Saturday, May 14, 2005


Has Christianity Become a Brand?

A while back I read a book - Branded Nation. Frankly, reading it made me very unhappy. We'll explore why here a little bit.

Essentially, branding is a way of distinguishing products that are essentially indistinguishable. That is not how it started, but that is what it has come to mean.

Let's talk about how it started. We'll talk about a industry I know a little something about -- food. When a producer grows food, the quality of the harvest varies, even across a field. Subsequently, when the harvest gets to the canning plant, it is sorted. The best stuff is canned as the "premium" brand. Lesser stuff is canned as other brands and sold for a slightly cheaper price. For example -- if you by "Green Giant LaSeur Peas" you are getting the best canned peas money can buy. Peas from the same harvest and canning plant, that are not as good, is what you find in the "Safeway Brand" peas. At least that was the story 30 years ago, I have no idea if it is still true.

Why would it not still be true? Well, it seems that marketers discovered that people often "buy brands" regardless of what is actually under the label. This is what underlies much of the clothing industry. You can buy a shirt with a Ralph Lauren label and it will cost about twice as much as a label-less shirt -- even if it came from the same clothing manufacturer in Mexico or Taiwan.

Anymore, marketers work to establish a brand reputation, and once that is done, the product itself is often immaterial. Thus we now have "Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper" which tastes nothing at all like Dr. Pepper, but they don't care; what they are selling is the DP brand, not the soda itself.

So what does this have to do with Christianity?

Well since the Reformation there have been things resembling brands within Christianity -- we call them denominations. I would and will argue that they were brands in the traditional sense, that is to say there were real and genuine distinctions between them, like with LaSeur peas and Safeway peas. I wonder if that is still true? There are serious questions here. If the brand is more important than the contents behind the label, as is true in many consumer products, then there is a huge problem in the church.

As religion, and particularly Christianity, has gained an active role in politics, I wonder if Christianity itself has been reduced to a brand that the political parties can banter about. If this is true, then it is possible the brand focus will rob not just some denominations, but Christianity itself, of its actual content.

I am planning a couple of more posts on this topic -- one on intra-Christianity branding -- that is looking at denominations and the mega-church and emerging church movements in light of branding. The other on "Christianity" itself becoming a political brand.

I'll link to them as they come up. Hopefully you will enjoy this series. I look forward to your coments and ideas.


Preaching As Blog Fodder

WOW! I seemed to really have stirred up a discussion with my challenge on preaching that went up last Sunday.

Adrian Warnock passed it on.

Tranforming Sermons posted two responses here and here, and had one closely related post.

Unveiled Face responded directly and then responded to some comments on that response.

New guy Broken Messenger jumped in with both feet here and here.

Postscript Posthaste had some comments and an invitation.

Dark Glasses reacts violently but does not disagree with me nearly as much as he thinks he does.

Probably the most interesting information I find in all that discussion is that nobody took up my challenge directly. Nor do I find anything in all of that that I would disagree with much.

I am guessing that there is something in how I said it that sparked all that reaction. Unveiled Face says, I think, pretty much the same thing I am saying. Mick seems to have a gentler tone about it, so I refer those with violent reactions to him for clarification.

Dark Glasses is the only one that even claims to disagree with me, but as I read his post, I think he disagrees only with one phrase -- "church is not for seekers." I certainly agree with all his comments about relationships in evangelism -- that is precisely what I mean when I say "send out the found to find the unfound." I also agree that it takes much more than preaching to produce maturity -- I have been around and around with Adrian about that particular topic -- check either of our archives.

I wish I could find a thread in all of this great discussion to pick up on and respond to, but there is just too much, and it is all pretty good. I think I'll just try and clarify a few things.

Broken Messenger draws a distinction between preaching and teaching that I think sheds some useful light. (As a side note, Broken Messenger accuses me of stealing his post title with a minor modification, but fails to note that the modification I made makes it a complete rip-off of Francis Schaeffer. BTW, I think he should consider a new name -- Broken Messenger is a lot to type, and I refuse to use the initials.)

What light is that? Which one of those functions, if either, is appropriate for a Sunday morning? Well, that very much depends if you consider the service for the found or the unfound, doesn't it. If for the found, you teach, if the unfound, you preach - at least using the definitions Messenger has laid out.

Bottom line is this, I have yet to see a church that calls Sunday Morning anything other than a "worship" service. By definition, the unfound do not engage in worship -- we want them to, desparately, but they have to become found to even want to worship God. And that, in the end is why church is for the found, not the unfound.

When I worked for Young Life, our job was to make believers out of kids and then hand them off to the church, where they could achieve maturity. Instead, what happened was we were so successful in YL that the churches began to imitate us. The new believers fell away, and I had a hard time finding a place to go to aid me in my spiritual battle. That does not sound to me how things are supposed to work.

There is a reason I am not a pastor. That job has got to be the toughest job in the world. Rendered so tough because most people want to come and have church done to them, instead of coming and being the church. Virtually all the pastors I know respond to that in one of to ways. Either they try then to do all there is to do in the church -- visit, counsel, teach, preach, manage, serve..., or they start calling themselves preachers and give up on everything but planning Sunday morning services and those service become the current day equivalent of a tent revival. In the current climate this later option puts more seats in the pews, so that tends to be the way most go.

21st Century Reformation has been carrying on lately that the "job description" for the church is to make disciples, not just believers. I think he is dead on with this one.

I think this is the greatest challenge facing the church today -- how to produce disciples not just believers. Disciples are produced by far more than what comes from the pulpit on Sunday morning, with that I have no arguement, but I will contend that what comes from the pulpit is integral to the process.

Further, discipleship is the only way a pastor can get help with all those other functions -- he has to make his helpers. That process will not produce rapid growth and great success by worldly standards -- but I think it will by God's.

The church has a lot to do, evangelism is a very important among those tasks. All I am saying is that Sunday morning worship is not the time for that task.


Why Stuff Matters

A Christianity Today article reports that roughly two-thirds of Christians are not chaste until marriage.
Christian communities aren't immune to the sexual revolution. Three surveys of single Christians conducted in the 1990s turned up a lot of premarital sex: Approximately one-third of the respondents were virgins?that means, of course, that two-thirds were not.
I have no wonder why when I read stories like this.
A federal judge Thursday struck down Nebraska's ban on gay marriage, saying the measure interferes not only with the rights of gay couples but also with those of foster parents, adopted children and people in a host of other living arrangements.

The constitutional amendment, which defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, was passed overwhelmingly by the voters in November 2000.
When we normalize the perverse in this fashion is it any wonder that a straightforward standard like virginity would get lost in the tussle?

Hedgehog Blog analyses the court decision and feels that it will not stand. That is good news, but I wonder if, with all the discussion that is takes to get there, that the damage will not already have been done. The damage, of course, being the coarsening of public discourse, which in turn blurs the lines of acceptable and unacceptable behavior.


Comic Art

Last week we looked at the effects of technology on comic book art. That post ended with a very pretty picture of Green Lantern and the Silver Surfer. The Surfer is a fan fave from Marvel. He originally appeared at Galactus' herald in some of the first Fantastic Four books done, but in that first story arc, he turned on Galactus and helped save the world. In response, Galactus limited the Surfer's power cosmic in a fashion that left him stranded on earth.

Drawn by Sal Buscema
There is nothing like fan adulation to bring a character to the forefront. The Surfer got his own magazine and in the process was able to slip free the bonds of earth and take to space once again

(I own this comic -- bought it new, worth a fortune - done by the Master and creator of the character -- Jack Kirby)
Surfer books in the US have come and gone, but he has been very popular in Europe. Consider this from the streets of what, based on the phone booth seen in the background, appears to be London

I have no idea who did this, but I'd like to have it.
With space as a backdrop the Surfer is one of the best looking characters out there. I don't know if it is the great poses enabled by the board or the stark contrast of the silver/white in the void of dark space, but The Silver Surfer is good looking, and one of the few characters I like painted.


Now I am a little sad. Here I have been slaving away every Saturday trying to introduce people to my love of comics. Of sure, I was aware there were other comic lovers out there, and I was aware Wallo World was one of them. But when evangelical biggie Evangelical Outpost decides to ask "experts" on things to post on his blog, and he decides to start with comics, does he turn to little 'ol me? -- NO! Actually, Bill put together a fine piece, but I have to take a little exception to his praise of "The Ulitmates." I agree that the writing on those books is great, but I am not a big fan of the art and in my opinion, in comics, the art has to come first -- it is after all, a visual medium.

There are a lot of books out there that look great with lousy stories -- I still love leafing through them and looking at the art. Some of the very well written ones, with moderate or bad art, sit for years between re-readings.


Beware Student Driver

Yesterday, I linked to Peggy Noonan's great telling of the evacuation of government offices earlier in the week. Now we know what happened.
Fighter jets surrounded the plane and fired flares to get pilot Jim Sheaffer's attention. The jets escorted the pilot to a safe landing in Frederick, Md., just outside the restricted space around Washington.

Sheaffer and student pilot Troy Martin were handcuffed and put into police cars. They said they were flying to an air show in North Carolina when the plane entered restricted airspace.
I don't even know why they bothered to write the rest of the story.


PETA Propoganda... in our schools. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is a group that is so morally vapid that they compare Kentucky Fried Chicken to the Nazi extermination camps. And they are writing curriculm materials for our schools. This ploy -- of providing curriculum materials -- has been used by left wing groups for years.

I have seen it in environmental stuff before -- kids come to me as an environmental professional for some report they are doing and their head is filled with propoganda instead of actual science.

What really irks me though is that teachers just take these materials at face value instead of genuinely researching the issue prior to teaching on it. Advocacy groups are supposed to produce advocacy materials. But teachers are supposed to be about truth. The link goes easy on the teachers -- I am not so inclined.


Another Former Soviet State About To Fall?

Things are getting a bit testy in Uzbekistan. Unlike the bloodless democratic revolutions in other former Soviet states, this one is resulting in a few deaths. Pray for these people -- they only want the freedoms we take for granted.


Comment On HuffPo

One of the most annoying things about HuffPo is the idiots get to post, but we don't get to comment.

Somebody had a great idea. He feeds HuffPo to this site which does allow comments. Have at it....


No Duh!

Large California quake possible within 30 years

That has got to be the most obvious headline ever written -- that's like saying "Likely Earth Round." The story is almost an unimformative as the headline.

Researchers have calculated a 20 to 70 percent probability that southern California will be hit by a large earthquake in the next 30 years.
That's a pretty wide probabaility gap.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Darfur In Crisis

The crisis in Darfur is extreme, and unfortunately without simple solution. On Monday, I presented a list of resources that can help you come to understand the conflict in general. This site provides an introduction to the humanitarian crisis and notes
There is a crisis in Darfur. As with all wars the fighting has resulted in a humanitarian crisis. This crisis has escalated as the conflict spiralled out of control. The April 2004 humanitarian ceasefire has allowed for vital international access to those communities severely affected by the war. This is only a stopgap.
In other words the solution to the humanitarian crisis is to resolve the underlying political conflict.

I am not sure those in the West can understand the roots of a conflict like this one. It is really about hatred. In the West we war out of self-interest. That's not what is going on here, in my opinion. This, much like the conflict in the Balkans where I have been, is about one side thinking that the other side is not worthy of life, so they try to take it. Oh sure, the aggressor usually sees some material benefit from the conflict, but from their perspective it is a side effect, not the reason.

That's why I think the UN is really making a muddle of this. Negotiated solutions only work if you can give both sides at least part of what they want. If all one side wants is for the other side to die, negotiated peace usually won't work. That also means that from the perspective of the aggressor, there is no humanitarian crisis, that's just a means to achieving their goal. If they allow aid it is only as a means to leverage something out of the international aid community.

Thus, you run into stories like this and this. The aid workers themselves become targets and pawns in the war.

So what can be done?

Well, for one thing anything that is done will be long term. It will take several generations of peace and retraining to do away with the ancient mindsets. Thus whoever it is that ultimately maintains the peace must be committed for the long term -- that takes building quite a bit of political will.

Secondly, I think that until there is significant reform in the UN; otherwise, they are going to continue to muddle through at best. The now well documented Oil For Food Scandal is likely just one symptom of a much larger dysfunction. Ultimately, I think it will take a single nation making up it's mind to fix this situation. Given he criticism the US and allies have gotten for their actions in Iraq, I think that it would be terribly difficult for them to act unilaterally in Sudan. Particularly since the proper action is probably to overthrow the existing government for a more moderate one.

So again, what do to?

This is the UN relief information for the country. Contributions are always the answer in a situation like this. I am not big on UN NGO's but they are leading the humanitarian efforts at the moment. There are also the usual suspects like World Vision and the links I gave in the Monday post.

I think; however, that Milblogger Dadmanly captured my feelings on Darfur best in this post.
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

The Serenity Prayer. That's it. Cynics may dismiss the notion of such a simple concept driving major decisions with national security implications, but is it really so fantastic an idea?

Millions of Americans who have changed their lives in dramatic ways rely on this simple prayer to help them navigate between the struggles which they can overcome, and those forces and realities on the ground that are unbending to human will, or at least out of the individual's power. And so they learn sanity and readjust thinking that had run down a squirrel hole.

Had not our strategic thinking in Foreign Policy suffered from an addiction to a kind of appeasement of status quo power balances, resulting from the unique challenges that two nuclear Superpowers presented? Weren't we far too comfortable enabling the very sovereign dysfunctions, in remediation of which all our diplomatic efforts were focused?
Of course, we must do everything possible to relieve the suffering that exists in this region, but we need also know that there is much suffering that it is simply beyond our power to relieve, as painful as that realization may be.

And more, until, as Dadmanly suggests, the UN can learn to think as described in that last paragraph from the pull quote, they will be ineffective. So we need to pray the Serenity Prayer not only for our own peace of mind, but for the world's as well.


Preserve The Truth

I get newsletters from lots of churchs, mostly from ones where I know people, and particularly pastor friends. Got one just yesterday and what appears below is my firends pastoral letter to the congregation for the month of May. Found it very worth sharing.

The Purpose of the Church

The fourth central purpose of the church is to be a people who preserve the truth.

As we read the Bible cover to cover this year, I have reflected upon the value of truth. This past summer, while we were in Israel, I marveled again at the legacy we have of men and women who have given their lives to preserve the scriptures for us. When you think of it, we are reading a book that is over 3,000 years old, which was written down, copied, and preserved so we might know about the dealings of God with the people of faith.

Just as in days of old, the church is called upon to be a preserver of the truth. Preservation means that we are not only keepers of the message, but we are defenders of the truth. Defending the truth means that we protect the documents, the doctrines, and the lifestyle of the Christian message. Our teaching and Christian education ministries are a part of this?we have to preserve the truth of the gospel first by education of our children and grandchildren before we can ?speak the truth? to the world.

We must speak ?the truth in love,? as the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 4:15. Speaking the truth in Jove is a tough balancing act. It means that we are in danger of being called intolerant. I think that many times Christians are ashamed to speak of the truth of the gospel, because if they do, society projects upon them that they are inflexible, or disagreeable.

I think one point of balance is in being called to be agreeable, without agreeing with everything. Preserving the truth means that we have a foundation of the truths about who God is, our relationship to him, and the facts of the gospel which leads us to lead a lifestyle of love.

This is very agreeable! I think the preserving of the truth can produce both tolerance and toughness. The apostle Paul wrote, ? If it is possible, so far as it depends upon you, live peacable with all? (Rom. 12:18). He was careful to add, ?if it is possible.? Paul was a realist. He recognized that it is not always possible to live peaceably with everyone. ?Welcome those who are weak in faith,? he went on to say, ?but not for the purpose of quarreling over opinions? (14:1).

The church is a living body of knowledge about the way God works in human history, and our working at the truth, ultimately will grant us a new freedom. As Jesus said, in John 8:32, ? the Truth will make you free.?

I pray we might walk together in truth, and we would find the freedom. Pastor Greg


Now I Really Am Concerned

In August my wife and I are going to cruise the Baltic Sea, supposedly with radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt. But I ran into this the other day.

If I end up on a cruise with the bobbleheaded doll as the host I am going to be more than a little upset. I'm wondering if there is not a Milli Vanilli thing going on here? Maybe the man behind the curtain really is in control of the whole thing?

Only the cruise will tell for sure...I'll keep you updated.


First Person

Peggy Noonan is at her best in the first person, or giving a first person voice to those that were there. I really enjoyed this account of the terrorism scare in DC on Wednesday and thought I would share it.


Friday Humor

Slightly off color...

A fellow was getting ready to tee off on the first hole when a second golfer approached and asked if he could join him. The first said that he usually played alone, but agreed to the twosome.

They were even after the first few holes. The second guy said, "We're about evenly matched, how about playing for five bucks a hole?" The first fellow said that he wasn't much for betting, but agreed to the terms. The second guy won the remaining sixteen holes with ease.

As they were walking off number 18, and while counting his $80, the second guy confessed that he was the pro at a neighboring course and liked to pick on suckers.

The first fellow revealed that he was the parish priest. The pro got all flustered and apologetic, offering to return the money. The priest said, "You won fair and square and I was foolish to bet with you. You keep your winnings." The pro said, "Is there anything I can do to make it up to you?"

The priest said, "Well, you could come to Mass on Sunday and make a donation. And, if you want to bring your mother and father along, I'll marry them."


HuffPo Lights

Well, the slow car chase called a web site batted .500 yesterday.

On the good side, they highlighted a story about modern slavery. Of course, in typical leftie fashion that highlight the problem, and then they stop.

Then there was this blog post in which someone I have never heard of, but must be famous because they appear on HuffPo, makes almost no sense at all. First they urge people to sign a petition to save the forest becasue the web site is "gorgeous." Oh yeah, there is a reason to take political action. But then she says
Note to all loggers or timber industry personnel reading: I'm sorry for what I did to your potential livelihood.
That makes it all better. This post has to be the most truly vacant thing I have ever seen in a blog -- which is, sadly, enough to make me look again tomorrow.


500 News

Well, practice at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway is well underway for this month of May.

Attention Span has some great memories of Speedway days gone by. He is a little younger than I, but we have obviously covered a lot of the same territory at the track. And he finds a spiritual lesson in the telling as well.

When I think about some of the great names of bygone days, I know some of them are spinning in their graves at the thought that the fastest lap so far this month belongs to a woman. I have not seen Ms. Patrick turn a lap, so I have no idea if she is a good driver or not, but you don't get 227, even on an empty track, if you aren't smooth and can't hold the groove, which makes her better than anybody I was on the freeway with today.

I have a feeling that the days of Janet Guthrie just wanting to "make the show" and be "running at the finish" -- a fact that casued AJ Foyt to call her something along the lines of a "rolling roadblock" in her first race -- are far behind us.

Women drivers are old news now -- but a competitive woman driver is news. This could be an interesting May!


I Love My Cat...

...but I absolutely refuse to catblog. Fortunately, this is about someone else's cat. Apparently, people are willing to break the law to own something called a "Savannah," a cross between an African wildcat and a domestic housecat.

Breaking the law is bad enough, but here is the kicker
The cats - which can cost from $4,000 to $10,000 - are visually striking with their long necks and oversized ears, and they can be intimidating. They look like little leopards and grow to more than twice the size of normal cats. They love to leap and splash in water, and they don't mind taking long walks on a leash. Some people describe them as dogs in cats' bodies.

"More than ever, everyone's been calling me about the Savannah, and I'm like, 'What's going on?' " said Bash Dibra, an animal trainer in New York whose sessions, at $300 to $500 an hour, are often the last resort for people who cannot control their Savannahs.
They pay 10 grand for a cat they have to spend $500/hour to learn how to handle. My cat, I brought home for a couple of hundred in neuter fees, showed the cat box, and sat back and enjoyed the purrs. Somehow, I think I have the better deal here.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Not Hatred

Michael Medved hosted an hour yesterday in response to this article. He said he tried to get the piece's author on, but he refused. In stead Michael had those who were attacked in the piece and wrote this response. From the attack piece
The bill did not seek state support for gay marriage. It simply added "sexual orientation" to the list of groups worthy of legal protections from discrimination. It addressed a fundamental issue of human rights, and through their resistance to even a modicum of civil protection, opponents revealed their contempt for the basic humanity of gays and lesbians. They no longer merely hate the "sin" but have embraced a dehumanization of the "sinner" as a rallying cry and unifying theme.
Now hold on a minute -- adding a group to the "protected" designation is not about dehumanizing, it is about not raising up above the rest of humanity -- there is a big difference. Check out the lead
Racism largely has been chased to the margins of civil society. Anti-Semitism is anathema to any modern, democratic culture. Yet there is an acceptable form of hatred and bigotry that plagues our nation. It is a base discrimination condoned by clerics and exploited by politicians.
Are you aware of anygays or lesbians that have been enslaved> How about lynched? How about gassed and creamated en masse? It is horrible, abominable crimes like that that have given rise to the necessity for certain protected classes.

Now the kicker -- those the article attacks are a Jew and a black man. As their response says
Help! A Jew and a black under attack!
Casting this as a civil rights or hate issue is a huge mistake for the gay crowd. Slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, and the Holocaust were wrong, fundamentally, and everyone knew it. The assertion of civil rights works in such a case.

In this case, the "wrong" is with the homosexual crowd, and again, everyone knows it. In my opinion, even the homosexuals themselves. What else could explain their shrillness and utter panic?


HuffPo Highlights

This train wreck is still interesting, but I think the novelty will wear off soon. Here is some of my favs today.

Quincey Jones is distancing himself from Michael Jackson. Not a good sign for the Jackson defense.

David Corn relies on Bruce Springsteen as a religious teacher. Money quote:
But I assume they believe they are merely following the words of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, their J.C. is a divider-not-a-uniter.

I much prefer the Christ recently offered to us by that well-known theologian, Bruce Springsteen.
I had no idea we owned (note the possessives) I thought He owned us.

Greg Gutfeld is just inane.
To pass the time on the 4400 Stairclimber at 24 Hour Fitness, I often engage in "nonsexual heroic celebrity fantasies." (NHCF) Basically, i fantasize about rescuing celebrities who are in peril.
I take it back, that's not inane, it's spooky.


Pretty Close To What I Thought

Tuesday, I hypothesized that the North Carolina Baptist Church brouhaha was not what it at first appeared to be. Bear in mind that I condemned the church's pastor upon initial reporting on Sunday.

Turns out my Tuesday prognostications were pretty close to the truth. The embattled pastor resigned Tuesday night.
Chandler said the nine members initially left voluntarily. But some were trustees of the church and other members thought it prudent to make their actions official.

The pastor said the church had undergone several months of disharmony, some of which he speculates was the result of his preaching about Christians' responsibility to be reflective of the Bible in how they vote.

More hesitatingly, according to Baptist Press, he also speculated the disgruntled members may have felt threatened in their leadership positions because of the church's recent influx of new members.
Christweb also has some reporting that illustrates that the story was overblown in the press. (HT: Sheep's Crib)

I have said all along that politics is not something the church should do -- Christians should, but not the church. Sounds to me like this pastor tried, but came a little close to the edge of that distinction and some of his parishioners thought he fell over it.

I think this story also says something about what a pastor's real ministry should be. The pastor should be raising Christisn in his/her congregation can take the political fight forward, not advancing the fight personally.


Illuminated Scripture

I love doing this feature every week becasue of how much I love my wife, it is very beautiful work.


Agro Terrorism?

Allthings2all opened my eyes to a whole new terrorist threat yesterday. Catez is from New Zealand and she reports that someone has threatened the cattle industry on one of that nation's islands with a release of hoof and mouth. The mere threat has lowered the value of their currency and is rapidly bringing exports to a halt. That is a lot of damage to a small nation, and to date, it was just a threat.

There is no question in my mind this is a form of terrorism, and one I have not heard anyone talk about. Think about this nation where we have orders of magnitude more cattle and lack the natural barriers of an island. A release of hoof and mouth here could be devestating to the economy, not to mention my diet.

Just what we need -- new ideas for terrorists.


The Filibuster...

...story is getting really old. It is all "inside baseball" now. Stuff the Sneators only care about. It is a lesson in how stage managed the floor of our legislative bodies really are. At this point, they are just trying to get all the ducks in a row so the show looks good when it happens.

Tuesday, I noted that the latest Gallup poll was almost definitionally a push poll. David Hill in the Hill tackles the poll in a far more professional manner since he himself is a pollster. I love it when I'm right.

Reid is more-or-less standing by his "loser" remark concerning the President. "Bounces off of me and sticks to you," comes to mind.


Agenda Science

Yesterday's Best Of The Web showed on of the great agenda science guffaws of all time. First they quote this article
Negative feelings about black people may be subconsciously learned by both white and black Americans, suggests a brain imaging study. The research is among the first to test the brain physiology of racial biases in both black and white subjects.

The new study showed that both white and black people had increased activity in an area of the brain called the amygdala - which responds to fearful or threatening situations - when completing a matching task with images of black faces.

?I think the results are very specific to being raised in this society where the portrayal of African Americans is not very positive, on average,? says Matthew Lieberman at the University of California, Los Angeles, US, who led the study. ?It suggests that those cultural messages are not harmless.?
Here is the bottom line question -- how does a study that simply shows a reaction determine that the reaction is learned? Apparently the same part of the brain responds to not only to threats but also to what the call the "out" group and they attempt to distinguish between the two reactions. It seems to me that by definition the "out" group is a threat. Ever bring a new cat home when you already have a few?

But BOTW moves on to quote this article.
Using a brain imaging technique, Swedish researchers have shown that homosexual and heterosexual men respond differently to two odors that may be involved in sexual arousal, and that the gay men respond in the same way as women.

The new research may open the way to studying human pheromones, as well as the biological basis of sexual preference. Pheromones, chemicals emitted by one individual to evoke some behavior in another of the same species, are known to govern sexual activity in animals, but experts differ as to what role, if any, they play in making humans sexually attractive to one another.
Similar study, far more honest conclusions and reporting.

Proving a connection between things does not prove a casue -- it is the oldest rule of statistics, and data evaluation. I see it done wrong almost every day, at least in the popular press.


Get It Here....

...the latest Christian Carnival that is. As usual, there is something for everyone.


Theology Matters

Thanks to Rebecca for Writing about a series of posts being written by Dead Man Blogging on Calvinism. Here is the first and here the second with more to come, presumably.

I am a Calvinist and the more I learn about it, the more I am one.

I have been thinking a lot lately about how "theology matters." Here is why. There are so many people out there that claim Jesus in pursuit of some many different things. Gays claim it is "Christ-like" to accept them and then claim acceptance of them means homosexual practice is not a sin. Some arch conservatives claim Biblical mandates regarding homschooling. Home schooling is fine idea, but I haven't found the word in the Bible.

Thinking about what you believe about God, is how we sort out stuff like this. Which brings me back to Calvinism. More than any other theological scool of thought, it puts God in charge. I love this quote from Dead Man's second post
There are two main points about the sovereignty of God that I want to make. The first is to understand that God is free to do as He pleases. He is not constrained by anything other than Himself.
God is not subject to what we think about Him. Calvinism affirms that point over and over, and that is a big reason I like it.

And that is so important to being a Christian in public debate. We cannot invoke God willy-nilly. In fact we cannot really invoke God at all. We just do that which He commands. Argue all you want, but the next time think about that before you declare what God's ideas are on the matter.


Strikes Again

Grace And The News, my favorite place for a quick laugh, has hit another one out of the park. Read it here, just make sure you are not drinking anything when you link.


Geek Life

Old time computer types will remember the "game" of life. Some Cornell types have built robots that look remarkably like that game come to life.

It's cool, but essentially inconsequential.


Good For A Chuckle

I love Sheep's Crib's account of an encounter with a LATimes salesperson. During the 2000 election cycle, I got so upset at that paper that it would ruin my breakfast, it was a Gore circular and did not even approach anything like journalistic standards. So I called them and told them to never bring it to my door again. The women I spoke to when I cancelled my subscription asked why, and I told her. She actually told me she agreed, that she was supposed to try and convince me to keep it, but should could not bring herself to do it.


I Don't Know If It's Art...

...But I know what I like, and this is it.
Congo the chimpanzee led a brief artistic career and enjoyed little critical success, despite the patronage of his contemporary and fellow abstract painter, Pablo Picasso. But nearly half a century after Congo's artistic career, some of his paintings are going on sale at a prestigious London auction house alongside works by Andy Warhol and Renoir.

Three tempera on paper works ? brightly colored compositions of bold brushstrokes ? will be featured as a single lot in the sale of Modern and Contemporary Art at Bonhams on June 20, the auctioneer said Wednesday. The lot estimate is between $1,130-$1,500.

Oh come on, made you smile. There are a couple of things I know for sure from this

  1. The chimp really was smarter than anyone that will pay $1,500 for his art.
  2. That a chimp's art is on the block with Andy Warhol is completely appropriate.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


One More Step To The Left...

...and Howard Dean is going to take the Democratic Party right off the cliff. He has endorsed Bernie Sanders for the Senate seat being vacated by Jim Jeffords in the next election. "Who is Bernie Sanders?" you ask. The current congressman from Vermont and a socialist.

Here is the reading material Bernie recommends you seek to learn more about him, from his own congressional web site. I've added the empahsis.
More information about Congressman Sanders can be obtained from his political autobiography, Outsider in the House by Bernie Sanders and Huck Gutman, Verso Press, 1997. Other books that describe his political career as Mayor of Burlington, Vermont and candidate for Congress are: People's Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution by Greg Guma, 1989; Challenging the Boundaries of Reform: Socialism in Burlington by W.J. Conroy, 1990; Socialist Mayor: Bernard Sanders in Burlington, Vermont by Steven Soifer, 1991; Making History in Vermont: The Election of a Socialist to Congress by Steven Rosenfeld, 1992.
Given the results of the last election, does this not strike you as a move in precisely the wrong direction? Is there no one with any sense left in the Democratic Party?


Cultural Wasteland Comes To The Blogosphere

Well, the reviews are starting to roll in. The Hollywood-pandering, left of Lenin, LA Weekly hated it. Lileks compares it to a freeway pile up. Holy Coast thinks it will make his job easier. What are we talking about?

Ariana Huffington's new celeb group blog.

I'm with Holy Coast on this -- one stop shopping for material to poke fun at .

Most annoying feature? The animated .gif files scattered throughout.

Most Inane Post From Day 2? Rob Reiner.

Most Ignorant Post on Day 2? Bill Maher.

Biggest Problem? I'm not on the blogroll.

I am going to keep an eye on this for a few days, maybe a "best" of each day? We'll see as celebs display their ignorance for all. My guess, they'll run out of steam really soon, good blogging takes real effort.


Painful, but Punny

Puns are the lowest form of humor, but this is too good to resist.


Have You Checked Out Bluefish?

The new Warnie Winner is blogging his way through the Minor Prophets.

I am tempted to make a wisecrack about Hosea'a wife, but he's the new guy and is doing a good job so I'll go easy on him. Besides, unless you know why Hosea's wife is fodder for a wisecrack, you really need to read the series.



Two things to bear in mind.
  1. When something is born it usually emerges from something else
  2. A black hole is a gravity well so deep and dense that NOTHING, not even light, can escape from it

Given those facts, is this not an unfortunate metaphorical choice

"The birth cry of a black hole is one way people like to put it," Gehrels said
How can something from which nothing can escape emerge from anything? Wouldn't it swallow that from which it emerged? And since no light can emerge from it, how would you know?

And before I am inundated with explanations -- I'm trying to be silly here, I know how an event horizon works!


This Outta Be Fun

What is the most disrespected name in modern American politics? I'm betting most people would say Richard Nixon. Next on the list? Bill Clinton. So it ought to be lots of fun when Nixon's son-in-law challenges Clinton's wife for a New York Senate seat.
Edward Cox, a New York corporate lawyer and son-in-law of Richard Nixon, will definitely run next year for the U.S. Senate seat held by Hillary Clinton
In my opinion Nixon has received far more scorn than really called for, though he was clearly wrong. Clinton on the other hand, was scorned not nearly enough. This ought to prove interesting.


The Best of Pravda

Once again, Russia Makes It Not Funny.
The Greek authorities are taking steps to locate the consumers who purchased Chinese-made electrical irons. As it turned out, the devices can be a clear and present danger to consumers. Three persons have been already killed by an electric shock while trying to use the deadly irons.
So, where again is the humor in dead people?

How Will This Work?

They claim an ointment for heart disease.
As a result of the experiment, the researchers got tiny one-micron vesicles that open only when contact diseased cells and let the active drug in. These vesicles are part of the ointment. The cardiologist adds that traditional post-infarction medications are not really effective as they do not get inside of diseased heart cells.

Damaged cells as a rule mortify and cover the heart surface with scars thus breaking the normal heart function. Doctors believe the new ointment may solve the problem. Cardiologist Mansharipova says patients should apply the ointment to any part of the skin of 2 cm in size. The steady effect of the ointment is 24 hours.
OK, I understand the mirco-vesicles targeting the medication to damaged tissue, but how are you supposed to transport them from the chest to the heart muscle?

You Cannot Win In Space

The Muslims are going to use satellite imagery to determine certain holidays with precision. I did not know that religious observances needed to be timed to the nano-second, but if that's what they want, then, "Heh!"

But that which aids also takes away. You know that probe that is going to take a shot at a comet and test the ejecta? Well, turns out someone is not happy about that.
In the meantime, Russian astrologer Marina Bai demands NASA's project to bomb Tempel 1 comet should be canceled and banned. The astrologer believes that the plan of the US space agency is an attempt against the natural life in space, which might break the natural balance of the Universe. Marina Bai filed a lawsuit against NASA seeking the protection of her moral and life values.
I'm thinking Marina Bai may be in the vodka a little too much.


I Hope He Wins

According to Cheat Seeking Missles, a Hindu man is complaining to beer company that it's labels "intimidate" Hindu religious practice. Given the intimidation leveled at Christian religious practice lately, I hope the Hindu gentleman prevails. A little precedent couldn't hurt.


Painting A Target On Their Own Chests

Dr. Voddie Baucham Jr., a Southern Baptist lecturer, preacher and author, and Bruce N. Shortt, an author are bringing a resolution to the Southern Baptist Convention urging families to investigate teaching regarding homosexuality in their local public schools and to remove their children from those schools if they find inappropriate teaching.

This strikes me as a very reasonable approach. I have been amazed at some of what goes on at schools around here. Holy Coast has just one example. However, I'm betting these guys are going to get tarred and feathers in the press.


You Cannot Be Serious

Thanks to Cheat Seeking Missles for digging this up. It's a web site advocating human cloning. It makes Laer feel creepy, I understand that, but given that they claim the Raelians as a legit religion, instead of joke fodder, makes me want to put them in the same joke bin.

The whole thing has the feel of people that have played way too much Dungeons and Dragons, and have a hard time telling where the game ends and life begins. I have to wonder if they dress for their meetings like this

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Filibuster Fight Fires Up!

The Senate is back in session and the "Lllllet's Get Ready to Rrrrrumble...." The showdown should come this week or next. The pro-filibuster crowd is getting so shrill that I have to think we are winning. let's tackle the serious stuff first.

Best place to stay minute-by-minute up-to-date? Confirm Them.

Easiest way to influence the Republicans that might hit for the other team? Beyond The News.

Needless to say, Hugh Hewitt is all over this. This post of his quotes the Presidential statement of yesterday.

Did you know this whole thing is really about presidential aspirations? The most important question is who has the best shot at the post-Bush Republican nomination Hagel or Frist? It's not about having abortion shoved down our throats, or statistical equivalence substitutes for equal opportunity, or Terri Schiavo dying, no it's over politics. At least that is the opinion of Tom Curry at MSNBC and Cokie Roberts. You have to love Cokie, she says what the Dems should be doing, and then does it.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports on Hagel's talking head appearance over the weekend. Check this:
A leading Senate Republican expressed hope Sunday for a deal to end the divisive fight over the filibustering of judicial nominees, saying that "some of us might be moderately intelligent enough to figure this out."

"We need to work through this," said Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) who is publicly undecided about whether to endorse the GOP threat to use their Senate majority to ban such filibusters.
As best as I can tell, Hagel is leading only in the eyes of the MSM, taking on that McCain-like aura of the annointed one, that no one actually gives attention.

Matt Drudge reveals the real reason for this big fight.

The Seattle Times resurrects the "it's just those lunatic right wing Christians" arguement in this profile of Rick Scarborough.

The Gallup organization reports on a poll claiming that most Americans want the filibuster preserved. Here is the money quote, one of their "conclusions"
When the filibuster situation is explained to Americans, the majority appear to favor keeping the rule in place.
I believe explaining the situation to them is the definition of a push poll.

In case you haven't noticed, (and I'm betting you haven't) Princeton stundents have been filibustering in support of the filibuster.
"I know I'm drunk, but I still want to sign up," a student says to her friend, walking over to the blue "Frist Filibuster" support tent.
In the words of the immortal Stan Lee "'Nuff Said!"

But the biggst laugh comes from old friend We've already worn out the fact that the filibuster is civil rights worst enemy in the post reconstruction period, but I could not believe this:
"It is absolutely unconscionable that the president and Senate Republican leaders are prepared to destroy our system of checks and balances over a handful of unfit, unqualified judges like Rogers Brown and Owen," said Wade Henderson, executive director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights.
Now bear in mind, Janice Rogers Brown is black. This is proof positive that when it comes to civil rights, race matters more than qualifications, only if the person of color is a liberal. Obviously if they are conservative their skin color changes.

Like I said -- SHRILL!


Whacky Religious News

I love God! But some of us who follow Him are a little out there. Here's some examples.

Turns out you do not need a priest for an exorcism, just a town planning council
....the accursed residents of Satan Wood Drive in Columbia, near Baltimore, had finally decided to change their street name after nearly 30 years.

On April 14, salvation arrived in the form of a Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning decision that the street would henceforth be called "Satinwood Drive," which was meant to have been the name all along.
Sure does make that old movie look silly.

Turns out the evil number '666' may not be quite as evil as we thought. Boy, that bit of news is going to cause hysterics in and around Grand Rapids, Michigan.

After yesterday's trip to The Edge Of Blasphemy, we just have to take a look at this story.
A football club boss has commissioned a version of Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper with himself as Christ.

Gigi Becali, owner of Steaua Bucharest, will be surrounded by his manager and 11 favourite players as the 12 Apostles.
If it was me, I'd use the poker playing dogs, but to each his own I guess. But here's the quote that I found most amazing
"I just hope his gesture will not be taken as blasphemy."
Well, I would certainly like to avoid that appearance as well, that's why I try to stay away from depicting myself in His place.


This Chicken Needs To Be Sent To Bed Without Supper

Bad chicken, very bad chicken.
The deputy issued a ticket March 26 because one of the couple's chickens allegedly impeded traffic in Johannesburg, a rural mining community near Ridgecrest, some 220 miles northeast of Los Angeles.
I have been to Johannesburg California -- it is the middle of the Mohave desert!
Sheriff's Sgt. Francis Moore said chickens on the roadway have been a problem in the community of 50 residents.
I smell a rat here. I don't know many towns of 50 with big jaywalking issues.
The chicken's owners say they believe they were cited because they were among several people who complained that sheriff's deputies haven't done enough to control off-road vehicle riders who create dust and noise in their neighborhood.

Sheriff's officials say that isn't so, adding they are doing what they can to keep off-roaders away from homes.
Don't you love small town politics?


Religion and....

OK, I have said on several occasions that Christianity and science do not really conflict, but I wondering if Christianity and mathematics do. Thanks to Evangelical Outpost for pointing to this post which invokes Godel's Incompleteness Theorem as an argument against Sola Scriptura.

I am truly dumbfounded. I'm betting the guy that thought this up is like the guy that tries fix everything with a hammer. Either that or he just wanted to show off how smart he is by quoting the theorem. I have news for him -- Godel's theorem is one of the most important mathematical proofs in the last couple of centuries. EVERYBODY KNOWS IT!


Honor Due

Hedgehog Blog posts another great Medal of Honor winner for this month that contains Memorial Day.


Not What It Seems?

I concluded my post last Sunday about the pastor that ex-communicated members over poltics with these words:
At this point I find myself wondering if this really was over political affiliation or if that is how the excommunicated are casting it? Time will tell, since no one seems to be talking.
Well, yesterday we learned that those sent to the wilderness were in church Sunday.
"This all started over politics and our right to vote for whoever we wanted to," said Thelma Lowe, who has been attending the church for 42 years. She and her husband Frank, a deacon at the church for 35 years, were among those voted out.

"Things will never be the same here until he leaves," she said.
My suspicion deepens. Hypothesis. This pastor dared to have a political opinion that disagreed with this bunch. They got up in arms over it, and likely a whole bunch of other stuff as well. The congregation voted them out not because of their actual political views but because they were inappropriate in handling their disagreements with the pastor. They were too dumb to tell the difference and called the press. Remember, that's only a hypothesis - Time will tell.


From the Edge of Taste

This week's theme -- PLACES NOT TO EAT.

I'll be avoiding this restaurant and this cafe.



Bad Science...

The Yellowstone caldera has been classified a high threat for volcanic eruption, according to a report from the U.S. Geological Survey.
That'll start a panic, when all that is really happening is the USGS annual report designed to attract more money from the federal budget. The Survey is just trying to prioritize it's expenditures and the press is trying to create a panic. Bad combination.


Good Dog...

A stray dog saved the life of a newborn baby after finding the abandoned infant in a forest and apparently carrying it across a busy road and through some barbed wire to her litter of puppies, witnesses said.
Now all we need is a pack of wolves to find whoever abandoned the baby.


Proof The ACLU Needs A Life

Now they are trying to get a never-enforced 200 year-old law off the books. Surely they have something better to do.


To Democratize Or Not?

The former Soviet Union stands at a serious crossroads with most of the republics going truly democratic and Putin trying to turn the clock back in Russia proper. The WSJ looks at the increasing cult of Stalin in Russia (subscription required) Publius Pundit looks at some of the republics. (HT: Hedgehog Blog)

I love Russia, and I am very worried about it. Pray with me, won't you?

Monday, May 09, 2005


Too Moderate To Get It?

George Will seems to be telling Christians to "cool their jets," and SmartChristian seems to be joining the chorus. I understand where they are coming from to a point, Christians are not yet victims in this nation. However, I am not sure Will understands much of what is going on. Will's example in the pull quote SmartChristian uses has to do with the absence of Christimas obervances in public schools which he describes as "petty."

If all they did was ban manger scenes, Will would be right in describing it as petty, but there is far more at stake. I have attended holiday events where I was chastised for daring to greet people with "Merry Christmas," that's not avoiding Christmas observances, that's abrogation of free speech and personal religious expression.

What's at stake is not religious observance, but simple morality. To continue with the Christmas example. It is no longer a question of being pluralistic in approach so that a holiday event would be decorated and feature Christmas, Hannukah and Kwansaa, but it is now a matter of the total absence of anything. Under these circumstances a holiday party is just another drunken bacanalia like that witnessed most any weekend. The check of the season that made holiday parties more civil for those of us that chose not to participate in such banal behavior goes completely missing, so now we have no party whatsoever.

There is a strong desire by some in the nation to wipe religion and religious moral concerns from the public discourse. This is both unconstitutional, and will let loose forces that any government is simply not prepared to deal with.

We are not vicitims, and our rhetoric should avoid the unnecessary superlative, but the stakes are high and the battle is real.


Darfur Resources

Allthings2all has called for a round-up of posts about the genocide in Darfur, a region of the Sudan. I foound found the general ignorance of the topic immense, so my repsonse has been to put together some resources so people can fully educate themselves.



Two aid organizations that I found is a great place to start. Doctors without Borders is an old Blogotional stand-by. I am unfamiliar with USAID, but they look like a great place from this web site. This is one of those give till it hurts deals. Why not start today?


Defending The Military

Two Milboggers I really enjoy have found it necessary to defend the military against the Doonsberry comic strip.

Assumption of Command takes on the strip from last Friday and Dadmanly from the day after.

I have been thinking about this a quite a bit lately as I have taken some minor and essentially insignificant heat from a few Godblogs regarding my support for the war in Iraq, and the military. Minor and insignificant though the crtiticism might be towards me, it parallels the Donnsberry criticism which is neither minor nor insignificant, though Trudeau's reach ain't near what it used to be.

A couple of things need to be said. For one, military service is not for dummies, simpletons, or the close minded. It is a demanding profession, perhaps the most demanding profession. To insinuate otherwise is to be either grossly ignorant or purposefully bigoted.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, are comments about when and when not it is appropriate to discuss some things. Dadmanly and Mustang are soldiers, I am not, but if they are anything like any of the soldiers I have met personally their honor and self-respect will prevent them from saying what I am going to say here.

War is a god-awful business, not to be undertaken lightly. It is; however and unfortunately, sometimes necessary. When it is, there is only one way out of it -- Victory. There is no "peace with honor," there is only win or lose. There are no ties in war. At best, a negotiated peace is an opportunity for one side or the other to rebuild and fight again. Can their be a better example of this principle than Saddam Hussein? We kicked his behind out of Kuwait with unimaginable force, but we quit, we did not win. So now we are back. We won this time, but now we owe it to those we defeated to help them put their lives and their nation back together. Honor demands it.

So here is the thing. Because of the enormous consequences of going to war, it should be debated vigorously, loudly, and energetically before it begins. But once the war is joined, it is time to quit the debate. And don't give me this "I support the troops but not the war" stuff. The best possible way to support the troops is to do everything in your power to help them attain victory. That means "shut up and get with the program."

I was in junior high and high school for Vietnam, but anybody that paid any reasonable attention, as opposed to the propoganda driven, in many cases drug-addled, attention most gave that war knows that it was that the American public, not the NVA or the 'Cong, who cost us that victory. I shutter at the cost Spain will pay for its reversal on Iraq, not because we will inflict it on them, but because they have inflected it in themselves.

It sickens me that Dadmanly and Mustang have to defend themselves against this kind of stuff. They have people with IED's and AK47's to worry about. They should not have to worry about shots coming from back home.

I'd drop my subscription to any paper carrying Doonsberry, but I did that a long time ago. I am the most tempted to cuss in my blog that I have ever been, but I will resist. This next statement is inadequate, but the best decency will allow. Garry Trudeau go take a long walk off a short pier.


Rounding Up Terri This Monday


This story is nauseating, anyway you cut it.
Florida dropped its fight on Tuesday to prevent a 13-year-old girl in state care from having an abortion in a case that marked the state's second recent foray into controversial personal rights issues.
In this case, unlike Terri, the chilkd was already a legal ward of the state, and stil the courts decided in this fashion. There are limits to "personal rights," and the sooner we get a handle on that the better.


Transforming Sermons had some interesting comments this week drawing on Terri's case.
Christians shouldn't expect to share a long list of values with the wider culture--not even the concept of a worldview that looks beyond personal autonomy. But in the church itself, we must somehow recover the notion that we are not our own. Rather than focusing on our rights, we need to see our lives through the lens of duty to God and one another.
Boy howdy!


I've said all along, what we don;t know matters more than what we do. Here's proof.
A firefighter brain-damaged in a 1995 roof collapse had an "amazing" weekend, recognizing and speaking with his four sons and other family and friends for the first time in years, a family spokesman said Monday.
Sheep's Crib had some comments on this story.


I think one of the more troubling aspects of this whole affair is the literal god-like powers the judiciary exercises, and how amazingly proud they are of themselves. Judge Greer got an award for the Schiavo case. But for taking the cake, check out this post.
Circuit Court Chief Judge David Demers wants the Pinellas-Pasco counties to pay for, and maintain of course, five disaster shelters in the event of major events like hurricanes man-handling the state of Florida again sometime in the future.

The shelters would be used by court workers essential to seeing that business continues in the aftermath of a disaster like a hurricane. The shelters would also ensure that the workers families and pets would be safe.
I think they are taking themselves just a little too seriously.

Best thing, fight the filibuster and make sure we get some reason back on the bench.


World Magazine reports that the pulic at large never really knew what Terri was really like.
As a newsman, I understand Mr. Gibbs' sense of failure?for I share it painfully. Why couldn't we in the media have done our job more diligently? Why couldn't we have increased the wattage of our searchlight, forcing Michael Schiavo and his complicit judges to let the public see what Terri Schiavo's situation really was?
I think media-bias is the answer you are looking for. (HT: Oh How I Love Jesus)


Scotland Follows The Rest Of Europe

I dearly love Scotland. So independent, they were able to hold back the Roamn empire. They have cherished political freedom longer than almost any other peoples. It also the birthplace of my particular Christian denomination. The Scots are largely wonderful people, the history fascinating, and the land is absolutely beautiful.

One has to wonder if the people will stay so wonderful based on the trends that Scotwise notes in this post. Much like the rest of Europe, people are leaving the church in droves. It may be time to mount missions to western Europe.


Joining The Revolution, Just To Put It Down

The New York TIes appears to be catching on that bloggin is a big deal, at least based on the amount of reporting they did about it over the weekend. BUt true to form, they don't really get it.

First they do a profile of a blogger in which the blogger poo-poo's what blogging can do.
At a time when media conferences like "Les Blogs" in Paris two weeks ago debate the potential of the form, and when BusinessWeek declares, as it did on its May 2 cover, that "Blogs Will Change Your Business," Mr. Denton is withering in his contempt. A blog, he says, is much better at tearing things down - people, careers, brands - than it is at building them up. As for the blog revolution, Mr. Denton put it this way: "Give me a break."

"The hype comes from unemployed or partially employed marketing professionals and people who never made it as journalists wanting to believe," he said. "They want to believe there's going to be this new revolution and their lives are going to be changed."
I am not sure he precisely understand the nature of the revolution we are discussing here. There is also the question of where reformation ends and revolution begins.

Then they had the now common screed about bloggers ethics.

All I can say is they need to remember that Al Gore still thiks he won the 2000 election.



Dung Power...

The zoo in Syracuse, NY wants to use it's animal waste to produce energy. Fine, but why on earth is this news? I worked on a project to do this in the 1970's! It is not quite as straightforward as it seems. Burning dung without processing is exceptionally dirty. Usually it is digested to produce methane and the methane is burned, but then you end up with concentrated dung you have to dispose, in only slightly less volume than what you began with. The only place this has proven even remotely cost effective is on a farm where the concentrated dung can be used s fertilizer, but the system has to be carefully balanced in terms of acreage under the plow and head of livestock or you end up with too much something, and your cost efficiency goes to pot. I wish the zoo luck.

Just Silly

Japan's normally strait-laced politicians are getting ready for a tieless look this summer to combat global warming but the idea has left fashion mavens cold.

Government workers and politicians are being encouraged to dress down between June 1 and Sept. 30 so that air conditioner thermostats can be set higher to save energy.
In the first place lower electrical consumption may or may not result in lower greenhouse gas emissions, depends on how the power is generated locally. Compared to how much total greenhouse gas emissions there are, the saving that will be recognized here are insignificant -- this is just silly.

While we are talking global warming, check out this article.
Our planet's air has cleared up in the past decade or two, allowing more sunshine to reach the ground, say two studies in Science this week.

Reductions in industrial emissions in many countries, along with the use of particulate filters for car exhausts and smoke stacks, seem to have reduced the amount of dirt in the atmosphere and made the sky more transparent.

That sounds like very good news. But the researchers say that more solar energy arriving on the ground will also make the surface warmer, and this may add to the problems of global warming.
Don't you just love it?

I want.. No, I want...

So much of what passes for "environmentalism" these days is really territorialism. People wnated to protect what they like. This story is a classic example.
A plan to provide an alternative form of energy in Wisconsin is pitting two sets of environmentalists against each other. Some favor cleaner air, others want to protect nearby wildlife.
While we are dealing with competing goods, check this one out.
Each pig's death brings conservationists one step closer to their goal of saving the tiny Santa Cruz fox (search), an endangered species found only on this 96-square-mile island off Santa Barbara. Experts believe it's the best way to mend the island's delicate ecological web, which was torn when domesticated pigs escaped from now-abandoned ranches as early as the 1850s.
That is so speciesist. When does an animal "artificially" introduced in to an "eco-system" (go ahead, I dare you to define the boundaries of one of those things it's worse than defining a species.) become a part of that eco-system. When it happened outside of living memory? Outside of written history? When you like the artifically introduced animal? When it's cuter?


There Is A New Warnie Winner!

And it's Bluefish. Here is his acknowledgement of that prize. You know, when I look at that list, there are only three of us that are Americans, and we Americans are all in Southern California. I wonder if there is a pattern here? Maybe a non-American English-speaking bias on the part of Adrian? Obviously this calls for serious investigation and an expose. Perhaps the formation of a bloggong-ethnic rights organization. Whole bureacracies must be immediately formed...

I'm sorry, I temporarily forgot who I was and my insignificant role in the world. Congrats to Bluefish! Welcome aboard. Just watch yourself, we're a tough bunch.



If the idea is to let nature takes it's course, this sounds like an egregiously bad idea to me.
In northern Siberia, Zimov and his colleagues are attempting to restore a large area of wetlands and forest to the dry landscape that existed more than 10,000 years ago. They are reintroducing herbivores and predators they think will alter the biology and ecology of the region to its previous state.
First of all, we have a Wetlands Protection Act in this country -- how dare they!? OH...wait, not this country. (There is a serious irony in ther if you concentrate)

I don't get this. Earth moved out of the pleistocene a long time ago without any help from us. If nature is such precious resource do we relly want to fight it's natural evolution? (more irony)


Revisionist History

The 1960's produced much of what is wrong with the country today. Currently the nation appears to be in a mode where it wants to correct much of that wrong. But still some cling tightly to that formative period. To give themselves the an excuse to do so, they are trying to rewrite history. JustOneMinute examines one such attempt in detail. That's good blogging.


Nudity Makes Art

When I was a kid painted nudes made me snicker. But then I grew up. Apparently now, all that is necessary to make anything into art is nudity.
They all went naked in the centre of gothic Bruges in an art "happening" organized by photographer Spencer Tunick.

With temperatures closing in on freezing, winds lashing the turrets of the city and rain putting a shine on the ancient cobblestones, 1 950 people shed their clothes at dawn, with many posing in a street close to the medieval Belfry or touring the canals on boats.
So why is this art?


From The Edge Of Blasphemy

Jesus Christ is hoping to move to West Virginia, but he's having trouble getting a driver's license.

The man is described as a white-haired businessman who's been using that name for 15 years without a problem. He has a U.S. passport, Social Security card and Washington, D.C., driver's license bearing the name Jesus Christ.

But he still falls short of West Virginia title and license requirements, since his Florida birth certificate bears his original name. Plus, the man born as Peter Robert Phillips Jr. still hasn't gotten an official name change approved in Washington.
There is not much to say except this guy needs a life.


It's Started

Gentlemen, Start Your Engines! Well, at least for practice. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway officially opened for racing activity yesterday. Lots of changes in the month of May. It should be an exciting month of speed.

Sunday, May 08, 2005


To Whom Should We Then Preach?

My post from last weekend about who is the audience for preaching sparked some discussion. I actually got more agreement than I thought I would, but of course, there was disagreement as well. The agreements seem to be in my comments and the disagreements in the comments to Adrian Warnock's responsive post. Just yesterday The Broken Messenger put up a post that agreed with Adrian. Adrain says:
My growing conviction is that every sermon I preach needs to be targetted at both groups. I want a child who knows nothing about God to be able to understand AND a theology professor to benefit in some way from the same sermon.
Messenger put it this way:
This begs the question: Is there some reason why we cannot do both? The early Church certainly did not have the luxury.
I understand the sentiment, and Adrian seems to be in more agreement with me than Messenger because Adrian does point out the need for churches to find a way to build maturity.

One point I want to clarify, I think there is preaching to the unsaved -- Graham crusades, revivals, Young Life clubs, all of these would fit into that category. I am discussing preaching within the confines and context of the congregation, the Sunday morning worship if you will. I think in the church is for the saved, I think evangelism, an activity for which preaching is a valuable tool, is something that happens out in the world, visitors to the church not withstanding. Consider Messenger's point that the early church did not have the luxury -- I disagree. Paul, in I Corintians 12, distinguishes between gifts of preching and evangelsim, he clearly viewed them as different roles. Moreover, Paul never established a congregation for himself -- he travelled and evangelized, but left the congregations to others.

When I visit say, China, the Chinese do not suddenly speak English for my sake, I must either 1) learn Chinese fast, or 2) find a translator, or some combination thereof. An unsaved visitor to a church is truly a foreigner in a foreign land. I have been to China and the Chinese were most welcoming and did everything in their power to make me feel at home, but they did not stop being Chinese, or doing what Chinese people do. While we want visitors to our churches, we do not need to stop being the church to accomodate them. In fact, much as I said in my defense of liturgy earlier this week, that very foreign nature of attending church as an unchurched person forces a reaction from the visitor.

Now I'd like to issue a challenge to those in the "preaching can do both in the same context category." It's twofold. Please provide an exegesis of Hebrews 6:1-2 as quoted in my original post linked above and apply that to preaching within the context of regular Sunday worship. Also, what model would you have a church follow in terms of organization and structure to provide for both outreach and maturity within the context of a Sunday morning.?

Much of my conviction in the area comes from experience. I have seen churches focus on maturity, they are ususally small and vibrant, and I have seen churches focus on "seekers" they are usually large and media-driven. I have never found both in one place -- I am convincable on this matter if I could see it work.


I think John over at Sheep's Crib may be helping me make my point with this post? Consider:
This is the mistake the Hebrews made in their Exodus and wilderness journeys; they tried to dot every eye and cross every tee to please the God of Israel, rather than admitting they were worms, incapable of ever keeping even The Big Ten. They should've done what we've all (I hope) done ... thrown themselves at the feet of Jehovah, and beg for His mercy and grace, confessing sin with genuine remorse and regret.
Many would say, "See this just makes the point that the message is the same for believer and unbeliever." I think not. The messge of repentance and forgiveness is pretty easy to get across to the profligate sinner. But the self-satisfaction that comes from a long time committment to Jesus is much more difficult to overcome.

Please remember, I have not defined what I mean by "maturity." Certainly the denial of self and admission of sin on ever deepening levels is a big part of that.


Happy Mothers Day!


A Step Too Far

A Baptist pastor in North Carolina has touched off an exodus in his church by declaring Democrats are not welcome as members.

The Rev. Chan Chandler of East Waynesville Baptist Church in Waynesville ex-communicated nine members who refuse to support President Bush, according to WLOS-TV in Asheville, N.C.
I have some sympathy for, say, the Catholic Chruch withholding communion from pro-choice people, doctrine matters. However, doing something like this purely on party affiliation grounds is just wrong. Worse, it gives those screaming "theocracy" far too much ammunition.

Hate to break it to you, this guy is the lunatic right fringe.

But those excommunicated are not doing much better as they threaten litigation. Bad as the pastor's decision was, throwing this into a court is worse. The minute a civil court is deciding who can and cannot join a church is the minute government really is establishing religion. My guess is no judge will agree to hear the case on that basis, but your never know in this day and age.

At this point I find myself wondering if this really was over political affiliation or if that is how the excommunicted are casting it? Time will tell, since no one seems to be talking.


Superhero Summer

The New York Times looks at summer movies. Needless to say, I most highly anticipate Batman Begins and The Fantastic Four.


Schroeders In Trouble...

...for building a snow fort.
Two Framingham High seniors arrested in January after they were ordered off high school property because they were building a snow fort were found guilty yesterday of trespassing.

Jenna Schroeder
(no relation) and Jason Osorio, both 18, now face a maximum of 30 days in jail after the two-day trial in Framingham District Court. The jury of three men and three women deliberated for about three hours before they reached a verdict.
Stupid kids, probabaly the only field in town big enough to gather enough snow to build a fort and they just had to trespass on it. The cop just had to hassle them, and they just had to put up a stink.

Kids today, when will they learn. The world is full of small minded people who exercise authority simply because they can, or more likely because they are afraid. Not letting them ruin your life is far better than getting in their face.


Actual Debate

The filibuster fight has got to be all but over when you read stories like this one. It is an actual discussion of Janice Rogers Brown stance on certain issues. The discussionis a littel too "litmus test" for me, but at least it's a discussion. Can an up-or-dwon vote be far behind?


Sermons and Lessons

Apropos of Mother's Day, here is John Piper on the Eschatology of Motherhood, not your ususal Mom's Day stuff.


Carnival Faves

Here are some of my favorites from this week's Christian Carnival.

Mark Daniels looks at reconciliation

Mere Orthodoxy examines history.

Agent Tim defends homeschoolers

The Regulator looks at CS Lewis




Maureen Dowd is always out there, but this one just blew me away. The first half of the piece is about chimeras, that is to say the recent spate of science involving mixing animals. Then we get this
President Bush's experiments in Afghanistan and Iraq created his own chimeras, by injecting feudal and tribal societies with the cells of democracy, and blending warring factions and sects.
Huh?! Ich nicht verstehe. If you have any idea what the woman is trying to say, other than make Bush look bad, again, please leave a comment.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Site Feed


eXTReMe Tracker

Blogarama - The Blog Directory