Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Her Kabbalah name might be 'Esther', but her mom-name quickly is becoming 'June Cleaver'. Madonna has told her daughter Lourdes to dress less provocatively:
These days, the rules of Madonna's household are more along the lines of "like a virgin" than "express yourself." The pop icon is getting a taste of her own medicine — from her 10-year-old daughter Lourdes — and finding that with motherhood comes prudishness.

In a grand twist of irony, Madonna — who posed nude for her "Sex" book, simulated a sex act on a water bottle in her "Truth and Dare" movie, passionately embraced an African-American Jesus in her "Like a Prayer" video and kissed Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards — is having to tell Lourdes not to dress so provocatively, The New York Post's Page Six reports.

"My daughter is going through a phase of wearing jeans so tight she can't bend her knees in them," Madonna told British Elle, according to Page Six. "I have a go at her and say, 'Can't you wear something else? You have a closet full of clothes and you wear the same pants every day. ...

"'And please wear a belt because I don't want to see your butt crack when you bend over.'"

Momma don't preach?

Tuesday, February 27, 2007


Maybe your copy doesn't, but this one does:
If you believe that we evolved from apes, that Genesis is great poetry, and that the Universe is billions of years old, can you still enjoy reading the Bible?

Bronx school teacher and book artist Ruth Rimm thinks she has an answer. Her latest book series, the "Lost Spiritual World," is a lavishly illustrated, "postmodern" edition of the Bible for skeptics, seekers, and people of different faiths.

"There may be a profound message behind the miracle stories, but the big bang and evolution implore us not to read things literally," Rimm says. "Most Americans would rather discover the spiritual truths behind the religious metaphors, especially given how fundamentalism is impacting public life with a narrow view of religion."

Rimm's edition of the Bible is anything but conventional, starting with an unusual design style. "The rectangular format of most books just doesn't capture the majesty of the text," says Rimm. Instead, she developed a wavy shape format, with exotic inks and computer generated artwork, to give readers "a more intimate experience of the mystical."
The moral is, if you don't like what the Bible says you can always write a new one.

Sometimes things show up in my mailbox, and sometimes they're worth mentioning. One such item appeared yesterday, Christian Primitivism in the Twenty-First Century: Thinking "Inside the Box" About Restoring New Testament Christianity, by David Edwin Harrell, Jr. Ed Harrell is, of course, retired professor of History at Auburn University, and a recognized authority on not only Restoration History, but also on 20th Century Pentecostalism. I've been privileged to travel to India with him three times, and I will honestly say that he's one of the few men who impresses you more every time you're with him.

Dr. Harrell has been refining the arguments he utilizes in this book over the past few years. I've heard pieces of it in lessons both in the US and in India. The book is built around three propositions.

Proposition 1: Regarding Apostolic Authority
Restorationist, primitivist religious thinking assumes that the Apostles were given specific authority to define doctrine and set in order churches. This authority was perpetuated

Proposition 2: Regarding Common Sense Hermeneutics
Restorationist, primitivist religious thinking assumes that human beings, through the use of a common sense possessed by all, have the ability to read texts and reach common conclusions about meanings. This empirical, logical type of thinking is the basis for all pulbic (as opposed to private and subjective) human understanding.

Proposition 3: Regarding Local Churches (Congregationalism)
Restorationist, primitivist religious thinking assumes that the practices of local churches in New Testament days rested on apostolic authority and that the ordering of churches was intentionally designed by God to promote uniformity (catholicity) among Christians.

Obviously, he expands on these propositions, and demonstrates the validity of these underlying assumptions in restorationist thinking. It's a small book, a booklet or pamphlet, really, but I think it's one of those things that ought to be in anyone's library who desires to think seriously about how we ought to serve God and approach Scripture.

To order (retail, $4.95) contact Harwell/Lewis Publishing Company at (863) 688-2665 or the Florida College bookstore.

Monday, February 26, 2007


The Material Girl cracks down on Lourdes:
The woman who brought the world the book “Sex” has become a prudish mom. Madonna has banned her 10-year-old from dating until she’s 18.

“No boys for [Lourdes] until she turns 18,” the “Papa Don’t Preach” crooner says, according to WENN. “She’s a good girl, though. She doesn’t have it easy. Late-night TV, junk food and mess are not tolerated in my house.”

Madonna once confessed that she’s the disciplinarian in the family, forbidding her children from watching TV at all, which she called “trash.”

But would she let Lourdes go to a Madonna concert?

Not everyone is buying into the Jesus tomb discovery:
Archaeologists and clergymen in the Holy Land derided claims in a new documentary produced by the Oscar-winning director James Cameron that contradict major Christian tenets.

In 1996, when the BBC aired a short documentary on the same subject, archaeologists challenged the claims. Amos Kloner, the first archaeologist to examine the site, said the idea fails to hold up by archaeological standards but makes for profitable television.

"They just want to get money for it," Kloner said.

I think we have a winner.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

MORE on the Jesus & family tomb at the TIME blog. Documentary producer James Cameron of 'Titanic' movie fame will be holding a press conference revealing the coffins of Jesus, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene, with whom He (and you've never heard this before) had a child. The child's coffin was also in the tomb.

Yes, the assault continues. This is going to get a lot of mainstream media play as we build to Easter.

Friday, February 23, 2007


I hope not. Drew Kizer explains what it is and has a good explanation of the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It's worth reading.

According to a new documentary the family burial site of Jesus has been discovered:
The cave in which Jesus was buried has been found in Jerusalem, claim the makers of a new documentary film.

If it proves true, the discovery, which will be revealed at a press conference in New York Monday, could shake up the Christian world as one of the most significant archeological finds in history.

The coffins which, according to the filmmakers held the remains of Jesus of Nazareth, his mother Mary and Mary Magdalene will be displayed for the first time on Monday in New York.

Jointly produced by Emmy award-winning documentary filmmaker Simcha Jacobovici and Oscar winning director James Cameron, the film tells the exciting and tortuous story of the archeological discovery.

The story starts in 1980 in Jerusalem?s Talpiyot neighborhood, with the discovery of a 2,000 year old cave containing ten coffins. Six of the ten coffins were carved with inscriptions reading the names: Jesua son of Joseph, Mary, Mary, Matthew, Jofa (Joseph, identified as Jesus? brother), Judah son of Jesua (Jesus? son - the filmmakers claim).

Color Theosebes skeptical.

Thursday, February 22, 2007


So-called 'missional' churches are rejecting the senior pastor model of church leadership in favor of multiple pastors. Perhaps it may even occur to them to try the Biblical leadership approach of qualified pastors (elders, overseers), but I suppose they don't want to get carried away.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007


An Italian judge has ordered an abortion for a 13 year-old girl who wants to keep her baby:
An Italian judge has ordered a thirteen year-old girl to have an abortion because her parents are opposed to their daughter giving birth. The decision relies on laws in Italy that allow parents to make the pregnancy decisions for their teenage children.
The girl, from Torino, did not want to have an abortion but the ruling will compel her to do so.

The Italian newspaper La Stampa reports the decision has caused the teenager so much stress she has contemplated suicide and needed to receive psychological help as a result.

The unnamed girl became pregnant after have sexual relations with her 15 year-old boyfriend but she decided the best course of action was keeping the baby.

Obviously the choice to have premarital sex was a bad one, and no one thinks that a 13 year-old should have a baby, but that bridge has already been crossed. The baby is unaware of and not responsible for any of this. For the state to compound a poor choice with forced murder is unconscionable.

Monday, February 19, 2007


A movement is afoot for an Anglican-Catholic reunification under the rule of the pope:
Radical proposals to reunite Anglicans with the Roman Catholic Church under the leadership of the Pope are to be published this year, The Times has learnt.

The proposals have been agreed by senior bishops of both churches.

In a 42-page statement prepared by an international commission of both churches, Anglicans and Roman Catholics are urged to explore how they might reunite under the Pope.

The statement, leaked to The Times, is being considered by the Vatican, where Catholic bishops are preparing a formal response.

This is a reactionary move by the conservative Anglicans who have rejected female and homosexual ordination, and thus looking for a break with the radical Anglican who have been pushing such moves (and getting them).

Color me shocked if we see genuine institutional reversals of the Anglican Reformation, but I've been shocked before.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...Jesus & the Law, from Matthew 5:17-20, part of a series from The Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was not opposed to the Law, but rather He was its fulfillment.

Friday, February 16, 2007


One of the great Biblical Greek scholars of the Twentieth Century (and probably any century since the first), Bruce Metzger, is dead at age 93. Instrumental in the translation of the New Revised Standard Version, he was also the author of numerous books. His Text of the New Testament and The Canon of the New Testament are invaluable, and his little book on Revelation, Breaking the Code, is one of the most useful guides I have on that most difficult of Biblical books.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Clearly moved by Carl Sagan's voice from the grave in a previously unpublished set of Gifford lectures, Dennis Overbye finds that it's atheists that have true spirituality:
“I would suggest that science is, at least in part, informed worship,” [Sagan] writes...

From Sagan's widow, Ann Druyan:
Some of the books that resulted, such as Richard Dawkins’s “The God Delusion,” have been criticized as shrill, but Ms. Druyan said: “People like Carl and Dawkins are more serious about God than people who just go through the motions. They are real seekers.”

And from Richard Dawkins:
In a blurb for the new book, Dr. Dawkins said that the astronomer was more than religious, having left behind the priests and mullahs.

“He left them behind, because he had so much more to be religious about,” Dr. Dawkins wrote. “They have their Bronze Age myths, medieval superstitions and childish wishful thinking. He had the universe.”

Clearly the atheist brigade is eager to deny God, yet still is left with the God implanted yearning for something greater than themselves, so they begin to worship the 'creature rather than the Creator'. They are the 'true seekers', they are spiritual, 'informed worshipers', 'more than religious'. They thus become more insufferable and less tolerant than any fundamentalist straw man they create (see yesterday's post on the war on Creationist graduate students). They have created their own god, which ultimately turns out to be themselves, and are left with nothing but their own childish wishful thinking and overweening self-importance.

Monday, February 12, 2007


Once imagined to be a discipline dedicated to open inquiry, scientists are now wrestling with the idea of granting creationists advanced degrees even when they play by science's rules. Using Marcus R. Ross as a case study, the New York Times finds that many scientists are quite prepared to blacklist creationists simply on the basis of their religious beliefs:
Dr. [Eugenie C.] Scott, a former professor of physical anthropology at the University of Colorado, said in an interview that graduate admissions committees were entitled to consider the difficulties that would arise from admitting a doctoral candidate with views “so at variance with what we consider standard science.” She said such students “would require so much remedial instruction it would not be worth my time.”

That is not religious discrimination, she added, it is discrimination “on the basis of science.”

Dr. [Michael L.] Dini, of Texas Tech, agreed. Scientists “ought to make certain the people they are conferring advanced degrees on understand the philosophy of science and are indeed philosophers of science,” he said. “That’s what Ph.D. stands for.”

The problem they have, however, is not with the actual science being produced by these students as they earn their graduate degrees. Dr. Ross's dissertation adviser calls his science 'impeccable'. But yet Dr. Ross believes 'wrong' things while still doing 'good' science. This infuriates the anti-religious crowd because these well accredited scientists, in the secularists' view, are then using their credentials to argue against the evolutionary paradigm, a paradigm that has become the secular religion of science. Not only may you not openly question it, you can't even intellectually doubt it.

One of the real problems the Darwinian Establishment faces, however, is that a rise of well-educated creationists threatens the caricature the Establishment has painted. Creationists can only be foolish fundamentalists who don't really know science in the first place in their view. But what if these Creationists turn out to have credentials literally signed by the Establishment itself? Such people would be a real threat to the rigid intellectual orthodoxy imposed by the Darwinists. This they cannot abide.

Forget open inquiry--brand them with the 'C'!

[Thanks to theosebes reader Wild Bill for the link.]
TEMPLE MOUNT RESTORATIONS have been haltedby the mayor of Jerusalem near the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


I think one qualifies officially as being a parent when your child has to do fundraising for some organization she's in. Well, if so, I've just qualified. My lovely eldest daughter Haydon is a member of the Birmingham Children's Choir (the younger 'Training' choir). They are raising money by selling through a company called Virginia Diner. Skeptic I was, I was impressed by the sort of unhealthy goodies they offer. Soooo, if you want to support a cute little 6 year old with two missing front teeth and her choir you can...

Go to Virginia Diner

Choose 'Alabama' in the first drop down menu

Choose 'Birmingham Children's Choir' in the second (for some reason there are two listings for it, choose the first, I guess)

Type 'Haydon Cornett' in Step 3

Click 'Submit' and buy lots of things.

Your Birmingham Children's Choir thanks you.

Much hay has been made of disgraced pastor Ted Haggard's annoucement that he is 'completely heterosexual’ following a three weeks of intensive counseling. Of course, the dominant media likes nothing better than the opportunity to poke conservative Christianity in the eye when hypocrisy or weakness is exposed. They find particular glee when it involves their pet topic homosexuality.

Homosexuality, according to the accepted definitions of those who are allowed to define such things, is something one 'is' rather than something one does. Ultimately they wish to define it as a genetic predisposition over which one has no control. This has been discussed at length at theosebes in the past so I will not rehash all of it again. I will point to a relatively fair presentation of the difference in perspective from the scientific point of view, this quoted from the above linked NYT article:
Dr. Jack Drescher, a New York psychiatrist who is an expert on issues of gender and sexuality, said that while it was people’s prerogative to identify their sexual orientation as they wanted, the notion of being able to change that orientation was “not consistent with clinical presentations, but totally consistent with theological belief.”

“Some people in the community that Mr. Haggard comes from believe homosexuality is a form of behavior, a sinful form of behavior based on certain things in the Bible, and they don’t believe you can create a healthy identity based on sinful behavior,” Dr. Drescher said. “So they define it as a behavior that can be changed, and there is this thinking that if you control those behaviors enough, heterosexual attractions will follow.”

Now, it is interesting to me that someone such as Haggard can be married for years and have children in what appears to be a somewhat successful heterosexual relationship, but all of that is immediately discounted due to his dalliances with this male prostitute he hired. That activity is not a deviation in behavior (perhaps it was not in the case of Mr. Haggard), but rather it is always the homosexual behavior that defines the norm. If someone who is a homosexual has a heterosexual relationship then he is seeking to deny himself. Homosexuality always has the trump in this scenario.

When it comes to Haggard and his three weeks of intensive counseling one seems forced to choose between two options. Either he is very naive or else very arrogant. As he is a man who served churches for many years one is left with only the latter as a possible explanation. If we accept homosexual behavior as a sin--which I do--clearly this is an area of weakness for Mr. Haggard. One does not simply go to counseling for three weeks for any area of sin in one's life and pronounce it over and done with. If that was all it took to defeat sin then Jesus had no need to die on the cross, He only need have founded counseling clinics. I do think counseling is something Mr. Haggard needs. But I'm afraid temptation doesn't disappear with three weeks and wishful thinking, either.

Monday, February 05, 2007


Of all the professors I had as an undergraduate three really stand out to me fifteen years removed. Dr. Raymond Betts is one of those. I met him twenty years ago now while still in high school at a program at Berea College. My friend David Abner was with me, and I recall Dr. Betts correcting our pronunciation of Proust. I was to discover that Raymond Betts was a historian of nineteenth century French colonialism, so had far more knowledge of Proust than a sixteen year old. I certainly hadn’t read Proust. I still haven’t.

Dr. Betts was a man with a far ranging intellect, but also depth of mind. I remember long conversations with him in his Honors Program office, meeting him on campus and walking with him. He always seemed to have time for me, although he was an incredibly busy man. He always had new questions, new thoughts running through his head. Who else would think to offer an entire semester’s course on the Eiffel Tower in its centennial year?

He was a liberal of the old school, not a liberal of the modern academy. When I became a conservative columnist for the school newspaper Dr. Betts always read my columns, and frequently complimented me, with the occasional chide for some over the top comment I might have made. Looking back, I know he was justified in each criticism, and certainly overly generous in his praise. He, as much as anyone, helped push me into my own study of intellectual conservatism. He actually knew who Russell Kirk was, and he respected a vigorous intellectual conservatism. When I became a Gaines Fellow in the humanities program Dr. Betts founded and directed, the program paid for me to fly to interview both William F. Buckley and Russell Kirk. Had it not been for Raymond Betts I never would have not only met Russell Kirk, I never would have worked for him.

Once Dr. Betts gave his lower arena basketball tickets to my friend David Abner and me. He served as a faculty member of the University Board of Trustees, a position that came with top flight basketball seats. To have such seats was quite a treat for two boys from eastern Kentucky. Kentucky beat Florida that game, and Dave and I were accosted by the old gentleman seated behind us because we kept standing and cheering during the game, blocking his view.

Perhaps my favorite memory of Dr. Betts is the time Dave and I invited him to our dorm room for pizza. He accepted our invitation, and when the day came it was absolutely pouring rain. Our dorm was on the other side of campus from the giant office tower, but Dr. Betts gladly came. He was so soaked by the time he arrived we had to give him clothes to change into. And there sat Raymond Betts, Ph.D.—French colonialist, member of the University Board of Directors, Director of the Honors Program and Director of the Gaines Center for the Humanities—on a dorm bed in borrowed sweat pants and t-shirt eating pizza with two undergraduates. The invitation itself meant something to him, as I heard him comment to others more than once that it was the only time he had been so invited by students.

As is often the case with such things, I had not spoken with Dr. Betts in several years. As is almost always the case, I regret that. On Friday Dr. Betts passed away at the age of 81. Today was his funeral. He will be missed by a host of his students, and also by me.

[Read the Lexington Herald-Leader obituary]

Just released from prison on perjury charges and looking for a good project? Well, why not try to rehabilitate Judas Iscariot:
Author Jeffrey Archer, who was cast out of Britain’s Conservative Party after being jailed on perjury charges, is coming to the defense of another noted black sheep — Judas Iscariot.

Archer announced Sunday that his new novel chronicling the life of the man who betrayed Jesus, “The Gospel According to Judas, by Benjamin Iscariot,” will be published in March.

Archer’s publisher, Macmillan, said the book imagines Judas as a politician who betrays Jesus not for money, but because of the belief he is an ineffective leader unable to challenge the authority of the Romans. Unlike the Gospels, Judas does not kill himself but instead survives and recounts his story to a son — the narrator of Archer’s book.

Oddly, Desmond Tutu did a reading for the audio book.

Sometimes one is best identified by his friends.

Saturday, February 03, 2007


Switzerland may be poised to expandits assisted suicide law to include the mentally ill:
Switzerland already allows physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients under certain circumstances. The Federal Tribunal's decision puts mental illnesses on the same level as physical ones.

"It must be recognized that an incurable, permanent, serious mental disorder can cause similar suffering as a physical (disorder), making life appear unbearable to the patient in the long term," the ruling said.

"If the death wish is based on an autonomous decision which takes all circumstances into account, then a mentally ill person can be prescribed sodium-pentobarbital and thereby assisted in suicide," it added.

Various organizations exist in Switzerland to help people who want to commit suicide, and assisting someone to die is not punishable under Swiss law as long as there is no "selfish motivation" for doing so.
The answer to 'compassion' continues to be death, but like abortion it looks a lot more like convenience than compassion.