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.