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!