Tuesday, August 28, 2007

'THE RIGHT THING TO DO as of right now,' says Michael Vick, who accepted a plea agreement on charges of conspiracy in a dog fighting ring. What is the right thing to do 'as of right now'?
"We all make mistakes," said Michael Vick. "Dogfighting is a terrible thing and I reject it ... I found Jesus and turned my life over to God. I think that's the right thing to do as of right now."

There you have it. Finding Jesus may be the new rehab. Quick--somebody tell Lindsay Lohan!

Sunday, August 26, 2007

BOMBINGS IN HYDERABAD....last night at least 40 people were killed in two bombings. Nineteen unexploded bombs were discovered as well. One of the bombs exploded near the hotel we stayed at the last two trips to Hyderabad. Some related pictures are here.
PREACHING THIS MORNING...from Psalm 50, 'The Judgment of God'. All of creation, from rising sun to setting, are called before The Mighty One. The first to stand before His judgment are His 'godly ones'. He begins to testify against them. He reminds them that He does not need their sacrifice, but desires their reliance. The the wicked step forward. They have confused God's attitude with their own: 'You thought that I was just like you.' They have no right to call upon God's statutes and covenant. But this judgment is not final; it is a warning. The one who 'orders his way aright' will be shown 'the salvation of God'.

Friday, August 24, 2007


The release of personal writings from Mother Teresa have caused controversy over the faith of the woman beatified, and soon to be sainted, by the Catholic Church:
Mother Teresa, who died in 1997 and was beatified in record time only six years later, felt abandoned by God from the very start of the work that made her a global figure, in her sandals and blue and white sari. The doubts persisted until her death.

The nun’s crisis of faith was revealed four years ago by the Rev. Brian Kolodiejchuk, the postutalor or advocate of her cause for sainthood, at the time of her beatification in October 2003. Now he has compiled a new edition of her letters, entitled, "Mother Teresa: Come be My Light," which reveals the full extent of her long “dark night of the soul.”

“I am told God lives in me — and yet the reality of darkness and coldness and emptiness is so great that nothing touches my soul,” she wrote at one point. “I want God with all the power of my soul — and yet between us there is terrible separation.” On another occasion she wrote: “I feel just that terrible pain of loss, of God not wanting me, of God not being God, of God not really existing.”

Are these the understandable doubts of someone working in the midst of great poverty and suffering or are they indicative of something more?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

'TEIXEIRA TRIBUTE' UPDATE at the Montgomery Advertiser. The snowball grows!

The same issues that have plagued the 'mainstream' (read 'liberal') American denominations have (unsurprisingly) also infected their predominantly black counterparts:
For years, disputes over homosexuality have convulsed predominantly white Protestant denominations -- Lutheran, Methodist, Episcopalian and Presbyterian -- but they have only recently hit black churches.

"It's going to be a real challenge," said the Rev. Carlton W. Veazey, minister at Fellowship Baptist Church in the District and founder of the annual National Black Religious Summit on Sexuality. "We're just beginning to really deal with it."

Most major historically black denominations have taken strong stances against homosexuality.

The National Baptist Convention USA Inc., the nation's largest predominantly black denomination, and the African Methodist Episcopal Church forbid clergy from officiating at ceremonies for same-sex couples, and Pentecostal denominations such as the Church of God in Christ consider homosexuality a sin. The Progressive National Baptist Convention, of which Covenant Baptist is a member, has not taken a stand on homosexuality or same-sex unions.
As long as churches choose to reflect the culture rather than seek to be salt and light within the culture the same thing will play out in generation after generation. Israel showed us repeatedly that seeking to be like the nations around them only leads to disaster.

Monday, August 20, 2007


A couple of young Christian men I know (Auburn students, but don't hold that against them) are now enjoying their fifteen minutes with their Tribute to Mark Teixeira on YouTube. Their song has been played at actual Braves games and on national TV on TBS. Word is that the pair are scheduled to play live at an upcoming Braves game. We'll assume none of this will interfere with school or (especially) some upcoming wedding plans (a certain young lady would not be pleased).

We're also hoping that enough money will be made to purchase the guitar player jeans without holes in them.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

THE PAN-INDIA PHOTOESSAY at Time.com is worth a look.

A retiring Catholic bishop has a solution to the religious divide,everyone should call God 'Allah':
A proposal by a Roman Catholic bishop in the Netherlands that people of all faiths refer to God as "Allah" is not sitting well with the Catholic community.

Tiny Muskens, an outgoing bishop who is retiring in a few weeks from the southern diocese of Breda, said God doesn't care what he is called.

"Allah is a very beautiful word for God. Shouldn't we all say that from now on we will name God Allah? ... What does God care what we call him? It is our problem," Muskens told Dutch television.

If it doesn't matter, then why don't Muslims simply call God 'God' or 'Yahweh'? One suspects that in their mind it most certainly does matter, which Muskens understands very clearly, thus the suggestion. Not surprisingly, Muslims endorse the idea:
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Washington, D.C.-based Islamic civil liberties and advocacy group, backs the idea as a way to help interfaith understanding.

"It reinforces the fact that Muslims, Christians and Jews all worship the same God," Hooper told FOXNews.com. "I don't think the name is as important as the belief in God and following God's moral principles. I think that's true for all faiths."

...The Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago supports the idea.

“I think it will open up doors,” said Janaan Hashim, a spokeswoman for the group representing more than 400,000 Muslim Americans in the Chicago area. “Language is a man-made limitation. I think what God cares about is how we fulfill our purpose in life.”

But Muslims don't really believe that language is a man-made limitation (well, neither do Jews or Christians--tower of Babel, anyone?). Muslims believe the Koran was revealed in Arabic and it can only be properly understood in Arabic.

Needless to say, not all Catholics support the notion:
"I'm sure his intentions are good but his theology needs a little fine-tuning," said Father Jonathan Morris, a Roman Catholic priest based in Rome. Morris, a news analyst for FOX News Channel, also called the idea impractical.

"Words and names mean things," Morris said. "Referring to God as Allah means something."

It certainly does. The Muslim conception of 'Allah' allows for no place for the Word, revealed to us as the Son, who is fully divine, fully God.

Muskens's proposal is simply another instance of Western Christianity looking Islam in the eye and then blinking without hesitation.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


A soldier in Iraq found that carrying his Bible came in quite handy:
US soldier serving in iraq believes his Bible saved his life after it stopped a sniper's bullet.

22-year-old Army Private First Class Brendan Schweigart had his Bible tucked in a pocket beneath his bullet proof shield when he was shot with a high powered rifle while on a mission in Iraq.

The bullet missed his vital organs, came out his chest, and lodged in his Bible before it could do more damage.

I suspect that's a copy he'll be hanging on to.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


Have you felt a distance from God? Have you considered sorting your trash?
At 8 on a Saturday morning, just as the heat was permeating this sprawling Orlando suburb, Denise Kirsop donned a white plastic moon suit and began sorting through the trash produced by Northland Church.

She and several fellow parishioners picked apart the garbage to analyze exactly how much and what kind of waste their megachurch produces, looking for ways to reduce the congregation's contribution to global warming.

"I prayed about it, and God really revealed to me that I had a passion about creation," said Kirsop, who has since traded in her family's sport-utility vehicle for a hybrid Toyota Prius to help cut her greenhouse gas emissions. "Anything that draws me closer to God -- and this does -- increases my faith and helps my work for God."

Counting a megachurch's carbon footprint without question can draw one closer to God. I mean, how could one conceive that it could not?

And who revealed this truth to Kirsop and her fellow congregants? Why her preacher, none other than Joel Hunter:
"I did sense this is one of these issues where the church could take leadership, like with civil rights," said Northland's senior pastor, Joel C. Hunter. "It's a matter of who speaks for evangelicals: Is it a broad range of voices on a broad range of issues, or a narrow range of voices?"

Does anyone "speak for evangelicals"? Do evangelicals need someone--or a group of someones--to speak for them? Perhaps the number of volunteers for this job outweighs the need.

Or just maybe, rather than sorting their trash churches could be concerned with reaching out to the lost, encouraging the saints and helping their needy. Those are jobs we seldom have enough volunteers for.

[Thanks to theosebes reader Wild Bill for the link]

Monday, August 06, 2007


Well, really more inconsequential than you can imagine. Anthony Doerr ponders the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, and urges us to do the same:
So. The Earth is massive enough to hold all of our cities and oceans and creatures in the sway of its gravity. And the sun is massive enough to hold the Earth in the sway of its gravity. But the sun itself is merely a mote in the sway of the gravity of the Milky Way, at the center of which is a vast, concentrated bar of stars, around which the sun swings (carrying along Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, etc.) every 230 million years or so. Our sun isn’t anywhere near the center; it’s way out on one of the galaxy’s minor arms. We live beyond the suburbs of the Milky Way. We live in Nowheresville.

Just so.

And not only are we in Nowheresville, Milky Way, the Milky Way itself isn't anything special:
[T]here are enough stars in the universe that if everybody on Earth were charged with naming his or her share, we’d each get to name a trillion and a half of them.

Even that number is still impossibly hard to comprehend—if you named a star every time your heart beat for your whole life, you’d have to live about 375 lifetimes to name your share.

The point of this is, in the grand scheme of things you and I are even less than a speck of dust in the desert. Doerr believes that this ought to give us perspective. That this picture "should probably be in every church". He's probably right, but for the opposite reason he thinks.

We are nothing. Just as the Preacher of Ecclesiastes finds despair in the vanity of the meaningless of life, so much so that he "hated life", so the Hubble Deep Field picture will inevitably force the same conclusion. Except that, as the Preacher discovered, we do have meaning. We do have purpose. We find in the fact that God created all of this for you and me. And we find meaning in being created in His image.

The Deep Field image stands as a testament to life's futility without our Creator. And it stands as a magnificent statement of the wonder of the Being who spoke all that the Hubble could ever see into existence.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

PREACHING THIS MORNING...'Commitment to the Kingdom' from my series on The Sermon On the Mount. Jesus warns us that materialism will cloud our spiritual vision, distracting us from the commitment we must have to God's kingdom. We must not worry over material things, but rather trust in God's provision.

Friday, August 03, 2007


Where did Christian rock come from? From the Jesus freaks, of course:
The Christian embrace of hip youth scenes can be traced, like so much, to the cultural ferment of the 1960s. Given that we are all weathering a Summer of Love flashback, it might spice up the tired images of the Haight Ashbury rebels to realize that a few of them were Christians. These mystic hippies sparked the mass Jesus People movement, which injected a distinctly Christian feeling for love and apocalypse into a counterculture already up to its mala beads in love and apocalypse. By the early 1970s, a new Jesus had hit the American mind—communal, earthy, spontaneous, anti-establishment. And this Jesus continued to transform American worship long after the patchouli wore off, inspiring a more informal and contemporary style of communion and celebration that, while holding true to core principles, unbuckled the Bible Belt from American Christian life.
There are some ways in which that influence can be good. I'm sure one could trace attitudes from that period that helped break down many of the old denominational allegiances and loyalties that had a negative affect on religious thinking. That itself is a two-edged sword, of course. It often leads to a sort of antinomianism that makes every man a law to himself. And this, regrettably, is where our religious culture has traveled to in many ways.

(Thanks to Theosebes reader Mitch for the link.)

With the conclusion of the Harry Potter, Bob Smietana finds that Christ begins to break through. (Warning: Story spoilers at the link).

Thursday, August 02, 2007


The Getty Museum is returning forty antiquities to Italy:
After long negotiations, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles has agreed to hand over 40 objects from its antiquities collection that Italy contends were looted from its soil, the two sides said on Wednesday.

A fifth-century B.C. statue of a cult deity usually identified as Aphrodite, one of the Getty’s prized pieces, is among the works to be returned to Italy, the Italian Culture Ministry and the museum’s governing trust said in a joint statement. But discussions on the fate of another statue, a fourth-century-B.C. bronze of a young athlete that was pivotal to the breakdown of earlier negotiations, have been temporarily put aside so that an Italian court can conduct an inquiry on how the artifact was found and how it left Italy in the 1960s.

This is part of a healthy process, I think, although it seems that there also needs to be a provable provenance, and even then probably a statute of limitations.