Wednesday, September 27, 2006


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

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

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

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

It could always be worse.

Wake up, parents!

Monday, September 25, 2006


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

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

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

Saturday, September 23, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

But you see, He is alive today.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 17, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 15, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 14, 2006


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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

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

Monday, September 11, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 09, 2006


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

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

Thursday, September 07, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 04, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 03, 2006

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

Friday, September 01, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

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