drunk and disorderly for example, it's amazing how quickly it sobers them up."

Now that's a policing strategy that I can endorse!

Friday, September 24, 2004


The press has hit upon a seldom seen angle in the Hurricane Jeanne story: the hurricane is anti-semitic:
With Hurricane Jeanne approaching Florida this weekend, residents will hammer plywood over windows, rush out to buy batteries and water, and go to ATMs for extra cash. But Jews preparing for Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year, face a dilemma.

From sundown Friday until sundown Saturday, observant Jews are prohibited from carrying money or doing physical tasks that may be required for hurricane preparations.

So what will they do? Some said preparing for the hurricane takes precedence over religious norms. Others said they would finish their preparations before sundown Friday, while still others said they didn't think the storm would be that serious.

With about 750,000 Jews, Florida has one of the nation's largest Jewish populations.

I think it's time for strong action on this.

Egypt has struck upon a wonderful idea:
Egypt has issued an order barring pop star Madonna from entering the country because she visited Israel.

Members of Egypt's parliament have demanded Madonna, who has not requested entry into Egypt or announced any plans to visit the country, be barred from entering Egyptian soil. The parliament directed Egyptian embassies abroad to deny any visa requests from Madonna.

They're geniuses, geniuses, I say!

One of the seldom discussed issued related to the Iraq war has been its effect on the cultural heritage of Mesopotamia, the home of Abraham and the location of Judah's exile as recorded by Daniel and Ezekiel. Sadly, things aren't going well:
NASIRIYA, Iraq: In the southern Iraq desert, the standing structures of ancient archaeological cities dot the horizon - majestic monuments to times long gone. Untouched for thousands of years, historic temples, palaces, tombs and entire dead cities are the sole witness of the passing of time.

Properly excavated, these cities could reveal valuable knowledge on the development of the human race and resolve the big mysteries of history. Unfortunately, this is unlikely to happen. The Sumerian cities have been destroyed, ravaged by the incessant looting that started with the American invasion of Iraq. Once considered historical treasures, today crater-filled landscapes compete for space with hills of shredded pottery and broken bricks.

Looters - mainly farmers or jobless Iraqis of all ages - have destroyed the monuments of their own ancestors, erasing their own history in their tireless search for artifacts....

"More than 100 Sumerian cities have been destroyed by the looters since the beginning of the war," says Hamadani, who was appointed at the war's end by the State Board of Antiquities and Heritage in Iraq. "It's a disaster that all we are keeping watch on but about which we can do little. We are incapable of stopping the looting. We are five archaeologists, some hundred guards and, occasionally, a couple of policemen - and they are a million armed looters, backed by their tribes and the dealers.

"We are in danger every time we go on a tour to an archaeological site. A couple of weeks ago, while on site, six vehicles surrounded our cars and we were shot at. After that, we were assured that the next time, we would be killed."

So not only are the looters destroying it, they are actively keeping away legitimate archaeologists seeking to rescue it. It is troubling that sites that stood untouched for thousands of years are suddenly destroyed before our very eyes.

The Roman Catholic Church has charged that recent primary school sex teaching is pornographic:
The Roman Catholic Church called yesterday for an immediate review of all sex education in Scottish schools after studying "pornographic" teaching material.

The Roman Catholic Church called yesterday for an immediate review of all sex education in Scottish schools after studying "pornographic" teaching material.

John Deighan, the Church's parliamentary officer, said the content and context of a large majority of the material was unsuitable for the age group for which it was intended, and was lacking in any social or moral context.

"I fail to see what educational benefit can be derived from discussing the clitoris with five-year-olds or showing children of that age detailed biological drawings of sexual organs," he said.

"Material dealing with same-sex couples and bisexuals is also inappropriate, as I think most parents would agree, for children of that age.

"It will do nothing except confuse them about sex and about what normal standards of sexual practice are."

He was particularly concerned about videos produced by Channel 4 and available for use in primary schools. It included diagrams of male and female sexual organs, a live birth, and "pornographic" cartoon images of different sexual positions.

Here's a question for you--how different is the above from what your kids are taught/shown in American public schools? Doesn't homeschooling look better every day?

Thursday, September 23, 2004


After making remarks that he would "kill" a homosexual man who looked at him "like that" discredited televevangelist Jimmy Swaggart has apologized:
On Wednesday, Swaggart said he has jokingly used the expression "killing someone and telling God he died" thousands of times, about all sorts of people. He said the expression is figurative and not meant to harm.

"It's a humorous statement that doesn't mean anything. You can't lie to God -- it's ridiculous," Swaggart told The Associated Press. "If it's an insult, I certainly didn't think it was, but if they are offended, then I certainly offer an apology."

One hopes that Volokh is satisfied with my denunciations. I'd hate to lose sleep if he's not.

Meanwhile, Christianity Today's weblog offers this insight:
One might think that someone who has publicly experienced brokenness in his sexuality might be a bit more careful in his words. In this line of thinking, wouldn't the prostitute that Swaggart hired have been justified in killing him?
Just so.

Theosebes earlier discussed the GOP mailing in West Virginia. At the time I had not seen the mailing, but apparently they're sending out a similar mailing in Arkansas. My biggest complaint is the heavy handedness of it. My comments earlier still stand, but one would just hope for a bit more, well, sophistication on something like that. I suppose it tells you what they think of the sophistication level of voters in West Virginia and Arkansas.

[Thanks to Susanna at cotb for the link]

Wednesday, September 22, 2004


Lest theosebes be accused of only focusing on the nutty spirituality of Kabbalists Esther and Britney, we want to be perceived as equal opportunity. Hollywood top gun Tom Cruise has given a great gift to the Spanish people: their very own Scientology church:
Hollywood hunk Tom Cruise opened a new Spanish headquarters for the Church of Scientology in Madrid on Saturday.

The Jerry Maguire star managed a few words of the local dialect during the ceremony and took time out afterwards to meet and greet waiting fans.

Cruise's split with his girlfriend of three years, Penelope Cruz, in March was clearly amicable - her mother Encarna and actress sister Monica attended the opening of the HQ near Madrid's international parliament.

It has previously been reported the couple's break-up was down to Cruz being fed-up with Cruise's obsession with Scientology.

I think his time would be better spent filming Days of Thunder II.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004


Jimmy "I have sinned" Swaggart reportedly said this recently:
I'm trying to find the correct name for it . . . this utter absolute, asinine, idiotic stupidity of men marrying men. . . . I've never seen a man in my life I wanted to marry. And I'm gonna be blunt and plain; if one ever looks at me like that, I'm gonna kill him and tell God he died.

Eugene Volokh is outraged--outraged, I say!--and demands Christians everywhere denounce Swaggart.

Susanna Cornett, while freely denouncing Swaggart, takes exception with Volokh's demand that she do so. It's certainly great that Christians have folks like Volokh looking out for us demanding we do certain things.

For the record, I'll denounce Swaggart in general, so if he says anything kooky in the future just assume I don't approve. Thanks. (Oh yeah, men marrying men is pretty asinine.)

Monday, September 20, 2004


A little while back Kevin Holtsberry at Collected Miscellany asked me to write a review of Wesley McDonald's new book, Russell Kirk and the Age of Ideology. Somewhat belatedly, I have responded with this review.


Daniel A. Crane takes a look at divorce, comparing civil and Christian marriage. He highlights the debate between J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis on the issue:
Let's take for example the law of divorce. In the 1950s, C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien debated Britain's divorce laws, articulating starkly different views on marriage. Tolkien believed that Christian teachings should shape Britain's legal definition of marriage, while Lewis held that secular marriage and Christian marriage are two very different things.

For Tolkien, "no item of compulsory Christian morals is valid only for Christians. The foundation is that this is the correct way of 'running the human machine.'" Tolkien believed that Lewis's arguments for separation between the secular and religious institutions reduced marriage "merely to a way of (perhaps?) getting an extra mileage out of a few selected machines." For Tolkien, "toleration of divorce—if a Christian does tolerate it—is a toleration of human abuse."

Since Lewis married a divorcée, first in a civil ceremony for one set of reasons (compassion) and some time later in an ecclesiastical one and for another set of reasons (love), it is not surprising that his views were different. Lewis believed in "two distinct kinds of marriage; one governed by the state with rules enforced on all citizens, the other governed by the church with rules enforced by it on its own members." Thus, for Lewis, Christians should be willing to tolerate civil rules about marriage that didn't meet biblical standards, since secular marriage was to be governed by an entirely different set of rules.

Crane sides with Lewis (usually a safe bet), but Tolkien had the right in this. By calling divorce "abuse", Tolkien echoes the words of God as recorded by Malachi as He condemned Israel for mistreating the wives of their youth by divorcing them. "I hate divorce," God said.

Crane then turns to Matthew 19 where he claims Jesus backs the separation of civil and spiritual views on divorce:
Matthew 19 records that some Pharisees put a tricky marriage question to Jesus: Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason, good or bad? The Pharisees saw a good chance to trip up Jesus, since he had already spoken out against divorce in the Sermon on the Mount, yet the law of Moses permitted divorce without enumerating a list of permissible reasons. Indeed, the only condition specified in Deuteronomy 24:1 was that the wife had become "displeasing to him because he finds something indecent about her."

In avoiding the trap, Jesus differentiated between God's original plan for marriage, set forth in Genesis, and the human institution of marriage. Moses, Jesus explained, granted the Israelites a right to divorce because their hearts were hard, not because divorce was part of God's plan for marriage.

This is, of course, exactly wrong. Jesus was in fact reinstituting what God intended marriage to be "from the beginning". He agreed that Moses had allowed divorce due to Israel's "hardness of heart". In one of His "but I say to you" passages, Jesus returns to a pure understanding of marriage and divorce. His disciples got the point: "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry."

Crane warns that we cannot let our standards of marriage be dictated by the state, which is what he sees as happening:
The example of divorce suggests that Christians have already lost much ground on marriage and the family by failing to distinguish secular family law clearly from God's perfect plan for man and woman. This is why it is alarming to see many Christians insist that defeating legal recognition of same-sex marriage is necessary to preserving the institution of marriage. If that is true, it must be because marriage owes its definition and legitimacy to the state—a proposition that Jesus squarely denied and that should frighten anyone who takes seriously the Genesis prescription.

Certainly if homosexual "marriage" is legalized by the state it does not mean that they are recognized by God. Yes, God defines marriage, not the state. Just as a Christian can seek to make abortion illegal because it is an affront to God, so can he seek to keep the civil definition of marriage consistent with God's plan. No we cannot fall into the trap of assuming what is legal is right, but neither should we fall into the trap of assuming that what is legal does not matter. In this sphere, I believe the Bible clearly teaches God does judge nations. Ask Babylon. Ask Rome.

I understand where Crane is coming from. As Christians we must not rely on the state when it comes to matters of morals and service to God. But while we must never be reliant on the state, neither should we ignore it.

Pop bimbo, Esther continued her deeply spiritual tour of Israel:
The singer made a midnight pilgrimage to a Jerusalem cemetery early yesterday morning, holding a mystical candlelit ceremony at the grave of Jewish Kabbalistic sage Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag. Polish-born Ashlag, who died in 1954, is the renowned author of the Sulam, a commentary on the core kabbalistic text, the Zohar....

Later, Madonna, wearing a low-cut dress with a black and white leopard pattern, called for world peace at a $500-a-plate dinner conference on Kabbalah and children in Tel Aviv.
Didn't the Biblical Esther wear leopard patterns?


Pop bimbo Britney Spears has tied the knot...again. I must say, I was so sure that her Las Vegas marriage of nine months ago was the real thing. If Britney can't make marriage work, then who can?

UPDATE: Another good thing coming out of all of this is the fine example that Britney can now be for her two new stepchildren.

Saturday, September 18, 2004


The Republican National Committee, playing on the 'gay' 'marriage' issue seems to indicate that liberals will ban Bibles:
Campaign mail with a return address of the Republican National Committee warns West Virginia voters that the Bible will be prohibited and men will marry men if liberals win in November.

The literature shows a Bible with the word "BANNED" across it and a photo of a man, on his knees, placing a ring on the hand of another man with the word "ALLOWED." The mailing tells West Virginians to "vote Republican to protect our families" and defeat the "liberal agenda."

Now, are liberals going to 'ban' the Bible? On the grand scheme of things, no I don't think so. If we mean by 'ban' that you can't have one, buy one or use one. However, there's little question that in the public arena there is a de facto ban on the Bible. Try taking one to school or a court of law. At the same time homosexual 'marriage' is the cause celebre of the Left. So while I'm not endorsing the election of Republicans as the cure to societal ills, the mailer seems to have it about right.

Friday, September 17, 2004


Alister McGrath thinks so:
Like many back in the late 1960s, I was quite unaware of the darker side of atheism, as practised in the Soviet Union. I had assumed that religion would die away naturally, in the face of the compelling intellectual arguments and moral vision offered by atheism. I failed to ask what might happen if people did not want to have their faith eliminated. A desire to eliminate belief in God at the intellectual or cultural level has the most unfortunate tendency to encourage others to do this at the physical level. Lenin, frustrated by the Russian people’s obstinate refusal to espouse atheism voluntarily and naturally after the Russian Revolution, enforced it, arguing in a famous letter of March 1922 that the ‘protracted use of brutality’ was the necessary means of achieving this goal.

Some of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century were committed by regimes which espoused atheism, often with a fanaticism that some naive Western atheists seem to think is reserved only for religious people. As Martin Amis stressed in Koba the Dread, we now know what really happened under Stalin, even if it was unfashionable to talk about this in progressive circles in the West until the 1990s. The firing squads that Stalin sent to liquidate the Buddhist monks of Mongolia gained at least something of their fanaticism and hatred of religion from those who told them that religion generated fanaticism and hatred.

May socialism and atheism both end up in the dustbin of history.

Madonna Louise Veronica, Esther has returned the Promised Land, the home of her Ciccone forebears, but for some reason Orthodox Jews in this tv report are not embracing her:
Rabbi Yzchak Bazri.

(Sound of Yzchak Bazri speaking)

"It's forbidden for a Goy to learn Kabbalah. He has to learn and known the Jewish bible first. Kabbalah is the highest form of Judaism, and those who practice it need to be extremely spiritual, modest and wise, surrounding themselves with holiness and purity.

(sound of Madonna's "Material Girl")

In the eyes of Rabbi Bazri, whose father was one of Jerusalem's most renowned Kabbalists, the material girl can't be in the club. But the real Kabbalah appears to have little to do with the new age phenomenon packaged and sold, often at a hefty price, by the Los Angeles-based Kabbalah Centre.

The rabbi does have some advice:
"I don't think her school knows about Kabbalah. But if she comes here she'll find pure, honest people. They will not accept her with her clothes, she must come with different ones."

Hey, be glad she's actually got some!

[Link via Drudge]

Well, Hurricane Ivan has been weathered and power has just been restored. We lost power on Thursday morning about 10:40 AM just as things were ramping up with the storm. Just as the local weather guy, Jerry Tracy, predicted it was like a sustained severe thunderstorm (without much thunder). The brunt of the storm was from about noon to around 4:00 or 5:00 PM. Birmingham was hit somewhat harder than we were, especially with rain.

I drove down to the church house to see how it was (it's only .3 mile away), and lo and behold--electricity! In fact all of "downtown" had electricity, but not me! As the calls came in from various members seemingly everyone had never lost power at all. Of course, in reality over a half million Alabama power customers are still without power, but that didn't make it any easier when you look out the window and see lights.

Anyway, no feeling sorry for me (I'm sure you weren't). If you'd like to read a somewhat lengthier account and see some pictures, my sister at cut on the bias will keep you satisfied.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


You loved the book. You can't wait for the movie. You can't wait to immerse yourself in the 'real' world of The Da Vinci Code:
As most of the book is set in Paris, at least a dozen tour operators, art historians and self-appointed experts have cashed in, offering insider views of the sites, symbols, legends and lore featured on its pages.

"This is a phenomenon, a spiritual healing that is bringing Americans back to France and is telling the world the truth about the most dramatic cover-up in history," said Olivia Hsu Decker, a high-end California real estate agent who buys into the book's plot line. She also happens to own the 17th-century Château de Villette outside of Paris where the book's eccentric British art historian and evil manservant live and where, she said, the director-producer Ron Howard will film part of the movie for Columbia Pictures.

This week Ms. Decker ran her first "Da Vinci" program, donating the chateau for a four-day inaugural theme tour to a group of acquaintances from Marin County who bought the trip for $15,000 at a school fund-raising auction. A weeklong Da Vinci Code tour with lodging in her 15-bedroom, 240-acre spread costs $55,000. Breakfast is included.

Make your reservations early. Remember to ask for the gullibility special.

UPDATE: It looks like there won't be many on the tour from Lebanon. (Link via WND)

I'm trying to enjoy what are likely my last few hours of Internet access for awhile. Hurricane Ivan is on its way, and power will almost certainly be lost. At church a member who works for the power company assures us that when power goes off, it won't be coming back on for a while. Because of the recent hurricanes in Florida no lineman are coming here as normally would. He said a storm this size usually would call for 5000 lineman. They have 350. Surely preachers get priority, right?

In the meantime we're stocking up on non-perishables. A trip to Walmart included the purchase of both turkey Spam and spray cheese.

My four year old asked when that "hairy thing" was going to get here. I think she had it about right.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


The Book of Mormon (and the Mormon church) claims that the 'Lost Tribes' of Israel came to America, and that American Indians are their descendants. A new book--are you sitting down?--demonstrates through DNA that the Mormons are wrong:
In Losing a Lost Tribe: Native Americans, DNA, and the Mormon Church (Signature Books), research scientist Simon G. Southerton of Canberra, Australia, notes that none of the nearly 7,500 DNA-tested Native Americans shows any link to ancient Israel. More than 99 percent show an Asian heritage. The Book of Mormon, however, says that Israelites emigrated to the Americas 2,600 years ago, with the now-extinct Lamanites and Nephites becoming the ancestors of American Indians.

Southerton, a former LDS bishop, said he has received nearly 500 e-mails in the past five years from Mormons who are troubled by the DNA findings. Even some scholars at the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies (FARMS) at Brigham Young University, the church's flagship school in Provo, Utah, concede the links between Native Americans and Asians are strong, and that a Middle Eastern contribution to the gene pool hasn't been established.

Staunch apologists of the faith deny that science disproves the faith's principal scripture. FARMS founder John W. Welch said such opposition has been circulating for nearly a century. "The DNA factor is just one more indication that people came from various places in the world," Welch said. "This is just one more piece in a very big and complicated and obscure archaeological and anthropological picture."

What, oh what, would Moroni say?

Tuesday, September 14, 2004


Continuing our praise of little old ladies, theosebes would like to add Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin's Aunt Claire to the list:
The prime minister received a stern lecture from his aunt today after he swore into an open microphone at the first ministers conference on health.

Paul Martin joked that he said "Jesus Christ!" because it's a tough conference and he needs all the help that he can get. In fact, he'd just received a note from a federal official and thought he was swearing under his breath.

His aunt, Claire, in Pembroke, Ont., heard the remark on television and called him during a break in the conference.

Premiers laughed as he told them that she recommended he wash his mouth out with soap.

Martin apologized for what he called inappropriate language.

Where would we be without Australian grannies and Canadian aunties. Maybe there's hope for the Commonwealth countries yet.

Monday, September 13, 2004


Homosexual protesters in New Zealand learned not to mess with little old ladies going to church on Sunday:
A small protest outside a Destiny Church service in Christchurch turned nasty last night and a man was allegedly hit by a car driven by an elderly church member.

A Papanui man, Tony Tucker, said he was hit by the car as the driver attempted to leave the service at Paparoa Street School, in Papanui, about 8pm.

Tucker said he was carried a short distance on the car's bonnet and fell to the side before the woman drove away from the scene.

Church-goers said the three protesters had been aggressive towards parishioners as they left the service, and had blocked the elderly woman, who panicked as she attempted to drive off....

Tucker said he and two friends had gathered outside a Destiny Church meeting at Paparoa Street School last night to get "answers about what they were feeling about (gays and lesbians)".

The protesters had watched the church service through a hall window.

Tucker admitted their verbal protest was peppered with "nasty" comments, but believed they were not being intimidating.

Tucker said he had tried to talk to the elderly woman as she got into her car about her views, and he claimed the woman was being abusive to him.

"She backed away, and I went and blocked the car," Tucker said.

"I wanted to confront her more, I wanted to talk to this lady," he said. ...

Tucker admitted some of the things he and his friends were saying were not "politically correct", and said they had consumed "a few wines" before heading to the meeting.

He said a group of male church members had confronted the protesters.

Destiny Church Christchurch pastor Hudson Bond said the protesters appeared to be drunk and refused to let his congregants out of the school grounds.

"They kicked her car and scared her," he said. "They banged on her bonnet and whacked her window and wouldn't let her drive out the driveway."

The protesters were apparently blocking the gate as she was trying to leave the service just after 8pm.

When a security guard tried to intervene, he was abused.

Sounds like a pleasant bunch. I'm on the side of granny.

[Link via WND]

Barry Loberfeld discovered that preaching against homosexuality in Canada is "hate speech." Then he found out that Jerry Falwell has caved in to it. Mr. Loberfeld isn't impressed with Canada...:
Specifically, I speak of this reference to you in the July 13, 2003 issue of Parade magazine: "The Rev. Jerry Falwell does two versions of his programs. In Canada, criticizing homosexuality can be classified by law as 'hate speech' (not so in the U.S.), so Falwell alters his message north of the border."

I found this absolutely astounding – for more reasons than one. The first was the degree of censorship in our neighbor to the north. A minister cannot deliver a simple sermon on personal morality for fear of government reprisal? What would the criminal act of "criticizing homosexuality" subsume – preaching that the bible condemns certain sexual behaviors? That gays need Jesus just like everyone else? Anyone who knows you knows that you are no Fred Phelps and have in fact expressed your disapproval of him. So can nothing more than traditional Christian (and other religious) teaching on sexual matters now constitute "hate speech"?

...or Mr. Falwell:
What I found most shocking, however, was that you would actually go along with this. I simply cannot see you making any compromises with the witnessing of what you believe is the gospel truth – certainly not because of Caesar, no matter what he threatened. So I must ask: How much further will you go? You really have to answer that for yourself, if for no other reason than there can be no doubt that the Canadian government will go further. Twenty-five years ago, could anyone have foreseen such a law? And yet, can anyone deny that it is the culmination of the trends of all those years, trends that still continue? Consider the Old Testament passages on homosexuality, which are far more severe than any of your sermons. Twenty-five years from now, will the bible itself "be classified by law as 'hate speech'" – in the U.S. as well as Canada? Is it really that inconceivable?

It's an example of how careful we must be not to let the government erode our stand for the truth. It can (and will) be subtle and insidious. And God will judge us on it.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


Newsweek has a good article on parenting focusing on parents actually saying "no" to their kids. It seems most these days have forgotten how:
The oldest members of this Generation Excess were born in the late 1980s, just as PCs and videogames were making their assault on the family room. They think of MP3 players and flat-screen TVs as essential utilities and they've developed strategies to get them. One survey of grade-school children found that when they crave something new, most expect to ask nine times before their parents give in. By every measure, parents are shelling out record amounts. According to market researchers Packaged Facts, families with 3- to 12-year-olds spend $53.8 billion annually on entertainment, personal-care items and reading materials for their children. This is $17.6 billion more than parents spent in 1997. Teens are spending huge amounts of money themselves, some of it cadged from their families and the rest from after-school jobs. Last year 12- to 19-year-olds spent roughly $175 billion, $53 billion more than in 1997, according to Teen Research Unlimited.

But--and I know this is shocking--giving children everything they want isn't good for them:
Recent studies of adults who were overindulged as children paint a discouraging picture of their future. Kids who've been given too much too soon grow up to be adults who have difficulty coping with life's disappointments. They have a distorted sense of entitlement that gets in the way of success both in the workplace and in relationships. Psychologists say parents who overindulge their kids may actually be setting them up to be more vulnerable to future anxiety and depression. "The risk of overindulgence is self-centeredness and self-absorption, and that's a mental-health risk," says William Damon, director of the Stanford University Center on Adolescence. "You sit around feeling anxious all the time instead of figuring out what you can do to make a difference in the world."

It's a surprisingly good article, focusing on material excess. It would be nice to see some talk of diet and the problem of drugged and sedated children. We have a nation of children who are never told "no" but freely given sedatives to keep them in control. Now that's a problem.

Friday, September 10, 2004


That's God's opinion but it seems not be shared by a majority of self-identified Christians:
Although many Christian churches attempt to dissuade congregants from getting a divorce, the research confirmed a finding identified by Barna a decade ago (and further confirmed through tracking studies conducted each year since): born again Christians have the same likelihood of divorce as do non-Christians.

Among married born again Christians, 35% have experienced a divorce. That figure is identical to the outcome among married adults who are not born again: 35%.

And apparently Jesus was wrong about that whole divorce is wrong thing:
Although Bible scholars and teachers point out that Jesus taught that divorce was a sin unless adultery was involved, few Americans buy that notion. Only one out of every seven adults (15%) strongly agreed with the statement “when a couple gets divorced without one of them having committed adultery, they are committing a sin.” A similar percentage (16%) moderately agreed with the statement. The vast majority – 66% – disagreed with the statement, most of them strongly dismissing the notion.

If a stand is going to be made on the sanctity of marriage vis a vis homosexuals, then we have to accept everything Scripture teaches us about marriage and divorce. At some point we have to accept that Christianity isn't offered a la carte.

Thursday, September 09, 2004


A month ago in a post I endorsed the statement that Islam was "evil". Well, a Muslim commenter has (understandably) begged to differ. You may want to revisit the post for his comments and mine.

The 8th US Circuit has ruled that religious freedom even extends to teachers, "allowing" a South Dakota teacher to lead an afterschool religious group:
The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals (search) has ruled that South Dakota elementary school teacher Barbara Wigg must be permitted to participate in after-school, child Bible study at Laura B. Anderson Elementary School, where she teaches.

Wigg, who has been a teacher for 21 years, sued the Sioux Falls School District last year when she was told she couldn't participate in the Good News Club, an after-school national religious program that meets on school property. Wigg had gone to one meeting before being prevented from attending.

The school district argued that it could not permit one of its teachers to lead such a class because it might give the impression that the school system favors a particular religion. But the court ruled that the school system had taken a discriminatory position on religion and had violated Wigg's free speech.

Imagine that. Freedom of speech, freedom of association and freedom of religion--what will the court think of next...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Those who were very pleased with the fine job done with The Lord of the Rings movie adaptation, likely will be interested in how Hollywood will treat his fellow Inkling C.S. Lewis's Narnia:
The film marks the first live-action directorial effort for New Zealander Andrew Adamson (the Oscar(r)-winning "Shrek," "Shrek 2"), who also co-wrote the screenplay adaptation with Emmy Award-winner Anne Peacock (HBO's "A Lesson Before Dying") and scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (HBO's "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers"). The film is produced by Academy Award(r)-winning filmmaker Mark Johnson ("Rain Man," "Bugsy," "A Little Princess," "The Notebook") and is slated for a global release in December, 2005, through the Walt Disney Studios distribution division of Buena Vista Releasing.

Already in the planning and preproduction stages for two years, the project's towering production schedule of eighteen months encompasses a six-month live-action shoot followed by a yearlong post-production schedule leading to its December, 2005, worldwide release.

There's lots more at the link. It looks to be good. The fear always is that the Hollywood types will imagine themselves smarter than Lewis and start making wild changes. Surely Peter Jackson's success will teach them to at least be restrained with that. Of course, Disney is involved...

John Wilson explores the good and the bad (in his view) about evolution's latest nemesis, Intelligent Design:
At the moment, at least, there are no signs that the debate is cooling down—on the contrary. And there is a good deal to celebrate in that. In particular, the ID movement has performed an invaluable service in highlighting the way in which much Darwinian thinking rests on philosophical assumptions that have no scientific warrant. At the same time, the aggressive ID attacks on Christian scientists who have not rejected evolutionary theory lock, stock, and barrel—"accommodationists," as they are called in ID literature, where they are treated rather like collaborationists with the Nazis during World War II—have pushed theistic evolutionists to formulate their own views more cogently. And of course the attention garnered by the ID movement has also provoked a vigorous range of responses from hardcore Darwinians that are often inadvertently revealing—especially of the extraordinary arrogance that still infests the field—but which also at times score telling points against ID weaknesses.

Wilson seems to be uncomfortable himself with at least some of ID. The approach seems to me a levelheaded approach. It certainly does expose the logical fallacies of Darwinism, but it also seeks to promote what certainly is a Biblical idea: that God left His telling hand in His Creation. I do agree that one must be careful of attempting to explain too much when it comes to God's creative work. But one thing seems clear to me: Darwinian evolution is based fundamentally on the assumption that there is no God therefore we need a way to explain the world as we find it. Those who endorse theistic evolution simply are trying to baptize secularism

Tuesday, September 07, 2004


There's nothing like kicking off the post-Labor Day year with a good archaeology find:
Archaeologists in northwestern England have found a burial site of six Viking men and women, complete with swords, spears, jewelry, fire-making materials and riding equipment, officials said Monday.

The site, discovered near Cumwhitton, is believed to date to the early 10th century, and archaeologists working there called it the first Viking burial ground found in Britain....

The Vikings, inhabitants of Scandinavia from 800 to 1100, traded with, and raided, much of Europe, often settling there. They invaded and conquered England in 1013.

Lots o' fun.

Monday, September 06, 2004


Linda Schrock Taylor smells trouble ahead now that homeschooling staple Saxon Publishers (of Saxon Math fame) has sold to Harcourt:
I am distressed to read that the order of the topics has been changed in the rewritten books already on the market, despite the red herring claim that the company values the incremental steps of the original Saxon books. I am frustrated to read that instead of instructing, the teacher will serve as "tutor and coach." This sounds too much like New-Math to those of us who mourn the loss of America's competitive edge in mathematics, and strongly disapprove of the crazy educational ideas coming out of universities and teacher training colleges – from the very people who should be more astute and analytical; from those who are being paid to know better.

Ms. Taylor is has a lot of questions for the new subsidiary, too. Foremost she wants to know if they are simply trying to co-opt homeschoolers into the public school vision:
I would also like to ask New-Saxon if they are purposefully making changes that will put a heavy financial burden upon homeschooling families; if they are striving, on their own, or under someone else's agenda, to discourage parents from choosing to homeschool; if they are thinking that, if parents decide to homeschool, despite all the roadblocks continually thrown up before them, at least their children will join the rest of America's children in being subjected to dumbed-down new-new-math. I do not feel at all comfortable with any changes being made to the tried and true Saxon books, let alone those changes described, even briefly, at the website.

Some will be drawn in, certainly, but no homeschooler worth his salt will simply give a home version of the government's bill of goods.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004


Gerald J. Russello suggests the GOP would do well to listen to The Wisdom of Russell Kirk:
As the Republicans gather in Madison Square Garden to select their nominee and to lay out their policies for the next four years, the ideas of Russell Kirk (1918-94) are part of the platform, even if his name is not in the speeches. Since the war in Iraq began, interest has increased in the intellectual underpinnings of the Bush administration's conservatism. Much attention has been paid to neoconservatives and their supposed mentor, political philosopher Leo Strauss. But without Kirk, American conservatism would not exist in its current form.

I couldn't agree on Kirk's importance more. Sadly the current GOP doesn't do a lot of listening to Kirk, much to their detriment.