Wednesday, October 31, 2007


The closest I ever came to believing in ghosts was when I lived in Mecosta, Michigan working for Dr. Russell Kirk. Trust me: You would have begun to consider the possibility, too, after a night alone in the vast Kirk manse. Dr. Kirk not only believed in ghosts, he wrote about them, and who can turn down a good ghost story? ISI has archived a number of Dr. Kirk's lectures, but also his reading of his own award winning ghost story, 'A Long, Long Trail A-Winding'. Suitable listening for Halloween, and it's nice to hear his voice again.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Little girls aren't just dressing up as ghosts and witches this year:
Gabby Cirenza wanted to be a referee for Halloween. The outfit she liked had a micro-mini black skirt and a form-fitting black and white-striped spandex top held together with black laces running up the flesh-exposing sides. She looked admiringly at the thigh-high black go-go boots that could be bought as an accessory. And she thought the little bunny on the chest was cute....Gabby is 11....

Gabby eyed the Sexy Super Girl but decided against it. A friend at her Catholic school had worn that costume for a Halloween parade and pulled the already short miniskirt way up to cover her tummy. "That didn't look very good." But Gabby did like the Aqua Fairy, a vampy get-up with a black ripped-up skirt, black fishnet tights and blue bustier that comes in medium, large and preteen. A medium fits a child of 8....

Gabby pointed to the Fairy-Licious Purrrfect Kitty Pre-Teen, which, according to the package, includes a "pink and black dress with lace front bodice and sassy jagged skirt with tail. . . . Wings require some assembly."

At least Gabby's mother has a little perspective:
"Absolutely not," said her mother, Cheryl. "That is so not happening."...

Cheryl Cirenza shook her head in exasperated disbelief. "This is all so inappropriate. It's really disturbing," she said, eyeing a wall of such girl and preteen costumes as Major Flirt in army green, the bellybutton-baring Devilicious and a sassy, miniskirted French Maid, pink feather duster included. She'd just turned down her 13-year-old daughter's request for a Sexy Cop outfit. "When I was their age, I was a bunch of grapes."

In the immortal words of Charlie Brown, receiver of a rock in his trick'r'treat bag: "Good grief!"

Sunday, October 28, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...from 1 Peter 1:1-2, 'Scattered Aliens'. Chosen by God, set apart by the Spirit and sprinkled by the blood of Christ to be citizens of heaven itself.

Friday, October 26, 2007


As All Hallow's Eve approaches, a poll finds out who really believes in ghosts. If you're a liberal Catholic who never goes to church your odds are pretty good:
Those things that go bump in the night? About one-third of people believe they could be ghosts.

And nearly one out of four, 23 percent, say they've actually seen a ghost or felt its presence, finds a pre-Halloween poll by The Associated Press and Ipsos....

About one out of five people, 19 percent, say they accept the existence of spells or witchcraft. Nearly half, 48 percent, believe in extrasensory perception, or ESP.

The most likely candidates for ghostly visits include single people, Catholics and those who never attend religious services. By 31 percent to 18 percent, more liberals than conservatives report seeing a specter.

I'm convinced it must have been a malevolent spirit who put those rocks in my trick-or-treating sack.

[Thanks to S.B. for the link.]

Monday, October 22, 2007


Sometimes there are repercussions to what might appear to be harmless:
Wild monkeys attacked a senior government official who then fell from a balcony at his home and died Sunday, media reported.

New Delhi Deputy Mayor S.S. Bajwa was rushed to a hospital after the attack by a gang of Rhesus macaques, but succumbed to head injuries sustained in his fall, the Press Trust of India news agency and The Times of India reported.

Many government buildings, temples and residential neighborhoods in New Delhi are overrun by Rhesus macaques, which scare passers-by and occasionally bite or snatch food from unsuspecting visitors.

Last year, the Delhi High Court reprimanded city authorities for failing to stop the animals from terrifying residents and asked them to find a permanent solution to the monkey menace.

Part of the problem is that devout Hindus believe monkeys are manifestations of the monkey god Hanuman and feed them bananas and peanuts — encouraging them to frequent public places.
So far I've actually seen more Hanuman statues than I've seen monkeys in India, but when I do see one I won't be feeding it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


I'm preparing for my fourth trip to India, and although I've gotten better about it each time I still always overpack. I succumb to the 'but I might need it' syndrome. No more! I've decided to go light--very light.

As always, the Internet holds a host of information; I want to direct you to a couple of places to start. First is the wonderful website by Doug Dyment. It's an eye-opening experience. Taking the One Bag concept into the blogosphere is the One Bag One World blog with updated tips, reviews and links. Both are highly recommended. And I'll be posting more on my personal light travel revolution as time goes on.

Vatican News Service says yes.

Theosebes is not so sure.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007


The university founded by tent revivalist cum educator Oral Roberts may be brought down by his own son, now accused of living the high life on the university's dime:
Richard Roberts is accused of illegal involvement in a local political campaign and lavish spending at donors' expense, including numerous home remodeling projects, use of the university jet for his daughter's senior trip to the Bahamas, and a red Mercedes convertible and a Lexus SUV for his wife, Lindsay.

She is accused of dropping tens of thousands of dollars on clothes, awarding nonacademic scholarships to friends of her children and sending scores of text messages on university-issued cell phones to people described in the lawsuit as "underage males."

God, apparently, is telling him to deny it.

Meanwhile, his father is shocked at such charges:
Oral Roberts was blind-sided by allegations that the university he founded was being exploited by his son and daughter-in-law, the aging televangelist said Tuesday in his first public comments on the case.

Roberts phoned CNN's "Larry King Live" to weigh in on the accusations leveled in a lawsuit by three professors who claim they were fired from Oral Roberts University for questioning the school's spending and students' involvement in a political campaign.

"Like my son says, it was a surprise and sort of a shock, but we have been through some tough experiences in building Oral Roberts University in the 1960s, and we have surprised them all and have built a university that we believe is for the glory of God," Roberts said,

Roberts, 89, spoke from his home in California as his son, Richard, and daughter-in-law, Lindsay, sat on King's set in New York.

I suspect this is going to get ugly.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


As I mentioned in Sunday's post, I appointed elders at the Wilsonville church this past Sunday. It was the result of years of labor extending back to the time before I even arrived here.

I believe that it is the role of the evangelist to set things in order according to Paul's instructions by appointing (ordaining) elders. That does not mean arbitrarily choosing men and forcing them on the congregation. Following the example of the selection of the Seven in Acts 6, the congregation put forward men in keeping with the Scriptural qualifications. Although that example is not identical to the selection and appointment of elders, there we find guiding principles. An office, in that situation a temporary one, was created by the apostles, qualifications were given and the church put forward men in keeping with those qualifications. The apostles then appointed them to the work. We emulated that process in our appointment of our elders.

On Sunday I spoke to the congregation about our duties to submit to the leadership and example of the men selected. I then spoke again of the roles and duties of the elders themselves. I then asked the men to come forward, read a list of those roles and duties and asked them if they would fulfill them. Upon their agreement, I said the following:
In accordance with my role as an evangelist, in keeping with the considered selection of this congregation consistent with the revealed qualifications of Scripture, I appoint and ordain you overseers of the Lord's church in Wilsonville, Alabama, and commend you to the Lord in whom we believe.
I know there have been times when the installation of elders in some places has only gained a mention in the opening announcements of a church service. I believe it's a more significant event than that, and we would do well to mark the occasion of overseer appointment with some solemnity.

The interesting blog GetReligion has a post on the recent protests by the Buddhist monks in Burma. Of course, things have not ended well for them, as reports are that thousands of bodies are being dumped by the Burmese military.

Several Burmese preachers have traveled to the classes we have conducted in India. They are good and eager men. They have encouraged us to visit them in Burma, an invitation we knew at the time would likely be impossible to honor. I even went so far as to look over a Myanmar (the name the military has given Burma) visa application. It requests an uninterrupted work history. I'm pretty sure that would have knocked me out right there. Of course, it wouldn't be safe for any Westerner there now. In the face of the violence it is encouraging to know that there are native Christians there seeking to follow God's will and teach others. That is the true hope of Burma.
POWER at least sounds impressive, doesn't it? That's the name of the new blog by my friend Bill Robinson. It's worth repeated visits.

I must be making this blogging thing look easy. Everybody seems to think they can do it.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Scientists have discovered another unique feature that makes the earth livable, a huge underground oxygen store:
A mineral that acts like a sponge beneath Earth's surface stores more oxygen than expected, keeping our planet from becoming dry and inhospitable like Mars.

The key to the abundant oxygen storage is the mineral majorite, which exists deep below Earth's surface in the mantle. Without the oxygen stockpile, Earth would probably be a barren planet hostile to life, authors of a study suggest in the Sept. 27 issue of the journal Nature.

The researchers examined majorite in the lab under conditions mimicking the Earth's deep interior and also near the planet's surface. The results showed that under deep-Earth conditions of high temperature and pressure, majorite stores large amounts of oxygen. When the temperature and pressure were decreased, as occurs near Earth's surface, the majorite decomposed and released the oxygen.

"The Earth's upper mantle can store, therefore, much more oxygen than previously expected," said lead author Arno Rohrbach, a doctoral student at the University of Bonn's Mineralogical Institute in Germany.

What another amazing coincidence necessary for life on earth. It's almost like it was all planned.

Well, some already have, but with the propect of pro-abortion candidate Rudolph Giuliani being the Republican nominee, some on the Religious Right are considering a third party candidate:
The group making the threat, which came together Saturday in Salt Lake City during a break-away gathering during a meeting of the secretive Council for National Policy, includes Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who is perhaps the most influential of the group, as well as Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, the direct mail pioneer Richard Viguerie and dozens of other politically-oriented conservative Christians, participants said. Almost everyone present expressed support for a written resolution that “if the Republican Party nominates a pro-abortion candidate we will consider running a third party candidate.”...

A revolt of Christian conservative leaders could be a significant setback to the Giuliani campaign because white evangelical Protestants make up a major portion of Republican primary voters. But the threat is risky for the credibility of the Christian conservative movement as well. Some of its usual grass-roots supporters could still choose to support even a pro-choice Republican like Mr. Giuliani, either because they dislike the Democratic nominee even more or because they are worried about war, terrorism and other issues.

Leaving the GOP is a sensible solution. How many times have we heard the imperative that we need just one more Supreme Court nominee from the GOP to turn the tide, yet the current court is composed of seven Republican nominees to only two from the Democrats. But in the end, if the Religious Right does pull out, the impact would be slight as I don't think they really have their heart in it.They've been conditioned for too long to imagine the GOP is the solution despite the fact that they have rarely delivered/