Friday, October 29, 2004

GOD FOR KERRY, SAYS HARKIN

The GOP isn't the only party to make claims of Divine endorsementIowa Sen. Tom Harkin says John Kerry has been gaining in the polls every day since Oct. 21, and George Bush has been going down every day.

"That's how God wants it to be," Harkin told a group of about 25 people at the Benton County Headquarters in Vinton on Thursday afternoon.
Harkin was touring the state to stump for Kerry and Democratic legislative candidates.
Just make sure you don't pray for it at church.
THE EVANGELICAL ANSWER TO BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN

With the Boss appearing daily (it seems) with John Kerry, P. Diddy warning "Vote or Die" and MTV Rocking the Vote, evangelicals have their own answer:
This is the evangelicals' answer to Bruce Springsteen: an anguished rocker prowling the stage in a black shirt and tight faded jeans, hair matted with sweat, licking his lips and turning his bright, beckoning eyes to the teenage mob in the front row:

"Get out to the polls and affect this country," says Jason Roy, lead singer of the band Building 429.

"Can you do that?"

"Yes!" they roar back. The kids are jumping. The room is hazy with fake smoke. A boy in a ski cap sneaks a hand around his girl's waist. It's chilly outside but it's really hot in here.

The scene could be part of a Vote for Change concert tour, but as with everything else in the vast parallel world of Christian pop culture, it is hard not to notice what's different from the secular version.

The show takes place not in a concert hall in the city, but in the sanctuary of Gilead Friends Church on a rural road an hour north of Columbus. Aside from Ski Cap Guy, most of the couples showing any public display of affection are married. The brown liquid in all those bottles is iced tea or soda pop. And when a screaming girl leans over to give the guy beside her a kiss, he's likely to be her dad.

Of course, I'd probably rather listen to the Boss but not as long as I have to look at Kerry.

It's an interesting cultural phenomenon, which has some validity. At the same time it gives interesting insight into how the evangelical culture often strangely mirrors the culture at large, offering something akin to "secular light". The article is worth a look.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

THE SANHEDRIN RE-ESTABLISHED?

A group of Jewish rabbis claim to have re-established the Sanhedrin Robin Juhl reports. It's an interesting step, and one that Dispensationalists like Juhl seem excited about. The post is worth reading for the premillennial perspective of it. Of course, readers of theosebes will know I am no Premillennial Dispensationalist.

The last time we saw the Sanhedrin they really weren't looking too good...

[Thanks to Robin for letting me know about the post.]
OKAY, THIS IS GOING A BIT TOO FAR

In a letter of clarification, the IRS has ruled churches can't pray for a Bush victory:
In a letter of clarification requested by a traveling minister, the Internal Revenue Service has declared people gathered in tax-exempt churches can't pray for President Bush to win the election on Tuesday.

The ruling comes in response to a request by the Christian Defense Coalition, which is in the midst of a 15-day prayer tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania....

"This is rank censorship," [Rev. Patrick J.] Mahoney [who requested the clarification] told WND. "If churches felt compelled to pray for Senator Kerry, they should be able to do that, too.

"Now we have the IRS not only limiting what can said behind a pulpit in terms of electioneering, but churches aren't even allowed to pray the dictates of their consciences."

Okay, I'm no advocate of churches openly choosing sides in an election, but I'm much less of an advocate of the government telling groups of God's people what they can and can't pray for. This one certainly qualifies as an outrage.
PORTLY VIEWS

On the new weblog, The Portly Paleo, proprietor Shane Scott detects hypocrisy:
When former Alabama state supreme court chief justice Roy Moore issued a ruling in a child custody case in which he stated that homosexuality is a sin that violated natural and revealed law, Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, objected: "It appears that Justice Moore is once again making his decisions on the basis of his personal religious beliefs, not the commands of the law...Justice Moore would make a great official of the Inquisition, but he doesn’t belong on a state supreme court.”

But it appears that the good Mr. Lynn does not consistently apply his views:
Lynn is always quick to drive a wedge between religion and public policy - except for a law signed by former Vermont governor Howard Dean. Dean was the first governor to sign a bill legitimizing "civil unions" between homosexuals. And what was Dean's motivation? According to the Washington Post: "Dean said he does not often turn to his faith when making policy decisions but cited the civil union bill as a time he did. 'My view of Christianity... is that the hallmark of being a Christian is to reach out to people who have been left behind,' he told reporters Tuesday. 'So I think there was a religious aspect to my decision to support civil unions.'"

Actually, he's very consisitent. Religion on the right=bad. Religion to justify left-wing lunacy=good.

Shane, by the way, is a personal success story. When he and I discussed politics several years ago the poor fellow was actually an admirer of Lincoln. A little education and he's come along nicely. Now we just have to have a lesson on how to do hot links...
RUSSELLO ON McDONALD ON KIRK

The always insightful Gerald Russello has a review in Crisis Magazine of Wesley McDonald's Russell Kirk and the Age of Ideology. The review, and the book, are worth your time.

If you're a glutton for punishment you can read your humble servant's thoughts on the book as well. (Yes, I've linked it before, but it's been a good month or so!)

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

JESUS: 'BLACK ICON'

New Nation, an "ethnic paper", has named Jesus its number one 'black icon':
Jesus has been named No1 black icon of all time.

Ethnic paper New Nation asked experts to list the 100 most important figures in black history.

They put the Son of God - traditionally portrayed as white - at the top of the list.

New Nation editor Michael Eboda argued that the Bible describes Christ as "dark skinned" - and that 2,000 years ago, the people of Bethlehem were a "mix of Ethiopians, Egyptians and Babylonians, all mixed with people from central Africa."

He said: "Jesus was more likely to be black than anything else."

Church of England spokesman Lou Henderson added to the confusion, saying: "In fact Jesus was a Palestinian Jew."

Yes, calling the self-identified Palestinian Jew Jesus a "Palestinian Jew" certainly confuses things. The BBC weighs in, debating the issue:Was he white, white-ish, olive-skinned, swarthy, dark-skinned or black? There are people who believe he was any one of those shades, but there seem to be only two things about the debate that can be said with any degree of certainty.

First - if the past 2,000 years of Western art were the judge, Jesus would be white, handsome, probably with long hair and an ethereal glow.

Second - it can almost certainly be said that Jesus would not have been white. His hair was also probably cut short.
I think we have a winner. No, Jesus would not have looked like He was from Norway. Nor would he have looked like He was from Ethiopia, either. He probably would have looked (gasp!) just like he came from Galilee: dark hair, dark skin, dark eyes. Very much like the Middle-Easterner He was.

My favorite justification for the "black Jesus" was this from the New Nation:
As light-hearted evidence that Jesus was black, it adds that he "called everybody 'brother', liked Gospel, and couldn't get a fair trial".

And there you have it.
LA BLOCKS MESSIANIC JEWS' BANNER

The City of Los Angeles blocked the display of a "Jews who believe in Jesus" banner, which has led to the group suing the city:
A Virginia-based religious rights group has filed a federal lawsuit against the city for its refusal to permit the display of a banner with the phrase "Jews who believe in Jesus."

The American Center for Law and Justice maintains the city violated the constitutionally protected rights of free speech and liberty.

"The City permits a wide variety of religious and secular banners to be displayed publicly on streets. The decision to censor this banner was made strictly on the basis of the content of the banner," senior counsel Stuart J. Roth said in a statement Monday.

The suit was filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on behalf of Michael Brown, Pastor of the Messianic Jewish group Adat Y'shua Ha Adon. It calls for an injunction that would prevent the city from baring the banner.

According to the center, Brown hung similar banners for three consecutive years on city streets, but this year the city rejected his request.

Isn't freedom of religion great?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

DO BUSH'S CHURCH AND POLICIES ADD UP?

The always reliable New York Times in full election mode raises questions about President Bush's choice of church on the one hand and public policies on the other:
n Sundays when President Bush goes to church in Washington, he chooses the 8 a.m. service at St. John's Episcopal Church Lafayette Square. A short stroll from the White House, St. John's has been the parish for many presidents, but it is still a surprising choice for Mr. Bush.

A president who has been typecast as the champion of Christian conservatives, who has proposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, finds fellowship in a church where the priest and many congregants openly support the blessing of same-sex unions.

When it comes to understanding the president's religious convictions and the role they have played in his presidency, there appears to be a disconnect between Mr. Bush's personal beliefs and his public policy.

The article does raise legitimate questions on the issue. Where does he stand?
Besides worshiping in an Episcopal church that welcomes gay couples (and in Texas, in a Methodist church where many congregants support abortion rights), Mr. Bush has prayed with Jews and Sikhs and volunteered that Muslims worship the same God as Christians - a comment that stunned evangelicals. Mr. Bush uses evangelical terms to convey his devotion to God and to prayer, but he is not the Bible-thumping fundamentalist that some of his opponents have made him out to be.

When it comes to policy, however, his opponents and supporters agree that he has done more than any president in recent history to advance the agenda of Christian social conservatives. On domestic issues, he has opposed same-sex marriage, favored restrictions on abortion and imposed limits on embryonic stem cell research. He has promoted vouchers for religious schools and shifted money for sex education and reproductive health programs to those that instead promote abstinence.

Without a doubt there is political posturing involved. (Does anyone think John Kerry worships at black churches regularly?) I also suspect that there is probably something of a disconnect between the people Bush feels comfortable with socially (high born Episcopalians) and agrees with socially and politically (middle class evangelicals). Keep in mind the Bushes are old line New England Episcopalians. That's where Bush would feel at home. This tells us a lot about where he's coming from:
Mr. Bush was born an Episcopalian, attended a Presbyterian church as a youngster and joined a Methodist church when he married - a denomination-hopping that is common among many Americans.

Evangelicals claim Mr. Bush is one of their own, but he has intentionally been vague about whether he actually shares their beliefs. In his last presidential run, Mr. Bush granted a brief telephone interview with this reporter on his faith. Asked whether he regarded the Bible as the literal and inerrant word of God, Mr. Bush said: "From Scripture you can gain a lot of strength and solace and learn life's lessons. That's what I believe, and I don't necessarily believe every single word is literally true."


Of course, John Kerry openly contradicts the Roman Catholic Church and its stands on such issues as abortion. Of the two, I actually do think that Bush's faith does inform his actions, whether I might agree with all of those actions or not

Friday, October 22, 2004

FINALLY, A PUBLIC SCHOOL RESPECTING RELIGION

With Halloween upon us some evangelical churches are backing away from Halloween because of its perceived ties to the occult. The Pullayup School District in Washington state is backing away, too:
The Puyallup School District in Washington State has canceled its annual Halloween parade and banned all other Halloween activities, insisting the costumes may be offensive to real witches and followers of Wicca — a form of Paganism.

A school district spokeswoman, quoted by local KOMO-TV, says, "Witches [masks] with pointy noses and things like that are not respective symbols of the Wiccan religion, and so we want to be respectful."

Well, we wouldn't want to offend any witches, now would we?

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

CANADIAN BANK BACKS DOWN

Canada's largest bank decided that it would be absolutely great if all its employees displayed a pro-homosexual sticker:
the Royal Bank of Canada directed its employees to "be supportive" of "gay, lesbian and bisexual issues" and to show that support by displaying the homosexual movement's rainbow triangle symbol in the workplace. The statements were made in the first edition of a new newsletter called "Rainbow Space."

Thankfully, the story doesn't end there. Faced with a boycott, the bank backed down:
But after a boycott was launched by the Canada Family Action Coalition, the bank backed down, saying the rainbow promotion had "unintentionally created divisiveness."

David Moorcroft, Royal Bank's senior vice president announced the course reversal in a letter dated Oct. 14.

"Effective today, the sticker component of the program is being eliminated," wrote Moorcroft.

Well, it's encouraging that sometimes those things actually work.

Monday, October 18, 2004

HMMM, THIS SOUNDS LIKE A GOOD IDEA...

It's probabaly happened to every church these days. Everyone's bowed in prayer or listening to announcements and suddenly an electronic version of the William Tell Overture begins. Some churches are fighting back:
It was the reporters who noticed first. Unable to call their editors while covering the weddings of the rich and famous, they asked the priest why their cell phones never worked at Sacred Heart. His reply: Israeli counterintelligence.

In four Monterrey churches, Israeli-made cell phone jammers the size of paperbacks have been tucked unobtrusively among paintings of the Madonna and statues of the saints.

The jarring polychromatic din of ringing cell phones is increasingly being thwarted — from religious sanctuaries to India's parliament to Tokyo theaters and commuter trains — by devices originally developed to help security forces avert eavesdropping and thwart phone-triggered bombings.

Well, no pictures of the Madonna (or even Madonna) or saints (although we had several dozen actual saints in attendance yesterday) but we could probably find somewhere to hide one of those. Of course, we won't be getting one any time soon:
Purchased for about $2,000 each, they can be turned on by remote control and emit low-level radio frequencies that thwart cell phone signals within a 100-foot radius.

Users get a "no service" or "signal not available" message on their cell phones.

Although Mexico has no law against the devices, the private use of cell phone blockers is illegal in the United States and most Western countries.

But the tide is turning.

Japan allows public places such as theaters and concert halls to install jammers, provided they obtain a government-issued license. And last week, France's industry minister approved a decision to let cinemas, concert halls and theaters install them — as long as provisions are in place so emergency calls can still be made.

Canada had considered allowing blocking in similar situations. But Industry Canada, which regulates the country's telecommunications, decided against it, saying the devices could infringe on personal freedom and affect public safety by crippling communication with law enforcement and security agencies.

Oh well. Maybe one of these days.

Saturday, October 16, 2004

GIBSON'S GAMBLE

About a year ago there were many predictions of Mel Gibson's demise as a Hollywood icon if he went through with his silly plan to film a movie about the death of Jesus. The press and the Hollywood establishment pulled out all the stops to convince Gibson to stop the film or at the very least change into something unrecognizable. The plan then shifted to suppressing the movie. All the while the drumbeat continued: Mel Gibson will never work in this town again. Well, the movie was released, the DVD was released, who's smiling now:
Mel Gibson, the maker of the controversial “The Passion of the Christ,” dominates Entertainment Weekly’s annual power issue.

“What once seemed like a zealous bit of risky business (Gibson even said God was directing the movie through him) has proved to be one of the most successful power plays in Hollywood history,” the magazine says, “with $610 million in global sales.”

Sometimes there is earthly reward in sticking by your guns. Regardless of the quality of Gibson's movie (which was excellent, in my opinion) seeing its success is gratifying in the face of his anti-religious Hollywood naysayers.

Friday, October 15, 2004

WHY APPRENTICES CAN'T TALK

I admit to being a big fan of Donald Trump's "The Apprentice". But Sarah Bunting has an amusing article surveying this well educated gang's constant stream of malapropisms. In the end, Ms. Bunting stumbles into the reason:
It's amusing in its way, watching overeducated MBAs trip over themselves to prove their expertise in the high-powered corporate sphere when they can barely get subjects and verbs to agree. But in another way, it's pretty bleak. Why on earth would Trump hire a right-hand man or woman who can't express a cogent thought without clich├ęs like "the weakest link" and "on the same page"?
The key is they are well-educated, but most of them have a strong business education. Finally! Proof you do need all those humanities classes (or maybe some time in Toastmasters).

I still like Raj's bow ties...

Thursday, October 14, 2004

KERRY'S REVIVAL

John Kerry's recent appearances at black churches has drawn the ire of liberal religious groups:
Two liberal religious groups are asking Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry to "stop politicizing religion," even going so far as to call a partisan church service on behalf of the senator "over the top."

Americans United for Separation of Church and State is asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate whether the Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Miami violated federal tax law during an Oct. 10 service featuring speeches by Mr. Kerry, former presidential candidate the Rev. Al Sharpton and other prominent Democrats.

As everyone knows, appearances by Democrats particularly at black churches is always overlooked with a wink and a nod. One doubts that George Bush could hold a religious tinged political rally at an evangelical megachurch and get away with it. Quite frankly, churches aren't the place for religious rallies by either party, and really it is high time that they stop on both sides.

By the way, you like to see this sort of measured introduction:
During the service, the Rev. Gaston E. Smith introduced Mr. Kerry as "the next president of the United States" and told the crowd, "For every Goliath, God has a David. For every Calvary's cross, God has a Christ Jesus. ... To bring our country out of despair, discouragement, despondency and disgust, God has a John Kerry."

The Kerry campaign said neither it nor the pastor did anything wrong.

Or possibly Nebuchadnezzar, but who's to say?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

DIVORCE & HOMOSEXUAL 'MARRIAGE'

Jennifer Morse well points out that the degradation of marriage through rampant divorce has opened the door for homosexual 'marriage':
Divorce is in the background of the gay marriage debate in at least three ways. First, gay marriage is the end of the trend that no-fault divorce began. The legal innovation of unilateral divorce began to reduce marriage to nothing but a temporary association of individuals. If marriage is merely a free association of individuals, there is no principled reason to exclude gay couples, or even larger groupings of sexual partners. The permanence of marriage was one of the key features that distinguished it from an ordinary contract.

Second, the high divorce rate and the resulting non-permanence of marriage made the institution of marriage more attractive to same-sex couples than it otherwise would be. If marriage still meant one to a customer for life, I seriously doubt that we’d be hearing about same-sex marriage today. Gay couples evidently have a more relaxed concept of both permanence and fidelity than do heterosexual couples. Gay activists would be much less likely to invest time and energy working for the right to marry, if divorce were available only for adultery or cruelty.

Most importantly, the high divorce rate has made it difficult to articulate opposition to gay marriage. People who have been divorced may feel hypocritical if they voice opposition to a system they felt they had to use. People who secretly fear they may need a divorce someday are reluctant to bad-mouth the easy availability of divorce. People who are not confident in their own ability to keep their marriage together for a lifetime, won’t speak out against the culture of divorce. A significant subset of such people will be reluctant to voice their opposition to gay marriage. People who have lost confidence in marriage as an institution of exclusivity and permanence are simply not going to have the heart for a fight over gay marriage.

She's right, and it's time we put the institution of marriage in order; from the beginning this type of divorce was not so (Matthew 19). Our standing to oppose the nonsense of homosexual 'marriage' will improve dramatically when we shore up our own.

Monday, October 11, 2004

WISE WORDS FROM AFRICA

Reacting to the American Episcopal Church's advocacy for homosexuality, Nigeria's Archbishop Peter Akinola expresses his displeasure:
Akinola insisted he did not hate gays, despite his fiery comments in the past protesting against the growing acceptance of homosexuality.

He once called the trend a "satanic attack" on the church. But he said he could not accept attempts to "superimpose your modern culture on Scripture" by ignoring what he said were Biblical injunctions against gay sex.

"I didn't write the Bible. It's part of our Christian heritage. It tells us what to do," Akinola said.

"If the word of God says homosexuality is an abomination, then so be it."

Those who support ordaining gays contend Scripture does not ban same-sex relationships, and that there was no understanding in biblical times that homosexuality was a natural orientation, not a choice.

Akinola said this reasoning sent an offensive message that the Bible "is only for the prim-itive people".

Akinola is exactly correct. Many Americans have become far too sophisticated for the "primitivism" of the Bible. They cannot accept the "foolishness" of God.
CHRISTIANS & THE MILITARY

A frequently raised question is whether or not Christians should serve in the military. Laurence Vance is leaning "no". I think the case can be made, but others have done it better. Vance tends to mix in too much politics (not surprising for LRC), and falls back on the Ten Commandments per se, a new covenant no-no. Still, he raises some good points that ought to be considered.

In case you're wondering, I do believe Christians can serve in the military. However, I certainly understand some having conscience problems with it, which must be respected. And, no, I didn't serve, either.

Friday, October 08, 2004

ROBERTSON REVISITED

Yesterday we looked at Pat Robertson's comments on the status of Islam and Jerusalem:
"I see the rise of Islam to destroy Israel and take the land from the Jews and give East Jerusalem to [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Yasser Arafat. I see that as Satan's plan to prevent the return of Jesus Christ the Lord," said Robertson, a Christian broadcaster.

This is where the fundamental weakness of the premillennial position is made manifest. Satan can do nothing to prevent the return of Jesus. Of course, this is a natural extension of the dispensational notion that Satan did in fact prevent God from establishing His kingdom in the first century, and instead was forced to go to Plan B and establish the church instead. Now, according to Robertson, Satan is scheming to keep the Creator of the universe from returning to it. The God that Robertson imagines is a weak God that cannot be relied upon to bring about His plans in the face of Satanic opposition. He is certainly a God who seems far too weak to offer the salvation that the Bible promises.

Robertson and his kind would do well to read Revelation and see the true message there. Despite what may seem like earthly evidence to the contrary, Satan has already been defeated. And while he is allowed certain powers in this world they are not unlimited, but rather he is operating on borrowed time. His defeat has occurred. The only question that remains is whether we will decide to join the losing side (the path of least resistance) or the side of the already victorious Christ. When He returns at the time of the Father's choosing those who have chosen correctly, and endured to the end, will share in His victory as Satan is finally cast away with his followers for eternity.
THE LAW ON DANISH NAMES

It's like an old Monty Python skit--The Ministry of Silly Names. But Denmark has essentially that; you can't name your child anything you want:
People expecting children can choose a pre-approved name from a government list of 7,000 mostly Western European and English names - 3,000 for boys, 4,000 for girls. A few ethnic names, like Ali and Hassan, have recently been added. But those wishing to deviate from the official list must seek permission at their local parish church, where all newborns' names are registered. A request for an unapproved name triggers a review at Copenhagen University's Names Investigation Department and at the Ministry of Ecclesiastical Affairs, which has the ultimate authority. The law only applies if one of the parents is Danish.

Many parents do not realize how difficult it can be to get a name approved by the government. About 1,100 names are reviewed every year, and 15 percent to 20 percent are rejected, mostly for odd spellings. Compound surnames, like Tan-Farnsden, also pose a problem.

And apparently so does "Molli":
Greg Nagan, 39, and Trine Kammer, 32, thought it would be cute to name their daughter Molli Malou. To their surprise, Malou was not a problem, but Molli with an I, which they thought sounded Danish, had to be reviewed by the government. The church told Ms. Kammer she needed to state in a letter the reason for choosing Molli. She did so, and said she told the clerk, "Here's your stupid letter: The reason for naming her Molli is because we like it."

"Isn't this silly?" Ms. Kammer said. "We love to make everything a rule here. They love to bureaucratize."

As the father of a "Molly" we would have been approved. Of course, my wife's name is "Traci". Good thing she's not Danish...
WHEN BAD ACADEMICS MEETS BAD THEOLOGY

The worst thing that can happen to any subject (great historical figure, moving poem, profound novel) is when the academicians get ahold of it. As someone who has been to academic conferences, I can attest that it all quickly deteriorates into self-parody. It appears there's nothing different at religious academic conferences:
An annual convention of American religion scholars from prominent institutions will feature sessions favorable toward sadomasochism, transvestism, transsexualism and polyamory – participation in multiple sexual relationships.

One paper scheduled to be presented interprets a passage in the book of Jeremiah "through the lens" of a sadomasochistic encounter between God and a man.

The presentations offered at the American Academy of Religion's 2004 Annual Meeting in San Antonio next month demonstrates that "bringing male homosexual behavior into the mainstream produces a slippery slope" that serves only to destroy basic societal norms rather than tame risky behavior, says Robert A. J. Gagnon, associate professor of New Testament at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.

Two workshops on the sexual themes are being offered by the Gay Men's Issues in Religion Group at the meeting, scheduled for Nov. 20-23.

"One wonders what is next for the Gay Men's group at AAR – the promotion of incest, 'pedosexuality' and bestiality?" Gagnon asked in a written critique. "There is certainly little or nothing in the presenters' theology that would lead away from such ultimate absurdities."

Of course, the primary reason to even mention this is to make fun of it. But the reality is that in a nation where many of our most prestigious universities and colleges were founded with a conservative religious mission, it is a testament to how far our nation has come when we see how 'scholars' from some of those same institutions of higher learning view scripture.

[Thanks to Mitch for the tip.]

Thursday, October 07, 2004

MANION ON ROBERTSON

Christopher Manion is right on the money here:
I don’t care how many "evangelical" votes he thinks he controls, no sane, serious Christian can possibly believe that Satan can foil Salvation History -- and then pretend that his own political activism can stop Satan!

Robertson then threatens to take millions of voters into a pro-Israel third party if Bush doesn't behave (I don't think we'll hear about this from Karl Rove any time soon).

Excerpt (I’m not making this up):

"I see the rise of Islam to destroy Israel and take the land from the Jews and give East Jerusalem to [Palestinian Authority Chairman] Yasser Arafat. I see that as Satan's plan to prevent the return of Jesus Christ the Lord," said Robertson, a Christian broadcaster.

And that's just an example of how convoluted premillennial dispensationalism is.

And see the related post, too.
GENGHIS KHAN'S PALACE FOUND

The long sought palace of Genghis Khan has been found, and his tomb may not be far away:
Archaeologists have unearthed the site of Genghis Khan's palace and believe the long-sought grave of the 13th century Mongolian warrior is somewhere nearby, the head of the excavation team said Wednesday.

A Japanese and Mongolian research team found the complex on a grassy steppe 150 miles east of the Mongolian capital of Ulan Bator, said Shinpei Kato, professor emeritus at Tokyo's Kokugakuin University.

Genghis Khan (c. 1162-1227) united warring tribes to become leader of the Mongols in 1206. After his death, his descendants expanded his empire until it stretched from China to Hungary.

Genghis Khan built the palace in the simple shape of a square tent attached to wooden columns on the site at around 1200, Kato said.

The researchers found porcelain buried among the ruins dated to the warrior's era, helping identify the grounds, Kato said. A description of the scenery around the palace by a messenger from China's Southern Tang Dynasty in 1232 also matched the area, he added.

Genghis Khan's tomb is believed to be nearby because ancient texts say court officials commuted from the mausoleum later built on the grounds to the burial site daily to conduct rituals for the dead.

Why don't we know where the tomb is?
Genghis Khan's grave site is one of archaeology's enduring mysteries. According to legend, in order to keep it secret, his huge burial party killed anyone who saw them en route to it; then servants and soldiers who attended the funeral were massacred.

That'll do it. Here's hoping that mystery will be solved as well.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

THE DRUMBEAT CONTINUES

The agenda to extend special rights to homosexuals and silence those who are opposed to it continues in a new House bill:
The House of Representatives has voted to urge a conference committee to add "sexual orientation, gender and disability" to federal hate-crimes law, a development some observers say would muzzle Christians who speak out against homosexuality.

On Sept. 28, the House voted 213-186 to pass a procedural motion encouraging a conference committee to include the hate-crimes legislation in the final version of the Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 4200)....

Christian activists believe that if passed and signed into law, the legislation could be used to target Americans who voice their opposition to the homosexual lifestyle – including pastors preaching and reading the Bible.

I have little doubt that is the long term goal here. It's already the case in Canada where broadcasting criticism of homosexuality is considered a hate-crime. This goes beyond a group seeking special rights for itself. There is the systematic attempt by that same group and its allies to silence and criminalize any criticism of itself and its immoral behavior.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

NO SAME-SEX 'MARRIAGE' BAN IN LOUISIANA

Below we discussed Rep. Ron Paul's opposition to a federal amendment to ban same-sex 'marriage'. While I have great sympathy with his states rights approach, each day I become more convinced that we are past that point. As if on cue, Judge William Morvant has disenfranchised Louisiana votes by throwing out that state's same-sex marriage ban:
A district court judge today threw out an amendment to the Louisiana Constitution banning same-sex marriage that was passed by 78% percent of the state's voters.

I think it is clear that the courts and powers that be have decided that like abortion, it doesn't really matter what the people think or long standing law has held. We must march to the drum of "progress", which means recognizing "choice", whether that's the choice to slaughter infants or play house with a same-sex "partner".

As our nation continues down its path of decline and decay the Old Republic is becomes an increasingly small dot on the horizon behind us.

This interesting information is apended to the story:
a homosexual lawyer arguing against the amendment in August lost his temper in a Louisiana courtroom when a fellow attorney called him a "homosexual." John Rawls' face turned red and he lunged at the attorney defending traditional heterosexual marriage.

"No one calls me the H-word," Rawls said in defense of his outburst.

The lawyer insisted he was not a homosexual, but, rather, a "gay" man.

Theosebes site policy is not to use the term "gay" to refer to homosexuals, but rather to use the proper term, "homosexual". Of course, if I'm in a bad mood we might use "sodomite". The point that needs to be maintained is that homosexuality, like any other sin, is an action, not a state of being.

Monday, October 04, 2004

'OLDEST' BIBLE PASSAGE CONFIRMED

Scientists have confirmed the antiquity of the 'oldest bit of Bible' predating even the Dead Sea Scrolls:
The words are among the most familiar and ecumenical in the liturgies of Judaism and Christianity. At the close of a worship service, the rabbi, priest, or pastor delivers, with only slight variations, the comforting and fortifying benediction:

"May the Lord bless you and keep you; may the Lord cause his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and grant you peace."

An archaeological discovery in 1979 revealed that the Priestly Benediction, as the verse from Numbers 6:24-26 is called, appeared to be the earliest biblical passage ever found in ancient artifacts. Two tiny strips of silver, each wound tightly like a miniature scroll and bearing the inscribed words, were uncovered in a tomb outside Jerusalem and initially dated from the late seventh or early sixth century B.C. -- about 400 years before the famous Dead Sea Scrolls....

So researchers at the University of Southern California have now re-examined the inscriptions using photographic and computer imaging techniques. The words still do not exactly leap off the silver. But the researchers said they could finally be "read fully and analyzed with far greater precision," and that they were indeed the earliest.

In a scholarly report published last month, the research team concluded that the improved reading of the inscriptions confirmed their greater antiquity. The script, the team wrote, is indeed from the period just before the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C. by Nebuchadnezzar and the subsequent exile of Israelites in Babylonia.

The researchers further reaffirmed that the scrolls "preserve the earliest known citations of texts also found in the Hebrew Bible and that they provide us with the earliest examples of confessional statements concerning Yahweh."

It's a striking confirmation, again confirming Scripture in the face of skeptics.
GERMANS PREFER GANDALF TO GOD

The Bible has been edged out by Tolkien followed closely by Ken Follett in a survey of Germans:
HAMBURG - J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" is the favourite work of literature among Germans, beating out the Holy Bible in second place, according to a national survey.

The survey by ZDF television of a quarter of a million viewers nationwide showed the Tolkien novels topped the list by an overwhelming majority.

In second place as the finest published work of all time was the Bible, followed in third place by Ken Follett's "The Pillars of the Earth".

A German work of fiction ranked fourth, Patrick Suskind's "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer".

Ken Follett? At least The Lord of the Rings is a classic.
WHO CODED DA VINCI?

Two, um, scholars are charging Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown with plagiarism:
It is the biggest-selling adult fiction book of all time and has earned its author a reputed £140 million with its plot about a global conspiracy to suppress Christ's marriage.

The Da Vinci Code has sold more than 12 million copies and has been translated into 42 languages. But now two writers are suing its publishers, claiming that it was copied from their bestseller that first appeared more than 20 years ago.

Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh claim that Dan Brown, the 39-year-old former English teacher from New Hampshire, has "lifted the whole architecture" of the research that they carried out for their non-fiction work The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail, which they co-wrote with Henry Lincoln.

They claim that the similarities between the two books are such that they have no choice but to sue Random House, whose imprint Doubleday is the publisher of Brown's novel.

It must be part of the gigantic plot to suppress the truth.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

DON'T SWEAR IN RUSSIA

If you've got a foul mouth, avoid Belgorod:
Police in Russia's western Belgorod region are imposing fines on people who swear in public - and local officials say the campaign is very popular.
The officials say young people have been minding their language since the ban was introduced in July.

Any person caught uttering profanities in public can face fines of up to $50.

The authorities have launched anti-swearing poster competitions, TV ads and comics in their campaign to clean up the Russian language.

"We want Russian to remain as pure as in the great classics," said Valentina Trunova, deputy head of Belgorod's department of youth affairs....

"We're mainly targeting young people," she said. "We will continue the campaign for a long time - we've had a very positive response."...

Almost 2,500 people - mostly under 30 - have been fined and about $50,000 has been collected, Belgorod officials say.

But according to Russia's Gazeta newspaper, some youths object to the crackdown.

"The cops have gone crazy," said one young man. "They are listening to our every word. We must constantly restrain ourselves."

Okay, I'm not real big on the police listening to one's every word, but I'd say it's not a bad thing that a bunch of ne'er do well youth learned to restrain themselves every now and then.
RON PAUL ON THE MARRIAGE AMENDMENT

The always insightful Texas Congressman Ron Paul spoke from the House floor against the Federal marriage amendment:
Mr. Speaker, while I oppose federal efforts to redefine marriage as something other than a union between one man and one woman, I do not believe a constitutional amendment is either a necessary or proper way to defend marriage.

While marriage is licensed and otherwise regulated by the states, government did not create the institution of marriage. In fact, the institution of marriage most likely pre-dates the institution of government! Government regulation of marriage is based on state recognition of the practices and customs formulated by private individuals interacting in civil society. Many people associate their wedding day with completing the rituals and other requirements of their faith, thus being joined in the eyes of their church and their creator, not with receiving their marriage license, thus being joined in the eyes of the state.

If I were in Congress in 1996, I would have voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which used Congress’s constitutional authority to define what official state documents other states have to recognize under the Full Faith and Credit Clause, to ensure that no state would be forced to recognize a “same sex” marriage license issued in another state. This Congress, I was an original cosponsor of the Marriage Protection Act, HR 3313, that removes challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act from federal courts’ jurisdiction. If I were a member of the Texas legislature, I would do all I could to oppose any attempt by rogue judges to impose a new definition of marriage on the people of my state....

Because of the dangers to liberty and traditional values posed by the unexpected consequences of amending the Constitution to strip power from the states and the people and further empower Washington, I cannot in good conscience support the marriage amendment to the United States Constitution. Instead, I plan to continue working to enact the Marriage Protection Act and protect each state’s right not to be forced to recognize a same sex marriage.

There is much to sympathize with here. Paul wishes to deny our octopus like Federal government from grasping yet more with its tentacles. It is hard to argue with that, although at this point I will remain a somewhat reluctant supporter of the amendment.

Friday, October 01, 2004

TRANSLATING FOR AFRICA

As conversions slow in America and are far and few between in Western Europe, Africa has opened up as a fertile field for the Lord's word. Attempting to facilitate the spreading of that word in Africa and elsewhere is a Jerusalem home for translators:
Tucked in the hillsides of the Jerusalem suburb of Mevaseret Zion is what could be your average dormitory. The spacious villa includes 10 rooms — a common dining area, several bedrooms and a large library with three computers hooked up to the Internet. And there are also students, though of a slightly unusual kind.

Welcome to the Home for Bible Translators.

The home was established in 1995 by a Christian couple, Mirja and Halvor Ronning, who wanted to enable Bible translators to truly understand their sources by offering them Hebrew classes as well as tours of the land of the Bible. The couple affiliated their project with the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University, and thus they were able to offer students an academic program tailor-made for their needs, as well as an opportunity to become part of a worldwide family of scholars with whom they can exchange ideas.

The course is given in English or French, and this year's graduates are nine French-speaking Christian scholars from the Congo, Benin, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. The majority of the scholars originate from African countries, where there are hundreds of different dialects and languages.

"Christianity is spreading throughout Africa, and the existence of 200 translation projects is the evidence of that," Ronning said.

Nothing can be more valuable to the spreading of the pure gospel message than for clear, accurate translations of the Bible to be available in what many of us might view as obscure languages. In many ways, Africans can relate more directly to Biblical passages:
On a recent afternoon, three of the students — Genelosse Awankra from Togo, Issifou Korogo from Benin and Thomas Kore from Ivory Coast — sat around discussing their experience, which began when they all met on the same flight to Israel. Since then, the men — aged between 30 and 40 — have become good friends.

"You can't understand the New Testament without reading the old one" said Kore, who is not a translator himself but intends to set up a Hebrew course for those scholars who wish to register for this program. And despite being Christians, all scholars emphasized the importance of the Old Testament.

"Our culture in Africa is closer to the culture of the Old Testament, and people have a better image of God," said Korogo, who is engaged in translating the Old Testament into Yom, a language spoken by 200,000 people. "They can relate to the Bible's themes — the sacrifice, for example."

"In my language, Lama, a tribal dialect spoken by 200,000 people, there are some expressions similar to Hebrew," added Awankra, a former teacher and Bible translator. He intends to translate the Old Testament along with a team that includes his brother, who participated in the program last year.

Whether the language is obscure to us or not, we must remember that the promise of Acts 2 is still open to you, your children and all who are far off. We ought always to offer a great hand of support to those laying the groundwork of making the spreading of that message possible.
A RABBI, A PRIEST AND TWO WOMEN PREACHERS WALK INTO A CAMPAIGN RALLY...

An AP article unwittingly tells us why John Kerry has a hard time going religious:
For the Rev. David Keyes, it was a moment of grass-roots poetry.

Keyes is the Kerry-Edwards election campaign's new (and first) religious outreach coordinator for Missouri, and on Monday afternoon he sat at a table at the campaign's St. Louis storefront headquarters in a Shrewsbury strip mall with six religious leaders, lay and ordained.

Keyes walked them through the sequence of speakers for an interfaith "prayer potluck" rally that night in Brentwood.

But in his zeal to include speakers of varying calibrations of faiths, denominations, genders, races and ages, Keyes had overlooked one of the most visible: Protestant women.*

"Give me a minute," said Rabbi Jeffrey Stiffman, recently retired from Congregation Shaare Emeth, as he whipped out his cell phone and began dialing. The Rev. Bill Hutchison, a retired Roman Catholic priest, borrowed a cell phone and did the same. In no time, the group had two Protestant women lined up to speak.

And that's how liberals approach religion.

*One always wishes to remember the great Samuel Johnson's words regarding this:"Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."