Saturday, December 31, 2005

Jihad at Home Depot

With a copy of the Quran and a Palestinian flag in his trunk, a Jordanian-turned-U.S. citizen crashed his car into a Home Depot in Arizona where he formerly worked, igniting an explosive blaze in the stores' paint section and causing $1 million in damage.

[…] After crashing through the doors at 6 a.m., Warrayat headed for the paint department and slammed the vehicle into the flammable goods. He jumped out of the car, ignited the blaze with a lighter then headed for the exit, sweeping merchandise from the shelves as he went. He then sat on the curb outside, waiting for police to arrest him.

(Read the whole thing here.)

Whatever you want to say about the progress of the war effort, we certainly seem to have interfered with their weapons delivery systems. Jihad just ain’t what it used to be.

Friday, December 30, 2005

"Brit Jew marries dolphin"

And so it continues some more (From
An unusual wedding ceremony was held in the southern resort town of Eilat on Wednesday, as Sharon Tendler, a 41-years-old Jewish millionaire from London married her beloved Cindy, a 35-years-old dolphin, Israel's leading newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported Thursday.

The groom, a resident of the Eilat dolphin reef, met Tendler 15 years ago, when she first visited the resort. The British rock concert producer took a liking to the dolphin and has made a habit of traveling to Eilat two or three times a year and spending time with her underwater sweetheart.

At least it wasn’t a whirlwind romance.

"The peace and tranquility underwater, and his love, would calm me down," the excited bride said after the wedding.

After a years-long romance, Tendler decided to embark on the highly unusual path of tying the knot with her beloved dolphin. Last week, she approached Cindy's trainer Maya Zilber with the extraordinary request.

Zilber accepted the challenge and "talked the idea over with the fellow," who apparently consented.

And so on Wednesday afternoon, the thrilled bride, wearing a white dress, walked down the dock before hundreds of astounded visitors and kneeled down before her groom, who was waiting in the water.

Cindy, escorted by his fellow best-men dolphins, swam over to Tendler and she hugged him, whispered sweet nothings in his ear, and kissed him in front of the cheering crowd.

Dolphins don’t have external ears – maybe she whispered into his blowhole.

After the ceremony was sealed with some mackerels, Tendler was tossed into the water by her friends so that she could swim with her new husband.

Best not whisper into his blowhole after the raw mackerel – or were they for her?

"I'm the happiest girl on earth," the bride said as she chocked back tears of emotion. "I made a dream come true, and I am not a pervert," she stressed.

No, good heavens. After all, I can’t make any judgments about her personal truth. That might be (gasp) intolerant.

Tendler said she and her newly wed husband will probably spend their wedding night bowling.

"But what kind of children would they have?" one of the children in the crowd asked his father.

Their children will no doubt be delivered by underwater birth (warning: graphic) at Flipper Memorial. I trust the father has agreed that they'll be raised in the Jewish faith.

Based on the “bowling” remark, I am making the reasonable assumption that this whole article is a massive put-on for a slow Israeli news day. It is, however, a sad commentary on modern society that I can’t quite be sure.

Devilish Denim: Jeans a Big Hit in Sweden

And so it continues (from…
Cheap Monday jeans are a hot commodity among young Swedes thanks to their trendy tight fit and low price, even if a few buyers are turned off by the logo: a skull with a cross turned upside down on its forehead.

Logo designer Bjorn Atldax says he's not just trying for an antiestablishment vibe.
"It is an active statement against Christianity," Atldax told The Associated Press. "I'm not a Satanist myself, but I have a great dislike for organized religion."

The label's makers say it's more of a joke, but Atldax insists his graphic designs have a purpose beyond selling denim: to make young people question Christianity, a "force of evil" that he blames for sparking wars throughout history.

[…] Cheap Mondays are flying off the shelves at 400 kronor (about $50) a pair. Makers say about 200,000 pairs have been sold since March 2004 - and little attention has been paid to the grinning skull and dark texts such as "Over My Dead Body."

[…] Swedish companies do not treat Christianity with the same respect in marketing that they afford other religions.

"No one wants to provoke Jews or Muslims, but it's totally OK to provoke Christians," he said.

I can't even add much of a comment. I have to admit it's a clever attack. Don't attack head on; don't go after adults; just add a little twist to the way kids see the world; just crack open the door of the soul to Darkness, an inch at a time.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men (1925)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

I'm Sorry, Tim LaHaye

Excerpted from the Brussels Journal.
A European Union advisory panel has issued a statement saying that medical professionals are not allowed to refuse to participate in abortions. According to the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights doctors should be forced to perform abortions, even if they have conscientious objections, because the right to abort a child is an “international human right.”

The Network, which consists of one expert per EU member state, assists the European Commission and the European Parliament in developing EU policy on fundamental rights. The Network wrote a 40-page opinion stressing that the right to conscientious objection is not “unlimited.” The opinion was given in connection with a proposed treaty between the Vatican and Slovakia. This treaty includes a guarantee that Catholic hospitals in Slovakia will not be legally obliged to “perform artificial abortions, artificial or assisted fertilizations, experiments with or handling of human organs, human embryos or human sex cells, euthanasia, cloning, sterilizations, [and] acts connected with contraception.”

The Network states that agreements which guarantee Catholic doctors and nurses a right not to be involved in abortions violate EU law. Leftist groups have complained that some new EU members – namely Lithuania, Poland and Slovakia – are so overwhelmingly Catholic that far too few doctors are willing to perform abortions. This makes it hard for women who want an abortion to find a doctor who has no conscientious objection. In such cases, the EU experts say, doctors should be forced to abort:

Indeed, the right to religious conscientious objection may conflict with other rights, also recognized under international law. In such circumstances, an adequate balance must be struck between these conflicting requirements, which may not lead to one right being sacrificed to another.

The experts declare that the right to religious conscientious objection

should be regulated in order to ensure that, in circumstances where abortion is legal, no woman shall be deprived from having effective access to the medical service of abortion. In the view of the Network, this implies that the State concerned must ensure, first, that an effective remedy should be open to challenge any refusal to provide abortion; second, that an obligation will be imposed on the health care practitioner exercising his or her right to religious conscientious objection to refer the woman seeking abortion to another qualified health care practitioner who will agree to perform the abortion; third, that another qualified health care practitioner will be indeed available, including in rural areas or in areas which are geographically remote from the centre.”

You know, I’m not a Premillenial Dispensationalist or whatever it’s called. I don’t spend a whole lot of time trying to figure out prophecy or worrying about the end times. I figure that, whether Christ comes back in my lifetime or not, I’m still obligated to go at some point, and that is what I need to pay attention to. Even if I were convinced that the second coming was on January 4th, there’s no guarantee I won’t get whacked by a bus on Jan. 3rd. My eschatological viewpoint is basically “things will get really, really bad; then Jesus comes back.”

But reading something like this makes me wonder if the Tim LaHayes and Jerry Jenkins of the world may not be right. Maybe the EU really is the resurrected Roman Empire and the Kingdom of the Antichrist. My gosh, forcing doctors to kill babies, because the right of a woman to off her kids trumps the right of others not to kill. Hippocrates must be spinning in his grave. I wonder if “I was only following orders” will play as well before the Great White Throne as it did at Nuremburg.

Sometimes I feel like we’re recapitulating scripture:

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, "When you act as midwives to the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, she shall live." But the midwives feared God; they did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but they let the boys live. (Exo 1:15-17, NRSV)

I only hope there are a few Shiphrahs and Puahs left in the Land of Egypt Europe.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Three cheers for Benedict and the Church of Rome!

Read the whole thing here.
In his powerful pre-Christmas address to the curia, Benedict XVI dedicated a passage to the synod of bishops on the Eucharist, which was held in the Vatican last October.

The pope expressed his appreciation of the fact that “there is a reawakening in the Church of the joy of adoring the risen Lord present in the Eucharist flesh and blood, body and soul, divinity and humanity.”

[…] he contrasted with this a tendency that arose after the council, a tendency he sees as negative:

“In the period of liturgical reform, the Mass and adoration were often seen as conflicting with one another: according to a widespread objection at the time, the Eucharistic bread was given to be eaten, not contemplated.”

This tendency has left its mark on how the liturgy is celebrated in many places. And it still finds significant proponents.

[…] among the new movements that have arisen in the Catholic Church, the Neocatechumenal Way is the one that goes the farthest in introducing innovations to the celebration of the Mass. In the Neocatechumenal Way, communion is taken while seated around a large square table, with a large loaf of bread that is divided among the participants and wine that is passes from hand to hand and is taken in large swallows.

But communion is not the only area in which there is a departure from the traditional liturgy. There are significant innovations in other parts of the Mass.

For example, the
readings from the liturgy of the Word are commented upon by the catechists of the group, who make lengthy “admonitions” followed by “resonances” from many of those present. The priest’s homily is hardly distinguished, or not distinguished at all, from the rest of the comments.

The times and places for the Mass are also unusual. The Neocatechumenals do not celebrate their Masses on Sunday, but on Saturday evening, in small groups and
separate from the parish communities to which they belong.

[…] Benedict XVI has written the last word on all of this.

In mid-December, the founders and directors of the Neocatechumenal Way […] received a two-page letter from cardinal Francis Arinze, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, with a list of “decisions of the Holy Father” which they must obey.

[…] Of the six points detailing the pope’s directives, only one permits the Neocatechumenals to continue what they are doing. This regards placing the exchange of peace before the offertory, a traditional practice in the Christian liturgy which is still in use today, for example, in the Ambrosian Rite celebrated in the archdiocese of Milan.

All the other points require the Neocatechumenal Way to eliminate a large portion of its liturgical innovations.

[…] And it’s coming to an end for the liturgical abuses practiced throughout the Church. In this regard, pope Joseph Ratzinger’s document in conclusion of the synod of the Eucharist will be of great interest.

Although this particular case seems to be a response to extreme abuses, one of the things that Catholic faithful seem to be expecting from Pope Benedict is the "reform of the reform" of the Catholic liturgy to fix the manifold problems and excesses produced by "the spirit of Vatcan II" (as opposed to the documents of Vatican II). It will be interesting to watch the restoration and recovery of Roman Catholic ritual over the next few years. The 1979 ECUSA Rite II seems to be very similar to the current English version of the Roman mass, which has come in for a lot of criticism. Perhaps the time of "dumbing down" is coming to an end.

Group protests NBC's dysfunctional 'Christians'

'Book of Daniel' by homosexual writer features drug-dependent minister
A pro-family group has launched a protest campaign against a new NBC drama featuring a troubled, pill-popping Episcopal priest who is the father of a dysfunctional family.

"The Book of Daniel," written by a homosexual, is being promoted as the only show on television in which Jesus appears as a recurring character and the only network prime-time drama series with a regular male "gay" character, a 23-year-old Republican son, says the American Family Association, which has an online petition.

In Hollywood, I am sure it is very edgy to have a regular character who is a Republican.

Touted as the riskiest show of the year, it includes a wife who relies on mid-day martinis, a 16-year-old daughter who is a drug dealer and a 16-year-old adopted son who is having sex with the bishop's daughter. At the office, the priest's lesbian secretary is sleeping with his sister-in-law.

At least the adopted son isn’t having sex with the bishop. Maybe they’re saving that for next season.

As WND reported earlier this month, the series debuts Jan. 6 with back-to-back episodes and will air regularly Friday nights at 9 p.m. The cast also includes Ellen Burstyn and Susanna Thompson. Comedienne Phyllis Diller plays a member of the congregation.

The priest, Daniel Webster, played by veteran actor Aidan Quinn, regularly talks with a manifestation of Jesus, played by Garret Dillahunt.

The American Family Association says the people at NBC responsible for the program "consider it a good, religiously oriented show typical of Christian families."
"Network hype" and mainstream media, AFA says, have called it "edgy," "challenging" and "courageous."

The typical Christian family must not live around here, as far as I can tell.

Last summer, the show's writer, Jack Kenny, said at the Television Critics Association's press tour he recognized "there are going to be people who have an issue with a gay man writing about Jesus."

"I'm not making fun of Jesus," he said. "I never want to poke fun at religion or at Jesus. These characters are very spiritual people. They believe in God, they believe in Christ as their savior, and I think that's wonderful."

Kenny described himself as being "in Catholic recovery," with an interest in Buddhist teachings about reincarnation.

Perhaps he should consider studying for the Episcopal priesthood – he would fit right in at the seminary.

"I'm a spiritual person," he said. "I don't know specifically what's going on up there. I think there must be something going on, whether it's an energy we're all connected to or an old white man with a beard and a robe.

Kenny said he does believe in Jesus, but explained, "I don't necessarily know that all the myth surrounding him is true, but I read his teachings, and I think he was a great teacher and a wonderful philosopher. I think he had a great idea: 'Love thy neighbor.' There's nothing wrong with that."

Our spiritual, recovering-Catholic, semi-Buddhist seems to think that Jesus came up with this idea. “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” is from Leviticus 19. Believing in Jesus on your own terms is not believing at all, at least in any Christian sense.

Forget the Hollywood hype; forget whether the creators are being deliberately offensive, or they actually see the world the way they present it. Can you imagine what would happen if the main character of this show was a Rabbi or an Imam? One of the reasons I came to believe that Christianity is true is the astonishing level of hatred, animosity, and mockery it generates. No one would go this far out of his way to diss Hindus or Buddhists – only Christians are considered both fair game and worth the effort.

I wonder if any of the people on this show have read the Book of Daniel? "but the wicked will act wickedly; and none of the wicked will understand... (Dan 12:10, NASB)

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas

There will be light blogging (at best) over the Celebration of the Nativity. In the meantime:

  • Below, I have appended excerpts from some sermons of John Chrysostom – quite possibly the most gifted homilist since the apostles.

  • All Too Common has an interesting set of quotes from Martin Luther on the sinlessness of the Blessed Mother.

  • If you have time, could you go ahead and add yourself to my Frappr Map? Other bloggers have hundreds of entries and, as I write this, I have three. I am getting a severe inferiority complex.

A blessed and joyous Christmas to all, whatever ecclesial calendar you may follow, and may the new year bring us all closer to the love and peace of God and of our Savior Jesus Christ. And may the blessings of the Most Holy Trinity, eternal and coequal in essence, be upon us all.

From the Christmas Sermons of John Chrysostom

Excerpts from the sermons of John Chrysostom (no wonder they called him “golden-mouthed).

Come, then, let us observe the Feast. Come and we shall commemorate the solemn festival. It is a strange manner of celebrating a festival; but truly wondrous is the whole chronicle of the Nativity. For this day the ancient slavery is broken, paradise is unlocked, the curse is taken away, sin is removed from us, error driven out, truth has been brought back, the speech of kindliness diffused, and spreads on every side, a heavenly way of life has been implanted on the earth, angels communicate with men without fear, and men now hold speech with angels.

Why is this? Because God is now on earth, and man in heaven; on every side all things commingle. He has come on earth, while being Whole in heaven; and while complete in heaven, He is without diminution on earth. Though He was God, He became Man; not denying Himself to be God. Though being the impassable Word, He became flesh; that He might dwell among us, he became flesh, He did not become God, He was God. Wherefore He became flesh so that He Whom heaven did not contain, a manger would this day receive. He was placed in a manger so that He, by Whom all things are nourished, may receive an infant's food from His Virgin Mother. So, the Father of all ages, as an infant at the breast, nestles in the virginal arms, that the Magi may more easily see Him. Since this day the Magi too have come, and made a beginning of withstanding tyranny; the heavens give glory, as the Lord is revealed by a star.

And, another time…

“What shall I say to you; what shall I tell you? I behold a Mother who has brought forth; I see a Child come to this light by birth. The manner of His conception I cannot comprehend. Nature here is overcome, the boundaries of the established order set aside, where God so wills. For not according to nature has this thing come to pass. Nature here rested, while the Will of God labored. O ineffable grace! The Only Begotten, Who is before all ages, Who cannot be touched or be perceived, Who is simple, without body, has now put on my body, that is visible and liable to corruption. For what reason?

That coming amongst us He may teach us, and teaching, lead us by the hand to the things that men cannot see. For since men believe that the eyes are more trustworthy than the ears, they doubt of that which they do not see, and so He has deigned to show Himself in bodily presence, that He may remove all doubt.”

“And in what manner was the Almighty with her, Who in a little while came forth from her? He was as the craftsman, who coming on some suitable material, fashions to himself a beautiful vessel; so Christ, finding the holy body and soul of the Virgin, builds for Himself a living temple, and as He had willed, formed there a man from the Virgin; and, putting Him on, this day came forth; unashamed of the lowliness of our nature. For it was to Him no lowering to put on what He Himself had made. Let that handiwork be forever glorified, which became the cloak of its own Creator. For as in the first creation of flesh, man could not be made before the clay had come into His hand, so neither could this corruptible body be glorified, until it had first become the garment of its Maker.”

Friday, December 23, 2005

Transvestite Nativity Shocks Rome

From Ananova.
A nativity scene that includes naked women and transvestites standing near the baby Jesus has caused outrage in Italy.

At least the Italians are still capable of outrage; that’s mor than I can say for us.

The scene was created by the Scuotto siblings from Naples, who are famous for carving traditional nativity scenes.

Their latest, more controversial, offering is now on show at the San Giacomo church in Rome.

Father Raffaele has refused to remove the set despite members of the congregation expressing their outrage at the "blasphemous" scene.

Arrogant clergy ramming blasphemy down the throats of the laity? I thought that was more typical of American Anglican parishes. I wonder if Fr. Raffaele is a Jesuit.

Defending the sordid depiction of the birth of Christ, Salvatore Scuotto said: "Such scenes are a part of reality.

"The real scandal is when figures such as Bin Laden or George Bush are used in nativity scenes."

I feel sorry for Mr. Scuotto if such scenes are part of his reality. I live in what most people think is a pretty offbeat town, and it sure as heck isn’t part of my reality. Of course, all normal people find moral equivalence between George W. Bush and Osama Bin Laden. And the Euros wonder why ordinary Americans hold them in contempt…

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Festivus for the rest of us?

Read the whole article here.
Michigan has long been a melting pot of cultures, so celebrating the holidays with a diverse group of friends can get tricky. That's where Festivus, the "holiday for the rest of us," comes in.

Invented in 1966 by a Reader's Digest editor but made popular through a 1997 "Seinfeld" episode, the fictional celebration has been brought to life by fervent supporters across the country -- including Clarkston native Blake Coe.

According to the "Seinfeld" episode, Festivus is celebrated on Dec. 23 and is marked by a tinsel-free aluminum pole, feats of strength -- like wrestling -- and the airing of grievances, during which followers tell loved ones how they have disappointed them during the year.

Can anyone say “Asherah pole?” Telling my family how they’ve disappointed me certainly does seem like the appropriate modern American celebration of therapy and victimhood, however.

Though Coe, 24, also celebrates Christmas, he said Festivus is a welcome break from the holidays.

I like a joke as much as the next guy, but there does seem to be a little cognitive dissonance between the principles of each celebration here – the memorial of infinite self-giving love, and the Feast of the Perpetual Whine.

"With all of the things that now make the Christmas season about political correctness, over-commercialization and greed, it is refreshing that Festivus separates itself from that," said Coe, who has been celebrating the fictional holiday for five years.

[…] "Nobody else is writing about it, but it is out there -- a very deep and widespread subculture," Salkin said. "I think it has to do with a need for tolerance and a holiday where you don't exclude anybody."

Separating from over-commercialization, greed, and political correctness by selling aluminum tubing (Wait! That’s what Saddam wanted those tubes for! It was all peaceful after all! World war fought by mistake!), whining about my mistreatment, and radical inclusivity. Makes sense to me.

Coe and his friends observe the feats of strength by holding annual billiards and video game tournaments. As for the airing of grievances -- "we pretty much go around and talk about each other's less finer moments," said Pat Heber, a Clarkston resident who recently graduated from Michigan State University.

Less finer? So much for Michigan State…

Typically, the feats of strength, or aggression-absorbing activities, are held immediately after the airing of grievances, but there are no hard and fast rules, Salkin said.
That flexibility makes it easy for everyone to celebrate Festivus, he added.

Easy to celebrate? Maybe they should come up with some other seasonal events – how about “Lentivus – penitence for the rest of us?” Personally, I never have been any good at this fasting thing; a season where I’m required to have a Double Meat Whopper with Cheese and Jalapenos every day might be just what the doctor ordered the thing! Or maybe just “Blasphemous ‘cuz it’s crass of us.”

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Santa Pope

Pope Benedict XVI, sporting a fur-trimmed hat in the rich red colour of a Santa hat, waves to pilgrims upon his arrival in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Wednesday for his weekly general audience. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

I’m a big fan of BXVI, and I certainly intend no insult to Christ’s Vicar, but I think that in the future he might want to go back to the tiara. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but for some reason, this picture makes me think of the Emperor Palpatine. May God have mercy on my soul.

P.S. The red hat is called the camauro - it isn't really a Santa hat!

1st Amendment 'doesn't create church-state wall of separation'

Court whacks civil-liberties group, OKs Ten Commandments display
A U.S. appeals court today upheld the decision of a lower court in allowing the inclusion of the Ten Commandments in a courthouse display, hammering the American Civil Liberties Union and declaring, "The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state."

Thank you! 200+ years of history and precedent finally wins one.

Attorneys from the American Center for Law and Justice successfully argued the case on behalf of Mercer County, Ky., and a display of historical documents placed in the county courthouse. The panel voted 3-0 to reject the ACLU's contention the display violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution.

No dissent; no minority opinion; no room for argument.

The county display the ACLU sued over included the Ten Commandments, the Mayflower Compact, the Declaration of Independence, the Magna Carta, the Star Spangled Banner, the national motto, the preamble to the Kentucky Constitution, the Bill of Rights to the U. S. Constitution and a picture of Lady Justice.

Writing for the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Richard Suhrheinrich said the ACLU's "repeated reference 'to the separation of church and state' ... has grown tiresome. The First Amendment does not demand a wall of separation between church and state."
Suhrheinrich wrote: "The ACLU, an organization whose mission is 'to ensure that ... the government [is kept] out of the religion business,' does not embody the reasonable person."

Any person of good will has known for decades that there is nothing reasonable about the ACLU. One of the things that drives me crazy about so many modern court decisions is the implied notion that a "reasonable American" is a brittle, intolerant jerk with an IQ of 12 and a kindergarten education who requires both financial support from the government and psychological therapy every time his mommy yells at him.

The court said a reasonable observer of Mercer County's display appreciates "the role religion has played in our governmental institutions, and finds it historically appropriate and traditionally acceptable for a state to include religious influences, even in the form of sacred texts, in honoring American traditions."

Why does the ACLU think the pilgrims came here in the first place? To get government-subsidized abortions? What do they think the name Maryland refers to? Mary Kay? Or do they want us to change it to Hilaryland?

Francis J. Manion, counsel for the ACLJ, argued the case before both the 6th Circuit and the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

"This is a big victory for the people of Mercer County and Kentucky generally," Manion said. "For too long they have been lectured like children by those in the ACLU and elsewhere who claim to know what the people's Constitution really means. What the 6th Circuit has said is that the people have a better grasp on the real meaning of the Constitution; the court recognizes that the Constitution does not require that we strip the public square of all vestiges of our religious heritage and traditions."

Thank you! Somebody has finally concluded that these people do not represent the rest of us! Personally, I don’t much care if they have the Ten Commandments in the courtroom or not. Given the expletive deleted that comes out of the courts, what’s in them seems pretty far down on the priority list. But the idea that you’re not allowed to put the law’s founding principles inside a law court is infuriating.

And by the way, I thought the First Amendment provided for the free expression of religion, not for it's prohibition. You can only establish a religion; you can't establish "religion." The very idea is nonsensical.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Pedophilia - the musical

Express route to controversy in Atlanta
Around the holidays, the biggest challenge for many theater companies is convincing audiences to care about yet another staging of "A Christmas Carol." This season in Atlanta, however, Actor's Express wants to stir up buzz about a less familiar property - namely, a pedophile musical.

The Express has already started pushing Love Jerry, a new tuner written and composed by Megan Gogerty that follows the tortured story of Jerry, who develops a sexual relationship with his nephew while trying to stay friends with the boy's father.

A delicate, often heart-wrenching piece of theater, the show, which preems Jan. 22 at the Express, never descends to shock-value tactics as it explores volatile terrain, and its lilting country songs give the characters emotionally vulnerable texture. Should it manage to attract a crowd, Love Jerry could very well leave them cheering.

But how do you convince anyone to come sing along with a child abuser? It's a double-edged question: Not only can untested musicals be notoriously hard to launch, especially when the writer is an unknown, but pedophilia (not to mention incest to boot) has proven anathema to ticket buyers.

[…] In Love Jerry, there's no question what's going on, yet Gogerty refrains from demonizing the title character. She focuses instead on the entire family's attempt to comprehend what's happened.

This moral grayness makes the play even trickier to market, yet it's also what convinced Express artistic director Jasson Minadakis to produce it. He says he "absolutely believes" in the show and is continually "shocked by how powerfully it expresses itself."

[…] With that in mind, initial poster concepts featuring a man putting candy in a child's hand were jettisoned as being too frank. Now the promos are more suggestive, featuring an eerie shadow of a man in a clown nose staring into a room. (The clown refers to a somewhat supernatural character who tempts Jerry.)

But no matter what the posters' design, the show's themes may still leave many Atlantans nonplussed. The city is famously prone to legit controversy. In 1993, a county commission rescinded all public arts funding rather than support a staging of Terence McNally's gay-friendly "Lips Together, Teeth Apart." And just last year, the police shut down a production of "Naked Boys Singing" - which the Express hosted but didn't produce - for indecency.

[…] Minadakis says he and his local contemporaries remain committed to risk. He insists Atlanta's population "could be very turned on by challenging theater" as long as they keep getting the chance to see it.

I don’t even know where to start with this. Shocking it may be, but I don’t see how anyone can possibly find it surprising. Maybe it will be a wake-up call for people who don’t believe in slippery slopes, but I doubt it. Most of the people I know who object to “slippery slope” arguments really just want to get to the bottom of the hill but are unwilling to admit it publicly.

I’m certainly glad they chose to “refrain from demonizing the title character.” No one wants to be insensitive to the Abuser-American community! We really should congratulate ourselves. The USA has finally reached that level of complete tolerance and acceptance we’ve been striving for when we’re no longer capable of demonizing the demonic.

Philistine that I am, I really wouldn’t care to meet anyone that’s “very turned on by challenging theater” in this particular case. I’d have to spend two hours in the shower to make sure I didn’t catch something.

Actually, that’s a very interesting twist of the language. defines “Philistine” as “a smug, ignorant, especially middle-class person who is regarded as being indifferent or antagonistic to artistic and cultural values.” The real Philistines, however, were actually a highly “civilized” and artistic people who worshipped Canaanite gods like Baal. Ashteroth, and Dagon, by practicing ritual prostitution and – probably – child sacrifice. I’m not sure I’m the one that actually best fits the description. Next year’s musical extravaganza will probably throw a few kids into the Fiery Mouth of Moloch, with Light my Fire pounding in the background.

I’ve used this quote from fictional FBI agent Fox Mulder before, but “Did you really think you could call up the devil and ask him to behave?

Monday, December 19, 2005

Decoding of Mammoth Genome Might Lead to Resurrection

From LiveScience.
Scientists have mapped part of the genome of the woolly mammoth, a huge mammal that's been extinct for about 10,000 years.

The breakthrough could lead to recreating the creatures.

A team led by Hendrik Poinar at McMaster University unlocked secrets of the creature's nuclear DNA by working with a well-preserved 27,000-year-old specimen from Siberia. Colleagues at Penn State sequenced 1 percent of the genome in a few hours and say they expect to finish the whole genome in about a year if funding is provided.

"We were stunned," Poinar said today. “Once you successfully sequence a genome, there are a million interesting questions one can begin to address."
“More importantly our discovery means that recreating extinct hybrid animals is theoretically possible," Poinar said.

The scientists are already pondering the ethics involved.

"McMaster is already planning the first conference devoted to the ethics of bringing extinct organisms back to life," said Mamdouh Shoukri, vice-president research and international affairs. "We have an obligation as scientists to explore and maintain the responsible use of research."

The study will be detailed later this week in the journal Science.

I have a couple of comments here:
  • This is really cool! The idea of having mammoths running around is just too neat for words! And - if the global warming guys are right and the Gulf Stream is shutting down – then a new ice age in Europe would provide quite the perfect habitat. (There’s a French joke in there somewhere, but I won’t go for it.)

  • What on earth are the ethical consequences of cloning a wooly mammoth? Let me get this straight: there are no ethical problems with growing human babies embryos in order to harvest them for parts stem cells, but we have questions about growing wooly mammoths? Come, Lord Jesus; I think the “iniquity of the Amorites” is now complete[1].

  • “Decoding of mammoth genome might lead to resurrection?” Are they sure they know what that word means? I think we might conceivably be able to reconstruct a mammoth. Resurrection implies the recreation of a particular individual. Resurrection takes a God; the best we can do is make a copy.

[1] Genesis 15:16

Pope urges silent, contemplative preparation for Christmas

From Catholic World News
Christians should prepare for Christmas with silent recollection, to protect themselves from excesses of commercialism, Pope Benedict XVI told a public audience on December 18.

"During this period of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior meditation, in order to welcome and safeguard Jesus in our lives," the Holy Father said at his Sunday Angelus audience. He called attention to the example set by St. Joseph, who maintained an interior silence "interwoven with constant prayer" as he awaited the birth of Jesus.

"Let us allow ourselves to be infected by the silence of St. Joseph," the Pontiff encouraged his listeners. "We need it very much, in a world that is often too noisy."

I would shout “amen,” but the problem for me seems less to do with commercialism per se, then with the endless clamor for my time. Grades are due, but my last test had to be rescheduled because of a freeze; deadlines at the office don’t give a hoot about the coming of the Messiah; I spend 2 to 4 hours a day burning gasoline in traffic; I am on call 24x7 the week after Christmas; even the bustle of church obligations doesn’t leave much time for reflection and contemplation. The small Lent of Advent has become a bit of a joke again this year, just like it seems to do every year.

I suspect that I am hardly alone. Our Modern Capitalist Society (Of which I am a big fan! No socialism here!) seems to form a spiderweb that I haven’t yet figured out how to successfully navigate. Every time I turn around, I get stuck on another strand of the web, and the Spider is always prowling around ready to inject a little more poison.

I sure don’t have any great insights, but there is a section in The Way of the Pilgrim that basically says “just pray.” God uses even the most attention-deficit prayer as a means of our transformation, and a rosary in a traffic jam is not to be avoided just because it will be imperfectly said. I may be unable to find an hour of silence or solitude; I may be too distracted to center my attention on the Lord; I can, however, always find a second to say “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” It isn’t much, but – thank God - in the final analysis, everything depends on what He does with it, not on what I do.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The Third Austin C.S. Lewis Conference

Goodness, Truth and Beauty: Apologetics and The Winsome Christ

April 29, 2006 at St. Edward’s University (Austin, Texas)

The Fellows of the Hill Country Institute for Contemporary Christianity and volunteers organizing this conference invite you to join us for a glorious time of stimulating thought, artistic beauty, and fellowship with others who are friends on the journey.

The Third Austin C.S. Lewis Conference will feature internationally known speakers, artistic interludes, meals accompanied by live music, a panel discussion featuring the speakers, and a play about the life of C.S. Lewis.

C.S. Lewis is our guide and friend as we move forward to walk by faith. He set a tone of thought provoking Christianity and of reason informed by faith. Lewis expressed the desire for beauty, awe, and mystery that we long to have fulfilled. It is in this tradition that we offer this conference. As in past conferences (2002 and 2004) organized by our team, it is a gathering place for friends who share these interests and of course for all Narnians.

This locally organized event will feature William Lane Craig speaking on Truth in the Christian message, Peter Kreeft speaking on Goodness as an apologetic, and Frederica Mathewes Green speaking on Beauty as a representation of God’s creativity, reality, and mystery, and David Payne performing An Evening with C.S. Lewis.

My wife and I have been to a couple of these conferences and I can’t recommend them highly enough. Read the rest of the conference description, and register on the Institute's web site; the registration fee is $60 through Feb, 28, $75 from March 1 through April 20, and $85 thereafter (an incentive so they can get an early headcount, I presume).

Trust me - it is worth the money (and I have no personal stake in the matter.) Be there or be square!

Friday, December 16, 2005

For those who deny original sin

Earliest Evidence For Large Scale Organized Warfare In The Mesopotamian World
(Read the whole thing here.)

A huge battle destroyed one of the world's earliest cities at around 3500 B.C. and left behind, preserved in their places, artifacts from daily life in an urban settlement in upper Mesopotamia, according to a joint announcement from the University of Chicago and the Department of Antiquities in Syria.

[…] The discovery provides the earliest evidence for large scale organized warfare in the Mesopotamian world, the team said.

The team found extensive destruction with collapsed walls, which had undergone heavy bombardment by sling bullets and eventually collapsed in an ensuing fire. Work during an earlier season showed the settlement was protected by a 10-foot high mud-brick wall.

The excavators retrieved more than 1,200 smaller, oval-shaped bullets (about an inch long and an inch and a half in diameter) and some 120 larger round clay balls (two and half to four inches in diameter). "This clearly was no minor skirmish. This was 'Shock and Awe' in the Fourth Millennium B.C.," Reichel said.

Please, God, let me never hear another argument about the noble primitive man being corrupted by civilization. Hamoukar is the oldest known city, dating to about 4000 B.C., the last part of the Neolithic (New Stone Age), and apparently predates the development of written language. And here they are slaughtering each other.

We killed each other then; we killed each other before then; we kill each other now. We killed the prophets; we killed the martyrs; we killed the Son of God. If He came back the same way today, I have no doubt that we’d kill Him again. It’s who we are, and it’s what we do. The only escape from the cycle comes from looking to Him, not from looking to some noble human past.

P.S. Good for the authors for using B.C. and not B.C.E. (Before the Common Era)! Jesus is the only reason the era is “common” in the first place!


Anglican Innovations expands its product line with the release of the A.I. JustAsUR™ guilt freshener and sin deodorizer!

Can you imagine anything more embarrassing than bringing a group of friends to your modern, up-to-date parish, only to have them stare at those leftover stains of sin on the baseboards, or curl their noses when they get a whiff of personal guilt and repentance? You know perfectly well that by Monday at the office, they’ll be smirking behind your back and referring to you as a “fundie!” What can you do?

You might be tempted to resort to those cheap, alcohol-based personal conscience erasers available over the counter at the local grocery or beverage store. Remember, those products wear off after just a few hours. The constant temptation is to use them in greater amounts at increasing frequency, which can lead to unforeseen social consequences. Besides, their effects extend only to the actual user. Just because you are rendered impervious to guilt doesn’t mean your friends are!

JustAsUR™ takes an entirely different approach; it is an industrial-strength product aimed at eliminating guilt and covering over sin throughout an entire building. Air is forced through patented gel packs to filter out any reference to sin, evil, repentance, or transformation that may be drifting through the spiritual atmosphere of your congregation and replace them with far more soothing and calming vapors.

The gel packs are easily replaced, and come in six different fragrances – Cosmic Harmony, Relative Truth, Personal Success, Congregational Togetherness, Tolerance and Acceptance, and – what promises to be our most popular scent – Inclusiveness. Each gel pack is guaranteed to last a full week. The minister simply turns on the device (remote control included at no extra cost!) at the start of his or her sermon. By the time the sermon is over, the entire congregation is soothed into a sense of fundamental goodness, and any thoughts of personal sin, transformation, or holiness have been replaced with the warm, golden glow of heightened self-esteem. The potential savings in clergy workload, just in counseling hours alone, is enormous!

Best of all, the effects of JustAsUR™ don’t wear off when the service ends! The entire congregation will be immune to any personal conviction of sin until their next dose the following week! The patented sin-generalization ingredients released by each gel pack ensure that any individual crimes, failings or injustices will be blamed on a nonspecific “them” instead of that awful, convicting “me.” By installing a JustAsUR™ module in your church, you can be certain that your whole flock will pass their week blissfully self-absorbed and make no impact in the world whatsoever. You’ll never be stricken from the A-list as a “fundie” again! Get yours today!

NOTE: JustAsUR™ is not available in stores; it can only be ordered from our exclusive distributor, Angel of Light Products, by calling 1-866-666-6666.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Concerns over IVF contamination risk

Gee, your baby looks like my lab experiment
From New Scientist, Dec. 3, 2005, pg. 10 (requires subscription or university access)

SOME children conceived by a common method of IVF (in vitro fertilization) could be carrying chunks of bacterial DNA in their chromosomes, according to a study in mice. The researchers who conducted the work say that such accidental genetic modification would be very rare, but they argue that fertility doctors should take more precautions to exclude it.

Intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, is used to help would-be fathers with very low sperm counts or sperm that cannot swim normally. Rather than mixing sperm and eggs in a culture dish as in conventional IVF, technicians take individual sperm and inject them into a woman's eggs. ICSI has been growing in popularity since its debut in 1991, and now accounts for around half of the IVF procedures in many countries, including the UK and the US.

[…] So Pedro Nuno Moreira and his team at INIA, the Spanish agricultural research agency in Madrid, decided to investigate the possibility that children's DNA could be accidentally modified if a sperm sample was contaminated with bacteria. They mixed samples of mouse sperm with Escherichia coli containing a gene that codes for a fluorescent protein, and then used the sperm in ICSI.

For fresh sperm "washed" by spinning in a centrifuge, to separate them from the other components of semen, 12 per cent of newly fertilised embryos contained the fluorescence gene, although it was not found in embryos that implanted in female mice. For samples of sperm that had been frozen but not washed in this way, 19 per cent of newly fertilised embryos and 6 per cent of those that implanted contained the gene (Human Reproduction , vol 20, p 3313).

[…] But Moreira points out that sperm samples are frequently contaminated with skin bacteria carried by the donor. He argues that IVF clinics conform to different standards, and many should take more precautions to eliminate the possibility of accidental genetic modification, such as treating sperm with antibiotics. "It's better to be sure that no children will inherit these problems," he says.

One worry is that bacterial DNA could disrupt genes that suppress cancer. Bonduelle thinks this unlikely, adding that the children in her study seem to be healthy. But she concedes that the consequences of accidental genetic modification might emerge later in life. "It is one more reason to continue the follow-up over a long time," says Bonduelle.

The risks are low, I suspect, but the consequences could potentially be pretty severe. There could also be issues – perhaps worse – with virally contaminated semen. At any rate, it has the makings of a good movie plot.

In vitro fertilization involving a married couple is frowned on by the Catholic church for dissociating reproduction from the marital sex act; it expect that it’s frowned on by ECUSA because it involves a man and a woman (sorry - couldn’t resist).

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Choice on Earth, bad will towards men

Planned Parenthood has their new line of 2005 Holiday Cards on sale, repeating the “Choice on Earth” message from last year.

It’s bad enough that these cards express support for killing children removal of unwanted fetal tissue masses. What is really scary about these Holiday Cards, especially at this particular season, is the twisted world view they express.

You and I celebrate the entrance of God into His creation and the promise of a restored and healed world. For us, the focus of the season (at least in our better moments) is on God’s choice and our dependence. For PP, the celebration seems to be revolve around claiming absolute autonomy for ourselves. The focus is on our choice and our independence.

This choice is only an echo of that first choice made from eternity by Lucifer, son of the morning, to claim his independence of The One. Thrown from heaven, he is still bound as a creature to the material world of men. His uncontrolled will draws all those who would make the same choice. The illusion of personal autonomy he gives is a vapor; there are, in the final analysis, only two wills: God’s will, or the will of the Evil One. On the one hand, the Evil One will brook no autonomy but his own – he will bend our wills to his will; on the other hand, in the end only God’s will is done. As created beings, the only real, permanent freedom we can possibly have is found in God’s choice – the gift of sharing of His divine life with those who will accept it. Real freedom and independence are attributes of the Divine, only He can give them, because outside of Him they do not exist. The only independence outside the will of God is the independence of the damned.

So there really is one choice on earth, and I suspect that the authors of these cards know, in the depths of their hearts, exactly what that choice truly is. Their support for abortion angers me, but their choice really frightens me. It’s the oldest choice of all, and it scared Moses a bit as well.

This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live. (Deu 30:19, NIV)

Dec. 14: St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini (1808-1858)

Father Hardini was born Joseph Kassab in the year 1808. Joseph entered the school of the monks of St. Anthony at Houb from 1816 to 1822 and then entered the monastery of St. Anthony Ishaia and became a novice on November 1828. There he adopted the name Fr. Nimatullah Kassab Hardini, then he learned to bind books.

He professed his first vows on 14th of November 1830. After he finished his theological studies, he was ordained a priest under Bishop Seiman Zwain in the monastery at Kfifan on 25th of December 1833.

Father Nimatullah lived a very holy life. He was a man of prayer, totally "enraptured by God". He spent days and nights in meditation, prayer and adoration of the Eucharist. The Virgin Mary was his patron and Father Nimatullah prayed Her Rosary. He was also a very humble, sensitive and patient person who lived his monastic vows of "obedience, chastity and poverty" to perfection. His fellow brother Monks and the people who knew him called him "The Saint" while he was still alive. One of his students was Charbel Makhlouf (St. Charbel), 1853 to 1858.

Father Nimatullah Hardini died in the monastery of Kfifan on 14th December 1858. He passed away after struggling ten days with a high fever which he contracted from the cold winter wind characteristic of northern Lebanon. He was only then fifty years of age. He died holding a picture of the Virgin Mary, his last words being: "O Virgin Mary between your hands I submit my soul." People who were nearby at the moment of Father Nimatullah's death witnessed a heavenly light illuminating his room and an aromatic smell which remained in his room for a number of days afterwards.

Some time later, the Monks opened Father Nimatullah's tomb and to their surprise they found his body had remained incorrupt. He was then removed and placed in a coffin near the church.

He was declared a saint on May 16, 2004 under the auspices of John Paul II.
(Excerpted from the Saint Hardini website.)

O Lord Jesus Christ,

Who set the heart of Saint Nimatullah on fire with desire to contemplate and penetrate the mystery of your divine love.

You made him a teacher bowing to the truth of your incarnation and by his example a source of encouragement to Saint Sharbel and many others.

Grant us like him to go deep into your secrets, and give us by his intercession whatever we need according to the will of your Blessed Father and to the grace of your living Holy Spirit.


Deer hunting for the firepower enthusiast

Since Pennsylvania is setting up an atlatl deer season for those who prefer primitive hunting techniques, it seems only fair that allowances be made for the hunting preferences of technofreaks. If those .50 caliber megarifles just don’t do enough for you, this may be your answer.

How to Hunt Wisconsin Whitetail Deer with a 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon

Since it would be rather difficult to hit a deer with a Mountain Howitzer Cannon that used a single 12 pound cast iron ball, (even an exploding one) and because down range fall-out ( from 1000 to 1500 yards ) would be a factor with that single 4-1/2" diameter ball, it would be more practical to use a standard load of what was called "Canister Shot". Using Canister Shot turns the Mountain Howitzer into rather large shotgun.

A standard load of canister shot for the 12 pound Mountain Howitzer Cannon is 148 individual lead balls, specifically, .69 caliber ( dia ) lead "musket balls".

All 148 lead balls are packed into a 4-1/2" diameter tin can with the spaces between the balls, filled with saw dust. Total weight of this load is about 10-1/4 pounds. Velocity of the load is approximately 1000 feet per second, being lethal to about 250 yards. Down range fall-out is limited to only approximately 400 yards. (individual results may vary)

[…] When an unsuspecting deer happens to wander in front of your Mountain Howitzer Cannon, PULL THE CORD! Make sure that the deer is within 250 yards range and directly in-line with the howitzer's bore. Also be sure the deer is no closer than 100 yards. A minimum distance of 100 yards is a "must" for reasonable meat recovery. (less damage) You don't want to hit the deer with all 148 musket balls. (your goal is to shoot the deer with your mountain howitzer, not "pulverize" him) Also, at extended distances, it will be less likely that you will shoot off the horns if the deer is a really nice Buck.

Also included are instructions for making a 12 Pound Mountain Howitzer, and suggestions on how to avoid collateral damage, fines, and imprisonment. In addition to hunting, I suspect the 12-pounder would make a fine home defense system. Operating on the principle that it is always best to defend the home from the longest range possible, this should extend your perimeter out to about a thousand yards.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Greek monastery damaged in tank mishap

A monastery in the foothills of Mount Olympus, central Greece, has been damaged by a tank round fired from a neighbouring military range, the Greek army said.

"It was a routine target exercise," an army spokesman told AFP of the accident on Monday evening.

"One of the shells hit a tree and ricocheted towards the monastery," the officer said, declining to identify the number or type of tanks involved.

The monastery, which is dedicated to Saint Dionysius, is built in a forested area neighbouring an army firing range.

Television footage showed the monastery's front gate pierced by the shrapnel. A number of visitors' cars parked in its front yard were also damaged, the Athens News Agency reported.

"I feel that Saint Dionysius was watching over us yesterday," a resident monk told reporters on Tuesday. "If that had not happened, three people would certainly have been killed."

The army will investigate the incident, the officer said. The monks have asked authorities to remove the firing range.
(From Yahoo News)

I normally have little patience for those who rely on the military’s protection, but are unwilling to have anything to do with the military themselves. In this particular case, however, the monks may have a point. A hole in the front gate? Just how close is that firing range? Yeesh!

I remember at my former parish, a company was clearing cedar from the adjoining property on the other side of the hill. One of their machines broke, and a rapidly-spinning hunk of steel (several pounds, as I recall) flew boomerang-fashion around the side of the church, came through a window, took out part of a candle stand, and imbedded itself in the far wall. By grace of God, no one was there. If that had occurred during communion, everyone at the altar rail would have been participants in a mass decapitation not seen since the French revolution.

God is indeed merciful.

Saudi donates $20m to Harvard

A Saudi Arabian prince who is one of the world's richest people is giving $20 million to Harvard to establish a university-wide program in Islamic studies, Harvard officials said yesterday.

Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, whose net worth was estimated by Forbes magazine this year as $23.7 billion, is also donating $20 million to Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., to promote Muslim-Christian dialogue and understanding.

The Harvard gift, which officials said was one of the 25 largest in the university's history, will pay for four new senior professors, one of whom will hold an endowed chair named for Prince Alwaleed. It will also provide start-up funding for a project to preserve and digitize significant Islamic documents that are in Harvard's possession and make them available on the Internet.

''We are very grateful to Prince Alwaleed for his generous gift to Harvard," university president Lawrence H. Summers said in a statement announcing the gift. ''This program will enable us to recruit additional faculty of the highest caliber, adding to our strong team of professors who are focusing on this important area of scholarship."
(Read the whole thing here.)

At the risk of being culturally insensitive, I can’t help wondering how the Saudis would respond if we all got together and kicked in $20 million to establish a program in Christian Studies at, say, King Saud University in Riyadh. Do you think they’d take it?

By the way, given the current worldwide armed conflict with Islamofascism, "faculty of the highest caliber" may not have been the best choice of words on Dr. Summers part. On the other hand, I have it on good authority that many Harvard professors are indeed large bore(s).

New blog for Continuing Anglicans

The Continuum looks like an interesting and worthy addition to your blog reading habits, especially for those who are fleeing the ummm... developments in ECUSA into a Continuing Anglican church. It describes itself as:

"A place where those who live in the Anglican Continuum, or who are thinking of moving there, might share in robust, if polite, discussion of matters theological and ecclesiological."

Sounds like a winner to me! I have added them to my link list on the right, and wish them God's blessings.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Polygamy rights is the next civil rights battle

Check out the Organization for Christian Polygamy (WARNING! HIGH STRANGENESS LEVEL!)

They advertise themselves as “Continuing the Reformation.” Gee whiz, I guess so, although I know a lot of Reformed-type guys who might dispute their claim. I have a feeling this is an inevitable outcome of the interpret-it-yourself-with-no-recourse-to-tradition approach to scripture that can be found on the outermost wacko fringes of Evangelical theology.

They seem to go to great lengths to make themselves sound mainstream:

"Polygamy is in the Bible. Polygamy is found throughout history. These facts prove that marriage's definition includes plural marriage. Polygyny is a far older traditional marriage than anti-polygamy.

  • This is NOT about polyandry or polyamory. (just multiple chicas)
  • This is NOT about fornication or adultery. (not as we define it)
  • This is NOT about group marriage or wife swapping. (the chicas are all mine)
  • This is NOT about dishonest bigamy or infidelity. (it's about honest bigamy)
  • This is NOT about underaged or arranged marriage. (we're mature idiots)
  • This is NOT about any form of mormonism. (we're a different heresy)
  • This is NOT about re-defining marriage." (really it's not!)

Well, if it’s not about redefining marriage, then why do they make such a point of riding in on the coattails of gay marriage? And if it’s all about love, then what difference does it whether if it’s recognized by the state? Is it really all about health insurance? And I have to ask – so what if “polygyny is a far older traditional marriage than anti-polygamy?” Hunting bears with rocks is a far older tradition than hunting bears with rifles. You go first; I’ll be right behind you. And so what if polygamy is in the bible? The last time I checked, so was passing your children through the fire to Moloch. Are we going to have an Organization for Christian Human Sacrifice? Never mind; forget that. I don't want to start something.

I wonder how they find a pastor to marry them? Deacons, priests, and bishops are all supposed to be the husbands of one wife, if I remember Paul in the Pastorals correctly. One suspects that their ministers are all self-apponted.

Church closings on Christmas - my two cents

I’ve pretty much avoided the huge flap about churches that were deciding not to have services on Christmas day. Lots of churches I’m familiar with have late evening / midnight services on Dec. 24th, and I figure that counts just fine in terms of worshipping and thanking God for His entrance into, participation in, and ultimate promise of union with His creation. Whether to hold Christmas services on Christmas morning always seemed to me to be mostly a matter of congregational demographics. However, this story caused the hairs to prickle up on the back of my neck.

On a Sunday later this month, you won't find anyone at one of the largest churches in Palm Beach County.

The reason: It's Christmas.

Christ Fellowship Church will not hold services that Sunday, a decision in line with what's occurring at several other big churches around the country.

On the very day that Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, those churches will close their doors to give members more time to spend with their family. What makes this year different is that Christmas falls on a Sunday — church day.

But Christ Fellowship's pastor, Todd Mullins, said that Christmas — Sunday or not — is set aside for family time.

"Christ Fellowship is all about supporting the family," Mullins said.

In all fairness, they are holding lots of Christmas services on the 23rd and 24th. But that last sentence I excerpted really creeped me out. I have this funny, old-fashioned notion that someplace calling itself Christ Fellowship should be all about, well…Christ. There is something happening in our society where even those who seek to proclaim the gospel in an orthodox and faithful manner are losing focus. The distractions and background noise have become so overwhelming that it’s enormously difficult to stay concentrated on what’s real and true. As usual, however, it’s not like we haven’t been warned.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel - which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. (Gal 1:6-7, NIV)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Mayor wants to ban death

From Ananova.
The mayor of a Brazilian town is trying to bring in a law making it illegal for residents to die.

Mayor Roberto Pereira da Silva, of Biritiba-Mirim, came up with the idea because the town's only cemetery is full.

He wants to bring in a law that would see relatives of people who die before their time face fines or even jail.

The law would make it an offence for the town's 28,000 citizens to not look after their health properly.

Mayor Pereira da Silva said there was no way of expending the cemetery or building a new one, reports Agora Sao Paulo.

He said: "Eighty nine per cent of the town is rivers, the rest is protected because it is tropical jungle."

The state government had promised to help build a new vertical cemetery - but nothing had been done.

Gym memberships have reportedly shot up since the mayor announced his plans, and more people are visiting doctors.

This is nothing new. We’ve had it in the U.S.A. for decades. It’s called the Estate Tax.

Russian Orthodox Church backs Vatican on gay seminarians

The Russian Orthodox Church has issued a statement of support for the Vatican's Instruction barring the admission of homosexual men to seminaries.

Father Igor Vyzhanov, a spokesman for the Moscow Patriarchate, told the Interfax news agency that while the Russian Orthodox Church differs with Catholicism insofar as married men may be ordained in the Eastern Church, the world's two largest Christian bodies "have a common approach to the problem of homosexuality."

The Bible, Father Vyzhanov observed, condemns homosexual acts in terms that "do not leave any room for a different interpretation." He said that Orthodox believers have trouble comprehending Protestant groups that have given their blessing to same-sex unions.

The Orthodox Church spokesman said that exclusion of homosexuals from seminaries and from the priesthood should be a common policy, since homosexuality can never be accepted as normal, and those who have same-sex attraction must be understood to "suffer from a serious illness."

Well said, but I’m not completely sure I buy the very last sentence. Same-sex attractions seem less to me to be a mental illness than a reflection of fallen man’s twisted sexual impulses to mate with anything that moves (and, probably, half the things that don’t move). The ancients didn’t seem to differentiate that much between lusting after women and lusting after other guys; Christianity just brought an understanding of the proper expression of sexual activity into a Roman world that permitted darned near anything. All expressions outside the marriage bed are considered disordered, and it doesn’t make much difference whether it’s the girl next door, the boy next door, or the cocker spaniel next door.

The current attention being paid to same-sex attraction reflects its current importance to the secular world in which the Church is embedded, not its intrinsic importance to the Church itself. The Vatican seems to recognize that people who identify themselves as "gay" have, in the context of modern culture, given their sexual impulses an excessive power to define who they are. Being "gay" isn't just about weird feelings for the other guys in the locker room; it usually carries a "gay" world view along with it. And one's world view certainly effects one's suitability for the priesthood.

The Church is frequently accused of being overly concerned with sexual morality. But it is our culture that is obsessed with sex; just turn on the television on any given evening - especially if you have cable. In a different slice of history, the same level of moral attention might be paid to fornicators, adulterers, idolators, thieves, the greedy, drunkards, slanderers, or robbers (1 Cor. 6:9-10). The Church’s much-maligned “preoccupation with sex” is largely determined by the fashionable sins of our time, not by the Church’s own fixations.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Unexpectedly skewered

Do you ever have those moments when some particular turn of phrase – usually regarding something with which you are very familiar – skewers you in a new and unexpected way? I was reading a Sunday-school level introduction to Eastern theology, in a section talking about the believer’s call to holiness.

We cannot imagine using a chalice for cocktails – it has been set apart for the service of God. However, we too have been consecrated and set apart for His service.”

There’s nothing conceptually new in that paragraph, but for some reason the phrase really got to me. As a living chalice, this waffling man’s self doesn’t even get used for cocktails most of the time. On its better days, it might hold a cheap brand of beer; on its worst days, it gets used as a spittoon. I need to do better.

I know, I know - holiness isn’t something that I as a lowly, depraved, sniveling creature can establish for myself. I can, however, either cooperate or stand in the way of God establishing it for me. I can’t set myself apart for God, but I can (and do) set myself apart for the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

This isn’t graduate-level advanced Christianity. The Gospels and the Fathers have made it clear that finding holiness isn’t exactly rocket science. My own particular traps are uncomplicated and easy to figure out. I spend too much time working, too much time surfing the net, too much time watching football, too much time eating, too much time doing anything to avoid being apart and in the presence of God. The most subtle of my traps is that I spend too much time reading and talking and blogging and thinking about God, time that I should spend with Him. Sanctification comes from contact with the Divine, not from analysis of Him. The end result is that I wind up being easy pickings for the Enemy most of the time.

Advent’s a good season in which to deal with this. It’s prayer time.

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. (Rom 12:1)

American Girl dolls to protest company

Dolls sign onto Pro-Life Movement!

I posted on the American girl controversy back in August. Here is an interesting and somewhat amusing follow-up.

Pro-life protesters, including some American Girl dolls, are scheduled to picket the American Girl Place superstore in New York City tomorrow to protest the company's association with a group that promotes abortion rights and lesbianism.

[…] In August, American Girl launched the "I Can" campaign with
Girls Inc., urging girls to take a pledge and purchase a special bracelet.

With every purchase of the "I Can" band, 70 cents is given to Girls Inc. in addition to American Girl's contribution of $50,000.

On its website, Girls Inc. says it
supports a girl's right to abort an unwanted baby and promotion of contraceptives for girls.

The group also
offers resources encouraging lesbian and bisexual lifestyles.

Tomorrow's picket, scheduled for 10 a.m. outside the company's store on Fifth Avenue will include parents and their daughters, the Pro-Life Action League says.

[…] The organization says the protest will include pro-life girls holding signs, many of whom will also hold popular American Girl dolls – such as Samantha, Kit and Molly – who will be hoisting their own miniature picket signs.

American Family Association also has initiated a campaign to warn parents about American Girls' connection to Girls Inc.

Using their own dolls on the picket line should go a long way towards heaping burning coals upon their heads. In biochemistry, there is a phenomenon known as “product inhibition.” I certainly hope these products inhibit their manufacturer. You don’t want to mess around with angry dolls – remember Chuckie!

Just as long as Peter Singer doesn’t use it as an opportunity to start a Manikin Liberation Movement.

But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. “ (Mat 18:6)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Pope Rat-zinger?

Don’t you need something truly worthy of being called a conversation piece? They say “good things come in small packages” and this is true to form.

This mouse dressed in a satin white robe with gold silk sash stands regally. From the tip of the miter (hat) he stands almost five inches tall and arms outstretched make it just a smidge over three inches at its widest.

These are one of my most popular creations, and very rarely ever up for bid on eBay!

Hand crafted in traditional taxidermy techniques, not freeze dried, this is a truly unique item. Masterfully crafted for every detail, each tiny outfit is hand sewn. This piece should bring years of joy.

I have been creating taxidermy for over 14 years, specializing in mice, particularly in tiny hand made outfits, such as: mouse angel, fairies, 2-headed freaks, mousealope, oddities, or other whimsical creations. Please contact me for any specific questions before you bid. I ship via USPS Priority mail. Payment of personal checks, or money orders will be shipped once funds have cleared the bank. I highly suggest insuring package for shipping.

This item is actually for sale on E-bay. Okay, it’s kind of a cute use for a dead mouse, but there’s something really bothersome here – sort of like the Bobblehead Jesus. I have no idea if this is just a matter of abysmal taste or intentional blasphemy, but if I saw it, I would definitely splash it with some holy water. (Not too much; a wet, dead, stuffed mouse cannot be a good thing.)

By the way, the mouse should properly be clad in red vestments. It was Cardinal Ratzinger; it’s Pope Benedict!

(Tip of the gimme cap to The Angry Twins.)

Christian nudists to build village in Florida

Okay - it's freezing outside in Central Texas; the roads are iced over; I can't get to work; my biochem class is cancelled for tonight; I have nothing better to do than read weird news stories. This one can be found in it's naked wholeness at

Jonathan Palmiter was enjoying a recent Sunday morning stroll through a lush yard full of trees and Spanish moss--naked as was Adam in the Garden of Eden. A 59-year-old born-again Christian, Palmiter was visiting Natura, a development 40 miles north of Tampa, Fla., that, when it opens up next summer, will become the first nudist community for devout Christians in North America.

Natura is being developed over five years and will house as many as 200 people in 50 family houses on 100 acres of land, with room for up to 100 recreational vehicles, according to Daniel Bellows, chief executive of the development. He even envisions a self-contained village with home-schooling and a strip mall.

I'm afraid to ask what constitutes a "strip mall" in a nudist colony.

Christian nudism might sound like an oxymoron, but for thousands of devout followers, living and worshipping naked is at the core of their faith.No one knows how many Christian nudists there are in North America, but the advent of Natura will increase their visibility.

Given their avocation, I suspect they are plenty visible right now, thank you.

[…] Nathan Powers, a 50-year-old Texan, begins his day praying naked in his backyard. Nakedness intensifies his dialogue with God, he said. "I feel closer to God. It's an act of humility. It is absolutely spiritual." To reconcile being a good Christian with their need to be nude, many of the faithful turn to prayer and follow their own spiritual path. Some are led away from their particular denominations.Parker, who organizes the annual "Christian Nudist Convocation" in Virginia, a coming-out event for closeted nudists, was raised a Southern Baptist. He is now independent, turned off by Sunday sermons he said were "too hypocritical for one afternoon."

I can only hope his neighbors have fences and one-story houses.

[…] The lifestyle of these Christians doesn't necessarily make them lefties of the 1960s free-love, live-and-let-live mold. They tend to be deeply conservative on issues like homosexuality and premarital sex, and Republican, differing only from other Christians in their need and desire to be naked whenever possible.

And I differ from other Republicans only in that I like to wrap goats in Saran Wrap and use them for lawn ornaments. I love this country...

UN Ceremony Includes Map of ´Palestine´ in Place of Israel

The United Nations held a "Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People" last week. A large map of “Palestine,” with Israel literally wiped off the map, featured prominently in the festivities.

The ceremony was held at the UN headquarters in New York and was attended by Secretary General Kofi Annan and the Presidents of the UN Security Council and the General Assembly.During the festivities, a map labeled a "map of Palestine” was displayed prominently between UN and PLO flags. The map, with “Palestine” written in Arabic atop it, does not include Israel, a member of the UN for 56 years.

[…] Anne Bayefsky, who reported on the event for the Eye on the UN organization, said that the ceremony's wording was aimed at giving honor to the worst of Palestinian terrorists. "It was a moment ... crafted to include the commemoration of suicide-bombers,” she wrote.
(From Arutz Sheva)

And this is the “International Community” that’s supposed to pass judgement on U.S. foreign policy? Oh puh-leese. Old Adolf must be laughing out loud, somewhere in the depths of hell.