Saturday, December 30, 2006
He has his mother's eyes and his father's chin, this son of America's most infamous televangelists. Now Jay Bakker, 31, the pierced and tattooed progeny of Jim Bakker and Tammy Faye Bakker Messner, is making his own mark in the evangelical world with a streetwise ministry called Revolution that's being chronicled in a Sundance Channel series.
"One Punk Under God" follows the younger Bakker's personal and spiritual pilgrimage, which has more universality than one might expect given his one-of-a-kind childhood. Read More.
I have just read that Saddam Hussein is dead. Hung by the neck until dead – isn’t that the phrase they always use on television? And I feel an overwhelming sense of sadness. Everybody has to start by saying that it isn’t bad that Saddam Hussein is dead – he was an evil man. But what is evil? It is a religious denunciation, a way to set a person apart from humanity. We need to do this I suppose. And if we say that Saddam Hussein is an evil man, don’t we then have to say that other men are good? Who is good I wonder? Where do we find these men of goodness? To say Saddam Hussein was evil is too easy, it lets us off the hook. Saddam Hussein was a cruel man, a selfish man, a desperate man, a sad man. Link.
Friday, December 29, 2006
Thursday, December 28, 2006
With just 23 months before the next presidential election, former Sen. John Edwards, D-NC, announced today that he would seek the Democrat nomination for president in 2008, 2012 and 2016, but refused to comment on his plans for 2020.
“Americans are looking for a candidate with experience running for president,” said an unnamed campaign spokesman. “In 2018, when John Edwards is 65, he’ll have spent 16 years seeking the office and have four campaigns under his belt. We think that will position him well for victory in 2020.” Read More.
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
Bruggeman, of Hershey, is serving a 90-day sentence for violating a protection order.
Brian Bruggeman caused a stink at the Lincoln County Jail earlier this month and will now have to answer for it in court. Another inmate, Jesse Dorris, alleges that Bruggeman's flatulence, passed in close proximity to Dorris, sparked a Dec. 14 fight between the two at the jail.
Now Bruggeman, 38, faces a Jan. 11 preliminary hearing on the state's complaint of assault by a confined person. It's a felony punishable by up to five years in prison.
Bruggeman is accused of injuring Dorris, his cellmate, when he pushed him into cell bars. Dorris, 26, was not charged.
The two began scuffling, County Attorney Jeff Meyer said Tuesday, because Dorris was fed up with Bruggeman's flatulence.
Jail fights are common, Meyer said, but the cause of this one was rather uncommon.
"It's usually about someone hogging the newspaper or someone not happy about what's on TV," he said. Read More.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Two civil rights groups filed a lawsuit Tuesday challenging a new law in a Dallas suburb that outlaws renting apartments to illegal immigrants, alleging the ordinance violates federal law and forces landlords to act as immigration officers. Read More.
It has now been more than a week since "You" - and everyone else - were named Time magazine's Person of the Year. You've had a chance to reflect and let it all sink in. Maybe you've been thinking how it was a nice way to close out 2006.
But something feels a bit hollow about the whole experience, right? And not just because the funhouse-esque mirror on Time's cover distorted your image. Or because you were just one of billions who won the award. (In case you missed it, Time selected "You" for the power people gained and used in democratizing the media by creating content for the Internet.)
Maybe it bothers you that you didn't do much to earn the award. Because, despite all the things for which Time says it is honoring "You," odds are you haven't done any of them. Read More.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
Within weeks of Hitler's 1933 rise to power, the iron gates slammed shut on inmates of the first Nazi concentration camps. It was the start of an unparalleled experiment in persecution and genocide that expanded over the next 12 years into a pyramid of ghettos, Gestapo prisons, slave labor camps and, ultimately, extermination factories.
Holocaust historians are only now piecing together the scattered research in many languages to understand the vast scope of the camps, prisons and punishment centers that scarred German-ruled Europe, like a pox on the landscape stretching from Greece to Norway and eastward into Russia.
Collecting and analyzing fragmented reports, researchers at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum say they have pinpointed some 20,000 places of detention and persecution - three times more than they estimated just six years ago.
And soon they will know much more. Read More.
An overwhelming number of Britons believe religion does more harm than good while non-believers outnumber believers by nearly two to one, an ICM poll suggested.
Eighty-two percent of the 1,006 adults questioned for the left-leaning Guardian newspaper in the run up to Christmas said they saw religion as a cause of division and tension between people compared to 16 percent who disagreed.
At a time when Britain's multi-cultural, multi-faith model, their outward symbols and culture are under the microscope after last year's home-grown Islamist extremist suicide bombings, 63 percent said they were not religious. Some 33 percent said they were religious. Older people and women were the most likely to believe in a god: 37 percent of women said they were religious compared to 29 percent of men.
But there was still good news for Christian leaders who complain that the true meaning of Christmas is being increasingly eroded by the forces of consumerism and consumption.
Fifty-four percent of Christians questioned said they planned to attend a religious service over the festive period. Read More.
Friday, December 22, 2006
He’s covered the 1914 Christmas Truce and Washington’s Christmas Farewell, among other books. This year historian Stanley Weintraub travels back to 11 Days in December: Christmas at the Bulge, 1944. He recently talked to NRO Editor Kathryn Lopez about his latest and Christmas at war.Kathryn Jean Lopez: What was Christmas like for General Patton in 1944?Stanley Weintraub: Ordered to turn his tanks and troops of the Third Army around and race north to rescue the besieged crossroads town of Bastogne in southern Belgium, Patton faced the twin enemies of the Wehrmacht and the weather. Slow and sleet slowed down his movements and kept covering aircraft from the skies. A traditionally religious Episcopalian, Patton believed that an occasional personal appeal to the Almighty was useful. Just before Christmas, he went to a Roman Catholic chapel near his headquarters in Luxembourg, fell to his knees before the altar, and as if the Deity were a general senior to him, prayed, “Sir, This is Patton talking. . . . Who’s side are you on anyway?” He asked for four days of clearing weather, “to kill Germans.” His chaplain protested the abuse of prayer, but, Patton later wrote to his wife, Beatrice, “My prayer seems to be working still as we have had three days of good weather and our air [force] has been very active.” Bastogne was reached the day after Christmas. Patton prayed again, reporting that the “awful weather which I cursed so much” actually hindered the Germans more than the Americans. “That, Sir, was a brilliant military move, and I bow humbly to a supreme military genius.” Others thought that Patton was often off-the-wall, but as a fighting general he had no peer. Read More.
The best thing about going to church this Christmas is that for at least an hour you won't have to think about religion.
By religion I of course don't mean the spiritual respite one may feel in a house of worship. I mean "religion"--the controversy, the battleground, the fighting word, the bomb-maker's inspiration and the lawsuit. Religion in the modern age.
Let's start with those nice Episcopalians. Last week seven Episcopal parishes in northern Virginia, one of which claims George Washington as a former parishioner, voted to separate from the U.S. Episcopal Church. It was Monday's lead story in the Washington Post. The seven parishes say they've lost patience with the mother church on matters such as homosexuality and the ordination of women. They plan to affiliate with a more traditional Episcopal diocese, in Nigeria.
In September, Pope Benedict elevated the politics of Islam and jihad, or holy war. Religion will be at issue in 2008's presidential politics. Mitt Romney's candidacy, one reads, must overcome the belief among Southern evangelicals that Mormonism isn't a religion. Sen. Sam Brownback, a hero to evangelicals, would build his campaign around the moral status of the culture. Meanwhile, the evangelicals find themselves beset by radical atheism. Read More.
Thursday, December 21, 2006
The first step toward understanding the Iranian “elections” is that they weren’t. Elections, that is, at least in our common understanding of the term, namely the people vote and the counters count those votes and so we find out what the people want. That’s not what happens in Iran, where both the candidates and the results are determined well in advance of the casting of ballots. Yes, people get mobilized and go to the polls and mark their ballots and put them in the ballot box. But then Groucho comes into play: “I’ve got ballots. And if you don’t like them, I’ve got other ballots.” So, as usual, candidates (featuring, as usual, the unfortunate Mehdi Karubi, the eternal loser who nonetheless remains at the top of the mullah’s power mountain) complain that ballot boxes disappeared, and new ones magically appeared, and numbers change, and counters are replaced. It’s all part of the ritual. Which is not to say they weren’t significant. They certainly were. And, as most every news outlet has noticed, they brought bad news to the country’s madcap president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The Iranian electoral ritual doesn’t tell us what the people want; it tells us what the tyrants have decided. This time, the decision had to do with the very intense power struggle going on inside the regime, catalyzed by the recent evidence of the worsening health of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. In considerable pain from his cancer, for which he consumes a considerable quantity of opium syrup, Khamenei recently was forced to spend 2-3 days in a Tehran hospital after complaining of a loss of feeling in his feet and breaking out in a cold sweat. His doctors told him several months ago that he was unlikely to survive much past the end of March, and he seems to be more or less on schedule.
Western media, always looking for the next big celebrity, have been fascinated with Ahmadinejad, an outspoken and charismatic leader with a kind of wacky charm, especially when he launches into his Vision Thing: seeing funny blue lights surrounding him at the General Assembly when he spoke there, having prophetic visions of the elimination of the United States from the face of the earth (“Today, it is the United States, Britain, and the Zionist regime which are doomed to disappear as they have moved far away from the teachings of God”), and proclaiming his expert opinion on the errors of thousands of scholars who have documented a Holocaust-that-never-was-but-soon-Allah-willing-will-be...
The war policy is not in dispute among the rulers of Iran, whether they call themselves reformers or hard-liners. Nor is the decision to use the iron fist of the regime against any and all advocates of freedom for the Iranian people. What is decidedly at the center of the current fighting within the regime--a fight that has already produced spectacular assassinations, masqueraded as airplane crashes, of a significant number of military commanders, including the commander of the ground forces of the powerful Revolutionary Guards--is the Really Big Question, indeed the only question that really matters: Who will succeed Khamenei? Read More.
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
As protests broke out last week at a prestigious university here, cutting short a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Babak Zamanian could only watch from afar. He was on crutches, having been clubbed by supporters of the president and had his foot run over by a motorcycle during a less publicized student demonstration a few days earlier.
Babak Zamanian, a student at Amir Kabir, in Tehran, is on crutches because of a beating earlier by supporters of President Ahmadinejad.
But the significance of the confrontation was easy to grasp, even from a distance, said Mr. Zamanian, a leader of a student political group.
The student movement, which planned the 1979 seizure of the American Embassy from the same university, Amir Kabir, is reawakening from its recent slumber and may even be spearheading a widespread resistance against Mr. Ahmadinejad. This time the catalysts were academic and personal freedom.
“It is not that simple to break up a president’s speech,” said Alireza Siassirad, a former student political organizer, explaining that an event of that magnitude takes meticulous planning. “I think what happened at Amir Kabir is a very important and a dangerous sign. Students are definitely becoming active again.” Read More.
If they make a difference to the political structure in Iran, that could make things alot easier for the US.
A Danish art group that pokes fun at world leaders targeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday by placing an advertisement in a Tehran newspaper with an insulting hidden message.
Beneath a picture of the president, a series of apparently sympathetic statements were arranged such as “Support his fight against Bush” and “Iran has the right to produce nuclear energy”. The advert was attributed to “Danes for World Peace”.
However, the first letters of each phrase, when read from top to bottom, spell out “S-W-I-N-E”.
The English-language Tehran Times, the conservative daily that printed the half-page advert, had apparently not detected the hidden message. But its impact is likely to be limited as the paper has a circulation of only a few thousand.
“We thought we would poke fun at Ahmadinejad because we don’t think he’s very liberal or sensitive,” said Jan Egesborg, a member of the art group Surrend. “We think he represents an extreme ideology,” he told Reuters. ...
Egesborg, 44, who teaches at the Danish School of Fine Art, said: “We did it to cause a reaction. There is a young population there (in Iran) which wants more liberalisation. Hopefully they will be inspired,” he said. “It’s nothing against the country or the people, it’s (against) the person in power.”
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Rachid Benzine wishes Muslims would stop quoting the Koran and start reading it.
The young French academic said many Christians and Jews read their scriptures with a critical eye, adapting reading to the modern world but Muslims read theirs literally and quote it to justify rules that may no longer apply to lives today.
Doesn't this play into the hands of fundamentalists who want to impose a narrow view of Islam?
"We cite Koranic verses left and right to justify everything and nothing," said Benzine, who teaches Koranic hermeneutics -- the discipline of interpreting texts -- at the Institute of Political Studies in Aix-en-Provence.
In debates about Islam, he says, the Koran has become "a text of slogans, a supermarket" for adversaries to choose quotes to impose what they think is the only valid reading.
"No interpretation can pretend to be the only right one," insists Benzine, whose 2004 book "The New Thinkers of Islam" highlights the work of Muslim reformers. He plans to publish a book on interpreting the Koran in 2008. Read More.
Monday, December 18, 2006
More than 50 new species of animals and plants that have never been seen before have been discovered in a 'Lost World' on the island of Borneo in just 18 months, say scientists.
Among them are two tree frogs, a whole range of plants and trees and 30 brand new types of fish including a tiny one less than a centimetre long and a catfish with an adhesive belly that allows it to stick to rocks. Read More.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Funny thing about the recent op-ed by Nawaf Obaid in The Washington Post outlining likely Saudi actions if the United States withdraws from Iraq: namely, that Saudis would both support Sunnis in Iraq (versus Shi’ites supported by Iran) and manipulate the oil market to “strangle” the Iranian economy…
So what should we do?
The first option is military, but it carries a seemingly insurmountable cultural override. The fact is, the United States has an arsenal that could obliterate any jihad threat in the region once and for all, whether that threat is bands of IED-exploding “insurgents” in Ramadi, the deadly so-called Mahdi Army in Sadr City, or genocidal maniacs in Tehran. In other words, it’s a disgrace for military brass to talk about the 21st-century struggle with Islam as necessarily being a 50- to 100-year war. Ridiculous. It could be over in two weeks if we cared enough to blast our way off the list of endangered civilizations.
As a culture, however, the West is paralyzed by the specter of civilian casualties, massive or not, that accompanies modern (not high-tech) warfare, and fights accordingly. It may well have been massive civilian casualties in Germany (40,000 dead in Hamburg after one cataclysmic night of “fire-bombing” in 1943, for example) and Japan that helped end World War II in an Allied victory. But this is a price I doubt any Western power would pay for victory today.
There’s another Middle Eastern strategy to deter expansionist Islam: Get out of the way. Get out of the way of Sunnis and Shi’ites killing each other. As a sectarian conflict more than 1,000 years old, this is not only one fight we didn’t start, but it’s one we can’t end. And why should we? If Iran, the jihad-supporting leader of the Shi’ite world, is being “strangled” by Saudi Arabia, the jihad-supporting leader of the Sunni world, isn’t that good for the Sunni-and-Shiite-terrorized West?
With the two main sects of Islam preoccupied with an internecine battle of epic proportions, the non-Muslim world gets some breathing room. And we sure could use it — to plan for the next round. Read More.
"Texting" -- sending brief messages by cellphone -- has grown dramatically beyond the teenage and 20-something "thumb generation" over the past year, in part because parents are beginning to use the cellphone screen as another channel to communicate with children who otherwise might not have much to say. Read More.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
For about 30 years, the Episcopal Church has been one big unhappy family. Under one roof there were female bishops and male bishops who would not ordain women. There were parishes that celebrated gay weddings and parishes that denounced them; theologians sure that Jesus was the only route to salvation, and theologians who disagreed.
Now, after years of threats, the family is breaking up.
As many as eight conservative Episcopal churches in Virginia are expected to announce today that their parishioners have voted to cut their ties with the Episcopal Church. Two are large, historic congregations that minister to the Washington elite and occupy real estate worth a combined $27 million, which could result in a legal battle over who keeps the property.
In a twist, these wealthy American congregations are essentially putting themselves up for adoption by Anglican archbishops in poorer dioceses in Africa, Asia and Latin America, who share conservative theological views about homosexuality and the interpretation of Scripture with the breakaway Americans.
“The Episcopalian ship is in trouble,” said the Rev. John Yates, rector of The Falls Church, one of the two large Virginia congregations, where George Washington served on the vestry. “So we’re climbing over the rails down to various little lifeboats. There’s a lifeboat from Bolivia, one from Rwanda, another from Nigeria. Their desire is to help us build a new ship in North America, and design it and get it sailing.” Read More.
Friday, December 15, 2006
"Happiness is the result of the fulfillment and the reward that comes from Christ. Jesus, God's indescribable gift of happiness, has a way of changing priorities and the way we look at things. There's a huge difference between viewing Christianity as a religion of rituals and viewing it as a relationship with Christ. For one is based upon guilt and restriction, while the other is built upon love and freedom. Christianity isn't a license to do wrong, it's the liberty to do what is right and believe it or not, the Christmas story reminds us that when Christ came to earth and took the form of humanity, he showed us that he can relate to our problems. It makes us feel good that we have someone who can understand the things we go through."
For Barnett, since the Iranian government is unstable at best, regime change is what is needed. The whole problem I have with Dean’s post is that he has a point. How do you deal with an Iranian president that wants to instigate an apocalyptic conflagration in order to usher in his messiah (the Mahdi)?
I am still trying to come to grips with how the Iranian government needs to be dealt with. It is foolish to view them from a western perspective, they don’t think the way the west does. How then do I view them as a Christian? Obviously they need Christ, but how do I view them from a political viewpoint? I wish I knew. Hopefully greater minds than mine can solve this one (just leave James Baker out of it).
Thursday, December 14, 2006
A former United States UBS PaineWebber employee was sentenced to eight years in prison on Wednesday for planting a computer "logic bomb" on company networks and betting its stock would go down.
The investment scheme backfired when UBS stock remained stable after the computer attack and Roger Duronio lost more than $23 000 (about R160 000).
A judge sentenced Duronio, 64, to 97 months in prison and ordered him to make $3,1-million in restitution to his former employer, the United States attorney's office said in a statement.
Duronio was convicted on July 19 of one count of securities fraud and one count of computer fraud in the 2002 case.
Duronio quit his job as a systems administrator in February 2002 after repeatedly expressing dissatisfaction about his salary and bonuses, the statement said.
He then planted malicious computer code known as a "logic bomb" in about 1 000 of PaineWebber's approximately 1 500 networked computers in branch offices. On March 4, 2002, the "bomb" detonated and began deleting files.
Duronio attempted to profit from the attack, the statement said. He bought more than $23 000 input option contracts for UBS AG stock, betting the stock's price would go down after his "logic bomb" went off.
But, according to testimony at his trial, the stock remained stable after the computer attack and Duronio lost all of his investment. Link.
This is called being a noob, he did something that was traceable back to himself.
It is a struggle worthy of the Old Testament, pitting brother against brother, son against mother, and leaving the famous father, the Rev. Billy Graham, trapped in the middle, pondering what to do.
Retired and almost blind at 88, the evangelist is sitting in his modest log house on an isolated mountaintop in western North Carolina and listening to a family friend describe where Franklin Graham, heir to his father's worldwide ministry, wants to bury his parents. Read More.
Cuban President Fidel Castro is very ill and close to death, US intelligence chief John Negroponte said in an interview published on Friday."Everything we see indicates it will not be much longer... months, not years," Negroponte told The Washington Post.The Cuban leader, 80, has not appeared in public since he underwent emergency intestinal surgery and temporarily handed over the presidency to his younger brother, Raul Castro, on July 31. Read More.
Uncontrolled fires burning in underground and surface coal deposits in numerous countries, including China, India, and Indonesia, are emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases and other pollutants into the atmosphere. These pollutants may pose other grave environmental hazards. In China alone, about 120 million tons of coal are consumed in uncontrolled fires each year, says Andries Rosema, director of the Environmental Analysis and Remote Sensing Company in Delft, The Netherlands. Rosema extrapolated this estimate from temperature measurements--collected by satellites and low-flying airplanes--which indicate that about 300,000 metric tons of coal spread over thousands of kilometers burn each year in just one province in northern China, Ningxia. Says Rosema, "These coal fires that are burning around the world are really an environmental catastrophe . . . and hardly anybody has taken an interest in studying it."
One of the most troubling results of these fires, he says, is the carbon dioxide (CO2) they generate, including about 360 million metric tons of CO2 from coal fires in China alone. "The CO2 production of all of these fires in China is more than the total CO2 production in The Netherlands," Rosema says. This amounts to 2-3% of the annual worldwide production of CO2 from fossil fuels, or as much as emitted from all of the cars and light trucks in the United States. "Coal fires release a variety of potentially harmful gases [and] combustion by-products, including sulfur and particulates," says Glenn Stracher, associate professor of geology at East Georgia College in Swainsboro, Georgia. "The catastrophe that we're faced with is the fact that these fires are emitting noxious gases." In fire-plagued regions such as in Centralia, Pennsylvania, he says, the ground is littered with sulfur and other pollutants that have killed off virtually all visible plant and animal life. Read More.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
The gains in public life are real. But it's a mistake to take the media status of conservatives too far. For in another respect, little has changed. When we assess intellectuals, we enter a rarified habitat of books and ideas, and the prime setting for appreciating those is the college campus. There, conservative intellectuals remain stymied. Their relationship to the universities in which they found their calling and to the curriculum and scholarship they studied — that remains tenuous.
Such a situation has consequences, for liberals and conservatives. As three recent books — one by a leading liberal professor, one by a well-known conservative columnist, and the other by a visible conservative polemicist — demonstrate, while the denial of academic legitimacy to the conservative tradition begins in the classroom, it reverberates far beyond the campus. Read More.
Al Qaeda might be on the run in Afghanistan, but Osama bin Laden's agents are in the driver's seat at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
Officers tell of daily attacks by al Qaeda inmates against U.S. military personnel, who are ordered not to respond. The officers have also been ordered to fulfill the religious, cultural and even entertainment needs of the inmates, including providing Arabic translations of Harry Potter.
"I have never once since I've been down here ever heard of a detainee being abused, but I've seen the soldiers and sailors get abused," Staff Sgt. Thomas Garcia said. "[Detainees] throw some of the most unmentionable cocktails. They urinate on [the guards]. They spit. They call them names: Read More.
Monday, December 11, 2006
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Saturday, December 09, 2006
Riots in China are threatening the Communist Party’s ability to rule, according to a policy document that seeks answers to the country’s social unrest.
It is the first time that a partywide paper has asked how best to deal with rising public discontent and underscores the seriousness of the problem.
Demonstrations have been on the rise for several years as those who have lost out because of market reforms have taken to the streets to voice their discontent. Last year official figures showed that the number of protests, or “mass incidents”, averaged one every six minutes. In 2004, officials reported 74,000 mass incidents in China, up from 10,000 in 1994, with the number of participants rising to 3.8 million from 730,000.
A decision by the party to find ways to actively prevent such mass incidents — made at its annual plenary session in October — marked the first time a document sent out to party members had referred to how to deal with the problem, the official Xinhua news agency said yesterday.
In a rare commentary on the sensitive topic, the state-run Xinhua news agency said: “The huge number and broad scope of mass incidents has become the most outstanding problem that seriously impacts social stability.” Read More.
Friday, December 08, 2006
In the Gospel of Matthew (19:24), Jesus speaks to his disciples about wealth: "[I]t is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
The Christian life, at its foundation, is characterized by humility, which is to say that wealth, which fosters elitism, is often at odds with Christianity. The Bible does not say that prosperity is sinful, but those who place wealth above God are engaging in idolatry -- as defined in the Second of the Ten Commandments.
One may rightly infer that a wealth of knowledge leading to academic elitism, like economic elitism, is also hostile to Christianity. Idolizing knowledge or wealth isolates one from the Truth and Light. Read More.
There are few hotter issues than gay adoption, but I’ve found one: a high profile lesbian woman deciding to conceive a child with no apparent intention of involving the biological father in the child’s life.
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported the openly gay daughter of Vice President Dick Cheney is pregnant. The same published report says Mary, 37, and her partner of 15 years, Heather Poe, 45, are “ecstatic” about the baby, due in late spring.
Before commenting on the report, it is important to mention what we don’t know.
We don’t know how she got pregnant, and quite honestly, it’s none of our business.
What we do know is that two lesbian women can’t make babies, and as good as both women may be as caretakers, neither of them can be Dad. We also know there is a dad out there and this child will be deprived of his presence. Read More.
Thursday, December 07, 2006
This is huge. The nation may be in the midst of a third Great Awakening.
The Washington Post gave its Dec. 4 Page One lead-story position to a deepening split in the Episcopal Church. Two Fairfax parishes with 3,000 members between them — Truro Church and The Falls Church — will vote next week whether to remain in the Episcopal Church U.S.A. Other Virginia churches have held similar votes — or soon will. Read More.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Always a dependable seller, the Bible is in the midst of a boom. Christian bookstores had a 25% increase in sales of Scriptures from 2003 to 2005, according to statistics gathered by the Phoenix-based Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, a trade group. General-interest bookstores, while declining to give figures, have also seen increasingly strong sales. "Bibles are a growth area for us and we're giving them more space in our stores," said Jane Love, religion buyer for Barnes & Noble. "It's partly because of the way they've evolved over the last three or four years." Read More.
Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Monday, December 04, 2006
Arthur C. Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French horn player with the Barcelona Symphony Orchestra and other ensembles. Then he entered academia and is now Professor of Public Administration at Syracuse University. In his well-researched book, Who Really Cares: the Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism (Basic, 2006), Brooks uses statistics to demolish years of propaganda.
WORLD: Overall, do liberals or conservatives give more to charity and volunteer more of their time?
BROOKS: Conservatives give privately more to charity than liberals do. For example, households headed by a conservative donate, on average, 30 percent more dollars than households headed by a liberal. And this isn't because conservatives earn more: On the contrary, liberal families earn an average of 6 percent more per year than conservative families, and conservative families give more than liberal families within every income class, from poor to middle class to rich. These differences go beyond money as well. Take blood donations, for example. In 2002, conservative Americans were more likely to donate blood each year, and did so more often, than liberals. Read the rest.
The New York Times ran a major article on transgender children on December 2, adding considerable visibility to an issue that had, until recently, hardly been mentioned in public. [See my article of October 18, 2006, "Gender Confusion in the Kindergarten?"]
In "Supporting Boys or Girls When the Line Isn't Clear," reporter Patricia Leigh Brown explained:
Until recently, many children who did not conform to gender norms in their clothing or behavior and identified intensely with the opposite sex were steered to psychoanalysis or behavior modification.
But as advocates gain ground for what they call gender-identity rights, evidenced most recently by New York City's decision to let people alter the sex listed on their birth certificates, a major change is taking place among schools and families. Children as young as 5 who display predispositions to dress like the opposite sex are being supported by a growing number of young parents, educators and mental health professionals.
This reporter ventures rather deeply into the issue, noting that in addition to allowing children to pose, dress, and be recognized as the opposite of their birth sex, some parents have gone so far as to use "blocking" drugs to delay puberty. As Brown explains, this raises "a host of ethical questions."
The reporter also acknowledges a divide within the community of activists and specialists dealing with the question. In her words, "The prospect of cross-dressing kindergartners has sparked a deep philosophical divide among professionals over how best to counsel families. Is it healthier for families to follow the child's lead, or to spare children potential humiliation and isolation by steering them toward accepting their biological gender until they are older?" Read More.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Archaeologists have unearthed what they say are the only existing imperial insignia belonging to Emperor Maxentius _ precious objects that were buried to preserve them and keep them from enemies when he was defeated by his rival Constantine.
Excavation under Rome's Palatine Hill near the Colosseum turned up items including three lances and four javelins that experts said are striking for their completeness _ digs usually turn up only fragments _ and the fact that they are the only known artifacts of their kind.
Clementina Panella, the archaeologist who made the discovery, said the insignia were likely hidden by Maxentius' people in an attempt to preserve the emperor's memory after he was defeated by Constantine I in the 321 A.D. battle of the Milvian Bridge _ a turning point for the history of the Roman empire which saw Constantine become the unchallenged ruler of the West. Read More.
With its premium price tag, shoppers expect organic chicken to be both tastier and healthier than cheaper battery-farmed birds.
But organic poultry is actually less nutritious, contains more fat and tastes worse than its mass-produced equivalent, research has shown.
Tests on supermarket chicken breasts showed that organic versions contained lower levels of health-boosting omega 3 fatty acids than other varieties, including non-organic free-range poultry.
The compounds, present in high levels in oily fish, are thought to be responsible for a host of health benefits, from combating heart disease to boosting intelligence.
Organic chicken, which typically costs nearly three times as much as battery-farmed poultry, also contained lower levels of anti-oxidants – compounds which mop up harmful molecules called free radicals that have been linked to cancer, heart disease and strokes.
If that wasn't enough, the chicken – from birds which are raised as naturally as possible and are given antibiotics only when they are actually ill – contained up to twice as much cholesterol. Read more.
When a company defrauds its customers, or delivers shoddy goods, the customers sooner or later are going to take their business elsewhere. But if that company has a virtual monopoly, and offers something its customers must have, they may have no choice but to keep taking it.
That’s when the customers, en masse, need to raise a stink. That’s when someone else with the resources needs to seriously consider whether the time is ripe to compete.
The Associated Press is embroiled in a scandal. Conservative bloggers, the new media watchdogs, lifted a rock at the AP. Read More.
The Ancient Egyptians built their great Pyramids by pouring concrete into blocks high on the site rather than hauling up giant stones, according to a new Franco-American study.
The research, by materials scientists from national institutions, adds fuel to a theory that the pharaohs’ craftsmen had enough skill and materials at hand to cast the two-tonne limestone blocks that dress the Cheops and other Pyramids.
Despite mounting support from scientists, Egyptologists have rejected the concrete claim, first made in the late 1970s by Joseph Davidovits, a French chemist.
The stones, say the historians and archeologists, were all carved from nearby quarries, heaved up huge ramps and set in place by armies of workers. Some dissenters say that levers or pulleys were used, even though the wheel had not been invented at that time.
Until recently it was hard for geologists to distinguish between natural limestone and the kind that would have been made by reconstituting liquefied lime.
But according to Professor Gilles Hug, of the French National Aerospace Research Agency (Onera), and Professor Michel Barsoum, of Drexel University in Philadelphia, the covering of the great Pyramids at Giza consists of two types of stone: one from the quarries and one man-made. Read More.
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Friday, December 01, 2006
Michelle Malkin, Flopping Aces and many others have spent days chronicling how the Associated Press has been bamboozled into reporting an apparently fictitious (or, at least, greatly exaggerated) atrocity in Iraq. Yet AP continues to defend both its dubious story and its equally dubious sources.Why? Why are we watching AP repeat the same basic mistake that CBS committed with Dan Rather's fake-but-accurate National Guard debacle?Two words: "Everybody knows." Anyone who has studied anthropology, sociology or mass psychology understands how false beliefs can become conventional wisdom within groups if (a) high-status individuals within the group advocate the belief, and (b) there is no one inside the group to dispute the false belief. Read the whole thing.
Thursday, November 30, 2006
To live peacefully with Muslims and Jews, Christians must put aside the notion that their faith requires the creation of a Christian kingdom on Earth, a Lipscomb University theologian told an interfaith gathering at the university.
“We are not going to get very far in our relationship with Jews or Muslims if we do not let go of this idea,” Lipscomb professor Lee Camp said at Tuesday’s conference…
“We need to forsake the Christendom model,” Camp said. “The most basic Christian commitment … is that we say we believe in the Lordship of Jesus. But, if we claim that, how can a Muslim or Jew trust us, if we say Jesus is the Lord of all Lords?”Read More.
A reader "The Gourd" has brought this to my attention. It looks like Lee Camp has been quoted out of context. This is his response to the article:
“In my lecture, I too insisted that we must not discard what is most important to us. I am a Christian who holds, without apology, to the Lordship of Jesus. I cannot accept any strategy of “conflict resolution” that asks me to set aside that particular claim. I believe and teach that Jesus is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
“This exclusive claim of the authority of Christ thus presents a problem for “conflict management.” I went on to ask these questions: How can the Jew or Muslim trust us Christians if we hold onto the exclusive Lordship of Jesus? Given that I refuse to deny the Lordship of Jesus, what can I or other Christians possibly contribute to peace-making, whether global or local?“Here is my answer: Because I profess that Jesus is Lord of Lords, I have committed myself to loving both neighbor and enemy. Because I profess that Jesus is King of Kings, I have committed myself to serving and honoring all people. Because I profess that Jesus is the ultimate authority to which all other authorities must submit, that authority requires of me to extend gracious, generous hospitality to the stranger, the pilgrim, and those who do not see the world as I see it. Link.
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Citing from the Quran at the close of his letter, he says that if Americans "repent" of their "injustice," they will be blessed with many gifts. "We should all heed the divine Word of the Holy Qur'an," he says.
The context of this particular verse (28:67-28, Sura "Al-Qasas," or The Narration), is very clear. It follows a graphic description of destruction and devastation that will befall those who fail to repent of their injustice.
It also sets out the terms of the tradition Muslim warning to the enemies of Allah. "And never will your Lord destroy the towns until He sends to their mother town a Messenger reciting to them Our Verses." This is is precisely what Ahmadinejad is doing in his letter.
Dump Bush, allow the Muslims to destroy Israel, and adopt Islam — or else you will be destroyed. This is Ahmadinejad's message. Read the whole thing.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Police gunned down yet another gangster on Tuesday in a second botched robbery in less than 24 hours.On Tuesday police shot dead four armed men and wounded six in a Soweto street battle following a bank robbery.In Tuesday's Johannesburg shootout, one robber dodged the bullets and fled, while his companion died. Read More.
Monday, November 27, 2006
A new survey conducted by The Barna Group found that the most positive feelings Americans had toward 16 public figures, including politicians, entertainers and ministers, were awarded to actor Denzel Washington. The least favorable image was associated with singer Britney Spears. The range of opinions was significant: 85% had a favorable view of Mr. Washington and just 2% held a negative view of him. In contrast, 34% had a positive view of Ms. Spears but 54% had a negative opinion of her.
The survey discovered several unexpected patterns in people’s reactions to the 16 public figures assessed. Among those insights is the comparative lack of awareness of some of the nation’s leading Christian ministers and the fact that bestselling authors do not generate high levels of public awareness. Read More.
In a story unusual even for a soap opera and believed to be a television first, ABC's "All My Children" this week will introduce a transgender character who is beginning to make the transition from a man into a woman. Link (can't recommend a read more)
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Ruthless sea pirates who plunder hundreds of ships each year off the coast of Africa are moving south, threatening South African waters, experts have warned.The United Nations Security Council and international maritime safety organisations have urged the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to take drastic action against gangs of heavily armed pirates.The calls follow South African Intelligence Minister Ronnie Kasrils' warnings last year that sea piracy was creeping closer and closer to South Africa and that the country needed to "move swiftly" and establish good intelligence networks to stop pirate attacks. Read More.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
The former commander of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq claimed outgoing US defence minister Donald Rumsfeld had personally authorized the use of torture against prisoners, an interview published in Spanish daily El Pais revealed Saturday.
'I saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld on the use of such interrogation methods,' Janis Karpinski told El Pais.
The techniques allegedly approved by Rumsfeld in the document included disruption of prisoners' sleep and mealtimes, forcing them to listen to loud music or to stand for long periods. Read More.
As I recall this was the commander who was fired for incompetence.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Scientists have discovered a dramatic variation in the genetic make-up of humans that could lead to a fundamental reappraisal of what causes incurable diseases and could provide a greater understanding of mankind...
Another implication of the finding is that we are more different to our closest living relative, the chimpanzee, than previously assumed from earlier studies. Instead of being 99 per cent similar, we are more likely to be about 96 per cent similar. Read More.
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
What does this mean? Not sure exactly, teen pregnancy is down, but all other age groups are up. Marriage is not as important as it used to be, and the stigma attached to unwed mothers is not what it once was. Families are struggling with many issues and I can’t help but think that our de-emphasis of traditional marriage will be very costly for our kids down the road:
Out-of-wedlock births in the United States have climbed to an all-time high, accounting for nearly four in 10 babies born last year, government health officials said Tuesday. Read More.
Israel’s Supreme Court has just ruled that the state must recognize gay marriage. That would make Israel, let’s see, um, the one and only state in the Middle East where being gay is not only not illegal, but now gays have greater rights in Israel than they do in America. Say, Queers for Palestine, maybe you should start thinking you’re backing the wrong side in this war.
In a precedent-setting ruling, the High Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled that five gay couples wedded outside of Israel can be registered as married couples.
A sweeping majority of six justices to one ruled that the common-law marriages of five gay couples obtained in Toronto, Canada, can appear as married on the population registry. Read More.
Monday, November 20, 2006
Got a tough, but heartwarming story and a picture of John Gebhardt in Iraq. For those that did not know John, he was our former Med Group Chief, Dave Nordel replaced him. Anyway, his wife talked with mine last evening and sent this picture. Mindy related that this little girl's entire family was executed.They intended to execute her also and shot her in the head but they failed to kill her. She was cared for by John's hospital and healing up, but has been crying and moaning. The nurses said John is the only one she seems to calm down with, so John has spent the last four nights holding her while they both sleep in that chair. The girl is coming along with her healing.
John comes home in early October.
He is a real Star of the war and is representative of what America is trying to do.
Tags: John Gebhardt
It is important to try and be content with who we are, and in the Lord.
Young people in developing nations are at least twice as likely to feel happy about their lives than their richer counterparts, a survey says.
Indians are the happiest overall and Japanese the most miserable. Read More.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
WE MUST bomb Iran.
It has been four years since that country's secret nuclear program was brought to light, and the path of diplomacy and sanctions has led nowhere.
First, we agreed to our allies' requests that we offer Tehran a string of concessions, which it spurned. Then, Britain, France and Germany wanted to impose a batch of extremely weak sanctions. For instance, Iranians known to be involved in nuclear activities would have been barred from foreign travel — except for humanitarian or religious reasons — and outside countries would have been required to refrain from aiding some, but not all, Iranian nuclear projects.
But even this was too much for the U.N. Security Council. Russia promptly announced that these sanctions were much too strong. "We cannot support measures … aimed at isolating Iran," declared Foreign Minister Sergei V. Lavrov.
It is now clear that neither Moscow nor Beijing will ever agree to tough sanctions. What's more, even if they were to do so, it would not stop Iran, which is a country on a mission. As President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad put it: "Thanks to the blood of the martyrs, a new Islamic revolution has arisen…. The era of oppression, hegemonic regimes and tyranny and injustice has reached its end…. The wave of the Islamic revolution will soon reach the entire world." There is simply no possibility that Iran's clerical rulers will trade this ecstatic vision for a mess of Western pottage in the form of economic bribes or penalties. Read More.
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Governance is not the same as easy criticism. Already the Democrats are learning, as is eternally true of our wonderful political system, that loud opposition is not the same as being responsible for governance.
Suddenly the beloved press is looking again into John Murtha’s questionable ethics—and wondering whether we can really leave Iraq so easily. Nancy Pelosi was unable to see Murtha elected as majority leader, and we wonder about her political skills when it is matter of being a leader rather than a megaphone. And we still await something novel from the Democrats about Iraq commensurate with their vehement criticism. Surely they will soon introduce legislation rescinding Guantanamo Bay, the Patriot Act, and wiretaps, since they convinced us that such measures have done nothing to make us safer and couldn’t conceivably have anything to do with the absence of another 9/11 attack. Read More.
It was only a matter of time before the so-called "Iranian President" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be unmasked as the biggest hoax in the history of television, perpetrated by Brooklyn comic Misha Braslavsky, a cable TV buffoon exploiting Western stereotypes of "evil Islamic radicalism."
Looking back, we can only laugh at our unblinking acceptance of Ahmadinejad, an "Islamist hard-liner" dressed like a Turkish used car salesman, who called to wipe Israel off the map or move it to Alaska, demanded a manual recount of Holocaust victims, and banned all Western music. His retractions were even more bizarre: "CNN make lie! I send squeegees to help Israel, not 'Wipe off Israel!' Who translated, I kill him!" Or "I not ban all Western music, I ban only Country-Western music, spawn of Satan! Eminem and Barbra Streisand still welcome!" - a statement that sparked violent protests in Nashville. Read More.
Friday, November 17, 2006
These are the values:
Atheists are good, Christians are bad
Homosexuals are good, heterosexuals are tolerated, usually.
Druggies are welcome, soldiers are not
Freedom applies to liberal agendas, not to conservative ideas Read More.
A renowned black magic practitioner performed a voodoo ritual Thursday to jinx President George W. Bush and his entourage while he was on a brief visit to Indonesia.
Ki Gendeng Pamungkas slit the throat of a goat, a small snake and stabbed a black crow in the chest, stirred their blood with spice and broccoli before drank the "potion" and smeared some on his face.
"I don't hate Americans, but I don't like Bush," said Pamungkas, who believed the ritual would succeed as, "the devil is with me today."
He said the jinx would sent spirits to posses Secret Service personnel guarding Bush and left them in a trance, leading them into falsely thinking the President was under attack, thus eventually causing chaos in Bogor Presidential Palace, where the American leader was scheduled to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday. Link.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Iranian newspapers Kehyan and and Resalat have urged Muslims around the world to prepare for a 'great war' to destroy the State of Israel.
The newspapers published the editorials, by , the Middle East translation service, to mark 'Quds' day on October 20, an Iranian 'holiday' calling for the "liberation" of Jerusalem and war against Israel. Read More.
Monday, November 13, 2006
These issues tend to always start in England or Europe. If the Anglican communion is beginning to discuss the issue of euthanasia, it is only a matter of time that more denominations will re-address the issue.
While many are looking at the issue compassionately, where does the slope stop? This does give me pause for concern.
The Church of England has broken with tradition dogma by calling for doctors to be allowed to let sick newborn babies die.
Christians have long argued that life should preserved at all costs - but a bishop representing the national church has now sparked controversy by arguing that there are occasions when it is compassionate to leave a severely disabled child to die.
And the Bishop of Southwark, Tom Butler, who is the vice chair of the Church of England’s Mission and Public Affairs Council, has also argued that the high financial cost of keeping desperately ill babies alive should be a factor in life or death decisions. Read More.
According to the pollsters, pundits and pols -- Democratic and nervous Republican -- a great anti-Republican wave is a-coming. Well, let's assume major Democratic gains: 20 to 25 House seats and four to six Senate seats. The House goes Democratic for the first time in 12 years. The Senate probably stays Republican, but by such an excruciatingly small margin that there is no governing majority.
What to say about such a victory? Substantial, yes. Historic, no. Before proclaiming a landslide, one has to ask Henny Youngman's question: "Compared to what?" (His answer to: "How's your wife?") Since the end of World War II, the average loss for a second-term presidency in its sixth year has been 29 House seats and six Senate seats. If you go back to Franklin Roosevelt's second term, the House loss average jumps to 35. Thus a 25/6 House and Senate loss would be about (and slightly below) the historical average. Read More.
Hat Tip: Ken
Sunday, November 12, 2006
In light of recent issues it behooves all of us who are in the full-time ministry to make sure that we have good accountability structures in place. Will this stop all problems? No, but like Haggards former pastorate, they dealt with the issue swiftly, and were able to remove him from a leadership role. Unfortunately, that would not happen in many churches i.e., Swaggart.
Following a lead I got last week, I watched a mega church transform before my eyes Sunday morning.
Crossroads Community Church is a "mega-Calvary" in Vancouver,WA just across the river from Portland, OR.
Pastor Bill Ritchie laid out some radical changes in church governance that appear on the surface to address everything that we have spoken about for two years here on the Phoenix Preacher.
Using 1 Cor 12:27 as his text, ( "Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.") Ritchie laid out the following changes designed to create an "organism" instead of an "organization".
Ritchie than laid out a plan to transform his huge church from "marbles that roll in and roll out, to grapes that grow in a cluster, coming together and being squeezed together to make great wine"
While he cautioned that the ideas are not completely fleshed out , Ritchie said the governance part is already in place.
Instead of a traditional board, Crossroads will go to a "Servant Leader Team".
This team will oversee various aspects of the ministry of Crossroads.
The ten man team will include 5 pastors, as well as 5 rotating members of the congregation. Read More.
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Over at Verum Serum they have a post considering the downfall of Ted Haggard. It is very balanced and I recommend it. In the comments Amy pointed out that her comment on Haggard was rejected at a site called Slice of Laodecia. I decided to check out slice again (it's been awhile).
Ingrid hasn't changed much, her brand of christian bitterness is quite off putting. This is a reply Amy wrote for this site in response to SLICE(corrected). Her original posts were rejected. BTW, my reply was also rejected! It seems Ingrid only likes to hear from the choir (with some exceptions).
“I agree with Ingrid that there are many things in Christianity that are dishonoring to God. Sometimes those things need to be brought to people’s attention so that Christians can discuss whether or not they are biblical. I am in strong disagreement with how she is handling this situation. I pray that she will see that God doesn’t need us to drag His wounded soldier through the dirt. Satan has already done that. I also am not interested in dragging Ingrid through the dirt, but rather hope that she will consider that, like other humans, she can sometimes make mistakes in discernment, and that she herself could actually be dishonoring our Holy God in the way she is handling this situation.
Ted’s fall does not lessen the FACT that you and I have done many things that dishonor God, many of which have not been displayed to the whole world, many things to which some of us are still clinging and refusing to acknowledge as the gross sins that they are.
The fact that we are sinful creatures also does not lessen the fact that what Ted has done has brought shame upon the name of God. However his church has already begun the discipline process with him. They are not excusing his sin, and believe strongly that confession, prayer, and God’s power are a significant part of the restoration process. I trust that God will lead them and the men designated to help him step by step, and that the power that Satan has over Ted will be broken. I pray that Ted’s eyes will be totally opened and that he will not seek to cover any of his sins.
I do not believe, from scripture, that there is any reason why I personally need to know the details of Ted’s sins, or hear a full confession from him by way of the media. There are probably things that his church and family need to know more specifically. I trust that God will lead him, his church, and the men helping him into knowing just what needs to be confessed only to God, confessed only to the men helping him, confessed to his family, confessed to his church, confessed to other believers, and disclosed to the world.
What Ted has done does not change the fact that God is Holy. We can not help God be any Holier by attempting to set parameters for exactly when and how someone’s repentance takes place. God knows Ted’s heart and He knows how much He is working in it; He alone knows where Ted is in the process of restoration.
Part of God’s Holiness- His set-apartness- is His patience and His Mercy and His Love, which is so much greater than ours. Let’s try to demonstrate some of this to Ted."
Well said Amy.
Friday, November 10, 2006
Text: Psalms 100:1-5
I believe that God is calling Siuslaw Valley Christian Center to become a contagious congregation. A contagious congregation is a church that strives to live up to its Christ-given potential and calling so that both our members and friends and the larger community may come to know the saving grace and life-changing love of Jesus Christ. I believe God wants us to live up to our Christ-given potential—to become a contagious congregation. We are God called, Christ commanded, and Holy Spirit empowered to become contagious.
As Christian's we have to make a difference!
This is fascinating and scary. The rise of Jon Stewart has been remarkable, a comedian in charge of faux news. He is also very influential among young people, many who only get their news from his show. Kingmaker? Hard to tell, influential? Definitely.
Jon Stewart is an unlikely player in national politics. He’s not a pundit, he’s a comedian. As unlikely a candidate for Democratic kingmaker as he may be, he’s a force to be reckoned with.
Ratings for The Daily Show’s coverage of the ‘06 elections were second only to The O’Reilly Factor on Fox News. 2.0 million Americans tuned into Comedy Central on Tuesday to follow election results. That’s right, more people were watching a comedian talk about the news than an anchor on CNN.
And just who is it that is tuning into The Daily Show? Young people. Lot’s of them.
In fact, in the 2004 election nearly as many young people cited The Daily Show as a source of news as any other source. And Jon Stewart’s Daily Show audience has only grown since then.
On the college campus where I teach, Jon Stewart’s is the first and last word on all things political. His is the only name that all recognize. It’s more than that: his views are the only views considered socially acceptable. When Jon Stewart believes something, students believe it. He who Jon Stewart hates, students hate. Read More.
It looks like the person who wins even though he lost is Michael Steele. His stature is definitely on the rise. We’ll be seeing more of Steele.
Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman, whose party just lost both chambers of Congress, will leave his position in January, and the post as party chief has been offered to Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele. Read More.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
The book of Genesis says that after Abraham left the land of his ancestors and came to the place God promised to him as an inheritance, “the Canaanites were in the land” (Genesis 12:6 NIV). When Abraham came to Canaan, the Canaanites were a settled people with a highly advanced society. In the Old Testament, the word “Canaan” was used to designate the land west of the Jordan River, and the word “Canaanites” was the general name given to the non-Israelite inhabitants of the land. In addition, the word Canaan appears in several passages in the Bible and is translated in different ways: “traffickers” (Isaiah 23:8 KJV; “traders” NIV); “the merchant city” (Isaiah 23:11 KJV); “merchant” (Hosea 12:7 KJV, NIV), and “merchant people” (Zephaniah 1:11 KJV; “merchants” NIV). The identification of the Canaanites as well as the meaning of the word “Canaan” has been a source of debate among scholars. Read More.
Suppose a large group of same-sex-marriage activists came together and made the following confession to a group of same-sex-marriage skeptics: Read More.
This is from the New York Times: HT; Jerry
The passionate, sometimes rhythmic, language-like patter that pours forth from religious people who “speak in tongues” reflects a state of mental possession, many of them say. Now they have some neuroscience to back them up.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior.
The images, appearing in the current issue of the journal Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, pinpoint the most active areas of the brain. The images are the first of their kind taken during this spoken religious practice, which has roots in the Old and New Testaments and in charismatic churches established in the
“The amazing thing was how the images supported people’s interpretation of what was happening,” said Dr. Andrew B. Newberg, leader of the study team, which included Donna Morgan, Nancy Wintering and Mark Waldman. “The way they describe it, and what they believe, is that God is talking through them,” he said.
Dr. Newberg is also a co-author of “Why We Believe What We Believe.”
In the study, the researchers used imaging techniques to track changes in blood flow in each woman’s brain in two conditions, once as she sang a gospel song and again while speaking in tongues. By comparing the patterns created by these two emotional, devotional activities, the researchers could pinpoint blood-flow peaks and valleys unique to speaking in tongues.
Ms. Morgan, a co-author of the study, was also a research subject. She is a born-again Christian who says she considers the ability to speak in tongues a gift. “You’re aware of your surroundings,” she said. “You’re not really out of control. But you have no control over what’s happening. You’re just flowing. You’re in a realm of peace and comfort, and it’s a fantastic feeling.”
Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in
The new findings contrasted sharply with images taken of other spiritually inspired mental states like meditation, which is often a highly focused mental exercise, activating the frontal lobes.
The scans also showed a dip in the activity of a region called the left caudate. “The findings from the frontal lobes are very clear, and make sense, but the caudate is usually active when you have positive affect, pleasure, positive emotions,” said Dr. James A. Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “So it’s not so clear what that finding says” about speaking in tongues.
The caudate area is also involved in motor and emotional control, Dr. Newberg said, so it may be that practitioners, while mindful of their circumstances, nonetheless cede some control over their bodies and emotions.
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
My take is that a lot of people were fed up with GOP incompetence and graft. Tends to be a characteristic of whichever party is in power for too long. This is a wake up call for the GOP, get back to the basics of conservatism, fiscal responsibility, and rooting out corruption within your ranks.
The Dems have won so leave sour gripes elsewhere. This is certainly not the end of the world.
On a positive note, having Pelosi as speaker virtually guarantees a GOP victory in 08'