Wednesday, November 30, 2005


New for your parish!
Tired of all that silly old doctrine? Need to get rid of obsolete scriptural standards of theology and conduct so you too can “speak prophetically” like the really cool parishes? Got any leftover non-gender-inclusive bibles or 1928 prayerbooks?

We at Anglican Innovations are proud to announce our new series of Angli-Can™ spiritual toilets for the disposal of outdated materials. Each Angli-Can is designed to handle centuries of dogmas and doctrines before requiring a service call. Our unique, specially designed spiritual refuse treatment system (Spiritual Innovation by Neognosticism, or SIN system, pat. pend.) will take the most established doctrines and traditions and turn them into harmless, odorless, guilt-free vapor.

Angli-Cans come in a variety of styles to suit any church, from the most old-fashioned and unwreckovated to the most modern and stylish, and can be color coded to match the ecclesial standing of the clergy involved. Illustrated below are the Priestly model, in black, and the Episcopal model in stylish bishop’s purple.

Since even the most post-modern and theologically up-to-date clergy are likely to have their own favorite doctrines in need of renovation, we at Anglican Innovations suggest providing each clergyperson with their own personal Angli-Can. We can provide all sorts of individually-tailored package deals to make Angli-Cans available to even the fastest-declining smallest parish. Call us immediately at 1-800-666-6666 to reserve yours today!

Warning: Some individuals have reported unpleasant odors of brimstone when using their Angli-Cans. Extensive research shows this to be an idiosyncratic response of particular individuals whose immune system are sensitized to theological innovations. This condition can usually be cured by sending the individuals to a few classes at an up-to-date seminary. In the rare instance where this does not cure the condition, our consultants from Asmodeus, Appolyon, and Abraxas, LLP sadly recommend removing the individual from the parish. Their constant complaints are likely to cause divisiveness and – in extreme cases – conviction of sin, things that all modern congregations must avoid at any cost. Ask for our free brochure Dealing with the Innovation-Impaired, with tips on dealing with this unfortunate situation.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Satan's best invention

My Dearest Wormwood,

It is with pleasure I announce that our Infernal Laboratories have succeeded in producing a truly fiendish new weapon with which to assault the Enemy and bring his little pets, the humans, into our camp. Some of the worst minds in the Lowerarchy have labored for years on this project; those who have succeeded will feed for millennia on the pain of those who failed. The laughter of the victors and the screams of the losers can be heard even now echoing through the Kingdom of Noise.

But enough talk of life’s little pleasures; I want to discuss this new invention with you. If you can succeed in attaching one to your patient, you are likely to succeed in bringing him into our Father’s house, even if he has become one of those loathsome Christians.

The device itself is referred to as a “pager” or, sometimes, a “beeper.” The genius of it is that it appeals to their basest instincts of greed and ambition, while simultaneously infuriating them. The mechanism allows human masters to be in constant touch with their hirelings by means of an electronic signal. No matter the time or place, the hirelings can be “paged” to resume work. The appeal to “efficiency” and “worker productivity” is unstoppable. If a human overlord needs to have, say, his factory supported 24 hours per day, he can simply hire one human with a pager instead of two or three humans to share (my apologies for using the “s” word) the labor while the others rest or engage in their disgusting animal behaviors.

On the other hand, the underling is encouraged to use the pager by appeals to his “responsibility,” his “loyalty to the company” (which we all know is nothing but a sham for his avarice and ambition), and the improvements in his “personal productivity” (which carries the promise of financial reward at the expense of the humans displaced). If you handle things right, you can even get your patient to sin against the Enemy by actually being proud of his new electronic master! In the right circles, carrying a pager is seen as a sign that one is a valued member of the economic order!

Once the human has accepted the device, we have an enormous hold over his attitudes. The pager can be used to disrupt his personal relationships, his pleasures, his prayers, his sleep, and even his attitude towards the Enemy. Does he seek a little “marital bliss” with his bride (by Hell, it sickens me how the Enemy encourages the most creaturely behaviors of his little pets)? Does he want to spend “family time” with his oh-so-precious offspring? The pager can take care of that.

Be especially certain to disrupt his sleep patterns! Rest is a sure and certain setback to our efforts; the Enemy uses it to soften their baser animal instincts and turn their thoughts towards him and his aims. He has even been known to use their sleep times as a means of direct communication to their pathetic little psyches, though not as frequently as in the days before that regrettable incident with the Cross. But depriving them of rest – ahh, that turns their minds in our direction as certainly as mortal sin itself!

As I have written you before, they have the pathetic and egomaniacal delusion that time belongs somehow to them! Deprive them of their time and you immediately turn them to petulance. Cultivated petulance becomes bitterness and anger, and anger is the raw material of our best work - everything from self-consuming hatred to the exquisite joys of violence. Is the subject praying before the enemy? A simple electronic signal and I guarantee that his mind will turn from the Enemy to himself in a nanosecond. If you can arrange things so the device goes off while he is in church, so much the better. The shock of the change in his emotional state from worship to resentment can even get him to question his relationship with the Enemy, and even the nature of the Enemy himself! Astonishingly, the creatures are so stupid that they confuse their “feelings” with reality on a regular basis. Oh – and if you set the pager to go off in a church, try to make sure he has forgotten to set it to “vibrate” mode. The noise will then cause him embarrassment and an even greater shift in his feelings, while at the same time distracting any number of other humans around him!

Really, the possibilities of this device are limitless! And it is unstoppable, being driven by the basic needs of greed, power, and self-aggrandizement! I am proud to say I had a bit of a hand in developing it myself; I had the opportunity to act as “encourager” to many of the laboratory staff. The role was both significant and delicious.

I must give you one caution with the use of this device, however! The pleasure you will enjoy from its use and the effect on your patient is quite intense and addictive. Do not allow yourself to be distracted by the momentary glee at the expense of your true duty, which is to bring the patient safely to our Father’s house. Do not cause him such discomfort that he decides to discard the pager and find another occupation! Such an event is quite likely to make him think seriously about his life, and such thoughts are always used by the Enemy to draw them closer to himself. A disaster of that magnitude would require the Home Office to reconsider your usefulness as a Tempter, and I don’t have to tell you what a demotion would mean in terms of your personal intactness.

As eternally, I remain...

Your devoted and caring uncle,


Monday, November 28, 2005

Abortion Statistics for 2002

From Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report 54(SS-7):1-31 for Nov. 25, 2005

Abortion statistics are now out for calendar year 2002.  Abortion rates are approximately constant, compared with those for 2001; slightly less than one fifth of all potential births are aborted in the USA (246 abortions per 1000 live births).

Although abortion rates and numbers have fallen since their peak in 1990, at least part of the reported decline is due to the fact that California, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, and Alaska do not report abortion numbers.  Prior to 1998, numbers were estimated for these states and in 1997 these estimates accounted for 286,000 abortions that have simply disappeared from the statistics in subsequent years.

Perhaps this fact is widely known, but I sure as heck didn’t know it!

To put things in perspective, the abortion ratio of 19.7% makes “not being born yet” one of the most lethal conditions any American can face.  This is a higher mortality rate that would be expected for Yellow or Lassa fevers.  Many fearsome cancers have a much higher survivorship than does the womb.  Street patrol in the Sunni Triangle doesn’t even come close.  And we wonder why God smote the firstborn of Egypt.

Pharaoh then commanded all his subjects, Throw into the river every boy that is born to the Hebrews...   (Exo 1:22, NAB)

Moses then said, Thus says the LORD: At midnight I will go forth through Egypt. Every first-born in this land shall die, from the first-born of Pharaoh on the throne to the first-born of the slave-girl at the handmill, as well as all the first-born of the animals.  (Exo 11:4-5, NAB)

Jesus, knit so wonderfully in the Womb of Mary,
     Have mercy on us.
Jesus, conceived by the Holy Spirit in the Womb of Mary,
     Have mercy on us.
Jesus, uniquely human from the moment of conception in the Womb of Mary,
     Have mercy on us.
Jesus, present at creation, created in the Womb of Mary,
     Have mercy on us.
Jesus, through whom the world was made, formed in the Womb of Mary,
     Have mercy on us.
Jesus, Word made flesh, taking on a human body in the Womb of Mary,
     Have mercy on us.

(Excerpted from The Litany to Jesus in the Womb of Mary, courtesy of the Unborn jesus Apostolate.)

Fifty babies a year are alive after abortion

From The Times (UK) Online:
A GOVERNMENT agency is launching an inquiry into doctors’ reports that up to 50 babies a year are born alive after botched National Health Service abortions.

The investigation, by the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH), comes amid growing unease among clinicians over a legal ambiguity that could see them being charged with infanticide.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, which regulates methods of abortion, has also mounted its own investigation.

Its guidelines say that babies aborted after more than 21 weeks and six days of gestation should have their hearts stopped by an injection of potassium chloride before being delivered. In practice, few doctors are willing or able to perform the delicate procedure.

For the abortion of younger foetuses, labour is induced by drugs in the expectation that the infant will not survive the birth process. Guidelines say that doctors should ensure that the drugs they use prevent such babies being alive at birth.

It is a sad commentary that we live in a world where the birth of a living baby after an attempted abortion is seen as a problem instead of a miracle. I hope the fetuses babies are allowed to live. After all, as I understand it, criminals who survive execution are traditionally spared. Surely being a murderer is not a lesser offense than being a baby?

“If a baby is born alive following a failed abortion and then dies (because of lack of care), you could potentially be charged with murder,” said Shantala Vadeyar, a consultant obstetrician at South Manchester University Hospitals NHS Trust, who led the study.

In other words, you could be charged with a killing for killing a baby. What a concept. Maybe the Brits should come to the good old USA, where you can kill whenever you want to.

Advent, the impossible season

This last Sunday was the First Sunday of Advent (with apologies to my Old Calendar Orthodox friends!) Just as Adult Ed was starting at church, which we have prior to the service, I got paged away to work. I wound up missing the Eucharist as well as the book discussion. No complaints (well, okay, a few whines) – it goes with the turf; but it did cause me to think a little.

The Little Lent of Advent is a time of penitence, reflection, and self-dedication in preparation for the great act of God in the Incarnation, a time of fasting and prayer. Depending on one’s tradition, this may involve everything from a general call for reflection to a well-defined set of duties and specific fasts. I’m not interested in debating the merits of any particular approach to Advent; what strikes me is that we live in a society that makes keeping a Holy Advent well nigh impossible.

Advent corresponds quite neatly with the commercial “Holiday Season,” which I’m coming to believe is Satan’s anti-Advent.

Advent calls for reflection; the Holiday Season calls for distraction. Advent calls for prayer and fasting; the Holiday Season calls for excess. Advent calls for penitence; the Holiday Season calls for self-indulgence. Advent calls us to God; the Holiday Season calls us to the World.

Fasting? Anyone who knows more than two people is going to find himself attending at least one “Holiday Party.” Every cube in the office sports candy, cookies, crackers, or so-and-so’s famous venison jerky. Anyone who drops by the house brings something to eat or drink with them. In terms of fasting, the average American gains a pound and a half every Christmas.

Sure, you can still fast. Just try to be unobtrusive about it, though – you’ll find it’s close to impossible. Hey, you haven’t tried my jerky! Here, have a cookie! Whaddaya mean, you don’t want some vodka punch? You some kind of Holy Roller? Trying to spoil the party?

And that’s just the literal fasting from foodstuffs. The whole idea of self-restraint is skewed this time of year. I’ve certainly been known to justify an excessive, extravagant, or just plain moronic purchase with the excuse, “Hey, it’s Christmas.”

Reflection? The Holiday Season coincides with the end of the fall semester for teachers and students, with the concomitant testing and grades to preoccupy their time. It‘s also the time of maximum retail sales, with the corresponding economic worries for both seller and consumer. Maximum sales drive maximum production rates, at least in some industries. Increased production strains the IT infrastructure. Increased travel strains the transportation system. The “Sound of the Holidays” isn’t silver bells in the steeple; it’s the beeper going off at two in the morning.

Prayer? Jammed on the highway; jammed in the shopping mall; jammed for money; jammed for time; jammed for keeping the industrial engine running with duct tape and staples. God’s name is probably taken in vain more times during the Holiday Season than at any other time or place except a battlefield.

Penitence? Historically, the prime connection between penitence and the Holiday Season for this sinner is that December usually just gives me more things to be penitent for.

I don’t intend this as a curmudgeonly screed against Capitalist Christmas. I’ve participated just as much as anyone else. It certainly has its good points. Money spent at Christmas is money paid out in wages, salaries, and dividends. Charitable giving maxes out at Christmas time, when the connection between man and wallet is at its weakest. And the world turns its attention towards the affairs of children, which is usually a good thing for all of us. Besides, I like flying reindeers and Santa Claus!

But the deck is stacked against anyone who wants to keep a holy Advent. It’s bloody awful hard when you belong to a good Christian community; if you don’t have a lot of Christian friends, you’re toast. Unless you stay inside your house, you will be under constant assault. If you do stay in your house, you’ll be both unemployed and friendless. If you go forth to carry the message of fasting and penitence, you’ll be a stick in the mud and a social pariah. And I no longer think it’s just an accident – the Evil One is pretty slick.

Screwtape always made the point that it doesn’t matter to Satan whether we think evil thoughts or nice thoughts, do bad things or good things, steal from people or buy presents for them, as long as what we do isn’t directed towards God. And the Holiday Season submerges thoughts of God beneath thoughts of man, and turns the self-sacrificing God of the Incarnation into the god of the potlatch, where niceness takes the place of goodness.

Lord, help us to find those places and moments in the coming weeks where we can be still, where we can think of what it means for You to enter as a participant into Your own creation, where we can look at the flaws and failures that necessitate Your redemption, and where we can renew ourselves in the true light of Your untainted Self-giving Love.

The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. (John 1:9-12, RSV)

Friday, November 25, 2005

Former Canadian Minister Of Defence Asks Canadian Parliament Asked To Hold Hearings On Relations With Alien "ET" Civilizations

Barking Moonbat Warning!

OTTAWA, CANADA (PRWEB) November 24, 2005
A former Canadian Minister of Defence and Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau has joined forces with three Non-governmental organizations to ask the Parliament of Canada to hold public hearings on Exopolitics -- relations with “ETs.”

By "ETs," Mr. Hellyer and these organizations mean ethical, advanced extraterrestrial civilizations that may now be visiting Earth.

On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."

Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."

Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalleled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."

Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

Somehow, you just knew it would all wind up being our fault, and a connivance of the Evil Scheming Satanic Bush Administration. All we need to figure out is how Halliburton plans to make a profit off interstellar warfare. (“Intergalactic” seems a bit of his stretch. To crib a line from The Princess Bride, “Are you sure you know what that word means?”)

At the risk of offending Canadian readers, I wonder if maybe some of your guys have too much time on their hands during those long, cold winters. I recommend assigning Mr. Hellyer as Canadian Special Envoy to the moon; he would fit right in there. Alternatively, perhaps the French can set up a moonbase. They could surrender before we Reckless Imperialist Xenophobic Gun-Crazed Cowboys have a chance to initiate hostilities.

I’ve always been interested in discussions about the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the philosophical and theological implications that might entail. I have, however, been primarily interested in rational discussions.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation

General Thanksgiving
By the PRESIDENT of the United States Of America

WHEREAS it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly to implore His protection and favour; and Whereas both Houses of Congress have, by their joint committee, requested me "to recommend to the people of the United States a DAY OF PUBLICK THANSGIVING and PRAYER, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness:"

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country previous to their becoming a nation; for the signal and manifold mercies and the favorable interpositions of His providence in the course and conclusion of the late war; for the great degree of tranquility, union, and plenty which we have since enjoyed;-- for the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted;-- for the civil and religious liberty with which we are blessed, and the means we have of acquiring and diffusing useful knowledge;-- and, in general, for all the great and various favours which He has been pleased to confer upon us.

And also, that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations and beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions;-- to enable us all, whether in publick or private stations, to perform our several and relative duties properly and punctually; to render our National Government a blessing to all the people by constantly being a Government of wise, just, and constitutional laws, discreetly and faithfully executed and obeyed; to protect and guide all sovereigns and nations (especially such as have shewn kindness unto us); and to bless them with good governments, peace, and concord; to promote the knowledge and practice of true religion and virtue, and the increase of science among them and us; and, generally to grant unto all mankind such a degree of temporal prosperity as he alone knows to be best.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of New-York, the third day of October, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine.

(signed) G. Washington

This is clearly a violation of the separation of church and state! Someone call the ACLU! Quick! I think I’m gonna faint! (gurgle…)

(Sorry. Couldn’t resist the chance to snark. Shame on me, and Happy Holiday Thanksgiving.)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Grace before meals

Heard in church (Courtesy of Always Thirsty.):
An older country gentleman goes into the city and stops at a restaurant for a bite to eat. He bows his head to thank God for the food and two young city guys start to mock him and then ask, snickering, "Does everyone where you come from pray over their food?" The older gentleman responds, "Everyone except the pigs."

Happy Thanksgiving to all

This time of year, I figure a correction to my usual state of gross ingratitude is in order.  In that vein, I have composed the following Top Dozen list.

Things I'm Thankful For:
  1. Salvation (well, you know that one has to come first!)

  2. Faithful-and-Long-Suffering Wife.

  3. Beloved-but-Expensive Daughter.

  4. Christian friends I can trust - even if I don't get to see them very often.

  5. Two (count'em - two!) great churches.

  6. Food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to live without having to worry much about it.

  7. The freedom to go where I want to go and do what I want to do.

  8. The U.S. Military (see #6 and #7 above).

  9. Bible Study Fellowship.

  10. The pets in my house.

  11. The wildlife in my back yard (yes, even including the tarantulas and scorpions).

  12. Being Texan.

Merry Christmas is not offensive!

Religious freedom is for everyone!
Well, December is nearly here, which means the dreaded "C word" is upon us. Put politely, "the holiday season" is nearly here. We shall all hear those "Happy Hanukkahs" and "Happy holidays," but rarely a "Merry Christmas." Secular fundamentalism has successfully injected into American culture the notion that the word "Christmas" is deeply offensive. I think we Jews may be making a grievous mistake in allowing them to banish Christmas without challenge.

We see obsequious regard for faiths like Judaism and even Islam, while Christianity is treated with contempt. I don't want Judaism treated with less respect. I want Christianity to be treated with as much respect.

From Rabbi David Lapin. Read the entire article here.

Thank you, Rabbi! It is a pleasure to see a devout member of the Twelve Tribes stand up for Christmas, when most Christians are too weakened and emasculated by the culture to do it themselves. Blessings on your house, Rabbi Lapin.

"The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace." (Num 6:24-26, NKJV)

P.S. I suspect that most objections to Christmas come not from Jews, or even from the Religion of Peace, but from the godless thought police who require, in order to sleep well at night, the avoidance of any exposure to the Name of Jesus Christ.

The intolerance reminds me of Corrie Ten Boom’s arrest by the Gestapo for hiding Jews. When she cried out to Jesus, the arresting officer ordered her not to use “that name” again, or he’d shoot her. He had the guns; she had the Name. She was understandably afraid of the guns; it is interesting that he was so shaken by the Name. If more SS officers had understood Hebrew, one wonders if they would have been able to stand it when their victims groaned out the Shema?

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Many women victim of 'gendercide,' study finds

There is a shortfall of some 200 million women in the world -- "missing' due to what a three-year study on violence against women calls "gendercide."

The number of what the study describes as 'missing' women is based on the random birthrate of males and females and how many fewer women there are than what would be expected in the world population, said Theodor Winkler, head of a research center that directed the project.

Winkler told a news conference at the United Nations on Thursday that gender-related abortions and infanticides were the leading causes for the shortfall in the female population. Another factor was domestic violence, including so-called honor killings in some cultures.
Read the whole article here.

The law of unintended consequences strikes again. What was (and still is) touted as a great blow for the liberation of women from the shackles of biology and male chauvinism turns out to b killing them off. How can anybody really be surprised at this?

The cult of Abortion is interesting in that – in some ways – it can be compared to offbeat sects like the Shakers or the Albigensians or the Syrian Gnostics. Those sects required celibacy, and could therefore grow only by recruitment. The Abortion Cult is biologically infertile, and also grows through recruitment. Although it is, strictly speaking, not sterile (Abortionites can still have children if they want them), the internal drive for self-gratification and the social pressures of the cult itself drive them to reproduction rates far below replacement. (All the countries of Eastern and Western Europe, with the possible exception of Albania have below-replacement fertility. The only source of population growth is immigration. Canadians are not replacing themselves; neither are white Americans.)

In the Third World, the effect is somewhat different. Although fertility rates are falling, they are generally still high. But the populations are being skewed towards a demographic imbalance with too many guys and not enough girls. In our fallen world, I can only think of one consequence to that condition – population rebalancing through endless, unremitting war and violence.

Solutions to the “gender imbalance” problem have been suggested – generally involving either the governmental subsidy of female children or the outlawing of sex-based abortions. The latter is not just hard to enforce; it is darkly hysterical in its hypocrisy. A woman’s right to choose is inviolable, but only as long as the choice is made for what other women think is the correct reason.

Neither solution addresses the cult’s underlying difficulty, however. Someday, simply by saturation of the market, recruitment of new members will dry up. Ultimately, the Abortionites will select themselves out of the population, unless they can come up with a solution to their self-extinction problem. Their is a certain Darwinian irony to the whole thing.

God will indeed not be mocked - not because He will directly smite us in wrath, but simply because it is, in the final analysis, not possible for us to successfully do so.

What's your theological worldview?

You scored as Roman Catholic. You are Roman Catholic. Church tradition and ecclesial authority are hugely important, and the most important part of worship for you is mass. As the Mother of God, Mary is important in your theology, and as the communion of saints includes the living and the dead, you can also ask the saints to intercede for you.

Roman Catholic


Evangelical Holiness/Wesleyan


Neo orthodox




Reformed Evangelical




Classical Liberal




Modern Liberal


What's your theological worldview?
created with

I don't think they have enough categories. Since there are no ratings for Eastern Catholic, Classical Anglican, or Orthodox, I'm not surprised at the outcome. What is a little surprising is that I rate so high in "Neo orthodox." Any number of friends and acquaintances will tell you there is nothing whatsoever "Neo" about me, except possibly for "Neolithic!"

On the other hand, I am extremely happy to rate dead last as a "Modern liberal." Now if I can just figure out where that residual 7% is coming from, I need to root it out of my soul with prayer and fasting.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Generosity Index and Voting Patterns

The table below is the 2005 version of the Generosity Index (data courtesy of the Catalogue for Philanthropy), with states colored red or blue based on their voting patterns in the 2004 election. In the interest of avoiding conflict on this blog, I will leave any (obvious, IMHO) conclusions about the political implications to the reader. What would be really interesting, I think, would be seeing if there were a correlation between personal religious commitment by state,and the generosity index. By eyeball, their appears to be a strong correlation between the strength of traditional Christian influence on society and the level of giving (Baptist Mississippi versus secular Massachusetts, for example), but I don't have any numbers to back that up.

StateHaving RankGiving RankRank RelationGenerosity Index
South Dakota449353
South Carolina3913269
West Virginia48222610
North Dakota45291614
North Carolina28161216
New Mexico4740722
New York510-526
Rhode Island1550-3547
New Jersey238-3648
New Hampshire848-4050

Brothel owner wants his own church

Tip of the gimme cap to Eric Scheske at The Daily Eudemon

A German brothel owner is planning to build his own multi-denominational church.
Bert Wollersheim, 54, who has over 50 prostitutes working for him, plans to preach frorm the pulpit himself.

Wollersheim, one of Germany’s best known pimps, wants to speak out against fanaticism.

He said: “I want it to be a place for Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus and every other religion. That is my biggest dream.”

He added he had no problem reconciling the sex industry with religion and often threw charity events in his brothel.

“You can work as whatever you want. What is important is to be honest and fair," he said.”
Read the original story on Ananova.

I think he’s a little late. We already have plenty of churches like that in the USA – places where everyone can worship unoffended – except orthodox Christians, that is.

It reminds me of the story Charles Colson tells in How Now Shall We Live? about Billy Graham and Mickey Cohen, the gangster. After much initial interest in converting, Cohen abandoned the idea when he realized it didn't just mean a change of belief but also a change of life. It seems he liked the idea of Christianity, but he wanted to be able to convert and still be a "Christian gangster."

Churches with bells, whistles, youth programs, trendy music, auditorium seating, encouraging sermons, and untransformed lives are all over the place, from sea to shining sea. I've seen them myself. And they are very seductive. I can't make claims for anyone else, but "I'm okay - you're okay" is a message that strikes deep in my heart. Religion that proclaims endless warm fuzzies in the absence of justice and holiness is something I find very appealing; it's only by God's grace I didn't fall into it.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Families of Beheaded Indonesian Girls Forgive Killers

From CBN.comPOSO, Indonesia - The three families who suffered the loss of their young daughters when they were brutally murdered, are still in shock and grief, not only because they were too young to die -- Alfita was 19, Teressia was 18, and Yarni was 15 -- but because of the horrible way they were murdered.

Their bodies were found headless in a coconut field, while their heads were found in different parts of Poso, wrapped in black plastic bags.

[…] "They must have offended the Muslim extremists because in this season of Ramadan, there should be no school, but the Christian school is open,” explained Nursalem.

Moreover, the three victims were very active Christian leaders in school prayer meetings and church. Pastor Mastin says the deaths of Alfita, Teressia, and Yarni are not in vain. She calls them martyrs because their deaths have brought unity to the Christian churches in Poso, and their lives encouraged them to be strong in the faith.

[…] Difficult as it is, Yarni's father and the parents of Alfita and Teressia have released forgiveness to the murderers of their daughters. They believe that it is God who will judge them.

Markus Sambuwe, the father of one of the girls, remarked," I am really angry, but the Holy Spirit touched my heart and changed me. I forgive them just as Jesus has forgiven my sins."

Several suspects have been arrested in the Christian school girl beheadings, but just a week after those brutal murders, two other Christian girls were shot by snipers.
While tensions remain high here, so far, Christians are remaining true to their faith. They are responding in a spirit of forgiveness and restraint, by turning the other cheek.

What an example these people are! I freely confess that, were I in their place, the only reason I would turn the other cheek is to get a better aim. Theirs is the attitude that grew the church from a handful of frightened losers into a large enough force to get the attention of Constantine. They don’t grovel; they don’t pretend nothing happened; they just carry on with God’s business – a form of graceful defiance.

I once heard “turning the other cheek” described as standing one’s ground without resorting to the enemy’s methods. Turning your cheek when slapped means they have to use the other hand. Pretty soon, it becomes apparent who’s in control and who’s completely lost it.

Please pray for these people – they are standing for the faith in a world of hurt.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Raelians want to establish ET embassy in Jerusalem

From the I-couldn’t-make-this-up department
According to the 60,000-strong Raelian movement, is that life on Earth was created by scientists belonging to a superior, alien civilization, who created man "in their own likeness".

[…] For example, he says, the Hebrew word for god - Elohim - actually means 'Messengers', or 'those who came from the sky' and does not refer to a notion of one supreme God, with which the word has become associated. The Biblical image of angelic creatures arriving on wings from the sky is, he says, just a centuries-old misinterpretation of the beings who arrived in a spacecraft.

Similarly, another Hebrew word for God, he says, is Adonai, a plural rather than a singular, which can be translated as "Lords". This, believe the Raelians, points clearly to the existence of humankind's true creators, to whom they still refer as the Elohim.

[…] the Jewish people, says Drori, have a very special part to play in the aims of the Raelian movement. "Everyone else," he explains, "was created in laboratories. But Jewish people are a combination of the Elohim and man" - they are part Eloha, part human - "so they feel more emotional toward the Jewish people". This, he continues, is why they want to build their embassy in Jerusalem: "To be among their children, their sons." This, to an outsider, stirs up Orwellian overtones: "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

Currently, work on the Elohim Embassy in Jerusalem cannot proceed, since the Israeli government has not granted extra-territoriality to the land on which they propose to build.
(The story can be viewed here.)

Any comment on my part would be superfluous, except possibly to quote Chesterton: “When men stop believing in God they don't believe in nothing; they believe in anything.”

P.S. There are arguments as to whether Chesterton actually said that, but (a) I'm pretty sure I've read it, and (b) it’s quoted on

Report: China Arrests Priests, Seminarians

Chinese authorities have arrested a priest and 10 seminarians from that nation's underground Roman Catholic Church, a Vatican-affiliated news agency said Friday.

President Bush, who is due to visit China as part of an eight-day trip to Asia, called on China's leadership this week to give the public more religious freedom and other liberties.

The Rev. Yang Jianwei and the seminarians were detained Nov. 12 in Xushui City in Hebei province, a traditional stronghold of Catholic sentiment in northern China, AsiaNews reported.

Six of the seminarians were released later, but Yang and the four others remain in police custody, it said.
(Read the whole story on

I tend to get so wrapped up in politics and the breadcrumb persecutions that we suffer at the hands of the Pagan Left; it’s hard for me to remember just how cushy we have it as Christians in this country. There are lots of people in this world who lay it on the line for God every single day of their lives. Let’s all remember to pray for these guys.

There are a number of organizations that try to bring the gospel into closed or dangerous regions. If you don’t already have one you support, I recommend Voice of the Martyrs – an Evangelical group with an excellent history and reputation. If you have some other worthy organization to mention, add them to the comments.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Metrospirituals and Bubbaspirituals

Regarding our recent discussion of the Metrospirituals among us, BeliefNet has posted a chart of how you can differentiate the Metrospiritual from the non-metrospiritual. In the interests of opening up these “New Spiritualities” to the rest of us who live in Flyover Country, I proposed the term Bubbaspiritual. I have added Bubbaspiritual qualities to BeliefNet’s chart so we can all see where we stand.

Metrospiritual*Not Metrospiritual*Bubbaspritual
Wu weiFeng shuiChurch on Sunday
Indian yogiPersonal trainerBartender
Blue Hill/
localized cuisine
Jonathan Waxman/
nouvelle cuisine
barbecued cusine
Machu PicchuPragueVegas
Organic wineBeaujolais NouveauCoors
Angelina JolieDemi MooreShania Twain
Home altarSweat lodgeBible in the bathroom
SurfingGolfDeer Hunting
Lexus or
Toyota hybrid
Whole FoodsBen & Jerry'sStop'n Go
AnthropologiePottery BarnWalMart
Tea salonsEspresso barsHonkytonk
Shiatsu massageCoors
KnittingJournalingMonday Night Football

* BeliefNet categories

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Chilling quote of the week

Courtesy of The Dawn Treader:

"National Socialism is nothing more than applied biology."
Deputy Party Leader Rudolf Hess, 1934

Some years ago, when I was still working in the lab, and didn’t spend a lot of time thinking my way through the faith, an undergraduate student came by to interview some practicing molecular biologists about the potentials of genetic engineering.

I remember being pretty upbeat about the potential – I still am. The possibilities of engineering lower organisms to produce useful products, of engineering crops for increased nutritive value and pest resistance, of modifying food animals for greater and healthier meat production, and the possibilities of repairing human genetic defects is pretty heady stuff – especially so in the early 90’s when so much was new and promising.

Then the guy asked me about the downside. My comment was that I didn’t really see much of a downside. The risks of altered organisms escaping from control and taking over the earth, or at least the local schoolyard, seemed about as remote as being invaded by the saucer people. It’s hard enough to keep genetically modified organisms alive in the laboratory under ideal conditions, let alone having them run wild to destroy the ecosystem. The biggest risk is the same as the current risks we take with the crops and critters we engineer the old fashioned way by controlled breeding – namely, monoculture and the loss of genetic diversity. We could screw up and create some really bad medical products, but probably no worse than we do now. Frankly, the intervening years haven’t produced much data to change my mind a whole lot.

But then he asked, “What about human cloning?” I pretty much blew off the question, because I didn’t think that the cloning of higher critters was going to be accomplished in my lifetime. People had been trying to clone frogs and other organisms for decades and had failed. It was generally accepted (scientific lingo for “everybody in the bar agrees”) that cloning a mammal would be a really, really difficult thing to do. Besides, if it ever became possible to clone a human, no responsible scientist or doctor would ever do it.

A decade later, and two things have changed. First, it turned out to be a lot easier to clone a mammal than anyone ever thought possible. Some guys who were too ignorant to know how hard it was supposed to be went out and xeroxed themselves a sheep. Now you can buy glowfish for your kids, and designer cats are on the way. Second, I’ve become a lot more aware of my own capacity for sin. In light of the Hess quote above, I’m very glad I wasn’t a German Ph.D. back in the 30’s. The scary thing about the Nazis is how easy it was for normal people to slide into the Satanic. The SS wasn’t populated with drooling rejects; its ranks were filled with the best and brightest.

If we start cloning humans, I’m not worried that the clones will be the Soulless Zombie Monsters of a bad Sci-Fi movie. A cloned human is a human being made in the Imago Dei; it’s just a matter of the manufacturing process being a wee bit non-traditional. But if we start using the technology, there will be two certain results: slaves and parts people. The current push for the medical use of fetal stem cells is a fairly small step from growing babies for parts. There’s nothing specifically wrong with human clones; there is something fundamentally wrong in us. Given what we do to each other, what would we do with people whom we manufacture? Slaves and parts people - given the opportunity, it’s who we are and what we do.

After all, it’s nothing more than applied biology.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Are you metrospiritual?

Gwyneth Paltrow is one. So are Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio. Chances are your bikram yoga teacher has the major characteristics and so does the guy who makes your fruit smoothie at Jamba Juice. Donna Karan is totally in on it. The salesperson who helps you find the right Botanical Kinetics moisturizer at Aveda is probably one, along with your eco-tourism guide at Costa Rican surf camp. Richard Gere may be the proto-one and Uma Thurman was pretty much born into it. What is influencing Hollywood stars and Wal-Mart shoppers, fashionistas and Filene’s basement-dwellers alike? It’s called metrospirituality, and chances are you already know or even lead the life of a metrospiritual.

Do you go out of your way to buy organic food? Have you thought about the wu wei in your home? Have you tried yoga, belly-dancing, or surfing recently? Are you attracted to traditional crafts from other cultures or have you started knitting? Do you own a Prius or have you thought about buying a hybrid car? Are you a tea connoisseur or an organic wine- and beer-drinker? Is there a certain aromatherapy scent that brings you comfort, especially in candle form? If most of your answers are yes, then count yourself among the growing numbers of metrospirituals—the kinder, gentler post-Yuppies who want to treat the earth and native cultures with respect, connect with their inner source and inspiration, test their bodies and expand their minds with ancient physical practices—and do it all with serious style.

[…] Metrospirituality is the mainstreaming of Taoist, Buddhist (thanks to Richard Gere and Uma’s dad, Buddhism scholar and practitioner Robert Thurman), and Hindu values, among others, into an easily digestible, buyable form. Take Hampton Chutney Company, for instance. This highly popular New York-area food empire makes traditional Indian dosas and uttapams—the kind of thing you might make and eat at an Indian ashram—which is exactly where the owners, Gary and Isabel MacGurn, met in 1990. They now have three thriving outposts at very tony addresses—one in Long Island's Hamptons, one in New York City's Soho, and one on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. At the Soho store, pictures of yogis decorate the walls and devotional Indian chants pour soothingly out of the stereo.

(Be sure to read the whole article on BeliefNet.)

I don’t know about y’all, but there ain’t no wu wei in my house! Oh wait – according to a Taoism resource, “wu wei” is “nondoing” or going with the flow. Guess there’s a whole lot of wu wei in my house, at least on Saturdays.

Seriously, I see this sort of smorgasboard religion all the time in Austin, where folks tend to have too much money and too much time on their hands. In all fairness, it does encourage people to “be nice” and to “do nice things.” They litter less; they plant trees; they take care of their bodies (I could take a lesson from that one); they donate to ease poverty and homelessness. Those are all intrinsically good things.

But it is hopelessly trendy – the victims of perceived capitalist oppression are worshipped; the victims of anti-Christian persecution never make a blip on the radar screen. One wonders what would happen if littering and raw red meat became fashionable.

And it does little to contribute to the growth of that condition us redneck primitives refer to as “holiness.” A religion I assemble myself will generally, in the final analysis, serve my self. My sins can simply be redefined away, and my “spiritual growth” is then free to take me in the direction I wanted to go in the first place. The need for transformation vanishes as quickly as the dew from the grass of the early morning yoga class, Grasshopper. The journey to hell is made kinder, gentler and more comfortable with tofu, feng shui, and aromatherapy.

"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Mat 7:13-14, NASB)

You can test your own level of Metrospirituality here. I scored an 8 out of 36; that’s worse than my grade in organic chemistry way back in ’73

You scored 8, on a scale of 0 to 36. Here's how to interpret your score

You are not at all metrospiritual. You probably don't live in a city, and your religious life much more rooted in traditional forms and practices than in lifestyle and consumer choices. You model your values on what's most important to you, not on what celebrities are promoting, and you don't stay up to date with the latest trends.

Perhaps I could define the “bubbaspiritual” for those who seek True Enlightenment from the simple wisdom of the timid creatures of the forest, then shoot, skin, and eat a few of them.

Four state legislators in Massachusetts have introduced a bill that would soften the crime of bestiality, a move pro-family activists say is a natural progression of the state's legalizing same-sex marriage.

[…] A story in Boston's Weekly Dig describes the legislation, entitled "An Act Relative to Archaic Crimes."

"The bill would strike down several sections of the current penal code criminalizing adultery, fornication and the advertisement of abortion," the reported stated. "It also repeals what appears to be a sodomy statute forbidding 'abominable and detestable crime against nature, either with mankind or with a beast.'

(Whole article here.)

How can anybody find this remotely surprising after everything else that’s gone down in the USA these days? In the immortal words of Ivan Karamazov, “If there is no God, then everything is permitted.”[1] Can state-mandated benefits for non-human partners be far behind? The progressive growth of degeneracy is pretty clear; it's only the rate that is astounding.

[1] Apparently, despite much argument to the contrary, Dostoevsky did write this. See this reference.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

An Excerpt from St. John of the Cross

From The Dark Night of the Soul, Chapter II

5. Some of these beginners, too, make little of their faults, and at other times become over-sad when they see themselves fall into them, thinking themselves to have been saints already; and thus they become angry and impatient with themselves, which is another imperfection. Often they beseech God, with great yearnings, that He will take from them their imperfections and faults, but they do this that they may find themselves at peace, and may not be troubled by them, rather than for God's sake; not realizing that, if He should take their imperfections from them, they would probably become prouder and more presumptuous still. They dislike praising others and love to be praised themselves; sometimes they seek out such praise. Herein they are like the foolish virgins, who, when their lamps could not be lit, sought oil from others.

6. From these imperfections some souls go on to develop many very grave ones, which do them great harm. But some have fewer and some more, and some, only the first motions thereof or little beyond these; and there are hardly any such beginners who, at the time of these signs of fervour, fall not into some of these errors.

Ouch, ouch, ouch. I see myself so well in the first couple of chapters of Dark Night of the Soul that I alternate between shouting “Yes! Exactly!” and wanting to crawl under a rock and hide. I always want God to take away my failings, but I wonder what I’d become if He did? He knows me well enough to be aware that my flaws, failings, and screw-ups are the only things that bring a little humility into my life.

The Second Letter to the Corinthians contains Paul’s famous “thorn in the flesh” passage. The traditional (and therefore probably correct) interpretation is that this refers to some physical failing or infirmity. I can’t help wondering, though, if it might be some habitual sin that Paul couldn’t shake. The glory of God is revealed in the weakness of His servants, and even our failures can be redeemed to point to Christ, who triumphs in spite of them.

Concerning this I implored the Lord three times that it might leave me. And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong. (2Co 12:8-10, NASB)

Monday, November 14, 2005

The Idea Of The Weekend

From Blogotional for Nov. 14, 2005:

Whilst discussing various things with friends over the weekend the following statement was made

You know, sometimes, I think the best thing that could be done for Christian evangelism, probably in history, would be to raise a bunch of money to buy out TBN and take them off the air.

After I finished laughing, I thought that as a pretty good idea. Though why stop at TBN, we have to buy out all the syndicated televangelists as well, but that just means we need more money.What do you say, if every "normal" church in the country sent 10% of their missions giving to the "Corporation to End Christian Broadcasting" we could get the job done in 3-5 years. They would be making an investment to insure the usefulness of their other mission dollars.

Frankly, I can’t think of a better way to win people to Christ than to remove a massive stumbling block like TBN. I don’t mean to step on any toes, nor do I intend to be nasty. But if I had gotten my ideas about Christianity from guys like Paul Crouch and Benny Hinn, I would probably have stayed an atheist. I can’t even get to the point of arguing about what they say – I just find listening to them painful. And I am pretty eclectic in my worship and sermon tastes. Can somebody please clue me in about what people find attractive in their preaching? I just don’t get it.

Apocalypse - the suicide of Europe and the West

from David Warren.
[…] The recent riots in France remind me how quickly Europe is receding, in historical time; how completely its civilization has been undermined; how much is irretrievably lost. European Imperialism is retrospectively derided, but it was a manifestation of a European mission -- to civilize and Christianize all human life; to bring the light of Europe to every dark, pagan, and barbarous enclave. It is that light which is now mostly extinguished, just where it once blazed most brightly.

[…] Soon, the average age in Europe will be beyond childbearing. Among non-Muslim Europeans, in probably already is. We can no longer dream of a recovery. Europe has leapt. New immigrants are taking possession of the continent, transforming it, as in the "Dark Ages". Rome will be sacked again, in due course.

America is not Europe, as Sicily was not Greece in the ancient world. We carried the ideals of Europe to the West, over ocean, and settled a new land. North America today is semi-detached, could survive alone. Christianity remains quite alive here, often in novel, evangelical forms; Catholic order begins to reappear; and yet much of North America -- “Blue State” and Great White North -- seems determined to follow Europe into the abyss, by denying its Christian identity, and embracing the great zero of "multiculturalism". Atheism, in America, has claimed its millions of corpses through the discreet operation of the abortuaries.

[…] We are wrong, however, to assume that any final Apocalypse follows from the cultural degeneration we see all around us. For Europe - “the West” - was always just a place.

Tell anyone in the first centuries of Christendom that the centre of Christian civilization was in Europe, and they would have been puzzled. For Europe hadn't really been invented yet, except in a few Augustinian minds (and Augustine a North African, you will recall). If you said, "Rome", they might have had some idea. Indeed, the Arabs had something to do with the fact that so unpromising a place as Hun/Vandal/Goth Europe became the centre of Christian civilization.

Then realize, that Europe did not create Christianity. Christianity created Europe. And will create new Europes, wherever its living seed may fall. Christendom is simply moving -- to Africa, to Asia, to the Americas perhaps; to wherever Christ is wanted, and away from where He is not.

This is a reminder that God looks after His people, not any particular race or nation. The only exception is Israel, and that set of tribes has spent most of its history as a scattered, homeless, and put-upon group of wanderers.

"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.” (Mat 16:18, NASB)

The promise is to the Church; it’s our choice as individuals whether we will participate while the world does as the world wills to do around us. We either want it or we don’t.

MIT researchers show foil helmets really government plot

On the Effectiveness of Aluminium Foil Helmets: An Empirical Study
If you’ve ever been worried that THEY were out to get you, you need to retool your protective screens.

It has long been suspected that the government has been using satellites to read and control the minds of certain citizens. The use of aluminum helmets has been a common guerrilla tactic against the government's invasive tactics [1]. Surprisingly, these helmets can in fact help the government spy on citizens by amplifying certain key frequency ranges reserved for government use. In addition, none of the three helmets we analyzed provided significant attenuation to most frequency bands.

We describe our experimental setup, report our results, and conclude with a few design guidelines for constructing more effective helmets.

Read the whole article here. It has not yet been printed in a peer-reviewed journal, but we all know who controls them, don’t we???

The authors tested three helmet designs, and speculate that that the government may in fact have started the helmet craze for this reason. By tricking us into wearing foil helmets, the secret masters of the world have facilitated the effectiveness of their beams. Anyone who has seen the movie Signs should start looking for the Mel Gibson - CIA connection.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

November 13 - Feast of St. John Chrysostom

Born: 344? Died: 407

St. John, named Chrysostom (golden-mouthed) on account of his eloquence, came into the world of Christian parents, about the year 344, in the city of Antioch. His mother, at the age of 20, was a model of virtue. He studied rhetoric under Libanius, a pagan, the most famous orator of the age.

In 374, he began to lead the life of an anchorite in the mountains near Antioch, but in 386 the poor state of his health forced him to return to Antioch, where he was ordained a priest.

In 398, he was elevated to the See of Constantinople and became one of the greatest lights of the Church. But he had enemies in high places and some were ecclesiastics, not the least being Theophilus, Patriarch of Alexandria, who repented of this before he died. His most powerful enemy, however, was the empress Eudoxia, who was offended by the apostolic freedom of his discourses. Several accusations were brought against him in a pseudo-council, and he was sent into exile.

In the midst of his sufferings, like the apostle, St. Paul, whom he so greatly admired, he found the greatest peace and happiness. He had the consolation of knowing that the Pope remained his friend, and did for him what lay in his power. His enemies were not satisfied with the sufferings he had already endured, and they banished him still further, to Pythius, at the very extremity of the Empire. He died on his way there on September 14, 407.
(Excerpted from the Catholics Online webpage)

Today is his feast according to the Maronite and Orthodox (new) calendars. His Easter Sermon is my personal candidate for Best All-Time Sermon (at least since the one on the mount).

Dear Saint John, your oratorical gifts inspired thousands and earned you the name "golden-mouthed." Continue to inspire Christians through your writings and grant us a rebirth of Christian preaching for the spiritual renewal of the Church. Obtain from God preachers like yourself who, animated by the Holy Spirit, deserve to be called other Christs and forcefully preach the Good News. Amen.

Poor choice of words department

I think something got changed in the translation here
(AGI) - Vatican City, Nov 11 - The legacy of Pope John Pail II "includes, among various examples, a shining attitude towards prayer. We now pick up his spiritual heritage under the guidance of his heavenly intercession," said today Pope Benedict XVI during a sermon to celebrate late cardinals and bishops. "Over the last 12 months," said the current Pope, "we have had five revered cardinals who kicked the bucket: Juan Carlos Aramburu, Jan Pieter Schotte, Corrado Bafile, Jaime Sin and, less than a month ago, Giuseppe Caprio.”

Not quite as good as some of the Chinese technical manuals I’ve seen, but ranking right up there. I have a feeling John Pail II would have gotten a good chuckle out of this one.

(Came across this during a break in an on-call support call Sunday mornng. Have a feeling I won't be making it to church this morning. Thanks to Amy Wellborn.)

Teacher-student sex OK, says prof

A British professor who has been studying pupil-teacher relationships for 25 years concludes sexual contact between them should not necessarily be criminal conduct – in fact, she says, they can be positive experiences.

Pat Sikes of the University of Sheffield was seduced by her history teacher at the age of 14 and later became his wife. Now she has written "Scandalous Stories and Dangerous Liaisons: When Female Pupils and Male Teachers Fall In Love."
(Whole article here.)

I don't believe I'll be ordering that one from Amazon to give for Christmas this year. To paraphrase H. L. Mencken, there is nothing so depraved that you can’t find a university professor somewhere to defend it.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Religions target female foeticide

Article says more about us than about India
A caravan of 25 vehicles and 200 people has been criss-crossing five northern and western states of India for the past 10 days.

The travellers are on a mission. They are campaigning against female foeticide, which has resulted in a gender imbalance in some parts of the country.

The campaign is being led by well-known religious leader and social activist, Swami Agnivesh.

"There's no other form of violence that's more painful, more abhorrent, more shameful," declares Swami Agnivesh.

[…]"The crime has come to acquire such dangerous proportions in our society that the government is feeling very helpless. They think that unless people from the world of religion come forward and join hands and march together, the problem cannot be solved," says Swami Agnivesh.

He says religious leaders of various faiths, including Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and Jainism, are participating in the march.
(Emphasis mine; read the whole BBC story here.)

This is a fascinating example of how we see things these days. Children are being aborted or abandoned to die, and the BBC’s primary complaint is that it leads to “gender imbalance.” It’s okay to kill, just so long as you’re not selective about it.

We started out with the idea that all men are created equal and endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights. Somehow equality of value has been transformed into equality of valuelessness. Human life reduced to the simplest of equations: 0 = 0.

North Korea at Night

We frequently use darkness as a metaphor – “The Dark Ages,” “Heart of Darkness,” “Their minds were darkened,” etc. It’s not often the metaphor becomes physical. Take one crazed dictator, combine it with a philosophy that makes man the center of all things, and this is what you get. Nukes, a formidable army, a luxurious life for a handful, and a nation plunged into (literal) darkness. The only physical light in the country is the little spot of light around Don King’s The Glorious Leader’s capital. The only True Light in the country is largely confined to prison cells and some scattered house churches that haven’t been busted yet. Sad.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Veteran's Day, 2005

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Lt. Col. John McRae, M.D., R.C.A.M.C. (1872 – 1918)

Thanks to all those who have served. May God protect and defend all those now in harm’s way; may He shower His blessings on all those now living; may He receive into His eternal kingdom all those who have passed from this life. And thanks, Blackie. See you in the New Jerusalem.

Update: LaShawn Barber has a major tribute to vets.

Serbs line up for testicle shocks

Courtesy of The Curt Jester:
Men in Serbia are lining up to have electric shocks delivered to their testicles as part of a new contraceptive treatment.

Serbian fertility expert Dr Sava Bojovic, who runs one of the clinics offering the service, said the small electric shock makes men temporarily infertile by stunning their sperm into a state of immobility.

He said: "We attach electrodes to either side of the testicles and send low electricity currents flowing through them

[…]He added: "We are hoping to have a small battery powered version on sale in the shops in time for Xmas." [

This sounds more like some form of medieval penance or Roman torture than anything that could become popular - like something you'd see written about the Blessed Theophobos, Martyr of the Holy Bug-Zapper.

And NO, I do not want one for Christmas! Send me that and I will buy your children the first volume of an encyclopedia – or a pet ferret!

Fave Christian tunes for a light Friday read

Evangelical Oupost has a list of his 99 favorite Christian songs up for his Friday entry (based on the notion that no one really wants to read anything serious on a Friday).  I was really gobsmacked to see that the list is dominated by newfangled tunes, all but one appearing to be products of the last 500 years or so.  (The Spiritus Domini introit came in at #38 on the countdown.)   Whippersnappers; I’m surrounded by whippersnappers.  Next thing you know, it’ll be A Hip-Hop Lent by 50 Cent.

Givin’ up butter;
Man, I’m givin’ up meat.
But I still got my gat,
Don’t you f… wit’ me.
Don’t f… wit’ me.

(Yes, I have taken all the tests for determining spiritual gifts.  Mine is “stodginess.”)

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Ancient Hebrew alphabet inscription discovered

In the 10th century B.C., in the hill country south of Jerusalem, a scribe carved his A B C's on a limestone boulder - actually, his aleph-beth-gimel's, for the string of letters appears to be an early rendering of the emergent Hebrew alphabet.

Archaeologists digging in July at the site, Tel Zayit, found the inscribed stone in the wall of an ancient building. After an analysis of the layers of ruins, the discoverers concluded that this was the earliest known specimen of the Hebrew alphabet and an important benchmark in the history of writing, they said this week.

If they are right, the stone bears the oldest reliably dated example of an abecedary - the letters of the alphabet written out in their traditional sequence. Several scholars who have examined the inscription tend to support that view.

Experts in ancient writing said the find showed that at this stage the Hebrew alphabet was still in transition from its Phoenician roots, but recognizably Hebrew.

[…]The inscription was found in the context of a substantial network of buildings at the site, which led Dr. Tappy to propose that Tel Zayit was probably an important border town established by an expanding Israelite kingdom based in Jerusalem.

A border town of such size and culture, Dr. Tappy said, suggested a centralized bureaucracy, political leadership and literacy levels that seemed to support the biblical image of the unified kingdom of David and Solomon in the 10th century B.C.

"That puts us right in the middle of the squabble over whether anything important happened in Israel in that century," Dr. Stager said.

A vocal minority of scholars contend that the Bible's picture of the 10th century B.C. as a golden age in Israelite history is insupportable. Some archaeological evidence, they say, suggests that David and Solomon were little more than tribal chieftains and that it was another century before a true political state emerged.
The whole article is available from the New York Times (requires registration).

Interesting. I don’t think the wealth of the Davidic kingdom has much direct impact on either the Jewish or Christian faiths, but it always gives me a bit of glee to see the biblical minimalists discomfited - primarily because most of them seem to have a bit of an agenda, and because I think the logical basis of their extreme skepticism is flawed.

Now if someone would just dig up a big bar of gold labeled “made in Ophir for Solomon, the Great King…”

Saudi books aim to divide U.S. Muslims, ‘infidels,’ Congress told

The government of Saudi Arabia is distributing books and pamphlets across the United States in an effort to recruit American Muslims to an international struggle against Christians and Jews, the director of a religious freedom organization told the Senate Judiciary Committee Nov. 8.

In one instance, a booklet distributed by the Saudi Embassy in Washington offers instructions on how to “build a wall of resentment” between Muslims and infidels, said Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom.

Among the book’s directives: “Never greet the Christian or Jew first. Never congratulate the infidel on his holiday. Never befriend an infidel unless it is to convert him. Never imitate the infidel. Never work for an infidel,” Shea quoted during a committee hearing.

Read the whole article in Army Times.

And this is the “friendly” side of the religion of peace… (By the way, “Islam” does not mean “peace” in the usual sense – it means “submission.”

[Arabic 'islm, submission, from 'aslama, to surrender, resign oneself, from Syriac 'alem, to make peace, surrender, derived stem of slem, to be complete; see slm in Semitic roots.] Courtesy of Free Dictionary.

Happy Birthday to the USMC

Today is the 230th anniversary of the founding of The United States Marine Corps. May God bless and protect all you guys now in harm’s way on active service and all you USMC vets. Thank you for your service and your sacrifice to protect and defend ungrateful morons like myself.

So why did Jesus have to get whacked?

A question arose in our Adult Ed class Sunday about the purpose of the cross in salvation. Not about the fact that we are redeemed by Christ; rather the question of how. In other words, we all sort of understood the idea of the incarnation, but why did Jesus have to suffer on the cross? The standard answers regarding substitutionary atonement seemed to come apart.

Man is condemned by sin to death and separation from God – got that. Death puts a limit on sin, and impurity cannot exist in the presence of God.

There’s nothing we can do ourselves to change that fate – got that. The best we can do is always flawed by self-centeredness.

Satan thinks he’s hit the jackpot: God loves us but we can’t be in his real presence. Checkmate, he thinks. Nanny-nanny-boo-boo to the Creator. Got that.

God responds in a way Satan can’t even conceive – evil being by nature unable to truly comprehend good. God enters into creation and thus all material things are sanctified; the only potential exceptions being those material beings who are capable of refusing and do refuse – namely us. Got that, too.

So why did He have to be killed? There’s the old idea that His death buys us back from Satan. Satan thinks he’s got a bargain, but Jesus – being God – just can’t stay dead. Satan fumbles on the goal line and winds up in the Locker Room of Eternal Darkness. I could sort of buy that, but it seems to give Satan almost equal footing with God, like God has to make a bargain with him. There’s got to be something wrong with that.

There’s the standard thing you hear today that Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross redeem us from the wrath of God by suffering punishment in our place. At the risk of being declared anathema, there seems to be something wrong here as well. The wrath of God doesn’t seem like something that can be “paid off.” The “wrath of God” in that sense is separation from the Creator – eternal dying – because of our sins. Julian of Norwich, in her visions, "saw that their is no wrath, save on man's part." We are still subject to temporal wrath – s~~t still happens, and as far as I can understand the Revelation to John, there’s a whole lot of that kind of “wrath” still to come our way. But eternal wrath is a product of our corruptness which is excluded from the presence of God, not by Divine anger but by Divine nature. We just can’t see the Face of God and stay intact.

So why did Jesus have to get whacked? Assuming He had to die at all, why not die at a ripe old age in a comfortable cottage on the Levantine coast?

Two answers seem to come out. One thing that was pointed out was that, whether the crucifixion was necessary, it certainly was informative. It tells us, on the good side, a lot about the self-giving capital-L Love of God for His creation – that He would not only enter His creation but lead a rather meager life and suffer a horrid death in the process, just for the sake of puny, rebellious, stinky old us. On the bad side, it tells us a lot we’d rather not know about ourselves. The Creator Mundi, He who made the Big Bang go bang and the first DNA duplicate, came here to pitch His tent among us. And we couldn’t stand it. And we killed Him. And if He came again the same way, we’d for sure kill Him again. And if I’d been there, I probably would have tossed dice for His cloak just like they did. Ouch.

But I can’t help thinking there’s another part to this. Jesus entered into creation to raise it up into the divine Life. His death is part of that just as much as His life is. He took everything we – and through us, Satan - could dish out and redeemed all of it. He didn’t just participate in creation – He took everything about our lives and redeemed it. He took death itself and wrested it away from Satan. He took the most savage thing that humanity could come up with – Deicide, the murder of the incarnate God by torture – and transformed it into an act of giving that leaves ages of people trembling in awe. Even our worst sin is brought into God’s world – not accepted or ignored, but changed. Our corruption is transmogrified into His glory. Evil loses completely – and Satan and those who merge their wills with his are left with absolutely nothing – an eternal now of staring at themselves slack-jawed and drooling in a one-dimensional mirror.

In the Maronite liturgy, there is a beautiful prayer of praise that reflects this transformation of creation.

You have united, O Lord,
Your Divinity with our humanity
And our humanity with Your Divinity;
Your life with our mortality
And our mortality with Your life.

You have assumed what is ours,
And You have given us what is Yours,
For the life and salvation of our souls.

To You, O Lord, be glory for ever.

Amen, and amen.

Lest anyone be misled, I have no illusions that there’s anything original here (I once believed I had come up with an original theological thought – I was wrong by 1500+ years). I had just never really thought this through before – if I don’t blog it, I’ll forget it.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Messy or not, divorce is hard on kids, survey finds

From the San Francisco Chronicle, of all places
Even in a so-called good divorce, in which parents amicably minimize their conflicts, children inhabit a more difficult emotional landscape than those who grow up with married parents, according to a new survey of 1,500 adults ages 18-35.

"All the happy talk about divorce is designed to reassure parents," said Elizabeth Marquardt, author of the study, which is described in her new book, "Between Two Worlds." "But it's not the truth for children. Even a good divorce restructures children's childhoods and leaves them traveling between two distinct worlds. It becomes their job, not their parents', to make sense of those two worlds."

[…]For example, those who grew up in divorced families were far more likely than those with married parents to say that they felt like a different person with each parent, that they sometimes felt like outsiders in their own home and that they had been alone a lot as a child.

Those with married parents, however, were far more likely to say that children were at the center of their family and that they generally felt emotionally safe.

[…]Given the political overtones, many scholars who study family diversity have been concerned that focusing on how divorce hurts children could lead to legislative attempts to restrict the availability of divorce.

"The key is to separate pain from pathology," said Robert Emery, director of the Center for Children, Families and the Law at the University of Virginia. "While a great many young people from divorced families report painful memories and ongoing troubles regarding family relationships, the majority are psychologically normal," Emery said.

Once again, we had to have someone do a study and write a book to figure out what anyone with an ounce of common sense already knew. Our capacity to delude ourselves into believing what we want to be true is close to infinite.

I love the last sentence – they may be in pain and unable to form good relationships, but hey! That’s psychologically normal! Looking around, I guess by our modern, liberated American standards, it is psychologically normal. In the country of the blind, it’s the man who can see that’s the abnormal one.