Wednesday, May 31, 2006
German authorities may have thwarted suicide bomb attacks in Iraq by German women. According to intelligence sources, three women were prevented from travelling to Iraq after one of them had announced she planned to blow herself up in Iraq. Read More.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Monday, May 29, 2006
During the last week of May, thousands of Iranians demonstrated in the northwestern city of Tabriz, and the previous week there were protests at universities in five cities. The protests were triggered by the official government newspaper - the Islamic Republic News Agency's Iran - publishing a cartoon which depicts a boy repeating "cockroach" in Persian before a giant bug in front of him asks "What?" in Azeri.
Azeri-Iranians - who make up approximately one-quarter of the country's population - were particularly offended by the cartoon. These disturbances come at a bad time for the Iranian government, which is stressing national unity in the face of international concern over its nuclear program. Read More.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
The Hamas newspaper this week chronicled with pride the ways in which different foreign leaders singled out the Palestinians as examples of ideal revolutionaries. The first leader cited by the Hamas weekly, Al-Rissala, for praising the Palestinians was Adolf Hitler:
"Adolf Hitler, while exciting the Germans of the Sudetenland - the Sudetenland is a German province that the Allies had annexed to Czechoslovakia after the First World War - told them in his broadcasts: Look at what the Palestinian revolutionaries are doing to Great Britain!!"
[Al-Rissala (Hamas Weekly), May 18, 2006]
Overview: Admiration of Hitler in the Palestinian Authority:
It may be surprising to Western observers to see Palestinians taking pride in having been praised by Hitler. But it is important to understand that the utter revulsion of Hitler expected in the West is not true in Palestinian society. Palestinians can be found who are named "Hitler" as a first name: Hitler Salah [Al Hayat Al Jadida, Sept. 28, 2005], Hitler Abu-Alrab [Al Hayat Al Jadida, Jan. 27, 2005], Hitler Mahmud Abu-Libda [Al Hayat Al Jadida, Dec.18, 2000]. Read More.
Riding the crest of high approval ratings, al Qaeda mastermind Usama Bin Laden and former
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein today nevertheless acknowledged that they had made mistakes in prosecuting the war against the ‘war on terror’.
Mr. Hussein said he regrets some of his “tough talk” in the past and the famous image of him brandishing a shotgun. He also admitted to having second thoughts about putting his political opponents through a meat grinder after torturing them.
Speaking in a subdued, almost chastened manner, the former Iraqi dictator said, “I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner.” Read More.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
The news media play an important role in popular culture by providing publicity for the movie studios as films are readied for release. But some movies are more favored by the news media than others, some for their expected status as expensive but appealing blockbusters, and some for their social commentary (for example, the film Brokeback Mountain). The DaVinci Code was both: an expected blockbuster movie based on one of the most publicized works of fiction in the new century, drawing enormous national media interest with its vision of a vast, murderous church conspiracy. It should not be surprising that The DaVinci Code came roaring out of the box office with a $77 million opening weekend.
The media’s views on religion played a part. In 2004, the networks showed hostility to a more orthodox vision of Jesus in the movie The Passion of the Christ. So MRC analysts compared coverage of the year before The Passion (March 2003 through February 2004) and the year before The DaVinci Code movie (May 19, 2005 through May 18, 2006) on the morning, evening, prime-time and late-night news programs of ABC, CBS, and NBC. Some key findings were: Read More.
One of the most common responses to my work that I have encountered since I have been doing it publicly is a sweeping assertion that I am ignorant, and/or maliciously ignoring the broad mainstream of peaceful Islam. Of course I do not ignore in the least the broad mainstream of peaceful Muslims, but I have repeatedly pointed out that within the various theological and legal traditions of Islam, they do not have much of a case. All the schools (madhahib) of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) teach violent jihad and Sharia supremacism, with some minor variations. Accordingly, Ibn Warraq is correct when he says that there are moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam.
This bears repeating: there are moderate Muslims, but there is no moderate Islam. Read More.
Fake nails and women’s shoes were flying as a bloody claw fight erupted at a Dorchester salon after one primping patron allegedly screamed at a woman bantering in Spanish, “Speak English! This is America!”
Friday, May 26, 2006
-From the first citizen-soldiers who stood fast to defend their homes at Lexington and Concord, to the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines securing our liberty and our way of life today, our country has been truly blessed by those who stepped forward to say, "Send me."
Theirs is a noble calling that founded a nation, drove back the forces of fascism, communism and terrorism, and made historic advances in the cause of human freedom.
Their service strengthens our will to persevere through every challenge. They remind us of what it means to be an American.
So to all of those serving our country today, know that we are deeply grateful to you and to your families. May God bless you. And may God bless our wonderful country.
Donald H. Rumsfeld
Hat Tip: Atlas Shrugs
He had his driver move the vehicle through a breach along his flank, where he was immediately taken under fire from an entrenched machine gun. Without hesitation, Chontosh ordered the driver to advanced directly at the enemy position enabling his .50 caliber machine gunner to silence the enemy.
He then directed his driver into the enemy trench, where he exited his vehicle and began to clear the trench with an M16A2 service rifle and 9 millimeter pistol. His ammunition depleted, Chontosh, with complete disregard for his safety, twice picked up discarded enemy rifles and continued his ferocious attack.
When a Marine following him found an enemy rocket propelled grenade launcher, Chontosh used it to destroy yet another group of enemy soldiers.
When his audacious attack ended, he had cleared over 200 meters of the enemy trench, killing more than 20 enemy soldiers and wounding several others.
Researchers who picked up and analysed wild chimp droppings said on Thursday they had shown how the Aids virus originated in wild apes in Cameroon and then spread in humans across Africa and eventually the world.
Their study, published in the journal Science, supports other studies that suggest people somehow caught the deadly human immunodeficiency virus from chimpanzees, perhaps by killing and eating them. Read More.
Human selfishness has reached new levels. Anytime the goal becomes more important than the person something is wrong. From my perspective people come first, bravo for Sir. Hillary for reminding us of this.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
This is real! Here's the link to the National Geographic article.
Might as well swim with an anchor.
Engaging post-Christian culture doesn't require candlelit rooms, art and liturgy, says John Burke. The Austin, Texas, pastor issues a call to the Church to dive into the muck of cultural America and engage a broken world.
What do a Buddhist, a biker couple, a gay-rights activist, a transient, a high-tech engineer, a Muslim, a 20-something single mom, a Jew, a couple living together, and an atheist all have in common?
They are the future Church in America.
Most of them are in their 20s or 30s and became followers of Christ in the past five years. And now, many of them are leading others in our congregation at Gateway Community Church in Austin, Texas. Over the last six years since we launched Gateway, we've seen that this is the generation the Church must reach if it is to survive. It's an eclectic generation on a winding, wayward spiritual quest, and the Church has an incredible opportunity to be a guide for the journey.
I must warn you upfront, however, doing church like this is a mess … but it's a beautiful mess! Many churched Christians who came through the doors of Gateway in the early days just couldn't handle the discomfort of having so many seekers around them. They would hang out in the lobby after the service, strike up conversation and slowly realize that the person they were talking to held none of their "sacred beliefs" about abortion, sex before marriage, evolution or other hot topics of Christian subcultures. After a conversation like that, they usually scared each other off. Read More.
Members of one of the largest churches in New Mexico are fighting to bring accountability to church elders who they believe are mishandling church property, misusing their authority, and covering up misbehavior.
Two groups formed after Pete Nelson resigned in February as senior pastor of the 14,000-member Calvary of Albuquerque, affiliated with the Calvary Chapel network of 1,300 independent churches, mostly in the West and Southwest. Nelson said he wanted "to pastor and lead a church and to be accountable to that local church." He was unable to do that with the "current structure" at Calvary of Albuquerque.
Nelson's sudden announcement on a Sunday morning took church members and staff by surprise. Nelson has not been in touch with the congregation or spoken publicly since he left. But it wasn't Nelson's disappearance that shocked them. Nelson's resignation letter, which was leaked to the press, alleged the church's former pastor Skip Heitzig was exercising behind the scenes control two years after he had left to pastor another Calvary church in California. Read More.
I don't think this is one of those "snap-together" plastic models.
Actually has 8 "real turbines" at about $1500 each! Took over 2 years to build. It has a wing span of about 22 feet. Takes multiple pilots, as there are so many things to control. Think they were nervous during the maiden flight?
Click the hyperlink to see the maiden flight. Hat Tip, Mark
Russian President Vladimir Putin has inadvertently spotlighted one of today's momentous mysteries: collapsing birthrates in industrialized countries. Putin proposed that Russia pay women to have children to remedy a "critical" population outlook. Actually, he might have said "desperate." In 2000 Russia's population totaled almost 147 million; Putin says it's declining by 700,000 a year. With plausible assumptions, the U.S. Census Bureau projects it at 111 million in 2050. The median age (half the population above, half below) would be almost 50, up from 38 now. Could this Russia maintain a strong economy, national optimism or a capable military?
Russia's case, though extreme, isn't isolated. There's no more population "explosion." In wealthier countries, motherhood is going out of style and plunging birthrates portend population loss. This is a hugely significant development, even if we don't fully understand the causes -- 30 years ago experts didn't predict it -- or the consequences. One way or another, the side effects will be massive for economics, politics and people's well-being. Indeed, they may already have started. Is it a coincidence that Germany and Italy, two countries on the edge of population decline, are so troubled? Read More.
"Not long ago we worried about baby booms and overpopulation. Now some people are worrying about a "Global Baby Bust." Writing in Foreign Affairs, Phillip Longman says it's mostly because of economics:
In nations rich and poor, under all forms of government, as more and more of the world's population moves to urban areas in which children offer little or no economic reward to their parents, and as women acquire economic opportunities and reproductive control, the social and financial costs of childbearing continue to rise.He's clearly right about the economics. Children used to provide cheap labor and retirement security, all in one. Now they're pretty much all cost and no return, from a financial perspective. That suggests that subsidies might solve the problem. Vladimir Putin thinks so, as he plans to offer generous parental benefits to encourage citizens to have more children, something that's necessary as Russia's population is in absolute decline. Italy, which is also in demographic free-fall, is doing something similar." Read More.
In the United States, the direct cost of raising a middle-class child born this year through age 18, according to the Department of Agriculture, exceeds $200,000--not including college. And the cost in forgone wages can easily exceed $1 million, even for families with modest earning power. Meanwhile, although Social Security and private pension plans depend critically on the human capital created by parents, they offer the same benefits, and often more, to those who avoid the burdens of raising a family.
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" opens around the country this week. In the film Gore pulls together evidence from every corner of the globe to convince us that climate change is happening fast, we are to blame, and if we don't act immediately, our Earth will be all but ruined. However, as you sit through the film, consider the following inconvenient truths: Read More. Hat Tip Hugh Hewitt.
In The Story of a Kingdom (SOK) Jonathan Gibson explains the Bible in a simple and easy-to-understand format. Though written primarily for international students, this book is suitable for new Christians and even young people who want to get a grasp of the Bible's big story. As the title explains it follows the development of God's Kingdom through the main turning points of the Bible. Working with a definition of God's Kingdom - 'God's people, living in God's place, under God's rule and blessing' - the author shows how the Old Testament leads up to Jesus and His Kingdom. Each chapter has objectives and key teaching points for the teacher, as well as connections to other parts of the Bible story. Most chapters are accompanied with a diagram that complements the story, and conclude with some questions for personal or group reflection. Read More.
For the past several years I’ve been a spectator to the catfights, the petty squabbles, the backbiting, and the raised eyebrow innuendo that passes for discourse among many Godbloggers. I’ve watched silently as the flame wars spread, and the Christian soldiers, marching ever onward, hyperlinked their way toward victory for their side. I stood motionless as the links whizzed past and the buzz became a deafening roar. I did nothing as the battles crashed all around me. No longer, though, can I be silent, motionless, and inert. The time has come when I must speak out and say what’s been weighing heavy on my mind: How can I get a piece of that action?
As my buddy John Schroeder recently noted, “There is an old adage in politics - when you cannot do anything about the problem at hand, either invent a problem, or pick a smaller one you can fix, and use it as a diversion.” I can’t do anything about the problem. But I also can’t sit idly by while everyone else is getting fat the link rich site traffic. In the words of that late great sage-poet Tupac Shakur, I “Got to Get Mine.”
So in the hopes of inciting a Royal Rumble-style smackdown, I’ve decided to talk trash about as many of my fellow Christian bloggers as possible. The task, however, is more daunting than might first appear. With hundred bloggers listed in the Church Directory and the Blogdom of God, it was difficult to choose targets for my cheap jabs.
These bloggers are also all Christians, which makes it even more difficult since someone is bound to pull out that “turn the other cheek” stuff. I figured the safe bet was to swing far and wide in hopes that someone will strike back, causing a sufficient enough dust-up that I’ll be left with some Sitemeter busting traffic. After that happens we can all repent and embrace in fellowship. Then I can go back to producing monotonous, dissertation-length posts.
For today, though, its time to take some cheap shots. Let's get ready to rumble: Read More.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
CAIRO (Reuters) - The Egyptian authorities have given the go ahead for the underwater exploration of what appears to be a Roman city submerged in the Mediterranean, Egypt's top archaeologist said on Monday.
Zahi Hawass said in a statement that an excavation team had found the ruins of the Roman city 35 km (20 miles) east of the Suez Canal on Egypt's north coast.
Archaeologists had found buildings, bathrooms, ruins of a Roman fortress, ancient coins, bronze vases and pieces of pottery that all date back to the Roman era, the statement said. Egypt's Roman era lasted from 30 BC to 337 AD.
The excavation team also found four bridges that belonged to a submerged castle, part of which had been discovered on the Mediterranean coastline in 1910.
The statement said evidence indicated that part of the site was on the coast and part of it submerged in the sea. The area marked Egypt's eastern border during the Roman era.
Monday, May 22, 2006
We seem to be having a tremendous amount of success with pointing out the corrupt nature of the fundamentalist consciousness. As one of them observed, "they're brainwashing people into thinking." Thought is a dangerous thing in the fundamentalist tradition.
One should note that fundamentalism is not a new phenomenon. Plato describes the fundamentalist reaction against the teachings of Socrates. The nature of ancient Greek fundamentalist is pretty much the same as the nature of modern Christian fundamentalism. Both are fundamentally forms of misinterpreting sacred texts in order to support a despotic social order.
In the case of modern Christian fundamentalists, both OT and NT texts are construed in such a way that is antithetical to their original meaning. For the Greeks at the time of Plato, the homeric texts were misrepresented in a similar vein.
If you would like to read a blog that says nothing, here's the link. It is useful to know what a modern gnostic says. After reading this blog it's obvious why the church fathers shot it down. It has virtually no redeeming quality. The best I can say is that these people need our prayer and a personal encounter with Jesus who is the true wisdom.
So, how do you develop a children’s ministry that is better than any other church’s? You don’t. Other churches are not your competition. Your competition is Chuck E. Cheese. And Nickelodeon. And Xbox.
Kids today are conditioned to need high stimulation, to be fully engaged – if we’re going to grab and sustain their attention. Whether they’re surfing the Internet for cheat codes to the latest Lord of the Rings PS2 game or checking out your kids’ program, what they find had better be fun and interesting. Because boring or intimidating just doesn’t cut it.
In a world where our society pushes adults to have and achieve more, parents have been known to extend that mindset into their parenting practices. So the last thing your children’s program should be to an “overscheduled” child is this: another obligation. How can they come to know how much Jesus loves them if they don’t even want to be there? Right, you say. And precisely how do we avoid the boring and intimidating syndrome? Glad you asked. Read More.
Teenagers. They want to be different. But still fit in. They want to be free. But still feel secure. They want what everyone else has. And what no one else has. They want privileges. But not responsibilities. They want us to butt out. But they need us to be there. And as frazzled as they make us feel, they ultimately want the same things we want. To belong. To be loved. To be special. Unique. Significant.
True, it’s tempting to review the music teens listen to (yikes!), the way they drive (too fast), and pants we’ve not seen ride so low since the plumber’s last visit. But it’s more constructive to try to understand the stresses they face – and consider where that stress can lead if we adults don’t provide the support they need.
So, how do we help teens handle stress in healthy ways? “The most important tool is a support system,” says About.com’s Cathleen Henning. One that includes not just peers but also adults who are easy to talk to and sympathetic to teenage issues. Read More.
Sunday, May 21, 2006
"Things are better than you think. Yes, I know, most Americans are in a sour mood these days, convinced that the struggle in Iraq is an endless cycle of bloodshed, certain that our economy is in dismal shape, lamenting that the nation and the world are off on the wrong track. That's what polls tell us. But if we look at some other numbers, we'll find that we are living not in the worst of times but in something much closer to the best. What do I mean? " Read More.
"According to The DaVinci Code, the ancient scriptures of the Gnostics confirm the marriage of Jesus of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene, and also outline a deeper version of Christianity that is much closer to the true teachings of Jesus than the orthodox faith of modern Christians.
Unfortunately, examination of the Gnostic scriptures reveals an elitist, anti-Semitic doctrine that dismissed notions of sin and redemption and instead concentrated on secret knowledge about God and the spirit realm that was revealed through the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and through special dispensations from spirit beings. Gnostics believed that only those with both the intellectual capacity to understand the order of the cosmos and the spiritual discipline to abandon the pleasures of the flesh, would truly be saved." Read More.
There are several parts to this article, try and read them all. Gnosticism by its nature is elitist, and really makes very little sense.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
"Eastern Chad is now home for over 250,000 refugees, most of them in camps run by the UN and associated NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations). About 20 percent of the refugees are Chadians, fleeing the increasing violence between Chadian security forces and various rebel factions. Some of the guys with guns are just bandits. These gangs, plus raiders from Darfur, and many of the Chad rebels, prey on the refugee camps, as well as the relief organizations. For example, relief organizations, despite hiring locals as armed guards, have had some 30 of their vehicles stolen. Food supplies and equipment are also taken regularly. The UN wants to send in peacekeepers to guard the refugee camps and the movements of relief supplies and aid workers. The Chad government doesn't want foreign peacekeepers, but it unable to provide security along the Sudan border. There's not exactly a war going on along the frontier. It's more like a breakdown in law and order, and dozens of groups of armed men wandering around stealing whatever they can. These guys are not interested in fighting. If they encounter security forces, or another armed group, they may exchange some fire, and if the other guy doesn't flee, just move on." Link Hat tip instapundit
Confronted with "The Da Vinci Code," the motion picture version of Dan Brown's best-selling update on the ripe tropes of 19th-century Know-Nothingism (the Vatican as conspiracy central, the priesthood as perverse hit men), a previous generation of American Catholics would have raised holy hell -- flooding the streets with pickets and boycotting not just the film or the studio but all films, in an impassioned nationwide campaign to bring Hollywood to its knees. Yet this weekend, as the much-hyped example of sacerdotal noir finally premieres, Catholics will be queuing up alongside Protestants, Jews and secular humanists. The religion that once put the fear of God into Hollywood now has less influence over motion picture content than People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Read More.
Friday, May 19, 2006
"Former Military Intelligence chief Aharon Ze'evi warned Monday morning of an impending world jihad "tsunami" that he said may soon descend on the entire Middle East.
Ze'evi, speaking at a Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies conference in Tel Aviv University, said that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinijad has been overheard promising the "end of history in two or three years."
Ze'evi recommended that the Iranian threats be taken seriously, saying that Tehran will soon have nuclear warhead compatible surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 5,000 kilometers, putting Europe within striking distance." Read More.
"How does the United States deal with a corrupt world in which we are blamed even for the good we do, while others are praised when they do wrong or remain indifferent to suffering?
We are accused of unilateral and preemptory bullying of the madman Mr. Ahmadinejad, whose reactors that will be used to “wipe out” the “one-bomb” state of Israel were supplied by Swiss, German, and Russian profit-minded businessmen. No one thinks to chastise those who sold Iran the capability of destroying Israel.
Here in the United States we worry whether we are tough enough with the Gulf sheikdoms in promoting human rights and democratic reform. Meanwhile China simply offers them cash for oil, no questions asked. Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez pose as anti-Western zealots to Western naifs. The one has never held an election; the other tries his best to end the democracy that brought him to power. Meanwhile our fretting elites, back from Europe or South America, write ever more books on why George Bush and the Americans are not liked."
The theological angle is interesting, Brown introduces no new material and the supposed gnostic writings he uncovers are nothing new. What concerns me the most is that many people believe what the book says is fact. For those who want more info follow this link. Lots of good material, and background information on the ideas behind the book and movie. This also shows what a poor historian Brown is and his distortion of facts etc.
Will the movie do well? Hard to say, but initial reactions by critics are not promising. For the studio it had better, this was an expensive movie to make.
The one plus about the movie is that it can be a bridge builder for those who are seeking truth, in that sense God's truth will prevail.
Human rights groups are raising alarms over a new law passed by the Iranian parliament that would require the country's Jews and Christians to wear coloured badges to identify them and other religious minorities as non-Muslims.
"This is reminiscent of the Holocaust," said Rabbi Marvin Hier, the dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. "Iran is moving closer and closer to the ideology of the Nazis."
Iranian expatriates living in Canada yesterday confirmed reports that the Iranian parliament, called the Islamic Majlis, passed a law this week setting a dress code for all Iranians, requiring them to wear almost identical "standard Islamic garments."
The law, which must still be approved by Iran's "Supreme Guide" Ali Khamenehi before being put into effect, also establishes special insignia to be worn by non-Muslims.
Iran's roughly 25,000 Jews would have to sew a yellow strip of cloth on the front of their clothes, while Christians would wear red badges and Zoroastrians would be forced to wear blue cloth. Read More.
Update: There is some doubt whether this story is correct, will update again when I know for sure.
Update 2: It has turned out to be a hoax.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
In a Jihad Watch essay, the European writer Fjordman, whose blog illumninated the Islamization of Europe for quite some time, describes the plight of all too many non-Muslim women who marry Muslim men:There are significant numbers of non-Muslim women who have become involved with Muslim men through marriage. An extremely high percentage of these relationships break down. It could be a good idea to take a look at certain Islamic ideas regarding relations with non-Muslim women, some of them not always openly expressed, so that other women may gain some insight into what to expect if they do get involved in such a relationship. Read More.
There are three main Muslim bodies in Russia, the two foremost of which are the Council of Muftis, led by Mufti Rival Gainutdin, and the Central Spiritual Directorate of Muslims (CSDM), led by Supreme Mufti Telget Tajetdin (pictured). The CSDM has released a statement damning both the film of "The Da Vinci Code", which premiered in Cannes Film Festival yesterday, and also the original book, by Dan Brown.
Mosnews today reports on the statement, which calls the film "blasphemous", and requests that it be banned in Russia. The statement reads: "We equal this film with the recent Prophet Muhammad extremist cartoons as the novel and the film desecrate the Prophet Isa (Jesus Christ) worshipped by the Muslims. The Central Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of Russia demands that the Da Vinci Code film and Dan Brown's novel be banned in Russia."Read More.
Architectural eyesores. Overflowing parking lots. Sunday morning traffic. Behold the megachurch as often viewed through the eyes of suspicious local residents. More than a weekly gathering place for worship or a quiet sanctuary for midweek devotions, large evangelical churches are becoming lifestyle brands, buzzing communities with perpetual religious activity. What's more, they're increasing.
A recent study from the Hartford Institute for Religion Research reveals that the number of U.S. congregations with an average weekly attendance of at least 2,000 people has more than doubled in the past five years. That dramatic spike to roughly 1,200 megachurches nationwide represents the sharpest growth since such massive blocs of parishioners first began materializing in the 1970s.Predictably, civil opposition and the number of community grievances have spiked as well. Read More.
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
What is “bio-determinism”? The term "bio-determinism" has been used in various ways. For the purposes of this post, "bio-determinism" refers to the assumption that biology (and the various sciences derived there from) speaks a value neutral and thereby factual description of the world. The reports of such sciences are assumed true in our culture. What "is" therefore … "is." And there is nothing left to think about except how we must morally accommodate and live with such realities.
Such bio-determinism is insidious because it reifies the worst of our moral ills. It says the body is mere biology and therefore medicine becomes mere technology on our bodies. We are left with no room for the power of God to heal miraculously in our midst and change our very souls. Read More.
The Rev. Pat Robertson says God has told him that storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America's coastline this year. Read More, or not.
HT, The Smart Christian.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
'The material of the thesis consists of interviews of Swedish women who have converted to Islam, with the aim of gaining knowledge as to how the informants create meaning around their religiosity. Questions have been asked about how the women understand their conversion and their religious involvement as well as what it means to live as a convert in a secularised western society." Read More.
Scroll down for English translation.
"The Da Vinci Code" has undermined faith in the Roman Catholic Church and badly damaged its credibility, a survey of British readers of Dan Brown's bestseller showed on Tuesday.
People are now twice as likely to believe Jesus Christ fathered children after reading the Dan Brown blockbuster and four times as likely to think the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei is a murderous sect.
"An alarming number of people take its spurious claims very seriously indeed," said Austin Ivereigh, press secretary to Britain's top Catholic prelate Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor.
"Our poll shows that for many, many people the Da Vinci Code is not just entertainment," Ivereigh added. Read More.
Monday, May 15, 2006
This from Brit Hume at Fox
A Tale of Two Guys
Viewers watching British technology expert Guy Kewney discussing a verdict on Apple Computers on the BBC last week may have concluded that he had no clue what he was talking about.
When asked whether he was surprised by the verdict in a case involving Apple computers, "Kewney" responded in a heavy French accent saying he was "very surprised" and adding, "When I came they told me something else and I am coming." And on the cost of Internet downloads, "Kewney" replied, "It is much better for development and to inform people what they want and to get the easy way and so faster if they are looking for." Turns out, a confused producer had the wrong "Guy," mistakenly grabbing Congolese job applicant Guy Goma from a BBC lobby.
The BBC reports that Goma later called the interview "very stressful" and wondered why the questions he was asked weren't related to the technical support job for which he'd applied.
Did you hear that Oprah Winfrey is the reincarnation of God? Well, at least according to USA Today. Reporter Ann Oldenburg did just about everything but say Oprah was the sister of Jesus Christ in a 2,000-plus-word profile in Thursday’s edition. Read More.
Just how important is Romans? Let me try to express it with a few choice theologians whose lives and thinking were deeply shaped by Romans. This will set the stage for a series this summer on Romans where I will especially focus on working through N.T. Wright’s commentary on “Romans” in The Interpreter’s Bible Commentary.
Apparently I am not alone! Read More.
Predictions of the demise of suburbia, choked to death by high gasoline prices, may be greatly exaggerated.
Conventional wisdom suggests that high prices at the pump mean less driving and, hence, the withering of far-flung suburbs, whose residents must drive to jobs, shopping and recreation.
For today's warriors in the fight against sprawl, there's a silver lining in this: The soaring price of gas evokes images of a nation retreating back to its urban past, with chastened suburbanites abandoning their SUVs and shopping malls for the comfort of dense cities and mass transit. Read More.
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Saturday, May 13, 2006
A wheelchair-bound Los Angeles woman, who has repeatedly filed lawsuits over access for the disabled, got up and ran after police arrested her for fraud, authorities said Thursday. Read More. Hat tip Captains Quarters
Friday, May 12, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Dan Brown has finally surfaced in front of a live audience. Granted it was an audience in Portsmouth New Hampshire near where he lives, and granted it was for the New Hampshire branch of NPR which I had to have a friend from Hong Kong help me find the link for to hear this program, but he has surfaced. Here is the link--
http://www.nhpr.org/audio/audio/ex-2006-04-24.wax What he offers here is a lecture on the relationship of science and religion-- both of which he sees as evolving, and he sees this as a good thing. Read More.
Are you looking for new people to attend your church? Try eBay. In January, DePaul University graduate student, and committed atheist, Hemant Mehta listed his services on the auction site. Mehta promised to attend one hour of church for every ten dollars of the final bid.
Off the Map.org purchased the atheist’s services for $504 and sent Mehta on his assignment to attend churches throughout the Chicago area. With an open mind, an outsider’s perspective, and a dose of humor, Hemant has been reporting his findings on Off the Map’s “Atheist Blog.”
In a recent post, Mehta explained why he’s addicted to Christian media. He began with his musings about TV preacher and megachurch pastor Joel Osteen: Read More.
Evangelicals are often condemnatory and lacking in the grace department, as McLaren states, "We obsess on “who’s in” and “who’s out.” Jesus, however, seems to be asking the question, “How can the kingdom of God more fully come on earth as it is in heaven, and how should disciples of the kingdom live to enter and welcome the kingdom?” He has a point. While I definetely do not ascribe to universalism, I do believe judgement ultimately resides with God. It is our duty as Christians to stress the love of God and His holiness, understanding that there is right and wrong. This however is rooted in the goodness of God.
Its interesting to read McLaren because of the questions he is asking the post modern church. Alas I wish he would bring more clarity to his doctrinal positions.
In part one of this post, Brian McLaren and Tony Campolo tried to deconstruct the traditional evangelical view of hell. Here, McLaren continues to outline his view as neither universalism nor an exclusivist understanding of hell. And he pushes us to reconsider the questions we pose versus what Jesus really says. Read More.
The government of Saudi Arabia engages in systematic, ongoing, and egregious
violations of the right to freedom of religion or belief. Despite the State Department’s contention
in its 2005 International Religious Freedom Report that there were, in fact, slight improvements
in Saudi government efforts to foster religious tolerance in Saudi society, the report again
concluded that freedom of religion “does not exist” in Saudi Arabia. Since its inception, the
Commission has recommended that Saudi Arabia be designated a “country of particular
concern,” or CPC. In September 2004, the State Department for the first time followed the
Commission’s recommendation and designated Saudi Arabia a CPC. In September 2005,
Secretary of State Rice approved a temporary 180-day waiver of further action, as a consequence
of CPC designation, to allow for continued diplomatic discussions with the Saudi government
and “to further the purposes of the International Religious Freedom Act.” The waiver expired in
late March 2006.
The repressive Saudi government continues to engage in an array of severe violations of
human rights as part of its repression of freedom of thought, conscience, and religion or belief.
Abuses include: torture and cruel and degrading treatment or punishment imposed by judicial
and administrative authorities; prolonged detention without charges and often incommunicado;
and blatant denials of the right to liberty and security of the person, including coercive measures
aimed at women and the broad jurisdiction of the mutawaa (religious police), whose powers are
vaguely defined and exercised in ways that violate the religious freedom of others.
The government of Saudi Arabia continues to enforce vigorously its ban on all forms of
public religious expression other than the government’s interpretation and enforcement of the
Hanbali school of Sunni Islam. This policy violates the rights of the large communities of non-
Muslims and Muslims from a variety of doctrinal schools of Islam who reside in Saudi Arabia,
including Shi’as, who make up 8-10 percent of the population. The government tightly controls
even the restricted religious activity it permits—through limits on the building of mosques, the
appointment of imams, the regulation of sermons and public celebrations, and the content of
religious education in public schools—and suppresses the religious views of Saudi and non-
Saudi Muslims who do not conform to official positions. Read More.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Now, finally, the giant US Agency for International Development is supporting the widespread use of DDT in Africa to combat malaria. The effect is likely to be quite simply breathtaking, for DDT is truly a miracle cure for this deadly mosquito-borne scourge. When it was first used in developing nations in the early 1960s the effect was like flicking a switch. In 1948, Sri Lanka had 2.8 million cases of malaria; in 1963, following the introduction of DDT, the number had fallen to just 17.
Tragically, the effect of the bans on its use in the wake of Carson's claims were no less dramatic. Within just five years of banning DDT, the number of malaria cases in Sri Lanka had risen from those 17 cases back up to 500,000. Today, around 400 million people are infected each year. HT Tinkerty Tonk
Malaria is deadly and the only effective way to eradicate the mosquitos is DDT.
Monday, May 08, 2006
Someone, somewhere, deeply involved in the institutional promotion of "The Da Vinci Code," has suggested I lead a boycott against the movie. They proposed to me both dates and method. I declined. I can’t say a whole lot more.
What I will say is, the only boycott I will support is the boycotting of all other boycotts. I know from experience, and inside information, that Sony is interested in creating controversy as a catalyst for box office success. Read More.
High gas prices put everyone in a bad mood. It was a big enough hit to the family budget when a gallon of gasoline passed the $2 mark. Only a few months later, that gallon can cost $3. This has many Americans thinking they are being ripped off. So just who is to blame and what can be done? Read More.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Most motorists are feeling the pain as gasoline creeps toward, or over, $3 a gallon - but not Art Altrichter.
"This feels pretty good!" Altrichter said as he filled the tank of his Ford F-150 pickup for $2.03 a gallon on Thursday, when the average here was $2.73. "Right now, to be a few pennies over $2, when it's as high as it is? That's a real deal."
A year ago, the retired milk truck driver bought 500 gallons of gas at First Fuel Banks, locking it in at the then-current price of $2.03 a gallon. He taps that reserve whenever gas rises above that mark. If the retail price drops below $2.03, he can leave his reserve alone and buy elsewhere. Read More.
EUROPE'S largest legal annual migration is under way with university professors joining roadsweepers and the jobless to pour into Germany from eastern Europe to pick asparagus.
People come in their tens of thousands from Poland and the Czech Republic for two-months of plucking that which Germans love to see on their dinner tables, but of whose harvest they want no part. Read More.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Ever since prices began spiking at the gas pumps last year, people have demanded an investigation into why the costs of filling one's tank has skyrocketed. Conspiracy theories have abounded, especially in the blogosphere, complete with energy executives deliberately overbidding for crude oil and artificially holding down refinery capacity. Now, however, the New York Times has found the conspiracy in Washington DC, where they meet every day under a big dome and plot to run our lives and spend our money: Read More.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
I wouldn’t believe this if it didn’t come straight from the prolific and estimable Ben Witherington. He has been working hard equipping churches to respond intelligently to the DaVinci Code as the movie release draws near. On his blog he reports that Andy Griffith and Ron Howard recently chatted about the movie:
…I was privy to a conversation between Andy Griffith and the man who once played his son on the Andy Griffith show— Ron Howard (aka Opie!). Griffith, who is a commited Christian made clear to Opie over dinner he was not best pleased about this movie but that he was a Christian and he still loved him. Read More.
Hungarian builders who drank their way to the bottom of a huge barrel of rum while renovating a house got a nasty surprise when a pickled corpse tumbled out of the empty barrel, a police magazine Web site reported. Read More.
“Suppose same-sex marriages were introduced by legislation that also made divorce much harder to obtain,” mused National Review editor at large John O’Sullivan. “How many same-sex couples would then be rushing to join San Francisco's wedding carnival?” Read More.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
On the outskirts of Garnett, Kan. (pop. 3362), the horizon is broken by what at first sight seems to be a grain elevator rising above the cornfields. But closer inspection reveals a tall, skinny distillation column among the silos and fermenters, identifying the complex as part of the nation's energy future: It is East Kansas Agri-Energy's ethanol facility, one of 100 or so such heartland garrisons in America's slowly gathering battle to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. The plant processes about 13 million bushels of corn to produce approximately 36 million gal. of ethanol a year. "That's enough high-quality motor fuel to replace 55,000 barrels of imported petroleum," the plant's manager, Derek Peine, says. Read More.
The Gangster Disciples, Latin Kings and Vice Lords were born decades ago in Chicago's most violent neighborhoods. Now, their gang graffiti is showing up 6,400 miles away in one of the world's most dangerous neighborhoods -- Iraq.
Armored vehicles, concrete barricades and bathroom walls all have served as canvasses for their spray-painted gang art. At Camp Cedar II, about 185 miles southeast of Baghdad, a guard shack was recently defaced with "GDN" for Gangster Disciple Nation, along with the gang's six-pointed star and the word "Chitown," a soldier who photographed it said. Read More.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Think the people who while away their hours reading and commenting on political blogs are slovenly twenty-somethings with nothing better to do?
Think again, said a survey last week by Blogads, a company that many leading political blogs have used for ad placements.
In an unscientific Web survey of 36,000 people, Blogads reported that political blog readers tend to be age 41 to 50, male (72 percent), and earn $60,000 to $90,000 per year. Two in five have college degrees, while just a tad less have graduate degrees. Read More.