Tuesday, October 31, 2006


(Link via Drudge)

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 26, 2006

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

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


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

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

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

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

Monday, October 23, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

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

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 16, 2006


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

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

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

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


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

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

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

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

Monday, October 09, 2006


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

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

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

Thursday, October 05, 2006


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

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

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

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

But that's not the Amish way.

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

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

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

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

Remember the victims' families in your prayers.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


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

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

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