Friday, January 28, 2005


On the heels of Rolling Stone accepting an ad for the Today's New International Version, Lifeway Christian bookstores refuse to carry it:
The Rolling Stone Magazine reversed its decision not to air an advertisement for the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) of the Bible earlier this week, but the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC)-affiliated Lifeway Christian Resources has not yet changed its decision to keep the edition out of its 122 bookstores because of the version’s gender-neutral translations.

The controversy over the International Bible Society (IBS) and Zondervan Publishing House’s TNIV began in 2002 when initial publishing began. Fundamentals and evangelicals rejected the version’s rendering of male terms like “son” and “father” into the gender neutral “child” and “parent”, respectively.

The initial plan was to update the NIV itself, but Zondervan pulled back after criticism. The issuing of the TNIV was a dodge of their pledge to leave the NIV alone. So maybe an ad appearing in Rolling Stone isn't out of place at all.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


Long held by experts to be a medieval fake, a new study argues the famed The New York Times > Science > Shroud of Turin is old enough to be genuine:
he Shroud of Turin is much older than the medieval date that modern science has affixed to it and could be old enough to have been the burial wrapping of Jesus, a new analysis concludes.

Since 1988, most scientists have confidently concluded that it was the work of a medieval artist, because carbon dating had placed the production of the fabric between 1260 and 1390.

In an article this month in the journal Thermochimica Acta, Dr. Raymond N. Rogers, a chemist retired from Los Alamos National Laboratory, said the carbon dating test was valid but that the piece tested was about the size of a postage stamp and came from a portion that had been patched.

"We're darned sure that part of the cloth was not original Shroud of Turin cloth," he said, adding that threads from the main part of the shroud were pure linen, which is spun from flax.

The threads in the patched portion contained cotton as well and had been dyed to match.

From other tests, he estimated that the shroud was between 1,300 and 3,000 years old.

Regardless of age, the shroud is a fraud simply based on a reading of the pertinent Biblical passages. Still, the dating is passingly interesting.

After accepting an ad for the "Today's NIV" Bible, then rejecting it and sending the check back, Rolling Stone has decided Zondervan's money is green, too:
After initially rejecting an advertisement for a new, highly promoted translation of the Bible, Rolling Stone magazine has reversed course and decided to run it.

The ad for Zondervan's new Bible, called Today's New International Version, will appear in the magazine's Feb. 24 edition.

"We're thrilled that they've decided to accept our ad for the TNIV," Doug Lockhart, Zondervan's executive vice president of marketing, said Tuesday.

The music magazine, which has 1.2 million readers, sent the nation's largest Bible publisher a contract accepting the half-page ad for the issue, which hits newsstands Feb. 11.

Zondervan received the contract Monday from Rolling Stone publisher Wenner Media LLC without any explanation for its change of heart, Lockhart said.

"Internal miscommunications" have been corrected, according to Rolling Stone.

The counterculture message of the the Bible again infiltrates the cultural establishment.

Monday, January 24, 2005


A study has found that "church-going Americans" have grown "increasingly intolerant", well that's certainly what the Reuters headline yells at you. But what have they grown intolerant of?
Church-going Americans have grown increasingly intolerant in the past four years of politicians making compromises on such hot issues as abortion and gay rights, according to a survey released on Saturday.

At the same time, those polled said they were growing bolder about pushing their beliefs on others -- even at the risk of offending someone.[emphasis added]

Is it unreasonable for church-going Americans to be upset at constantly being played the fool in American politics? I'm a little intolerant of that, too.

Friday, January 21, 2005


One of last year's movies that wanted to see, but never got around to, was Luther starring Joseph Fiennes. It's now out on DVD and my wife and I watched it last night. I must say, I was quite impressed. Obviously there is a lot of complexity that cannot be adequately shown in two hours, but the points were clearly made. I'm sure Catholics would feel church abuses were shown with a heavy hand, but it was just those abuses that drove the honest monk Luther into Luther the reformer.

One of the most striking themes to me personally was Luther's often heated rants in private against Satan, whose presence he felt so very strongly. The way to prospering spiritually becomes all the clearer the stronger our own recognition of sin and temptation grows.

I'll give the movie a solid thumbs up, as did my wife who does not always jump into my historical movies with the same gusto that I have.

You may want to see this earlier review as well, which gives a good overall plot summary, list of stars, etc.

Thursday, January 20, 2005


Rolling Stone magazine has taken a stand against a controversial ad, finding it unsuitable for its readership. That's right, you can't promote the Bible in Rolling Stone:
Rolling Stone magazine accepted advertising for a company selling a T-shirt emblazoned with the image of Jesus Christ. Indeed, a color ad with the image of Jesus and the message, "Put down the drugs and come get a hug," appears on page 71 of the current issue.

But when it came to running an ad for a new Bible aimed at twentysomethings, the magazine said forget it.

With little warning, the youth-worshipping Rolling Stone reneged on a deal forged nine months ago with Zondervan, the nation's largest Bible publisher, ultimately rejecting the company's ad for "Today's New International Version" of the Bible — "TNIV" for short.

"We were surprised and disappointed," said Doug Lockhart, spokesman for the Michigan-based publisher, which sells more than 6 million Bibles per year.

"We have no comment on the situation," a Rolling Stone spokeswoman said yesterday.

The Bible publisher remains mystified.

"Initially, Rolling Stone was excited, and we were excited. The fees had all been negotiated. They had second thoughts, I think, when they saw the ad itself," Mr. Lockhart said. "Their first comment was that this just wasn't 'the right time.' We really wish they'd reconsider."

If Rolling Stone wants something really radical, then try Jesus Christ's book.

Monday, January 17, 2005


Give them points for trying. After fits and starts during the campaign, their defeat seems to have spurred the the Dems toward God:
Those Dems are getting religion.

On Wednesday, the very liberal Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) went to the National Press Club and proclaimed the need for Democrats to talk more about values and said it was useful that a Democratic candidate "talked about God."

The previous week, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) cited a pair of biblical passages on the House floor, saying the Scriptures "tell us that to minister to the needs of God's creation is an act of worship."

This is no accident. After exit polls showed that "values voters" contributed to President Bush's reelection victory, Democrats have been looking for ways to keep the faith. So when Senate Democrats met at the Kennedy Center on Jan. 5 as Congress convened, they invited as their main speaker the Rev. Jim Wallis, a liberal minister who has been urging Democrats to speak more openly about religion. "They gave more time to this than any other issue," Wallis said in an interview.

The problem is, at some point you really need to mean it.

Here in Alabama I'm recognizing the official state holiday: Robert E. Lee Day. He is certainly a man worth remembering.

Friday, January 14, 2005


Oxford University plans to find out:
Oxford University scientists will carry out experiments on hundreds of people in a bid to understand how the brain works during states of consciousness.

One aspect of the two-year study will involve followers of both religious and secular beliefs being burnt to see if they can handle more pain than others.

Some volunteers will be shown religious symbols such as crucifixes and images of the Virgin Mary during the tests.

I think I'll pass on the opportunity to volunteer for that. In the meantime try Hebrews 11:36-40.

[Bonus points to Cronaca for her post headline: "Nobody expects the Oxford Inquisition" found via Instapundit]

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Throwing evolutionary assumptions on their head is the recent discover of dinosaur eating mammals:
Two newly discovered fossils show that this lowly image of early mammals, long the reigning view of science, did not do them justice. A few of these animals were as large as a dog and spunky enough to devour dinosaurs, at least juvenile dinosaurs.

The 130-million-year-old fossils, announced yesterday by Chinese paleontologists, challenge conventional thinking and lead to a new and more diverse perception of mammal life in the Mesozoic era, 280 million to 65 million years ago.

In interviews and a report being published today in the journal Nature, the researchers described finding the skull and most of the bones of what they say is the largest mammal known to live in the age of dinosaurs. The animal's skull was half again the length of the next largest mammal of the period. The entire body probably weighed 30 pounds and stretched more than three feet, longer than a good-size basset hound's.

From the same fossil beds in northern China, the paleontologists also uncovered the remains of a related species about 15 inches long, the size of an opossum, and made a striking observation. The mammal's last meal had been a juvenile dinosaur. Its limbs, fingers and teeth were lodged within the mammal's rib cage where its stomach had been.
I look forward to them finding a dinosaur recipe written on a cave wall.

I understand dinosaur tastes just like chicken...

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


One expects this gang would be skeptical of anything Biblical, still it's healthy to see what they have to say about the James Ossuary and the recent indictment of its owner:
A responsible approach to the James Ossuary would have been to start with skepticism and wait for a consensus of several independent experts. Instead, Shanks, BAR, and the ROM jumped at their opportunity for publicity before giving science its opportunity to arrive at the truth.

To use the hackneyed phrase, there was something of a "rush to judgment" although we still don't know if it is, in fact, a forgery. The Antiquities Authority has its own agenda, too. But I've always urged caution in relation to the ossuary while admitting my own desire that it be genuine. Time will tell.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


A Presbyterian preacher has seemingly good timing:
A Presbyterian minister collapsed and died in mid-sentence of a sermon after saying "And when I go to heaven ...," his colleague said Monday.

The Rev. Jack Arnold, 69, was nearing the end of his sermon Sunday at Covenant Presbyterian Church in this Orlando suburb when he grabbed the podium before falling to the floor, said the Rev. Michael S. Beates, associate pastor at Covenant Presbyterian.

Before collapsing, Arnold quoted the 18th century Bible scholar, John Wesley, who said, "Until my work on this earth is done, I am immortal. But when my work for Christ is done ... I go to be with Jesus," Beates said in a telephone interview.

Now that's the way to make a point.

[Link via Drudge]

Monday, January 10, 2005


Linda Schrock Taylor smells a rat with homeschooling curriculum stalwart Saxon Math:
I have communicated with sellers of homeschooling materials who explain that Harcourt refuses to sell them any hardback books, hinting of some contract Harcourt signed with schools. If this is true, the contract supposedly prevents H.A. from selling the previous hardback editions to homeschoolers. If such a contract exists, it was a ridiculous decision with grave implications....

...[A] decision to restrict sales would make sense if the following rumor is in actuality a truth: that Saxon's goal may be to dumb down the homeschooling children with these new materials. In light of the suggestion of a contract to restrict sales, this additional tip/rumor causes me to wonder whether state schooling could be pressuring Saxon to harm homeschooling in hopes of compromising the academic progress that homeschooled students are making; of putting an end to homeschooled students excelling as publicly schooled students fail.

If Saxon has sold out under their new ownership, other options will appear. Homeschoolers are a resourceful lot. But why would Saxon actively seek to alienate what has been a segment of its business that has given it nothing but loyalty and support?

The California dad who sued to have "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance now hopes to stop prayers from President Bush's inauguration:
The California lawyer who tried to have the phrase "under God" removed from the Pledge of Allegiance now wants to legally prevent President Bush from placing his hand on a Bible while being sworn in at his inauguration.
Michael Newdow, an atheist doctor and lawyer from Sacramento, has filed a complaint and a motion for preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, seeking to remove prayer and all "Christian religious acts" from the Jan. 20 inauguration.
Mr. Newdow, 50, asserts that the presence of Christian ministers who pray publicly at the inauguration, Christian songs and the swearing of the oath of office while a president places a hand on the Bible violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Such practices turn people "into second-class citizens and create division on the basis of religion," he said yesterday.

Back in my younger days in college I once submitted a resolution to the student Senate that would have censured a campus gadfly as officially "annoying" (alas, the spineless campus politicians wouldn't bite). I think a similar move might be called for here.

Friday, January 07, 2005


A federal appeals court has ruled that a Cincinnati judge did not act unconstitutionally when she quoted the Bible:
A Cincinnati judge did not violate the constitutional rights of a convicted rapist when she sentenced him to 51 years in prison after quoting a Bible verse, a federal appeals court ruled Thursday.

The decision clears the way for a possible showdown in the U.S. Supreme Court over the role a judge's religious beliefs should - or should not - play in court.

The case began in 1998 when Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge Melba Marsh sent James Arnett to prison for repeatedly raping an 8-year-old girl.

Marsh quoted a Bible verse that described drowning as an appropriate punishment for those who harm children. Arnett appealed, arguing that the judge's religious beliefs influenced her decision.

In its 2-1 decision Thursday, a panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the sentence should stand because the Bible was just one factor in determining the sentence.

The mind boggles at the idea that quoting Scripture could negate the sentencing of a man who repeatedly raped an 8-year-old girl. We clearly have a society that needs a lot more Bible quoting (and reading), not less.

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Egyptian King Tut received a CT scan yesterday in hopes of solving his cause of death:
A team of researchers briefly removed King Tut's mummy from its tomb Wednesday and laid bare his bones for a CT scan that could solve an enduring mystery: Was it murder or natural causes that killed Egypt's boy pharaoh 3,000 years ago?...

The 1,700 images taken during the 15-minute CT scan could answer many of the mysteries that shroud King Tutankhamun's life and death — including his royal lineage, his exact age at the time of his death — now estimated at 17 — and the reason he died....

Hawass, part of the 10-man team that conducted Wednesday's tests, said the results of the Tut scan will be announced later this month in Cairo.

Tut is reportedly resting well, but complained the CT tube felt like a coffin...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


David Klinghoffer writes we need to face the truth about the secular churchA 2004 survey of religion and politics revealed a religious minority that constitutes at least 7.5 percent of the American population. It referred to this informal denomination as "Secular."

Sponsored by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the poll shows the fairly uniform political orientation of secularists: Only 21 percent regard themselves as politically conservative. A large majority, 79 percent, favor what the survey terms "gay rights" and support legal abortion.

For each element in the Judeo-Christian family of faiths, secularism has its counterpart: a strict ethical code, albeit focusing on health issues ("Thou shalt not smoke," etc.); the use of shame when individuals disregard ethical rules (e.g. fat people); a related promise of eternal life through medical advances; a creation story (Darwinian evolution); and so forth. All that's missing is a deity, but not every religion has one, as the case of Zen Buddhism attests.

The secular church is populous and dynamic, with a membership far exceeding that figure of 7.5 percent. Many individuals who identify nominally as Jews or Christians in fact are devout secularists.
The problem, of course, is that while claiming 'neutrality' this stealth religion is in fact quite aggressive in proselytizing:
All this would be fine—after all, America is a big country with plenty of room for every spiritual predilection—but for the tendency of secularists to use aggressive means in advancing their political agenda and spreading their faith.

Consider state education, where the secular church has ensured that its creation account alone be taught. According to the Discovery Institute, Ohio, Minnesota, and New Mexico are exceptions to this rule, now requiring students to know about scientific evidence critical of Darwinian evolution. Everywhere else, evangelism for this secular doctrine is a staple of 10th-grade biology class.

The prejudice on behalf of the secular faith emanating from the media is likewise hard to ignore. HBO's Bill Maher, raised Catholic but later converted to a harsh secularism, is among the frankest of news and entertainment industry figures in his contempt for competing religions, notably Christianity. The host of Real Time with Bill Maher speaks of himself as "spreading the anti-gospel."


Israel has been hurling accusations for awhile, but now seems bo getting serious
The former head of the antiquities laboratory at the prestigious Israel Museum is the fifth suspect in a sophisticated forgery ring that allegedly produced a treasure trove of fake Bible-era artifacts, a government official and museum spokeswoman said Monday.

The rings has been accused of forging what had been heralded as perhaps the two biggest biblical discoveries in the Holy Land in recent years - the purported burial box of Jesus' brother James and a stone tablet with written instructions by King Yoash on maintenance work at the Jewish Temple.

Justice Ministry spokesman Uri Steinberg named the suspect as Rafael Braun. He said he was the fifth person appearing on an indictment that was handed down by a Jerusalem court last week.

Among those named is Oded Golan, owner of the James ossuary. Biblical Archaeology Review has already put him on trial.