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Monday, July 31, 2006

'We get Viagra. They get malaria.' - Acton Institute PowerBlog

a good explanation of the straits my business is in...selling pills is like selling airline seats...

'We get Viagra. They get malaria.' - Acton Institute PowerBlog: "Huber, a senior fellow of the Manhattan Institute, summarizes in brief the anti-drug company argument, and then goes on to examine what truth there is in such claims. He says of the difference between creating and administering drugs, “Getting drug policy right depends mainly on getting that difference straight—the difference, that is, between ministering to the sick and making medicines—and grasping its implications from the start. Big Pharma’s critics do not even try.”

He goes on:

Pricing is indeed the key. Whether the first pill typically costs $100 million or $1 billion to develop, replicating it costs less—a thousand times less, or perhaps a million times less. This slope—precipice, really—is far steeper than most of the other hills and valleys of economic life. It complicates things immeasurably. It also largely explains the gulf between the industry’s perception of reality and that of the critics.


Huber gives some explanation of the function of the price mechanism in pharmaceutical markets, and says, “Economists have established—as rigorously as things ever get established by the dismal science—that there is no efficient price, no ‘right’ price. Any scheme is, from one perspective or another, inefficient, unreasonable, or worse.” He argues that the high prices for boutique drugs like Viagra in the developed world help fund the provision of desperately needed drugs in the developing world. This is the situation created by so-called “price discrimination”.

The situation he says, is similar to that of airline travel: “Business travelers get soaked, college students fly almost for free, and the jumble of prices in between drives most people nuts. But the planes are packed full, and that drives the average price of a ticket way down. The rich fly, and the much less rich fly, too.” There is, I would think, a similar model at play in the work of p"

Michelle Malkin: The Qana smokescreen

Ms. Malkin presents another perspective on the Israel Hezbollah conflict.

"The truth about Muslim outrage over Qana is that it's not really about the tragic deaths at Qana--just like the cartoon jihad was not really about the cartoons.

Remember: Muslim outrage over the Danish cartoons was stoked and manufactured amid attempts to bully Denmark over the International Atomic Energy Agency's decision to report Iran to the UN Security Council for continuing with its nuclear research program. Iran blamed Israel for the cartoons:

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is at odds with much of the international community about Iran's disputed nuclear program, launched an anti-Israeli campaign last fall when he said the Holocaust was a 'myth' and that Israel should be 'wiped off the map.'

In a speech marking the 27th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution on Saturday, Ahmadinejad linked his public rage with Israel and the cartoons satirizing Islam's most revered figure.

'Now in the West insulting the prophet is allowed, but questioning the Holocaust is considered a crime,' he said. 'We ask, 'Why do you insult the prophet?' The response is that it is a matter of freedom, while in fact they (who insult the founder of Islam) are hostages of the Zionists. And the people of the U.S. and Europe should pay a heavy price for becoming hostages to Zionists.'

Now, the Qana jihad, gleefully stoked by Iran, is unfolding amid mounting U.N. Security Council pressure on Tehran and a looming resolution calling for the country to suspend its nuclear program.

US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton, bless him, isn't falling for the ploy:

U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton said Hezbollah's actions were the ``fundamental cause'' of the conflict, and accused the group of hiding behind civilians.

``It says something about the morality and respect for human life of Hezbollah that they would use innocent civilians as shields; that's just something that for civilized people is not acceptable,'' Bolton said. What better way to distract from Hezbollah's atrocities and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's annihilation plans than to start screaming about Israel's "war crimes" and Western crimes against humanity."

Friday, July 28, 2006

Same Sex Gay Marriage Answers

Figures, my response, the anti-diversity of gay marriage, to my paper's editorial, which promoted same sex marriage legislation, isn't unique. i came across this site just now....this site says everything i've been saying, hence i like it and wish more people knew about it.

Where’s the Diversity?

Same-sex unions introduce all-male-white-dominated public institutions.

• Gay Men Categorically Exclude Women, in the Name of 'Love'

• Gay Women Categorically Exclude Men, in the Name of 'Love'

• Homosexuality Separates Men and Women into Segregated Same-Sex Groups

• Homosexuality Automatically Excludes Children in the Name of 'Love'

• Homosexual 'Love' Automatically Excludes a Child's Mother or Father

• Gay Men Use Women as Second-Class, Artificial Sperm Incubators

• The Constitution Requires Equal Treatment of Genders

• One Man + One Woman is Uniquely Inclusive Diversity & Equality

Homosexuality is Gender-Exclusive

Heterosexuality is Gender-Inclusive

Being a Person::Why Personhood is Not Enough

Joe Carter writes
For the sake of argument, let us concede that certain humans are not persons, just as certain persons are not humans. This means that a human being can be a non-person but that a person (at least a human person) must also be a human being. No one argues that there are a classes of human persons that are not also human beings. Being a human being is, therefore, essential to being a human person. This leads to a peculiar insight.

We can kill non-person human beings (e.g., the embryo). We can also kill human persons that are also human beings. But we cannot kill the human person without killing the human being. In fact, you cannot kill any type of person unless it is already a living biological being. The Spanish may be able to kill Great Apes but lawyers cannot kill a corporation. What is being killed is not the person but the being.

This distinction is important because those who argue that it is acceptable to kill non-person humans base their rationale on the claim that what matters is not the being (the living biological organism) but the personhood (a set of functional criteria such as consciousness or rationality). This view has become the dominant view in bioethics.

Most reasonable people, though, would be horrified by following it to is logically consistent outcomes. Joseph Fletcher, for example, believed that humans with an IQ below 40 might not be persons and that below 20 they are definitely not persons. Bioethicist H. Tristram Engelhardt, Jr. says that “fetuses, infants, the profoundly mentally retarded, and the hopelessly comatose” all fall into the category of “nonpersons.” Peter Singer believes that since patients with Alzheimer’s and infants up to the age of 24 months are not persons, it is not wrong to kill them. Not surprisingly, when you allow intellectuals to define personhood, they will attempt to establish a criterion based on intellect, reason, and consciousness.

Although they intend to include themselves within the lines of demarcation, they are not wholly successful. For instance, if these philosophers were to fall into a deep sleep they would cease to meet the very criteria that they have established for personhood. Using their own arguments, we should be able to kill them before they wake up.

They may protest that they were persons before they fell asleep. But so were the “hopelessly comatose.” Yes, but the difference, they’ll contend, is that they’ll meet the criteria again once they wake up. True, but if they are killed in their sleep they won’t ever wake up, so it makes that a moot point. What does it matter that a human being was a person or will once again be a person? If it is morally acceptable to kill non-human persons then what matters is what they are right now.

(You might find my justification absurd. Indeed, I hope you do because this type of thinking is utterly idiotic. The blatant attempts at rationalizing clearly immoral behavior is why Frank Beckwith and other scholars have been able to demolish the “functionalism” argument, that defends the killing of "non-person" humans.)

The reason why it is wrong to kill philosophy professors in their sleep is the same reason it is wrong to destroy embryos: moral people do not kill innocent human beings. Not all persons are human beings. And it may even be the case that not all human beings are persons. But all human beings—whether persons or non-persons--are human beings. This is a scientifically and ontologically verifiable fact.

Advocates for embryo and fetal destruction should stop playing semantic games and admit that what they believe is that it is acceptable to kill some human being because human beings do not have intrinsic worth.

They should also stop making the ridiculous claim that their opinions on personhood are based on “science” (when did metaphysics become an empirical science?) and should instead employ historical arguments to defend their position. History, after all, is filled with examples of people justifying the slaughter of other human beings. If you want to kill certain groups of human beings, you can find a sufficient rationalization. There's no need to make it personal.

ex-gay commentary on X-Men 3

Chad W. Thompson writes
The movie makes some worthwhile points, to be sure, as many in the gay and lesbian community suggest that those of us who have chosen not to embrace the gay identity have done so primarily because we fear the stigma of society or the rejection of our families. Indeed, some of the mutants in the movie may have changed their “orientation” for the wrong reasons, as is the case in the real world of men and women struggling with unwanted same-sex attractions. Therefore to the degree that the Christian church has used shame or fear to motivate gay and lesbian people to change Sir McKellen’s criticism is warranted. Nonetheless, there remain many individuals in the Christian church who have abandoned their homosexuality not because they fear man, but because they love God.

As a young man I had an encounter with God in which he made it clear to me that homosexuality was not what he wanted for my life. I knew that if I wanted to experience the fullness of an intimate relationship with my creator I would have to put my sexuality on the altar along with everything else. I can remember complaining for hours to my mentor Lenny about the pain, struggle and temptation that I endured when I first submitted my sexuality to God. Lenny would always listen very patiently to my pain, and when I was finished he would just whisper into the phone the words, “Chad you know I’ve been down that road, and I’ve felt all that pain, and I can tell you now that I’m at the end of the road that he’s worth it. He’s worth it.”

Lenny and I didn’t give up our homosexuality because we feared man; we gave it up because we loved God. The movie gives us a parallel for that as well: Marie (Rogue) is a mutant whose powers inflict great harm on anyone she touches. It’s great for battling bad guys, but not so great when it’s time to snuggle up with her boyfriend Bobby. Again and again Marie would try to get close to Bobby but to no avail. Each time they tried to kiss, hug or even hold hands her superpowers would begin the process of eating away at his flesh. After years of frustration with her own inability to be intimate with Bobby, Marie heads for the offices of Worthington Laboratories to be injected with the cure. On her way out the door she runs into her friend Logan (Wolverine) who figures out where she’s going. He says it’s fine with him but he cautions her to “just make sure it’s what you want.”

Even as a fellow mutant, Logan realized that some mutants just weren’t happy being mutants, therefore he respected Marie’s right to change. His only concern was that she do so for the right reasons. Indeed, Marie didn’t seem too concerned about what society thought of her. She changed not because she feared man, but because she loved Bobby. She knew that giving up her superpowers was the only way she could ever experience true intimacy with the man of her dreams.

And he was worth it.

Who killed my electric car?

there is also a movie out by the same name...here is an excerpt of a commentary piece by an electrc car owner, driver, advocate.

As with any new technology, an electric vehicle was more expensive than its gas counterpart. Also, the limited range scared off customers, even though the average American drives only 34 miles a day and every electric car could go at least twice that far on a full charge.

These cars had great potential, but no media covered their subsequent crushing. It is only with the release this summer of the documentary "Who Killed the Electric Car?" that the full story comes out. This film chronicles the rise and fall of the General Motors EV1, an electric car I leased on the day it was released in 1996. Zero to 60 mph in 7.4 seconds, a top speed of 140 mph and a range of 120 miles. GM discontinued this car just a few years later. No car company today makes a mass-production electric vehicle.

My current electric vehicle, a Toyota RAV4 EV, also was discontinued a few years ago. This car costs me the equivalent of 60 cents a gallon to run. I never need to get a tune-up, change spark plugs or add water to the batteries or oil to the motor. The only maintenance for the first 150,000 miles is to rotate my tires. This car is quiet, fast and emission free. I plug it in every night at home, and it charges on off-peak energy.

Even if it were getting power solely from electricity derived from coal -- a common criticism of electric cars -- my vehicle uses 50 percent less carbon dioxide than a 24 mpg gas car (for a summary of more than 30 studies on the emissions of electric cars, hybrids and plug in hybrids, go to www.sherryboschert.com/FAQ.html). When I have to get new batteries, which I expect I'll will be when my car is 10 years old, the old ones will be over 90 percent recyclable.

The concern I hear most often about electric vehicles is their range. Well, at 100 miles per charge, my electric vehicle fulfills 98 percent of my driving needs, and I live in a city where everything seems to be 40 minutes away.

When I want to go further, I borrow my husband Ian's Toyota Prius. I don't like driving it. Am I supposed to be amazed when a car gets 43 miles per gallon? The average fuel economy mandate for cars in 1985: 27.5 mpg. For 2006: 27.5 mpg. No wonder our expectations are so low. Progress in fuel efficiency has been glacial compared to improvements in computers and cell phones.

There is a solution: The plug-in hybrid. This vehicle will run on pure electric power for up to 60 miles, and then automatically switch to gas (or a biofuel) if you drive farther. Because around 85 percent of Americans travel less than 50 miles a day, this means that most people who charge their cars at home each night would hardly ever dip into their car's gasoline tank.

The infrastructure to charge is already in place (electric outlets are everywhere), and the technology (batteries) has been tested in the field and greatly improved upon for over 15 years. National security experts, including former CIA Director James Woolsey, are advocates for these vehicles because they say these vehicles can help break our dependence on foreign oil. Environmentalists support them because plugging in means getting an average of more than 100 mpg. Consumers like them because they will be saving thousands of dollars in gasoline costs.

Once you have known the quiet smooth speed and the clean efficiency of an electric vehicle, you will never think "golf cart" again.

CNN.com - Paul: Who killed my electric car? - Jul 25, 2006

Thursday, July 27, 2006

status of religious freedom in India

I guess if you are embarassed by the actions of your country you call the news about it propaganda...i'd be embarassed and ashamed too if i were Indian. In a country that's overwhelmingly Hindu, why does the BJP feel the desparate need to make anti-conversion laws? could it be that Christians love the tribal people who have been ignored and abused by Hindus and for some strange reason the tribal people and the bottom castes are no longer interested in being Hindus anymore?

India

In India 2005 was characterized by a significant increase in attacks against Christian communities and also a deterioration of relations between the Hindu majority and the Muslim minority.

This phenomenon can be blamed on the attitude assumed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) -- the largest Indian political party, with nationalist Hinduist characteristics -- and by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) -- a paramilitary group of Hindu extremists and considered the BJP’s armed wing. After the sound defeat suffered in the 2004 general elections, they launched a campaign of intimidation and of "rebirth of national pride" to conquer the presidency of each individual state.

In 2005 there were about 200 attacks against Catholics.

Last August the government decided to draft a report on the social, economic and cultural conditions of Muslim minorities in the country, taking into account the number Muslims in the various Indian states, the female condition, child mortality, professional employment and access to public services.
 
The Indian Catholic

The law says the information from the priest and the individual will help the police will verify that the act of conversion is not being done by force or allurement.

Till now the act prohibited conversion from one religion to another through force, inducement or cheating, but there was no provision for advance information.

The ruling BJP government claimed the existing laws were insufficient to check conversions by force or allurement.

The state has witnessed several anti-Christians attacks in the past months, which Hindu activist claimed were linked conversion activities.

Congress party in a memorandum asked Governor Balram Jakhar to return the bill without signing. His signature is necessary for the amendments to become part of the law.

Congress leaders and Christian leaders termed the move an interference with the religious freedom and human rights of the people.

Indira Iyengar, president of the Madhya Pradesh Christian Association, said the amendment will only encourage communal forces. She urged the governor to return the bill.

Iyengar denied allegations that Christian missionaries in the state were converting tribals forcibly.

“The community is being implicated in false cases. It is facing increasing attacks,” she said adding that this year alone there were more than 20 attacks on Christians in the state.

Hindu outfits fabricate charges of converting tribals to Christianity to attack and harass Christian communities and leaders, she said.

 

India's updated and worse anti-conversion law

Compass Direct : INDIA - STATE TIGHTENS CONTROLS ON CONVERSIONS: "India - Tuesday July 25, 2006
STATE TIGHTENS CONTROLS ON CONVERSIONS
House passes amendment even as current law leads to violence against Christians.

July 25 (Compass Direct News) – In spite of a national minority panel report confirming violence against Christians in the north-central state of Madhya Pradesh, the state government today passed an amendment making stricter the “anti-conversion” law that has increased persecution of Christians.

The amendment, introduced in the House assembly on Friday (July 21), requires clergy and “prospective converts” to notify authorities of the intent to change religion one month before a “conversion ceremony.” In its current form, the Madhya Pradesh Freedom of Religion Act of 1968 requires that notice be sent to the district magistrate within seven days of conversion.

The advance information must state the name and address of the person converting, along with the date and venue of the conversion ceremony, after which authorities will decide whether the conversion was “forced” or “by allurement.”

The penalty for failing to notify the administration remains imprisonment of up to one year, or a fine of up to 1,000 rupees (US$21), or both.

Presented by state Home Minister Nagendra Singh, the amendment was passed by a voice vote without discussion amid an uproar in the House by members of opposition Congress Party, according to Indo-Asian News Service. It must be signed by the governor before becoming law.

“This violates the fundamental right of the people, as it is the government which would decide if a person can be converted or not,” Indira Iyengar, member of the Madhya Pradesh Minorities Commission, told Compass.

She questioned the necessity of the amendment. “Despite the fact that numerous cases have been lodged against Christians on charges of conversion, not even a single person has been convic"

thanks for the milestone

Thanks to all those readers who pushed this blog over the 3000 visits
mark today. The blog currently averages 19 visitors a day, since i
added the sitemeter in late October. the blog started March 2005. i love you all.
God is good
jpu

A Modern Parable and “Those We Do Not Speak Of”

MoreheadsMusings: A Modern Parable and “Those We Do Not Speak Of”
since he moderates comments, and mine don't always get published, here is my comment...
John
i'm surprised you don't see an even closer parallel to the Mormon culture state you live in. i think there are more bogeymen in the mormon world than the evangelical one too. but what about the amish or the mennonites? are they Christian sub-cultures we should view negatively, like "the village?" it was a great movie. i saw the analogy of cults, not american Christian sub-culture. a friend of mine visited an Amish farm and asked about their ability to evangelize. the farmer replied that non-Christians flock to observe them and talk to them. plenty of evanglization happened from the Amish to their visitors. i talked with an Amish team from Ohio who was helping rebuild a house in Bay St. Louis Mississippi after Katrina, they did have to hire someone to drive them down there. Monasteries also are surprisingly effective centers of evangelism. People are drawn to something so different. i recommend The Celtic Way of Evangelism by George Hunter as an example of monks who walked among the people they sought to evangelize but established refuges within those communities where a different lifestyle was lived in conformity.
God is good
jpu

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Love makes a Family? a reply to a commenter

A commenter didn't like my earlier post. I wrote a long reply so I thought i'd post it here also, 
with the links

Hi AK06, i appreciate you taking the time to post a comment, but i'm not sure you read my post thoroughly...i'm really not interested in a scientific study smackdown. i did point to one study written up in USA Today that demonstrated that kids raised in two parent homes are better off than other situations...averages hide the extremes, there are children who do extremely well in single parent homes, or gay parent homes and there are children who do horribly in traditional families. I recommend reading the entire "talking points" link which includes statistical conclusions such as,
Thousands of published social science, psychological and medical studies show that children living in fatherless families, on average, suffer dramatically in every important measure of well-being. These children suffer from much higher levels of physical and mental illness, educational failure, poverty, substance abuse, criminal behavior, loneliness, as well as physical and sexual abuse. Children living apart from both biological parents are 8 times more likely to die of maltreatment than children living with their mother and father." MUST a child be raised by both? No. Must a child be denied the opportunity? Again from the "talking points," "A loving and compassionate society never intentionally creates motherless or fatherless families, which is exactly what every same-sex home does.

as many civil union opponents from the gay side assert, including a person is not the same as being married to them.

as far as the first generation to be raised by gay parents, this could be the first one done with approval by society, and affirmation of it, which is a new social dynamic, makes this generation different.
another scary assertion is that it makes no difference who raises the child. ask a child raised in an orphanage. ask adopted children. what about Rosie O'Donnell's son?...again from "Talking Points"..."Rosie O’Donnell shared this story in an ABC Primetime Live interview with Diane Sawyer:

Six-year-old Parker asks his mother, Rosie: “Mommy, why can’t I have a daddy?” Rosie answers: “Because I’m the kind of mommy who wants another mommy.”"

an adult can choose to redefine his family but a child can't, and forcing the child to not have a mother or a father, at home, married, is contrary to the child's nature.

i can leave you to your choice, but if your choice becomes legislated, then my opinion becomes hate speech. Mitt Romney pointed out, "Parents complained when a second-grade teacher read aloud a story in which a prince marries another prince, rather than a princess. The superintendent responded that the school was 'teaching children about the world they live in, and in Massachusetts, same-sex marriage is legal.'" from this subsequent post which links to a Christianity Today article. that article concludes,
Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, is not so sure that other states will be protected from having to acknowledge same-sex marriages from Massachusetts. If that happens, she believes charities that oppose homosexual unions would be treated with the same stigma as institutions that sponsor racism. As a result, religious schools and missions could lose their tax-exempt status, she said.


so you can call anyone your family, i consider my church a family, but our genetics define who our family is, half from a woman and half from a man, who shouldn't have been exchanging genetics outside the bond of marriage, but that's God's idea, not mine.

Preaching: the blog smackdown

I love finding dueling bloggers who don't know they are blogging. In the left corner, David Fitch who is a guest at the
Leadership Blog: Out of Ur: The Myth of Expository Preaching (part 2): proclamation that inspires the imagination:
FROM TEXTBOOK TO DRAMA
Preachers must resist all modernist temptations to see the Scriptures as a propositional textbook of religious facts. Scripture is real accounts, testimonies, and witnesses of God’s people. It is alive. So let’s read and speak as ones invited to participate in the continuation of all this story! This means seeing the Bible as a Narrative Recently, von Balthazar, Sam Wells, and Kevin Vanhoozer have all taught us to think of Scripture as Theo Drama where we become the participants. This is the metaphor I believe we must follow in our preaching.

If this is true, then we need to put historical exegesis in its proper place. It a tool grounded in history that must be submitted to the traditions and history of God's work in the church. We need not spend countless hours translating each text thinking we have reached the original meaning by our own brilliance. Instead, we stand in a long line of preachers and the vast theological realities that have been interpreted and shown out of Scripture down through the ages.

Authorial intent is not the main issue although it may be of importance for understanding the text at certain times. What is important is the reality being unfurled about God in Christ and how we can best respond so as to live into it until He returns. The hubris of pastors thinking they can exegete a text better and more accurately than the thousands that have gone before gets in the way of the Main Thing, the glory of his majestic work and what he is working for in history. This is where our imaginations will be fed. This is where we will be formed as missional people.


my comment...i don't understand why people feel the need to turn things into a dichotomy, either-or. yes the Word is narrative and testimony and didactive, but it is assuming supernatural things and making supernatural assumptions. Those who accept its testimony can enjoy the narrative, but those who doubt its testimony, who sit in judgement of the testimony, the evidence needs to be weighed publically, for the benefit of all. It is helpful for some people to examine it line by line. The book of Mormon is narrative and testimony and it makes historical and supernatural claims, but before one should sit back and enjoy the narrative, its claims need to be weighed and tested. As far as discarding authorial intent, i have a one word response, "yikes!"

In the right corner sits Doug Groothius who practically shouts,
The root problem with much preaching today is a deficient of truth and sobriety. There is not enough truth radiating from the pulpit; it is not a truth zone. There is not enough zeal, not enough desperation for the reception and impartation of "truths that transform" (as D. James Kennedy puts it). The very resources of heaven reside in the sacred texts, but we fail to seize upon them...We should preach Christ, not ourselves, as Paul affirmed. Yet in our postmodern culture, the self is endlessly flattered in every way and from every angle: "Have it your way." "You deserve the best." And on it goes. (On this phenomenon, see the book, Mediated by Thomas Zengotita.) People promote themselves shamelessly, pose shamelessly (see an earlier post on that) when Scripture says to never pose (the way of the hypocrite) and to let others speak well of you (and rebuke you). But the preacher should neither flatter himself nor his audience. As A. W. Tozer said, we should not console people in their sins, but disquiet them, disturb them, disorient them (and ourselves). We should not entertain, but edify. We should gain and hold people's attention through the truth of the message and the integrity of our character, principally our humility and love for God's truth.


Not that Doug is opposing David but there is a both/and here. Doug's earlier post is tough, perhaps an attack on some strawmen, but it's so tough i can't even comment.

ACT 3: Why Same-Sex Marriage Still Fails

John Armstrong writes,
in the present social context the state of marriage as an institution, and most marriages in particular, will not likely improve as a result of these legal decisions. Things will only change more permanently, both in terms of marriage as an institution and as a real life shared experience between a man and woman, as hearts and minds are changed. Given the large-scale rejection of the role of moral law, and evidence of declining religious faith and practice among those who are under age twenty-five, I expect the day will still come when the laws limiting marriage to one man and one woman will be altered. America, for sure, is not Europe, but the cultural flow in the secular West is plainly in this direction and it is a pretty steady flow even though stop gaps do happen now and then. Over the course of the last three years the legal direction has favored those who wish to keep marriage as we have known it for centuries. But what about the moral issue that is in the heart of ordinary people? Are we strong enough as a culture to resist this continued tampering with ancient interpretations that are plainly rooted in natural law and the Judeo-Christian tradition? I honestly doubt it.

Yesterday I heard two different talk show hosts discuss this New York court decision. The first was the conservative Jewish thinker, Dennis Prager. I deeply respect Prager for his sane and provocative ability to frame issues simply and ethically. Prager argued, quite correctly I believe, that the chief mistake of the liberals in these debates has been to advance the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage primarily through the courts. By this means they “awoke the sleeping giant,” namely millions of religious conservatives all across this country. Even some in the Democratic Party have recognized this fact and are seeking to address it. Whether liberal advocates like this or not, the facts plainly support Prager’s observation. Most conservative evangelical Christians were clearly content to stay out of the political arena until the courts began to frame the law in more socially progressive, and morally reprehensible ways in the 1960s and 70s. Many Christians saw this as forcing the people to conform to the rule of the court rather than allowing the people making their own laws through their elected representatives at the state and national level. I think this point is irrefutable, even if the Christian nationalists have taken their rhetoric and strategy too far, which I believe in some cases they have. In light of these self-evident facts I wonder if liberals will continue to advance their case primarily through the courts. I expect that some will deploy new strategies that go more directly after both the state legislatures and the congress. I also expect, for now at least, that they will fail. The polls still favor the more conservative approaches on these contentious issues, and it will apparently take some time for this to change.

This leads me to the second talk show host that I heard briefly on July 6, Michael Medved. Michael Medved is also Jewish. (Two of my favorite talk shows hosts are Jewish, which I think says something powerful about the inability of many Christians to speak well to the wider culture in the popular venues of everyday talk media. We need to think about this more deeply and develop a strategy for change if we are to impact our culture more effectively.) Medvid is primarily a pop culture critic. He is also a very engaging fellow who began his public career as a movie critic but has since become a best-selling writer and speaker. His point on his July 6 program grew out of a caller’s direct question. The person asked: “How can you cite the obvious examples of moral slippage in our society day after day while at the same time you remain so optimistic about the future of America?” His answer stunned me. Medved argued that this is not the first time America was going down such a road to moral breakdown and social chaos. He cited evidence of similar past trends that had been reversed by one dynamic force with our republic. Medved, to my surprise, argued that one thing, and one thing only, had reversed these tides in the past-a national religious revival. He particularly argued that it had been evangelical Christians in general, and the Christian church in particular, that was at the forefront of these past nation-changing revivals. He noted that these spiritual movements had literally saved the nation on two previous occasions. Medved concluded by telling his listeners that a Third Great Awakening was desperately needed now. He even suggested that he saw evidence that it could be coming sooner than later.

I was, quite honestly, rebuked by Michael Medved’s penetrating and insightful answer. I sometimes grow quite weary of suggesting that revival is a uniquely American solution to moral and spiritual destruction as a society. But this is a historic fact. And as I reflected upon the great cultural struggle that we now face regarding the meaning of marriage I was reminded by Michael Medved, of all people, that we Christians need to pray for revival more faithfully, talk about revival more openly, and positively expect revival can come from the hand of a gracious and pardoning God who reveals himself as the one who loves to show mercy. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”

Wash. court upholds gay marriage ban - Yahoo! News

Wash. court upholds gay marriage ban - Yahoo! News
OLYMPIA, Wash. - The state Supreme Court upheld a ban on gay marriage Wednesday, saying lawmakers have the power to restrict marriage to unions between a man and woman.

The 5-4 decision disappointed gay-marriage advocates and left Massachusetts as the only state that grants full marriage rights to gay couples.

The decision was the latest in a series of significant court rulings favoring gay-marriage opponents. New York's high court dealt gay couples another blow earlier this month when it ruled that a state law limiting marriage to between a man and a woman was constitutional...
Forty-five states have laws banning gay marriage or limiting marriage to between a man and a woman. Congress recently rebuffed a move to get a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

In other recent rulings on the issue, courts reinstated voter-approved bans on gay marriage in Nebraska and Georgia, and Tennessee's Supreme Court ruled that voters there should have a say on allowing gay marriage.

Massachusetts' high court — the same court that issued the historic ruling that has allowed more than 8,000 same-sex couples since 2004 to marry in that state — ruled a proposed state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage could go on the ballot if approved by the Legislature.

In Connecticut, a judge found gay and lesbian couples had not been harmed by that state's decision to grant them civil unions but not marriage. Vermont also allows civil unions that confer the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples.

Marriage Matters

Marriage Matters - Christianity Today Magazine
"Maggie Gallagher, president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy, is not so sure that other states will be protected from having to acknowledge same-sex marriages from Massachusetts. If that happens, she believes charities that oppose homosexual unions would be treated with the same stigma as institutions that sponsor racism. As a result, religious schools and missions could lose their tax-exempt status, she said."

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

more of the same from India

Mission Complex Vandalized in Karnataka, India



Hindu extremists vandalized an indigenous church and ministry complex in Shivanapura district, Karnataka state, on Saturday night (July 15), rampaging through facilities and locking terrified residents in their dormitories. Compass Direct News reports that shortly before midnight, Hindu extremists entered the Shivanapura Marthoma Mission, stoning facilities and smashing nearly all window panes. Rev. Alexander Tharakan, 34, his wife, his 2-year-old daughter and his 70-year-old-mother awoke to the sounds of the destruction and the jeers of the extremists. Their door was latched from outside. Four buildings were damaged, the pastor said. “My little girl is still frightened,” he added, “especially at nights.”



Pastor in India Arrested During Sunday Worship



Police on Sunday (July 16) arrested Pastor Om Prakash Pandey while he was leading worship at his independent church in the village of Daksinwara, in the Sultanpur district of Uttar Pradesh state. The 27-year-old pastor was taken to the Kurebhar police station, where Police Inspector Jawahar Lal Saroj and others beat him mercilessly, according to sources who spoke under condition of anonymity. He was released on Monday (July 17) without any charges filed against him. Ram Gopal Varma, headman of Daksinwara village, told Compass Direct News that Hindus had objected to Pandey conducting Bible classes for children of tribal people in the remote, Hindu-majority village. The headman said that villagers roughed him up to serve as a stern warning to stop his “proselytizing” activities.

Christians Arrested for Visiting Hospital Patients in India

Vishal Arora



Three young men accused of ‘forced’ conversion – as are four Bible students the same day.



NEW DELHI, July 24 (Compass Direct News) – Three young Christians visiting hospital patients – and four Bible students in a separate incident – were attacked and accused of “forced conversions” last week in the southern state of Karnataka.



On July 17, at least 20 extremists of the Hindu Sena (part of the militant Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) and of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) attacked three Christians identified only as Daniel, 17, Manju, 21, and Umesh, 27, of the Harvest Full Gospel Church, accusing them of converting patients at the Megan Government Hospital in Shimoga district.



“The extremists took the three Christians to the Doddapete police station, where they were arrested for visiting the hospital and distributing Christian literature among the patients,” Albert Lael, administrator of the All India Christian Council, told Compass.



They suffered minor internal injuries, though police reportedly prevented the extremists from harming the accused.



The Christians had been “praying for sick people and comforting them with the gospel message,” Lael said.



The Hindu extremists accused them of entering the hospital without permission and fraudulently converting patients. The New Indian Express, a regional daily, reported that hospital authorities maintained that “no one had taken permission from the hospital administration to distribute books or pamphlets.”



While not commenting on the charge of failing to get hospital permission, Umesh told the newspaper, “We did not have any intention to convert anybody. We were just informing people about Christianity through books, and we did not lure anyone for conversion.”



Lael said the Christians were released on bail on Saturday (July 22) and are to appear in court again next Monday (July 31).



“Immediately after their release,” he added, “the police came to the pastor of the church, Rev. Prashant Kumar, and interrogated him for more than three hours, asking him questions concerning ‘conversion activities.’”



Bible Students Beaten

On the same day, Hindu extremists in Baglkote, another district of Karnataka, beat four students, identified only as Jagannath, Simon, Santosh and Vijay, of the Gospel for Asia Bible College in Bijapur district.



The Bible students, who had worked in Baglkote for more than six months as part of their training, visited the houses around the area distributing copies of the Bible, Lael said. After returning to their quarters and having lunch, he said, they were resting at about 4 p.m. when members of the extremist Rama Sena barged into the house and beat them.



“Then they dragged them to the Galgali police station along with all the literature and other media material, all the while abusing and beating them with their hands,” he added. The four received minor injuries.



The extremists complained to the police that the four were converting Hindus by distributing Christian literature. Officers immediately arrested and jailed them.



Lael said when the local pastors approached police to request the release of the students, an officer told them: “It is good for them to be in jail. Otherwise Rama Sena activists may even kill them.”



Police released them on Wednesday (July 19) after local Dalit leaders intervened along with the pastors, he said.



According to the 2001 census figures, there are a little more than 1 million Christians in Karnataka, where the total population is over 52 million.



Copyright 2006 Compass Direct News

 

love makes a family?

my local paper published an editorial today (free reg) titled Love makes the difference with the subtitle Prohibiting same-sex marriage harms both gay couples and their children. a recent study has shown that children do best in two parent homes. I don't know if gay parents were included in this study. the editors then reason, "Good parents can be gay or straight. Bad parents can be gay or straight. Studies, written and reviewed by pediatricians, psychologists and other child health care professionals, indicate that children's development — socially, emotionally, academically — cannot be tied to their parents' sexual orientation. If it's a loving environment, children will achieve." Here is the irony. The very same people who argue for equal status under the flag of diversity want to deprive children of diverse parental influence, a man and a woman.

i think these talking points from family.org are helpful.

-Same-sex families always deny children either their mother or father.

-Same-sex family is a vast, untested social experiment with children.

-Where does it stop? How do we say "no" to group marriage?

-Schools will be forced to teach that the homosexual family is normal. Churches will be legally pressured to perform same-sex ceremonies.

Marriage Is Always About the Next Generation...
A loving and compassionate society always comes to the aid of motherless and fatherless families.

A loving and compassionate society never intentionally creates motherless or fatherless families, which is exactly what every same-sex home does.

The same-sex family is not driven by the needs of children, but rather by the radical wishes of a small group of adults.

No child development theory says children need two parents of the same gender, but rather that children need their mothers and fathers.

A Vast Social Experiment Inflicted Upon Children...
No society, at any time, has ever raised a generation of children in same-sex families.

Same-sex “marriage” will subject generations of children to the status of lab rats in (name of debate opponent’s) vast, untested social experiment.

is the reformation over?

Scot McKnight writes in response to a book by Noll and Nystrom with the same title.......
The problem I see with the book is that it focuses on what ecumenical dialogues contribute to reality, and I’m not sure — however much I like such things — ecumenical dialogues accomplish all that much except for (1) those involved and (2) those who are close to the minds of those involved. What happens at a local church when some ecumenically-minded theologians get together and come to some agreement?

Here’s what I mean in this case: I don’t see that typical, lay-level (and ordinary priests I bump into) Roman Catholics understand justification the way Protestants do, at least in any meaningful sense. I study conversion stories, and right now I’m doing some research on why Catholics become Evangelicals. What I see is that, while the theologians might be able to articulate at a profound level the subtle differences that mean the differences are not as substantial as once thought, the lay folks are not hearing that. Hundreds of former Catholics are baptized each year at Willow Creek. In fact, if you study the fast-growing churches in the USA you would find that many of the “converts” are former Catholics. Evangelical conversions to Catholicism are noisy, but the number is nowhere near as high as the other direction.

As I read Noll and Nystrom, I kept asking myself this: If there is a growing rapprochement between Catholics and Protestants why are we not seeing it at the grass-roots level more than we are? Is it still in the ivory tower that this is happening?

There’s another issue: it is well and good to see Evangelicals and RCs discussing justification and to point out that there are more similarities than we really believed. That’s not the issue: the issue is the place of justification in Protestantism and in Roman Catholicism. For RCs it is not as central as it is to Evangelicals. One ought to compare Prot views of soteriology/justification to RC views of Church to get the real tension point.

Discussing Embryonic Stem Cell Research

"This is a key concept in this debate -- the only way to get usable human embryonic stem cells is to kill the embryo. The embryo is simply a human being in an early stage of development. Thus, taking the embryo kills a human being. This is not particularly debateable."
They actually point to Stand to Reason's talking points..."The piece, entitled "Are you against stem cell research and cloning?" give good, concise answers to some of the questions that arise concerning why Christians would oppose this procedure when it supposedly holds such great promise."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Mormon Theology Cartoons

this is a cartoon of folk-Mormon theology condensed into 6 minutes.
was the cartoon genre chosen to insult Mormons? no. it's simply the result of a low budget.
is it representative of modern scholastic LDS? not according to the talk i listened to, but the boys on their bikes who come to my door wouldn't disagree with it.
its interesting that unbelievers who aren't protecting anything can make critical cartoons of mormonism also.

Gregor the Overlander is a Calvinist

We've been reading this series aloud as a family for a few weeks now and everyone has been enjoying it. It's a fantasy novel set under New York City where humans founded a city named Regalia in the 1600s. They share the underland with giant rats, the bad guys, giant cockroaches, giant bats, giant spiders, etc. One convenient aspect of these creatures giantism is they speak English too. We are reading book 3 right now, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods , and there is an extended vomiting scene, which confirms its a book aimed at boys. But I have 2 daughters who also enjoy the stories, they like picking up earthworms too. This title was provoked by a scene early in the 3rd book when Gregor is trying to figure if he should return to the Underland as prophecied and go on the next quest. His grandmother tells him that the prophecy will find him even if he refuses the quest.
"I'm in another prophecy, Grandma," Gregor said, and showed it to her.
"Then you got to go. You can run away, but the prophecy will find you somehow," she said.
"That's how it seems to be working out," said Gregor. (p. 61)

Each book is set up with a prophecy cryptically describing the quest Gregor must go on, which gets fulfilled to the dot. In contrast to Gregor, Harry Potter is assured by Dumbledore over and over again that he has choices to make. Again i turn to the Hogwarts Professor,
Choice and Prophecy, Fate and Free Will
Ms. Rowling brings up the importance
of choice twice in HP6 and again in her interviews with MN/TLC the night after
the book’s publication. The first Harry/Dumbledore discussion is an aside in
chapter 13 (Scholastic, page 262) in which Harry is amazed that Tom Riddle’s
mother, Merope Gaunt-Riddle, chose to die:
“No,” said Harry quickly, “but she
had a choice, didn’t she, not like my mother –“
“Your mother had a choice
too,” said Dumbledore gently. “Yes. Merope Riddle chose death in spite of a son
who needed her, but do not judge her too harshly, Harry. She was greatly
weakened by long suffering and she never had your mother’s courage.”
The
lengthier and more profound discussion is at the end of chapter 23. This
discussion is more than four pages long (Scholastic 508-512) but the end is
Rowling’s answer to the fate and free will dilemma. We all have a destiny or end
but it is our choices that bring us to it – and most important is the choice to
pursue and live out this destiny or fate by conscious decision and with our
will, freely exercised.
“You are free to choose your way, quite fee to turn
your back on the prophecy! But Voldemort continues to set store by the prophecy!
He will continue to hunt you… which makes it certain, really, that –“
“That
one of us is going to end up killing the other,” said Harry. “Yes.”
But he
understood at last what Dumbledore had been trying to tell him. It was, he
thought, the difference between being dragged into the arena to face a battle to
the death and walking into the arena with your head held high. Some people,
perhaps, would say that there was little to choose between the two ways, but
Dumbledore knew – and so do I, thought Harry, with a rush of fierce pride, and
so did my parents – that there was all the difference in the world.


And this difference in approaches to the world and fate and destiny and free will play out over and over again. Does Harry live in an Arminian world and Gregor in a Calvinist world? It's a little more difficult to read a fatalistic story to the kids. As I read to them i wonder if they belive that there are no choices for them. Gregor is definitely less likely to interrupt everyone's sleep than Harry, so only the oldest has read several of the Potter books, up through the Goblet of Fire, and heard with me some of The Order of the Phoenix on tape. But the younger two have only heard the first Potter story. Perhaps, next summer, we can start reading together more from Rowling. I have a good friend with children in similar age ranges and his poor son had nightmares as they read through Potter together. Fortunately, this is not the case with Gregor. But i look forward to reading them Potter and pointing to the contrast in how both boys interact with fate.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

evolution of dance-you tube

 there is no tie-in to any other topic i've done before except Scot Mcknight linked to it and it is really funny....

Controversy at Cornerstone 2006

Michael Hamblin makes excellent moderate observations on C-stone, he was there,  and the blog storm it has generated. Two highlights follow...

It is important to note that Slice of Laodicea dramatically overstates what actually happened at the Imaginarium. Most of the artwork at the Imaginarium was chosen because of its association with the chosen topic, namely understanding how Christians and various cultures deal with the reality of death, it was not particularly occultic except in perhaps the most shallow cultural understanding. Likewise, the attempt to observe the Day of the Dead - while distant from the Mexican tradition and therefore anachronistic - was itself devoid of occultic elements. People were not conducting séances or attempting to communicate with the dead, but rather were using the time as a memorial for those who had passed on, and to celebrate life....

Unfortunately, Jon Trott’s responses to events at Cornerstone is somewhat less than charitable, effectively putting Jon and Dwayna at odds with each other, generating more heat than light. In using the word ‘fundamentalist’, Jon also steps on one of my pet-peeves, using the word ‘fundamentalist’ flippantly as a word of derision, even calling Dwayna at one point an “ultra-fundamentalist”. It is disappointing that Jon Trott has responded to Dwayna Litz by going on the offensive against her. While peace and reconciliation were important themes at Cornerstone, particularly with the Christian Peacemaker Teams as speakers in the Cornerstone yoU tent, apparently peace and reconciliation still does not apply to Christians that we disagree with.

So this raises the question: was it wrong for Cornerstone organizers to host the activities that they did at the event? Let me be clear: No, it wasn’t wrong for them to organize the Imaginarium activities as they did. There is a general misunderstanding of Halloween, the Days of the Dead, horror cinema, and the links these do and do not have with the practices of witchcraft and the occult. Was it ill advised? Absolutely. Just because we as believers can do a certain thing does not imply that we should do that thing. While our modern tradition of Halloween has no substantial ties to any paganism or occultism, there remains a strong cultural association and perception of Halloween as occultism and anti-Christian. Christians should be cognizant of the negative cultural implications of partaking in cultural festivals and willingly refrain when appropriate. This is true also of “Christian” holidays, such as Christmas and Easter, as well as holidays that are currently understood in more secular terms, such as Valentine’s Day and Independence Day. The practice of the Days of the Dead is a Mexican tradition that is associated with Mexican culture, so for us from another culture to borrow that practice with new meanings and interpretations was, in my opinion, culturally insensitive and inappropriate.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Lost Missions - ...rescuing people from hell?

There is so much good stuff in this article on missions that i've included a large snip. i wouldn't expect any less from Robertson McQuilkin, president emeritus of Columbia International University and the Evangelical Missiological Society.

Church-to-church ministry. We encounter similar problems with this second emphasis. The central issue is this: When it comes to those who are not within reach of a gospel witness, by definition there are no churches for our churches to partner with. To reach the unreached, we must cross boundaries, and for about one-third of the world's people, there is no receiving church on the other side. Stan Guthrie, a CT senior associate editor, notes in his book Missions in the Third Millennium that cross-cultural ministry remains essential to the Great Commission:

If all ministry were done by Christians of the same ethnic groups as their non-Christian neighbors, some 4,000 sociolinguistic people groups without any Christian witness would remain unreached forever. The fact is, cross-cultural, Western missionaries will be needed for the foreseeable future.

Not only will career missionaries from North America be needed for the foreseeable future, they will be indispensable. Both Western-based missionaries and missionaries from the developing world must work together to complete the task, but assuming that church-to-church ministry models will overcome the thorny problems inherent in the missionary task is naïve at best.

Shifting Emphasis
Beyond these practical concerns, we come to a shifting theological emphasis among some North American evangelicals—though not Rick Warren—that has an even greater potential for undermining missions. Why do people support the missions enterprise? One reason, of course, is to express their love for the Lord, who told us to make disciples.

Another, surely, has been to express their love for the unsaved, who face God's condemnation. In recent years, however, there has been a subtle shift in the discussion. ct executive editor J. I. packer notes in the foreword to Ajith Fernando's book Crucial Questions About Hell, 'Emphasis on the lostness of the lost has come to be almost taboo. The shift is startling."

Now we emphasize the glory of the God whom we love, almost to the exclusion of the uncomfortable truths about the lostness of the lost. Indeed, a new missions text, The Changing Face of World Missions (Baker Academic, 2005), has a chapter entitled, "Changing Motivations for Missions: From 'Fear of Hell' to 'the Glory of God.'" Of course, God's glory has always been primary for the church. The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards—he of the "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" fame—looked forward to a "general revival of religion" that would be "very glorious … special and extraordinary" and would produce the "flourishing of Christ's kingdom on earth."

But deliberately downplaying the motive of other-love will prove fatal, I fear. Actually, we're not shy about expressing our love for others, as long as the focus remains on the needs of the here-and-now. Holistic concern for health, education, and justice is okay, advocates tell us. But other-love in terms of a rescue mission from a bad ending—well, that's so offensive to the postmodern we mustn't even mention it, let alone emphasize it.

The way I read John 3:16, however, is that God so loved people he gave his one and only Son to—do what? Save them from perishing (hell). That's God's motive, so it can't be too wrong. I believe the shift among evangelicals to de-emphasize hell could prove the demise of Pauline-style missions. And thus it could lead to the spiritual death of multitudes who would, as a consequence, never hear the Good News of redemption.

Déjà Vu
If that should happen, of course, it would be a case of déjà vu, for that is precisely what took place in the early part of the last century. The mainline denominations moved away from saving people from hell to saving them in the here and now.

With every move in that direction, the missions enterprise shriveled. And no wonder. Why make such great sacrifices to reach the unreached if there is no eternal-destiny danger?

This shift was coupled then—as now—with entertaining the possibility of other ways to be acceptable to God than through faith in Jesus Christ. If the past is any guide, we seem to face once again the slow demise of missions as it is found in the New Testament. That's why I consider the question of final destiny the theological issue for missions in our postmodern context.

Without apology, we may love others in many ways: seeking their health, promoting justice, advancing education. But above all, we should love them into eternal life, away from eternal death.

May our churches never fail to love as God loves, to extend his provision of eternal salvation to the 1.8 billion out-of-reach people. God was motivated by people-love, so that must be our motivation as well, if we are to be like him.

But of course we also are motivated above all by the Great Commandment, to love God. And one way to do that is to keep the spotlight on him, to glorify him. I must say, however, that the move to make "the glory of God" the primary "motive" so far has not increased missions passion in churches, if we gauge that passion by the numbers of new pioneer missionary evangelistic church planters.

Indian religious freedom - not

July 20,2006
New rule in temple town against Christian evangelization
Tirupati (ICNS) -- Charging that Christian missionaries are carrying out evangelical and conversion activities in the Hindu temple town of Tirupati, the temple authorities have made it mandatory for all employees to sport a ‘tilak’ on their foreheads.

Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) that manages the affairs of Lord Venkateswara temple, on Wednesday issued direction to all its 10,000 employees to sport a 'tilak' on their forehead. ‘Tilak’ is a mark of Hindu auspiciousness.

Officials said the new rule has been issued amid allegations that some employees were helping in the evangelical activities like distributing pamphlets among pilgrims visiting the temple located on Tirumala Hills.

By sporting a 'tilak' the employees would be expressing their firm faith in Hindu religion and desist from any move, which violates the sanctity of the place, authorities said.

TTD took the step as pressure was mounting from different quarters especially right wing groups to curb the Christian missionary activities in the temple town.

Meanwhile, Bharatiya Janata Party national secretary Bandaru Dattatreya on Wednesday said his party would raise the issue of evangelical activities at Tirumala and other major Hindu pilgrim centres in Andhra Pradesh in Parliament.

BJP leaders allege that ever since Y S Rajasekhara Reddy (a Christian) became the Andhra Pradesh chief minister years ago, the activities of Christian missionaries in the temple town had increased.

”Christian missionaries were propagating their religion on the hills. Nearly 42 Christian families are carrying out religious activities in Tirumala,” Dattatreya said. He alleged that some employees of TTD were helping the missionaries in their activities.

“We are happy that the temple authorities have now issued orders that all employees would put the tilak mark on their forehead,” he added.

But Church leaders have denied that Christian missionaries have been carrying out evangelical activities in Tirumala.

Tirumala is one the world’s largest Hindu shrines and often compared with Vatican City. The temple draws more than 50,000 devotees every day.

July 17,2006
Tirumala temple includes all seven hills: Minister
Hyderabad (ICNS) -- All the seven hills in Tirumala region are part of the Hindu holy temple of Tirumala, said a minister of Andhra Pradesh state in state capital.

Endowments Minister J.C. Diwakar Reddy told a press conference on Sunday that the temple, abode of Lord Venkateswara, included all the seven hills and not just two as some reports said.

The minister read out the original order on the Tirumala hills published in the Fort St. George Gazette on September 24, 1940.

The mister said this following reports that Christian missionaries were active in some areas of Tirumala.

Reddy said reports that only two hills belonged to the temple were "wrong" and urged media to understand the sensitivity of the issue, which required care.

"If necessary, we will include more land in the township. We will do so by writing to the Centre, asking to de-notify the land required from the Forest Department," he said.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

NPR : Applauding Bush's Veto on Stem Cells

NPR : Applauding Bush's Veto on Stem Cells, noooo, NPR isn't applauding this, Joe Carter is. I linked to his blog this afternoon and 30 minutes later i hear him on NPR as the representative for The Center of Bioethics and Human Dignity. He pulls no punches either. The gist is, yes, it's good that Bush vetoed a bill funding human embryo research because embryos are humans too, but IVF needs to be halted too, because it's wrong to make surplus humans and keep them frozen or toss them when the parents got enough. Good job Joe.

the evangelical outpost: Tricky Dickey:
Congress, Cowards, and Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Joe Carter at the evangelical outpost: Tricky Dickey:
Congress, Cowards, and Embryonic Stem Cell Research
weighs in with stuff like this...
If corporations asked the government to fund research into hydrogen-fueled cars by over-hyping their potential while denigrating the alternatives (i.e., electric cars), the watchdogs in the media would be writing Pulitzer-winning exposes. Yet embryonic stem cell research, which currently consists of bad science and even worse ethics, is given a pass. The hype and outright dishonesty surrounding the support of this research instead of adult stem cell research is scandalous -- and has been abetted by the mainstream media. (Former Science Editor Tim Radford of the UK's The Guardian even admitted at a recent conference that he and his fellow science journalists hype stem cell research to sell more newspapers.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

congressional stem cell debate

"Going back to Specter's claim that embryonic stem cell research is morally justified because it does not cause the destruction of human life. Senator Specter is right. Destroying embryo's for research purposes shouldn't be halted by the ethical police from pro-life advocates. In fact, the Senator has the moral high ground...If. If the embryo itself is not a bonified human. The mere name "embryo" point directly to the kind of thing it is, a living human in the embryonic stage. Embryo's are specific types of things, which give them their name. An infant is called an infant because it is in the infant stage of development. Take that same infant and follow it through it's developmental process to it's adolescence stage. Logically and scientifically speaking the present day adolescent is the same human being as the infant, just in a later stage of development. Apply this to the embryonic stem cell research debate. The same infant prior to it's infant stage was once a fetus, embryo, and zygote. Each are distinct scientifically proven facts."

Monday, July 17, 2006

slow burn outreach

the article isn't online yet for the Calvary Chapel Summer 2006
magazine, http://www.calvarymagazine.org/online_magazine.htm , but
there's a great perspective on outreach at Easter time.

"Instead of paying a large sum of money to hold a massive meeting in a
stadium on Sunday morning, Lance and the church eladers felt a burden
to develop relationships with people in the community. fos seven days,
they offered special events, music, and guest speakers; then leaders
served a large meal to nearly 600 people at a time. 'Instead of having
10,000 people for two hours, we had 8,000 people for 30 hours.' Many
accepted Christ."

Dan Kimball observation of note

"But it is important to recognize that having an “intergenerational church” is not about just seeing people sit in the same worship service for 60-90 minutes. We do that in movie theaters, and that is not community. Intergenerational relationships occur outside the worship gatherings, so focusing all our energy on the worship service does not produce an intergenerational church." - Dan Kimball

TSK observations on Esther and mullets

you'll have to click the link to see the mullet tie-in...but this is some neat stuff

I count 7 parties in the book of Esther and we will look at all of them,
one by one. The Kingdom of God is, like the feast of Purim, a time for feasting,
joy, generosity and justice. I think it is also a time in this Post-christian
Europe for the church to act like Esther and not Queen Vashti. I have mentioned
this before a few
years ago
but will throw it out there again:
Vashti was the only wife.
Esther was one of the girls in the harem.
Vashti was a host. Esther was a
guest.
Vashti lived in safety. Esther lived in danger
Vashti thew a
private party for her selected friends. Esther threw a public celebration for
her people.
Vashti had luxury and ease. Esther fought for justice
Vashti
enjoyed privacy. Esther was on show.
Vashti gained privilege. Esther
developed beauty.
Vashti's parties never happened again. Esther's party
became a yearly festival.
Vashti had beauty. Esther had beauty and wise
guidance from a mentor.
Vashti could not enter the throne room without
invitation. Esther entered boldly and was received.
Vashti entertained her
friends. Esther saved her people.

prayer - my dad's example

my dad is at the place in his sanctification where he has embraced being a heavy duty pray-er. last night he told me he prays for family and friends and governments for 2 hours every morning. he has the time, he's retired. but he is daily committing 1/8th of his waking hours to full on prayer. he keeps a list with him, so that when he is asked to pray for something, he writes it down on his list right away. he prays for me and my family and my brother and his family, every day. its no mystery why i live a blessed life. he reminds me of the old testament prophet Job, who offered sacrifices every morning for his children just in case they sinned...they did all eventually die...but my dad has already been through the ringer, a few times. and it was all those trials that taught him to pray. i hope i can be like my dad someday soon.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

George Byron Koch

an interesting Pastor's website
George Byron Koch:
"My undergraduate degree is in physics (1964); my graduate degrees are in Christian ministry - both a Master of Divinity in 1992, and a Doctor of Ministry in 2003. My doctoral dissertation is on Teaching Healing Prayer for Victims of Sin. There is also a PowerPoint version of it here. Among other things, it points out that most of the Christian church is focused on sinners and their redemption from sin. This is a good thing, but it is only HALF of the gospel. It misses the fact that sin always has victims, and the wounding they've received often cripples them in life, or leads them into their own sin. The GOOD NEWS of Jesus is that just as much as God is willing to forgive sin and sinners, so is He willing to heal sin's victims. That's the WHOLE gospel. Read more about it in the dissertation.

.................................

For those of you who find my combination of interests peculiar at best, and for whom Christian or religious stuff is a yawn or even an active dislike, I encourage you to surf around Resurrection's site a bit. I was once interested in eastern religions and philosophies, and then disappointed and no longer enthralled - and then basically a scientific materialist - believing chance and time made us and the universe, not some imaginary 'God.' Always curious, though.

Then I discovered, not desiring it at all, that there really is a God, that it's not me, and that he is knowable and desires to be known. In fact, he spends a lot of effort making himself known - even more than we devote to looking the other way or arguing about how his existence is unnecessary or illogical.

But - and this is a big but - he ain't much at all like he is portrayed in the movies, or on TV, or even in many churches or theological discourses. Poke around awhile at Resurrection's site. You'll find it very different, and surprising.

There really is a God, and working for him as a pastor is more fun than anything else I've ever done. A woman who worked for me when I ran the Worldwide Applications Division at Oracle said, "There were probably a lot of people who wondered why George would give up being senior vice president at a very successful company to become a minister. In my opinion, it was a promotion."

I think so too. It also has better retirement benefits.

A recent addition to this site is called "Fear of the Other." It is about game theory, strategy in negotiations, the fear we have of opponents, and the economics of symbiosis. This began as a paper for a Doctor of Ministry class, but people from a variety of fields, including mathematics, economics and religion, have taken an interest in it. For my part, the conclusions I came to, and the dots that were connected opened up a whole new field of interest and effort. I invite you to look it over and draw your own conclusions. The mathematical version of this - Symbiotic Investment - (still under development) is here."

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Abortion backers, foes square off in Miss. - Yahoo! News

Abortion backers, foes square off in Miss. - Yahoo! News: "NOW president Kim Gandy said the contentious rally showed 'Mississippi is a battleground state for sure.'

Gandy said if the state's only abortion clinic is closed, 'it's going to have a devastating impact on the women who live here and don't have other options that they can exercise.'"

It already has a devastating effect on unborn lives daily, will its closing result in more or less total devastation?

Lessons From Geese

Thanks for finding and posting this Pastor Jon...

'There are different kinds of service in the church, but it is the same Lord we are serving. There are different ways God works in our lives, but it is the same God who does the work through all of us. A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church' (1 Corinthians 12:5-7, NTL).

Fascinated by the conduct of flying geese, Dr. Robert McNeish, wrote 'Lessons From Geese' for a sermon in his church in 1972. Demonstrating the power of a good idea, his essay spread and has become a classic statement of the importance of teamwork.

Fact: As each goose flaps its wings, it creates an 'uplift' for the birds that follow. By flying in a 'V' formation, the whole flock adds 71 percent greater flying range than if each bird flew alone.

Lesson: People who share a common direction and sense of community can get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are traveling on the thrust of one another.

Fact: When the lead goose tires, it rotates back into formation and another goose flies to the point position.

Lesson: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks and sharing leadership. As with geese, people are interdependent on each other's skills, capabilities and unique arrangements of gifts, talents or resources.

Fact: The geese flying in formation honk to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.

Lesson: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups where there is encouragement, the production is much greater. The power of encouragement (to stand by one's heart or core values and encourage the heart and core of others) is the quality of honking we seek.

Fact: When a goose gets sick, wounded or shot down, two geese drop out of formation and follow it to help and protect it. They stay with it until it dies or is able to fly again. Then they launch out with another formation or catch up with the flock.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as geese, we will stand by each other in difficult times as well as when we are strong.

Fact: When a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the bird immediately in front of it.

Lesson: If we have as much sense as a goose, we stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.

Letter about Pornography

Culture Watch: Thoughts of a Constructive Curmudgeon: Letter about Pornography:
"Dear Editor:

All three articles on the emergence of Pornopolis (7-9-06) omitted something. None quoted anyone arguing that pornography is deeply immoral and unhealthy. One article mentioned those in 12-step programs trying to overcome pornography addiction and another quoted one social critic saying something mildly critical. Yet no philosopher, theologian, or religious leader was consulted. Why not? Despite the fact that what was once rightly condemned as lewd, crude, and demeaning is now big business and immensely popular, there are still many among us who won’t strip to the beat of that deranged drummer. Pornography is a tragic perversion of an originally good gift of the Creator. Like ancient Rome and other civilizations in decline, America is exchanging moral and religious standards for illicit sexual gratifications without restraint. Yet restraint is the price of civilization—in every area, not just the sexual. And repentance with self-discipline is the only way out of the despair and into the light.

Sincerely,
Douglas Groothuis"

Whatever Happened to Prayer Meeting? - Leadership journal - ChristianityTodayLibrary.com

In my series on prayer in March i avoided the topic of the watchnight of prayer because i've never done it. but i need to read articles like this. here are a few highlights...

Fearing a huge crowd, he came early to get a seat. But when he arrived he was surprised to discover a chapel with a capacity for only 500—that was empty! A few people eventually came in, but there was no leader, no songs or worship, just chit chat about news, weather, and sports.

Forty-five minutes later an elderly man, the leader, but not the pastor, walked into the chapel to offer a few devotional thoughts from the Bible and give a brief prayer. The meeting was over, and as the seven attendees filed out of the chapel, Yohannan sat in stunned silence, his mind filled with questions: Was this it? Weren't they going to stay and wait upon God? Where was the worship? The tears? The cries for guidance and direction? Where was the list of the sick, and the poor, and those in need? What about that burden the pastor said was heavy on his heart? Weren't we going to intercede for a miracle? And where was the pastor?

......
The logic of secularization makes us frenetically over-committed and so full of blind activity that we become too busy and too tired to pray. As P. T. Forsyth warned, the inability to pray is the punishment for the refusal to pray.

God said it would be that way: 'In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, 'No, we will flee on horses.' Therefore, you will flee!' (Isa. 30:15-16, italics mine). Flight is a good image of the kind of activity that dominates prayerless people and churches."
.........

Taking his cue from the words of Jesus in Matthew 18:19, Jonathan Edwards urged the churches of eighteenth-century New England to see prayer as a kind of concert. "Again I tell you, that if two of you agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." The word for "agree" is the Greek sumphoneo, from which we get our word symphony. Edwards proposed that churches pray in concerted agreement for two things: the revival of religion in the church and the spread of God's kingdom in the world. The Great Awakenings of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were birthed in this kind of prayer. With them came spiritual renewal and profoundly beneficial social and political changes.

That kind of praying required a level of Christian community most churches know nothing of.

Bob Bakke of National Prayer Advance tells of churches of Ipswich, Massachusetts, and their experience of this kind of prayer. After the first Great Awakening, three churches in this community covenanted to follow the pattern suggested by Edwards.

In each congregation, cell groups would meet weekly to agree in prayer. Monthly, the separate congregations would then gather the cells and conduct all church prayer meetings of agreement. Then quarterly, all three would come together for the same kind of praying.

This pattern was followed faithfully, without interruption, for a century. Two remarkable things happened during this time. All three churches reported periodic harvests or "ingatherings" of souls, in which a number of new believers were brought into the congregations, about every eight to ten years. Also, during this time, all of New England was being swept by Unitarianism. But not these three churches. They remained firmly true to the faith while apostasy swirled around them, but not over them.

Around the time of the Civil War, the prayer meetings ceased. Within five years these churches all capitulated to Unitarianism!.........

Looking for Leaders - LeadershipJournal.net

provocative article at Leadership Journal by Angie Ward. btw, i'm GenX and unlike Mark Driscoll, who is the same age as I am, i haven't planted a mega church.
Here's a teaser....

"A generation skipped?
Bob Chandler spent 13 years as a campus staff worker for InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in North Carolina. Chandler always had plenty of students lining up for leadership roles within the group each year, but in the early 1990s he began to notice a shift.

'Students stopped aspiring to leadership,' he said. Instead, Chandler found he now had to work hard to recruit students to these positions. Where did he first observe this shift? In students who had been born in the late 1960s and early 1970s–the heart of Generation X.

Ray Johnston, senior pastor of fast-growing Bayside Church in Roseville, California, finds an explanation for this in 'generational theory,' the idea that there are recognizable patterns to generational cycles.

'Leadership skips a generation,' Johnston contends. 'It happens with presidents, and I think it happens with Christian ministries.'

Johnston's view reflects the work of scholars William Strauss and Neil Howe, who are considered pioneers of generational theory. According to their research, the 'Boomer' generation (born between 1943 and 1960) demonstrates the traits of a 'dominant' generation, which manifests itself in visionary, activist leadership.

Gen-Xers, on the other hand, are part of a 'recessive' generation, which also happens to be a generation of latchkey kids, children of divorce, and blended families, not to mention the most-aborted generation in history. The result, according to Strauss and Howe, is a 'reactive' mindset that values independence and eschews institutionalism.

'The emergent movement as a whole is characterized by a general suspicion of traditional forms of authority. This suspicion of authority has a profound impact on how leadership is carried out,' says Justin Irving, professor at the Center for Transformational Leadership at Bethel Seminary in Minnesota.

Feeling that traditional institutions such as families, government, the church, and"

Postmodernism and the Emerging Church Movement

just received this from Anton and Janet who run the ApologeticsIndex....

It was long past-due, but we have just posted a major entry on the
Emerging Church at Apologetics Index:

Postmodernism and the Emerging Church Movement

The author is David Kowalksi, an ordained minister with the Assemblies
of God. He has authored a number of articles, including two in the
"Encyclopedia of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity," published
by Berkshire Publishing.

The article provides

- An appropriate response to the Emerging Church Movement

- An overview of the distinctive teachings and goals of the
Emergent Church

- A look at the movement's methods and communication strategies

- The Church's proper role in postmodern culture

- An overview of the movement's leaders

- An overview of the movement's opponents

- A (satirical) glossary for those who are new to the conversation

- Overviews of Emergent Church teachings versus those of the
Bible and non-Emergent Christians on the topics of Truth, Scripture,
Faith, Doctrine, Lifestyle and ministry

- A listing of pro, neutral, and contra web sites

- Recommended books

"Any thoughtful consideration of the removal of the foundation and the
boundaries for Christian faith must conclude that this
postmodernization is fatal to biblical faith, stripping the term
"faith" of any real meaning and opening the door to substantial change
in fundamental beliefs. These changes can be found most prominently
in the soteriology and eschatology of emergents. After they have
undergone emergent accommodation to postmodernism, doctrines such as
atonement and judgment no longer resemble the biblical teachings
Evangelicals believe are non-negotiable. The collection of quotations
from emergents found later in this article should give the reader an
idea of the extent to which heresies have been entertained in the
movement.

The effect of the emergent movement's presence in the body of Christ
is equivalent to both an autoimmune disease (such as multiple
sclerosis, in which the body attacks itself with harmful consequences)
and an immunocompromising disease (such as AIDS, in which the body
lowers its defenses to external pathogens). The Emerging Church
movement acts like an autoimmune disease, stripping Christian
terminology of its biblical meanings, and it acts like an
immunocompromising disease, disarming the body's defenses against
foreign invasion. The result is that this movement represents a
deadly influence within the Church which requires a decisive response
from those who recognize it as such. "

- From An Appropriate Response to the Emerging Church Movement

Anton

--

Anton and Janet Hein-Hudson

Amsterdam, Netherlands

ApologeticsIndex: Research resources on religions, cults, sects, and related issues

ReligionNewsBlog: News & news archive on religions, cults, sects, and related issues

CultFAQ: FAQs on cults, sects and related issues.

Friday, July 14, 2006

get the umblog by email

under my clustrmap i added a new feature called feedblitz...if you are too busy to check for the latest posts here, add you email addy in the little box and my posts come to you...check out feedblitz's assurances that they won't spam you.

FAQ for house church planting in Guayaquil

FAQ for house church planting in Guayaquil Guy Muse missionary in Ecuador keeps it real simple...

Church planting

Wayne writes

Isn’t it just as likely to characterize Paul’s travels and teaching not purposed to plant churches, but to spread the gospel and make disciples? I think that is stated far more clearly. The churches he identified and visited later could have been just the fruit of doing the former things that Jesus clearly asked his followers to do. In my view you can plant all the churches you want and never see true discipleship happen or true community. God knows I’ve visited hundreds of those. But you can’t teach people how to walk with the King and not see the reality of church life spring up all around you....

I’m not really a house church guy, so I’m not sure I’m in trouble there. I see Jesus’ church take on a number of living expressions when people learn to follow him first and love each other second. House church is one of those. And I think it can be done incredibly well. But I also think it can be done with incredible religion and pain....

When I taught ‘church planting’ teams for an international missions group, I would break the class up into small groups the first day. I told them they were ‘church planting’ teams. They chose the country and city and then I gave them an hour to sort out the questions they would need to resolve as they were getting started. Their concerns and questions all revolved around finance, building rental, publicity, statements of faith and all the other things that go with a corporate endeavor.

Two days later I broke them into the same teams, told them they were going into the same city, but this time not to plant a church but to demonstrate who Jesus is to the people and help them learn how to follow him. The questions and issues they came up with from that assignment was remarkably different and far more powerful. Now it was about meeting people, getting jobs that would link them to the community, learning how to share their faith naturally not artificially and how to help people connect in a real way with him. Finances, buildings and publicity never came up. That’s the difference I’m talking about, if that makes sense.

Experiencing Life at the Margins

an amazing interview at Christianity Today with Rt. Rev. Dr. David Zac Niringiye, an assistant bishop of Kampala in the Church of Uganda.
"I have come to the conclusion that the powerful, those at the center, must begin to realize that the future shape of things does not belong to them. The future shape of things is on the periphery. The future shape of things is not in Jerusalem, but outside. It is Nazareth. It is Antioch.
If you really want to understand the future of Christianity, go and see what is happening in Asia, Africa, Latin America. It's the periphery—but that's where the action is."

Dan Kimball frowns on c within c

the set up:
Gene Appel, lead pastor of Willow’s South Barrington campus, said that leaders have been asking God for months for a new vision for Axis, and they sense an emerging desire to be a “diverse church with an intergenerational vision.” If Axis’s launch ten years ago signified the start of the next-generation-church-within-a-church phenomenon, what are we to make of Axis’s demise? Has Gen X ministry been a failure, or was Axis a victim of its own success—a transition ministry that has outlived its usefulness?
Dan Kimball, pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Santa Cruz, California, and author of Emerging Church and Emerging Worship, has written about the end of Axis. In part one of his post, Kimball discusses why the church-within-a-church model is difficult to maintain.
the conclusion:
This is why so many worship gatherings launched within a church last only 3-5 years. Very few last any longer than that. They end up imploding because if the new worship gathering is truly rethinking everything as a missionary would to a different culture, then the new ministry with different values struggles to squeeze into the existing church structure's cultural form of ministry. Because the power lies with the senior leadership, the decisions are made from top to bottom, and the alternative worship gatherings are not at the top.