Thursday, May 31, 2007


God intended for singing to be a part of His people's interaction with Him and one another. Christianity Today has an intriguing hymnal slide show of hymnals old and new from around the world. The picture posted here is one I took in Gudur, India in January of the congregation in song.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

NEED A TRUMP CARD? The answer is to co-opt Jesus as a supporter of your position. Whether in the environmental debate or in foreign policy, Jesus always seems ready to answer your public policy needs. Doug Bandow well says:
Religion, not patriotism, truly is the last refuge of the scoundrel. While most believers want to worship God and serve their fellow human beings, a few people twist the sacred for personal and political profit. Indeed, claiming that "God is on my side" plays the ultimate trump in any dispute.

This played out in the tax debate in Alabama a couple of years ago, when we were assured that Jesus would want a more "fair" tax code, which of course meant raising taxes in order to fund more government social programs.

Perhaps it's best if we rely on Jesus for what He actually did say about transforming our lives from practicers of the deeds of the flesh to those who demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit. He seemed to have been more concerned about proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom than giving stump speeches.
LIKE A HOMECOOKED lunch? Just have your dabbawalla deliver one.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Going the Extra Mile' from Matthew 5:38-48 in my series on The Sermon on the Mount. As Jesus continues to explain what surpassing righteousness is, He explains that we must rise above our inclinations of retaliation and instead embrace grace in our own lives. As we emulate those characteristics of the Father we shall be sons of our Father.

Friday, May 25, 2007

A MUSLIM MAN has been detained for involvement in last week's Mecca Masjid mosque blast in Hyderabad, India. Of course, the Hyderabadi Muslims seem to be more angry at the local Hindu-dominated police than they are at their own co-religionists who were willing to desecrate a mosque during prayer and kill their fellow Muslims.

I realize that most of you aren't as interested in this as I am, but since I started keeping track of it last week I figure I ought to see it through to resolution. In for a penny, in for a pound.

A new museum founded on the idea of a literal reading of the Genesis account is set to open, and some aren't happy about it:
A group called DefCon: Campaign to Defend the Constitution is one of several groups planning to take part in a "Rally for Reason" outside the Creation Museum in Petersburg when it holds its grand opening on Memorial Day.

"The main problem is that this is a museum of misinformation," said Lawrence Krauss, a professor of physics and astronomy at Case Western Reserve University who is a member of DefCon's advisory board.

Those attending the rally are sure to be outnumbered by the faithful making the trek to the 60,000-square-foot museum's opening day.

At least 2,000 to 3,000 visitors are expected, said Ken Ham, who is president and founder of the non-profit Answers in Genesis, the group that built the museum. Already this week, about 5,000 charter museum members have attended sneak previews, Ham said yesterday.

"Why do they worry about my little museum?" he asked about the protests by scientists. "They've got museums all over the world."

Good question. Krauss attempts to undermine the museum's own scientists, but doesn't really help his own case:
Ham also said his museum has scientists on staff who agree with the idea that the Earth was created in six days and is only 6,000 years old.

But Krauss and Scott said the vast majority of scientists, and science, are on their side.

"They try to blind you with Ph.D.s, but you find a Ph.D to say anything," Krauss said.

That would appear to bolster the case that there is not a scientific consensus on evolutionary theory.

The new museum is making the new all over. Even the New York Times reviewed it, amazed at the museum's "weirdness". I was particularly amused by this line:
Evolution gets its continual comeuppance, while biblical revelations are treated as gospel.
One suspects (fears?) that was written without irony. The review is probably as even-handed as they could muster.

The problem with the museum is that it, too, is an exercise in speculation. We simply don't know--can't know--how Creation worked out in the details. I can't say with certainty that there were dinosaurs on the ark. To portray such things certainly leaves oneself open for criticism. Nor can I see with confidence how old the earth is. I will say this, however: I feel confident that The Creation Museum's portrayal is at least as reliable as the one in "scientifically based" museums; moreso, really, because they begin with a foundational belief in divine Creation.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

SECURITY UPGRADES AT MECCA MASJID MOSQUE as Friday approaches. As this article points out, Hyderabadi Muslims in the past have not cooperated with government attempts to highten security, although they seem to be going along this time. Of course, the riots that followed last weeks bombing were in protest of perceived lax security efforts on the part of the Hindu dominated government. It is also almost certain that the bombs were placed by Muslim militants.

One of the new security measures being considered are cell phone jammers. Cell phone signals were used to trigger the bomb last week. It may be that in the future cell phone jamming may become a much more frequently used security measure, and that's probably not a bad idea at all.

recently, one a burial site in England:
ROMAN burial sites found by archaeologists have been desc-ribed as some of the most important in Britain.

They were discovered during a survey on land next to the A2 in Gravesend.

Oxford Archaeology made the finds during surveys for Skanska Construction undertaken before work started on the Highways Agency Pepperhill to Cobham road-widening project.

Burial sites for three high-status Romans have been unearthed, containing belongings such as bronzewear, gaming boards, clay vessels and fashion accessories.

And a second in Ephesus:
A relief of an ancient gladiator has been found in the Turkish city of Ephesus.

Austrian archaeologists working at the city's Marble Hall of the Hillside Houses II found the reliefs on marble columns in the ancient Turkish property.

Lead archaeologist Professor Fritz Krinzinger from the Austrian Archaeology Institute told the Turkish Daily News: "We unearthed two marble columns with two gladiators relief, which we believe were used in the barriers of a structure in the area.

"The findings will be handed over to Ephesus Museum according to Turkish law," he added, meaning that visitors will be able to see the reliefs.

The gladiator reliefs were found as part of restoration works on the Marble Hall, while excavations are continuing in the southern parts of Ephesus' ancient theatre.
Fun stuff, as always.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


The Archbishop of Canterbury did not include American Episcopal Biship V. Gene Robinson among invitees to a key Anglican conference:
Archbishop Rowan Williams has sent invitations to more than 800 Anglican bishops asking them to attend the Lambeth Conference in July and August 2008, but did not include V. Gene Robinson and Martyn Minns.

Robinson's consecration as bishop of New Hampshire in 2003, in which he became the Anglican Church's first openly gay bishop, led to deep divisions among Anglicans.

Robinson said he was deeply disappointed by Williams's decision. "How does it make sense to exclude gay and lesbian people from the discussion?" he asked in a statement. "Isn't it time that the bishops of the church stop talking about us and start talking with us?"

Minns, a deeply conservative Episcopalian, was installed last year as the head of a new Nigerian-based church branch in the United States designed as a refuge for orthodox believers. The Anglican Communion does not recognize his position.

"This crisis in the Anglican Communion is not about a few individual bishops, but about a worldwide communion that is torn at its deepest level," Minns said.

Williams said in his statement: "I have to reserve the right to withhold or withdraw invitations from bishops whose appointment, actions, or manner of life have caused exceptionally serious division or scandal within the communion."

It may not seem like much, but it's a slap in the face to the American Episcopalian's elevation of Robinson. It's also another step that will lead to a formal break in that fellowship.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


With the passing of Jerry Falwell, Alan Cooperman ponders the direction of the religious right. The new symbolic figure is Frank Page, head of the Southern Baptist Convention:
"I would not use the word 'moderate,' because in our milieu that often means liberal. But it's a shift toward a more centrist, kinder, less harsh style of leadership," Page said. "In the past, Baptists were very well known for what we're against. . . . Instead of the caricature of an angry, narrow-minded, Bible-beating preacher, we wanted someone who could speak to normal people."

With members of an older generation of evangelical leaders, including the Rev. Billy Graham, the Rev. Pat Robertson, psychologist James C. Dobson and the Rev. D. James Kennedy, ailing or nearing retirement, Page is one of many pastors and political activists tugging conservative Christians in various directions.

Others include the Rev. Rick Warren and the Rev. William Hybels, megachurch pastors who are championing the fight against AIDS in Africa. David Barton, head of a Texas-based group called WallBuilders, stumps the nation decrying the "myth" that the Constitution requires separation of church and state. The Rev. Joel Hunter of Orlando urges evangelicals to see climate change as a serious religious issue, because "our first order in the Garden was to take care of the Earth."

The problem with all of this is that these 'religious' leaders continue to turn attention to wordly rather than heavenly concerns. Yes, we live within creation, and have obligations as stewards, but our primary obligation needs to be souls saved. Of course, with the theology of many of these folks, maybe it's better to have them distracted after all.

Monday, May 21, 2007


After making 'insensitive' remarks about Mormon Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Al Sharpton is now going through sensitivity training at Salt Lake City:
Sharpton's visit comes about two weeks after he made comments about presidential candidate Mitt Romney during a debate with an atheist author.

Sharpton said: "As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don't worry about that; that's a temporary situation."

Romney later criticized Sharpton saying the comment could be construed as bigoted.

Sharpton, who urged the firing of radio host Don Imus after Imus's racially insensitive remarks, said his words were taken out of context.

Today, he's scheduled to meet with officials at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and tour the grounds of Temple Square.

It's all so surreal it really defies commentary.

Friday, May 18, 2007


The historic Mecca Masjid mosque in Hyderabad, India has been bombed:
At least five people have been killed in a bomb explosion at a historic mosque in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad, the authorities say.
Many more were hurt in the blast during Friday prayers at the Mecca Masjid, one of India's biggest mosques.

Interior Minister Shivraj Patil said the explosion at the entrance to the mosque was caused by a "crude bomb".

Police say they also found and defused two live bombs near the mosque. It is not clear who carried out the attack.

The building pictured in the BBC article is not the Mecca Masjid, but rather the nearby Charminar, which is the symbol of Hyderabad. You can see the actual Mecca Masjid in the picture here. I am also in the picture, if you can pick me out of the crowd. The Charminar/Mecca Masjid/Laad Bazaar area of Hyderabad is one of the city's oldest, but it is also Muslim dominated. Exactly who would have placed the bombs is an interesting question.

EDIT: Fellow Hyderabad traveler Jason C. sent me this video report from CNN-IBN.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

JERRY FALWELL HAS died at 73. I know everyone is already aware of it, but Theosebes would be remiss not to note his passing.

Falwell was a mixed bag. I applauded his willingness to speak out on moral issues when others would not. I am glad he was able to cause limp-spined politicians to squirm through the influence of the Moral Majority. On the other hand, he would often say odd things (eg, his comments about the ever annoying Teletubbies), and I can't say I'm overly thrilled about the evangelical right's elevation of American patriotism to near (?) religious status. Falwell certainly played his part in that. Certainly, I had many theological differences with a premillennial Baptist.

Without a doubt, his influence on American political life was profound.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Honor Your Mother'; 'My son, observe the commandment of your father And do not forsake the teaching of your mother…When you walk about, they will guide you…For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light…'

Happy Mother's Day

Friday, May 11, 2007


As the father of three girls, I'm particularly aware of the raunch culture exposed by Colleen Carroll Campbell:
Girls as young as five moan Britney’s racy lyrics, while their sisters in elementary and middle school copy Nicole’s compulsive dieting, Lindsay’s brazen flashing, and Paris’ sultry stare. Young women are now groomed from girlhood to arouse sexual attention by posting suggestive messages on their personal web pages and wearing the same risqué fashions as their Bratz dolls. Newsweek recently chronicled the rise of these “prosti-tots” – girls as young as seven “who dress like tarts” and dream of breast implants as high-school graduation gift.

Aspiring young exhibitionists can find role models everywhere these days, from the coeds who disrobe for “Girls Gone Wild” camera crews and publish pornographic pictures of themselves in student-run magazines, to mothers who take pole-dancing classes and wear the same see-through blouses and skin-tight jeans as their teenage daughters....

You can see them in the mall, tugging nervously at their skimpy shorts and halter tops, straining to see how men react to their little bellies flouncing out of low-slung jeans. They look more exploited than empowered as they fuss and cringe, adjust and squirm. How odd that in an age when girls have more athletic and academic opportunities than ever, girlhood has become a high-pressure dress-rehearsal for adult mating games.

How any father can let their daughters prance around like that is beyond me. Moms may not fully understand, but every dad knows what goes through the mind of boys and men when they see more than they need to see. It's time to put the kibosh on 'Bratz' dolls, et al, and actually try something normal and wholesome with little girls. They're little girls, and they don't need to own make-up (until their teen years, and then with great restraint), wear bustiers or generally dress like they're aspiring Hooters waitresses.

[Thanks to theosebes reader Mitch for the link]

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

HEROD TOMB PICTURES...are posted over at Yahoo.

...Get a Divorce' is the new ad campaign for a Chicago law firm:
The ad is sponsored by Fetman, Garland & Associates, Ltd., a law firm specializing in divorce. The billboard is complete with two scantily clad bodies — one male and one female — telling people that "Life's short, get a Divorce." It's located near the intersection of State and Bellevue streets.

...the law firm calls the ad "cutting edge" and is making no apologies for it. Lawyers there say the ad isn't for everyone, but instead targets couples looking for a way out of a bad marital situation.

You like to see that. The firm plans more of the ads in Chicago's glitzy, deep-pocketed areas.

The tomb of King Herod, renovator of the Temple and attempted murderer of the infant Jesus, has been found:
The tomb is at a site called Herodium, a flattened hilltop in the Judean Desert, clearly visible from southern Jerusalem. Herod built a palace on the hill, and researchers discovered his burial site there, the university said....

Herod became the ruler of the Holy Land under the Romans around 74 B.C. The wall he built around the Old City of Jerusalem still stands, and he also ordered big construction projects in Caesaria, Jericho, the hilltop fortress of Massada and other sites.

It has long been assumed Herod was buried at Herodium, but decades of excavations had failed to turn up the site. The 1st century historian Josephus Flavius described the tomb and Herod's funeral procession.

Haaretz said the tomb was found by archaeologist Ehud Netzer, a Hebrew University professor who has been working at Herodium since 1972. The paper said the tomb was in a previously unexplored area between the two palaces Herod built on the site. Herod died in 4 B.C. in Jericho.

This is a fantastic find. Of course, there was no question that Herod existed, but he was not only an important Biblical figure, but also one of the most important rulers in the century leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Homosexuality: What Does the Bible Say?' Had the Bible said nothing else on the issue, God's intention 'from the beginning' that man and woman should come together in marriage would be all that we would need to understand that homosexual activity goes against God's plan.

Friday, May 04, 2007


Newsweek & the Washington Post have a joint blog 'On Faith', which explores the Mormonism as mainstream question in light of the PBS Frontline documentary. How does one define mainstream?

I recall Dr. Ed Harrell lecturing on Pentecostalism, his academic specialty, and discussing the reaction he received in grad school decades ago when he began studying it. His fellow students wondered why he would go to a Pentecostal tent revival rather than a 'mainstream' Episcopal service. Even then the handwriting was on the wall about the Episcopal Church.

Count the number of Mormons in the USA and the world, and compare it other religions. Of course, from a historical perspective, Mormonism is not 'mainstream' but rather created from whole cloth by Joseph Smith's imaginings. Still, can we say that when our Senate majority leader and a major Republican Presidential candidate are both Mormon that it is outside the mainstream of American life?