Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Thespian Paris Hilton refused to see her own movieat Cannes because there was too much nudity:
Hilton plays the lead character Victoria English in Pledge This!, but boycotted the premiere at the Cannes Film Festival after discovering the producers had added extra nude scenes without asking her permission, it was reported. quoted Hilton as saying: "I took the part on the assurance I wouldn't do any nudity. I wanted to do something where I'd be taken seriously, and they added a load of scenes with naked girls.

"I was so angry I snubbed my own premiere."

If I'm not mistaken Meryl Streep got her start in a National Lampoon movie, too, so clearly it is the path to being taken seriously as an actress.

You've got to know one thing: If Paris Hilton's sensibilities are offended it's got to be bad.

A skeleton dating from the time of Solomon has been uncoveredin Rome:
Archaeologists said Tuesday they have dug up a woman skeleton dating to the 10th century B.C. in an ancient necropolis in the heart of Rome.

The well-preserved skeleton appears to be that of a woman aged about 30, said Anna De Santis, one of the archaeologists who took part in the excavations under the Caesar's Forum, part of the sprawling complex of the Imperial Forums in central Rome.

An amber necklace and four pins were also found near the 5.25 foot-long skeleton, she said....

Alessandro Delfino, another archaeologist who took part in the excavations, said Monday's discovery highlighted a "social change" in the funerary habits of the people who dwelled in the area, from incinerating to burying the dead.

Experts have said the necropolis was destined for high-ranking personalities - such as warriors and ancient priests - heading the tribes and clans that lived in small villages scattered on hills near the area that later spawned one of the world's greatest civilizations.

Theosebes likes nothing better than a good ancient skeleton.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Or, No One Expects the Farris Inquisition!

Having documented the past abuses of Patrick Henry College (here and here) it comes as no surprise to Theosebes that Patrick Henry College has suffered a meltdown. Probably no one will be shocked to find out that President Michael P. Farris and his heretic-under-every-rock ways seem to be the cause:
A contentious debate at Patrick Henry College that began over theological differences, the interpretation of Scripture, and academic freedom has prompted 5 of the school's 16 full-time faculty members to announce they will not be returning to the conservative, Christian college next year. The announcements bring the total number of departing professors to nine in the past year, not including two adjuncts, as well as four senior executives who left in the past 18 months, departing professors say.

In the wake of the departures, the school announced significant changes to the school's executive staff. Effective July 1, Graham Walker, previously vice president for academic affairs and dean of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, will replace Farris as president, while Farris will assume the college's chancellor position. Gene Edward Veith, currently the cultural editor of World Magazine and a former English professor, will also begin that day as the college's new academic dean.

I really like the idea of Patrick Henry College. But the entire enterprise appears to have been little more than an ego trip for its founder and (now past) President. He apparently sought to run the place through arbitrary fiat:
"We were brought here on false pretenses," said David Noe, assistant professor of classics who has taught at Patrick Henry since its founding. "We are leaving due to a long train of abuses by Farris in violating both academic freedom and due process, as well as many other issues relating to Farris's running of the college."

Departing professors also cite Farris's treatment of government instructor Erik Root and his March firing of Robert Stacey, the chairman of the college's department of government, as additional reasons that confirmed their decisions to leave the 350-student college.

Noe, Root, and rhetoric and theology professor Todd Bates agreed to go public with Christianity Today earlier this month, they said, after Farris repeatedly denied their requests to respond to accusations that beliefs they had expressed were biblically unsound. "Farris said that we threatened the college's fidelity to its mission and vision," said Noe. "He spoke to the press, but told us we couldn't."

Read the article, but it ain't pretty.

Perhaps the college actually can begin working toward under its mission and realize the promise it has shown.

Monday, May 29, 2006


There's a new tough guy in town. Pat Robertson claims to have leg-pressed 2,000 lbs.--an entire ton! I wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of that roundhouse kick.

There's no such thing as evolution. There are only the animals Pat Robertson has allowed to live.

It's been discovered that Pat Robertson's tears cure cancer. Too bad Pat Robertson never cries.

Pat Robertson has already been to Mars. That's why there are no signs of life there.

Colombian President--and American ally--Álvaro Uribe won a landslide reelection. Why does Theosebes care? Uribe has done a great deal to break the cartels and contain the leftist rebels. His actions have allowed greater access to areas previously off limits due to kidnappings. No, it's still not a good idea to go for a mountain stroll, but if you're a preacher traveling to Colombia it makes you breathe a little easier.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...Psalm 77: 'Remember the Deeds of the Lord'. On this Memorial Day weekend there is nothing more important to remember than that God has not only performed mighty acts, but that He remembers us.

Friday, May 26, 2006


The detailed model of the Second Temple has been moved to the Israel Museum:
On a crest of Jerusalem's Hill of Tranquility overlooking the Valley of the Cross, the Knesset, the Supreme Court, Hebrew University's Givat Ram campus and the National Library, a model of the Second Temple has been relocated adjacent to the Shrine of the Book on the campus of the Israel Museum, in a spot where history and archeology intersect.

The Second Temple Model, which was located for the last four decades since its construction in the mid-1960's on the grounds of Jerusalem's Holyland Hotel, was moved to the Israel Museum this winter due to the construction of a new residential complex on the slopes of the Holyland hill.

The model, an exceptional cultural artifact depicting the Jerusalem of two millennia ago, was created before the reunification of the city at a time when Jews could not go to the Old City or the Temple Mount.

For the last 40 years, it primarily served as a tourist site, with about 300,000 visitors flocking to see it annually.

Although I own quite a few digital pictures of the model I've never had the pleasure of seeing it personally. It's good to know that care has been taken and that the model is being preserved.

Neil Cavuto recognizes that if you want to cause an easy controversy--and easy dollars--then take a swip at Jesus:
You wanna make a quick buck? Take a cheap shot at Jesus.

Just ask Dan Brown. Just ask Madonna. Both have built careers on tearing Jesus down, even as they make outlandish stuff up!

...Jesus, a good man, and for many, a good Savior, is good material for writers who can't bother with the truth. And aging rock stars who can't handle the truth.

In an age we like to shock to score, going after Jesus, gosh, even thinking you "are" Jesus, is the Hail Mary of financial touchdowns.

It gets people talking, and marching, and protesting. But it keeps otherwise insipid movies alive, and pointless careers afloat. They thrive not on the brilliance of their points, but the controversy of their actions.

And as Cavuto rightly reminds us, trashing Jesus is a quick buck but woe to then one who targets Muhammad.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Gideons have been banned from leaving Bibles in Australian hospitals:
The banning of bibles in Queensland and Victorian hospitals was political correctness gone crazy, Health Minister Tony Abbott says.

Almost all of Melbourne's main hospitals have withdrawn bibles because of the risk of them spreading germs.

And Gideons International, which supplies bibles to hospitals and hotels worldwide, said it had been banned from leaving bibles at several Queensland hospitals to prevent giving offence to non-Christian patients.

Mr Abbott told parliament there were enough problems with state hospital administration without adding concern over bibles.

"I can inform the House that administrators in Victoria and in Queensland have just discovered a new priority - it's banning bibles," Mr Abbott said.

"This is not an infection control measure - it is a thought control measure.

"It is political correctness gone crazy."

Yes, that's exactly the group from whom to keep Bibles.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Ah, sometimes commitment is fleeting. Britney Spears is ditching Kabbalah, the Jewish mystical religion introduced to her by, Esther, in favor of something new:
Why did Britney Spears really dump Kabbalah?

The pop star revealed on her Web site that she was ditching the trendy religion for motherhood. “I no longer study Kaballah,” she recently wrote, “my baby is my religion.”

In light of the recent news that she is expecting again does that mean that Britney is polytheistic?

Oh, and she didn't seem to like that whole tithing thing very much, either.

Monday, May 22, 2006


Today is the day of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's birth. I love the Google search graphic. Now's a great time to get your New Annotated Holmes, short storiesand novels.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Mary of Magdala: First Witness of the Resurrection'. In a return to biographical sketches of Bible characters, a look at current center of controversy Mary Magdalene. Mary is all things to all people, goddess, apostle, wife of Jesus, prostitute. In reality, she was a humble servant of the Lord who through persistence of service was given a great blessing: to see the risen Lord.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Apparently it depends on who you ask. To Bradley Burston it is if you're Jewish and someone (oh the humanity!) gives you a flyer:
We were driving in the Galilee, waiting for a red light to change, when they came up to the car. Their smiles were engagingly open as they wished us a fine trip. Then they offered us the flyer.

Jews for Jesus. Who says that evil can't be imported, and delivered, free of charge, direct to your car door?

Yes, it's that dangerous group Jews for Jesus in action. And their evil isn't because of their character (they are acknowledged as "pure souls"), but because of their target:
But bear with me for one brief moment, if only to read the next sentence, which has specifically to do with you, as well as with your Jewish prey, thousands of years of Jewish history, and evil:

Proselytizing is persecution.

Granted, it's not the same as burning us at the stake for Christ's sake, firebombing our homes for Christ's sake, staging apres-church pogroms for Christ's sake, ostracizing and terrorizing and beating our children for having killed Christ, lynching Jewish adults for church-distributed blood libels, torturing Jews to force them to convert, converting entire Jewish communities on point of death, deporting entire Jewish communities on point of death for having resisted conversion, or, after eliminating the conversion option, annihilating entire Jewish communities with the complicitous blind eye of the Holy See.

But there's more than one way to wipe out a people, and poison, like gas, comes in many forms. Sometimes it looks like a leaflet. Sometimes it looks like the Internet. Sometimes it looks like a smile.

One wonders how acknowledgement of the Jewish Messiah, the Son of David, could possibly be persecution. Certainly the 3,000 Jews who heard the gospel about the Jewish Messiah gladly on Pentecost from a Jewish preacher named Peter didn't seem persecuted.

Who knew?

Friday, May 19, 2006


A study of black Americans has concluded that religious activity lowers blood pressure:
Researchers found that people in the Jackson (Miss.) Heart Study who were involved with or participated in religious activities had significantly lower blood pressure than people who did not, even though the people involved in religious activities were more likely to have high blood pressure, higher body mass index (BMI) scores, and lower levels of adherence to medications....

"Our findings show that the integration of religion and spirituality -- attending church and praying -- may buffer individuals exposed to stress and delay the deleterious effects of hypertension. These practices can be useful for individuals to incorporate into their daily lives," [Sharon] Wyatt said.

If you feel that the weight of the world is on you, no wonder you would feel stress.

[Thanks to Jeff at Truth-in-Love for the link.]

Thursday, May 18, 2006


Shane Scott reflects on his17 years of preaching. Wow!--that's almost twice as long as I've been preaching. Does that mean he's twice as old, too?

For my generation it was 'Jennifer' and 'Michelle'. A few years ago it was 'Madison' and 'Brittany' (choose your spelling). The new name for today? Why, Nevaeh, of course:
In 1999, there were only eight newborn American girls named Nevaeh. Last year, it was the 70th-most-popular name for baby girls, ahead of Sara, Vanessa and Amanda.

The spectacular rise of Nevaeh (commonly pronounced nah-VAY-uh) has little precedent, name experts say. They watched it break into the top 1,000 of girls' names in 2001 at No. 266, the third-highest debut ever. Four years later it cracked the top 100 with 4,457 newborn Nevaehs, having made the fastest climb among all names in more than a century, the entire period for which the Social Security Administration has such records.

Nevaeh is not in the Bible or any religious text. It is not from a foreign language. It is not the name of a celebrity, real or fictional.

Nevaeh is Heaven spelled backward.

The name has hit a cultural nerve with its religious overtones, creative twist and fashionable final "ah" sound. It has risen most quickly among blacks but is also popular with evangelical Christians, who have helped propel other religious names like Grace (ranked 14th) up the charts, experts say. By contrast, the name Heaven is ranked 245th.

And whose was the brilliant mind behind such, um, creativity? The source of all brilliant creativity, a Christian pop singer:
The surge of Nevaeh can be traced to a single event: the appearance of a Christian rock star, Sonny Sandoval of P.O.D., on MTV in 2000 with his baby daughter, Nevaeh. "Heaven spelled backwards," he said.

It seems that perhaps Dante may have reserved a place for such a person. As the headline to the article asks, 'And if It's a Boy, Will It Be Lleh?'
FERRELL JENKINS, ever informative, has a handy page on Da Vinci Code resources.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


Stepping out on a limb Pat Robertson predicts storms will hit America's coasts this year. Oh, and maybe a tsunami, too. But he's sure about the storms bit.

Dave Ramsey and others are featured in 'The Debt Slayers', which contains this interesting tidbit I had not heard:
Although he is overtly Christian, [Dave] Ramsey resonates with a market beyond the evangelical niche: His show is carried on 272 secular stations. In March, cbs television began filming a pilot for a reality series that will follow Ramsey around the country, helping families conquer overwhelming debt and cut the credit umbilical cord.

I wonder if there will be any 'What's in your wallet?' commercials on that one?

Here at theosebes we like old things dug out of the ground just because it's cool. Fitting in that category is a newly found mummy in Peru:
A female mummy with complex tattoos on her arms has been found in a ceremonial burial site in Peru, the National Geographic Society reported Tuesday.

The mummy was accompanied by ceremonial items including jewelry and weapons, and the remains of a teenage girl who had been sacrificed, archaeologists reported.

The burial was at a site called El Brujo — "The Warlock" — on Peru's north coast near Trujillo.

They said the woman was part of the Moche culture which thrived in the area between A.D. 1 and A.D. 700. The mummy was dated about A.D. 450.

The presence of gold jewelry and other fine items indicates the mummy was that of an important person, but anthropologist John Verano of Tulane University, said the researchers are puzzled by the presence of war clubs, which are not usually found with females.

The woman had complex tattoos, distinct from others of the Moche, covering both arms and other areas. Bone scarring indicated the woman had given birth at least once. The cause of her death was not apparent.

No connection to The Da Vinci Code was found.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


A new poll indicates that reading The Da Vinci Code undermines belief:
"The Da Vinci Code" has undermined faith in the Roman Catholic Church and badly damaged its credibility, a survey of British readers of Dan Brown's bestseller showed on Tuesday.

People are now twice as likely to believe Jesus Christ fathered children after reading the Dan Brown blockbuster and four times as likely to think the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei is a murderous sect.

That's a difficult thing to gauge, of course, due to the fact that those who read the book are obviously a self-selected group. Still, it points to the reality that education on the facts that counter the book needs to occur.

Meanwhile in Cannes, audiences have been underwhelmed by the movie's initial showings.

Monday, May 15, 2006


Andrew Sullivan has a problem with 'Christianism', but his real problem is with Christianity:
And there are those who simply believe that, by definition, God is unknowable to our limited, fallible human minds and souls. If God is ultimately unknowable, then how can we be so certain of what God's real position is on, say, the fate of Terri Schiavo? Or the morality of contraception? Or the role of women? Or the love of a gay couple? Also, faith for many of us is interwoven with doubt, a doubt that can strengthen faith and give it perspective and shadow. That doubt means having great humility in the face of God and an enormous reluctance to impose one's beliefs, through civil law, on anyone else.

As a conservative Christian, but not really allied with the Religious Right per se, much of this strikes me as a dodge rather than his claimed 'humility'. Of course God is unknowable except through revelation, which is what the Bible is. Now if he doubts the Bible as a source (I hear doubt brings 'perspective and shadow' to faith *cough* *cough*), then why is he--or how can he be called--a Christian? The source of knowledge we have about Christ is Scripture. If you doubt Scripture then you can't really believe in Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God. If you don't believe that then you aren't by any reasonable definition a Christian. The same Bible that reveals Jesus as the Son of God also reveals certain moral truths. Jesus stated "If you love me you will keep my commandments."

Once one recognizes Jesus as the Son of God that then necessitates certain allegiance to Him. Submitting oneself to His will is what humility is. It's not saying, "I refuse to acknowledge anything other than what I want to do." That's narcissism.

Or maybe I just need more perspective and shadow...

Sunday, May 14, 2006


'Cracking the Code: The Da Vinci Code & Scripture' with guest appearances by King Arthur, Indiana Jones, the Little Mermaid and Ignatius of Antioch.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Beford County, Virginia's Cowboy Church can't meet in a barn:
Garland Simmons was excited when the Cowboy Church began meeting at his place on Horseshoe Bend Road in late March.

It appears, however, that somebody did not share his enthusiasm. Simmons was notified by Bedford County officials that the Cowboy Church meetings violate county zoning regulations.

"I got the notice certified through the mail, Monday morning," Simmons said.

The notice consisted of two letters. One was from Gary McIver, the county's building official. McIver wrote that, by hosting the Cowboy Church on his property, Simmons is using it in a manner contrary to its agricultural (AR) zoning.

He also wrote that the building in which the Cowboy Church is being held, is defined as a farm building by the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code. The Cowboy Church constitutes a change of use for the building.

"We are all in agreement that this event is a worthy and admirable cause," McIver wrote.

However, he wrote that it is an unpermitted change of use for the property.

The other letter was from Lindsay Blankenship, a planner in the county's department of planning. It directs Simmons to "obtain the necessary permits for the establishment of a Religious Assembly" on the property by May 28.

"I don't think it's the county," commented Simmons. "It's somebody that is against religion or against me."

The church has rustled up some legal representation, and seem to make a valid point:
Meanwhile, the Liberty Counsel has contacted [church pastor Raymond] Bell. According to Liberty Counsel's Web site at, the organization offers free legal representation to people whose civil liberties have been denied. Bell said the organization called him Friday evening and he agreed to accept their offer of representation.

Bell said that the issue is whether or not we have government authorized churches. He feels the zoning restriction on churches puts the government in a position of authorizing, or not authorizing, a church.

According to Rena Lindevaldsen, the Liberty Counsel attorney representing the Cowboy Church, the zoning code in Bedford County is very broad. It could even impact things people do in their own home and a person hosting a home Bible study could be required to get a special use permit.

Lindevaldsen said that, because the code is overly broad, it violates the Cowboy Church's First Amendment rights, and also runs counter to a federal law, the Religious Land Uses and Institutional Persons Act. According to this law, local zoning can't impose a significant burden on a church's right to worship.

"If he was having a square dance, nobody would have bothered him," noted Lindevaldsen, who said that she has read Bedford County's zoning ordinance.

Maybe they should just schedule a square dance following services...

'Da Vinci Code' lead actor Tom Hanks says don't take things too seriously:
But Oscar-winner Hanks said objectors to The Da Vinci Code are taking the film too seriously, telling the Evening Standard: "We always knew there would be a segment of society that would not want this movie to be shown.

"But the story we tell is loaded with all sorts of hooey and fun kind of scavenger-hunt-type nonsense.

"If you are going to take any sort of movie at face value, particularly a huge-budget motion picture like this, you'd be making a very big mistake."

Hooey and nonsense. Sounds about right.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


When it comes to instrumental music in worship Mike Cope doesn't think so. Personally, I like to be circumspect about declaring what God does and does not care about (cf. Nadab, Abihu). Then again, I'm sure Cope would declare that my views are "lame, built on shoddy hermeneutics." Thankfully, however, "those in the a cappella tradition don’t need to be ashamed of it." Whew! I can hold my head up with pride over my lame and shoddy tradition--thanks, Mike!

Birmingham's NBC13 reported this morning that the building of a church of Christ in Walker County, Alabama had burned last night. No word yet on the cause. There's no story yet on the website, but likely one will be up later.

UPDATE: From the Birmingham News:
Sheriff John Mark Tirey said no obvious cause of fire has been found at the Tubbs Church of Christ near Oakman. He said investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives plan to bring a specially trained dog to the scene to search for the source of the fire.

Tirey said a call came in to authorities through the 911 system at 3 a.m. It was made by a passerby who saw flames coming from the church and stopped at a nearby house to use the phone and alert authorities.

The two-story, metal-roofed, brick building was a total loss, authorities said. Its roof had collapsed over the sanctuary. It was built in the 1950s and wings were added in the 1970s.

I hope it's accidental rather than arson.

No, it has nothing to do with my looks, but a new company seeks to teach Americans how to act overseas:
Enter Business for Diplomatic Action Inc. (BDA), a non-profit organization founded by advertising executive Keith Reinhard after a worldwide survey of attitudes toward Americans convinced him that "our collective personality is one of the root causes of anti-Americanism."

"We are seen as loud, arrogant and completely self-absorbed," said Reinhard, chairman emeritus of the advertising agency DDB Worldwide. "People see in us the ultimate arrogance -- assuming that everybody wants to be like us."

My recent overseas travel has caused me to give these issues a bit of thought already. The new group offers some good advice:
*** Think as big as you like but talk and act smaller. In many countries, any form of boasting is considered rude. Talking about wealth, power or status -- corporate or personal -- can create resentment.

*** Speak lower and slower. In conversation, match your voice level and tonality to the environment and other people. A loud voice is often perceived as bragging. A fast talker can be seen as aggressive and threatening

*** Dress up. You can always dress down. In some countries, casual dress is a sign of disrespect. Check out what is expected and when in doubt, err on the side of the more formal and less casual attire. You can remove a jacket and tie if you are overdressed. But you can't make up for being too casual.

***Listen at least as much as you talk. By all means, talk about America and your life in the country. But also ask people you're visiting about themselves and their way of life. Listen, and show your interest in how they compare their experiences to yours.

I've not seen the entire list, but it probably should be handed out to everyone boarding an international flight. Yes, it's common sense, but trust me, it's not always followed. (Right, JC?)

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Residents of a Spartanburg, SC apartment building have been asked to stop their Bible study:
The owners of a Spartanburg apartment complex have asked residents to stop a Bible study held in a common area.

The owners of Heritage Court said the study violates the Fair Housing Act. The apartments are privately owned by One Management of Raleigh, N.C., but many residents have their rent subsidized by federal vouchers.

"It's not our rule. It's Fair Housing law, which says you cannot discriminate against religion," One Management Vice President Jenny Petri said. "It's unfortunate, but we are required to comply to Fair Housing laws. We hope that the residents can continue doing what they're doing within their own apartment."

Others are saying, however, that the law is being misapplied:
But the owners may be misinterpreting the law, said William Dudley Gregorie, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's field office director for South Carolina.

The Bible studies are likely OK as long as permission was also given to any other religious group who wanted to use the area, Gregorie said. "In other words, if you let one, you have to let all," he said.

U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis, R-S.C., plans to send a letter to the apartment complex management telling them the Bible studies can legally continue.

The Bible studies were quite important to the 20 or so people who turn out for an hour each Monday night for worship, singing and fellowship.

"We were really into this Bible study. It was a sharing time. Now we can't do anything spiritual. That's the pits," said Sara Bryant, who lives at Heritage Court with her husband, Bob.

If a roadblock to the free exercise of religion ('free exercise'...hmmm...I read that phrase somewhere) can be thrown up, you can be pretty sure it will.

[Thanks to Jeff at Truth In Love for the link.]

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Catholic priest Jonathan Morris - 'The Da Vinci Code'
reveals a real conspiracy
Someone, somewhere, deeply involved in the institutional promotion of "The Da Vinci Code," has suggested I lead a boycott against the movie. They proposed to me both dates and method. I declined. I can’t say a whole lot more....

How can we forget the swirling controversy over Mel Gibson’s "The Passion of the Christ!" Because I worked on the film and witnessed the phenomenon first hand, I know Jewish lobby groups — the Anti Defamation League in particular — were responsible in part for 'The Passion" becoming the all-time box office winner for R-rated productions. Neither Gibson nor his opponents planned it that way, but the results are indisputable, and in the opinion of at least one Hollywood studio, that same spontaneous drama is worthy of a staged imitation.

Not surprising, really. It confirms my opinion that 'Da Vinci' is in many ways the anti-Passion. In a confluence of Hollywood's deep resentment over the success of Mel Gibson's presentation of orthodox Christianity in 'The Passion' and their deep desire to cash in on the supposed craze for religious movies, 'The Da Vinci Code' seems custom made. They can undermine orthodoxy while making money!

But Father Jonathan is very right about this:
Dan Brown is capable of passing fiction for fact because Christians don’t know their faith — what and why they believe. That’s not Mr. Brown’s fault....

If the millions of readers and viewers of "The Da Vinci Code" knew the Christian faith, Dan Brown would be unable to muddle fact and fiction in the irresponsible way he has.

It is not a shock that most do not know their faith, but it presents a challenge to those of us who seek to teach the truth of Scripture.

...but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence... (1Peter 3:15)

[Thanks to theosebes readers SLC for the link.]

Monday, May 08, 2006


A Nigerian Cardinal is suggesting legal action against 'Da Vinci Code':
Cardinal Francis Arinze, a Nigerian who was considered a candidate for pope last year, made his strong comments in a documentary called "The Da Vinci Code-A Masterful Deception."

Arinze's appeal came some 10 days after another Vatican cardinal called for a boycott of the film. Both cardinals asserted that other religions would never stand for offences against their beliefs and that Christians should get tough.

"Christians must not just sit back and say it is enough for us to forgive and to forget," Arinze said in the documentary made by Rome film maker Mario Biasetti for Rome Reports, a Catholic film agency specializing in religious affairs.

"Sometimes it is our duty to do something practical. So it is not I who will tell all Christians what to do but some know legal means which can be taken in order to get the other person to respect the rights of others," Arinze said.

"This is one of the fundamental human rights: that we should be respected, our religious beliefs respected, and our founder Jesus Christ respected," he said, without elaborating on what legal means he had in mind.

Well, there would be plenty of money to target, I suspect, but good luck on that lawsuit. Arinze does make a good point, which has been discussed here before:
"Those who blaspheme Christ and get away with it are exploiting the Christian readiness to forgive and to love even those who insult us. There are some other religions which if you insult their founder they will not be just talking. They will make it painfully clear to you," Arinze said.

This appeared to be a reference to protests by Muslims around the world over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad.

The wonderful thing is that the One on whom Christianity is founded is different. His kingdom is not of this world. And His followers must be different, too. I have no problem with the Catholic Church taking the 'Da Vinci' crowd to court, but our role is to correct the record in the face of those who would intentionally misrepresent it.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'The Kingdom of His Dear Son', from Colossians 1:13-14, the second in my Colossians series: God's great rescue of man from the clutches of darkness, transferring us into the kingdom of His Son, which will stand forever.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


The California diocese of the Episcopal Church elects a new bishop today. Three of the seven candidates are openly homosexual:
The election would normally play out as a decidedly local event, but many from the broader Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion to which it belongs are focused on it because three of the seven candidates are openly gay or lesbian ministers in long-term relationships.

Three years ago, when the Episcopal Church consecrated the Rev. V. Gene Robinson as bishop of New Hampshire, making him the first openly gay bishop in the church's history, it set off a bitter fight in the denomination about homosexuality that threatened to rend the church and the worldwide communion.

If the diocese of California elects a gay bishop, experts on the church said, the denomination could edge even closer to the point of fracture.

Of course, the reality is the Episcopal Church has tolerated this for years or otherwise these candidates would not be in the position they are in.

Friday, May 05, 2006


A Knoxville Bible college student has confessed to burning down an adult bookstore
Police say a Bible college student charged with setting fire to an adult bookstore confessed to the crime after realizing it was a sin.

Benjamin Daniel Warren, 20, is a student at Crown College, a fundamental Baptist college and seminary of about 900 students in Knoxville.

Warren waived a preliminary hearing this week, and a grand jury is considering his case. His attorney, Chris Coffey, did not immediately return a call for comment Friday.

Authorities said a man wearing black clothing and a ski mask and carrying what proved to be a fake gun entered the Town and Country Bookstore on Jan. 31 and asked the clerk if anyone was inside. Assured the store was empty, he ordered the clerk to leave.

He poured about six gallons of "an ignitable liquid" inside the bookstore and set it on fire, according to an arrest warrant.

No one was injured, but the fire destroyed $600,000 in merchandise and caused up to $300,000 in damage to the building, owner David Stubbs said.

Apparently his class must not have covered that arson is a sin until just this week...

Think you know you're Bible? These kids do:
Consider this question posed in the finals of the International Bible Quiz for Youth, held in Jerusalem on Wednesday as part of nationwide celebrations marking Israel's Independence Day:

"'There were 80 men who came from Shechem, Shiloh and Samaria and carried out a massacre. In tears, a man from Mizpah came to the killers and beckoned them to follow him. He then slew all but 10 of the killers.' Who was the man and who among the killers survived?"

If you assume the correct answer about this obscure story in the book of Jeremiah would ensure victory and first prize of a free college education in Israel, the mostly youthful crowd that packed a 1,000-seat Jerusalem concert hall to watch the contest would have a one-word reply:


In fact, the right answer (Ishmael and 10 men who offered wheat, barley, oil and honey) would not even have earned you a place in the top three.

Now that is hardcore.

And what was the winning question?
Israeli teenager Adi Diament won the International Bible Quiz with this question from a story in the Book of Judges about the victorious battle of the Israelites over the Midianites in the Jezreel Valley.

QUESTION: Who led the military operation at the beginning of the second watch and what was happening in the enemy's camp at the time?

See the story (or your Old Testament) for the answers.

David Murrow says we need to re-evaluate our message to get men in the pews:
"We don't have to have hand-to-hand combat during the worship service to get men there," Murrow said. "We just have to start speaking (their language), use the metaphors they understand and create an environment that feels masculine to them."

Today's churches, Murrow argued, just aren't cutting it.

"My background is in marketing and advertising and one day I was sitting in church and all of a sudden it dawned on me that the target audience of almost everything about church culture was a 50- to 55-year-old woman," said Murrow, a Presbyterian elder who's now a member of a nondenominational congregation in Anchorage, Alaska.

The gender gap isn't a distinctly American one but it is a Christian one, according to Murrow. The theology and practices of Judaism, Buddhism and Islam offer "uniquely masculine" experiences for men, he said.

"Every Muslim man knows that he is locked in a great battle between good and evil, and although that was a prevalent teaching in Christianity until about 100 years ago, today it's primarily about having a relationship with a man who loves you unconditionally," Murrow said. "And if that's the punchline of the gospel, then you're going to have a lot more women than men taking you up on your offer because women are interested in a personal relationship with a man who loves you unconditionally. Men, generally, are not."

He does make some good points, and I think that there is imbalance in the presentation of the gospel at times that results from generational priorities. We must be careful not to make God--or the gospel--in our own image.

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

Roger Mudd pays tribute to Eudora Welty and her Jackson, Mississippi home, which is now open to the public.

The United Methodist Church has refused to allow a homosexual to place membership:
The United Methodist Church's top court has refused to reconsider its ruling that a minister acted correctly when he refused church membership to a gay man, the church announced on Tuesday.

The nine-member Judicial Council was split on the matter, however, reflecting the continued divisions within many churches on the treatment of homosexuals in matters ranging from same-sex marriages to roles in the clergy.

The tribunal reaffirmed a decision made last October that the Rev. Edward Johnson of the South Hill, Virginia, United Methodist Church was within his rights for refusing to admit a homosexual man to church membership and should not have been suspended for doing so.

The earlier ruling said Johnson followed church law that gives the pastor-in-charge the right to decide who can be received into membership. It said he should be reinstated and given back pay to July 1, 2005, when he had been removed by his bishop.
The real crime was that Johnson was suspended in the first place.

A navy chaplain may be charged and court-martialed for praying:
chaplain stationed at Naval Station Norfolk said he could face court-martial for praying in uniform outside the White House.

Lt. Gordon Klingenschmitt said he prayed at a March 30 protest opposing Department of Defense rules forbidding military chaplains from invoking the name of Jesus Christ.

He's accused of violating an order not to appear in uniform at news conferences in support of personal or religious issues.

The issue seems to hinge on whether his praying at the event was permissible participation at a bona fide religious service. Klingenschmitt is rejecting non-judicial punishment in favor of trial by court-martial.

One hopes he is not next charged with wanton hymn singing.

[Link via Drudge]

Thursday, May 04, 2006


Today is the National Day of Prayer, an event I find entirely in keeping with Biblical commands to pray, as well as the Biblical example of nations recognizing God (and being punished for not doing so!). Specifically, we are encouraged to pray for our nation and rulers, and again, Biblically we are to be very concerned for those who rule over us. I would think most would recognize our leaders could very much use our prayers.

So today get in your closet and speak to God. What a right and privilege Christians have!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

SHANE SCOTT EXPLAINS 'Why I am not a Calvinist'.

Local Birmingham station NBC 13 does frequent religion focused segments, often pretty well directed. Many, if not most, of the anchors clearly are religious, which is a nice aspect of Alabama. This week they did a two part report on Heaven; the video is on their website. Part II I thought was quite good. There's no way to link to the story directly, but right now it's on the front page. If it's not there when you visit, go to 'Watch Video' and you should be able to track it down.

mask back.' Egypt claims the St. Louis museum has a hot mummy mask, and Egypt wants it back:
The Supreme Council of Antiquities for Egypt has given the Saint Louis Art Museum a May 15 deadline to turn over the burial mask of Ka Nefer Nefer, which they believe left the country illegally.

Officials with the museum are evaluating documents from the council that seek to prove that the mask from around 1307-1196 B.C., could have been stolen from an Egyptian Museum storage room.

We don't feel like we've seen everything yet," Saint Louis Art Museum Director Brent Benjamin said. "It's premature to speculate what the outcome will be. We are looking at documentation and we are still awaiting other materials from Egypt."

Benjamin would not say if the museum planned to meet the deadline....

Zahi Hawass, Egypt's antiquities chief, said he has grown impatient with the St. Louis museum and will turn the matter over to law enforcement or the legal system if the museum does not act soon.

"I have sent them all the proof they need," Hawass said. "I don't understand why they insist on fighting this."

But it's not as simple as that:
The museum bought the mask from an art dealer in the United States in 1998 for about $500,000, only after checking with authorities and the international Art Loss Register to see if the item was stolen. The Museum also approved the purchase with the Egyptian Museum, Benjamin said.

It sounds as though the museum acted in good faith. After going through the proper procedures, at one point ought the Egyptian right of claim end? I'm sure you would get two different answers depending on whehter you posed the question in Cairo or in St. Louis.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Monday, May 01, 2006


Presbyterian Church (USA) is trimming staff:
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) said Monday that 75 employees at its headquarters will lose their jobs as $9.15 million in budget cuts have forced the denomination to reorganize its mission program.

In addition, nine unfilled jobs at headquarters were being eliminated, along with 55 overseas mission positions — 40 of which were being lost either through retirements or end of assignments, the church said....

It was the third round of job cuts in four years at church headquarters.

A sad day for those being laid off, to be sure, but it reflects a downward trend for the old liberal mainline denominations.
Police in Peterhead [England] are hunting a mugger who stole a bible from an 81-year-old woman.

The victim suffered shoulder injuries in the attack in the town's King Street on Sunday morning.

Maybe he thought it was one of those new Femme Sud Bible purses.

A few weeks ago I attended a lecture by Dr. David Edwin Harrell at UAB on 'The Pentecostal Century'. One of the items of interest he noted was the particularly strong growth of Pentecostalism and Charismatics in South America. Dovetailing with that, the Washington Post shows that Hispanic immigrants are also attracted:
Fabiola Briones is one of thousands of Latino immigrants who have left behind the ritual and perceived formality of the Roman Catholic Church for the personal experiences and boisterous services of Pentecostalism. The mass migration of Latinos to charismatic Christian movements, such as Pentecostalism, is more than a religious transformation. It also could have strong political ramifications.

Thirty years ago, about 90 percent of Latinos in the United States were Catholic, sociologists estimate. Today that number is about 70 percent, and it remains steady only because of high birth rates and new immigrants filling the pews. Most other Latino Americans -- 9.5 million of them -- are Protestant, usually Pentecostal or another evangelical denomination. Their numbers are fed by the conversion of second- and third-generation immigrants, whose families become more likely to convert the longer they are in the United States.

Regardless of one's political position on immigration, our position as Christians must be to see this as a door of opportunity to spread the gospel. And Pentecostalism is not what they need to hear.

In one of the best mainstream explanation of the errors of The Da Vinci Code, the AP of all people get the facts out. And it's not just the right-wingers who see the problems in Brown's book/movie:
Among more liberal thinkers, Harold Attridge, dean of Yale's Divinity School, says Brown has "wildly misinterpreted" early Christianity. Ehrman details Brown's "numerous mistakes" in "Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code" and asks: "Why didn't he simply get his facts straight?"

Because one doesn't want the facts to get in the way of a good story, of course.

The article really is a strikingly balanced by explaining straightforwardly why scholars have problems with Brown's claims regarding the divinity of Jesus, the Biblical canon and the marital status of Jesus. It would probably be worth printing out and having handy when your iconoclastic friends come over.