Wednesday, July 26, 2006

IT'S ALWAYS GOOD TO KNOW that good medical help is available.

We discovered this place yesterday, which is across the street from the new Hyderabad KFC. Original recipe is pretty good in India, but--alas--no mashed potatoes.

Classes wind up in Hyderabad today (Thursday). I was in Chennai over the weekend where I preached on Sunday, and then taught classes on Monday and Tuesday. I preach here in Hyderabad Friday night, then fly to Bangalore to preach Sunday. From there to Mumbai and the return home.

Amazingly, a thousand year old psalter in an Irish bog:
Irish archaeologists Tuesday heralded the discovery of an ancient book of psalms by a construction worker who spotted something while driving the shovel of his backhoe into a bog.

The approximately 20-page book has been dated to the years 800-1000. Trinity College manuscripts expert Bernard Meehan said it was the first discovery of an Irish early medieval document in two centuries.

"This is really a miracle find," said Pat Wallace, director of the National Museum of Ireland, which has the book stored in refrigeration and facing years of painstaking analysis before being put on public display.

"There's two sets of odds that make this discovery really way out. First of all, it's unlikely that something this fragile could survive buried in a bog at all, and then for it to be unearthed and spotted before it was destroyed is incalculably more amazing."

And there may be more at the same site.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


All is well in Hyderabad, and today marks the end of our first series of classes. We had about 120 divided into three classes yesterday. Last week we taught in Mumbai and this weekend we will be breaking up for classes in Chennai, Bangalore and Hyderabad.
The picture is of me teaching to a group of Telugu speaking preachers. Bro. Alexander is serving as my translator.

A beautiful scarab in one of King Tut's necklaces tests to be glass. The problem is it tests far older than any of Egyptian civilization itself. Scientists now think the glass may have extraterrestrial origins:
An Austrian astrochemist Christian Koeberl had established that the glass had been formed at a temperature so hot that there could be only one known cause: a meteorite impacting with Earth. And yet there were no signs of an impact crater, even in satellite images.

American geophysicist John Wasson is another scientist interested in the origins of the glass. He suggested a solution that came directly from the forests of Siberia.

"When the thought came to me that it required a hot sky, I thought immediately of the Tunguska event," he tells Horizon.

In 1908, a massive explosion flattened 80 million trees in Tunguska, Siberia.

Although there was no sign of a meteorite impact, scientists now think an extraterrestrial object of some kind must have exploded above Tunguska. Wasson wondered if a similar aerial burst could have produced enough heat to turn the ground to glass in the Egyptian desert.


Friday, July 14, 2006

GOOD NEWS: I arrived safely in Mumbai late last night along with Jason Cicero. Ed Harrell had touched down the day before. Bill Robinson comes in this evening.

BAD NEWS: My checked bag is probably still in Milan, Italy.

Tomorrow we teach classes here in Mumbai; Jason and I will then fly to Hyderabad. Who knows, maybe my luggage will even catch up!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

MEMO TO SELF for travel to Mumbai:

1) Take umbrella.

2) Don't ride commuter trains.

Regular Theosebes readers are well aware of the meltdown of the mainline liberal denominations (a redundancy). Now the LA Times is, too:
When a church doesn't take itself seriously, neither do its members. It is hard to believe that as recently as 1960, members of mainline churches — Episcopalians, Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans and the like — accounted for 40% of all American Protestants. Today, it's more like 12% (17 million out of 135 million). Some of the precipitous decline is due to lower birthrates among the generally blue-state mainliners, but it also is clear that millions of mainline adherents (and especially their children) have simply walked out of the pews never to return. According to the Hartford Institute for Religious Research, in 1965, there were 3.4 million Episcopalians; now, there are 2.3 million. The number of Presbyterians fell from 4.3 million in 1965 to 2.5 million today. Compare that with 16 million members reported by the Southern Baptists.

When your religion says "whatever" on doctrinal matters, regards Jesus as just another wise teacher, refuses on principle to evangelize and lets you do pretty much what you want, it's a short step to deciding that one of the things you don't want to do is get up on Sunday morning and go to church.

Exactly. Read the whole thing.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Blessed Are the Merciful' from my series on the Beatitudes. Mercy will be shown to those who extend it and understand how desperately they need it themselves.

Saturday, July 08, 2006


With my second trip to India coming up next week I have been somewhat distracted from regular Theosebes posting. I fear it shall only get worse while I'm there. I do plan to have the laptop, and I hope to post as opportunity and Internet access will allow.

The picture is of me in front of Victoria Station in Mumbai, on a much sunnier day than is being experienced there currently.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

NEWSWEEK FOCUSES on women in religion, an article prompted by Katherine Schori's election as presiding bishop in the Episcopal Church. I found this telling:
[O]nly two other American women have reached the pinnacle of a religion's organizational chart: Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science in 1879, and Ellen White, who helped to found the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863.

I think that pretty much says all that needs to be said about the matter.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006


May she remember her Founding.

Monday, July 03, 2006


When the final sarcophagus was opened, there was no mummy. There was a treasure instead:
Archaeologists on Wednesday fully unveiled the first ancient chamber discovered in Egypt's Valley of the Kings in more than 80 years, and cracked open the last of seven sarcophagi inside to reveal embalming materials and jewelry.

"This is even better than finding a mummy — it's a treasure," said chief curator Nadia Lokma, beaming at the sarcophagus packed with fragile remains that would crumble into dust if touched.

"It will tell us about the religious plants and herbs used by ancient Egyptians, what they wore, how they wove it, how they embalmed the dead," she said....

It is believed to be more than 3,000 years old....

Instead of the expected mummy, the coffin revealed embalming materials, dozens of necklaces made from woven flowers and various other religious artifacts.

Now that is a treasure. Who knows how much knowledge is crammed into that coffin.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


With a Communion split imminent, moderate Episcopalians (make your own joke) are torn about their faith.

After reading the article it struck me that something was missing in the entire discussion. Something very important. Yet after repeated searches for variations of the word 'Bible' or 'Scripture' I came up with nothing. It's no surprise the Episcopalians don't know which way to turn.

My often angelic three year old sat in Bible class this evening when the bell rang and her (very good) Bible class teacher told her, 'Molly Katherine it's time to go.' MK stays seated. Her teacher waits for a moment, but with no signs of movement from Molly K. 'Molly Katherine, class is over. It's time to go.'

'But I've not learned anything yet.'

You have to appreciate the thirst for knowledge, I guess.

Apparently almost everyone is royalty. You might even be related to Brooke Shields.
PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Freedom In Christ'. With our attention turned to the celebration of liberty and freedom this time of year, we need to remember we have a far more enduring freedom in Christ.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


A group of archaeologists believe they've found Noah's Ark:
A team of Texas archaeologists believe they may have located the remains of Noah's Ark in Iran's Elburz mountain range.

"I can't imagine what it could be if it is not the Ark," said Arch Bonnema of the Bible Archaeology Search and Exploration (B.A.S.E) Institute, a Christian archeology organization dedicated to looking for biblical artifacts.

Bonnema and the other B.A.S.E. Institute members hiked for seven hours in the mountains northwest of Tehran, climbing 13,000 feet before making the apparent discovery.

"We got up to this object, nestled in the side of a hill," said Robert Cornuke, a member of the B.A.S.E. Institute. "We found something that has my heart skipping a beat."

At first, they didn't dare to hope it was the biblical boat.

"It wasn't impressive at first," Cornuke said. "Certainly didn't think it to be Noah's Ark. But when we got close, we were amazed. It looked similar to wood."

In addition, some B.A.SE. members say, their discovery didn't look very distinctive.

"It looked like the deck of any boat today," Bonnema said.

Okay, sorry, but color me skeptical. I'd love it if it were true, but when they've got something stronger get back to me. We've been down this path before.

[Link via ArchaeoBlog]

The exclusion of the Bible from curricula is having an unsurprising result: people can't read and understand the classics of Western civilization:
William Faulkner's "Absalom, Absalom!," Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," and Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon" are literary works included on the syllabi for many English courses for which professors say knowledge of the Bible is valuable.

"Regardless of a person's faith, an educated person needs to know about the Bible," was the response of a professor quoted in the Bible Literacy Report II: What University Professors Say Incoming Students Need to Know. The report was released June 1 by the Bible Literacy Project at an academic symposium on the Bible at Baylor University.

In addition to being a sacred scripture to millions of Americans, the report said the Bible is "arguably the most influential text in all of Western culture." Not knowing about the Bible impedes a student's ability to understand classic and contemporary literature, the report said.

Nevada English scholars agree with the findings, but a Washoe County School District administrator voiced concern about teaching the Bible in public schools.

Assistant Superintendent Jerry Holloway said there are other means for students to get access to the Bible outside of the school system.

"We need to be careful that we're not putting anything in place that is specific," said Holloway, curriculum director for 25 years. "The world is not all Christian."

The Bible's place in the classroom can be justified by the importance of students having cultural literacy and becoming critical thinkers, said Dan Halcomb, English and journalism teacher at Reno High School. That does not mean teaching a course solely on just the Bible, he said.

"What every good teacher tries to do is teach students how to interpret things on their own," he said. "Nothing should be left out of that discourse, and that includes the Bible."

Halcomb said students seem poorly informed about many biblical references in literature, including the Genesis story of Adam and Eve.

Western literature is filled with biblical references, whether it's Shakespeare with its estimated 1,300 biblical references or Melville's characters of Ahab and Ishmael.

"To not understand the references we often find in western literature is to not understand the literature itself," Halcomb said.

But as you can read above, the war against public religion has frozen those running public education from being able simply to deal with the Bible without being frozen in fear or condescending in dismissal. Cutting society's connection to Scripture is causing our cultural decadence on many levels.