Thursday, November 30, 2006

blessed by a disabled child

this parent finds the lemonade among the lemons

Barnes’ loving tribute to parenting a Down child is precisely the kind of input that I had hoped the earnest young genetic counselor could provide to his clients. Five-year-old Eddie has Down syndrome, and Barnes reports that he “is not to be pitied” for having to father a disabled child “but to be envied.”
By contrast, let us now consider Peter Singer’s harshly sterile views about the options parents should have if faced with a Down baby. One acceptable answer, Singer asserts in Rethinking Life and Death, is establishing the right of parents to have their unwanted Down child killed if they would prefer not to raise a disabled child:

Singer is a theoretician. who is he to advocate the murder of the disabled? what kind of helping hand is that?

more useful history surrounding the Turkey visit

from the LA Times regarding Pope Benedict's visit to Turkey


A detour into the recent history of Islamic thought illustrates the potential for common ground.

Egyptian poet and essayist Sayyid Qutb, hanged by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966, is the father of modern Islamic radicalism. He spent 1948-50 in the United States attending Wilson Teachers College, the Colorado State College of Education (today the University of Northern Colorado) and Stanford University as part of an exchange program. Based on that experience, Qutb penned his famous tract, The America I Have Seen, which still exercises a profound effect in shaping Muslim perceptions of American culture.

The work amounted to a ferocious attack on what Qutb called “the American man,” depicted as obsessed with technology but virtually a barbarian in the realm of spirituality and human values. American society, for Qutb, was “rotten and ill” to its very core.

He wrote: “This great America: What is it worth in the scale of human values? And what does it add to the moral account of humanity? And, by the journey’s end, what will its contribution be? I fear that a balance may not exist between America’s material greatness and the quality of its people. And I fear that the wheel of life will have turned and the book of life will have closed and America will have added nothing, or next to nothing, to the account of morals that distinguishes man from object, and indeed, mankind from animals.”

A particular zone of disgust for Qutb was what he saw as the sexual licentiousness of American culture (and this, bear in mind, was the early 1950s). He wrote that a society in which “immoral teachings and poisonous intentions are rampant” and in which sex is considered “outside the sphere of morality” is one in which “the humanity of man can hardly find a place to develop.” Qutb said that “providing full opportunities for the development and perfection of human characteristics requires strong safeguards for the peace and stability of the family.”


Recently, for example, the Vatican vigorously protested a gay pride march in Jerusalem, arguing that such an event is “offensive to the great majority of Jews, Muslims and Christians.” It’s a classic example of an issue around which Benedict believes engagement with Muslims is possible.

Yet Benedict is also well aware that Islamic radicalism tends to discredit religious commitment in any form by associating it with violence and fanaticism. Hence, when Benedict presses Muslims to reject terrorism and to embrace religious liberty, he believes himself to be doing so not as a xenophobe or a crusader but as a friend of Islam, pressing it to realize the best version of itself.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Muslim outrage syndrome

on my drive home i was listening to NPR report on the Pope's visit to Turkey and trying to understand the reasons for why the Pope has to walk on egg shells there. he is in trouble for re-iterating a claim from the middle ages that Islam is violent and all things negative, blah, blah, blah, and, for some reason, Muslims reacted violently and negatively... and i'm trying to sort out what that reason is...and i'm not sold on the simple explanation that the Koran is violent, because the Bible has plenty of violence. i'm not sold on Islam makes all Muslims violent, because they aren't. i'm not sure that it is really about the seriousness of adherents, there are even more devout adherents to many other faiths that aren't thusly violent.

but i think i have hit on something that some Muslims share with some Hindus, the compulsion to protect the honor of their deities. those gods can't defend themselves, and their adherents are perhaps thinking they'll score some bonus points for the next life by sticking up for god. on the other hand, they may feel they'll lose points if they don't stick up for god. many Christians will defend their faith by argument and persuasion, but most aren't doing it out of concern for their after-life status, which turns down the passion dial a lot. it also helps that the God of the Christians identifies himself by love. and Jesus urges us to love our enemies and do good deeds to them and let God handle any vengeance issues. but without those qualifications in other deities, violence is an immediate, easy demonstration of faithfulness to their communities and their gods. if they are minorities in communities, such as in the u.s.a., then that demonstration won't garner favor, like it does in Muslim communities. Larger faith enclaves, such as in much of Europe, can protect and approve violent outbursts over dishonors like mocking cartoons. those enclaves have reached a tipping point.

so this hypothesis has helped me rehumanize the multiple recent examples of Muslim outrage over what seems to my Western mind, small indignities, that I, as a Christian, put up with all the time. some things even anger me, but i don't belong to a religion that places value on doing my deity's dirty work for him.

alternatives to monologues from the pulpit

Guy Muse reports
However, where churches and cells reproduce in great numbers — as is the case in many lands today — few are able to preach well by monologue. Most who try to preach monologues communicate poorly, set an example that others cannot easily follow, and fail to make disciples.

Both the New Testament and church planting movements offer very effective alternatives to the monologue. As mentors of emerging leaders of new congregations, we should be able to train others in these alternatives.

it's fertility stupid

Justin Taylor riffs off declining Western fertility...quoting Mark Steyn
"It's not the economy, stupid. It's the stupidity, economists--the stupidity of thinking you can ignore demography" (pp. 4-5).

"Given the plummeting birth rates in Europe, Russia, Japan, etc., a large chunk of the world has evidently decided to take pre-emptive action on climate change and opt for societal suicide. The crisis we face today is the precise opposite of 'overpopulation': the developed world's population is shrinking faster than any human society not in the grip of war or disease has ever shrunk" (pp. 8-9).

"In the fourteenth century, the Black Death wiped out a third of the Continent's population; in the twenty-first, a larger proportion will disappear--in effect, by choice. We are living through a rare moment: the self-extinction of the civilization which, for good or ill, shaped the age we live in. One can cite examples of remote backward tribes who expire upon contact with the modern world, but for the modern world to expire is a turn of events future anthropologists will ponder, as we do the fall of Rome" (pp. 3-4).

ATeam: ETS, Reformed and Emergent withdrawal

Roger writes
This leads me to believe that despite all the talk about “conversation,” most of those on the Emergent side of things (especially leaders such as Jones and McLaren) are really only interested in publicly conversing with people who believe exactly as they do. At best, they are just as sectarian as the fundamentalists they often criticize, and the Reformed academics I criticized above. Of course, I side with Carson, Scott, and Brett, and so I’d like the Emergent folk to engage their critics in hopes that they’d make certain changes. However, most of us critics are open to being wrong about where we stand and the best way to show us where we are wrong is to actually engage us instead of dismiss us.

Holy Spirit Community

great post by Diane
I almost always agree with Dan Edelen at Cerulean Sanctim. However, a while back, he wrote a blog post entitled, Being the Body: How to Forge Real Community, Part 1 in which he made this statement,

If there's no real community at your church, then the Holy Spirit's not there. Pure and simple.

Well, not exactly. If there are Christians there, the Holy Spirit will be there since He's IN us. The problem in most churches as I see it is a poor organizational structure to bring people together. And to be fair, Dan has also spoken about this in the past too. I have rarely been in an evangelical church where people really didn't want to come together. In fact the problem in my view was ALWAYS poor structures that either weren't set up to bring people together; or, actually prevented people from coming together.
That is why I am such a BIG fan of church home groups.

Some time ago, I wrote about how churches could successfully organize and implement these groups. A list of posts in that series is below. God has shown me over and over that diversity is what He is into. To achieve this diversity,

1. We need to have more intergenerational Adult Sunday School classes combining all ages and marital statuses.
2. We need to have geographical home groups (home groups whose members are from the same area/zip code). I believe elders, at least at first, should lead these geographical home groups. Having just anyone lead home groups is misleading as home group leaders do more than "host." Elders should lead these groups (at the beginning especially) for several reasons. First, the groups need to start with the best leadership in the church. And there should be assistants in training. And second, it gives elders an opportunity to get to know people in the church.
3. We need to do more ice breaker games at all-church dinners. Also, have people sit in their zip codes if the church either doesn't have home groups, or if those groups aren't geographical.
When people get to know others, they care because the Holy Spirit then has the freedom to flow.

But, on the other hand, here is how to keep the status quo and the clique groups.
1. Keep your Sunday schools according to age and marital status. In other words, separate singles and marrieds; young, middle-aged and elderly; disabled from able-bodied; and have classes for those who have been trapped in certain sins--a class for codependents, one for ex-homosexuals, one for ex-alcoholics, one for ex-motorcycle gang members, etc.
2. Don't have any home groups. But if you do, be sure to allow church members to sign up for any group they want. That way, they will sign up to be with their friends. Never have geographical home groups--they are deadly to the clique mentality.

Here is the series I wrote almost two years ago about how to organize and run home groups in churches.
Cell Churches vs. Home Groups
Home Groups: Why?
Home Groups:Who?
Home Groups: Where and When?

excuse of youth

just a quick reflection on religions that when criticized by christians plead the younger brother defense. it goes like this. give us a break, Christianity has has a few hundred or a few thousand years head start on us. Islam and Mormonism come to mind. the problem with this defense is the assumption of a vacuum on idea exchange. there is a marketplace of ideas. if the best defense for the inferiority of your theological tenet is its youth, its time to admit defeat. i wonder if there is a good latin phrase for this illogical appeal?

and for those older religions, like Hinduism and its caste system, come on, theologically based racism? repent and let it go. or better yet, convert to Jesus and be free.

Indian justice

November 28 (Compass Direct News) – A district court in Punjab state has summoned a police official for severely beating four Christians.

On November 13, the court of Malout Taluka in Punjab’s Muktsar district summoned Assistant Sub-Inspector Hukam Chand Sharma of the Malout police station to appear next February 8 in a hearing related to the beating of four Christians.

A local Christian who requested anonymity told Compass that the victims are from the New Jerusalem Fellowship in Jeet Nagar in Malout, Muktsar district. Sharma allegedly beat them on September 25, 2005.

On that morning a mob of Hindu extremists stormed the fellowship’s Sunday worship service and accused the Christians of unethical conversions. When the Christians called the police, several officers arrived and took church members Gurudev Singh, Jaswant Singh and Balkaran Singh to the police station.

“After reaching the police station, Sharma beat the three Christians very brutally,” the source added. “Later, the police brought in Pastor Sukhdev Pana and beat him too.”

Upon their release the following day, Gurudev Singh was hospitalized for five days and Pana for three days.

When Pana, a retired government official, reported the incident to authorities, they refused to register his complaint. Finally, in October 2005, he managed to file a case against Sharma in the Malout court.

“After the Christians approached the court, the police department ordered Sharma’s suspension, but only for 10 days,” the source said.

The victims also filed individual complaints with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission.

When no further action was taken, the church filed a case in the high court in May of this year. The initial hearing finally took place on November 13.

Catholic School Ordered to Close

In Gujarat state, authorities at a Catholic school alleging harassment today (November 28) filed a civil suit in the Gujarat High Court against the state government.

The high court on November 7 had issued warning notices to the state government and officials of Bhavnagar district, in response to a complaint filed by Shri Sachhidanand Gurukul Vidyalaya Catholic school.

The first hearing is scheduled for November 29.

Samson Christian, joint secretary of the All India Christian Council (AICC), said extremists of the Hindu Jan Jagran Manch (Forum for Revival of Hindu People) and the Akhil Bhartiya Vidhyarti Parishad (ABVP or All India Students’ Council), began accusing school staff members of unethical conversions in July.

In response to these accusations, police began an inquiry into the school.

“The school is doing well [academically], and most of the students are from the Hindu community. Therefore, Hindu extremist groups are jealous,” Christian told Compass.

Christian also said a member of the local Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which rules the state government, may be supporting the Hindu extremists in their campaign against the school. The ABVP is a youth wing of the BJP.

On October 12, school warden Sanjaybhai Chauhan tried to lodge a complaint against the Bhavnagar police, district officials and extremists at the Shihor police station, but police refused to register the complaint. Rather, the Bhavnagar district collector on October 20 ordered school staff members to vacate the premises, alleging that they had not completed all the formalities required to run a school.

“Further, on October 30, the district revenue department sent an official to take charge of the school,” Christian explained. “But the school authorities, with the help of the AICC, approached the district collector and pleaded for more time. The collector then set a deadline of November 15.”

School staff then approached the special secretary of the revenue department on November 3; the secretary stayed the takeover order on November 10, five days before the deadline.

“Officials of other state departments, like the electricity department, then started harassing the school,” Christian said.

In response to the school authorities filing a civil suit against the state government today, the court asked for documentation showing the school’s registration and title deeds for land and buildings.

Christian added that the HJJM is organizing a huge rally in the district on December 31 and has already distributed hundreds of anti-Christian pamphlets to residents.

“I went to the Shihor police station to file a complaint against HJJM for distributing pamphlets and making arrangements for a provocative rally,” Christian said. “But the police refused to accept the complaint.”

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

it finally happened

my first month with over 100 posts. i'm curious if readers find much quality in the quantity? other than my faithful commenters Guy Muse and the offended Indian nationalist, anyone else benefiting or have suggestions?

India: persecution in the south

November 27 (Compass Direct News)

Church Service Attacked

On November 3, extremists attacked an independent pastor in Nachupally village, in the Birkur Mandal area of the same district of Nizamabad.

Dr. Sajan K. George, national president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), told Compass that the attack took place when a pastor, identified only as Praharshi, was visiting a believer’s house in the village for prayer.

“When all the Christians were praying and singing to the Lord, a group of around 100 RSS youths intruded into the house and disturbed the gathering,” he said. “They severely beat the pastors and other believers with logs.”

The youths also damaged a motorcycle belonging to a Christian. The total number of those injured was unknown, but all victims were taken to a hospital and given first aid.

Four Pastors Beaten

The same day (November 3), Hindu extremists attacked four pastors of an Assembly of God church in Kerala state’s Alapuzha district.

The four, identified as Lallu Pappachen, Manoj Babu, K.J. Ebenezer and B. Jayachandran, were admitted to the government hospital in Harripad, the GCIC’s George said.

After the victims lodged a police complaint, the attackers got furious and launched an attack on the church. They destroyed equipment, furniture and the compound wall of the church.

Until a few years ago, the southern states were considered safe haven for Christians. But Hindu extremists have reportedly increased their activities in these states.

EO: slavery today

Over the past fifty years there has been a population explosion within third world nations. With millions of economically and socially vulnerable people around the world, the "supply" of potential slaves today makes them cheaper than they’ve ever been in the history of the world. An average slave in the American South in 1850 cost the equivalent of $40,000 in today's money; today a slave costs an average of $90. Because they can be had so cheaply, they are of little value to the traffickers. If slaves get sick or injured or merely outlive their usefulness they are often dumped or killed.

What can be done to end this global tragedy? Ken Bales, a sociologist and expert on modern-day slavery, believes that human trafficking could be eliminated within a generation if three things were to happen:

1. Public awareness has to grow, and there has to be public agreement that it is time to end slavery once and for all. This public commitment must be communicated to politicians.

2. Money needs to be spent to eradicate slavery, but not nearly as much as you might think. For the price of a bomber or a battleship, the amount of slavery in the world could be dramatically reduced.

3. Governments must enforce their own anti-slavery laws. To make this happen every country has to understand that they must take action or face serious pressure. We all know about the United Nations weapons inspectors, who enforce the Conventions against Weapons of Mass Destruction, but where are the United Nations Slavery Inspectors? When the same effort is put behind searching out and ending slavery, there will be rapid change.

In the 18th and 19th centuries, British and American evangelicals were the leaders of the abolition movement. It’s time that modern-day evangelicals once again take our place in the struggle against slavery. In order to do that, however, we must become better informed, we must lobby our government to act, and we must raise up leaders who will become the Harriet Tubmans and William Wilberforces of the twenty-first century. We must take up the task of leading the next great abolition movement.

Church's sweet spot not in bricks and mortar

This past Sunday Scranton Community Church held its final weekend service. After struggling for years to balance the demand of producing creative, innovative, culturally relevant weekend services with the demands of putting on and attending as many creative, innovative, culturally relevant church conferences possible, Pastor Dwight Schrute made the decision to pull the plug. "Over the past few months we've been pairing down our ministries to focus on what we do best. We eliminated Women's Minsitry, Men's Minsistry and all age specific ministries; the next logical step was to eliminate the weekend service. We were doing cutting edge stuff; talking about sex, making funny videos, singing everything David Crowder has ever written, but we just weren't hitting our sweet spot" Shrute shared. "Our real calling is to glean from other churches, copy what we've learned and then put on our own conference to teach others to do what we're copying. It just made sense to cut out the middle step."

btw, this is satire.
good context for this provided here.

thanksgiving serve-a-polooza

our church's Thanksgiving outreach was alot like this one...

We headed down to the center and, as we arrived, people were already lined up outside the doors and in the parking lot--it was only 10:15am. As I got closer, I realized they were the workers--not people waiting to be fed. Those waiting to be fed were on the other side--some dressed up as nice as they could--with their families. I got inside and found the guy in charge. He was overwhelmed with all the NorthWood people there to help. At first he said, "Everyone is going to have their own individual server this year!" A few minutes later, he was telling me there are way too many. People were still arriving--some seeing the long line of workers were turned away at the door--they couldn’t even get in to volunteer.

violence in the home

a horrible story of a woman whose religious husband couldn't love his wife as himself but claimed authority that she needed to submit to. marriage is a picture of Jesus's relationship to the church. this isn't that picture.

For many years I had been moving in the direction of depression and mental disassociation. Fortunately, I continued to read academic literature on social justice issues relating to race and poverty. At a certain point I became convinced that God did not intend one set of human beings to be permanently subordinate to another, I came to see my own circumstances in this light. I inwardly denounced my own subordination as wrong, and believed that God intended me to function as an equal. Althought this flew in the face of the teaching in my church, I began to move towards hope and survival.

When I finally started considering divorce, I was afraid that he would get joint custody. I could not bear the thought of the children being with him and my not being there so I decided to stay with my husband until they grew up. A few years ago, through police intervention, the physical violence was brought to an end.

However, the threats and psychological abuse, the desire to subordinate me have continued. My husband fed off every mention in the church of the submission of women. He routinely pointed out that I was not submissive. I was not, but I was faithful and carried out the responsibilities of my job and family the best I could. Eventually every vociferous denial of my own subordination brought a measure of relief from abuse, and replaced it with distance, in this case, a life-saving distance. I came to realize that my original tacit acceptance of subordination had enabled the abuse.

I was intensely loyal and for 30 years, from the time of our engagement up until a few months ago, I never told one person about the abuse. I made excuses and covered up. I was unwavering in my loyalty and fidelity. I finally realized that when the children leave home, which is very soon, I will be left in the house alone with a person I am afraid to be alone with.

I recognize that violence is a pathology and not the result of wrong teaching. However, the teaching of submission and loyalty was impressed on me every day to keep the blame in my court and keep me silent. I was told by my husband that if I told anyone about something that was private between us, he meant the abuse, that was the same as infidelity and I would be punished for it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Atheism kills more people

article at CSM in light of the new atheist screeds

The crimes of atheism have generally been perpetrated through a hubristic ideology that sees man, not God, as the creator of values. Using the latest techniques of science and technology, man seeks to displace God and create a secular utopia here on earth. Of course if some people - the Jews, the landowners, the unfit, or the handicapped - have to be eliminated in order to achieve this utopia, this is a price the atheist tyrants and their apologists have shown themselves quite willing to pay. Thus they confirm the truth of Fyodor Dostoyevsky's dictum, "If God is not, everything is permitted."

Whatever the motives for atheist bloodthirstiness, the indisputable fact is that all the religions of the world put together have in 2,000 years not managed to kill as many people as have been killed in the name of atheism in the past few decades.

It's time to abandon the mindlessly repeated mantra that religious belief has been the greatest source of human conflict and violence. Atheism, not religion, is the real force behind the mass murders of history.

HT: John Devito

they aren't kuppies or pittens

the nice cat is nursing some puppies...blood tests show they are 100% dog...sorry folks. let's move it along.

Blood tests refute a Brazilian woman's claim that her cat had given birth to three puppies, geneticist Adil Pacheco said Tuesday.

Cassia Aparecida de Souza, 18, from a poor neighborhood of Passo Fundo in southern Brazil, said last Friday that her cat Mimi had given birth to the three puppies as well as three kittens, which did not survive.

"People who aren't experts often imagine things," said Pacheco, director of the Institute of Biological Sciences of the University of Passo Fundo. "All the facts contradict her."

Pacheco, who was asked by a local newspaper to conduct a chromosome test to check the spectacular claim which gained wide media attention, said mammals sometimes nursed the young from another species.

i would like to thank this hoax for all the traffic is brought to my blog...but now, back to the church, homosexuality, abortion, human rights, genocide, etc.


i don't know if this messes up RSS feeds, but i'm endeavoring to add tags to all my old posts.

book report: Warlords (of WW2)

i got sucked back into WW2 history by this book, Warlords: An Extraordinary Re-Creation of World War II Through the Eyes and Minds of Hitler, Churchill, Roosevelt, And Stalin by Simon Berthon and Joanna Potts, 2006.

They have ambitiously attempted to synthesize the diaries of the warlords themselves or those close to them in a chronological order to highlight understandings and misunderstandings between them. It was an enjoyable read and did provide some insights for me. For example, i never realized the British reluctance for the cross channel invasion of France, nor the constant delay of that invasion and its effects on Russia. I also never knew how much Roosevelt despised Empire England, and yet, at the same time, did not see the same threat from Stalin.

However, a novice to WW2 history would be under-served by this book. It helps a great deal to know more than the authors provide of the fronts involved simultaneously. For example, you would barely know there was a war in the Pacific from this account.

Overall, it was a good read and it stimulated me to pick up another Stalin biography, which i hope to report on tomorrow.

great fun at GR and Episcopal reporting

the new Episcopal bishop said
Episcopalians tend to be better-educated and tend to reproduce at lower rates than some other denominations. Roman Catholics and Mormons both have theological reasons for producing lots of children.

Episcopalians aren’t interested in replenishing their ranks by having children?

No. It’s probably the opposite. We encourage people to pay attention to the stewardship of the earth and not use more than their portion.

GR provides the interpretation
Catholic writers, in particular, were rather miffed that the Episcopal leader created such a stark equation that said, in effect: Our numbers are declining because we are smarter and care more about the environment than all of those populist Catholics and Mormons (recall that Jefferts Schori was bishop of the tiny Diocese of Nevada before her election as archbishop).

So now i'll add my interpretation...dumb, anti-environmental believers are known by the size of their families. Yep. Welcome to her church, where they skip the part of the Bible where Jesus says "let the little children come to me," where they frown on those verses that consider children a blessing.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

where is NT Wright in the war on terror

for some out there, Mr Wright has come down the mountain with words of peace from heaven. in my eyes though, he's only been plagiarizing Churchill's predecessor, Chamberlain, infamous for his appeasement of the Germans before WW2. he writes,
As a subset of this fourth problem, I draw attention to the fact that the very notion of a ‘war on terror’ strikes a false note. It wasn’t, of course, invented by Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld; Bill Clinton and other earlier presidents used similar language, and the western powers have engaged in military action against terrorists and those who harbour them long before September 11. But the oddity of the notion itself, and the illogicality of actions which were bound to encourage terrorism rather than quieten it down, should tell us we’re in a moral mess. Rather than think things out properly, we have relied on the same methods as we used in the nineteenth century: if in doubt, send in the gunboats and teach Johnny Foreigner a lesson he won’t forget. The only way to fight terror is by working for mutual understanding and respect – winning hearts and minds, often said but not often done. Throwing stones at a wasp’s nest because one wasp has come out and stung you is not the best way of addressing, let alone solving, the problem.
no one denies he writes well. but if wasps are harassing your home, reasoning with them won't get the results that a can of Raid does. The US helped Afghanistan liberate themselves from the Soviet empire and showed good faith to the country. In turn, it let the Taliban come to power, a repressive political regime for a repressive religious regime. This new wasps nest let the terroristic Islamic bands set up training camps and send out raiders around the world, especially US interests. Clinton threw some rocks at the nest, but he didn't knock the nest down. Bush destroyed the nest. the wasps have scattered and the US hasn't been victimized since. why would Islamic fanatics consent to working for mutual respect and understanding with infidels? they will only accept an Islamic government in the US. negotiation isn't an option for them. what is there for an Anglican Bishop to understand about a culture of pedophilia and rape and female oppression? that last one is the norm for most Islamic political structures. hearts and minds are won with the good news of Jesus Christ, but that's anathema in today's Western political climate. who dares point out the repugnance of so much of the Islamic culture? it was very nice of the Caliphates to save ancient Greek and Latin works, but does this good deed whitewash all the evil? Hitler wasn't original in making Jews where stars, the Caliphs were doing that to the Christians and Jews long before him. it made it easier to remember who would be paying the tax for not converting.

Wright's political theory for Christians is thus
Third, therefore, it is part of the inalienable task of God’s people, of those who worship the creator God, whom we see in Jesus and know through the Spirit, to speak the truth to power: to remind governments, local councillors, authorities in every sphere, including church leaders, of their calling to selfless stewardship, and to point out fearlessly where this trust is being abused in whatever way. Once more, God is not nearly so interested in how rulers get to be rulers as he is in how they behave as rulers, and in the vital task of reminding them of their proper vocation and of calling them to account.

but believers in those Islamic regimes have no voice once they are put in prison for using it. human rights is based on the dignity of all people who are created in God's image, a philosophy mostly found in Christianity. its nice that liberals can protest here in Western nations, or riot if you are a Muslim in Western Europe, but its not legal in most Islamic regimes. but, in those regimes, believers are minorities and therefore suffer what most minorities in any political system suffer. but at least minorities in the West are allowed to make noise, and even achieve an improvement in their status. followers of Christ in Arabia are imprisoned. converts in other places are executed, either by the state or with its tacit approval by locals.

Wright urges
then we must think according to the pattern of Jesus Christ. And that means that the first place we should look for God in the War on Terror would be in the smouldering ruins of the Twin Towers, in the tears of the widows and children on that terrible day five years ago, and then in the ruins of Baghdad and Basra, the shattered homes and lives of the tens of thousands who have through no fault of their own been in the wrong place at the wrong time as the angry superpower, like a rogue elephant teased by a little dog, has gone on the rampage stamping on everything that moves in the hope of killing the dog by killing everything within reach.
the Iraqis themselves are the ones trampling on the innocents, not the rogue US elephant. its ridiculous to consider the rantings of Osama bin Laden as coherent. he claims his atacks on US properties was the result of US bases in Arabia in the first Gulf War when the US liberated another Islamic state from Saddam Hussein. did he forget that the infidels also helped liberate Afghanistan from atheists? the US outspent the other superpower and now Afghanistan is safe from the outside. its the internal threat that he presents that is the greatest fear. oppression by any political or religious party is still horrific. and Jesus is with those who suffer. but he is also with those who oppose the oppression of his image bearers.

is there a theology behind violence? if a man is beating his wife, reasoning with him between blows may not preserve her life. tackling him has a better chance. reasoning with al queda didn't stop bombings. bombing them has certainly diminished the scope of their violence. invading afghanistan resulted in a better result than not invading. invading Iraq, under deceptive circumstances has resulted in justice for the 10,000's he's massacared. there is peace in Kurdistan. but gangsters are still at large in the rest of the country. unfortunately, Iraq is surrounded by gangster governments who supply weapons and demonic ideology. if God is not on their side, could he be on the side of those who are trying to protect the innocents? is it coincidental that the side trying to protect the innocents is composed of many Christians?

however says Wright
But the way to make sure that the causes of terror are diminished and if possible eliminated altogether is not – of course it is not! – to drop bombs on potential terrorists until they get the point. That is to fight one kind of terror with another, which of course not only keeps terror in circulation but tends to stir up more. The way to eliminate the causes of terror is to seize every opportunity to work together, to talk together, to discover what makes people tick within worldviews quite unlike our own, and in short – as has been said within Iraq, but without much visible effect – to win hearts and minds not necessarily to a Christian worldview, certainly not to a modern secular western worldview, but to a shared worldview of common humanity, incoporating what the great majority of human beings want, genuine justice and genuine peace. Part of the task of the church in this generation is, I believe, to encourage all those who are working in this way, and to remind our politicians and our media that this is the direction we all ought to be travelling.
now he could use some clarification on military terminology. a regular army dresses its soldiers as to discriminate them from innocent civilians. terrorists use civilian garb and put innocents at risk. the Israeli army warned civilians in areas of south lebanon before bombing them. terrorist Hamas indiscriminately shot at civilian targets and not military ones. US bombs are predominantly dropped on terrorist infrastructure and military targets. the government is chastened when those objectives are nor primary, whether intentional or not. the US did work in Afghanistan before and during the Taliban. the taliban kicked out the US and Christian aid workers. they don't want to work together. the US brought incredible resources to aid in Muslim countries in their times of need, whether tsunamis or earthquakes or cyclones. instead, the US government is ascribed great powers by Islamic conspiracists who think the US caused these disasters as a cover to help and bring infidels into Muslim countries. oh yeah, even US citizen conspiracists ascribe incredible powers. so if the terrorists have refused dialog with the West, what options does the West have to protect the non-combatants? no good deeds are enough. its always goes like this... if the US had just done this other thing over here, the Finns are. i guess its hard to live up to the super powers the conspirators ascribe. the concept of shared humanity is mostly a Christian philosophy and not an option for those Wright wants to dialog with.

i think God is with the soldier opposing regimes of terror. i'm not sure if Wright supports that soldier. it doesn't seem so. i too support my believing siblings who are engaging Muslims, but i also know that their positions are not secure. some are at risk for expulsion from the countries they work in. they are bringing God's kingdom into the spheres that God has called them to and they are often pleasantly surprised to hear Jesus has gone before them in dreams and visions to Muslims. that's how God's kingdom comes, one repentant heart at a time. it for this reason i esteem his emissaries, his missionaries, on a mission to announce the good news that eternal life can be had and sins can be forgiven by consenting to be loved.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Who needs Paul?

Scot McKnight answers this question wonderfully...

I’m suprised postmodernist emerging Christians have trouble with Paul and his letters. Why? Because of their commitment to the importance of language as something that conveys truth (as story), and because of their commitment to the importance of local communities of faith framing their own story for their own setting, and because of their confidence that God “incarnates” the redemptive story in local communities of faith. If each of those points is true, and I think they are too, then what we see in Paul is just exactly what you are striving for at the Red Sea Community (I happen to like your “church’s” name).

What I’m saying — forgive me for the teacher’s habit of repeating myself — is that Paul did what you think all Christians do: he re-expressed the message of Jesus in a new way (language) so people could live it out in a new context (the local community). Instead of talking about “kingdom,” Paul talked about things like justification and church and the gifts of the Spirit. But, it was Jesus Christ’s life and death and resurrection and the Holy Spirit that Paul was trying to unleash for each of his churches as he unrolled it in a new story.
My question for you: What’s the difference between Paul and you? If you think it is necessary for you to reexpress the Jesus story, why not for Paul? (This is not a “now I’ve got you in a corner” question but instead a real one — tell me what you think and I’ll think about your answer.) Why would someone want to ignore what Paul did as they seek to do what Paul did?

My second response — and I’m sorry for this getting long — makes us Christians: I’m totally with you in believing God’s Spirit works through the community and leads that community to express the life of Christ in a local way. Once again, isn’t that what Paul claimed for the community’s scriptures? His words are “all [or “every” in the sense of “every one you choose”] Scriptures are God-breathed”? (You can look up the whole chp of 2 Timothy 3.)

Now, let’s get really fair about this: early Christians believed that the writings of the apostles were Spirit-directed expressions of God’s ways for that time and in those communities. I know you say that the Red Sea doesn’t think its writings are “inspired,” but you do believe that God’s Spirit is at work.

If you admit that Paul’s community and their writings are at least as “inspired” as yours, what about this point? Doesn’t it make sense to you that God was at work directing that early Church to “interpret” (your accurate word) Jesus for each community in a way that brought home God’s redemptive work?

This leads me to a final question, Matt: If God’s Spirit is present in those early Christian communities, and if the early Christians brought all of these “moments of inspiration” into a collection of books (the New Testament), who are we to ignore the single-most important Jesus follower in the 1st Century? Don’t you think we owe it to Paul (not to mention the others) to see how he did it? To see how he took Jesus into a new world and made him come to life for the Roman empire?

Nudity in the fall

an article from John Piper on nudity on the stage...

There was once a day when there was no shame. “And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:25). Then sin entered the world. Specifically, the sin of self-exaltation. Man decided that he would be like God and call his own shots. The knowledge of good and evil is the presumption to decide for yourself what is good and evil without relying on God. That happened and we are all contaminated with that arrogance. It is who we are now by nature.

When we fell, we suddenly knew we were naked. “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths” (Genesis 3:7). The nakedness that was once natural and fitting for the purity and innocence of man is now a painful embarrassment. God’s merciful solution to this is clothing. “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).

Those who try to reverse this divine decision in search of the primal innocence of the Garden of Eden are putting the cart before the horse. Until all sin is gone from our souls and from the world, being clothed is God’s will for a witness to our fall. Taking your clothes off does not put you back into pre-Fall paradise; it puts you into post-Fall shame. That’s God’s will. It’s why modesty is a crucial post-Fall virtue.

Above all, let us remember that when Jesus Christ died for us, he “despised the shame” of the cross and bore it for us. Our shame is removed in his death for us. What then shall we wear? Paul tells us in Romans 13:14: Wear Christ. “Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” If you wear Christ, you will never hear any brave and wise soul cry out to you, “Shame on your nakedness.”

Dealing with secret temptations in ministry

this come's from Warren's site, which already has a Christmas theme...but a good article in the wake of Haggard's scandal.

i'm thankful for

my God who chose to forgive me and adopt me into his family and into eternal blessings. Everything else is gravy. but i have to admit, He has been abundant with the gravy in my life.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Indian Muslims kill a Christian

Lord, please have mercy on the attackers and provide for his family.

November 21 (Compass Direct News) – Two unidentified militants today killed a Christian convert from Islam on a busy road in Mamoosa village, Barmullah district, in the terror-stricken state of Jammu and Kashmir.

“Bashir Ahmed Tantray, a 50-year-old engineer working with the power department of the state government in Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, was shot dead seemingly by Islamist militants while he was standing at a busy bus stand near his parents’ house in Mamoosa,” a local Christian source told Compass.

According to eye-witness accounts, two young men came to the bus stand on their motorbike at about 10:30 a.m. today and started inquiring about the timing of the buses. One of the militants took a pistol from his jacket and fired three rounds at Tantray.

Shot at point-blank range, Tantray died as the militants fled the scene.

Tantray, who had received Christ about a decade ago and had been an active Christian worker ever since, is survived by his wife, two daughters and two sons.

A volunteer worker with various Christian organizations including the Global Council of Indian Christians, Tantray was one of the most prominent Christians in the Kashmir valley, the source said.

“There is no doubt among the people, both Christian and Muslim, here that he was killed because of his identity of a Christian worker,” the source said. “We fear that we will be killed one by one. However, if we are to be killed, we would like to be killed together at one go.”

The slain Christian had come to Barmullah yesterday to visit his extremely ill father....

decline of marriage

as if we didn't warn you about the slippery slope...

Portrait of God in the OT

so many miss the forest for the trees. especially the trees they don't like. here is a more comprehensive survey, if you are still hanging with my metaphor...

The Old Testament shows God as emphasizing:
  • Justice - One of the overriding concerns of the Law of Moses is whether justice is done.
  • Beauty - Both the beauty of creation and the emphasis on beauty in the tabernacle and Temple show God's love for beauty.
  • Purity - Moses' Law covered spiritual purity, emphasizing the worth of the person and praiseworthy aspects of redeemed humanity. It also covered physical purity to the extent that the Law of Moses is one of the earliest instances of modern infection control on record, far ahead of its time.
  • Holiness - the Law of Moses emphasizes not only God's holiness, but God's transforming effect on his people to make them holy as well.
  • Blessings - God's emphasis included physical blessings such as rest and spiritual blessings of his favor and goodwill.
  • Forgiveness - The Law emphasized forgiveness by making regular provision for it by way of daily rituals, annual festivals, and regular cycles of additional forgiveness where debts were forgiven, slaves were freed, and all various economic inequities were restored. Again, the ancient code has the advantage on our modern codes in the regular cycle of forgiving long-term debt so that people are not haunted by debt for their whole lives.
  • Wisdom - The Old Testament has wisdom literature in the book of Proverbs, but also elsewhere portrays wisdom as an attribute of God and one of the spiritual blessings evident in the faithful, even the simple.
  • Compassion - One of God's most defining aspects was held to be his compassion, part of God's own self-identification as he revealed himself to Moses.
  • Mercy - God likewise singled out mercy as one of his identifying attributes when he revealed himself to Moses. God's mercy is seen time and again in his laws, his promise of redemption, and in his patient interactions with sinful people.

When is a church a church?

Guy works in Bolivia, i mean Ecuador. He describes their work and process and concludes

"So therefore, a church is a group of baptized believers who meet regularly together where God has planted them and function as a NT ekklesia."

but you would be well served to read his entire post

Cadre's Thanksgiving Reflections and Blessing

BK writes
When I was growing up, I knew "Come Ye Thankful People Come" by the name of "Harvest Home," and I loved the melody. Still, I never paid much attention to the words. But now that I'm older, I have discovered that the lyrics, written by Dr. Henry Alford, a noted hymnologist and Greek scholar, hold a deep level of meaning.

Come, ye thankful people, come, raise the song of harvest home;
All is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.
God our Maker doth provide for our wants to be supplied;
Come to God's own temple, come, raise the song of harvest home.

Now, while I have always loved this song, I have never been clear on what exactly a "harvest home" is. I simply assumed that it was a phrase that meant the home of a farmer who had finished harvesting his fields. Boy, was I wrong....

Thank you for this turducken

just learned about this from a guy at work who is cooking one for Thanksgiving. its a boneless duck stuffed into a boneless chicken stuffed into a boneless turkey. it can feed 30 people. it takes at least 14 hours to make! as you can imagine, this example of conspicuous consumption is all-american. i cooked my 20 lb turkey last night, 3.5 hrs in a bag, and will strip it down today for the community meal tomorrow. our church serves 400-500 hot Turkey dinners every Thanksgiving, so my turkey is only 1 of 50 or so. God is really good in that every year, there is enough for all who come to bring some more home, and there are always leftovers to share with the community soup kitchen on Friday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

converts in India have their homes destoyed

it's too bad the locals aren't interested in a religious dialog, but resort to violence. Lord please have grace on the vandals and help my brothers and sisters in you find other places to live.

November 20 (Compass Direct News) – Adherents of a Bodo tribal religion in Assam, northeast India, forced nine families from their homes last Tuesday (November 14) for converting to Christianity.

The villagers destroyed six of the nine families’ homes, forcing the Christians to take shelter in a primary school. The nine families live in four villages in the Kokrajhar district of Assam.

Their ordeal began when Christians attended a Pentecostal meeting held in Haldibari village last Monday (November 13).

“This meeting infuriated the Bodo tribals, who organized their own religious gathering the next day,” a source told Compass.

At 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning (November 14), the tribal people of Haldibari gathered for their own meeting at the village council hall, said the Rev. Madhu Chandra, Delhi regional secretary of the All India Christian Council.

“Some of them were sympathizers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh [RSS, a Hindu extremist group],” Rev. Chandra said. “Under their influence, the group resolved to evacuate Christian families from the village.”

At around 2:30 p.m. that day, 25 Bodo villagers went to the homes of three Christian families in Haldibari and attacked their houses. The violence soon spread to the neighboring villages of Moflabari, Jamduguri and Basdari...

Abe Lincoln the flip-flopper?

John Armstrong is blogging from a Lincoln conference

There has been a debate for 140-plus years regarding whether Abraham Lincoln was really an emancipator, much less the Great Emancipator. We all know the facts: He signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. His reluctance and prevarication about abolition, and his willingness to not free the slaves if he could save the Union, are well known to those who study the man in his actions and words. So, should African-Americans be grateful for the work of "Father Abraham" to free them?

Obama invited into Warren's pulpit

and worldnet daily represents the "flipped-out" segment of the church. sure doesn't seem wise to me.

Bart Campolo and the EO

it's all about the questions...
The question that we should be asking is not, as Campolo claims, “God is a cruel bastard. How can we trust him?” but rather, “God is a Holy Sovereign. How can he tolerate my rebellion?” Rather than complaining that God doesn’t save everyone we should be asking why does God save anyone. All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Nobody deserves to go to heaven; everyone does to go to hell. As Sproul adds, “God never owes mercy….God is not obligated to treat all people equally.”

the commenters are special too.

Hey Brian! Pipe down!

the A-Team is tired of taking Brian McLaren's jabs lying down...
“But Timbo,” you say, “McLaren is writing a foreword to Grenz’s book, and he doesn’t have space to cite the text or develop an argument!” I agree, and this is precisely the problem. Throughout his writings, Mr. McLaren relies on subtle “suggestions” which are undeveloped and/or unsupported by facts. There often appears to be more innuendo than insight, more assumption than analysis. When McLaren wrote the words of conservatives in his fictional trilogy, many of us felt that he was putting words into our mouths as well by misrepresenting what we believe. A rule of criticism is to be able to express alternative viewpoints in ways which a proponent of that viewpoint would be able to recognize it as his own: this McLaren emphatically does not do. What he often does instead is uses an inappropriate forum in which to respond to his critics, and this brings us to the issue of appropriateness in discourse, wherein McLaren has moved from mere provocation in his own books to more of a passive-aggressive judgmentalism in his contributions to and endorsements of other books

TSK family meal

this is indirectly related to homeschooling. we are often asked if the children get much socialization. yes they do, but definitely not as much as their peers in school. but this quote that Andrew quotes shows the flipside of this socialization

"Some 93% of Italian teenagers eat regularly with their families; in the UK just 64% of 15-year-olds do the same. . . Nick Pearce, director of the IPPR, told the BBC last night the figures pointed to an "increasing disconnect" between children and adults, with young people learning how to behave from each other. He said: "Because they don't have that structured interaction with adults, it damages their life chances. They are not learning how to behave - how to get on in life - as they need to."
fwiw, i don't know, i've been reading a chapter of the bible aloud at the dinner table every night. at some point i hope those Hebrews readings will click with them. boy was that tough/boring on them. but the judges and samuel readings were starting to depress them and make them despair of their own inability of faithfulness to Jesus. good conversations ensued, but then they'd get browbeaten the next night. now we are in James. maybe we'll jump over to Luke.

Monday, November 20, 2006

SIP dome homes

this is one of those posts where i imagine building an affordable home, strawbales for instance, and structural insulated panel (SIP) homes. dome homes are an alternative structure that is extremely strong, but unconventional in appearance or some say "ugly." but, fashion does not necessarily have to decide everything. affordability helps and strength and time proven design. nomadic asians lived very well in Yurts. i'm friends with a family who are living in one now as they build their conventional home. native americans lived in wigwams. unfortunately, local zoning doesn't approve of such structures for families today, nor do many wives...but i had this idea that what if these structural panels were used in a geodesic dome, and it turns out i wasn't the first to think of it. this outfit in Kansas thinks its a great idea too. financing these things is tough, because the banks don't want to mortgage something that if you defaulted on, no one else would buy. but a home might be had for half the square footage cost of a stick-built house. that's all.

Bart Campolo's Karamazov god

"Some might say I would be wise to swallow my misgivings about such stuff, remain orthodox, and thereby secure my place with God in eternity. But that is precisely my point: If those things are true, then God might as well send me to hell. For better or worse, I simply am not interested in any God but a completely good, entirely loving, and perfectly forgiving One who is powerful enough to utterly triumph over evil."

Tony's son, Bart, somehow thinks this god will help a 9 year old rape victim recover. Is this the weak Open Theist god who couldn't stop this crime? What's so wrong with that God in the Bible who forsook his Son to incredible injustice, degradation, torture, and violation to bring about incredible mercy? The editors of Christianity Today are open to suggestions to Bart's declaration.

update: YS pulled Bart's article

Ur: Burned by Branding

the Ur blog post says
I’ve attended a number of conferences and read many reports in recent years about the popular multi-site church model. Invariably these sources will reference Starbucks as an example for churches who wish to establish themselves in multiple communities. But what should the church be learning from the rising anti-Starbucks sentiment?
and goes on to warn about following marketing trends...
i commented the following
"it seems that Starbucks and local cafe can co-exist, and both influence the other. i don't see the need for a dichotomy here. let's complain about methods when everyone goes to church, until then, the church should grow in all its diverse methods that the Holy Spirit uses. because individuals variously value community and quality and convenience, thus there can not be a single "correct" church format. a local cafe person may resent a corporate brand but has no interest in brewing their own. likewise, some folks like mega church, some like regular church, and some like micro church, and where the luxury of options don't exist, believers gather in whatever way is available. diversity is good, big and small, yellow black and white, they are precious in His sight..."

Smart Mom snacks

my wife writes about my main food staple in my pre-marital adult life...

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Lincoln: Genius politically and militarily

i hope John doesn't mind me quoting his post in its brief entirety

I am attending the Lincoln Forum this weekend at Gettysburg. This is a superb event in every way. I so enjoy this time each year with about 200 people who love all things Lincoln as I do. The lectures and conversations here are always superb. Lincoln, in my judgment, was our greatest president. He is still a man who attracts incredible scholarly and popular interest the world over, 141 years after his death.

The lecture tonight was titled: "Abraham Lincoln: The Humble Military Genius." The presenter was Dr. John Marszalek, a professor of history (emeritus) at Mississippi State University. How could Lincoln, clearly a political genius by all accounts, also be seen as a military genius? He had no military training and learned everything that he knew on the job (during his presidency). He had no combat experience either. (Lincoln actually went to the Library of Congress on a number of occasions to study military tactics during his time in the White House.) The answer to this question, said Professor Marszalek, lies in the word "humility." Lincoln learned how to develop a war plan that eventually led the Union to triumph, after making many mistakes. Why? Marszalek suggests that it was his ability to question 19th century rational certainty and thus to operate outside the box. This allowed Lincoln to see that conquering armies was more important to final success than securing cities and territory. Marszalek said Lincoln's willingness to adjust his thinking to new realities was one of his greatest strengths. This willingness lay in his humility. I was moved once again to ask God for this kind of spirit in order to be a true lifelong learner. My pride is a great hindrance to my being a good leader. I learned again tonight how important humility is to really effective leadership.

reading the Bible

Joe at the EO was changed by these steps

1. Choose a book of the Bible.
2. Read it in its entirety.
3. Repeat #2 twenty times.
4. Repeat this process for all 66 books of the Bible.

of course, he elaborates

i've been reading through the Bible every year for many years. i've enjoyed McCheyne's reading plan this year. but i'm looking for something new for 2007. so tentatively, i'm thinking of doing the Bible in 90 days a few times through a chronological Bible and another version. but maybe i'll try this after those.

Driscoll emerges from the pig-pile

if you say you didn't mean what they heard, but then repeat it, does anybody hear?

even World Mag Blog jumped on the pile.

Friday, November 17, 2006

blast past 5000 hits

i like to thank the "kuppies and pittens" for giving me an extra 150 hits today and pushing me over the 5000 hits mark. this blog averages 20 visits a day normally. there is a lesson to be learned here in not limiting your posting subjects too restrictively. its like the aphorism, "there are no dumb questions, because if you are interested others are too." kuppies are interesting to me and at least 150 new visitors.
i put the hit counter on the blog just about a year ago. so 5000 hits a year is nice. and for all you who enjoy this without attending, i hope you've been served as well at the umblog.

listening to Cash's latest album

the website plays the songs from his last album which has many nods to God

latest successes with stem cells - not embyonic ones

the Christian Cadre points out the recent successes with stem cells that didn't involve killing a baby.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Ex-Adventist Outreach

Click the title for a link to for recovery from legalistic religion

success with adult stem cells

in adult dogs...

Two dogs that were severely disabled by the disease were able to walk faster and even jump after the treatments.

The study was published online Wednesday by the journal Nature. It used stem cells taken from the affected dogs or other dogs, rather than from embryos. For human use, the idea of using such "adult" stem cells from humans would avoid the controversial method of destroying human embryos to obtain stem cells.

kuppies or pittens?

forget labradoodles, how about cogs and dats and kuppies and pittens? click the title for the article...

Brazilian student Cassia Aparecida de Souza, 18, claims her cat's offspring has been born with dog traits last Friday, three months after mating with a neighbour's dog in the Brazilian city of Passo Fundo.

so if this isn't a hoax...who benefits more from this genetics violation? the creationists or the evolutionists?


GR: More Quiverful

Judging from the high rate of birth control use by American families and the declining size of the average American family, I have no doubt that the Bortels’ statement would be met with impassioned replies. Still, it’s so nice to read a story in which the reporter just permits the featured players to describe their theology in their own words.

Journalists seem to spend so much time covering how people control their family size but very little time covering whether people control the same. It’s refreshing to see a story on what is certainly a small but significant movement.

Finan’s story gives a comprehensive overview of the Quiverfull movement before showing how opposition to birth control is growing among some evangelicals:....

signs of the times

welcome to crummy church signs dot com

pig pile on Driscoll

Andrew the TSK summarizes the outcry regarding Driscoll's slam on not-model-like pastor's wives. somehow, my post on the slam wasn't included on the list. ;-)

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

God's Birth Control

Here are a couple of quick links to get you started on the subject of birth control. More information about birth control, it's effects, and personal testimonies will be added soon. Notice the progression between what the original pro birth control discussions and the path that we have since developed on.

encouraging thoughts on the Haggard scandal

great conclusion to this post

Sin doesn't have the final word.
You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin (1John 3:5).
“For truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place” (Acts 4:27-28).

Major leaders throughout Scripture fell into sin, but God’s plan of redemption continued, unstopping and unstoppable. Abraham lied about Sara being his wife. Jacob was a deceiver. Moses disobeyed God before all Israel. David committed adultery and had Bathsheba’s husband murdered. Solomon took hundreds of foreign wives. Peter denied Christ. The disciples deserted the Savior as he was taken away to be crucified. It’s true that leaders are and should be held to stricter standards, and we don’t want to use the fact that leaders fall to make us ambivalent towards fighting sin. However, one man’s sin, as egregious and awful as it may be, will not thwart God’s plan to have a humble people who proclaim and display the excellencies who brought them out of darkness into light (1 Pet. 2:9). The church of Jesus Christ has experienced a setback temporarily, but God’s plan remains unchanged. He is the Redeemer. We need a Savior. Is that any less clear now?

While we grieve over the effect of Ted Haggard’s sin, and should pray for all those involved, our confidence continues to be in the God who makes all things new, who will continue to display his wisdom through the church for the glory of Jesus Christ, who is the only Savior and Lord over all.

Atheist Dawkins has same talking points as Elton John

and a secular rebuttal from the TMQ himself, Gregg Easterbrook...

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

India: you can't join a church

November 13 (Compass Direct News) – Hindu extremists in the southern state of Karnataka who yesterday slapped a convert suffering from blood cancer today threatened to keep area converts from joining churches.

An alleged supporter of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) identified only as Nagesh today went to the house of Pastor C. Samuel John in Lakkavalli village, Chickmagalur district, and issued a threat that converts would not be allowed to join any church in the area. They accused John, the owner of a Christian orphanage, of forcibly converting Dalits.

John is a rights activist of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).

“The ringleader [Nagesh] also threatened Lakshmi, the mother of Pastor John’s neighbor Prashant, that her son would be attacked soon because he converted to Christianity,” Dr. Sajan K. George, GCIC national president, told Compass. “This is despite the fact that Pastor John greeted Nagesh in a friendly manner.”......

all encompassing eschatology

"Dr Blomberg provides insightful commentary on such issues as annhilationalism, the nature of hell, the fate of the unevangelised, eternal life, the intermediate state and provides an overview of the relevant NT passages. Anyone wishing to get to grips with eschatology should read this article."

it helps to have cup of strong coffee in hand as you read this, but he covers alot in 20 pages with a nod at the end to my latest book review.

book report: The Goodness of God by John Wenham

no links, this book is long out of print. It is a 1974 IVP book. The subtitle on the cover of the book says "Is God really good? What about cruelty? and suffering? and deformed babies? and war? and famine? And what about hell?"

This is a book about the problem of evil. Why does the all-powerful, Creator tolerate the privation of his perfect will? No one has all the answers, except God. One helpful answer for me is that many good things wouldn't happen if there weren't awful things to respond to. If there were no housefires, there would be no firemen to bravely rescue people, no doctors to heal people, and no fundraisers to help people. That was an extremely simple example, but its easy to extrapolate. Without sin, which Augustine defines as the privation of good, there would be no demonstration of the depths of God's love by the sacrifice of his Son or the profundity of his justice by the existence of hell. Speaking of hell. Wenham is sympathetic to the Adventist doctrine of conditional immortality. So he sees an out in eternal judgment as not eternally conscious punishment, but eternal in consequence, the extermination of souls. He doesn't declare his full support of it and frankly acknowledges its weaknesses, but later on he appeals to it in reply to an assumed argument.

Despite all this, its a worthshile read and helpful in processing some hard questions.

Walmart re-acknowledges Christmas - Whew!

USA Today reports
Wal-Mart will put "Christmas" back into the holidays this year, the retailer plans to announce Thursday.

A year after religious and other groups boycotted retailers, including Wal-Mart, for downplaying Christmas, the world's largest retail chain will have an in-your-face Christmas theme this year.

"We, quite frankly, have learned a lesson from last year," says Wal-Mart spokeswoman Linda Blakley. "We're not afraid to use the term 'Merry Christmas.' We'll use it early, and we'll use it often."

Wal-Mart told about 7,000 associates of the plans at a conference last month and "was met with rapturous applause. ... We know many of our customers will feel the same," says John Fleming, Wal-Mart's executive vice president of marketing.

CT: What married women want...

Sociologists Steven L. Nock and W. Bradford Wilcox of the University of Virginia have presented a new study ("What's Love Got to Do with It? Equality, Equity, Commitment, and Women's Marital Quality," available in digital form from based on the findings of the National Survey of Families and Households.

Based on my earlier research, evangelical women tend to be happier in their marriages than other women, particularly when both the wife and the husband attend church on a regular basis. This idea that Christians are just as likely to divorce as secular folks is not correct if we factor church attendance into our thinking. Churchgoing evangelical Protestants, churchgoing Catholics, and churchgoing mainline Protestants are all significantly less likely to divorce.

How much less likely?

I estimate between 35 and 50 percent less likely than Americans who attend church just nominally, just once or twice a year, or who don't attend church at all. It is true that people who say they've had a born-again experience are about as likely to divorce as people who are completely secular. But if you look at this through the lens of church attendance, you see a very different story.

What makes married women happy?

The biggest predictor of women's happiness is their husband's emotional engagement. The extent to which he is affectionate, to which he is empathetic, to which he is basically tuned into his wife, this is the most important factor in predicting the wife's happiness. This basically drowns out every other factor in our models.

Monday, November 13, 2006

British cities reinstate Christmas - Whew!

The Times of India reports
Till Monday's surprise call to apply the brakes on cancelling Christmas in an almost-neurotically politically-correct Britain, local town authorities often justified the change to 'Winterval' and 'luminos' by arguing that Britain is now a multi-faith society and it was important to avoid offending religious minorities.

But British Hindu community leaders have always insisted celebrating Christmas is not offensive to them and they would like to join in the party.

On Monday, British Muslim leaders added their voices to the chorus of consternation against cancelling Christmas.

They said they honoured Christians' most important religion and local town authorities were playing into the hands of extremists by cancelling Christmas because the white Christian mainstream was erroneously led to believe Muslim communities wanted to undermine Britain's Christian culture.

The new move to restore Christmas to its legitimate place in British life comes just days after the Church of England criticised Royal Mail for issuing Christmas stamps sans a Christian theme.

Monday fun- longest words

i won't reprodcue the 1100 letter long enzyme here.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Mouw calls Mormons or himself a bluebird instead of grackle

"What?" you say... read this awful editorial by Richard Mouw, a seminary president, in response to his critics, tells a third hand parable about shooting birds too quickly. Is he saying he's the mistakenly shot bird or his Mormon friends?
If he is, is he saying believers are not allowed to question his judgment? If Mormons are, did they metamorphize from false Christianity to optional Christianity?

11/11 Thank you veterans

God is good

Friday, November 10, 2006

brain imaging glossalists

in the news

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania took brain images of five women while they spoke in tongues and found that their frontal lobes — the thinking, willful part of the brain through which people control what they do — were relatively quiet, as were the language centers. The regions involved in maintaining self-consciousness were active. The women were not in blind trances, and it was unclear which region was driving the behavior...

Contrary to what may be a common perception, studies suggest that people who speak in tongues rarely suffer from mental problems. A recent study of nearly 1,000 evangelical Christians in England found that those who engaged in the practice were more emotionally stable than those who did not. Researchers have identified at least two forms of the practice, one ecstatic and frenzied, the other subdued and nearly silent.

The new findings contrasted sharply with images taken of other spiritually inspired mental states like meditation, which is often a highly focused mental exercise, activating the frontal lobes.

The scans also showed a dip in the activity of a region called the left caudate. “The findings from the frontal lobes are very clear, and make sense, but the caudate is usually active when you have positive affect, pleasure, positive emotions,” said Dr. James A. Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “So it’s not so clear what that finding says” about speaking in tongues.

The Bible says we are praising God...1 Cor 12-14

have we been velocitized?

Greg Koukl asks

To the morally sensitive, no argument is necessary beyond a clear description of this procedure. The morally velocitized, though, are content with the thinnest rationalizations to condone this brutality.

One woman told a radio interviewer she preferred partial-birth abortion because the baby was delivered whole and not chopped up into pieces. It gave her the opportunity to say goodbye. Another said it's the most "humane" way for the child itself.

Odd. We debate how best to take a child's life, not whether it's right to dispose of children.

CT: Worth Protecting

what to do with those little frozen babies, i mean, embryos? take their stem cells? thaw them?

Pundit Michael Kinsley, an ESC research proponent, calls us hypocrites: "If embryos are human beings, the routine practices of fertility clinics are far worse—both in numbers and in criminal intent—than stem-cell research. And yet no one objects, or objects very loudly."

Of course, a few of us—including CT—do object. Joni Eareckson Tada, left a quadriplegic from a diving accident, is another one. "IVF is not morally squeaky clean," she told me. "Christian couples need to understand the inherent moral problems connected with that procedure as it is presently performed."

Is the embryo really a precious human life made in God's image? Or is it simply marvelously complex raw material to be exploited for the greater good? Eareckson Tada is unwilling to cross that moral line, even in her wheelchair. How about the rest of us?

embryonic stem cell alternatives...

another from the Boundless blog... we have the technology, why kill the babies?

one person's church discipline experience

another good post at the boundless blog. he was disciplined and grateful for it.

mostly born abortion ban

from the Boundless blog...
JUSTICE GINSBURG: Even though we are told by some of the medical briefs that the procedure is basically the same, they start out in the same way and that the difference -- the differences are not large in particular cases.

GENERAL CLEMENT: Well, Justice Ginsburg, let me make a couple of points in response to that. I think -- taken at the broader level first, I think there is one very important difference between these two procedures that led Congress to ban one and allow the other to stand. And that is whether fetal demise takes place in utero, which is, of course, the hallmark of all abortions, or whether fetal demise takes place when the fetus is more than halfway out of the mother. ...

Note the last several words in that statement, "more than halfway out of the mother." This is the reality we live in under current abortion law. There will be no consideration for the baby as long as most of its body is still inside the mother. Let's be perfectly clear here. The issue in this case is not about whether a viable unborn baby should be killed, just how to kill it.

why Mormon missionaries lie

i guess they believe "you can't handle the truth." it's like scientology, who's leader warend that reading his high level courses before you were ready could kill you...i read it, and i didn't even sneeze.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A-Team: Looney Tunes world

so some Muslim has it all figured out...the Tom and Jerry cartoon was made by Jews to redeem the Nazi slur of them as "dirty mice" all makes sense now. did you hear that another Muslim teacher blamed the U.S. for the tsunami? what can't conspiracy theories explain?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Signs of a restorable spirit

Leadership Journal blog has a helpful entry in light of the Haggard fall. the 2nd commenter clarifies that these steps address restoration of trust, not forgiveness.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

induction stoves

this is so cool. magnets heat up a pot which heats the food. the stove top remains cool. no flame. no cool down time.

ChristianCadre: Kill the Babies

regarding a proposal in England to kill really sick babies....
But the proposal is not about "striving to keep alive babies." It states plainly that it is about "active euthanasia." In other words, not about witholding care, but about actively killing these children. Other "ethicists," however, are not so confused on the issue, and speak out more plainly.

The college’s submission was also welcomed by John Harris, a member of the government’s Human Genetics Commission and professor of bioethics at Manchester University. “We can terminate for serious foetal abnormality up to term but cannot kill a newborn. What do people think has happened in the passage down the birth canal to make it okay to kill the foetus at one end of the birth canal but not at the other?” he said.
So now we have a member of the government stating the obvious. If we can kill the children before they leave the birth canal, why not after? Curiously, when debates used to take place in the past over abortion rights, proponents of abortion assured us that they were not arguing for infanticide. Obviously, what some of them did not add, at the end of that statement, was the word "yet." And so, we move further down the slippery slope in the Culture of Death. A mother of a severely disabled child is even trotted out in support of the proposal, saying that the killing of her child "should be an option for the mother,” albeit in "extremely controlled circumstances" (none of which are outlined, including in the proposal itself)...
And one disabled rights activist is also quoted.

Simone Aspis of the British Council of Disabled People said: “If we introduced euthanasia for certain conditions it would tell adults with those conditions that they were worth less than other members of society.”
That has, of course, been what the debate has always been about. Once we opened the door to the legal killing of innocent human beings (in the "extremely controlled" circumstance of abortions only), the rationale becomes irresistable. Now the same arguments are brought forward in favour of infanticide, and those who supported abortion are left with the challenge: Why say no? We can kill the children in the womb, and even in the birth canal, why not later, after she is born?

Why indeed.

International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

This Sunday, November 12th, Christians across the world will take time out to pray particularly for the persecuted church.

voting and the kingdom of God

"The Kingdom of God cannot be voted in--only lived out. When we try to vote it in, use power politics, we forget what Jesus taught His disciples--"my kingdom is not of this world." This world matters because Jesus says "this Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached to all nations," but His kingdom is lived out here and now but only complete then and there."

i voted for those who want to protect the most innocents, wouldn't you know, some of those people aren't affiliated with parties whose names begin with R or D

Breakpoint: A Christian state in India

Colson refers to Nagaland, which a state in India that is 90% Christian as a Baptist Tibet.

What makes these numbers even more remarkable is that, as recently as 125 years ago, many Nagas were head-hunters! They were converted to Christianity through the work of courageous Baptist missionaries in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Christianity not only transformed individuals, but Naga society, as well: Nagaland’s literacy rate is four times that of the rest of India; they have “created effective health care programs”; and their goal is to send 10,000 missionaries to India, Burma, and the rest of Asia.

It will come as no surprise that the Nagas’ relationship with the rest of India is tense. Ethnic and religious differences led to what has been called India’s “dirty little war” in which at least 200,000 Nagas were killed during the last half of the twentieth century. Indian troops “burned entire villages, raped women in churches, and then burned the churches.”

Even after a cease-fire, Indian troops continued to show “disdain for the Nagas’ churches and religion,” prompting the Christian Century to compare India’s treatment of Nagaland to China’s treatment of Tibet.

Recently, the Nagas, like the rest of India’s 23 million Christians, have experienced discrimination, even violence, from Hindu nationalists. The former ruling party, the BJP, as part of its “Hinduization” program, enacted laws aimed at preventing conversions to Christianity; and its followers burned churches and even killed pastors and parishioners.

Once again, the BJP won't let the good work of Christ impede their desire to assert a Hindu world in all of India.

English Christians with a small god

The headline reads "Christians ask if force is needed to protect their religious values"
the Answer is "No." uggh. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, not throw rocks at him.

Inquisition in Goa

a reader pointed out this sad article on the spread of the Inquisition all the way to India. It seems that all who weren't Catholic in the state of Goa were at risk. Goa was part of the Portuguese empire at the time. Protestants, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews were killed. The inquisition is a terrible example of what happens when the church and state entwine, sort of like the BJP and several Indian states today. But as the recent Haggard episode shows, as well as the awful predatory Catholic priest exposure, God purifies his church very effectively on his own. Too bad all the gods of Hinduism and Islam are still in need of help from violent, insecure humans.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Challies excellent reflection

fantastic thoughts such as
And then realize that, as we explored earlier this week in a discussion about total depravity, there is really no difference between you and Haggard or between myself and Haggard. We are all totally depraved with our sin extending to every aspect of our being. There but for the grace of God go I. There but for the grace of God go you. While I would not expect a reporter to approach me if I were to fall into similar sin, I can only imagine the pain of having to sit in front of my children, my wife, and answer questions about whether or not I have had sex with a man or admitting that I purchased illegal drugs. It's horrible. It's terrifying. That could be my wife, wondering how I could do this to her, wondering if she can ever trust me again, wondering if she can ever love me again. Those could be my kids, hearing the lurid details of dad's depravity. Those could be my kids, trying bravely not to cry as they walk into school on Monday morning, knowing that everyone knows, knowing that life will never be the same.
unlike some other bloggers and some commenters, he refuses to distance himself from his brother. read the comments too. they think the problem would be avoided by better theology or better piety or better ecclesiology. some even doubt Haggard's salvation. but the problem is sin. and the solution is Jesus, who died for those sins. the wounded brother, who shot himself, so to speak, has entered himself into the hospital, let's not throw him out and to the wolves to finish him off.

India: youths arrested for forced conversion

those teenage girls are very dangerous...or is there Savior's love so compelling????

November 3 (Compass Direct News)
– Police in the southern state of Karnataka have arrested four more Christians on charges leveled by Hindu extremists.

Police in Udupi district on October 27 arrested four Christian youths, including three girls, for forcibly converting Hindus.

According to Dajiworld News Network, the Christians, identified only as Robin, Karen, Asha and Flavin, are from the Mabukal area near Brahmavar.

Police made the arrests after Girish Kundapur, the leader of a Hindu extremist organization, filed a complaint with police alleging they were “visiting the houses of Hindus and misleading the people.”

Kundapur also accused the Christians of forcibly converting people to Christianity. The youths refuted the allegation, saying they were not encouraging conversion but only preaching their beliefs.

“We have not forced anyone to get converted – we do not believe in forceful conversion,” Dajiworld quoted one of the arrested as saying.

Police are investigating the conversion charges against the accused.

Udupi district has a strong presence of Hindu extremists. The September 2006 issue of a monthly journal, Communalism Combat, said that anti-Christian incidents had occurred in several places across the Udupi and Dakshina Kannada districts.

“At some places, huts belonging to Dalits have been destroyed, photographs of Christ have been burnt and Hindutva activists have attacked prayer meetings, all on the pretext of stopping forcible conversions,” it stated....

another Haggard summary...

with a touch of analysis by Ted Olsen at Christianity Today....

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Ted won't take Driscoll's advice

and refuses (PDF) to throw his wife under the bus...

It is important that you know how much I love and appreciate my wife, Gayle. What I did
should never reflect in a negative way on her relationship with me. She has been and
continues to be incredible. The problem was not with her, my children, or any of you. It
was created 100% by me.
it also seems that he was accountable at one time, but grew frustrated with his weakness and stopped admitting to it, which then led to giving into the weakness
Through the years, I’ve sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving
to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most
because I didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them.
i have to commend him for his agreement to not return to minister at the church he started.
We will never return to a leadership role at
New Life Church. In our hearts, we will always be members of this body.
he seems to want to heal with the goal of healing, not resuming his highly esteemed position. that's good. if nothing else, he's demonstrated, so far, how to fall well. he's acting....biblically even!

Gayle Haggard will stay with her husband

as reported in the open letter to the congregation.

and Ted's letter said in part
"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," he said.

gay folks will tell their audience that he should have been honest with his feelings and not stayed in the closet. i'm of the opinion that he should have been honest with his temptations and kept them public so that he'd be accountable to everyone, as he is now. temptations aren't sins. no pastor should lose people or positions because of honesty with their temptations, at least with some people...

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Driscoll tries to help future Haggards, BUT...

if the Pastor's wife doesn't keep herself up to the standards of all those temptresses, or tempters (m.) in Haggard's case, she is not helping him resist temptation...
Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.
Hey Mark, I'm not playing on this field. The whole team might not be either.
David Goldstein is currently at the top of Google News on this and he writes...
Of course, using Pastor Driscoll's line of reasoning one would suppose about two-thirds of married, middle-aged Americans -- men and women alike -- to be meth-addicted homosexuals. Hmm. I haven't looked at the statistics recently, but that figure strikes me as just a tad high... at least, outside of Colorado Springs.
David isn't on the team, but this member of the team agrees with his point. We already have Mr. Haggard bringing shame on the team, and his marriage, why not hold off on applying the bat to his wife, who hasn't let herself go in that way, but might just be coming undone this weekend.

Pastoral Submission

There have been swipes at Haggard and the US evangelical leadership model in general, the charismatic leader/founding pastor, on the blogs. However, in 3 days, his board has held him accountable and told him to step down and he did. That is an excellent response time to a moral issue in the leader. So like many other things, when it works well, it works really well. I'm glad his church implemented this accountability structure that Haggard himself set up. Hopefully, that accountability board will walk with him and his family for the long haul.

No board can prevent someone from sinning. No denomination can. No accountability partner can. Each sinner is responsible for his own sin. The board did well, so far. I commend them.

Haggard is asked to resign...and he does

Here is the press release from New Life Church (PDF)
November 4, 2006
New Life Church
Colorado Springs, Colorado
We, the Overseer Board of New Life Church, have concluded our deliberations
concerning the moral failings of Pastor Ted Haggard. Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s
public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.
The language of our church bylaws state that as Overseers we must decide in cases where
the Senior Pastor has “demonstrated immoral conduct” whether we must “remove the pastor
from his position or to discipline him in any way they deem necessary.”
In consultation with leading evangelicals and experts familiar with the type of behavior
Pastor Haggard has demonstrated, we have decided that the most positive and productive
direction for our church is his dismissal and removal. In addition, the Overseers will continue to
explore the depth of Pastor Haggard’s offense so that a plan of healing and restoration can begin.
Pastor Haggard and his wife have been informed of this decision. They have agreed as
well that he should be dismissed and that a new pastor for New Life Church should be selected
according to the rules of replacement in the bylaws.
That process will begin immediately in hopes that a new pastor can be confirmed by the
end of the year 2006. In the interim, Ross Parsley will function as the leader of the church with
full support of the Overseers.
A letter of explanation and apology by Pastor Haggard as well as a word of
encouragement from Gayle Haggard will be read in the 9:00 and 11:00 service of New Life