Sunday, December 24, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Joseph: Son of David'. To what sort of man would God entrust His only Son? One who showed demonstrated obedience and respect for God's law, and not only raised Jesus, but also his sons James and Jude.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


In the continuing effort to discredit and stop abstinence education a new study reveals that "Even grandma had premarital sex, survey finds":
More than nine out of 10 Americans, men and women alike, have had premarital sex, according to a new study. The high rates extend even to women born in the 1940s, challenging perceptions that people were more chaste in the past.

“This is reality-check research,” said the study’s author, Lawrence Finer. “Premarital sex is normal behavior for the vast majority of Americans, and has been for decades.”

Finer is a research director at the Guttmacher Institute, a private New York-based think tank that studies sexual and reproductive issues and which disagrees with government-funded programs that rely primarily on abstinence-only teachings.

Now I'm skeptical that 90% of people over the past 60 years has pre-marital sex, but even if we concede the point for the sake of discussion, it doesn't matter. Should we stop anti-smoking campaigns because we might find that 80% of people have had a cigarrette? The study seems to make no difference between someone who may have been involved with one partner one time and someone who is promiscuous with multiple partners over years and years.

The dominant culture is insistent that sexual freedom be glorified, and anything that hints at moral disapproval of sleeping with whomever whenever one gets the urge must be quashed.

That people sinned in the past is no shocking news. From a health standpoint the fact that people have been involved in pre-marital sex has no bearing on the very real dangers. From a spiritual standpoint the fact that people have and do sin has no bearing on the fact that it's still wrong.

Friday, December 15, 2006


The 21st Century's apostle of unity Rick Atchley (not to be confused with Rick Astley) has led his church--oh, I'm sorry, the elders did it--to add an instrumental service:
The Richland Hills church in Texas — the largest of the nation’s 13,000 a cappella Churches of Christ — has decided to add an instrumental worship assembly with communion on Saturday nights.

Jon Jones, an elder and former pulpit minister at the 6,400-member church, told the congregation Dec. 3 that Richland Hills’ elders “fully and completely” endorsed the decision....

Senior minister Rick Atchley — a national leader in efforts to foster better relations with instrumental Christian Churches — told the congregation the decision should help ease crowding at Richland Hills’ two Sunday morning services. Moreover, he said, it will allow the congregation to “reach more people who need Christ.”

It's a move that will allow the congregation to fit in better with the Christian Church fellowship that Atchley has been desperate to crack. As predicted on this site, any concessions for the 'unity' that Atchley desires will always be to the left. The Christian Church is probably glad to have a 17,000 member church join the long as they do it on the Christian Church's terms. Atchley and the elders at Richland Hills seem happy to capitulate.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006


Newsweek has just broken the story that Jesus is a Jew, and that Judaism and Christianity share much in way of worldview. Breaking news, indeed.

During this time of the year it was nice to see them bring some perspective to the nativity story:
[I]t is important to note that Christianity's origins lie more in the image of the empty tomb on the Sunday after the crucifixion than they do at the crèche. It was their fervent belief in the resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth that convinced his followers he was, as Peter put it, "the Christ, the son of the living God" who had told them of a new way of salvation: that he would die and rise again, thus effecting the forgiveness of sins and offering a portal to eternal life.

Just so.

I recently saw the virgin birth referred to as the 'greatest miracle'. While great enough to be trumpeted by angels and declared by a star, the greatest miracle is not the baby in the manger but rather the empty tomb. Everything hinges on the latter.

Friday, December 08, 2006


One of the things that has kept me away from Theosebes over the past weeks has been teaching a couple of history classes at the local community college. Sometimes one gets new historical insights from students that make it all worthwhile. Tonight while grading some quiz IDs on Martin Luther I came across this:
His views did generate much support but caused much controversy as well. He ultimately gained more than he lost though because he had a religion named after him. The Lutheran Church.

The secret of the Reformation solved!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Some are attempting to force out Jewish commentator Dennis Prager for his comment about recently elected Muslim Congressman Keith Ellison who announced his intention of being sworn in to office using a Koran rather than a Bible:
"Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible," he wrote in a column titled, "America, Not Keith Ellison, Decides What Book a Congressman Takes His Oath On."

"If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress," Prager wrote, adding that using the Koran "undermines American civilization."

I agree with Prager that Ellison's election does 'undermine American civilization', but insisting he swear on a Bible will not alter who or what Ellison is. Even swearing in on a Bible is a tradition rather than a requirement, as there can be no religious test for American elected officials. No test, of course, other than the consent of the voters. Of course, American voters have elected all sorts of scoundrels who have sworn on the Bible, but turned out to be scoundrels despite it what they swore on.

I know nothing of Ellison save that he is a Muslim. He may very well be a devout man and a stand-up fellow. Once elected I think it would be strange to expect him to use anything other than a Koran to swear on, just as if the Jewish Prager was elected would I think it strange if he chose a New Testament for his swearing in.

The real issue is the very fact that voters did elect a Muslim in the first place. It does show a shift in the American mindset, and one that ultimately points to a loss of confidence in Western civilization itself. That is the root issue, and one that the flap over a swearing in ceremony masks.

Monday, December 04, 2006


The Supreme Court has agreed to hear two cases related--well, somewhat--to religion, including the infamous 'Bong Hits 4 Jesus' case:
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether a high school student has a right to display a banner saying "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" during a school event.

The court's ruling, anticipated early next year, is expected to clarify how far school officials can go to control slogans on banners, T-shirts and other items at school-sponsored events, the Los Angeles Times said Saturday.

The case arises from Juneau, Alaska, where a principal removed a student's "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" banner. Joseph Frederick unfurled the sign on the street outside the school in 2002 as the torch for that year's Winter Olympics passed. Principal Deborah Morse suspended Frederick, who sued her, alleging her actions violated his right to freedom of speech under the First Amendment. A federal judge in Alaska rejected the claim by Frederick, but he won before the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The court also agreed to decide whether taxpayers have the right to challenge President Bush's faith-based initiative as an unconstitutional promotion of religion. Taxpayers normally cannot legally dispute how the government spends money, but the court made an exception for religion.

The 'Bong hits' case primarily is of juvenile interest, but the faith-based initiative case is of more relevance. I have very mixed feelings over the court ruling on the faith-based initiative. While I firmly believe that faith-based initiatives will ultimately prove to be a Trojan horse for governmental intrusion into churches (eg, forcing governmental 'equal rights' regulations on churches), I also grow weary of the war against public expressions of religion. One suspects the new Congress may put an end to the faith-based initiatives, however.

Thursday, November 30, 2006


According to Sylvester Stallone, Rocky was based on Jesus. On the other hand, one can't disagree with this sentiment:
[H]e has now revealed the reasoning behind the film's opening shot of a painting of Jesus Christ looking down at Rocky fighting in a gym.
The 60-year-old says, "It's like he was being chosen.
"If you look to God, you can overcome your past."

Just so.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006


The head of England's 'leading' abortion agency (a rather dubious position) states that abortion has lost its stigma:
Women are finding it more acceptable to have an abortion than to drift into an unplanned pregnancy, the head of Britain's leading abortion agency said yesterday.

Ann Furedi, the chief executive of the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (BPAS), said one women in five was now childless at the age of 45 and an increasing number were making the choice not to have children at all.

Ms Furedi said there had been a shift in public opinion about parenthood. The stigma of abortion had diminished but there was now concern about being a poor parent. "Parenting is considered to be very important and is taken seriously these days," she said. "The idea of just drifting into unplanned motherhood is seen not to be a good thing and you could argue that among many groups of people in society abortion is seen as a more responsible response to being a victim of uncontrolled fertility," she said.

Of course, we've known for some time now what causes pregnancy. Perhaps the issue might be addressed there.

And in an effort to reassert some stigma:
Abortion figures continue to rise year on year. Latest figures show that there are about 165,500 abortions for British residents a year.

Numbers are far higher in the US, of course.

It might be well to recall the words of Thomas Jefferson:
"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever."

WOMEN TALK three times as much as men. Me + wife + three daughters. You do the math.

Monday, November 27, 2006

'NATIVITY' MOVIE debuts at the Vatican, opens later this week in the US. This one is on my list to go see.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

I WILL praise the name of God with song
And magnify Him with thanksgiving.
--Psalm 69:30

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Sir Elton John has lashed out against religion:
From my point of view, I would ban religion completely. Organized religion doesn't seem to work. It turns people into really hateful lemmings and it's not really compassionate.

Well, there you have it. That would certainly solve the world's problems.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sunday, November 05, 2006

PREACHING TODAY...'Money Matters: Money, the Bible and You'. As we enter the spending season it's a good time to assess what Scripture has to say about money. It says a lot. Usually we're too uncomfortable to talk about it.

Thursday, November 02, 2006


Head of the National Association of Evangelicals has resigned amidst allegations of a homosexual relationship:
The Rev. Ted Haggard resigned as president of the 30 million-member National Association of Evangelicals on Thursday after being accused of paying a man for sex in monthly trysts over the past three years.

Haggard — an outspoken opponent of the drive for gay marriage — also stepped down as senior pastor at his 14,000-member New Life Church pending an investigation by a church panel, saying he could "not continue to minister under the cloud created by the accusations."

"I am voluntarily stepping aside from leadership so that the overseer process can be allowed to proceed with integrity," Haggard said in a written statement. "I hope to be able to discuss this matter in more detail at a later date. In the interim, I will seek both spiritual advice and guidance."

Haggard, a married father of five, denied the allegations in an interview with KUSA-TV late Wednesday: "Never had a gay relationship with anybody, and I'm steady with my wife, I'm faithful to my wife."

Bad business, and the timing at least is politically motivated:
Mike Jones, 49, of Denver told the AP he decided to go public with his allegations because of the political fight.

"I just want people to step back and take a look and say, 'Look, we're all sinners, we all have faults, but if two people want to get married, just let them, and let them have a happy life,"' said Jones, who added that he isn't actively working for any political group.

Jones, who said he is gay, said he was also upset when he discovered Haggard and the New Life Church had publicly opposed same-sex marriage.

I would think if anything this would hurt the cause of homosexual 'marriage' rather than help it.

Christopher Dickey has an interesting column on Colombia's anti-Kate Moss campaign. They are making the cocaine sniffing model the poster child of the demand side of cocaine, the production of which has ravaged Colombia for decades:
“When she snorted a line of cocaine, she put land mines in Colombia, she killed people in Colombia, she displaced people in Colombia, she helped finance kidnapping,” said [Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos Calderón], who himself spent time as a hostage of the Medellin drug cartel. “That’s the message that we want to put out.” Then he recalled another hot-button talking point meant to arouse European, and especially British, audiences. “She destroyed the environment!” said Santos. “We have lost 2 million hectares [almost 5 million acres] of pristine rain forest to drug trafficking.”

Having been to Colombia early this year, it is a shame that such a beautiful country is so ravaged by drug lords, and now, political rebels who control the drug trade. So many celebrities lecture everyone else on every conceivable subject, it's high time they were held responsible for their own actions.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006


A new poll finds an increasingly high number of Americans are unsure of God's existence or whether He should be understood as male or female:
The survey conducted by Harris Poll found that 42 percent of US adults are not "absolutely certain" there is a God compared to 34 percent who felt that way when asked the same question three years ago.

Among the various religious groups, 76 percent of Protestants, 64 percent of Catholics and 30 percent of Jews said they are "absolutely certain" there is a God while 93 percent of Christians who describe themselves as "Born Again" feel certain God exists.

When questioned on whether God is male or female, 36 percent of respondents said they think God is male, 37 percent said neither male nor female and 10 percent said "both male and female."

Only one percent think of God as a female, according to the poll.

Asked whether God has a human form, 41 percent said they think of God as "a spirit or power than can take on human form but is not inherently human."

As to whether God controls events on Earth, 29 percent believe that to be the case while 44 percent said God "observes but does not control what happens on Earth".

Of course, God is not a sexual being but has revealed Himself as the heavenly Father. As that is how He explains Himself that is how I can best understand Him.

What the results indicate is the great success those who stand opposed to a Biblical understanding of God have had through popular media. The solution is a consistent insistence on the Biblical record.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006


(Link via Drudge)

A new poll indicates that things are looking bad for South Dakota's pro-life bill that passed the legislature easily:
The poll of 800 registered voters found that 52 percent opposed the measure that overwhelmingly passed the 2006 Legislature. Forty-two percent favored the proposed ban on abortions, and just 6 percent were undecided.

The poll also found that the proposed ban on abortions would have more support if it allowed abortions in cases of rape and incest.

Meanwhile abortion is also being debated in Poland and Nicaragua, the latter where a new abortion ban was just passed.

Win or lose in these particular battles, I think the important thing is to make sure we do not accept legalized abortion as a settled issue.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

THE NEW JERSEY HIGH COURT has discovered a right to homosexual marriage, and has now ordered the legislature to recognize it.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Currently on display at Bonhams in London is one of the greatest Roman treasures of them all, the Sevso Treasure. It's only the second time they've been on display due to their uncertain provenance:
[N]othing certain is known about the collection before 1980, when its first six pieces were reportedly sold by a Lebanese-born art dealer called Halim Korban to Peter Wilson, a former chairman of Sotheby’s. Two years later, Mr. Wilson and a London lawyer, Peter Mimpriss, persuaded Lord Northampton to invest in the venture, and four more works were acquired.

In 1983, these 10 were offered to the Getty museum, but the museum lost interest after Lebanese export licenses were proved to be falsified. That same year Mr. Wilson died, but through Mr. Mimpriss’s connections, Lord Northampton later bought four more pieces. The collection of 14, by then owned entirely by Lord Northampton, was exhibited in New York in 1990 in anticipation of a Sotheby’s auction planned for later that year in Switzerland.

The Lebanese government then obtained an injunction barring the treasure’s removal from New York, and lengthy legal proceedings followed. Lebanon dropped its claim to the collection, but Hungary and Croatia joined the case. Finally, in 1994, after several lower courts rejected the Hungarian and Croatian claims, the Appellate Division of New York’s State Supreme Court also ruled them to be “without merit,” and Lord Northampton was able to return the treasure to London.

It's a shame that such lovely things cannot be seen by the public, but are forced into hiding. At the same time, I understand the issue of stolen and smuggled antiquities is a real one. Sadly, the Sevso Treasure is caught in the middle.

Monday, October 23, 2006


An arrest of would be grave robbers has led to the the discovery of the tombs of pharaohs' dentists:
Grave robbers in Egypt have unwittingly helped archaeologists discover the tombs of three royal dentists.
The thieves were arrested after they began digging by the Step Pyramid at Saqqara, near Cairo, believed to be Egypt's oldest pyramid.

Their excavations led archaeologists to the 4,200-year-old tombs, one of which has an inscription warning of a curse.

Two hieroglyphs - showing an eye over a tusk - identified the men as dentists to the pharaohs, experts said....

The grave of the chief dentist, whose name is spelled out as Iy Mry, was protected by a curse written by the entrance, Mr Hawass said.

"The man put an inscription to say: 'Anyone who enters my tomb will be eaten by a crocodile and a snake.'"

And that's your theosebes archaeology link of the day.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

'Ronny approved of religion as long as it endorsed the National Anthem, but he objected when it attempted to influence his life.'
--from A Passage to India, by E.M. Forster
NEWSWEEK HIGHLIGHTS the recent anti-Rick Warren coverage.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


The situation appears to be worsening for Christians in Iraq:
In the northern city of Mosul, a priest from the Syriac Orthodox Church was kidnapped last week. His church complied with his captors’ demands and put up posters denouncing recent comments made by the pope about Islam, but he was killed anyway. The police found his beheaded body on Wednesday.

Muslim fury over Pope Benedict XVI’s public reflections on Islam in Germany a month ago — when he quoted a 14th-century Byzantine emperor as calling Islam “evil and inhuman” — has subsided elsewhere, but repercussions continue to reverberate in Iraq, bringing a new level of threat to an already shrinking Christian population.

Several extremist groups threatened to kill all Christians unless the pope apologized. Sunni and Shiite clerics united in the condemnation, calling the comments an insult to Islam and the Prophet Muhammad. In Baghdad, many churches canceled services after receiving threats. Some have not met since.

“After the pope’s statement, people began to fear much more than before,” said the Rev. Zayya Edward Khossaba, the pastor of the Church of the Virgin Mary. “The actions by fanatics have increased against Christians.”

Apparently the attackers don't grasp the irony of their actions in response to the pope's remarks.

Regardless of one's support for the war, the situation for those identifying themselves as Christians in Iraq seems to have worsened substantially since the war began. An unintended consequence to be sure, but a real one nonetheless.

Monday, October 16, 2006


Yohane Banda was pleased to hear his son David was to be adopted by a rich foreigner. Her name is Madonna, and he's heard nice things about her:
Until recently, Banda said he had no idea the woman seeking to adopt his one-year-old son was a world-famous celebrity. He said all he knew was that she was a "nice Christian lady".

Banda met Madonna in court in Malawi at an adoption hearing. He told the Mail he looked into her eyes and "could tell from them that she was a good lady".

Maybe somebody needs to let him see that concert crucifixion stunt. Or maybe that Britney Spears kiss. Or maybe...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


The New York Times todaycontinues its assault on tax breaks tied to religion, this time specifically tax breaks enjoyed by those defined as 'clergy'. Such tax exemptions understandably make an organization like the NYT livid. Not only is someone out there not paying the absolute maximum in taxes they can imagine, but its also those religious people.

I was amused by the way they characterize the housing exemption for ministers:
The housing deduction is one of several tax breaks that leave extra money in the pockets of clergy members and their religious employers.

Ha ha--where all this "extra money" is is beyond me. I just checked my pockets--no "extra money" there. Maybe I should compare my salary to that of Diana B. Henriques who wrote the article.

(If anyone needs to be penalized by the government it ought to be Rick Warren for preaching in that shirt.)

Monday, October 09, 2006


The New York Times is in full attack mode as it explores legal exemptions churches enjoy from certain regulatory and discrimination laws. Clearly the NYT is disturbed by this, because of course religious organizations should be heavily regulated by the government. Of course a big part of the problem is that churches have overreached their mandates, getting into a number of dubious enterprises that have no obvious connection to religion. This creates a wedge point that the NYT is quick to exploit:
As a result of these special breaks, religious organizations of all faiths stand in a position that American businesses — and the thousands of nonprofit groups without that “religious” label — can only envy. And the new breaks come at a time when many religious organizations are expanding into activities — from day care centers to funeral homes, from ice cream parlors to fitness clubs, from bookstores to broadcasters — that compete with these same businesses and nonprofit organizations.

Religious organizations are exempt from many federal, state and local laws and regulations covering social services, including addiction treatment centers and child care, like those in Alabama.

I support the widest possible latitude for churches and religious organizations. With regulation comes the exact sort of state endorsed religion that the First Amendment seeks to avoid. Government intrusion would be the beginning of churches going underground in order to practice their religion as their conscience dictates. But churches are inviting disaster by not tending to their knitting. Exactly why any church needs a staff of baristas is unclear.

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Today the families of the Amish girls shot to death by Charles Carl Roberts will bury their daughters. In this media and retributive age, modern society isn't quite sure what to make of the Amish:
The Amish say they are quietly accepting the deaths as God's will.

"They know their children are going to heaven. They know their children are innocent ... and they know that they will join them in death," said Gertrude Huntington, a Michigan researcher who has written a book about children in Amish society.

"The hurt is very great," Huntington said. "But they don't balance the hurt with hate."

In just about any other community, a deadly school shooting would have brought demands from civic leaders for tighter gun laws and better security, and the victims' loved ones would have lashed out at the gunman's family or threatened to sue.

But that's not the Amish way.

In the aftermath of Monday's violence, the Amish have reached out to the family of the gunman, Charles Carl Roberts IV, 32, who committed suicide during the attack in a one-room schoolhouse.

Dwight Lefever, a Roberts family spokesman, said an Amish neighbor comforted the Roberts family hours after the shooting and extended forgiveness to them. Among Roberts' survivors are his wife and three children.

Yes, much of Amish practice is anachronistic and insular in a way that I don't necessarily endorse, but there is a lot about them and their response to this situation that ought to provide food for thought to those seeking to be in the world but not of it.

Being a father of three daughters shapes your perspective about a lot of things. This shooting has disturbed me in a way that most of the Big Media stories doesn't. But I've thought a lot about those poor, poor girls who lived an unimaginable nightmare that they did not in any way deserve. Vengeance is something properly left to God (and in this life, his minister of vengeance, the state), thus when the idea that Roberts cheated justice by killing himself crosses my mind, I remember that God's justice will be far more severe.

Remember the victims' families in your prayers.

Secret societies just aren't very 21st Century, I think. Doing stories about them seems to be (Da Vinci Code, anyone?), but not actually joining one. As a result of this, the Freemasons are on the decline, and have been for half a century. In response they are opening up, at least in measured amounts in an effort to recruit. You can even tour their NYC headquarters these days (now I would like to do that):
George Washington was not the first Mason, and not the only famous one. Mozart worked thinly disguised touches of Masonry into operas. Fourteen presidents and everyone from the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale to the comedian Red Skelton belonged. Masons presided when the cornerstone was laid at the Statue of Liberty.

But the Masons’ numbers have been steadily dwindling — whatever their secrets are, they apparently do not have one for avoiding death — and their ranks have been graying. So the New York State Masons have followed other state Masonic societies in doing something that they would have once considered heretical: they are actively reaching out for new members. And, in the process, a famously reticent fraternal organization that now puts a premium on its community service has lifted its veil of secrecy just a bit.

There was a time in the early 19th Century--when secret societies were 'in'--that the Freemasons became a feared force in American society. So much so that an Anti-Masonic Party formed, the first 'Third Party' in American History.

Today, the Masons with their secret words and ceremonial aprons--not to mention their heretical beliefs--are fading away from relevance. I can't say I'm sad to see it.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


Eminent historian Dr. David E. Harrell appeared on FoxNews with Shepard Smith last evening, and today they've posted the report. He discusses his new American history textbook.

Dr. Harrell sometimes operates under the nom de guerre, 'Ed', when preaching or traveling to India. I've had the opportunity to travel with him to India twice, and plan another trip in January.

Update: If you're having trouble accessing it from the above link, it can--at least temporarily--be accessed on the Fox Report main page, where it is the featured story.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


In order to protect the dignity of theosebes (no comments) I'm not going to bother quoting the actual catch phrases here, but you know the t-shirts worn by teenage girls with the not quite as clever as they think they are sexually suggestive double-entendres (sometimes they don't eve bother being double). As a father of three girls I'm usually dumbfounded that any parent would let his child walk out of the house wearing them. But when the parents are asked their answers are predictable:
Her mother, Yakini Ajanaku, does not mind her daughter's T-shirts because she said Ashli wears them to be ironic. "I know she's a sweet girl, and I know that she's very conservative and is not sexually active," Ajanaku said. "Other people would probably get the wrong message, but I am pretty much like, 'Who cares what they think?' "

Ironic, nudge, nudge, wink, wink--say no more.

Joanne Wynn said her daughter's shirts are humorous. "If it's not in good taste, I don't let [her] wear it," she said....

Most parents interviewed said that they would rather not see their kids wear the racy shirts but that they sometimes give in. Rosa Pulley tried to order her daughter Keana, 17, a Gar-Field senior, to return a T-shirt that says, "yes, but not with u!" But Keana insisted. "I have to pick my battles," the mother said. "Okay, I don't like it. She's wearing it, but it could be something worse."

It could always be worse.

Wake up, parents!

Monday, September 25, 2006


Okay, confession is good for the soul so I'll come clean and admit to watching the first two episodes of NBC's new series 'Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip'. I think I've seen my last.

One of the running themes seems to be (and I know this will be a shock) hostility to 'Crazy Christians', which happens to be the name of skit on the show that is much discussed but never shown. One of the characters is supposed to be a Christian, which allows the show to both use Christianity as subject matter while using her as cover ('We're not anti-Christian. See, we have a prominent character who is a Christian.')

Of course, this seems to be a growing pattern at NBC as you can see from the post directly below. Hollywood is still Hollywood.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


NBC has drawn the ire of some religious conservatives, and I just can't imagine why:
The disputes, over the network’s proposed broadcast of a Madonna concert that includes a crucifixion scene and over its cutting religious references from the animated children’s show “VeggieTales,” have some critics charging that NBC maintains a double standard toward Christianity.

It basically works out that anything that might promote Christianity needs to be eliminated, anything that might criticize or blaspheme should be given a primetime slot and promoted.

But according to Madonna's own statements what she's doing is positive:
Madonna also issued a statement on Thursday saying that the performance was “neither anti-Christian, sacrilegious or blasphemous.”

Then shouldn't her blatant--and, according to her, positive--Christian message be considered by NBC to promote a particular religion and thus be eliminated from programming?

Part of the problem, of course, is Madonna's understanding of Jesus in the first place:
“Rather,” it went on to say, “it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another and see the world as a unified whole. I believe in my heart that if Jesus were alive today, he would be doing the same thing.”

But you see, He is alive today.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


Fox is furthering its venture into Christian films with FoxFaith, which seeks to capitalize on a market discovered by Mel Gibson's The Passion:
The home entertainment division of Rupert Murdoch's movie studio plans to produce as many as a dozen films a year under a banner called FoxFaith. At least six of those films will be released in theaters under an agreement with two of the nation's largest chains, AMC Theatres and Carmike Cinemas.

The first theatrical release, called "Love's Abiding Joy," is scheduled to hit the big screen Oct. 6. The movie, which cost about $2 million to make, is based on the fourth installment of Christian novelist Janette Oke's popular series, "Love Comes Softly."

Okay, films based on 'Christian novels' interest me not in the least, but I do suspect there is a market for them. They're probably fairly harmless, but most of these modern 'Christian novels' tend to be rather lifeless, sentimental and formulaic, I suspect. It seems other studios may be doing faith oriented films with a little more meat to them:
Other studios also are beginning to dip an oar into Christian waters. New Line Cinema's "The Nativity Story," scheduled to be released in December, tells the story of Mary and Joseph seeking shelter to give birth to Jesus. Legendary Pictures, which has a multi-film deal with Warner Bros., is planning to make a movie version of John Milton's epic 17th century poem about the fall of man, "Paradise Lost."

Theosebes has previously discussed 'The Nativity Story', but this is the first I've read of a 'Paradise Lost' adaptation. There's a lot of potential there, of course.

What we'll find with 'Christian films' is what we'll find with all films that Hollywood does. Most of it will be worthless with the occasional gem thrown in.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


The NYT has a great article, 'Fortune’s Fools: Why the Rich Go Broke', that is well worth your time to read. And Foreman does a pretty good job of getting to the heart of wealth:
Mr. Foreman, who stared down financial collapse as an adult despite a troubled, impoverished childhood, said he knew real wealth when he saw it. “If you’re confident, you’re wealthy,” he says. “I’ve seen guys who work on a ship channel and they get to a certain point and they’re confident. You can look in their faces, they’re longshoremen, and they have this confidence about them.”

He says he can spot a longshoreman who has enough equity in his home and enough money in the bank to feel secure, and that some people, no matter how much money they have, never get there. “I’ve seen a lot of guys with millions and they don’t have any confidence,” he says. “So they’re not wealthy.”

And Warren Buffett understands, too:
Questioned in 1991 about the reasons rich people hit the skids, the multibillionaire investor Warren E. Buffett told an audience at Notre Dame that debt and alcohol were ever-present culprits in financial demise. “I’ve seen more people fail because of liquor and leverage — leverage being borrowed money,” he said, according to a transcript of his comments. “You really don’t need leverage in this world much. If you’re smart, you’re going to make a lot of money without borrowing.

“I’ve never borrowed a significant amount of money in my life. Never,” he added. “Never will. I’ve got no interest in it. The other reason is I never thought I would be way happier when I had 2X instead of X.”

We'll never have true contentment and proper spiritual focus unless we understand that. The hard part is doing it.

Friday, September 15, 2006


The Churches Advertising Network of Britain is preparing its Christmas church campaign with a picture of Jesus in a lager:
The poster -- which shows a glass with the words "Where will you find him?" -- will spearhead the Churches Advertising Network (CAN) campaign to boost attendance in the run-up to the Christian festive season.

CAN chairman Francis Goodwin said Thursday he hoped the poster and accompanying radio adverts would spark a debate about religion. A discussion page on the online site will run in parallel.

"The message is subtle but simple -- where is God in all the boozing at Christmas?" said Goodwin, whose group is made up of Christians of all denominations working the British media and advertising.

"For many, Christmas is just drinking and partying and God is excluded, yet many young people are interested in finding deeper meaning and exploring faith."

The poster is a nod to the occasional discoveries of holy images in everyday objects, from the face of Jesus in a frying pan, toast or fish finger, his mother Mary on a toasted cheese sandwich and even Mother Teresa in a sticky bun.

Well, a couple of those and people will see about anything they want to, I suppose.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Grumpy and militant lesbian Rosie O'Donnell has pronounced Christians as dangerous as radical Islam:
Rosie O'Donnell says "radical" Christians in America are just as much of a threat as the followers of radical Islam who piloted hijacked jetliners into New York's Twin Towers and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

O'Donnell, the newest face on ABC's "The View," yesterday let her feelings fly after co-host Elisabeth Hasselbeck noted militant Islam provides a threat to free people.

"Just a minute," she interrupted. "Radical Christianity is just as threatening as radical Islam in a country like America where we have separation of church and state."

The good news is, I suspect Rosie won't last through the season (who watches this show, anyway?) as her career continues a bitter downward spiral.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

CONGRATULATIONS to Theosebes reader and brother-in-law Mitch and his wife Kathryn on the arrival of their new son Benjamin. All are doing well except for new Dad Mitch who may be in a bit of a panic...

Monday, September 11, 2006


The Washington Post seems practically giddy over Brian McLaren and his 'new' spin on Christianity. Why? Well because it 'challenges tradition', of course, and we all know that 'tradition' is bad.

But McLaren isn't really interested in Christianity or Christ in any meaningful way. Like a hip-hop artist he's sampling a few things from the New Testament for his own riff:
McLaren has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in an increasingly active group of progressive evangelicals who are challenging the theological orthodoxy and political dominance of the religious right. He also is an intellectual guru of "emerging church," a grass-roots movement among young evangelicals exploring new models of living out their Christian faith....

McLaren, 50, offers an evangelical vision that emphasizes tolerance and social justice. He contends that people can follow Jesus's way without becoming Christian. In the latest of his eight books, "The Secret Message of Jesus," which has sold 55,000 copies since its April release, he argues that Christians should be more concerned about creating a just "Kingdom of God" on earth than about getting into heaven.

There is nothing more insidious than Christianity without Christ (or is that Christ without Christianity?) and salvation without heaven. This is nothing more than Eric Voegelin's definition of liberalism, 'immanentizing the eschaton', that is trying to make heaven on earth. To be somewhat more charitable, it is the old nineteenth century post-millennial approach, which sought to establish a perfect society--the Millennium--in order to hasten the return of Christ. Of course, these people aren't really interested in Christ returning. Christ is only relevant as a selectively edited starting point for their preconceived notions of social justice.

The central message of the New Testament is the redeeming death and life-giving resurrection of Jesus. Jesus said many vitally important things, but those teachings are relevant only if Jesus died and was raised again. In other words, the teachings of Jesus are only critical insofar as they are linked to salvation and resurrection. If you sever that tie, then Jesus is not a good teacher, he was a liar or madman.

McLaren has tapped in to some real discontent. As the article points out, the often superficial appeal of the megachurch movement left many understandably cold. The popular idea of the evangelical 'patriotic Jesus' clearly has gone much too far, which McLaren twists to slide in his leftist talking points:
"When we present Jesus as a pro-war, anti-poor, anti-homosexual, anti-environment, pro-nuclear weapons authority figure draped in an American flag, I think we are making a travesty of the portrait of Jesus we find in the gospels," McLaren said in a recent interview.

And the facile and unscriptural--yet ubiquitous--'Sinner's Prayer', which throws aside the commitment of taking up one's cross and following Jesus in exchange for a feel good moment has left a gaping hole for those who really see a need for acting out their faith:
"The modern Christian formula of 'I mentally assent to the fact that Jesus died for my sins and therefore I get to live forever in heaven' . . . is entirely cognitive," said Ken Archer, 33, a D.C. software entrepreneur who is studying philosophy at Catholic University. "It's a mathematical formula [that] leaves the rest of our being unfulfilled."

But the failings of the modern evangelical movement can't be solved by turning diversity, environmentalism and social justice into idols.

Building on such a foundation--a foundation that excludes the reality of Christ and His teachings--will not lead to anything other than causing some to substitute worldy goals for spiritual ones. The often quite sensible D.A. Carson likely is right in his assessment:
Though a "creative, sparkly writer," added Carson, McLaren has "got so many things wrong in his analysis that his work is not going to last that long."

Modern evangelical Christianity does have gaping holes in it, but McLaren's new take on the Benevolent Empire isn't the answer. Whenever we find Christianity wanting, it is never the fault of Christ--or of Christianity--but rather of those who claim to be practicing it. The answer always involves the often difficult task of assessing my own life and practice in the light of Christ on the cross, and His teachings and those of His apostles as recorded in the New Testament.

Saturday, September 09, 2006


I stopped by Jeff Barnes' Truth In Love, which lead me to Mark Copeland's new weblog Executable Preacher, which led me to a great resource at, free downloads of the old Bible Study Textbook Series. Good material everywhere.

All these new preacher blogs leads one to believe these guys think this blog thing must be easy!

Thursday, September 07, 2006


Charles Colson has discovered a trend down at the 'Y':
Do you know what the C in YMCA stands for?

You may know it stands for “Christian,” but I wouldn’t be surprised if you didn’t. The YMCA has come far from its founders’ intent when it was organized in 1844 — so far that many people have forgotten its roots as a Christian organization established to disciple young men. Today, as John Alexander of the Danville, Illinois, YMCA says, “Unfortunately, people look at us and just see a swim and gym.”

Sadly, over the years the YMCA has redefined its original mission right out of existence. At first, the YMCA’s method of adapting itself to meet community needs looked harmless enough. They moved from what one article called “narrow evangelistic goals” to a goal of “developing the ‘whole man,’” focusing on physical and social development as well as spiritual development.

This wasn’t inherently wrong. But as YMCA staffers realized that physical development programs were becoming far more popular than Bible studies and prayer meetings, they found themselves with a choice to make. I don’t think I need to tell you how they decided.

From an organization founded to focus on Christ to an organization that focuses on that which profits a little, that's the YMCA's history. How long until the 'C' in YMCA is officially changed to something less divisive? The 'C' already offends:
At the YMCA convention, ideas like posting Bible verses on the wall or maintaining a prayer request box met with disapproval from many. Dick Blattner of the Hollywood, Florida, YMCA, complained, “I respect your religion. But when I see posters and placards on the wall that reflect Christian principles, I feel left out.... It offended me, and I don’t think it’s right for the Y.”

What's the moral of this? Perhaps churches--that which Christ Himself founded--would do well to spend their time focusing on their mandate of worship and salvation rather than the slippery slope of the "whole man", on Bible studies rather than "family centers" ("swim & gym", anyone?) Do you think the founders of the 'Y' imagined that Bible verses would not be allowed at one of its own facilities lest someone be offended on the way to his workout?

Perhaps "narrow evangelistic goals" aren't such a bad idea after all.

[Thanks to theosebes reader and soon to be father Mitch for the link.]

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

SOME GOOD THOUGHTS on formal vs. orderly worship by Shane Scott over at Faith & Thought.

Not a religious group that has grabbed many headlines for the past two or three thousand years, Zorastrianism is on the brink of dying out:
“We were once at least 40, 50 million — can you imagine?” said Mr. Antia, senior priest at the fire temple here in suburban Chicago. “At one point we had reached the pinnacle of glory of the Persian Empire and had a beautiful religious philosophy that governed the Persian kings.

“Where are we now? Completely wiped out,” he said. “It pains me to say, in 100 years we won’t have many Zoroastrians.”

There is a palpable panic among Zoroastrians today — not only in the United States, but also around the world — that they are fighting the extinction of their faith, a monotheistic religion that most scholars say is at least 3,000 years old.

I actually discussed Zoroastrianism in a history lecture a week or so ago. Politically we'd be a lot better off if Persia were still dominated by Zoroastrians.

An Hasidic Jew was removed from a Canadian airplane for praying:
Some fellow passengers are questioning why an Orthodox Jewish man was removed from an Air Canada Jazz flight in Montreal last week for praying.

The man was a passenger on a Sept. 1 flight from Montreal to New York City when the incident happened.

The airplane was heading toward the runway at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport when eyewitnesses said the Orthodox man began to pray.

"He was clearly a Hasidic Jew," said Yves Faguy, a passenger seated nearby. "He had some sort of cover over his head. He was reading from a book.

"He wasn't exactly praying out loud but he was lurching back and forth," Faguy added.

The action didn't seem to bother anyone, Faguy said, but a flight attendant approached the man and told him his praying was making other passengers nervous.

"The attendant actually recognized out loud that he wasn't a Muslim and that she was sorry for the situation but they had to ask him to leave," Faguy said.

The man, who spoke neither English nor French, was escorted off the airplane.

The airline claims they needed to take him to an interpreter in order to speak with him. Still, it was the praying that got him ousted.

These days, I'd say there's a lot of praying on airplanes. There certainly is from me when I'm flying.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


According to Prof. Bruce Hood 'irrational' beliefs spring from evolution itself:
HUMANS have evolved over tens of thousands of years to be susceptible to supernatural beliefs, a psychologist has claimed.
Religion and other forms of magical thinking continue to thrive — despite the lack of evidence and advance of science — because people are naturally biased to accept a role for the irrational, said Bruce Hood, Professor of Experimental Psychology at the University of Bristol.

This evolved credulity suggests that it would be impossible to root out belief in ideas such as creationism and paranormal phenomena, even though they have been countered by evidence and are held as a matter of faith alone.

People ultimately believe in these ideas for the same reasons that they attach sentimental value to inanimate objects such as wedding rings or Teddy bears, and recoil from artefacts linked to evil as if they are pervaded by a physical “essence”.

So it's not just because I'm ignorant, irrational and gullible that I'm religious, but I'm only human--it can't be helped! And the next time I reach for that second (or third) cinnamon roll? Why, that's evolution's fault, too!
Steinbeck said fighting obesity was not simply a matter of people eating less and exercising more, but discovering environmental and genetic contributors to obesity.

"We know this is not about gluttony -- it is the interaction of heredity and environment," said Steinbeck....

Dietary supplements and alternative treatments promising weight loss have minimal or no effect because they cannot match evolutionary influences that cause the body to conserve energy in times of famine, Dr Anne-Thea McGill told the conference....

"Early humans sought energy-dense food with high levels of fats, starches and sugars. We are genetically programmed to find foods with these qualities appealing," said McGill.

It's Stephen Jay Gould meets Oprah: you're irrational, but it's not your fault--evolution is to blame!

As a creationist, how do I explain why evolutionists stubbornly cling to their irrational beliefs? Hmmm....

Monday, September 04, 2006


The New York Times has a piece on community colleges, and their "eager but unready" students. It caught my eye as I'm teaching a couple of history classes at a nearby community college this fall. After some students basically walked out after a simple map quiz last week (not a 'pop' quiz, mind you) I'm not sure that 'eager' is really the proper term for them.

Why do students react this way? Because many of them simply aren't ready for college, according to the article:
The efforts, educators say, have not cut back on the thousands of students who lack basic skills. Instead, the colleges have clustered those students in community colleges, where their chances of succeeding are low and where taxpayers pay a second time to bring them up to college level.

The phenomenon has educators struggling with fundamental questions about access to education, standards and equal opportunity.

Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford professor who was a co-author of a report on the gap between aspirations and college attainment, said that 73 percent of students entering community colleges hoped to earn four-year degrees, but that only 22 percent had done so after six years.

“You can get into school,” Professor Kirst said. “That’s not a problem. But you can’t succeed.’’

Prof. Kirst seems to cast as an issue with the community colleges, which somehow prevent these sincere students from succeeding. I wonder how many community college classes he's taught.

Community colleges are great for older students who are trying to go back and improve their lot in life, and for financially restricted students who can get a good start on a college education. And there really are some students who goofed off in high school and realize that they'd better get serious. But quite frankly, not everyone is capable of college work, and no amount of sociological hand wringing is going to change that.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Our Day of Rest'. As we observe Labor Day it is well that we recall a much greater rest from our labors for all who are weary and heavy laden.

Friday, September 01, 2006


The Harrison County (WV) School has decided to throw in the towel on the fight for a portrait of Jesus (did He sit for a portrait?) that hung in the Bridgeport High School, this after the portrait was stolen:
The board has authorized its legal counsel to take steps to have the case dismissed.

All that is left is an empty space in the hallway of Bridgeport High School. It's where the portrait of Jesus Christ once hung, but was stolen just weeks ago....

"In light of current controversy surrounding the painting, we need to evaluate what would be best for the community as a whole," says board member Mike Queen.

In reaction to the board's decision, a spokesman for Americans United for Separation of Church and State said in a statement, "I'm delighted by this decision. I think the school board has seen the light and has chose not to replace the portrait but simply not to fight our lawsuit."

The ACLU, another civil liberties group involved in the lawsuit, said it's also happy with the outcome.

Well, having a 'portrait' of Jesus hanging in the school is perhaps more a matter of good taste than of constitutionality. That said, once again the ACLU and their ilk get their way with hardly firing a shot as yet another school board cowers before them. And apparently the best way to win a lawsuit over a portrait is simply for the portrait to be stolen during the course the suit so that everyone can simply shrug their shoulders and move on. (Is anyone actually looking for the portrait pilferer?)

The only thing more annoying than the ACLU, et al in this case is the linguine spined school board. Harrison County doesn't need a school board at all. They have the ACLU and portrait thieves to set their policy.

Thursday, August 31, 2006


Italian Catholic exorcist Father Gabriele Amorth has declared Hitler and Stalin were possessed by Satan:
"The devil can possess not only individuals but also entire groups and populations. For example, I am convinced that the Nazis were all possessed by the devil," he said.

"If one thinks of what was committed by people like Stalin or Hitler, certainly they were possessed by the devil. This is seen in their actions, in their behavior and in the horrors they committed," he said.

"Therefore, society also needs to be defended against the devil," he said.

Well, he and I are sort of on the same page. Anyone certainly can fall under the influence of Satan. Satan is a schemer, a liar, a murderer, a lion seeking whom he may devour. He is real and he is active. And you and I are on his target list. Does that mean they--or we--are possessed in the same way as the Gerasene demoniac was? Well, let's just say that someone who is a professional exorcist might have a reason to promote that idea.

In the same interview, Amorth throws Harry Potter in the same, um, cauldron:
"Behind Harry Potter hides the signature of the king of the darkness, the devil," says Father Gabriele Amorth, the Pope's "caster-out of demons".

Well, at the risk of being accused of being lured by Satan's tools, I have to admit I like the Harry Potter books.

Uh oh.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

KATHERINE HARRIS UPSET the usual suspects with her recent comments on religion:
Separation of church and state is"a lie we have been told,"Harris said in the interview, published Thursday, saying separating religion and politics is"wrong because God is the one who chooses our rulers."

"If you're not electing Christians, then in essence you are going to legislate sin,"Harris said.

Her comments drew criticism, including some from fellow Republicans who called them offensive and not representative of the party....

Harris'campaign released a statement Saturday saying she had been"speaking to a Christian audience, addressing a common misperception that people of faith should not be actively involved in government."

Well, separation of church and state is a lie, God is involved in choosing our leaders and legislation has quite a bit to do with morality. I can't say I'm too disturbed with what she said.

Harris is running for the US Senate in Florida, and is most well-known for her role in the Bush-Gore recount in 2000.

Monday, August 28, 2006


Two members of the Fort Logan Church of Christ on a birthday trip were in the Lexington plane crash:
After years of marriage, the romantic spark between Clark and Bobbie Benton was still aglow.

They loved to travel together, and Clark Benton had arranged a trip to Aruba to celebrate his wife’s 50th birthday, said Wayne Galloway, minister of Fort Logan Church of Christ in Stanford, where the couple worshiped.

“She was really excited about going,” Galloway said. “(They were) a very loving couple.”

The Lincoln County natives were aboard Flight 5191 when it crashed yesterday morning.

“They were model Christians, just wonderful people,” Galloway said.

Both taught Bible classes at church.

Bobbie Benton was always ready with words of encouragement for others, and Clark Benton took on a leadership role in the congregation, he said.

I didn't know the couple, but I do know Wayne, who preaches at Fort Logan. He used to preach at the church in Nicholasville, Kentucky several years before I did. He and I also were on the same trip to Colombia in January. I know it is a terrible loss for the congregation in Stanford and for the Benton family. Keep them in your prayers.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Blessed Are the Pure In Heart', continuing my series on the Beatitudes. Only the pure in heart can see God. Jesus, from whom our pure heart must come, tells us that if we have seen Him we have seen the Father. As always, Jesus is the answer to every spiritual problem.

Saturday, August 26, 2006


The New York Times has a sympathetic article about clergy. The catch is, of course, that they're female clergy:
Whether they come from theologically liberal denominations or conservative ones, black churches or white, women in the clergy still bump against what many call the stained-glass ceiling — longstanding limits, preferences and prejudices within their denominations that keep them from leading bigger congregations and having the opportunity to shape the faith of more people.

Women now make up 51 percent of the students in divinity school. But in the mainline Protestant churches that have been ordaining women for decades, women account for only a small percentage — about 3 percent, according to one survey by a professor at Duke University — of pastors who lead large congregations, those with average Sunday attendance over 350. In evangelical churches, most of which do not ordain women, some women opt to leave for other denominations that will accept them as ministers. Women from historically black churches who want to ascend to the pulpit often start their own congregations....

Now why is it that these ladies would have such a problem? Apparently because they're pretty much the only people who actually want women in the pulpit:
People in the pews often do not accept women in the pulpit, clergy members said. “It’s still difficult for many in this culture to see women as figures of religious authority,” said the Rev. Cynthia M. Campbell, president of McCormick Theological Seminary, a Presbyterian seminary in Chicago.

The Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank, pastor of Crossroads United Methodist Church in Phoenix, said that at every church where she has served, people have told her they were leaving because she is a woman.

At a large church where she was an associate pastor, a colleague told her that when she was in the pulpit, he could not focus on what she was saying because she is a woman. A man in the congregation covered his eyes whenever she preached.

Just because they decide they want to preach doesn't mean anyone--or any church--has to listen to them.

Oh, and those troublesome Scriptural objections:
Conflicting interpretations of the Bible underlie debates over women’s authority and ordination. Opponents of their ordination cite St. Paul’s words in I Timothy 2:12, in which he says, “I permit no woman to teach or have authority over men; she is to keep silent.” But proponents point to St. Paul again in Galatians 3:28, which says, “There is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Ms. Escobedo-Frank is familiar with the argument.

“People have written me in almost every church I have been in except the current one, and said, ‘Timothy says women can’t preach, so how can you?’ ” she said.

But no answer is given, of course. As Paul wrote both Galatians and the letters to Timothy, then I figure he likely didn't view his two statements as contradictory.

And what about those 'mainline' denominations that so readily accept women in the pulpit and in the leadership? Little more than museums to religious wishful thinking.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Forbes magazine has caused quite a bit of upset over an article giving men the advice: 'Don't Marry a Career Woman'. Rush was laughing about it on Wednesday and Naomi Wolfe was sputtering about it on the Today Show. Forbes has responded by posting a 'Counterpoint' article bashing 'lazy men'. Still, Michael Nor--the original article's author--makes some interesting points:
Why? Because if many social scientists are to be believed, you run a higher risk of having a rocky marriage. While everyone knows that marriage can be stressful, recent studies have found professional women are more likely to get divorced, more likely to cheat, less likely to have children, and, if they do have kids, they are more likely to be unhappy about it. A recent study in Social Forces, a research journal, found that women--even those with a "feminist" outlook--are happier when their husband is the primary breadwinner.

Obviously crazy talk like that needs to be silenced. Next people will start saying that God has a design for marriage, and that marriage works better when it's followed. Nah--I don't guess anybody would go that far...
FALSE ALARM in the Netherlands where a dozen Indian Muslims were detained. India's not too happy about it, although apparently you had a group of excitable young Muslim men who were ignoring flight attendants while passing cell phones and hard drives around.

Thursday, August 24, 2006


TIME magazine asked 40 years ago, 'Is God Dead?' It was more wishful thinking than anything else, but it appears that God has made a remarkable comeback:
This comes as the world indeed becomes more modern: It enjoys more political freedom, more democracy and more education than perhaps at any time in history.

It is also wealthier. The average share of people in developing countries living on less than a dollar a day fell from 28 percent to 22 percent between 1990 and 2002, according to World Bank estimates.

But this has not led to people becoming more secular. In fact, the period in which economic and political modernization has been most intense - the past 30 to 40 years - has witnessed a jump in religious vitality around the world.

According to the World Christian Encyclopedia, a greater proportion of the world's population adhered to the major religious systems in 2000 - Christianity's Catholicism and Protestanism, Islam and Hinduism - than a century earlier.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a bare majority of the world's people, precisely 50 percent, were Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Hindu. At the beginning of the 21st century, nearly 64 percent were. The proportion may be close to 70 percent by 2025.

A century ago godless ideologies were on the march--Communism, then Fascism--but they were soon found to solve nothing, their policies leading to tens of millions of deaths in the name of history's progress. Of course, the renewed surge in religion has its own problems, primarily the issue of militant Islam. For those interested in the great direction of history, however, this serves to show that history is unpredictable with no 'march to progress'(or imagined 'Progress'). For those interested in God as well, we cannot be unaware of His own hand in the affairs of men.
THIS AMSTERDAM FLIGHT is the same one Bill Robinson and I took last year, and Bill took it again this year. I'll be interested to read what comes of it.

The New York Times has hit the panic button because "evolutionary biology" was omitted from a government list of acceptable majors for federal grants:
The omission is inadvertent, said Katherine McLane, a spokeswoman for the Department of Education, which administers the grants. “There is no explanation for it being left off the list,” Ms. McLane said. “It has always been an eligible major.”

Another spokeswoman, Samara Yudof, said evolutionary biology would be restored to the list, but as of last night it was still missing.

And what possibly could be the cause of such an omission? Well it must be creationists, of course!
That the omission occurred at all is worrying scientists concerned about threats to the teaching of evolution.

One of them, Lawrence M. Krauss, a physicist at Case Western Reserve University, said he learned about it from someone at the Department of Education, who got in touch with him after his essay on the necessity of teaching evolution appeared in The New York Times on Aug. 15. Dr. Krauss would not name his source, who he said was concerned about being publicly identified as having drawn attention to the matter....

Dr. Krauss said the omission would be “of great concern” if evolutionary biology had been singled out for removal, or if the change had been made without consulting with experts on biology.

Yawn. Tempest in a teapot. If there's any plot it's on the part of the evolutionists (including the NYT) to promote hysteria based on what is most likely a mistake that amounts to a typo. To read the article one would imagine that no one could possibly study genetics at all without doing so in the context of Darwinian evolution.

Monday, August 21, 2006


In a story that should be news nowhere at all, the media is shocked--Shocked!--that a church hasdismissed a woman Bible class teacher because, well, she's a woman:
The minister of a church that dismissed a female Sunday School teacher after adopting what it called a literal interpretation of the Bible says a woman can perform any job — outside of the church.

The First Baptist Church dismissed Mary Lambert on Aug. 9 with a letter explaining that the church had adopted an interpretation that prohibits women from teaching men. She had taught there for 54 years.

The letter quoted the first epistle to Timothy: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

The Rev. Timothy LaBouf, who also serves on the Watertown City Council, issued a statement saying his stance against women teaching men in Sunday school would not affect his decisions as a city leader in Watertown, where all five members of the council are men but the city manager who runs the city's day-to-day operations is a woman.

"I believe that a woman can perform any job and fulfill any responsibility that she desires to" outside of the church, LaBouf wrote Saturday.

Mayor Jeffrey Graham, however, was bothered by the reasons given Lambert's dismissal.

"If what's said in that letter reflects the councilman's views, those are disturbing remarks in this day and age," Graham said. "Maybe they wouldn't have been disturbing 500 years ago, but they are now."

This ranks right up there with a story on a church opposing homosexuality. It's news only in the minds of those who have rarely if ever attended church. It is relevant insofar as such a move rankles modern society's sense of equality. One of these days there will be a move to punish churches for practicing beliefs--or stating such beliefs--in clear violation of the Constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion. LaBouf is likely to find already that such a move is not politically palatable, especially to a lot of people in New York.

Despite the typical mainstream press angle ("World Ends: Women & Children Hardest Hit"), it's good to see the media attention to the debt problem:
Alicia Ingram is only 22 years old, but she's already $27,000 in debt.

When she graduates from Georgia State University this fall, her entry into adult life will begin with a slow crawl from student loans to solvency.

"I feel like that kind of hinders everything ... where I'm going to live, how I'm going to live," says Ingram, who has delayed plans to attend graduate school. "It's having this burden of dishing out this money for something that I really hadn't expected."

I'm all for education, but if these colleges are really interested in kids' futures they need to stop leading them down the path of decades of debt.

Obligatory Dave Ramsey link.

After a drunken divorce, an Indian couple must separate, and she must remarry:
Islamic clerics in eastern India have ruled that a woman divorced by her husband in a fit of drunkenness can remarry him only after she takes another husband for three months, police said on Monday.

Ershad, a rickshaw puller, uttered the word “talaq,” or divorce, three times earlier this month while he was drunk, and when news leaked out in their village in eastern Orissa state, the clerics said they must separate.

“The couple had kept it under wraps and continued to stay together but the clerics ruled that since Ershad uttered the word talaq three times, it constituted a divorce,” district police chief Shatrughan Parida said over the telephone.

Under the rules, the woman, who is a mother of three, must marry another man and obtain a divorce from him before she can be reunited with Ershad, the clerics in the local mosque said.

The clerics have said the man the woman marries temporarily must be 70 years of age, Parida said.

Drunk or asleep: Don't say it if you don't mean it!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

PREACHING TODAY...'Treasures In Christ', Colossians 2:1-5. We can only enjoy the fullness of the blessings of Christ when we have the full assurance of understanding and knowledge of God's mystery.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


I posted on the NYT Qumran article earlier this week (see post below), which discussed a new article and book outlining the evidence that the Dead Sea Scrolls cannot be tied to the Qumran community or the Essenes. Showing up in my inbox this morning, however, was an email from Ferrell Jenkins pointing me to Todd Bolen's response to the NYT piece. Mr. Bolen, shall we say, dissents from the revisionist view:
That Qumran was not home to the Essenes has been suggested before, with theories that identify the site as everything from a Roman villa, military fortress, fortified farm, and now a pottery factory. To be sure, Magen and Peled are respected scholars who have excavated at Qumran. But their view is clearly in the minority. When you read a statement like this, "There is not an iota of evidence that it was a monastery," red flags should be flying. That the majority of scholars would hold to a certain interpretation without one iota of evidence tells us more about the speaker than the theory. That the only outside scholar that the NYT quotes is Norman Golb should cause all the bells to be sounding. Anyone who has spent time in the area has to just bust out laughing when reading Magen's idea that these caves are “the last spot they could hide the scrolls before descending to the shore” of the Dead Sea. I can just picture these guys running away from the Romans and just stopping by Cave 1 to drop off some scrolls! Oh wait, we need some jars for these - quick, run to the pottery factory and bring some back here! Those who have been to Cave 1 will understand the humor more; it's not exactly "on the way" (Cave 2 even less so). The proximity of Caves 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, and 10 to the site is telling as well. They are all less than 50 meters from the inhabitation. The attempts to separate the scrolls from the site are an utter failure.

Certainly read the entire post. His points not only about the evidence itself, but also about balance in reporting on such issues are well taken. The moral of this story: always be on your guard when you read the New York Times!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


There's always been some question, but some are casting new doubtson the link between the Qumran settlement and the Dead Sea Scrolls:
two Israeli archaeologists who have excavated the site on and off for more than 10 years now assert that Qumran had nothing to do with the Essenes or a monastery or the scrolls. It had been a pottery factory.

The archaeologists, Yizhak Magen and Yuval Peleg of the Israel Antiquities Authority, reported in a book and a related magazine article that their extensive excavations turned up pottery kilns, whole vessels, production rejects and thousands of clay fragments. Derelict water reservoirs held thick deposits of fine potters’ clay.

Dr. Magen and Dr. Peleg said that, indeed, the elaborate water system at Qumran appeared to be designed to bring the clay-laced water into the site for the purposes of the pottery industry. No other site in the region has been found to have such a water system.

By the time the Romans destroyed Qumran in A.D. 68 in the Jewish revolt, the archaeologists concluded, the settlement had been a center of the pottery industry for at least a century. Before that, the site apparently was an outpost in a chain of fortresses along the Israelites’ eastern frontier.

“The association between Qumran, the caves and the scrolls is, thus, a hypothesis lacking any factual archaeological basis,” Dr. Magen said in an article in the current issue of Biblical Archaeology Review.

But if the residents of Qumran didn't write them, whence did they come?
For years, Dr. Golb has argued that the multiplicity of Jewish religious ideas and practices recorded in the scrolls made it unlikely that they were the work of a single sect like the Essenes. He noted that few of the texts dealt with specific Essene traditions. Not one, he said, espoused celibacy, which the sect practiced.

The scrolls in the caves were probably written by many different groups, Dr. Golb surmised, and were removed from Jerusalem libraries by refugees in the Roman war. Fleeing to the east, the refugees may well have deposited the scrolls for safekeeping in the many caves near Qumran.

The new research appears to support this view. As Dr. Magen noted, Qumran in those days was at a major crossroads of traffic to and from Jerusalem and along the Dead Sea. Similar scrolls have been found at Masada, the site south of Qumran of the suicidal hold-out against the Romans.

Of course, where the scrolls originated matters a great deal in our understanding of their context. There will be critics of these critics, too, certainly, but the evidence seems to be going against Qumran.
COFFEE GOOD FOR YOU? That ranks right up there with dark chocolate being healthy. Finally these scientists are getting the hang of this!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

MARY WINKLER IS OUT. Her lawyers are claiming spousal abuse. This is going to be ugly.

Airline security in Britain has had a brilliant idea: focus efforts on those likely to be actual security risks:
THE Government is discussing with airport operators plans to introduce a screening system that allows security staff to focus on those passengers who pose the greatest risk.

The passenger-profiling technique involves selecting people who are behaving suspiciously, have an unusual travel pattern or, most controversially, have a certain ethnic or religious background....

Sir Rod Eddington, former chief executive of British Airways, criticised the random nature of security searches. He said that it was irrational to subject a 75-year-old grandmother to the same checks as a 25-year-old man who had just paid for his ticket with cash.

Ya think?

I realize this falls outside the usual parameters of topics on theosebes, but after being in 17 different airports this year and watching guys who obviously are low risk being singled out for extra screening (including me), it's about time airports actually do the job of security and forget about affirmative action and quotas.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Reagan said 'trust but verify'. It applies well to religious giving as well:
Billions of dollars have been stolen in religion-related fraud in recent years, according to the North American Securities Administrators Association, a group of state officials who work to protect investors.

Between 1984 and 1989, about $450 million was stolen in religion-related scams, the association says. In its latest count — from 1998 to 2001 — the toll had risen to $2 billion. Rip-offs have only become more common since.

"The size and the scope of the fraud is getting larger," said Patricia Struck, president of the securities association and administrator of the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions, Division of Securities. "The scammers are getting smarter and the investors don't ask enough questions because of the feeling that they can be safe in church."

Yes, you should be able to trust in such situations, but if money is involved the crooks will show up. And if money is involved, even the faithful can be tempted.

At the congregation I attend the weekly contribution is counted by two to three men who are not the treasurer before it is handed over to him. The treasurer posts a monthly list of income and expenditures for all to see. The ultimate protection for everyone is complete financial transparency.

The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

A discussion on what to do with a scientist who is (gasp!) a creationist has erupted at the Chronicle of Higher Education:
I just found out that one of the post docs in the lab is a creationist....Does anyone have any stories or advice on dealing with this? I am open minded about things, but I don’t see how I could trust someone’s research if the blindly reject facts in favor of beliefs (would you trust a priest who told you he didn’t believe in God?).

And a helpful reply:
Where did they get their PhD? By mail order... Sheesh.

Ah, the academy. Always marked by open inquiry and tolerance.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Every Man Complete In Christ' from Colossians 1:24-29.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

A NEW WEBLOG is on the scene from Jason Cicero of Montgomery, Alabama imaginatively named Jason H Cicero. Jason and I were in India together both this year and last year.

Friday, August 11, 2006


I'm in full agreement with the idea, but something seems lost in translation...

[Pic from Ryan Porche via Mike Cope]

Thursday, August 10, 2006

A JUDGE REFUSED to lower Mary Winkler's bond today.

Not to let the Episcopalians outdo them, the Lutherans are now facing their own homosexual clergy crisis:
A Lutheran bishop is asking the church to discipline an Atlanta parish pastor for defying church policy banning clergy from same-sex relationships.

Bishop Ronald B. Warren of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America's Southeastern Synod released a letter Tuesday explaining the action he is taking against the Rev. Bradley E. Schmeling of St. John's Lutheran Church in Atlanta.

He said he made the decision after Schmeling told him he was in a same-sex relationship.

Schmeling, who could face expulsion from St. John's pulpit, said he doesn't agree with his church's policy for gay clergy.

He made his position clear to Warren when he first arrived at St. John's six years ago.

"The policy isn't working," Schmeling said. "Good and qualified people are being excluded from the ministry. In a congregation likes ours, this is not a divisive ministry."

Homosexuality has been a divisive issue for many mainline Protestant denominations that generally preach tolerance of gays — within limits.

These denominations have tried to avoid splitting by adopting variations of a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, but such efforts are starting to fray.

Of course they're starting to fray. You can't coddle immorality with a wink and a nod and expect everything to coast along nicely. And this stands as a warning to everyone. We cannot be conformed to the world, but rather must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. The mainline denominations continue to reap their whirlwind.

You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. (James 4:4, NASB-u)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


Okay, this this is pretty funny.

A couple of books I picked up in India are currently on my read list. I'm a little better than 100 pages into Hyderabad: A Biography, which you can pick up in trade paperback for about Rs. 300 at the Walden Book in Hyderabad, but then you have to factor in the plane ticket. On deck is Shantaram, a fictionalized autobiography set in Bombay. It looks intriguing.

I will also plug again White Mughals, which I read last year, and is set in Hyderabad around the turn of the 19th Century. I was privileged to visit the deteriorating Residency where it is set a couple of weeks ago. Perhaps that visit warrants its own post.

As for watching, and in a complete change in direction, I was solicited a few weeks ago to watch and review Season 1 of the sitcom Dharma & Greg in exchange for a free copy (this by way of full blog disclosure). Now why me, you ask? Because I had mentioned the show in an earlier post in an off-hand way. As it turns out, my wife and I actually do like the show pretty well, so I received it and left it for my wife to watch while I was in India. Alas, she did not have time. So doing my duty, I am mentioning it now, with a promise to write more when we actually get a chance to watch it. The advent of TV shows on DVD is actually a good thing, as you can pick your shows and watch them commercial free for a lot less than you'd pay for a month of premium cable that never has anything on it anyway.

Of course, it works out well for this post that 'dharma' is the teaching of Buddha who was from India; the world's largest monolith statue of Buddha happens to be in Hussain Sagar lake in Hyderabad, just down from the hotel where I stayed. Picture of said statue, which I took about 10 days ago, below (click for larger version).

Free Image Hosting at

Monday, August 07, 2006


Forget all that boring medical stuff, this is much more interesting. Scientists are using X-rays to reveal Archimedes' hidden writings:
Previously hidden writings of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes are being uncovered with powerful X-ray beams nearly 800 years after a Christian monk scrubbed off the text and wrote over it with prayers.

Over the past week, researchers at Stanford University's Linear Accelerator Center in Menlo Park have been using X-rays to decipher a fragile 10th century manuscript that contains the only copies of some of Archimedes' most important works.

The X-rays, generated by a particle accelerator, cause tiny amounts of iron left by the original ink to glow without harming the delicate goatskin parchment....

It takes about 12 hours to scan one page using an X-ray beam about the size of a human hair, and researchers expect to decipher up to 15 pages that resisted modern imaging techniques. After each new page is decoded, it is posted online for the public to see....

The 174-page manuscript, known as the Archimedes Palimpsest, contains the only copies of treatises on flotation, gravity and mathematics. Scholars believe a scribe copied them onto the goatskin parchment from the original Greek scrolls.

Three centuries later, a monk scrubbed off the Archimedes text and used the parchment to write prayers at a time when the Greek mathematician's work was less appreciated. In the early 20th century, forgers tried to boost the manuscript's value by painting religious imagery on some of the pages.

This type of procedure can recover who knows how many lost documents, no doubt many with Biblical implications. And there's no harm to the manuscripts. Great stuff.
A NEW STUDY FINDS that teens who listen to raunchy lyrics are more likely to have sex:
Teens who said they listened to lots of music with degrading sexual messages were almost twice as likely to start having intercourse or other sexual activities within the following two years as were teens who listened to little or no sexually degrading music.

Among heavy listeners, 51 percent started having sex within two years, versus 29 percent of those who said they listened to little or no sexually degrading music.

Exposure to lots of sexually degrading music "gives them a specific message about sex," said lead author Steven Martino, a researcher for Rand Corp. in Pittsburgh. Boys learn they should be relentless in pursuit of women and girls learn to view themselves as sex objects, he said.

"We think that really lowers kids' inhibitions and makes them less thoughtful" about sexual decisions and may influence them to make decisions they regret, he said.

I'm shocked--shocked!

[Link via Drudge]