Friday, June 30, 2006

THE WINKLER MOTIVE has been released, and it was over money. Apparently Mary Winkler was the victim of a Nigerian money scam:
Winkler said she and her husband had argued throughout the evening about several things, including family finances. The problems were "mostly my fault," she said, because she was in charge of keeping the family books.

"He had really been on me lately criticizing me for things — the way I walk, I eat, everything. It was just building up to a point. I was tired of it. I guess I got to a point and snapped," Booth read to the court.

Booth said that shortly before the killing, Mary Winkler had shifted money between at least two banks in what he described as a "check kiting" scam. She deposited checks totaling $17,500 in family bank accounts from unidentified sources in Canada and Nigeria, he said.

The checks and money exchanges were not detailed in court, but defense lawyers said Mary Winkler was the victim of a financial scam.

Of course, other issue apparently were involved, but a Nigerian money scam? Oh, my.

Thursday, June 29, 2006


A Catholic Cardinal has speculated that the Catholic Church--and by extension others who oppose abortion--could be the target of international courts:
The Catholic Church could one day be prosecuted for its right-to-life stance by some countries where abortion is considered a woman's right, a senior Vatican cardinal said in an interview published on Thursday.

Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, criticized several Western countries for allowing abortion and introducing gay marriage and civil unions.

"I fear that faced with current legislation, speaking in defense of life, of the rights of the family, is becoming in some societies a crime against the state, a form of disobedience of the government, a discrimination against women.

"The Church risks being brought in front of some international court, if the debate gets any more tense, if the most radical opinions are heeded," Lopez Trujillo told Famiglia Cristiana, a Catholic Italian weekly.

Last week, another cardinal said he feared human rights group Amnesty International might start campaigning against countries that make abortion a crime. The group said it was discussing the issue but no decision had been made.

Quite frankly, it wouldn't surprise me a bit.

Drew Kizer tells us that he has stirred up the hornet's nest with his fine post on approaching Psalm 8:4-5. It's quite a tale of translation philosophy, editorial whim and a KJV only advocate more than has his say in comments (honestly, my eyes glazed over after about the second paragraph, but I'm sure it was a stirring defense of which King James would have been proud).

It all revolves around Psalm 8:4-5 and the proper rendering of elohim, whether 'angels', 'God' or 'heavenly beings'. His conclusion--rightly--is to favor a stricter rendering, which in this case is not the traditional 'angels' but rather the English Standard's 'heavenly beings' (the NASB's 'God' is likewise more strictly correct).

The new English Standard Version has made a very useful contribution to the constantly swelling Bible translation ranks. I've been impressed with it during the limited use I've given my copy. I'm not quite ready to jump ship on my NASB-u for my pulpit Bible, but I may consider it in the future. I know Shane Scott has already made the switch, but I'll still consider it anyway.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


A disease long off American radar, it came onto mine a year ago as I prepared to travel to India. Now, it seems, the US is starting to get serious about fighting the disease worldwide. One might assume that a great deal of money is already spent on the fight, and one would be right. But as Senators discovered the money doesn't always make it down to the people who might actually catch it:
At Congressional hearings last year, Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican and a doctor from Oklahoma, argued that Washington-based consultants and contractors have consumed too much of the malaria budget.

He called on Amir Attaran, a law professor at the University of Ottawa and fiery advocate on malaria, who testified that the United States Agency for International Development was too cozy with "the foreign aid industrial complex."

Only 1 percent of the agency's 2004 malaria budget went for medicines, 1 percent for insecticides and 6 percent for mosquito nets. The rest was spent on research, education, evaluation, administration and other costs.

The reality is, we know exactly how to defeat it. Consultants don't really seem necessary:
First, the A.I.D. is shifting its focus from mainly backing the sale of subsidized mosquito nets in Africa to giving more of them away to poor people.

It is also committed to buying combination drugs like Coartem because the disease is proving increasingly resistant to older, cheaper medicines. A dose of Coartem, produced by the Swiss company Novartis, now costs 55 cents for a child up to age 3.

Finally, the United States is also getting behind the use of DDT and other insecticides and will pay for large-scale programs to spray small amounts of them inside homes.

"We pretty well do know what the silver set of bullets are," Senator Brownback said at his 2004 hearing.

The decisive push for change in malaria programs has come from the White House. Michael Gerson, one of the president's closest advisers, described malaria in an interview as "maybe the main source of unnecessary suffering in the world."

If we're going to dump large amounts of money in foreign aid at least this is a useful place to do it.

As for me, I'm switching from mefloquine to malarone this year as my malaria preventative of choice. Just read about the possible side effects of mefloquine and you'll understand why.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


Reacting to the liberal drift of the Episcopal Church, one of its largest congregations is walking outh:
Christ Church Episcopal has announced that it will leave the denomination because it can no longer abide by the national church's decisions.

Leaders of the conservative Plano congregation announced their plan Monday, a week after the Episcopal Church elected Nevada Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori as its first female presiding bishop.

Jefferts Schori supported the 2003 consecration of V. Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop. She also supported the creation of locally authorized blessings for gay unions.

"The mission of Christ Church is to make disciples and teach them to obey the commands of Christ," said a statement approved by Christ Church's leaders this weekend. "The direction of the leadership of the Episcopal Church is different and we regret their departure from biblical truth and the historic faith of the Anglican Communion. ... We declare our intention to disassociate from ECUSA as soon as possible."

Others will certainly be emboldened by the move.

And at National Review Online, R. Andrew Newman reflects on the Episcopal crack-up, and includes a quote I had not read previously:
If General Convention showed anything, it’s that no longer will there be a need for such creative hermeneutics. Scripture simply isn’t important enough.

At the convention’s closing Eucharist, the new presiding bishop preached, “Colossians calls Jesus the firstborn of all creation, the firstborn from the dead. That sweaty, bloody, tear-stained labor of the cross bears new life. Our mother Jesus gives birth to a new creation – and you and I are His children.”

Our mother Jesus?

Bishop Schori felt no need to cloak her language so as not to scandalize the average Episcopalian. Tossing aside the New Testament, she transgendered the Lord without a qualm in the world — and for all the world to hear.

And so the Episcopal Church becomes as essentially pagan as the culture of Rome against which Paul waged his war.

Monday, June 26, 2006


A spinoff of the 'Bruce Almighty' movie, the upcoming 'Evan Almighty' will feature Steve Carell as a modern day Noah. I don't necessarily recommend seeing the movie (I never saw 'Bruce', and don't intend to), but some of the pictures of the ark are intriguing just to see the scale.

[Link provided by theosebes reader Mitch who apparently reads Latino Review]

Sunday, June 25, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Continue In the Faith', an exposition of Colossians 1:21-23, continuing my series on the epistle. God refused to accept His creation as alienated and hostile, and through the 'enfleshment' of the very Creator Himself we have been reconciled to Him. Now we must continue in the faith firmly established.

Friday, June 23, 2006

NOW THIS IS TRAFFIC. Just so you know what we're talking about with Hyderabad traffic. And this is light!
Waffle or Tactical Retreat?

They've pushed the envelope as far as they comfortably can; now it's time for the tactical pullback:
The U.S. Episcopal Church, trying to appease an angry and alienated worldwide Anglican community, reversed itself on Wednesday and agreed to try to avoid the consecration of more openly gay bishops.

The action came 24 hours after one of two legislative bodies at the 2.3 million member U.S. church's convention had rejected a similar idea.

The non-binding resolution adopted at the convention calls on those in authority "to exercise restraint by not consenting to the consecration of any candidate (for bishop) whose manner of life presents a challenge to the wider church and will lead to further strains on communion."

Debate during the weeklong convention made it clear that the "manner of life" caution applied to openly homosexual candidates for the episcopate. The church has been in turmoil since its consecration three years ago of Gene Robinson of New Hampshire, the first bishop known to be in an openly gay relationship in more than 450 years of Anglican history.

This does not change their attitude or their objective. It's just one step forward so they can take two (or three!) steps back as soon as the coast is clear.

As I prepare for a second trip to India next month, I ran across this comparison of Hyderabad, Chennai and Bangalore, all cities I will be visiting. My time last year was primarily in Hyderabad, and several of his observations struck home:
Another tip I would like to give while taking auto either in Hyderabad or Chennai is : Once you sit inside auto, hold the auto firmly for safety and close eyes and pray God. At least you pray during this time, you can pray for your health and safe journey. Even if you don’t want to pray, keep your eyes closed - to avoid heart missing beats due shock. Dear Bangalore auto drivers, you are worse compared to other drivers in Bangalore. But thank God, you don’t yet know how bad can you still get....

You do not exist in Hyderabad. If you can cross roads in Hyderabad you can cross any obstacles in life....

Bangalore is again out of comparison, this time because it is heavenly in Bangalore and other two places fight out to prove which can get more hotter.

I must say, his observations of Hyderabad seem dead on.

I'm looking forward to it.

Thursday, June 22, 2006


Jared Hess, he of 'Napoleon Dynamite' fame, is featured in the Washington Post. His new film, 'Nacho Libre', with Jack Black has a feature, or lack thereof, that it shares with the earlier 'Napoleon': There is no profanity.
Hess, a practicing Mormon, avoids the foul language that peppers so many mainstream movies, particularly comedies aimed at younger audiences. Like "Napoleon," "Nacho" is rated PG, and, though it contains cartoonish violence, not a single dirty word is uttered.

When asked whether any Hollywood players ever ask about his faith, Hess says: "Yeah, religion comes up all the time. It's totally cool. People have a lot of questions, and I think there are a lot of misconceptions [about Mormons] so I think it's been good. To a lot of people, I'm the only Mormon they know."

No profanity and yet he can succeed at being original, funny and commercially successful. Huh--how about that?

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

NYT Comes Face to Face With Conservatism

I mentioned The Dictionary of American Conservatism recently, and now even the New York Times has discovered it. It's a matter of the bastion of all things liberal (ie, the NYT) coming face to face with the reality of another existence (ie, conservatism). And what is the NYT concerned about? Why, race, of course.

For full disclosure, your humble servant is a contributing writer to the tome.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

The Semi-Pelagian Narrower Catechism. Link courtesy of Anastasis. [Disclaimer: It's supposed to be funny.]

Not to be outdone by the Episcopalians, Presbyterian Church (USA) has pushed right past electing women bishops and endorsing homosexuality to an assault on the Trinity itself:
For some Presbyterian churches, the phrase "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" may soon give way to alternatives such as "Compassionate mother, beloved child and lifegiving womb."

The Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly on Monday accepted a report that encourages, but does not mandate, using alternatives to traditional references to the Trinity.

"The language of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, rooted in Scripture and creed, remains an indispensable anchor for our efforts to speak faithfully of God," said the theological report for the 2.3-million-member Presbyterian Church (USA). "With this anchor in place, however, we are liberated to interpret, amplify, and expand upon the ways of naming the three-in-one God familiar to most church members. We are freed to speak faithfully and amply of the mystery of the Trinity."...

The theological report, five years in the making, explores and encourages such alternative formulations for the Trinity as:

"Rainbow of Promise, Ark of Salvation and Dove of Peace"

"Speaker, Word and Breath"

"Giver, Gift, and Giving"

"Lover, Beloved and Love that binds together Lover and Beloved"

"Rock, Cornerstone, and Temple"

Rock, Paper, Scissors, maybe?

Brittney McComb tried to thank God in her valedictory address at Foothill High School (Gretchen Crehan, Principal) in the Las Vegas area. But apparently God isn't allowed at Foothill:
A local high school graduation ended with roars of protest after school officials turned the microphone off right in the middle of one of the valedictorian's speeches. The microphone cut out after the valedictorian at Foothill High made reference to God.

The family says the District's decision isn't fair. Brittney McComb says she's a straight A student, number one in her class, and is headed to Biola University in the fall.

Brittney attributes all of her success to God. Trouble is, she tried to explain that during her speech which the school district said they told her beforehand was a no-no.

"God's love is so great."

This was part of the speech that Brittney McComb says she so wanted to give on graduation night. But because it did have numerous references to God and Jesus Christ, the school district cut off the mic, leaving her practically silent. That's when many people stood up and booed, showing their support.

And those grand advocates of freedom of speech the ACLU say that pulling the plug on the mic was the right call.

With guardians of liberty like the ACLU and trainers of youth like Gretchen Crehan and Foothill High School we have every right to be worried.

Congratulations, Brittney McComb!

Even Madonna knows she should behave herself in front of Dad:
Madonna cleaned up her act for her dad.

The singer has been shocking audiences during her Confessions tour, repeatedly using the f-word, flipping her middle finger at the crowd, reaching inside her pants, and suggesting that people perform a lewd act on President Bush. At a recent show in Chicago, however, the naughty talk was all but absent, because Madonna’s father was in the audience.

“She gave the crowd the finger only one time and never once said the f-word,” says a source who attended that show as well as another one earlier. “At one point, she actually asked the audience to applaud extra loud for her so that her dad would know she made something of herself. The crowd went wild.”

Now, if she can understand her behavior isn't appropriate for her father then why can't she grasp it might not be appropriate for anyone. Papa don't preach, I guess.

Monday, June 19, 2006


The train wreck that is the American Episcopal Church continues as the body elected 'Bishop' Katharine Jefferts Schori as their new leader. Her stance on homosexuality will certainly not endear her to the Anglican communion as a whole:
Interviewed on CNN, Jefferts Schori was asked if it was a sin to be homosexual.

"I don't believe so. I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Each one of us comes into this world with a different collection of things that challenge us and things that give us joy and allow us to bless the world around us," she said.

"Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people of the same gender and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of the other gender."

We're not sure where she got that from the Bible, but maybe from the place where it talks about female bishops.

Further proof that the term 'mainline denomination' is an anachronism.

[Thanks to theosebes reader JC for the link to the article.]

Sunday, June 18, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'The Image of the Invisible God' from a series on Colossians. Col 1:15-20 is one of the great Christological passages in Scripture, and it affirms to us that the Son, the Firstborn, is to have first place in everything. The Creator and Sustainer of the universe refused to let sin cheat Him of the creation created for Him.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

A NEW 'NATIVITY' BLOG, covering the upcoming movie, could be worth keeping an eye on. The project could be a worthwhile one.

Friday, June 16, 2006


Stephen Hawking claims Pope John Paul II once urged him not to dig too deep into the origins of the universe:
Hawking said the pope told the scientists, ''It's OK to study the universe and where it began. But we should not inquire into the beginning itself because that was the moment of creation and the work of God.''

The physicist, author of the best seller ''A Brief History of Time,'' added that John Paul believed ''God chose how the universe began for reasons we could not understand.''

Of course, Hawking has already ruled God out of the equation:
But Hawking questioned whether an almighty power was needed to create the universe.

''Does it require a creator to decree how the universe began? Or is the initial state of the universe determined by a law of science?'' he asked.

Hawking's groundbreaking research on black holes and the origins of the universe has made him one of the best-known theoretical physicists of his generation. He proposes that space and time have no beginning and no end.

And we're close to getting the whole thing figured out:
Hawking ended his lecture saying, ''We are getting closer to answering the age-old questions: Why are we here? Where did we come from?''

Well, I agree those are the questions on which to focus.

Limiting the scope of inquiry is ludicrous on its face, it seems to me. The problem arises from man's arrogance that he does not need God and that our existence is independent from Him. Hawking's 'law of science' will be universally binding and explanatory...until the next scientist comes along and overthrows it.

It is amazing how the scientists of the past had so much wrong, but today's scientists are always right.

UPDATE: A link to this quote was sent to me by Theosebes reader SLC:
Stephen Hawking has said, in his writings, "the actual point of creation lies outside the scope of presently known laws of physics," and a less well-known but very distinguished cosmologist, Professor Alan Guth from MIT, says the "instant of creation remains unexplained."
Hmmmmm....So maybe it has nothing to do with 'scientific law' after all.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


Scientists have found that risk taking may be a scientific predisposition:
Now Mr. Dallas, a chef in Seattle, is convinced he has a genetic predisposition for risk-taking, a conclusion the researchers say is not unwarranted, since they believe similar variations in human genes can explain why people perceive danger differently.

"It's in your blood," Mr. Dallas said. "You hear people say that kind of thing, but now you know it really is."

A growing understanding of human genetics is prompting fresh consideration of how much control people have over who they are and how they act. The recent discoveries include genes that seem to influence whether an individual is fat, has a gift for dance or will be addicted to cigarettes. Pronouncements about the power of genes seem to be in the news almost daily, and are changing the way some Americans feel about themselves, their flaws and their talents, as well as the decisions they make.

For some people, the idea that they may not be entirely at fault for some of their less desirable qualities is liberating, conferring a scientifically backed reprieve from guilt and self-doubt. Others feel doomed by their own DNA, which seems less changeable than the more traditional culprits for personal failings, like a lack of discipline or bad childhoods. And many find it simply depressing to think that their accomplishments might not be the result of their own efforts.

Now that some people have a predisposition for certain personality traits or abilities is not shocking news. Anyone who has ever had multiple children can tell you this easily enough. A typical exchange between my two older daughters runs something like this:

"That looks like fun--can I do that?"

"No, Molly Katherine--that's dangerous."

One is a risk taker, the other is risk averse. So it goes.

But this latest push essentially takes personal responsibility away from individuals. Yes, I probably can blame genetics that I did not become an Olympic track and field star, but there's only so far one can take such reasoning.

This ultimately is the next step in deterministic evolution. One of the logical conclusions of evolutionists is that as we are simply cosmic accidents, and our brain activity is simply the result of chemical interaction (and genetic programming) then there's not really any 'you' there. You have no real control and therefore no responsibility. You're just a randomly put together bag of cosmic dust stuck in the middle of nowhere in a two-bit galaxy. Ain't science grand?

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

MARY WINKLER PLEADED not guilty to first degree murder charges. That's standard and not surprising.

Two observations: 1) I see she is wearing a cross necklace in the picture. 2) I see that Nancy Grace explored motives for the murder on her program this evening. I guess she wanted another chance to call churches of Christ a cult.

Southern Baptists have continued their stand against alcohol at their current convention:
Southern Baptists held the line against alcoholic spirits on Wednesday, passing a resolution expressing "our total opposition to the manufacturing, advertising, distributing, and consuming of alcoholic beverages."

The resolution blames alcohol for the breakup of families and" countless injuries and deaths on the nation's highways."

It urges that members of the denomination's trustee boards and committees be committed abstainers.

The vote followed a volley of debate by messengers to the annual meeting of the 16-million-member denomination.

As a practical matter they are correct, of course. However, conventions passing resolutions lead to a whole host of problems. How about, Resolved: We will no longer have conventions and pass resolutions.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006


The standard position of modern scholarship is that the Bible--particularly the Old Testament--is historically unreliable. In fact, usually it's not only guilty until proven innocent, but guilty in the face of any amount of evidence to the contrary.

The latest example of this involves the ancient Edomites, a frequent nemesis of Israel in the OT. New evidence suggests that the Edomites were developed earlier than scholars have tended--or wanted--to believe:
An international team of archaeologists has recorded radiocarbon dates that they say show the tribes of Edom may have indeed come together in a cohesive society as early as the 12th century B.C., certainly by the 10th. The evidence was found in the ruins of a large copper-processing center and fortress at Khirbat en-Nahas, in the lowlands of what was Edom and is now part of Jordan.

Thomas E. Levy, a leader of the excavations, said in an interview last week that the findings there and at abandoned mines elsewhere in the region demonstrated that the Edomites had developed a complex state much earlier than previously thought.

With the addition of new dates and more evidence of the importance of copper in the emergence of Edom, the two archaeologists have amplified their interpretations in an article being published this month in the magazine Biblical Archaeology Review.

"We have discovered a degree of social complexity in the land of Edom," they wrote, "that demonstrates the weak reed on the basis of which a number of scholars have scoffed at the idea of a state or complex chiefdom in Edom at this early period."

The findings, Dr. Levy and Dr. Najjar added, lend credence to biblical accounts of the rivalry between Edom and the Israelites in what was then known as Judah. By extension, they said, this supported the tradition that Judah itself had by the time of David and Solomon, in the early 10th century, emerged as a kingdom with ambition and the means of fighting off the Edomites.

The Hebrew Bible mentioned the Edomites no fewer than 99 times. In Genesis, Esau, Jacob's twin brother, is described as the ancestor of the Edomites, and a reference is made to "the kings who reigned in the land of Edom, before any king reigned over the Israelites." Dr. Levy said this statement showed that the Israelites acknowledged Edom's early political development.

In the context, Dr. Levy and Dr. Najjar wrote, "the biblical references to the Edomites, especially their conflicts with David and subsequent Judahite kings, garner a new plausibility."

Not so fast, say the Biblical literalists:
Most criticism has come from advocates of a "low chronology" or "minimalist" school of early biblical history. They contend that in David's time Edom was a pastoral society, and Judah not much more advanced. In this view, ancient Israel did not develop into a true state until the eighth century B.C., a century and a half after David.

More widely held in recent years is the estimate that Edom did not become a complex society and kingdom until the eighth or seventh centuries, presumably as a consequence of rule by the Assyrian empire.

Israel Finkelstein, an archaeologist at Tel Aviv University and a leading proponent of the low-chronology model, has said the new research does "not shed new light on the question of state formation in Edom." He argues that perhaps the copper operations were controlled by chieftains in Beersheba, to the west, and supplied material for urban centers west and north of Edom.

Dr. Levy and Dr. Najjar said their excavations showed that "this image of external control is not convincing."

Finkelstein's objections amount to little more than a child putting his hands over his ears and repeating "I can't hear you!" over and over. The evidence mounts year by year that Bible is historically reliable. If you've already decided it can't be true, however, you'll always find a way to make sure it's not.

[Thanks to Wild Bill for the link.]

The Shin Buddhist sect, long uninterested in meditation, has become convinced that maybe it's not such a bad idea after all:
So what to do if you are part of an ancient Buddhist tradition that is huge in Asia but has failed to catch on in the United States, in part because it has no real place for meditation?

Change the tradition....

Spurred by a new reform-minded bishop, Koshin Ogui, a growing number of the movement's temples have abandoned their traditional lack of interest in meditation and are offering the practice as a way to survive by reaching out to non-Japanese adherents.

I have no issue with meditation per se, nor with being sensitive to the needs of one's congregants. But if a religion is forced to change one of its fundamental approaches and practices in order to survive, does that abandonment itself signal the end of that religion. Does survival of the name and the institutional structure alone constitute substantive survival?

Now that the uber-spiritual Britney Spears is no interested in Kabbalah, her former bussing partner, Esther is calling off their religious connection:
Madonna spent a great deal of time and money wooing the younger singer into the Kabbalah fold, and it worked for at least a while; Spears was spotted wearing the trendy religion’s trademark red string bracelet and toting around Kabbalah books.

But not long ago, Spears publicly ditched the mystical offshoot of Judaism, writing on her Web site: “I no longer study Kabbalah, my baby is my religion.” Spears, who was raised a Baptist, has allegedly been consulting with a “Christian Life Coach” about her troubled marriage to Kevin Federline.

“Madonna spent months teaching Britney the Kabbalah system and splashed out thousands on the ancient scripture for her,” according to a source quoted by, which is further reporting that Madonna is demanding that Spears return the twelfth-century book on Kabbalah that she gave her as a wedding present. Madonna’s rep had no comment by press time, but the source said: “She feels she has wasted time, money and precious gifts on Brit.”

Sniff...sniff...I thought those kids would make it.

Monday, June 12, 2006


In dismissing a lawsuit filed by professional atheist Michael Newdow who sought to ban the use of 'In God We Trust' on U.S. currency a judge has ruled that, well, it doesn't mean anything anyway:
A federal judge on Monday rejected a lawsuit from an atheist who said having the phrase "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins and dollar bills violated his First Amendment rights.

U.S. District Judge Frank C. Damrell Jr. said the minted words amounted to a secular national slogan that did not trample on Michael Newdow's avowed religious views.

If that's the case perhaps the atheists really did win.
MARY WINKLER HAS BEEN INDICTED by a grand jury for first-degree murder. The article states that the shooting was premeditated, but nothing else has been revealed about the motive.

A Colorado high school is in a tizzy over a graduate who slipped Jesus into her commencement speech:
A high school graduate who used her commencement speech to urge families to learn about Jesus Christ has acknowledged said she did not tell school officials she planned to make the remarks.

Lewis-Palmer High School officials asked Erica Corder to tell the parents of other students that educators did not condone her remarks at the May 25 commencement. School officials said that would have been a violation of the Constitution.

In her part of the valedictorian speech, the 18-year-old Corder said, "If you don't already know (Jesus) personally, I encourage you to find out more about the sacrifice he made for you."

Corder said she planned the remarks for months but did not tell school officials or the other 14 speakers, who had cooperated on drawing up a speech and who each took a part in presenting it. Corder went last.

Corder did not include her comments about Jesus when they rehearsed in front of Principal Mark Brewer.

In an e-mail to parents, Corder said she may have offended some people but did not intend to.

She said she was sorry she had not told the principal or other speakers of her plans, but she did not apologize for what she said.

Against the Constitution? I suppose that would be the "no high school shall allow a student to mention Jesus" clause.

Well, good for her. Fight the power, baby!

Sunday, June 11, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'An Excellent Wife Is the Crown of Her Husband': Thoughts on Finding a Spouse. The proverb tells us that a prudent wife is from the Lord. God is not neutral on the issue of our spouse. If we care to include Him in the process we will be well rewarded.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


Muslim women not only don't see themselves as oppressed, but actually think that maybe we need to clean up our own act:
The most frequent response to the question, "What do you admire least about the West?" was the general perception of moral decay, promiscuity and pornography that pollsters called the "Hollywood image" that is regarded as degrading to women.

It is indeed the sign of a degraded culture when we think that people who would understand the reality of the 'Hollywood image' are the ones who are brainwashed.

Yes, there are some things we can learn from their cultural understanding.

Friday, June 09, 2006

New Video Game: What Were They Thinking?

Those wacky guys from the 'Left Behind' series apparently have their own video game coming out, and it ain't pretty:
This game immerses children in present-day New York City -- 500 square blocks, stretching from Wall Street to Chinatown, Greenwich Village, the United Nations headquarters, and Harlem. The game rewards children for how effectively they role play the killing of those who resist becoming a born again Christian. The game also offers players the opportunity to switch sides and fight for the army of the AntiChrist, releasing cloven-hoofed demons who feast on conservative Christians and their panicked proselytes (who taste a lot like Christian).

Is this paramilitary mission simulator for children anything other than prejudice and bigotry using religion as an organizing tool to get people in a violent frame of mind? The dialogue includes people saying, "Praise the Lord," as they blow infidels away.

Quite honestly, when I first saw it I thought "spoof". As did the guys at the website linked above:
In this way, the game resembles a send-up of Christian-themed video games by "The Simpsons." "Billy Graham's Bible Blaster," is a first-person shooter game in which you fire Bibles at club-carrying heathens to convert them into card-carrying Republicans.

According to an interview with spokesman Derek Asato this whole turn the other cheek thing is overrated:
The promoters suggest Jesus' commandment that his followers should "turn the other cheek" has been misunderstood.

"The Bible says you do not have to stand there and let someone kill you," said Derek Asato, a spokesman for Left Behind Games.

"Jesus did not say you have to let yourself be a punching bag or murder victim," Mr. [Troy] Lyndon said in a telephone interview.

I suppose it goes to show that people can convince themselves that pretty much anything is a good idea:
Asked whether the goal of "Eternal Forces" is to lead people to Christianity, Mr. Lyndon said: "Our focus is more on the teachings of Jesus, and his prayers for hope, love and peace, than on proselytizing."

He said his company hopes to sell about 500,000 games, priced at $49.95 each. A main target for marketing will be so-called "megachurches," which have thousands of members.

I guess you can chalk one up for the Antichrist with this one.

Thursday, June 08, 2006


Roy Moore failed--and badly--in his bid to unseat incumbent Gov. Bob Riley for Alabama's Republican nomination on Tuesday. Taylor Bright at the Huntsville Times discusses his possible religious overreach:
Moore and Supreme Court Associate Justice Tom Parker, Moore's former spokesman, lost by landslides in their races for governor and chief justice.

Moore received one-third of the vote in the Republican primary against Gov. Bob Riley. Parker received 39 percent of the vote against Riley's former director of finance, Chief Justice Drayton Nabers.

"I think they overreached," [William] Stewart said.

Stewart said the candidates also went up against well-funded opponents in their own party: "You can't go with a pop gun versus a shotgun."

While I supported Moore's stand against the Federal order to remove the Ten Commandment display (not the same, by the way, as supporting the display itself), Moore tends to come across as a bit, well, televangelisty. Riley is a seasoned politician, who is relatively (by GOP standards) conservative.

As the article states, and as anyone who has watched the Alabama political ads of late can attest, religion won't be leaving Alabama politics anytime soon.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


You can get a little religion to go with your hotdog at the game on Faith Night at the stadium:
It has long been noted that in certain parts of the United States, a fine line separates sports from religion. But at a minor league indoor football game last month in Birmingham, Ala., fans may have witnessed as transparent an attempt to merge football and church as had ever been tried.

Before kickoff, a Christian band called Audio Adrenaline entertained the crowd. Promoters gave away thousands of Bibles and bobblehead dolls depicting biblical characters like Daniel, Noah and Moses. And when the home team, the Birmingham Steeldogs, took the field, they wore specially made jerseys with the book and number of bible verses printed on the back....

Faith Nights [are] a spiritual twist on Frisbee Nights and Bat Days. While religious-themed sports promotions were once largely a Bible Belt phenomenon that entailed little more than ticket discounts for church and synagogue groups, Faith Nights feature bands, giveaways and revival-style testimonials from players. They have migrated from the Deep South to northern stadiums from Spokane, Wash., to Bridgewater, N.J.

Third Coast Sports, a company in Nashville that says it specializes in church marketing and event planning for sports teams, has scheduled 70 this year in 44 cities, and many teams produce Faith Nights on their own.

They are about to become even bigger. This summer, the religious promotions will hit Major League Baseball. The Atlanta Braves are planning three Faith Days this season, the Arizona Diamondbacks one. The Florida Marlins have tentatively scheduled a Faith Night for September.

And quite frankly, what better fans to lure to the stadium. MLB could certainly use a values makeover.
'Dianetics' Goes Talladega

Hoping to cash in on the Nascar craze, Scientology is getting into racecars:
Don’t be surprised if Tom Cruise becomes a NASCAR fan. Scientology is getting into the wildly popular race sport.

“Dianetics,” the book written by Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, is sponsoring a racing team — dubbed “Ignite Your Potential” — that will tour the NASCAR circuit. A Dianetics Racing Web site is being set up for fans.

Driver Kenton Gray credits Hubbard’s work with making him a good driver. “It’s markedly improved my focus and my consistency,” he said in an announcement from Hubbard’s publisher. “Through ‘Dianetics’ I’ve handled stress and increased my performance and ability to compete—both on the track and in life.”

“Scientology makes a point of recruiting celebrities as a part of it’s marketing appeal,” says a source. “If this is another marketing appeal — reaching out to the NASCAR crowd — it’s brilliant.”

Somehow I don't think L. Ron Hubbard will play with the Nascar crowd.

There's a nice sneak peek over at Christianity Today about the upcoming movie O Little Town. This sounds fairly promising:
"The nativity is usually presented as an event-board story—this happened, then this happened, then this happened," [Mike Rich] says. "It's rarely presented as a character story. That's how I wanted to do it."

I've read Rich's script, and it's faithful and reverent to the Gospel accounts, but also brings Joseph and Mary's characters alive in a very human way. They wrestle with fears and doubts and anxieties, all within the framework of unshakeable faith.

We meet their parents and families, even before they're betrothed to one another. We're there for the awkward moment when Mary's father tells his daughter that she will be Joseph's wife. We're there for Gabriel's visit, for Joseph's dream, for the journey to Bethlehem—and the gamut of emotions that each experiences, every step of the way.

We get to know Elizabeth and Zechariah. We hit the road with the three wise men—Balthasar, Gaspar, and Melchior. We meet shepherds, tending their flocks by night. We go into Herod's palace and see what a despicable, paranoid man he really is.

Things sound pretty good. One wishes they could have broken out of the traditional mold and varied the number of Wise Men, but I guess it must be three.

Now this is what we want following the success of The Passion.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Yes, I got as tired of posting about the Da Vinci Code as you got of reading the posts. But it appears that Dan Brown may be in hot water for plagiarism:
Controversy in the press surrounding 'Da Vinci Code' author Dan Brown, just beginning to fade, will likely revive later this week when the July issue of Vanity Fair hits the stands. According to an advance copy, the magazine's contributing editor Seth Mnookin alleges -- in a massive article titled 'DaVinci Clone?' -- two new instances of possible plagiarism in Brown's past. Two textual analysis experts also tell him they believe Brown borrowed the plot for his book from Lewis Perdue's 'Daughter of God.'

The two libel experts say they are convinced Brown borrowed heavily from the Perdue book, despite Brown's recent victory in court. John Olsson, the director of Britain's Forensic Linguistics Institute, said, 'This is the most blatant example of in-your-face plagiarism I've ever seen. It just goes on and on. There are literally hundreds of parallels.'

Brown did not respond to requests for comment from Vanity Fair.

Mnookin also cites an incident in which Brown copied for 'The DaVinci Code' an exact passage from the paper 'Leonardo's Lost Robot,' written by robotics expert Mark Rosheim. Brown's publisher, Doubleday, said it was covered under fair-use. Rosheim says, 'Every now and then I'll be giving a talk and someone will come in with The Da Vinci Code and ask me to sign a copy. Either that or they'll accuse me of copying him.'

Finally, Mnookin offers evidence that he says may link Brown's wife, Blythe, to a spate of 'mysterious' e-mails that Perdue has received, coming from one 'Ahamedd Saaddodeen.'

That Dan Brown has had few original thoughts is no surprise. That other people exist whose ideas can be lifted for such a book is downright disturbing. That Brown's wife is sending harassing emails signed with a Middle Eastern nom de plume is just odd.

A man in the Ukraine chose a novel way to prove the existence of God:
A man shouting that God would keep him safe was mauled to death by a lioness in the Kiev zoo after he crept into the animal's enclosure, a zoo official said Monday.

"The man shouted, ‘God will save me, if he exists,’ lowered himself by a rope into the enclosure, took his shoes off and went up to the lions," the official said.

"A lioness went straight for him, knocked him down and severed his carotid artery."

One recalls that Daniel, whom one suspects this man sought to emulate, was placed in the lions den against his will as punishment for serving God openly. Daniel, using the good sense that God gave him, did not sneak into the lions den when no one was looking on a lark.

One suspects the man now has all the proof he needs of God's existence.
Now called IED

In a campaign to make the Deeds of the Flesh of Galatians 5:19-21 more relevant, "outbursts of anger" (NASB) will now be known as intermittent explosive disorder, or IED:
One in 20 Americans may be susceptible to uncontrollable anger attacks in which they lash out in road rage, spousal abuse or other severe transgressions that are totally unjustified, researchers from Harvard and the University of Chicago have found.

Their nationwide study found that the condition called intermittent explosive disorder, or IED, is not the rare occurrence that psychiatrists had previously thought. Four to five percent of people in the study were found to have physically assaulted someone, threatened bodily harm or destroyed property in a rage an average of five times a year.

Intermittent explosive disorder is different from the common type of anger most people exhibit from time to time when they pout, throw a book down or walk out of a room, activities that are better described as mild temper tantrums. IED is defined as repeated and uncontrollable anger attacks that often become violent.

"Our new study suggests IED is really out there and that a lot of people have it," Dr. Emil Coccaro, the U. of C.'s chief of psychiatry. "That's the first step for the public to actually get treated for it, because if you don't think it's really a disorder, you're never going to get treated for it."

Coccaro was the first to show, through a preliminary 2004 study, that IED might be an unrecognized major mental health problem. He also pioneered therapy designed to treat the disorder involving anti-depressants (of the serotonin reuptake inhibitor class), mood disorder medications like lithium and cognitive therapy.

Known therapy also includes the Fruit of the Spirit.

Monday, June 05, 2006

The 06-06-06 Countdown

Okay having The Omen open tomorrow was amusing, but some evangelicals are taking tomorrow's date seriously:
A Netherlands-based Evangelical organisation has called on Christians in 21 countries to hold a 24-hour prayer vigil against Satanic forces to mark so-called Devil's Day.

Some fear the date 06/06/06, which falls on Tuesday, signifies 666, the Biblical number of the Devil, and will usher in calamities and even the end of the world.

The Dutch-based organisation Ambassadors Ministries called its 24-hour prayer vigil from 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) Monday, saying it hoped some 2,000 Dutch Christians, mainly Protestants, would take part.

"We believe that the plans the enemy has for this date (June 6, 2006) will be destroyed through violent worship and praise. We are inviting the entire world to be part of this huge unity project," it says on its website

"The forces of evil are using this day," Mathijs Piet of the organisation told AFP.

News alert: The enemy uses every day to promote his plans. Yes, by all means pray tomorrow and be on guard against temptation. But do that today, too. And Wednesday. And Thursday. I doubt Satan or the Lord puts too much stock in human calendar conventions.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

PREACHING THIS MORNING...on 'Blessed Are Those Who Hunger & Thirst' from Matthew 5:6 in my Beatitudes series. We must want to want the nourishment that Jesus Christ supplies us, and accept that we can only be filled by His righteousness rather than our own.

Saturday, June 03, 2006


Just downloaded to my iPod is the hilarious commercial for Song Leader Revolution. I know some of you probably have seen it, but I just got around to watching. Very clever.

Friday, June 02, 2006


Well, kind of:
"It came straight from the Bible that Jesus had a glass of wine. Actually, I don't know if it says he actually drank it, but whatever."

So says American Idol-turned-real-star, Kelly Clarkson, in Blender magazine. Kelly feels if Jesus could have a glass of wine - or whatever - so can she.

Now that's model exegesis.

Thursday, June 01, 2006


With the recent success in deciphering the so-called Judas Gospel, scholars are hoping for the same sucess with Europe's 'oldest book'. And, of course, no ancient document would be complete unless it held religious secrets:
A collection of charred scraps kept in a Greek museum's storerooms are all that remains of what archaeologists say is Europe's oldest surviving book _ which may hold a key to understanding early monotheistic beliefs.

More than four decades after the Derveni papyrus was found in a 2,400- year-old nobleman's grave in northern Greece, researchers said Thursday they are close to uncovering new text _ through high-tech digital analysis _ from the blackened fragments left after the manuscript was burnt on its owner's funeral pyre.

Large sections of the mid-4th century B.C. book _ a philosophical treatise on ancient religion _ were read years ago, but never officially published.

Now, archaeologist Polyxeni Veleni believes U.S. imaging and scanning techniques used to decipher the Judas Gospel _ which portrays Judas not as a sinister betrayer but as Jesus' confidant _ will considerably expand and clarify that text.

"I believe some 10-20 percent of new text will be added, which however will be of crucial importance," said Veleni, director of the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, where the manuscript is kept.

"This will fill in many gaps, we will get a better understanding of the sequence and the existing text will become more complete," Veleni told The Associated Press.

The scroll, originally several yards of papyrus rolled around two wooden runners, was found half burnt in 1962. It dates to around 340 B.C., during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

"It is the oldest surviving book, if you can use that word for a scroll, in western tradition," Veleni said. "This was a unique find, of exceptional importance."

Although Judaism was already well established as monotheistic, there is the fervent anthropological hope to show a 'precursor of Christianity'. Well, I'm all for deciphering any ancient text like this. I'm not too concerned about the supposed secrets to be revealed.