Saturday, December 24, 2005



The Christian allegory The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe has knocked the giant monkey off his perch and regained the top spot (my apologies for tasteless ads there) in box office gross. It's amazing what a well made, family friendly movie will do at the box office. One wonders if Hollywood might sometime figure this out.

In other news, apparently the touching story of two men and their sheep, Brokeback Mountain, is dropping fast. Don't be surprised if it wins best picture, though.

Friday, December 23, 2005


A regular theoebes reader, and in demand college administrator, has hit the big time at in the 'Letters From Readers' section:
Those that are for the taking of an unborn life hide under the guise of "Pro-choice." This title does not address the issue properly. It is nothing more than a straw man. The actual problem is that people are either unclear on, or choose to hide from, what the real choice is. The choice that is presented is the same one that has faced man since the beginning of time. The choice is to keep God's commandments or to sin. Simply stated the real choice is between right and wrong - murder and life.

Be sure to read it all.

Friday, December 16, 2005


A long forgotten post has suddenly attracted some attention. The original post dates from July 1, 2004, and deals with a California inmate named Ramzee Johnson who was being denied the ability to be baptized in accordance with his religious beliefs. Apparently someone connected to the sheriff's found the post yesterday and is quite defensive about it all. Make sure you read the comments.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005


My wife had her piano students in for lessons yesterday, and in the process of conversation asked them what they wanted for Christmas. One conversation was instructive.

My wife: "So, what do you want for Christmas this year?"

Child: "A Ferby!"

Wife: "Oh, what do they do?"

Child: "I don't know."

Wife: "Well, aren't those the little furry animals that interact and talk?"

Child: "I don't know."

Wife: "Well, why do you want one, then?"

Child: "I saw it on TV!"

Tuesday, December 13, 2005


Miami Heat NBA basketball Coach Stan Van Gundy has resigned from his coaching position citing family interests. I liked his comments:
Van Gundy has always professed to being a family-first man, someone who abhors road trips and the idea of spending holidays away from his wife and four children. He said that because of travel, games and practices, he would have seen his children at home only 49 days out of 170 this season.

"That's just not enough any more for me. It's just not enough," Van Gundy said. "I mean, it's been like that for my kids' entire lives. I've got a 14-year-old daughter and it started to hit me when I started thinking about her birthday, which was last month. I've got four more years left with her. Four. And then she'll be off to college and I'm just not willing to sacrifice any more of those four more years."

Van Gundy said he began wrestling with the balance between job and family during the preseason, and told Riley after the regular-season opener at Memphis that they needed to talk about the future.

"I can't believe people have that big a problem actually believing that someone would actually want to spend time with their family," Van Gundy said. "I don't know why that's so hard for people to buy into."

Did the pressure of the job and his relative success at it factor in to his decision? I'm sure it did. But Van Gundy is right. Why can't our society accept that sometimes family actually may be important.

As a father of girls myself I can say he'll always be glad he had those four years.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

THE LION, the Witch and the Wardrobe is out, and A.O. Scott at the NYT likes it. Despite the Times's endorsement it's still probably worth seeing.

The latest trend? Canceling proms as decadent
Underlying the concern seems to be a widespread uncertainty about the coming-of-age ritual embodied in the modern prom - the $500 to $1,000 spent on dress, limo and parties before and after the actual event. It has become not uncommon for parents to sign leases for houses, where couples room together, for post-prom weekend events or for parents to authorize boat excursions in which under-age drinking is not just winked at but expected.

Trumping it all, of course, is the uncertainty about sex.

"Common parlance tells us that this is a time to lose one's virginity," Brother Hoagland and other administrators of Kellenberg High wrote in a letter to parents in March, warning them that the prom might be canceled unless parents stopped financing what, in effect, the school considered bacchanals. "It is a time of heightened sexuality in a culture of anything goes," the letter added. "The prom has become a sexual focal point. This is supposed to be a dance, not a honeymoon."

Six months after the initial letter, administrators canceled the prom by fiat, citing not just sex and alcohol use, but also what they described as materialism run amok.

You don't say.

Thursday, December 08, 2005


The library in Bartlett, TN (just outside Memphis) has decided, after a mayoral intervention, to put Jesus in their nativity scene. Oddly, they were going to have a nativity scene without the Child:
Brandi Chambless is one happy woman after hearing her nativity scene will be now allowed in the Bartlett Library. It took an order from Bartlett's mayor to put Christ back into this Christmas display. Chambless is thrilled, "It means so much and we're very thankful to the mayor for doing that." Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald heard the library had banned the religious figurines from a nativity display and would only allow barnyard animals to be shown.(emphasis added, nac)

Now how boneheaded is it to have a nativity scene with only barnyard animals?

A student athiest group at the University of Texas-San Antonio has organized a 'Porno for Bibles' exchange.

Mom and Dad must be very proud...and wondering why they're paying all this money for tuition.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005


The Catholic Church is preparing to cast limbo to oblivion:
The Roman Catholic Church is preparing to abolish limbo, the place between heaven and hell reserved for the souls of children who die before they have been baptised.

The Church's 30-member International Theological Commission yesterday began a week-long meeting to draw up a text for Pope Benedict XVI, which is expected to recommend dropping the concept from Church doctrine.

Limbo has been part of Catholic teaching since the 13th century and is depicted in paintings by artists such as Giotto and in literary works such as Dante's Divine Comedy.

The commission was first asked to study the after-life fate of the non-baptised by the late Pope John Paul II.

Pope Benedict is expected to approve the findings. In 1984, when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and the head of the Vatican's doctrinal department, he called limbo "a theological hypothesis".

"It is linked to the cause of original sin, but many babies die because they are victims," he said.

Now the reasoning for getting rid of limbo--well, I suppose other than the complete lack of Scriptural support for it--is fairly amusing:
More than six million children die of hunger every year in underdeveloped countries where the Church is keen to see its support continue to grow.

It is concerned that the concept of limbo may not impress potential converts.

The Church is aware that Muslims, for example, believe that all children go straight to heaven without passing any test.

Well, at least limbo will receive it's well deserved fate.

Monday, November 28, 2005


Who says money can't buy happiness? Well a couple of lotto winners might if they both weren't dead:
Virginia Metcalf Merida and her husband showed up at Kentucky Lottery headquarters in July 2000 with a $65.4 million winning Powerball ticket.

The couple refused dozens of interview requests but told lottery officials that they were going separate ways to fulfill lifelong dreams: Merida was quitting her job making corrugated boxes and planned to buy her own home. Her husband, forklift operator Mack Wayne Metcalf, announced plans to start a new life in Australia.

Five years later, both are dead.

Merida's son found her dead Thanksgiving eve at her home - overlooking the Ohio River - which she bought for $559,000 in 2000. Campbell County police said she had been dead in the custom-made geodesic dome home for days before anyone noticed.

Metcalf died in 2003 at age 45 while living in a replica of George Washington's Mount Vernon estate in Corbin, Ky. David Huff, who bought the home from Metcalf's estate, said the man died of multiple ailments.

"It was a classic case of a person who never had anything and didn't know how to handle it," Huff said. "I think things went from bad to worse when he got the money."

Police are awaiting autopsy results and accompanying toxicology reports to announce Merida's cause of death. Investigators said there were no signs that anyone forced his way into the 5,000-square-foot home in the 4300 block of Mary Ingles Highway.

Information gleaned from court records and acquaintances suggests that Merida, 51, and Metcalf didn't lead the life of happiness that their comments to lottery officials suggested they wanted.

The couple split the winnings of the $3 ticket bought at a Florence truck stop 60-40. After they opted to take a $34.1 million lump sum instead of annual installments over a lifetime, Merida took 40 percent, or $13.6 million, while Metcalf moved to Corbin with the remaining $20.5 million.

Merida continued to shun the spotlight and people's attention. Neighbors said she did that with success until December 2004, when a body was found in her home.

Campbell County Deputy Coroner Al Garnick confirmed that a man died of a drug overdose at the home, but he couldn't recall the person's name. Official records were unavailable because of the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Merida had used part of her winnings to buy a second home in Price Hill, but that too brought trouble. When she tried to evict the resident of the Hawthorne Avenue home, the renter brought suit against her in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. A hearing in the case is scheduled for Wednesday.

And that's not even all of it. Sounds like great fun, doesn't it?

Monday, November 21, 2005


Smithsonian Magazine has picked '35 Who Made a Difference', and at least one of them was an excellent choice. Fellow Kentuckian and friend Wendell Berry was chosen. I particularly enjoyed this description:
And in recent decades, he has produced a body of political thought, in a series of essays and speeches, that is so Jeffersonian it seems almost un-American in today's world.


(And congratulations!)

Sunday, November 20, 2005


The annual index of giving is out, and--surprise!--it's the Bible Belt that gives:
New Englanders remain among the most tightfisted in the country when it comes to charitable giving while Bible Belt residents are among the most generous, according to an annual index.

For the fourth year running, New Hampshire was the most miserly state, according to the Catalogue of Philanthropy's Generosity Index. Mississippi remained at the top for generosity.

The index, which takes into account both "having" and "giving," is based on average adjusted gross incomes and the value of itemized charitable donations reported to the Internal Revenue Service on 2003 tax returns, the latest available.

However, its methodology has been criticized and has helped give rise to new studies of charitable giving.

"We believe that generosity is a function of how much one gives to the ability one has to give," said Martin Cohn, a spokesman for the Catalogue for Philanthropy, a Boston-based nonprofit that publishes a directory of nonprofit organizations.

Using that standard, the 10 most generous states were, in descending order, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Utah, South Carolina and West Virginia.

The 10 stingiest, starting from the bottom, were New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Minnesota, Colorado, Hawaii and Michigan.

Hmmm. Religious people giving...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005


The Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has decided it's time to get tough on evangelical Christians:
Warning that the Evangelical right has made alarming gains in social and political influence, a leading Jewish church-state watchdog is calling for a tougher and more unified Jewish response.

Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, speaking to the group’s national leadership here last week, signaled a sharp shift in ADL policy by directly attacking several prominent religious right groups and challenging their motives, which he said include nothing less than “Christianizing America.”

Among the groups he cited were the powerful Focus on the Family ministry and the Family Research Council.

Foxman said as these groups seek to use the government to further their missionizing goal, Democrats and Republicans alike are “pandering” to the religious conservatives.

The ADL leader also called for a national Jewish summit to respond to the growing challenge.

Now, just curious, but what would be the response--particularly of the ADL--if there was a national Christian summit called to respond to the growing challenge of organized Jews? I'm sure they wouldn't have a problem with that at all...

The move continues to normalize unnatural sexual activity with a Massachusetts bill to soften the bestiality statute:
Four state legislators in Massachusetts have introduced a bill that would soften the crime of bestiality, a move pro-family activists say is a natural progression of the state's legalizing same-sex marriage....

A story in Boston's Weekly Dig describes the legislation, entitled "An Act Relative to Archaic Crimes."

"The bill would strike down several sections of the current penal code criminalizing adultery, fornication and the advertisement of abortion," the reported stated. "It also repeals what appears to be a sodomy statute forbidding 'abominable and detestable crime against nature, either with mankind or with a beast.'

"Archaic, indeed."

While the bill would keep bestiality technically illegal, it gives the option of less severe penalties. Previously, those convicted of "a sexual act on an animal" could receive up to 20 years in prison.

Once the gates are open anything can go through.

Monday, November 14, 2005


Archaeologists in Israel have found possible evidence of a biblical Goliath:
An Israeli researcher said he has made a Goliath of a find, the first archeological evidence suggesting the biblical story of David slaying the Philistine giant actually took place.

A shard of pottery unearthed in a decade-old dig in southern Israel carried an inscription in early Semitic style spelling "Alwat and "Wlt," likely Philistine renderings of the name Goliath, said Aren Maeir, who directed the excavation.

"This is a groundbreaking find," he said of the rust-coloured ceramic. "Here we have very nice evidence the name, Goliath, appearing in the Bible, in the context of the story of David and Goliath . . . is not some later literary creation."

Now that could be really big.

Sunday, November 13, 2005


The good folks at the New York Times are gearing up for the new Narnia movie in'The Narnia Skirmishes'. It's an irreverent take that attempts to minimize the movie, the books, the fans and, of course, C.S. Lewis himself as all a bit daft. Of course, the main irritant is all that Christianity. There's only so much a New York secularist can take, after all.

This is a tone setting article so if you want to see what the national media reaction to the movie will be read this. It will save you the time of reading all the hit pieces that are sure to come.

Friday, November 04, 2005


That's for you, parents, when it comes to your child's sexual education and, quite frankly, just about anything else, according to California's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The ruling, in response to a suit by concerned parents, is breathtaking in WorldNetDaily: Court: It doesits assertions:
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled yesterday against parents who sued their local school district after their elementary-age children were given a sexually charged survey, saying there is "no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children."

The three-judge panel of the full court further ruled that parents "have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students."

That last line is a nice one. Decisions not to enroll are looking better all the time. But the fact is if a court can say this then the fact is parents have no rights that extend beyond the convenience and agenda of the state. Be afraid.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005


Yet another name will be added to the pantheon of great children's writers. Joining her Kabbalist sister 'Esther' (aka, Madonna) Britney Spears (aka, 'Salome'?) is rumored to be writing a Kabbalah children's book. J.K. Rowling can hang it up now.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Ginia Bellafante has a profile on Dave Ramsey that's worth taking a look at.

I'm working on it, Dave!

Monday, October 31, 2005


It is appropros of the day that National Review takes a look at the 'religion' of Wicca, or witchcraft in an interview with Kathryn Lopez, author of a book on the subject.
When I asked five suburban Washington D.C.-area teenagers if any of them had Wiccan friends and they all raised their hands.
That ought to get your attention.

[Thanks to theosebes reader Mitch for the link.]

Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit has some very good thoughts on the issue of spousal notification as it relates to abortion. Theosebes generally avoids politics per se, but this topic has far reaching--life and death--consequences.:
As several people point out, that's going to be an issue with regard to Alito. I'm not sure what I think about this issue, but looking at the Pennsylvania statute I notice a lot of exceptions, one of which is this: "Her spouse is not the father of the child."

I'm not sure about Pennsylvania, but in many states her spouse -- even if he's not the father of the child -- would still be on the hook for child support. Likewise, if he didn't want children, but she disagreed, lied to him about birth control, and got pregnant. And he certainly couldn't force her to have an abortion if she did so, even if his desire not to have children was powerful, and explicitly expressed at the outset. (The usual response -- "he made his choice when he had sex without a condom" -- never comes up in discussions of women and abortion.)

So where's the husband's procreational autonomy? Did he give it up by getting married? And, if he did, is it unthinkable that when they get married women might give some of their autonomy up, too?

The problem here is that you can say "my body, my choice" -- but when you say, "my body, my choice but our responsibility," well, it loses some of its punch.

Of course, this merely helps expose the underlying reason for abortion in the first place: convenience and selfishness. (I'm speaking of the majority of abortions, not as it relates to legitimate life of the mother concerns.)

Friday, October 28, 2005


Just in time for Christmas, I guess, images of Jesus seem to be all over the news. He, apparently, is now appearing in a maple tree in Rochester, NY:
A tree outside the Hickey Freeman factory on North Clinton Avenue is getting a lot of attention because some say they see the image of Jesus in the bark and bare trunk.

Jim Holtz says he made the discovery early Monday morning. “I always look over in this direction and I saw the tree and I said am I seeing things. Then I came over to see if anybody had spray painted the tree. They didn't.”

Holtz was back Wednesday with camera in hand. So were scores of others who'd heard about this phenomenon.

People stopped their cars to stare, others walking by couldn't help but study the tree.

People say the face of jesus appears to be looking downward. Alex luzu can't believe it.

“It’s amazing. It looks like the same thing I saw in Florida. Cause in Florida...Tampa I seen the same thing. It’s real.”

So what does it mean? Why would the face of Jesus appear on a silver maple tree in front of the Hickey Freeman factory? Some believe it's a message. Deborah Lewis believes she can interpret the message. “I believe it's a meaning in the sense can't see Jesus, but in the sense that its showing that I am real...I'm coming back soon which is all known...He will be back.”

Theresa west believes it points to hickey-freeman's religious roots. She knows Jeremiah Hickey who ran the company for many decades. “I do think that he was one of the most religious men I have ever met.”

Mental note to wear a Hickey-Freeman suit while preaching. This seems to be a divine endorsement--forget Oxxford, Samuelsohn and Southwick. The Italians seem to be right out.

And what else would you expect a fish bone Jesus to bring other than, um, 'luck':
An Oklahoma couple who says a fish bone bears the image of Jesus is selling it on eBay.

The Newmans said they received the fish bone from a friend 10 years ago, and they've had good luck ever since.

Now, they said it's someone else's turn.

There is a legend that the type of fish the bone came from, a sailcat, was chosen by Jesus to remind people of what he went through.

The skeletal remains are now up for auction on eBay with a starting bid of $29.95.

Luck and profit--who knew?

Monday, October 24, 2005


A new textbook aims to teach Bible with no religion
As lead attorney for the American Jewish Congress, Marc Stern has been at the forefront of keeping religious activities out of public classrooms. But now he is singing the praises of a new textbook to introduce public school students to the Bible and its influence on culture.

I think they've done a very good job, and surprisingly so. It is very difficult to write a neutral textbook about something as freighted with meaning as the Bible," he said.

If "The Bible and Its Influence" is used as recommended by its publisher, there will be no grounds to sue, said Mr. Stern, who critiqued early drafts.

"Unless you believe that the Constitution requires that school districts teach the Bible only from the viewpoint of the most extreme biblical criticism, I don't see any plausible challenge to this textbook," he said.

"The Bible and Its Influence" is intended to introduce high school students to the Bible and show its impact on literature, art and social movements. It delves into biblical references in Shakespeare and "promised land" imagery in the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech. It can be used for an elective course or to supplement English or social studies.

Its editors argue that it is impossible to understand Western culture without knowing the Bible. They cite a guide to the Advanced Placement literature exam in which 60 percent of allusions were biblical, including "cast the first stone" and "Lot's wife."

Odd that all those people for hundreds of years would choose to pull so many allusions from that Bible thing. I wonder what would have motivated them to do that?

Friday, October 21, 2005


If you're in NYC anytime soon, it might be worth your time to visit the new illuminated manuscripts exhibit, many which have rarely or never been seen in public:
In many instances the show is a kind of glorious push-pull among text, decorated initials, discrete images and scrolling borders. Their tensions are most spectacular in a three-volume version of Guyart de Moulins's historical Bible, made in Paris in the 1330's with illuminations by five different artists. One volume is open to a panoramic image that shows King David praying to God from a canopied throne held aloft by angels. The world, spreading out beneath him, is seen from a God's-eye view, suggesting that David is nearly level with the Lord. But in many instances, drawing of a surprisingly offhand nature, rather than painting, does the illuminating. For example, on the frontispiece of the Harkness Gospels from 9th- or 10th-century Brittany, the four winged Evangelists and Christ in Majesty are indicated in skillful but almost cursory strokes that resemble pale watercolor. Even more cryptic is a nearby page from an early-14th-century English picture-book Apocalypse, in which an angel, descending to earth clothed as a cloud, is depicted as a pair of undulating lavender bands with a head and wings. It is not too far from this to the fevered visions of William Blake.

In several examples of "glossed" Gospels, we see what is more or less the birth of the footnote. The texts of the four Evangelists are annotated (or glossed) in smaller script that sometimes all but commandeers the page. For clarity, paragraphs are marked with little nodes in red or blue, or delineated by feathery lines that trail into the margins like delicate plants putting down roots.

The details are here.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


A Lexington, Mass dad charged with trespassing on school property will not face charges. The events that triggered his sit-in are downright shocking:
"My wife and I have religious beliefs that say to us it's a sin," David Parker said. He's referring to four pages in a book his 5-year-old son was given by his Massachusetts kindergarten teachers.

The book "Who's In a Family" — included in a "diversity book bag" for students at Estabrook Elementary School — is about all kinds of families, including multi-racial, single parent and, to Parker's chagrin, same-sex parents.

There are two main issues in this controversy, which are being debated far beyond the Estabrook school: Is teaching kids about gays and lesbians tolerance or propaganda? And how much control do parents have over what their children are taught?

In several conversations by phone, mail and e-mail, Parker asked teachers and officials at the school to notify him any time the subject of homosexuality was discussed in class.

"When affirmation and normalization of these lifestyles come up, parents want to know about [it] and have the option to opt out," he said.

Dr. Paul Ash, superintendent of Lexington Public Schools, said the school tried to be accommodating.

"The school department said, 'Look, we'll work with you, but we cannot assure you what a child is going to say and that we can immediately stop a discussion that you find objectionable,'" said Ash. "One of the central units in kindergarten is the discussion of families and we show families of all different types." Ash says the discussions "ended up in an irreconcilable difference."

After one meeting in April, Parker refused to leave the school without that assurance. He was arrested and, after refusing to post the $40 bail, he spent the night in jail.

I wonder if a child brought up Jesus how quickly they'd be able to stop the classroom discussion and allow kids to opt-out?

Apparently military chaplains have been discouraged from mentioning Jesus:
It was a First Amendment "flaps down" at the Air Force Academy when regulations were drafted to limit how Christian chaplains could interact with cadets. And since then, chaplains in all branches of the military have come forward with personal testimonies of how they are discouraged from mentioning the name of Jesus in prayer and ministry. Now Congress is stepping into the fray. North Carolina Congressman Walter Jones says they have turned to the President.

It's amazing how freedom of religion increasingly becomes simply freedom from it.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005


It is an interesting process to watch a societal--dare we say, a moral--problem move from hushed taboo to grudging acceptance to full acceptance and finally to celebrated occurrence. We've watched it with homosexuality as we have, um, 'progressed' to 'gay pride' parades, et al. Divorcees are jumping on the bandwagon with divorce parties:
With nearly half of all marriages ending before 'til death do us part, divorce has gone from a private shame to a peculiar rite of passage.

Even in the Muslim world, where divorce is still a disgrace, divorce parties offer a way for women to redeem themselves.

In Morocco, single men are invited to the party and they bring the woman perfume, money, even camels. The party lasts for three days or as long as it takes for the woman to find a new companion.

America may not have the camels, but we do have businesses that are cashing in on the breakup party circuit. sells all the fixings for a great bash. offers a divorce gift registry. And, thousands of copies of "How to Throw a Divorce or Breakup Party" have been sold.

Available at your local bookstore.

In the ongoing Dover, Pennsylvania case involving Intelligent Design ('ID') in the classroom, noted ID advocate Michael Behe testified in defense:
A biochemistry professor who is a leading advocate of “intelligent design” testified Monday that evolution alone can’t explain complex biological processes, and he believes God is behind them.

Lehigh University Professor Michael Behe was the first witness called by a school board that is requiring students to hear a statement about the intelligent design concept in biology class. Lawyers for the Dover Area School Board began presenting their case Monday in the landmark federal trial, which could decide whether intelligent design can be mentioned in public school science classes as an alternative to the theory of evolution.

Behe, whose work includes a 1996 best-seller called “Darwin’s Black Box,” said that students should be taught evolution because it’s widely used in science and that “any well-educated student should understand it.”

Behe, however, argued that evolution cannot fully explain the biological complexities of life, suggesting the work of an intelligent force.

As we'll keep asking, who is trying to stop debate and open inquiry in all of this?

Monday, October 17, 2005


Providing continuing fodder for weblog posts, Kabbalist Esther (aka, 'Madonna') speaks out on hell, priests and 'the beast':
The former Material Girl now believes "the beast is the modern world that we live in!"

"The material world. The physical world. The world of illusion, that we think is real. We live for it, we're enslaved by it. And it will ultimately be our undoing," Madonna explains in her new documentary film, I'M GOING TO TELL YOU A SECRET.

In the movie, which will premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City on Tuesday, Madonna warns how people "are going to go to hell, if they don't turn from their wicked behavior."

The singer, who is also promoting the upcoming release of her new music CD, declares: "Most priests are gay."

"I refer to an entity called 'The Beast'. I feel I am describing the world that we live in right now. To me 'The Beast' is the modern world that we live in."

Full commentary on Revelation to follow, which will likely be the first from a Kabbalist.

Saturday, October 15, 2005


Oh, the humanity! Steven Stough, who is suing the Dover (PA) School Board in hopes of stopping intelligent design from being taught in schools there, fears for his daughters psyche:
A parent who is among eight families suing to have "intelligent design" removed from a school district's biology curriculum said he feared his daughter wouldn't be accepted by other students because of her views.

Steven Stough, whose 14-year-old daughter is enrolled in high-school biology this year in the Dover Area School District, testified Friday that she would probably ask to be excused during the reading of the statement concerning intelligent design — unless the policy is overturned by the court.

Asked to describe the consequences she would suffer as a result of refusing to hear the statement, Stough said, "She's harmed by that because she's no longer part of the accepted school community."

Yes, I remember the shame I felt when I was excused from the classroom reading of the Pythagorean theorem way back when. We must--we must!--consider the effect on the children before we continue with such madness.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Don't do it!

Apparently some of these 'bloggers' out there are mixing faith and the Internet:
Nearly 600 years later, some think that increasingly popular Web logs — the Internet's version of personal journals, pamphleteering and issue forums all wrapped in one — combined with traditional religious beliefs could once again take people on a new, uncharted course.

In what appears to be a first of its kind, a small evangelical Christian college in Southern California on Thursday will open the God Blog Convention, a conference on Christian blogging.

Matt Anderson, a 23-year-old educator who works for Biola University, is coordinating the God Blog Convention. He said one of the goals of the conference is to see whether God, Christian-oriented blogging and politics are a good marriage, and if so, how they should match up.

Apparently theosebes' invitation to the conference was lost in the Internet ether.

A rich New Yorker is suing the Catholic Church because of past sexual abuse that caused him to become a homosexual:
A NEW YORK socialite who claims that he was molested by a priest as a child is to sue the Roman Catholic Church for £2.8 million, alleging that the ordeal made him grow up gay.

J. David Enright IV says that Father Joseph Romano sexually abused him at a Christian youth camp in the early 1960s, when he was seven years old, telling him that it was “a rite of passage”.

Were it not for the repeated assaults, which are said to have taken place behind a log cabin after evening prayers, Mr Enright, 51, is convinced that he would be straight.

“I believe that my life would be very different now. I’d probably be married, living in Greenwich with four children in boarding school,” he said.

“Romano bent my life.”

Mr Enright, a scion of two of New York’s most aristocratic families, who made his millions as an advertising executive for the Broadway production of 42nd Street, said that for years he kept his homosexuality private, dating women in the 1980s but secretly trawling for male companions. “I had a straight life in business, socially on Park Avenue and Fifth Avenue. Then there was the other world, slinking around in Greenwich Village gay bars, finding mates,” he said.

One imagines the homosexual interest groups will not be too pleased by Mr. Enright's perspective as to the cause of his homosexual behavior.

Just a word of congratulations to Kentuckian (hometown: Possum Trot) Robert Grubbs who has just (won the Nobel Prize in chemistry from a fellow Kentuckian (hometown: Fogertown).

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Newsweek has focused its eye on Mormonism, America's largest native born religion. This year marks the 200th anniversary of Joseph Smith's birth.

I'll also take this opportunity to link the valuable Lighthouse Ministry run by the Tanners, former Mormons themselves. Here's a quote they provide from a Joseph Smith sermon:
I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet...

No comment needed.

Monday, October 10, 2005


Noted Kabbalist Esther (stage name, 'Madonna' but that's sooo restrictively 'Christian') has cut a groovin' tribute to 16th Century Jewish mystic Yitzhak Luria for her new CD. Many do not cherish the move as not, um, kosher:
Rabbis who oversee Luria's tomb and a seminary in the northern town of Safed are unimpressed with Madonna's musical tribute and see the inclusion of the song about Luria on the album as an attempt by the pop star to profit from his name.

Rabbi Rafael Cohen, head of a seminary named after Luria, suggested Madonna's actions could lead to divine retribution.

"Jewish law forbids the use of the name of the holy rabbi for profit. Her act is just simply unacceptable and I can only sympathize for her because of the punishment that she is going to receive from the heavens," Cohen told the newspaper.

Another rabbi called for Madonna to be thrown out of the community.

"Such a woman brings great sin on kabbalah," Rabbi Israel Deri told Maariv. "I hope that we will have the strength to prevent her from bringing sin upon the holiness of the rabbi (Yitzhak Luria)."

Maybe she needs to say, like, a prayer about it. Apparently her latest fascination is forbidden love.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


Barbara Nicolosi has seen a preview of the new Lewis movie from Disney.

Worried yet?

Okay, she says don't worry:
But best of all, contrary to Peter Jackson's agenda-aversion manhandling of Tolkien's classic, here, the tone of LW&W is as close to the book as probably could have been achieved. All the lines the Christians are worrying about are in there. All the scenes you want to see are here and lovingly rendered. So everybody can relax and get ready to enjoy, and we can all take the Wonderful World of Disney back into our hearts -- and save the studio for 2005! Truly, our forgiveness is completely saving...

People particularly want to know if Aslan comes off as a Christ-figure, or just some warm and fuzzy magic lion. Well, I personally cried every moment Aslan was on the screen. But then, I walked in with my character development done by my Jesus thing. I so wanted to be Lucy and Susan, with their heads resting on his body on the stone table. I wonder if people who don't love Jesus will feel the same? So, I am going to say that Aslan is absolutely discernible as a figure of Jesus -- for those who have eyes to see.

To my wife and me who are debating whether to take our five year old daughter to see it she says this:
There was a discussion afterward as to what ages of children could see the film. People were saying 8 year olds could handle it fine. I agree. But I also think littler kids should go. I never buy into this idiocy that we are supposed to protect kids from our own faith story. I remember folks saying that about Prince of Egypt - that the scenes of the Israelites in slavery were too impressive for young kids. To borrow from Anne Lamott, I think this kind of weak-kneed semsitivity makes "Jesus want to go lap gin out of the cat bowl." The vision of Aslan getting shaved and killed is no harder to take than Jesus being scourged and crucified. A generation of children protected from these things breeds a generation of little unmotivated narcissists.

Bring your kids to see The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe! Bring them again! On opening weekend! This movie is deep magic.

Did I mention she likes it?

Friday, October 07, 2005


You are a

Social Conservative
(35% permissive)

and an...

Economic Conservative
(65% permissive)

You are best described as a:


Link: The Politics Test on OkCupid Free Online Dating
Also: The OkCupid Dating Persona Test

Mine turned out frighteningly like Jordana's.

Thursday, October 06, 2005


In an article on a creationist trip and an evolutionist trip down the Grand Canyon those loveable guys at the NYT give us this:
For Mr. Vail and 29 guests on his Canyon Ministries trip, this was vacation as religious pilgrimage, an expedition in search of evidence that God created the earth in six days 6,000 years ago, just as Scripture says. [emphasis mine, nac]

Um, you got a verse on that 6,000 year thing? No painting with broad strokes there.
...from The Onion.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


In an inexplicable lapse of judgment, an Irish bookmaker decided to run a billboard ad campaign showing Jesus gambling. They've now pulled the ads:
Ireland's largest bookmaker, Paddy Power PLC, withdrew a billboard campaign Wednesday that portrayed Jesus and his disciples at the Last Supper table — and playing poker and roulette alongside the slogan, "There's a place for fun and games."

The Dublin-based company was responding to legal threats from Ireland's Advertising Standards Authority, which reported receiving scores of complaints from the public in this predominantly Roman Catholic country.

At all 89 locations across Dublin, the offending billboards were replaced Wednesday with new Paddy Power ads that said: "There's a place for fun and games. Apparently this isn't it."

Frank Goodman, chief executive of the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland, said Paddy Power had breached its guidelines for taste, decency and religion. "This apparently has caused widespread offense," he said.

Apparently so.

I wonder if it would have been okay if He was shown playing bingo...

Without reference to the wisdom of President Bush's latest choice for the Supreme Court, the New York Times points us to the watershed moment in her life:
By 1979, Harriet E. Miers, then in her mid-30's, had accomplished what some people take a lifetime to achieve. She was a partner at Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely, one of the most prestigious law firms in the South, with an office on the 35th floor of the Republic National Bank Tower in downtown Dallas.

But she still felt something was missing in her life, and it was after a series of long discussions - rambling conversations about family and religion and other matters that typically stretched from early evening into the night - with Nathan L. Hecht, a junior colleague at the law firm, that she made a decision that many of the people around her say changed her life.

"She decided that she wanted faith to be a bigger part of her life," Justice Hecht, who now serves on the Texas Supreme Court, said in an interview. "One evening she called me to her office and said she was ready to make a commitment" to accept Jesus Christ as her savior and be born again, he said. He walked down the hallway from his office to hers, and there amid the legal briefs and court papers, Ms. Miers and Justice Hecht "prayed and talked," he said.

She was baptized not long after that, at the Valley View Christian Church.

It was a pivotal personal transformation for the woman now named for a seat on the United States Supreme Court, not entirely unlike that experienced by President Bush and others in the Texas political and business establishment of that time.

Ms. Miers, born Roman Catholic, became an evangelical Christian and began identifying more with Republicans than with the Democrats who had long held sway over Texas politics. She joined the missions committee of her church, which is against legalized abortion, and friends and colleagues say she rarely looked back at her past as a Democrat.

It's an intriguing story. Although one must wonder why it had no impact on her decision to head the Texas Lottery Board.

Monday, October 03, 2005


The Supreme Court refused to review a Colorado ruling that threw out a death sentence because the jury was unduly influenced by the Bible:
The justices declined to review a Colorado Supreme Court ruling that imposed a sentence of life imprisonment for Robert Harlan because jurors brought a Bible into the jury room and discussed the passage about an "eye for eye, tooth for tooth."

Without comment or recorded dissent, the nation's top court rejected an appeal by Colorado prosecutors who argued the introduction of the Bible into death penalty jury deliberations did not automatically violate the defendant's constitutional right to a fair trial.

Harlan was convicted and sentenced to death in 1995 for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a cocktail waitress who was on her way home from work at a casino. He also was convicted of shooting another woman who had given the waitress a ride.

According to the evidence, jurors brought a Bible, a Bible index and hand-written notes containing the location of passages into the jury room to share with another juror.

One passage stated: "Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him. And whoever kills an animal shall restore it, but whoever kills a man shall be put to death."

A trial judge overturned the death sentence after concluding that a reasonable possibility existed that use of the Bible would influence a typical juror to vote for the death penalty.

The Colorado Supreme Court agreed. "We can no longer say that Harlan's death sentence was not influenced by passion, prejudice or some other arbitrary factor," it ruled.

From a state's rights standpoint I can't much argue with their refusal to review it, but the court is awfully quick to support imaginary "rights" and awfully quick to pass over religious rights.

Included in yet another even-handed (cough, cough) New York Times article on evolution, religion and Intelligent Design was this interesting exchange between an attorney and a former member of the Dover (Pa.) School Board:
Under cross-examination by Patrick Gillen, a soft-spoken defense lawyer, Mrs. Brown was asked whether she recalled visiting the home of a board member and admiring a carving of the Last Supper.

"The Lord's Last Supper, yes sir," Mrs. Brown said. "I had never seen such a beautiful carving."

But she said she did not feel comfortable when the board member asked her if she was a born-again Christian. She also said she felt disturbed when another board member, who was among those most insistent about teaching creationism, drove her home from a meeting and asked the same question.

Suddenly, his manner changing, Mr. Gillen pounced: these were Mrs. Brown's friends, she was in their homes, in their cars, and she found it offensive to be asked about religion?

"Yes, I do, and I still do, sir," she said.

A bite in his voice, Mr. Gillen asked if she thought religion should not be discussed at all.

"I wouldn't presume to discuss religion within normal circumstances," she said, "except within my own family."

Mrs. Brown and her husband quit the board the night members voted 6 to 3 for intelligent design.

Okaaay. Talk about driving religion from the public sphere. Apparently some believe it should largely be driven from the private sphere as well. As those who support Intelligent Design in schools are continually portrayed as extremist kooks, we need to take note there is at the very least another form of kookery in opposition to all things religious.

Friday, September 30, 2005


An amateur archaeologist claims to have found the ancient island home of Odysseus:
Homer’s legendary hero Odysseus wandered for 10 years in search of his island kingdom, Ithaca. Now, a British amateur archaeologist claims to have ended the ancient quest to locate the land described in “The Odyssey.”

Although the western Greek island of Ithaki is generally accepted as the Homeric site, scholars have long been troubled by a mismatch between its location and geography and those of the Ithaca described by Ancient Greece’s greatest poet.

Robert Bittlestone, a management consultant, said Thursday that the peninsula of Paliki on the Ionian island of Cephallonia, near Ithaki, was the most likely location for Odysseus’ homeland. He said geological and historic evidence suggested that Paliki used to form a separate island before earthquakes and landslides filled in a narrow sea channel dividing it from Cephallonia.

Some scholars are backing the theory. It's interesting how reliable many of these ancient documents are.

Thursday, September 29, 2005


From today's Corrections at the New York Times:
The About New York column yesterday, about an imagined conversation with God at a Manhattan diner, referred incorrectly to the Bible to which the thickness of the menu was likened. It is the King James Version, not St. James.

Oh my.

(Thanks to the guys at Power Line for this one.)

The new president of the Dartmouth Student Assembly made a surprising, but unsurprisingly unpopular, statement recently:
What happened was a convocation welcoming the freshman class to Dartmouth College. The student president traditionally speaks at these convocations, and this time it was the young man from Louisville, Ky., who uttered what turned out to be an inflammatory couple of sentences. He told the freshmen that the mere imparting of knowledge is less than what a college education should seek to do for students. The development of character is the higher goal.

"Character," said [Noah] Riner, "has a lot to do with sacrifice, laying our personal interests down for something bigger. The best example of this is Jesus. ... He knew the right thing to do. He knew the cost would be agonizing torture and death. He did it anyway. That's character."

Of course, the Ivy Leaguers weren't going to let that pass:
That violation of secularist decorum brought on great indignation. A petition drive against the young student body president is contemplated. A vice president of the Student Assembly wrote to him, "I consider your choice of topic for the convocation speech reprehensible and an abuse of power. You embarrass the organization, you embarrass yourself." A sophisticated defense was tendered by a Jewish student who wrote, "Many of us in the Dartmouth community proudly disagree with that and other aspects of Riner's religious beliefs, but our disagreements do not give us the right to limit his speech."

Mr. Buckley finds a connection with Mr. Riner's reception at Dartmouth and the current attacks on Intelligent Design:
The planted axiom being encouraged by the secular community is that an acknowledgment of biological evolution not only acquiesces in scientific certitudes, it cannot coexist with any thought of intelligent design. And this is true no matter how many metaphors are introduced ("We don't mean Noah actually got all living creatures into an ark ...") to concede the morganatic difference between intelligent design and Darwinian evolution.

Anyone can have free long as you agree with the right people, which happens to be the secular left.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Some words for preachers:

[Y]ou can mark it down: God will hide from you much of your fruit. You will see enough to be assured of its blessing, but not so much as to think you could live without it. For God aims to exalt Himself, not the preacher, in this affair of preaching.

From John Piper's The Supremacy of God in Preaching, p. 23.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Some are calling the showdown over Intelligent Design and evolution in Dover, Pa Scopes II. After the Dover school board voted to allow presentation of alternative explanations to evolution a group of parents has sued:
With the new political empowerment of religious conservatives, challenges to evolution are popping up with greater frequency in schools, courts and legislatures. But the Dover case, which begins Monday in Federal District Court in Harrisburg, is the first direct challenge to a school district that has tried to mandate the teaching of intelligent design.

What happens here could influence communities across the country that are considering whether to teach intelligent design in the public schools, and the case, regardless of the verdict, could end up before the Supreme Court.

Dover, a rural, mostly blue-collar community of 22,000 that is 20 miles south of Harrisburg, had school board members willing to go to the mat over issue. But people here are well aware that they are only the excuse for a much larger showdown in the culture wars.

"It was just our school board making one small decision," Mrs. Hied said, "but it was just received with such an uproar."

The way our courts are I don't expect ID to do too well in the suit. But perhaps it will continue to be a wakeup call for those who are tired of being pushed around by the ACLU and their allies.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Just what are those? Why anything scientists say they are, of course. Well, until someone disproves them. But in the meantime you are not allowed to question them especially if you're [shudder]religious[/shudder]. Museums, challenged by creationists, are fighting back:
Lenore Durkee, a retired biology professor, was volunteering as a docent at the Museum of the Earth here when she was confronted by a group of seven or eight people, creationists eager to challenge the museum exhibitions on evolution.

They peppered Dr. Durkee with questions about everything from techniques for dating fossils to the second law of thermodynamics, their queries coming so thick and fast that she found it hard to reply.

After about 45 minutes, "I told them I needed to take a break," she recalled. "My mouth was dry."

That encounter and others like it provided the impetus for a training session here in August. Dr. Durkee and scores of other volunteers and staff members from the museum and elsewhere crowded into a meeting room to hear advice from the museum director, Warren D. Allmon, on ways to deal with visitors who reject settled precepts of science on religious grounds.[emphasis added, nac]

So the troops are being trained on how to deal with those pesky and oh so unreasonable creationists. A pamphlet has even been written:
When talking to visitors about evolution, the pamphlet advises, "don't avoid using the word." Rehearse answers to frequently asked questions, because "you'll be more comfortable when you sound like you know what you're talking about."


Monday, September 19, 2005

(and some guy named Alexander, too)

Archaeologists are finally getting around to excavating the ancient city of Patara:Now, after literally centuries of neglect, teams of Turkish and German archaeologists have been working under the hot sun of this small Mediterranean seacoast town, uncovering some of its treasures.

Among them, liberated from the many hundreds of truckloads of sand that covered it, is the actual Parliament building where the elected representatives of the Lycian League met. It has rows of stone seats arranged in a semicircle, like the chambers of the U.S. Congress.

Its stone-vaulted main entrances are intact, and so is the thronelike perch where the elected Lyciarch, the effective president of the League, sat.
Fun stuff.

I was looking over the Pew Trust's recent poll on American views of religion, particularly the questions relating to evolution. Here's their box:

Now as it's worded, I would have a hard time choosing the pro-creation/non-evolution option. Has life continued on earth in its present form since the beginning of time? Could anyone really answer 'yes' to that?

First, of course, you have all the extinct species, including dinosaurs. Well, that's a pretty big change. Then you also have various micro-evolutionary changes. When we talk about humans, for example, one who holds to a Biblical understanding of creation would have to see the division of humans into distinct genetic races (I realize this can be a fluid thing, but people from Norway don't look like people from China who don't look like people from Nigeria) as a micro-evolutionary development that differs from life in Eden. Recognizing the reality of that as well as other micro-evolutionary changes (dogs into distinct breeds, etc.) does not mean an endorsement of Darwinian evolution, but neither does it mean that life has continued unchanged since the beginning of time. What this shows more than anything else is the prevailing caricature of those who don't endorse Darwinian evolution even from places like the Pew Trust.

Write better questions and get more accurate results.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005


The Onion has discovered a new trend that hits close to home here in Alabama,the rise of home-churched kids:
BIRMINGHAM, AL—A new trend in the religious upbringing of children has recently emerged in the heart of the Bible Belt. "Home-churching," the individual, family-based worship of Jesus Christ, is steadily gaining in popularity, as more parents seek an alternative to what they consider the overly humanist content of organized worship.

Norville Tucker, who moved his family to the woods outside Shelby, AL in 1998 to "escape the damaging cultural influences of urban Mobile," is widely credited with pioneering the home-churching movement. Tucker said he was inspired to home-church when his 10-year-old son Macon returned from Sunday school singing a lighthearted song about Zacchaeus, a tax collector befriended by Christ, and then later recited the parable of the Good Samaritan.

"I couldn't believe that the liberal elite had infiltrated even the study of our Holy Scriptures," Tucker said. "It was bad enough that my youngsters were being taught evolution in public schools, but when I discovered they were learning to embrace foreigners and Big Government in Sunday school, I drew the line."

It sounds that the need is dire, indeed...

[Thanks to Sean for the tip.]

Tuesday, September 13, 2005


A Ten Commandments display ordered removed by a Federal court is for sale on ebay:
Thou shalt not bid less than $52,000.

That's how much Ten Commandments-Georgia would like to raise for the controversial Decalogue that was ordered removed this summer from a breezeway in the Barrow County Courthouse in Winder. The plaque is now up for auction on eBay.

The group, a nonprofit committed to putting replicas of the tablets from Mount Sinai on public buildings throughout the state, opened bidding Sunday evening. By Monday afternoon, the plaque had attracted 41 bids with the latest at more than $1,500. Bidding closes on Sept. 21.

"We've been told it could raise as high as $20,000, if not $40,000," said Mike Griffin, executive director of Ten Commandments-Georgia....

The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit in 2003 to get the plaque removed. In July, Senior U.S. District Court Judge William C. O'Kelley ordered the plaque taken down. The county complied and decided not to appeal.

Now I confess I'm interested that they are 'putting replicas of the tablets from Mount Sinai on public buildings'. Just exactly what are they basing these 'replicas' on--the tablets Charleton Heston had?

Episcopalian author Os Guinness has blasted his co-religionists as 'kissing Judases':
Christian apologist and author Dr. Os Guinness blasted the Episcopal Church telling several hundred persons at a Kairos Awards dinner that among mainline denominations it was the worst and most extreme capitulation to the spirit of the age in its abject surrender to the sexual mores of the modern world.

Calling them “kissing Judases” (from Soren Kierkegaard) -- followers of Jesus betray him with an interpretation. Guinness ripped the ECUSA saying, "we have seen a troubling growth of those who bend every nerve to reach successive generations of the cultured despisers of the Gospel: and then join them and become like them and no longer faithful to Jesus Christ. Some have surrendered to Enlightenment ideas, and become skeptics about God’s sovereignty, or skeptics about human sin, or skeptics about the possibility of the supernatural and any world beyond the here and now."

Guinness, an Episcopalian who attends The Falls Church in Northern Virginia, said that at one level, the result was an Alice in Wonderland church in which Christian leaders now openly deny what all Christians have believed and many have died to defend; Christian leaders who celebrate what their faith once castigated; Christian leaders who advance views closer to their foes than to their founder; and Christian leaders who deny the faith, but stay on shamelessly as leaders of the faith they deny.

Well, can't say I can argue with him.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Quote of the day:
"don't make it illegal for us to look at your underage daughters and then dress your underage daughters up like whores for us to look at."

What some fathers let their daughters wear is beyond me. Fathers (they're guys, remember?) really ought to know better.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will veto a 'gay' 'marriage' bill in California:
Schwarzenegger said the legislation, given final approval Tuesday by lawmakers, would conflict with the intent of voters when they approved an initiative five years ago. Proposition 22 was placed on the ballot to prevent California from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states or countries.

“We cannot have a system where the people vote and the Legislature derails that vote,” the governor’s press secretary, Margita Thompson, said in a statement. “Out of respect for the will of the people, the governor will veto (the bill).”

Proposition 22 stated that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The bill to be vetoed by Schwarzenegger would have defined marriage as a civil contract between “two persons.”

I was somewhat amused by the next line in the article:
In Massachusetts, recognition of gay marriages came through a court ruling.

Well of course it did.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


Time was when you simply had to take someone's word if they told you that a child was yours--but no more! Now you can get a home DNA test in order to confirm that nagging question of paternity. That golddigger won't pull the wool over your eyes!

Yes, this is what our Jerry Springer society has come to. How do I know about the wonderful world of home DNA testing? Apparently there is enough of a demand for it that they're running radio spots for them. The one I heard begins the same way this post does (minus the golddigger line). *sigh*

Monday, September 05, 2005


As the storms of life arise, one can still focus on the important things:
Amid the tragedy, about two dozen people gathered in the French Quarter for the Decadence Parade, an annual Labor Day gay celebration. Matt Menold, 23, a street musician wearing a sombrero and a guitar slung over his back, said: "It's New Orleans, man. We're going to celebrate."

Decadence, indeed.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


In the midst of human misery it is often the loss of a symbol that speaks the strongest. According to reports Beauvoir the Biloxi retirement home of Jefferson Davis has been reduced to rubble and a frame, the Presidential library gutted. The home needs friends more than ever.

On my one trip to Biloxi several years ago I remember how proudly it stood looking out over the Gulf coast in stark contrast to the floating casino just down the coastal road. Let us hope at least as much attention is paid to its restoration as is to rebuilding those casinos.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005


According to the good *cough* folks at the United Nations the focus on abstinence by the US hurts the fight against AIDS:
The U.S. government's emphasis on abstinence-only programs to prevent AIDS is hobbling Africa's battle against the pandemic by downplaying the role of condoms, a senior U.N. official said on Monday.

Stephen Lewis, the U.N. secretary general's special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, said fundamentalist Christian ideology was driving Washington's AIDS assistance program known as PEPFAR with disastrous results, including condom shortages in Uganda....

Many health experts say condoms are the most effective bulwark against AIDS.

Really? I'd be willing to take my odds using abstinence against your odds using condoms with HIV infected partners any day.

Monday, August 29, 2005


A new study has found that coffee is one of the best sources of healthy antioxidants: Coffee not only helps clear the mind and perk up the energy, it also provides more healthful antioxidants than any other food or beverage in the American diet, according to a study released Sunday....

The findings by Joe A. Vinson, a chemistry professor at the University of Scranton, in Pennsylvania, give a healthy boost to the warming beverage.

“The point is, people are getting the most antioxidants from beverages, as opposed to what you might think,” Vinson said in a telephone interview.
On cup #2 right now. (I know, I know--call me a health nut.)

Monday, August 22, 2005


What kind of shorts should I wear to work? Why, the same ones I wear to church, of course:
Just as one of the hottest summers in years started to sizzle, a Peoria, Ill.-based insurer took a bold step for a conservative company in a staid industry: It let its employees wear shorts to the office.

Not just any shorts on any day, mind you. They must be the type worn to church or the boss' barbecue, according to RLI Corp. Vice President Mike Quine, and the temperature has to be at least 90. [emphasis added, nac]

Ah. I see.

You'll be surprised to find that a lot of people America are not only spiritual, but even religious. You can even take a poll on your spirituality.

Apparently the Times is doing a series on Intelligent Design. Take a look at In Explaining Life's Complexity, Darwinists and Doubters Clash.

The New York Times has a fairly interesting (and lengthy) background article on the Discovery Institute, the organization behind the 'teach the controversy' movement in public schools recently endorsed by President Bush: Politicized Scholars Put Evolution on the Defensive. The Times clearly is no fan of the group, but the article is, for them, pretty even-handed.

A North Carolina judge has said no to the Koran in North Carolina courts:
Chief District Court Judge Joseph Turner says taking an oath on the Koran is not allowed by North Carolina state law, which specifies that witnesses shall place their hands on the “holy scriptures,” which he interprets as the Christian Bible.

“We’ve been doing it that way for 200 years,” he said. “Until the legislature changes that law, I believe I have to do what I’ve been told to do in the statutes.”

But the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the American Civil Liberties Union are challenging the Guilford County Courts.

“This was the first time that we had a judge … going on record and stating unilaterally what is a holy scripture and what is not — what we believe to be a violation of the establishment clause,” said Arsalan Iftikhar of CAIR.

Their case is solid, according to one Duke University law professor.

“I have absolutely no doubt that higher courts, if it gets there, will say that persons of Muslim faith can swear on a Koran rather than a Christian Bible,” said Erwin Chemerinsky. “The case law is so clear here that a person doesn’t even have to swear on a Bible to be a witness so long as they’re willing to promise to tell the truth.”

I'm Judge Turner's ruling won't last long.

Friday, August 19, 2005


The Smithsonian says no open discourse here:
Evolutionary biologist Richard Sternberg made a fateful decision a year ago.

As editor of the hitherto obscure Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, Sternberg decided to publish a paper making the case for "intelligent design," a controversial theory that holds that the machinery of life is so complex as to require the hand -- subtle or not -- of an intelligent creator.

Within hours of publication, senior scientists at the Smithsonian Institution -- which has helped fund and run the journal -- lashed out at Sternberg as a shoddy scientist and a closet Bible thumper.

"They were saying I accepted money under the table, that I was a crypto-priest, that I was a sleeper cell operative for the creationists," said Steinberg, 42 , who is a Smithsonian research associate. "I was basically run out of there."

An independent agency has come to the same conclusion, accusing top scientists at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History of retaliating against Sternberg by investigating his religion and smearing him as a "creationist."

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel, which was established to protect federal employees from reprisals, examined e-mail traffic from these scientists and noted that "retaliation came in many forms . . . misinformation was disseminated through the Smithsonian Institution and to outside sources. The allegations against you were later determined to be false."

Ah, smears against dissenters. Investigating someone's religious beliefs. Reprisals from a govermental agency. No, Establishment Science isn't afraid of the free exchange of ideas at all.

[Thanks to ol' Wild Bill yet again.]

Update: COTB examines the cycle of attack and deny employed by the Scientific Establishment.

More at NRO.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005


From the Sydney Morning HeraldLife's origin: Darwinism fights it out with dogma. I sure am glad that Darwinists aren't dogmatic.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Self-noted attorney and president of his very own college (Patrick Henry College Farris U.) Michael P. Farris has been challenged by the Purcellville Church of Christ to a doctrinal debate on the issue of baptism. Apparently they sent this letter (in pdf format) to Farris, whose college debate team even beat Oxford. Surely he could handle a bunch of heretics, but I guess he's too busy enforcing non-disclosure agreements.

By the way, I thought this headline captured the Hunley situation well: Christian College Fires Man For Being a Christian.

(Again, thanks to theosebes reader Wild Bill.)

Friday, August 12, 2005


But a recent study has shown more social scientists than natural scientists believe in God:
About two-thirds of scientists believe in God, according to a new survey that uncovered stark differences based on the type of research they do.

The study, along with another one released in June, would appear to debunk the oft-held notion that science is incompatible with religion.

Those in the social sciences are more likely to believe in God and attend religious services than researchers in the natural sciences, the study found.

The opposite had been expected.

Nearly 38 percent of natural scientists -- people in disciplines like physics, chemistry and biology -- said they do not believe in God. Only 31 percent of the social scientists do not believe....

Some stand-out stats: 41 percent of the biologists don't believe, while that figure is just 27 percent among political scientists.

In separate work at the University of Chicago, released in June, 76 percent of doctors said they believed in God and 59 percent believe in some sort of afterlife.

Yes, like those doing the study I would have expected the opposite, too.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


While at my desk last week I had Rush Limbaugh on in the background when I noticed he was talking to a caller about homosexuality and civil rights. While opposing the radical homosexual rights agenda it seems that Rush has made a critical concession on the issue. Rush began by saying hardly anyone he knows believes homosexuality is a choice. Of course, that recalls Pauline Kael's reaction to Richard Nixon's 1972 victory over George McGovern "How can that be? No one I know voted for Nixon." That simply says a great deal about who you know rather than what the majority of people believe (and especially what might actually be true). Rush was saying in a diplomatic way, he doesn't believe it's a choice, either. He then extrapolated to say that something that isn't a choice couldn't really be categorized as moral or immoral.

What this line of reasoning masks is a critical distinction that the homosexual rights lobby has long sought to blur. Homosexuality, they wish us to accept, is what you are, not what you do. Now, do some people have a proclivity that causes homosexual behavior to be a temptation? Possibly. I couldn't really argue it either way.

Now, do some people have a proclivity that causes drunkenness to be a temptation? I would say that's probably the case. We open the door to a nature vs. nurture argument, of course, but that's not what I'm interested in here. It is generally accepted societally--and based on Biblical strictures, morally--that drunkenness is not desirable. Is drunkenness a choice? Sure. If you don't want to be drunk, don't drink. Do some people struggle with this more than others? For whatever reason, yes, some clearly do. Now think, what do you struggle with in your life that others you know may not struggle with?

Let us return to homosexuality. Obviously it is a genuine temptation for many people. But again, each of us struggles to bring various areas of our life in line with that perfect Image of God, Christ. That one can stop practicing homosexuality is quite clear, just as one can stop practicing any other form of sexual immorality such as run of the mill fornication or adultery. What do we say to the philanderer who must move from woman to woman because one woman--his wife--simply is not satisfying to him? Well, we tell him he must stop such behavior. In 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 Paul addresses those in Corinth who had given up various sins:

9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,

10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

11 Such were some of you; but you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.

All of these--and I've highlighted some we have discussed here--are actions one chooses to engage in. Through Jesus Christ we can choose not to.

But, we hear, what about those who have sexual desires that can only be fulfilled through homosexual behavior? Well, what about them? I suppose they will have to have those desires left unfulfilled (Matthew 19:12). I'm not talking about trying to convert them into a happily married man or woman. Perhaps they will never have that, but we must get beyond defining our identity solely by our sexuality. But there are advantages to remaining unmarried as Paul discusses in 1 Corinthians 7:32-35.

Some teachings are hard, and do require the sacrifice of unchecked sensual pleasures. But our Creator has both a perfect understanding of his Creation and of His own holy nature, which from the beginning we are expected to reflect. We are unqualified to question Him on either.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


"The man who is called Jesus made clay, and anointed my eyes, and said to me, 'Go to Siloam and wash'; so I went away and washed, and I received sight." (John 9:11)

Workers in Jerusalem have accidentally uncovered the Biblical pool of Siloam:
Workers repairing a sewage pipe in the Old City of Jerusalem have discovered the biblical Pool of Siloam, a freshwater reservoir that was a major gathering place for ancient Jews making religious pilgrimages to the city and the reputed site where Jesus cured a man blind from birth, according to the Gospel of John.

The pool was fed by the now famous Hezekiah's Tunnel and is "a much grander affair" than archeologists previously believed, with three tiers of stone stairs allowing easy access to the water, said Hershel Shanks, editor of the Biblical Archaeology Review, which reported the find Monday.

"Scholars have said that there wasn't a Pool of Siloam and that John was using a religious conceit" to illustrate a point, said New Testament scholar James H. Charlesworth of the Princeton Theological Seminary. "Now we have found the Pool of Siloam … exactly where John said it was."

A gospel that was thought to be "pure theology is now shown to be grounded in history," he said.

And how about that.

Jeremy Hunley thought he had a job in a great place, lots of religious people committed to Christ who were focused on teaching home schooled kids. He found out otherwise when he was fired by President Michael P. Farris of Patrick Henry College for inviting these religious people to the church he attends. You see the catch is, Hunley and other members at the Purcellville Church of Christ believe that baptism is essential for salvation. President Farris was unwilling to agree to disagree:
College administrators told Hunley, a member of the Church of Christ, that the belief put him at odds with the school's statement of faith, which he was required to sign before taking the job. According to the 10-point document, salvation is found only through faith in Jesus Christ.

Patrick Henry was founded in 2000 to be an Ivy League-type college aimed at attracting academically gifted home-schoolers. The school's president talks unabashedly of birthing a new generation of conservative leaders who will reclaim the country from years of liberal sway. It is a bold mission that has attracted national attention....

The college's president and founder, Michael P. Farris -- a lawyer, home-schooling advocate and Baptist minister -- insisted that the opposite is true. He said Hunley's forced resignation is proof that the school will not compromise on the fundamental religious beliefs that drive its mission and ultimately will determine its success.

"One of the most common questions I'm asked as I promote the college to people is, 'How are you going to prevent Patrick Henry from becoming like Harvard, which started off as a strong Christian school and look at it today?' " he said. "I think for better or for worse, the battle with Jeremy Hunley was one of our first tests of whether we're going to stick to what we believe or not."

Of course, I'm one of those crazies who attends a church of Christ as well--and while there's no exact wording in the article--but I think could agree to a statement that "salvation is found only through faith in Jesus Christ" (hey, I'll sign up for John 3:16 if Mr. Farris will go along with Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, 1 Peter 3:21, oh, and James 2:24). Apparently Mr. Hunley felt he could sign such a statement as well:
Hunley said the wording of the school's statement could be interpreted to encompass his views. Administrators disagreed.

So, apparently we have Patrick Henry Baptist College. That's fine, but it also seems that while Patrick Henry isn't really interested in employing Mr. Hunley, they are quite willing to take the money of those who attend churches of Christ. You see, Mr. Farris not only fired Mr. Hunley, but he took him to court as well:
At Hunley's court hearing, Farris read letters from members of the [I assume, Mr. Hunley's-nac] church, who wrote to say they were withholding support from the college based on the librarian's allegations.

You see, Mr. Hunley was forced to sign a confidentiality agreement in order to receive needed severance pay. Farris contended that Hunley broke the agreement, and used the letters from members of churches of Christ withholding support to prove it! You wouldn't think he would want their tainted money. Next thing they might be just like Harvard, you know.

So what does Farris (I hate to associate an honorable man like the actual Patrick Henry with these actions) get out of this other than stroking his ego? Possibly not what he wants, which is mainstream acceptance:
Farris's school needs acceptance from the mainstream halls of power if it is to fulfill its ambitious agenda, said Mark J. Rozell, a political science professor at George Mason University. That is what the school risks when it engages in a public doctrinal dispute with a former employee, said Rozell, who wrote a book on the religious right in Virginia, devoting a chapter to Farris's unsuccessful run for lieutenant governor in 1993.

"He's been very open about his goal to make this institution politically powerful," Rozell said of Farris. "If he wants the place to be a more powerful player, it has to be a little more open. It's hard to broaden the reach and the political impact by taking a very narrow line theologically."

Some years ago I spoke with my friend and home schooling guru Martin Cothran about the need for higher education for home schooled kids, something that understood their goals and priorities. One would hope that Patrick Henry College might have been such a place, but I know of at least three homeschooled kids whose father will see to it that they don't go to Farris U.

[Some Wilder Thoughts on the issue.]

Monday, August 08, 2005


Perhaps. An Israeli archaelogist is making claims:
An Israeli archaeologist says she has uncovered in East Jerusalem what may be the fabled palace of the biblical King David. Her work has been sponsored by a conservative Israeli research institute and financed by an American Jewish investment banker who would like to prove that Jerusalem was indeed the capital of the Jewish kingdom described in the Bible.

We shall see what becomes of it. The usual crowd of Biblical skeptics are, well, skeptical.

[Thanks to Ferrell Jenkins for the link.]

The Ron Howard led filming of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code has gone top secret:
"Da Vinci," set for release in May, is shaping up as one of the movie world's more complicated exercises - so much so that Sony has dropped a scrim of secrecy over the affair, refusing to discuss anything but the barest details. The script has been closely controlled. Outsiders have been banned from the set. And those associated with the film have had to sign confidentiality agreements.

"There isn't a hidden agenda, there isn't any secrecy, it's just because it's so well known," said Geoffrey Ammer, Sony's president of worldwide marketing, explaining the low profile. "They've got a job to do to make the movie. It was easier for everybody to just go make the movie."

But executives and others connected with the project acknowledge that their silence is also a measure of concern about the potentially incendiary nature of the subject matter. The book, which is fiction, takes aim at central Christian dogma, claiming that Jesus had a child with Mary Magdalene, who was meant to be his true heir. It alleges an enormous coverup by the Roman Catholic Church, which, according to the book, usurped Mary's place in favor of a male-oriented hierarchy that has suppressed what Mr. Brown calls the "sacred feminine."

Now what on earth would these good folks have to hide?

Daughter number two turned three years old on Sunday. That's her hamming it up with the birthday cake her mom made her, complete with edible baby Moses in the bulrushes. (She has a baby doll she dubbed 'Baby Moses'.) She was thrilled to be able to eat baby Moses's head.

Monday night will be the first night with no pacifier. We'll see how that goes.